Stoke Potters suffered a narrow 44-42 home defeat to Kent in their opening home league meeting of the season.
The Potters started well with skipper Tom Perry taking victory from Jordan Jenkins after Ben Morley had fallen with Shelby Rutherford taking third for an opening heat 4-2.
In heat two, the Potters suffered a 3-0 reverse with first Kent youngster Dan Gilkes crashed into the fence, Gilkes later withdrew from the meeting with a groin injury. Then Potters Joe Alcock fell along with Corban Pavitt in the second rerun leaving Nathan Ablitt the only finisher.
The visitors then gained a 5-1 in the third heat as Joe Lawlor suffered a mechanical failure on the start line with Anders Rowe and Jordan Jenkins taking victory over Luke Priest.
The Potters struck back with a 4-2 from Connor Coles and Joe Alcock over Ablitt after Rob Ledwith had fallen leaving the Potters trailing 12-9.
Perry and Rutherford gained a 5-1 in heat six after Rob Ledwith had fallen. He had been leading before the home skipper got past Ledwith on the second lap before the visiting skipper fell and remounted on the final bend putting the Potters in front 17-16. The Kings partnership of Rowe and Jenkins returned the compliment with their own 5-1 to put them back in front and this was followed up with a second 5-1 in heat eight after Rutherford had fallen while leading handing Ablitt and Ledwith victory to leave the home side trailing 19-26.
The Potters cut Kent’s lead with a 5-0 in heat nine as Ledwith packed up as Priest and Lawlor took the chequered flag, Ledwith left his bike on track then was told to push home and he was disqualified for receiving outside assistance. A couple of 4-2 heat advantages for the Kings left Stoke trailing 31-37 with three heats remaining.
The Potters battling spirit came to the fore as Perry and Coles made the start and stopped Morley’s run coming off the second bend with some good team riding to gain a 5-1 with the deficit being just 2 points. In the penultimate heat Jenkins made the start and was pushed early on by Priest with Ablitt taking third for a Kings 4-2 leaving the Potters needing a 5-1 in the final heat. Coles gated, but Jenkins went up the inside of the Potter to take the lead, skipper Perry though wasn’t done and he took up the challenge and went past Jenkins in vintage style on the final lap to complete his maximum and a Potters 4-2 heat advantage but it was the Kings that took the spoils.
Stoke skipper Tom Perry commented “It was a real close match, we went seven points down halfway through the meeting we had plans to use a tactical substitution but we pulled the points back which is a good thing as it means the other riders are going well and it’s just a shame we fell short in the end.
"Heat two we lost a few points there but no one is to blame our two reserves are not fully race fit yet as they haven’t had many meetings and it’s a shame they just got caught out. Corban (Pavitt), Joe (Alcock) and Shelby (Rutherford) are all improving and there is plenty to come from them. Joe (Lawlor) suffered an engine issue in his first ride and looked good from then on and it’s all about getting rides on the bike.
"Kent are a good side, okay they had Drew Kemp missing but Ben Morley is pretty quick around here and was a good guest so we have done well there are positives we just need to get some points on the board now, we are all keen and all want it and want to do well for Stoke.”
STOKE 42: Tom Perry 15, Connor Coles 9+1, Joe Lawlor 7+1, Luke Priest 6, Shelby Rutherford 3+1, Joe Alcock 2, Corban Pavitt 0
KENT 44: Jordan Jenkins 12+3, Nathan Ablitt 12+1, Anders Rowe 11, Ben Morley 6, Rob Ledwith 3+1, Dan Gilkes 0, Alex Spooner r/r