Kempston Rovers 1 – 3 Wisbeach
This friendly encounter was perhaps more akin to the Cold War, with neither manager looking to show their full hand against their FA Trophy opponents after the two had been paired together in the competition at the end of September.
Rovers were missing five first team players from their side due to injuries and unavailability.
Despite the depleted nature of the side, Rovers nearly took the lead just nine minutes in when new signing Marcus Campbell clipped an optimistic lob just wide.
Kempston didn’t have to wait long to cheer a goal, however as in the thirteenth minute, a Gareth Hunt corner to the back stick was met by Alfie Powell, who steered the ball back toward goal, where it was flapped at by the Wisbech keeper into his own net, Powell taking the credit to put Rovers in the lead.
After a scheduled stop for water in the rising temperatures, Carl Knox sublimely tipped away a shot that was dipping under the bar from some distance out. Shortly before that half hour, Wisbech found themselves level.
A corner was not cleared and several chances were blocked on the line with the football more likened to a pin ball, with both sides claiming handball, the officials judged it to have crossed the line before a Wisbech forward made sure. The sides went in one goal each at the break.
The second period began with Knox in fine fettle again, looking to firmly establish himself as Rovers number one keeper this season, tipping another shot around the post.
Knox could do nothing ten minutes into the half however, as a through ball was finished adeptly by a Wisbech forward on the volley to give the visitors the lead.
Minutes later, it was three one as another long ball was lobbed into the net beyond Knox. Less than five minutes later, Knox produced a world class save, fully stretching low to his left to reach and hold the ball on the line just inside the far post to prevent a certain goal.
The usual mass substitutions that mar friendly matches took all the pace and flow out of the game in the second half and limited real goal mouth action.
Rovers did muster one final chance, when sub Al Hassan surged into the box from a George Boland pass, but was smothered by the keeper before he could get a shot off. Three one the final score.
Rovers have one final friendly away at Cranfield United next weekend before starting their season for real at home to Didcot Town on the seventeenth.
Kempston’s reserve side begin their campaign on Tuesday night at home to Irchester before another home game on Saturday against Huntingdon.
Subs: Shepherd, Al Hassan, Atta, McLeod
Words: Matthew Wilmot