The Devils were cursing lost points in their National League clash at Kent , going down 50-40 in the end after experiencing problems in first few heats.
In heat one Richard Andrews slipped off on the very wet track after a pre-meeting rain storm turning a 4-2 heat win into a 3-3. They did achieve a 4-2 in heat two with Henry Atkins , having never seen the track before, taking a fine win after overhauling home man George Hunter to put his dide in the lead 7-5.
Disaster then struck in heat 3 when Benji Compton had chain problems and was excluded with Atkins rushing out to replace him but a Kent 5-1 put them in the lead 10-8.
Then heat 4 saw Steve Boxall go through the tapes and have to go off 15 metres with the trainee referee in charge of the meeting deciding that the Devil moved before the tapes rose and excluded him. This left Henry Atkins, in his third successive ride, to battle on alone splitting the Kent pairing.
The Devils clawed their way back to be two points down at heat 7 before three successive home 5-1 heat wins to put them 12 up. But clearly heat 8 should have been brought back with home man Hunter jumping the start (and admitting he was waiting for the race to be re-run!!) but the referee taking no action. The second of these was again controversial with Boxall making a lightning start only for the race to be stopped unlike the previous one and a warning issued to him. In the re-run the two home riders jumped the start with the race continuing !! Frustrating for the Devils and Boxall in particular !!
Boxall’s nightmare night with the tapes didn’t end there as in heat 13 , with the trainee ref still holding the tapes for what seemed an eternity again, he and Jack Thomas moved with Boxall adjudged to have touched them and was handicapped 15 metres. That though seemed to make him more determined and he superbly passed Thomas to join Roynon for a 5-1., a feat they repeated in heat 15.
Team boss Laurence Rogers believed they deserved something out of the clash, “ Although we had a few of the lads having an off night some of the incidents lost us points and had lady luck been on our side and we had less problems we could have taken something out of the meeting. The inconsistency of decisions from starts from the trainee referee was certainly a talking point and I don’t think he will be on Steve Boxall’s Christmas card list. I know he is only learning but holding the tapes as long as he was doing is going to blow engines and burn clutches out . He certainly missed pulling back some fliers ….and that is not sour grapes on us losing but fact with even the riders concerned amazed they weren’t pulled back!! The conditions were not ideal with the rain but credit to all the lads on both sides for getting the meeting finished.”
KENT 50: Ben Hopwood 12, Jack Thomas 10, Anders Rowe 9+1, Dan Greenwood 8+3, George Hunter 8+1, Luke Bowen 3+2, William O’Keefe 0
PLYMOUTH 40: Adam Roynon 13+1, Steve Boxall 9+1, Henry Atkins 9+1, Benji Compton 5, Alex Spooner 2, Callum Walker 1+1, Richard Andrews 1+1
National League points: Kent 3 Plymouth 0