CRADLEY extended their lead at the top of the National League table with a hard fought 41-37 win at Kent on Monday.

Heathens have still only lost one meeting all season and went into the meeting without three key riders - Max Clegg, Tom Perry and Matt Williamson - due to a clash of fixtures.

Ben Hopwood proved to be a fine choice of guest by manager Will Pottinger as he top scored with 12-points with Steve Worrall notching 11+1 and Paul Starke 8.

Young reserve Nathan Greaves saw his score hit by crashes and retirements but he did win a race on his second choice of bike.

Said Pottinger: "This was a fantastic effort from such a depleted side.

"I wasn't happy about having to go there with half a team, but Ben Hopwood was a great guest for us.

"We move on to our next home meeting at Wolverhampton against Coventry next Tuesday which I expect to be the toughest meeting of the season. We will be at full strength for that and we need to be."

Kent 37: Simon Lambert 12, Benji Compton 10+1, Aaron Baseby 6+1, Ben Morley 6+1, Danny Ayres 2+2, Jason Garrad 1+1, David Mason R/R.

Cradley 41: Ben Hopwood 12, Steve Worrall 11+1, Paul Starke 8, Nathan Greaves 4, Dan Greenwood 3+1, Danny Phillips 3+1, Matt Williamson R/R.

Meanwhile, Birmingham speedway fans have been offered a hand of friendship from neighbours Wolverhampton and Cradley.

The Black Country sides, who both race at Monmore Green, have joined forces to offer Brummies season ticket holders free admission to both Wolves and Heathens home fixtures.

It means Birmingham supporters still have the chance to see Elite League racing as well as supporting one of their own, Paul Starke, who is Cradley skipper.

Wolverhampton owner Chris Van Straaten said: “We are deeply saddened by the closure of Birmingham and this is a small gesture on our behalf.

“Birmingham supporters are most welcome at both Wolves and Heathens meetings and it would be nice to think this is some way of retaining interest for them. As with everyone, we hope the Brummies will return next season.”

Starke, meanwhile, says he would be delighted to see Birmingham supporters at Cradley.

“The fans were brilliant to me at Birmingham and it’s a very sad outcome,” he said. “But it’s a fantastic gesture from the Cradley and Wolverhampton management so I hope to see the Brummies fans before the end of the season.