Kempston Rovers produced a determined and gritty performance to come from behind against stubborn hosts at Herns Way on a gloriously sunny spring afternoon yesterday.
Kempston began the brighter of the two sides and should’ve taken the lead after two minutes when Shane Bush squared to Josh Crawley in the area, but the ball took a few bobbles on the very tricky surface and Crawley’s shot failed to really test Rabstein in the City goal.
Moments later, Ben Shepherd was the supply line for Scott Joseph, who fired narrowly wide of the mark.
In the twelfth minute, Kempston were caught with a sucker punch, a dangerous attack down the right hand side was squared across to the waiting Elliot Bailey, who gleefully tapped home off the post to open the scoring for the hosts against the run of play.
Less than a minute later, the lead should’ve been doubled, an effort had to be cleared off the goal line after Carl Knox had made an initial save.
Welwyn had a free header from a corner sail over the bar just after twenty minutes, as Kempston struggled to cope with their direct, competitive style.
When Rovers eventually regained a foothold in the game, Shane Bush saw a very optimistic long range lobbed volley saved by Rabstein after some midfield pinball.
On the half hour mark, Rovers did draw level. Cameron Hyde worked some space to whip a left wing cross into the area, causing chaos for Welwyn.
Rabstein missed the catch, both Scott Joseph and Josh Crawley were following in behind the keeper, but the final touch into the net came off the unfortunate Jon Sexton at the back post.
In the dying moments of the first half, Kempston took the lead. Some exchanges of possession in midfield led to George Boland coming forward with the ball, about twenty five yards from goal he sized up the shot.
The effort was scuffed slightly and fizzed across the treacherous surface. Rabstein, obviously content that the ball was going wide, seemed to leave the ball – only to see it creep inside his far post, allowing Rovers to leave the field at the break with a deserved lead.
The second half began at as high a tempo as the first, Carl Knox needing to be alert at his near post to punch away a second minute free kick.
With the high pace and uneven surface, total football was not going to be on the cards in the second period and it wasn’t until the midway point of the half that the first real chance was made.
Welwyn sub Eusebio Da Silva, trying to live up to the name, bustled his way through a couple of challenges but couldn’t find the necessary finish to beat Knox. With fifteen minutes to play, Rovers thought they may have scored again.
Ben Shepherd played a deep free kick right to the back post, Rabstein missed the catch and a crowd of players converged on the far post area.
Hands and voices went up to claim that the ball had gone over the line, but neither referee or assistant were convinced, and Welwyn cleared any follow up danger.
Welwyn searched desperately for an equaliser and in the last ten minutes, Da Silva was denied by Knox after a mis-hit shot, Alfie Powell threw his body manfully on the line to block a shot from Brendan Ocran and then in stoppage time, Eion McKeown attempted to beat Knox with a shot on the run but the forward couldn’t generate the power needed from his left boot.
The result lifts Kempston up a place in the table to thirteenth. The highest the club has been since November and the first time the club has registered three straight league wins all season.
Rovers have five more games to go this season, starting with play off chasing Didcot Town at home next weekend.
Words: Matthew Wilmot
- (not used Mercer, Dummett, Beldon)
- Da Silva
- (not used Todd, Alomenu)
Att – 124