Lynn Young Stars 46 Kent Kings 44
The Lynn Young Stars ended Kent’s unbeaten league record with a last-gasp 5-1 in their first home meeting for nearly a month on Wednesday.
Kent were the only Travel Plus National League team with an unbeaten run following Birmingham’s 46-43 loss at Eastbourne on Saturday.
They looked on course to extend this run when taking an opening heat 4-2 result via winner Rob Branford, while Josh Bailey’s second place for Lynn was the only time all night the home top scorer was beaten by an opposition rider.
The best the hosts could do in the first half of the meeting at the Adrian Flux Arena was go all-square at 18-18 following Heat 6, and the visiting outfit retained a slender lead from Heat 8 when posting their second 5-1.
It all changed when during Heat 13 Branford went into the air fence at the start of lap two and was excluded by referee Dave Robinson.
The re-run looked like it would be the race of the night when the trio of riders swapped places and Bailey edged it over stand-in away captain Danny Ayres at the chequered flag, ahead of Lynn’s Nathan Greaves.
It was 41-43 to Kent going into the last.
There was more jostling for positions and Ayres went wide on the third lap.
Nominated Lynn riders Greaves and Bailey pounced on the error to secure the top two positions on the final lap and seal the win ahead of James Shanes and Ayres.
Lynn’s other maximum had earlier come from Ryan Kinsley leading home Tom Stokes in Heat 3, beating Shanes and Chris Widman, but Kent led 26-22 at the midway stage and either had a two or four-point advantage from then on.
Young Stars boss Dale Allitt said: “Nights like tonight don’t come around very often. I think you have got to enjoy it and they have got to enjoy it.
“We can look forward to Cardiff now (where Lynn Stars Elite League rider Robert Lambert, who rose through the ranks of the Young Stars, will be a reserve for the British Grand Prix this weekend), and we have a bit of time off.
“I’m very, very pleased with the result and very pleased with all the riders.
“If you think about it, for 14 heats and three laps they led us, and it was the last lap (that Lynn won it).
“Ironically, I said to the team on the centre green before Heat 15 that whatever happens now, I’m proud of the way that you have come back.
“We didn’t let it get to us. We were fighting all the time, like Shane (Hazelden) going out and getting that vital point (in Heat 12, backing up Kinsley in a shared result).”
Young Stars: Josh Bailey 13+1, Scott Campos 3, Ryan Kinsley 7, Tom Stokes 7+2, Nathan Greaves 11, Lewis Whitmore 2+2, Shane Hazelden 3+1.
Kent: Robert Branford (guest) 9, David Mason R/R, James Shanes 12+1, Chris Widman 1+1, Danny Ayres 12, Danno Verge 0, Jack Thomas 10+2.