Kempston forward Izale McLeod netted a hat-trick as Rovers ran riot over Wantage
Kempston manager Tony Joyce reshuffled his pack following the defeat on Bank Holiday Monday, with injuries and debuts changing the line up, Finlay Brennan was handed a start and Jamal Sule was given a spot on the bench as the two joined this week on work experience loans from MK Dons.
Wantage, birthplace of Alfred The Great, arrived at Hillgrounds on an overcast day sitting bottom of the league, a million miles from the promotion champagne that was sprayed in April to celebrate their Hellenic League title.
King Alfred was made famous for the way he reorganised defences in battle and how Wantage must wish he’d have been named in the starting line up as barely three minutes in, Izale McLeod found himself free of the offside trap and in on goal, only to see his lobbed effort fall wide. Lessons were not learned as less than sixty seconds later; McLeod was in again. this time drawing a good block from McCready in the Wantage goal, the ball looped up, met by the head of Harry Stratton, on his first start of the season, but he could only find the bar. Just after the quarter hour, the relentless onslaught of Kempston pressure told. Robbie Goodman threaded an inch perfect through pass to Evan Beldon. The young winger had the composure and wherewithal to notice McLeod free on the penalty spot. Unselfishly, Beldon squared the ball and allowed the veteran forward to open his account for the season with the simplest of tap ins. McLeod, proving to be as troublesome to Wantage as the Vikings were to Alfred, was at the heart of the action midway into the half, surging into the box and appearing to be clipped before squaring the ball to Stratton, who couldn’t keep his effort on target. Wantage could only muster a couple of half chances in the first period, one wasted by a poor finish after a half clearance in the Rovers area and the second blocked before Dunmall’s shot could go anywhere. Rovers continued to pour forward, sensing blood. Ten minutes before the break, the referee pointed to the spot after McLeod was hauled to the ground, however the assistant referee advised that McLeod had controlled the ball with his arm before being brought down, sparing the fortunate Jackson an early bath for being the last man. McLeod would not be tamed for long though, five minutes from the break, he seized on a bad back pass and, after getting the ball back from Stratton, powered the ball home across the face of the keeper for two nil.
After the break, Kempston continued to raid the Wantage area. Evan Beldon threading a ball through to Gareth Hunt that needed tipping over the bar by McCready in the early stages after the break. Moments later, a high ball into the area saw Cox miss a header and allow McLeod in. The wily ex-pro managed to find the net again but was ruled out for offside. Still inside the first ten minutes of the second period, Hunt and Stratton combined, seeing the latter lash a volley inches over the bar. Just before the hour, the referee pointed to the spot again. Harry Stratton bursting into the area only to be shoved to the ground. McLeod was gifted the chance to seal his hat-trick and duly dispatched the spot kick into the bottom right corner, sending McCready the wrong way. King Alfred would have needed the help Cnut to turn this Red and White tide. Midway through the half, Izale McLeod left the field to a standing ovation from the Hillgrounds faithful as he was replaced by Jake Newman. Carl Knox was called into his only meaningful action of the day with a quarter hour remaining, a comfortable tip over the bar from a flicked header. Less than ten minutes from time, Rovers completed the rout. A poor clearance was flicked back into the danger zone by Alfie Powell, finding Ben Shepherd, who had barely been on the field a minute. Shepherd calmly took the ball round McCready and slid home number four. It could have got worse for Wantage as Beldon pressed King into a mistake to win the ball back in the last minute, his cross was poked wide of the near post by Gareth Hunt. In stoppage time, Jake Newman saw his free kick deflected over the bar, but the game was long since over by then.
The win lifts Rovers to eight in the fledgling table ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Barton. Next Saturday sees Kempston travelling to Hornchurch in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round.
Elsewhere, the Reserves played out a goalless draw away at high-flying Bugbrooke. Rovers third string side began their league campaign in the fourth division of the County League away at Revivalist FC, winning 8-1 – Lorenzo Filip netting five times. The Ladies team begin their league season next weekend and on Monday night a Rovers Youth Squad travel to Burton Latimer to face Kettering Town in the FA Youth Cup, all support is welcome.
Kempston 4-0 Wantage
1 Knox, 2 Goodman, 3 Brennan, 4 Wright © 5 Powell, 6 McGrath, 7 Boland, 8 Beldon, 9 Stratton, 10 McLeod, 11 Hunt
Subs 12 Newman, 14 Shepherd, 16 Sule (unused Andrews)
1 McCready, 2 Lee, 3 King, 4 Fullerton, 5 Jackson ©, 6 Cox, 7 Buchanan, 8 Markham, 9 Glover, 10 Dunmall, 11 Stanley
Subs 14 Drammeh, 16 James, 17 Thorp (unused Pettet, Dalton)
Att – 99 Rovers MOM – Izale McLeod
Author: Matthew Wilmot