Picture courtesy of Steve Dixon
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By Derek Barclay
Match Report Tuesday 13/06/21 - Kent TouchTec Kings 49 - Plymouth Gladiators 41 [SGBC]
History was made at Central Park Stadium last night (Tuesday 15th June) with the Kent TouchTec Kings recording their first ever win in Speedway’s Championship division – coming from behind to defeat Plymouth Gladiators 49-41 on a night of high drama and superb racing.
This one had it all - but how appropriate that the rider taking centre stage was a man who has the very spirit of Kent Speedway coursing through his veins, Ben Morley. The Essex-based racer has had many memorable moments at Central Park since being one of the ‘originals’ back in 2013, on the way to becoming the club’s record points scorer, but this was right up there as one of his finest ever moments in an Invicta race jacket: a match-winning paid 13 points certainly proving unlucky for the plucky visitors from Devon.
For much of the match though the Devonians had looked like the team who’d got the cream – and indeed at no stage in heats one through to 11 were the Gladiators trailing.
There was a nagging feeling that the replacement of Plymouth’s stricken superstar Jason Crump by the most locally-based of ‘Guests’ in Maidstone’s Danny King may actually make the visitors marginally stronger and it certainly proved to be the case in the opening salvoes, with King as sizzling hot as the Kentish evening sunshine to storm to a new track record (knocking three-tenths of a second over the mark that had stood for well over 4 years years) in the opening heat.
The unfortunate Paul Hurry who’d looked impressive to overtake King’s team mate, the Frenchman Steven Goret fell between the last bend and the chequered flag meaning the Gladiators had drawn first blood. It was the start of a disappointing evening for Kent’s veteran who wasn’t after this to trouble the scorers.
Heat two was Morley’s first heat win of three holding off Plymouth’s other Guest, Leon Flint and Ben was to have a very busy night taking six rides. By the time Morley lined up alongside Kent’s own inspired choice of ‘Guest’ cover for their injured Australian Cameron Heeps, Poole rider Steven Worrall the hosts were four points down and Plymouth had provided four out of the six heat winners. The Kent pairing in heat seven though produced a masterclass in team riding to bring the homesters right back onto the match with a 5-1.
Parity was only to be achieved for the briefest period though. Hurry was a faller again meaning heat eight was rerun and frustratingly though Dan Gilkes had been leading before the stoppage, at the second time of asking it was the Plymouth painting of Flint and Alfie Bowtell who got a maximum of their own to regain the lead – a lead which quickly became one of six points when former Grand Prix star, the Dane Bjarne Pedersen held off Paul Starke as the match entered its second stanza.
That margin allowed Chris Hunt to bring in Worrall to partner his skipper Nicholls and a resulting heat 10 maximum launched a glorious closing spell for the hosts.
A second consecutive heat win by the hugely impressive Worrall was of massive significance because it involved lowering the colours for the first time on the night of King and the comeback was well and truly on when a resurgent Dan Gilkes stormed from behind to take the lead over Plymouth’s Aussie Zach Cook, followed by Starke; and from six down just three heats earlier now suddenly the TouchTec Kings led the way!
Another brilliant win by Man of the Meeting Morley in the penultimate heat with third placed Gilkes bravely recovering from a first staging close encounter with the second bend air fence put the Kings on the brink and there was unconfined joy from another capacity crowd when Worrall & Nicholls made it a third 5-1 in six heats to ensure an eight point margin secured all the match points.
Next up for the TouchTec Kings will be the visit next Tuesday (22nd June) evening of reigning champions Leicester Lions – with tickets on sale from Wednesday morning.
Kent TouchTec Kings 49
Scott Nicholls 2, 3, 2', 2, 2' = 11+2
Paul Hurry F, 0, Fx = 0
Paul Starke 2, 2, 2, 2' = 8+1
Rider Replacwment - Tom Bacon
Steve Worrall [G] 2 , 2', 3, 3, 1', 3 = 14+2
Ben Morley 3, 1', 1', 3, 0, 3 = 11+2
Dan Gilkes 0, F, 1, R, 3, 1 = 5
Jake Mulford XT = 0
Plymouth Gladiators 41
Danny King [G] 3, 3, 2, 3, 1 = 12
Steven Goret 1, 0, 1' = 2+1
Zach Cook 3, 0, 1, 1 = 5
Dillon Ruml 0, 1, 0 = 1
Bjarne Pedersen 3, 2, 3, 0, R = 8
Alfie Bowtell 1', 1', 2', 1, 0, 2 = 7+3
Leon Flint [G] 2, 1, 3, 0 = 6
1 (rerun) King, Nicholls, Goret, Hurry (fell) 55.8 *[2-4] (* new track record)
2 Morley, Flint, Bowtell, Gilkes 58.1 [5-7]
3 (rerun) Cook, Starke, Morley, Ruml, Mulford (exc. tapes) 57.8 [8-10]
4 Pedersen, Worrall, Flint, Gilkes (fell) 57.8 [10-14]
5 King, Starke, Morley, Goret 57.1 [13-17]
6 Nicholls, Pedersen, Bowtell, Hurry 57.6 [16-20]
7 Morley, Worrall, Ruml, Cook 58.9 [21-21]
8 (rerun) Flint, Bowtell, Gilkes, Hurry (fell exc.) 59.8 [22-26]
9 Pedersen, Starke, Bowtell, Gilkes (ret.) 58.6 [24-30]
10 Worrall, Nicholls, Cook, Ruml (fell rem.)58.9 [29-31]
11 Worrall, King, Goret, Morley 58.4 [32-34]
12 Gilkes, Starke, Cook, Bowtell 59.1 [37-35]
13 King, Nicholls, Worrall, Pedersen 58.2 [40-38]
14 (rerun) Morley, Bowtell, Gilkes, Flint 59.7 [44-40)
15 Worrall, Nicholls, King, Pedersen (ret.) 58.8 [49-41]