Bedford Eagle 0 – 1 Kempston Rovers
A bumper crowd at the Eyrie was treated to a gutsy performance from visitors Kempston Rovers as they did enough to emerge victorious in this feisty local contest.
Kempston manager Tony Joyce had said during the week that his plan was to be more attacking in this fixture, true to his word, he lined up with a front two for the first time in a few matches as part of a 3 5 2 formation that sought to exploit the wind to their advantage.
As early as the third minute Daniel Akubuine tested Ashlee Jones from long range, the full back’s shot from the angle of the area tipped over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Kempston took the lead with the game’s only goal. Cameron Hyde swung the ball in toward the far post, where it was met by Shane Bush.
The Rovers’ skipper glanced the ball back from whence it came and saw it nestle in the corner of the Bedford Town net.
The Eyrie went eerie for a moment as celebrations were slightly muted, but the goal was given and Rovers had first blood for the first time against Bedford Town since August 2016.
A spirited local derby game threatened to boil over at the quarter hour mark, a spot of handbags after a robust challenge saw referee Alistair Wilson using his experience to calm things down.
Both sides will feel that they got away without any cards on this occasion. Ben Ford had Town’s best chance of the first half with a long low drive midway through the half, but Carl Knox in the Rovers’ goal was equal to it with a diving save.
Moments later, Kempston should’ve doubled their lead, Scott Joseph found himself in behind the Town defence and with just the keeper to beat, couldn’t control his finish, two minutes later the same man found himself in behind again, but this time fired wide at the near post.
As the half drew to a close, Cameron Hyde continued to cause chaos with his set piece delivery. Firstly supplying a corner that Lewis Jones glanced wide before right on the half Shane Bush met another corner with a diving header that he couldn’t keep down.
Both sides found a man in the referee’s notebook late in the half, Ben Shepherd for Kempston and Joe Steele for Town.
After some strong words at half time, Town came out for the second period with all guns blazing. Dan Walker hooked just wide with barely four minutes on the clock after the restart before Ebby Nelson-Addy curled a free kick just over the bar.
Bedford thought they had levelled just before the hour mark, Brett Longden caused chaos with a surging run and a ball across the goal, agonisingly out of the reach of Jemale McKenzie-Lowe.
Having weathered the early storm, Kempston looked to get back into their rhythm, Shane Bush lofting a through ball through to sub Josh Crawley, who raced in behind the static Town defence, but Jones was out quickly to smother the shot.
At the other end, Town skipper James Peters looked to have the final touch on a melee in the area, stabbing just wide. The home side were taking the issue to the visitors, forcing a succession of corners, but couldn’t break through the stubborn Kempston rear-guard.
Brett Longden’s long effort was a comfortable catch for Carl Knox before the Rovers’ stopper had to be alert to deny Connor Furlong at his feet as Town looked to have opened the Rovers back line, Daniel Akubuine was back to clear any lingering danger.
Bedford frustration began to boil to the surface as captain James Peters was cautioned for a needless shove, moments later Rovers found their own skipper in the notebook, Shane Bush lunging into a challenge.
In stoppage time, Town sub Mason Watkins-Clark, who had only been on the field for five minutes, was shown a straight red card after appearing to have scythed through the back of Josh Crawley.
In the last of the seven added minutes, Rovers could’ve put the result beyond doubt when Nathan Tshikuna bore down on goal only to see his shot deflected into the path of Cameron Hyde, who skewed his volleyed follow up wide of the mark.
Full time sparked joyous scenes among the away contingent. The result means that in each of the last three seasons, both Town and Rovers have shared one victory each in these encounters.
The three points lifts Rovers one place to fourteenth as eases any survival worries that may have crept in over the last few weeks, while other results around the league see Town drop out of the play offs, although they can make that up with their game in hand.
Next up for Kempston is a home game next weekend against Aylesbury FC, who have already taken the decision to drop down a league for next season on ground grading issues, even if they finish outside the bottom two.
- (not used Mercer, Martin)
- (not used Dummett, Benson, Mienambolo)
Att – 362
Words: Matthew Wilmot on Behalf of Kempston Rovers FC