Kempston Rovers produced a perfect away performance to win at high flying Berkhamsted, with Jake Newman’s goal at the end of the first half enough to separate the two sides as Rovers dug in and defended for their lives in a text book smash and grab win.
Berkhamsted, second in the league table, were in good form ahead of the game and started with purpose, with Carl Knox forced into a save in just the seventh minute.
The Rovers’ stopper’s heart was in his mouth midway through the half as he played the ball against Lewis Toomey, but the luck was with the Walnut Boys as the league’s top scorer couldn’t divert the ball goalwards.
Toomey, Lacey and former Rovers midfielder Will Summerfield all wasted chances as the half wore on. Knox produced a stunning point blank save to deny the hosts before Rovers, in one of very few attacks in the half, found the net.
Ben Baker found some room on the right hand side and cut the ball back across goal, a Berkhamsted foot diverted it into the feet of Jake Newman, who then managed to dig the ball out and pass it into the bottom corner.
It was Newman’s fiftieth strike for the club in just eighty one games, and potentially his most important.
The second half continued in the same fashion as the first with Berkhamsted largely in control and pressed for the leveller.
Chances came but failed to be converted, with Lacey guilty midway through the half. Kempston held firm and were dogged in their defensive display to repel everything that the hosts could throw.
As Berkhamsted pushed more and more forward to try and save the game, it could’ve provided Rovers with the chance to score a clinching second.
Ben Baker had the opportunity to bear down on goal, but couldn’t get his shot away before he was mobbed by recovering defenders.
Rovers were so nearly made to pay for that missed chance as in stoppage time, Berkhamsted did find a way past Carl Knox, rounding him perfectly, but defenders swarmed around to make the chance difficult and eventually annulled the danger by blocking the shot on the line and clearing.
Victory moves Rovers level on points with Biggleswade, who they face next at Hillgrounds, with Rovers due to make the short trip to St. Neots on New Year’s Day as they face another of the sides around them in the table, looking to begin 2020 by climbing up the table.
1 Knox, 2 Stratton, 3 Brennan, 4 Wright ©, 5 Hunt, 6 Sage, 7 Johnson, 8 Goodman, 9 Newman, 10 McLeod, 11 Baker
Subs 12 Birch (unused Shortt, Jones, Bailey)
1 Comas, 2 Akubuine, 3 Murphy, 4 Amu, 5 Kinnane, 6 Farrelly, 7 Witham, 8 Spaul ©, 9 Toomey, 10 Lacey, 11 Summerfield
Subs 14 Morrissey, 15 Hercules, 17 Chamberlain (unused Locke, Stobbs)
Attendance – 166
Rovers Man of the Match – Jordan Wright