Berkhamstead 3 v 3 Kempston
Kempston Rovers took a point from Berkhamsted and will be disappointed not to have all three after a crazy afternoon.
Rovers arrived in the rather well-heeled town of Berkhamsted on a gloriously sunny Easter Saturday for a match that had incredibly little riding on it other than pride.
But what an afternoon was in store.
Things got exciting as early as the third minute, with Murphy whipping in his first dangerous corner of the day, finding the head of Spaul who headed wide.
Izale McLeod had Kempston’s first effort, a rather tame header that Comas-Leon dealt with comfortably.
The hosts thought they had the lead when a free kick caused a scramble in the box, Carl Knox getting a hand to the ball, only to see Andrew Ofosu tap home.
The linesman, a target all afternoon for home fans, raised his flag to signal offside and rule out the goal. An action packed opening quarter hour was complete when Berkhamsted took the lead.
Another Murphy corner was flicked in by Spaul. The lead lasted barely five minutes, as Rovers took advantage from a needlessly conceded free kick.
Ben Shepherd delivered a cross that was glanced into the net by Shane Bush to level the scores. Seconds later McLeod was put through, in behind the home defence and bore down on goal.
Kinnane clumsily brought down the wily forward in the box, the referee pointed to the spot and reached for his pocket. Deeming that Kinnane was not only last man, but denied a goalscoring opportunity without attempting to play the ball, was dismissed.
McLeod stepped up and saw his spotkick, low to the keeper’s right, brilliantly turned away by Comas-Leon. Barely had anyone caught their breath, when Kempston were awarded another penalty, for handball as a defender threw himself to ground to block an attack.
This time McLeod made no mistake, putting the ball to the opposite side, sending Comas-Leon the wrong way and giving Rovers the lead.
As Rovers looked to press the man and goal advantage, Shepherd fed Bush with a wonderful outside of the foot pass, only to see the Rovers’ skipper snatch at the shot with his weaker foot and drag it across goal.
Berkhamsted were nearly gifted a leveller with seven minutes of the half to go. A slip by the usually reliable Alfie Powell let in Lacey, who played the ball across to Bateman.
The forward’s faint toe end on the ball forced Carl Knox into a wonderful sprawling save to preserve the lead.
Just before the break, Kempston were forced into a change, with Shane Bush withdrawn with a muscular pull.
Deep into stoppage time at the end of the half, Daniel Akubuine launched a deep diagonal ball up to McLeod, who controlled and moved inside his man with ease before unleashing a low shot that beat Comas-Leon at his near post to send Rovers in at the break with a two goal lead.
The second period began as breathlessly as the first, Alfie Powell needing to block a free kick and the follow up from Lacey to keep the hosts at bay.
Shortly before the hour mark, Berkhamsted did pull a goal back. Murphy swinging in another of those dangerous corners, which was met by Farrelly.
His header powered goalward was too hot to handle for Knox who got a hand to it but not enough to divert the ball away. Two minutes later, another Murphy corner saw Farrelly go to ground in the box under challenge.
The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for the third time in the game. Matthew Bateman stepped up and dispatched the kick with aplomb into the higher reaches of the right side of the net, sending Knox the wrong way.
The match ebbed and flowed on a difficult surface, with both sides sensing that a win was there for the taking.
Rovers saw chances come and go for Ben Shepherd, Josh Crawley and Scott Joseph before the best move of the match saw the ball worked up to McLeod, who laid off perfectly for sub Dean Dummett to fire at goal, but his effort was always rising over the bar.
Inside the last ten minutes and a Ben Shepherd shot wasn’t cleared, finding its way to McLeod on the overhead, the ball was magnificently saved at point blank range by Comas-Leon.
Berkhamsted had a glorious chance to win the game, with Bateman intercepting a clearance and bearing down on goal. Somehow he contrived to put the ball inches past the far post.
In the dying embers of the game, a Rovers corner was flicked on by sub Evan Beldon, flying agonisingly close to a number of Rovers’ bodies at the far post who just couldn’t react quickly enough to turn it home.
At the other end with the last meaningful kick, Bateman did the same for the hosts, putting the ball across goal where Lacey just couldn’t stretch enough to snatch the win.
Both sides left the field rueing missed chances and feeling they could and perhaps should have won the game, but for the one hundred and twenty six in attendance, it was the most thrilling afternoon. A dull end of season affair it certainly wasn’t.
The point keeps Rovers in thirteenth place in the table, now with just two games left – starting with the final home game of the season on Easter Monday against North Leigh, who have this weekend climbed out of the bottom two for the first time since the end of September.
- Beldon (not used Jones)
- (not used Towell, Hutchins, Bircham)
- Att – 126
Words: Matthew Wilmot