Picture courtesy of Steve Dixon
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By Derek Barclay
07/09/21 Match report: Kent TouchTec Kings 46 -v- Scunthorpe Scorpions 44 (SGB Championship)
In a match largely dominated by the Scunthorpe Scorpions, it was the Kent TouchTec Kings who had the sting in the tail in a thrilling contest at Central Park on Tuesday (7th September) evening.
The resilience of the Kings shone through in buckets as they overcame a 10 point deficit with four races to go to run out winners by 46 points to 44. The first two thirds of the meeting were all about Scunthorpe and their superb choice of guest Broc Nicol. Picking up from where he left off when he visited in June with Glasgow, the American World Cup star reeled off four classy wins and equalled the fastest time of the evening when beating seven time British Champion Scott Nicholls in Heat 7.
The visitors went in front in Heat 2 which is the clash of the respective reserve riders and clash was a very apt phrase for the first running of the race, as Kings reserve Dan Gilkes and former Kent captain Simon Lambert clashed as the riders left the tapes with Gilkes coming down. The referee somewhat harshly excluded the Kent rider, who later told the SFM Sports Team: “I got chopped up pretty well coming out the start and had nowhere to go so that was frustrating.”
With a third of the match gone the visitors led by two, but five heat advantages in a six race spell dominated by Nicol, current British Champion Adam Ellis and to a lesser extent Josh MacDonald saw the Scorpions open up a 10 point lead (28-38). The pick of the results for the visitors was a shock maximum heat advantage in the ninth from Nicol and Josh MacDonald over the in-form pair Paul Starke and Cameron Heeps. This was after Kent duo Ben Morley and Dan Gilkes had cut the lead to two points in the 8th heat with a maximum heat advantage of their own – the significance of this wouldn’t be realised until after the match. A superb switch back up the inside on bend one from Morley saw him pass two former Kings in the form of Lambert and Jack Thomas.
Reflecting on the race Morley told SFM: “I’ve done a few laps around here so I just found the line out the corner” but it was another frustrating night for the Southend based rider, who suffered with a carburettor problem in the opening race when on a 5-1 with team mate Troy Batchelor. Of that ninth race Starke described it as his “one duff ride” but he was certainly in the thick of the action to win Heat 5, a thrilling scrap with Scunthorpe guest Jack Thomas which had the crowd on their feet, in a race where Starke came through just on the line but the fans would have been happy either way round the result – such is the appreciation of Thomas who began his career with the Kings. The last four races though were something out of a scripted drama.
Heat 12 Dan Gilkes proved his mettle after suffering a second dubious exclusion in Heat 11 for touching the tapes, he didn’t let his head drop and blasted round the outside of MacDonald on the opening lap and pulled away, Starke and MacDonald then traded passes before Starke got the run around the Aussie exiting the last bend, to cut the gap to four points.
Heat 13 was a masterclass in team riding from two riders of the highest experienced. Troy Batchelor and Scott Nicholls. Batchelor gated then looked for his partner who was coming around the outside and the pair set off in what Troy described after the meeting as “Speedway Symmetry.” This now left the gap at two points could the Kings dare to dream?
Heat 14 was vital and the nerves of the Kings fans were reaching fever pitch… Heeps and Mulford against the lively Nicol and the useful Lambert. Nicol got the win but it was the most vital of second and third places by the Kent duo to keep the gap at two points.
Heat 15: Batchelor and Nicholls a duo with 110 Grand Prix appearances and 12 finals between them against Nicol and Ellis. To quote New Jersey band Gaslight Anthem “Who feels a pressure heat, coming on hard?” As the tension rose, Nicol jumped the start, and as the tension was rising further, the white exclusion light came on… Nicol had previously moved in Heat 3 and been warned so he was out of the re-run and in came Josh MacDonald for his seventh ride of the night. The Kings duo gated and rode four perfect laps to keep the Australian and send the Kent fans into raptures.
Post-match, captain Scott Nicholls praised the effort of the Scunthorpe side missing key riders but said “our team has really gelled, and never knows when to give up. It’s a shame the way season started but it’s great to see the fans happy, I love the fans and I love it here”.
Next up the Kent TouchTec Kings take on reigning league title holders Leicester Lions in the last SGB Championship fixture at home, that is next Tuesday 14th September with the usual 6:30pm start time.
Kent TouchTec Kings 46
T Batchelor 3 2 FX 2’ 3 =10+1
B Morley R 0 2’ =2+1
P Starke 3 3 0 2’ =8+1
C Heeps 0 0 1 2 =3
S Nicholls 3 2 2 2 3 2’ =14+1
J Mulford 1 0 1’ =2+1
Scunthorpe Scorpions 44
A Ellis 2 1’ 3 3 0 0 =9+1
J Thomas (g) 1’ 2 0 1 =4+1
T Pijper 1’ 0 1 0 =2+1
B Nicol (g) 2 3 3 3 3 XT =14
J MacDonald 3 1 2’ 1 1 1 1 =10+1
S Lambert 2’ 2 1 0 =5+1
1. Batchelor, Ellis, Thomas, Morley (ret) 57.8 [3-3]
2. MacDonald, Lambert, Mulford, Gilkes (FX) 58.0 [4-8]
3. Starke, Nicol, Pijper, Heeps 58.1 [7-11]
4. Nicholls, Lambert, Pijper, Gilkes 57.4 [11-13]
5. Starke, Thomas, Ellis, Heeps 57.9 [14-16]
6. Ellis, Batchelor, MacDonald, Morley 57.9 [16-20]
7. Nicol, Nicholls, Pijper, Mulford 57.4 [18-24]
8. Gilkes, Morley, Lambert, Thomas 58.0 [23-25]
9. Nicol, MacDonald, Heeps, Starke, 58.3 [24-30]
10. Nicol, Nicholls, MacDonald, Batchelor (FX) 58.1 [26-34]
11. Ellis, Nicholls, Thomas, Gilkes (exc tapes 15m handicap) 58.1 [28-38]
12. Gilkes, Starke, MacDonald, Pijper 59.2 [33-39]
13. Nicholls, Batchelor, MacDonald, Ellis 58.2 [38-40]
14. Nicol, Heeps, Mulford, Lambert 58.9 [41-43]
15. Batchelor, Nicholls, MacDonald, Ellis, Nicol (exc Tapes) 57.5 [46-44]