Cradley Heathens claim a hard-fought win
Cradley’s battling 47-37 win over Kent Kings was marred by a suspected leg break for visiting rider Luke Clifton, writes Andy Mitchell.
Clifton locked up on lap two of heat two while being passed by Conor Dwyer and was attended to for more than an hour by medics at the track.
A strong second half and three race wins apiece for leading lights Danny Ayres and Tom Perry smoothed the path to victory. A fall for Kings’ top scorer Luke Bowen spelled the end of the night after 14 heats due to the track curfew.
Showman Ayres dived in front of his rivals from gate three and took a comfortable victory in the opener before.
Once the second heat resumed, Heathens gated on a 5-1 but Anders Rowe reeled in Ryan Burton to limit the damage for Kent.
Jack Thomas trapped in heat three with Ben Hopwood sailing around Luke Harris for a Kings 5-1 but parity was restored when Perry passed Nathan Stoneman on lap two of the fourth race.
Harris dived up the inside of Bradley Andrews to secure a 3-3 for Cradley in heat five before Ayres won another shared race in the sixth.
Perry followed suit in the seventh with Kent’s Andrews getting ahead in heat eight and holding off Burton.
Heat nine had only three runners with Heathens taking full advantage and the lead as Dan Greenwood and Harris earned a first home maximum of the night.
Ayres recovered from being pushed wide by Hopwood to take heat 10. The swift Bowen blasted to another comfortable win but Perry jetted up the inside to go from fourth to second on lap one to ensure another 3-3.
But the time came for Cradley to seize control when Burton got to the front and Greenwood’s battle with Hopwood for second came to a premature end as the Kent charger packed up.
Eight ahead going into heat 13, the hosts were handed another boost when Stoneman was sent back 15 metres for missing the two minutes. Bowen split Perry and Ayres but the result was all but sealed by the heat advantage.
Thomas’s flying start gave the visitors hope of a consolation point but that was dashed by Bowen’s fall.
Cradley 47: Tom Perry 11, Danny Ayres 10, Dan Greenwood 7+1, Ryan Burton 7, Conor Dwyer 6+3, Luke Harris 6+2, Joe Lawlor 0.
Kent 37: Luke Bowen 10, Jack Thomas 8+2, Ben Hopwood 6+1, Anders Rowe 5, Nathan Stoneman 4+1, Bradley Andrews 4, Luke Clifton 0.