Kempston held firm defensively and nearly snatched all three points at the death
Kempston Rovers began to steady their ship with a battling performance away at Kidlington, where the majority of the game’s drama came in the final two minutes, where the Walnut Boys could so easily have come away with a smash and grab win.
With the top two divisions in the country on hiatus for the international fixtures, this weekend saw the tenth annual celebration of Non League Day, a day given over to the great and the good of semi-pro football. However, given that this particular fixture was hastily rearranged and brought forward from Wednesday, the weather was beginning to remember it was autumn and that both sides were severely out of form, the attendance of just thirty two obviously didn’t attract any floating supporters.
Rovers arrived naming two defensive players in midfield in Jordan Wright and Robbie Goodman as well as handing a first team debut to Max Marsh at full back, as manager Tony Joyce looked to stiffen the resolve and reverse the team’s recent form.
The hosts began brightly and created three good early chances. Castle saw a shot blocked in the area after everyone missed Howards’ cross in just the tenth minute. Howards then had a shot of his own saved well at the near post by Carl Knox. Castle saw his next effort curl wide of the post on the quarter hour. Kempston managed to ride this mini-storm and created some half chances of their own, Ben Baker and Izale McLeod unable to find the target, then just before the half hour, Baker was put through by Harry Stratton and found himself one on one with Lawrence in the Kidlington goal, but the Rovers winger was denied by the keeper as he rushed off his line. Ten minutes from the break, Jordan Wright went in hard on Blackstock in the middle of the park. Despite appearing to have won the ball, the referee saw Wright’s feet off the floor and deemed him to be out of control. Wright was perhaps lucky that the home bench’s calls for a red card weren’t heeded by the man in the middle. The sides went in goal less at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half, Jordan Wright was at the centre of the referee’s attention again for another robust challenge on Howards. He was incredibly fortunate to avoid a second yellow card, Coyle of Kidlington was cautioned for his protests. Wright was substituted for his own preservation shortly afterwards. The game fell into a pattern of both sides working well at the back and falling short with their final pass in the attacking third. It took until fifteen minutes to go for the first effort on goal of the second half, Harry Stratton’s low shot was tipped round the post after a swift Rovers break. However, it was the last two minutes of the match that it came to life as a spectacle. First, Ben Baker managed to get himself to the byline and cut a ball back across the box, where Izale McLeod met it with a simple side foot finish, only to see it come slapping back off the foot of the post with Lawrence beaten all ends up. McLeod then saw a free kick saved after Emmanuel Dahie was brought down just outside the box. At the other end, James Sage was forced into a clearance that could’ve gone anywhere from Howards’ cross. As the game ticked into stoppage time Stratton put a dangerous ball into the box that hit Ben Baker’s knees and bounced into Lawrence’s hands. Stratton had the game’s final effort, but put his shot straight at Lawrence.
The point puts and end to Rovers losing streak and secures the first clean sheet since the end of August. The club are still in eighteenth place in the table, but are now level on points with Coleshill Town, who are the Walnut Boys’ next opposition in another away day next weekend.
Kidlington 0-0 Kempston
1 Knox, 2 Marsh, 3 Brennan, 4 Wright ©, 5 Powell, 6 Sage, 7 Baker, 8 Goodman, 9 Stratton, 10 McLeod, 11 Hunt
Subs 12 McGrath, 14 Dahie, 15 Massaro (unused Ward)
13 Lawrence, 2 Benjamin, 3 West, 4 Martin, 5 Peart, 6 Gabbidon ©, 7 Coyle, 8 Williams, 9 Howards, 10 Blackstock, 11 Castle
Subs 12 Odhiambo, 15 Singh, 16 Smith (unused Willoghby)
Att – 32 Rovers MOM – Robbie Goodman