Kent Kings Speedway
Come and experience the thrills of our very own Kent Kings Speedway team
Halfway point of the two-legged National League Knock-Out Cup [NKOC] semi and honours remain even, after Kent and Eastbourne ended locked at 45-45 after a hugely entertaining evening’s Speedway racing at Central Park on Monday evening (24/9).
It was certainly a case of playing catch up in this first leg for the hosts, after a sizzling start from the visitors left Chris Hunt’s charges for a few moments shell-shocked – eight points down after just three heats. Maidstone-based Georgie Wood was certainly leading from the front for the Eagles with a super-fast destruction of his counterpart in the number race jacket Ben Morley in the opening hear and, back out on track two races later as Eastbourne put down an early marker that this time they were putting all other sometimes counterproductive tactics behind them and simply concentrating on the task before them. This refreshing change in attitude lead to an excellent encounter and this time Speedway was the winner.
The comeback began in heat four in amazing style courtesy of Alex Spooner who produced one of the best performances of his career holding at bay GB U-19s runner up, Tom Brennan. That win really kick-started his team mates and after that slow start Morley and Anders Rowe got back in the groove with a 5-1 of their own in heat six. And when Spooner partnered Rowe to another 5-1 suddenly it was the halfway stage and scores were tied.
It wasn’t proving to be a good evening for Taylor Hampshire and William O’Keefe who both were to end pointless. O’Keefe has really shown no signs of recovery from the shoulder weakness which has blighted the second half of this campaign; and maybe Hampshire’s very off-colour showing is the legacy of the nasty knock he took vs. Belle Vue two weeks ago.
Nathan Stoneman was taking the battle to the old enemy for sure and it was a surprise when German import in the Eagles’ ranks Ethan Spiller was leading the Kings’ Welsh dragon entering the final lap of heat 12. Ardently chasing the Central Park debutant, Stoneman suddenly got out of shape and veered inexorably toward the fence – catching the home straight mesh barrier and posts just after the air barrier. It was a nasty looking fall, but Nathan is made of Welsh granite and was able to hobble away – his evening over, but no lasting damage.
The gap was back up to four points though with just three heats left and there was no room for any further reverse, so Morley finally ending Wood’s unbeaten run in heat 13 was more than welcome. It was essential indeed, especially as Kent skipper Jack Thomas made it a 4-2 holding off Brennan.
So, to heat 14 and the sight of the pairing of Spooner and his oppo Hampshire lining up against the weakest of Eagles’ pairings, the two Charlies, Powell and Brooks presented real hopes that a heat advantage could put the Kings back to parity or even into the lead. Sadly, those hopes were dashed before the action even got warm – Hampshire ploughing through the tapes. On a resultant 15 metres handicap was never going to give the teenager a real chance, but there were certainly eyebrows raised at Hampshire’s antics throwing lacklustre wheelies as he trailed in last. Luckily Spooner was in opposite mode, showing huge determination to take a crucial race win and finish on a grittily-inspired and man of the match paid 15 from six rides.
Spooner’s heroics gave Morley & Thomas a chance to turn things completely on their head in the final heat and both were super-fast from the traps. Morley was not to be denied on yet another evening when this outstanding young rider once again excelled as Guest for the Kings.
Thomas was following the number one home for the 5-1 which would see victory grasped from the edge of defeat; but Woods wasn’t going to give up, going out into the dirt out wide on the very final bend to sweep past Thomas on the line. So 45-45 it was – not ended of course, as this is a two-legged affair; and battle resumes at Arlington on Saturday (29/9).
It will take an away win at Eastbourne to get to the NKOC Final but last year Kent were the only side to win at the Eagles’ fortress so there is still all to play for. Before then, there’s a small matter of a first leg of the Travel Plus Tours National League Play-Off Semi-final against table-toppers Mildenhall up in the Suffolk Fens on Friday (28/9) and next up at home will be the second leg of that vital tie – vs. Mildenhall at Central Park on Monday 1st. October.
Kent SLYDE Kings 45
Ben Morley 1 3 3 3 3 13
Anders Rowe 0 2* 3 0 5+1
Nathan Stoneman 2 2 2 FX 6
Taylor Hampshire 0 0 0♢ 0
Jack Thomas 1 3 2 1 1 8 William O’Keefe 0 0 0 0 Alex Spooner 2 3 2* 1* 2 3 13+2
Eastbourne Eagles 45
Georgie Wood 3 3 3 3 2 2 16
Jason Edwards 2* 1 2 1 1 7+1
Rider Replacement - Mark Baseby
Charley Powell 1 1* 1* 1♢ 2 6+2
Tom Brennan 2 1 3 2 0 0 8
Ethan Spiller 3 0 0 3 6
Charlie Brooks 1 0 0 1* 2+1
1. Wood, Edwards, Morley, Rowe 57.2 (1-5)
2. Spiller, Spooner, Brooks, O’Keefe 60.2 (3-9)
3. Wood, Stoneman, Powell, Hampshire 59.0 (5-13)
4. Spooner, Brennan, Thomas, Brooks 60.3 (9-15)
5. Wood, Stoneman, Edwards, Hampshire 59.1 (11-19)
6. Morley, Rowe, Brennan, Spiller 59.1 (16-20)
7. Thomas, Edwards, Powell, O’Keefe 59.9 (19-23)
8. (re-run) Rowe, Spooner, Edwards, Brooks 58.6 (24-24)
9. Brennan, Stoneman, Spooner, Spiller 59.8 (27-27)
10. Morley, Brennan, Powell, Rowe 59.6 (30-30)
11. Wood, Thomas, Edwards, O’Keefe 58.8 (32-34)
12. (awarded) Spiller, Spooner, Powell♢, Stoneman (f.exc) no time (34-38)
13. Morley, Wood, Thomas, Brennan, 59.1 (38-40)
14. (re-run) Spooner, Powell, Brooks, Hampshire♢, 60.5 (41-43)
15. Morley, Wood, Thomas, Brennan, 60.0 (45-45)
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Central Park Stadium