Tuesday September 21, 2021
LEICESTER cranked up the pressure on their play-off rivals with a thumping 53-37 win at Kent on Tuesday.

The Watling JCB Lions were in dominant form at Central Park as they dismantled a Kings side who have been on an impressive run of home form since making mid-season team changes.

The four league points gained makes a massive difference to the league table and means the Lions now have a realistic chance of a top two finish – pending their result at Glasgow on Wednesday – and top three is an even stronger possibility.

The Lions’ heat-leaders reeled off a string of race victories with Nick Morris, Hans Andersen and Ryan Douglas recording three wins apiece, but there were also key contributions from the other four team members.

Zaine Kennedy controlled the reserves’ race to maintain a shared situation, and skipper Kyle Howarth quickly cleared Cameron Heeps in Heat 3 to join Andersen for the first 5-1 of the night to put Leicester ahead.

A succession of shared races followed with former Lions skipper Scott Nicholls winning his opening two outings, but Kennedy and Dan Thompson then pulled off a big 5-1 in Heat 8 as they overcame Ben Morley and Dan Gilkes in the early stages.

Lions wasted no time in hammering home their advantage as Douglas was joined by Joe Thompson with a brilliant effort to get the better of Heeps in Heat 9, with the 5-1 extending the margin to 12 points.

And when the Kings deployed their strongest combination in Heat 10 with Nicholls taking a tactical substitute ride, Andersen prevented any damage with a win over Nicholls and Batchelor, who stole third from Howarth off the final turn.

Morris defeated Nicholls in Heat 11 with Dan Thompson taking a strong third, and whilst the Kings have become accustomed to Nicholls/Batchelor 5-1s in Heats 13 and 15, this time it was the Lions who took the maximum with Douglas and Morris getting away from the start and moving clear.

The hosts gained a consolation 5-1 in Heat 14 when Kennedy came to grief, but Morris wrapped things up in the finale with Douglas in third place to complete an emphatic victory.

Boss Stewart Dickson said: “I was hopeful of an away win tonight, but not by that margin, and it means we’re unbeaten in eight now in all competitions.

“We are coming into form at the right time, which is something I spoke about in July and August, and now it’s a case of keeping it going.

“All seven riders contributed, and our top three were really getting out of the starts which was important because passing was at a premium.

“Kent had a bit of misfortune with Paul Starke having bike trouble, but I do think we would still have won the meeting even without that.

“It shows that if all seven score, we can go to most places and score at least 42, 43 which is so important when it comes down to two-legged ties in play-offs and Cup matches.

“I’m very pleased, to get the extra point is a real bonus for us, and I always felt we could have a say at the top. It was also great to see a good few fans travelled again, and we really thank them for their support.”

KENT 37: Scott Nicholls 11, Cameron Heeps 8+1, Jake Mulford 6+1, Troy Batchelor 5+2, Dan Gilkes 3+1, Ben Morley 3, Paul Starke 1+1.
LEICESTER 53: Nick Morris 13+1, Ryan Douglas 12, Hans Andersen 10+1, Zaine Kennedy 6+2, Dan Thompson 5+1, Kyle Howarth 5+1, Joe Thompson 2+1.

*LIONS are due back at Glasgow on Wednesday (7.30pm) in the re-staging of the meeting abandoned after just one race on Sunday.

It’s a clash of third against fourth in the table with the Tigers one point ahead, and having two home matches this week.

Second-placed Redcar, who have three more points than the Lions, complete their schedule at leaders Poole.

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