Kempston Rovers were edged out on a wretched night in Hertfordshire, after a first half brace from home captain Dave Keenlyside proved to be enough as Welwyn managed to resist Kempston’s second half fightback.
The game was in doubt right up until 7pm as the referee demanded an army of volunteers to fork the pitch and drain away the surface water, although it was still saturated come kick off time.
Rovers very nearly upset the apple cart early on, Jordan Wright hitting the post from a teasing corner, but it was shortly after the quarter hour that Rovers were undone.
A long ball deceived the entire defence and Max Marsh was judged to have collided with Watson and a penalty was given; with Keenlyside dispatched it low into the net.
Michael Hudson produced a fine save to keep the score at one nil after the hosts made light of the terrible conditions to create intricate passes on the edge of the box.
Keenlyside doubled the score shortly afterward, unleashing a curling beauty into the top corner via the post. He could’ve had a hattrick to his name but a third effort crashed off the post shortly before the break.
After the interval, Kempston came out possessed and halved the deficit within minutes of the restart. A left wing cross was flicked on by Andrew Phillips to a grateful Sam Johnson, who gleefully thumped home from close range.
Celebrations were cut short though as within three minutes, Welwyn restored their two goal advantage, Callum Stead stabbing in after a failed clearance. Shortly after the hour, Kempston managed to rally enough to find a second goal, Johnson surging forward down the right and cutting back across the box, where Ben Baker was on hand to find the net and make it three two.
Welwyn sub Hani Berchiche dashed any thought of an unlikely draw when he headed in the fourth for the hosts with less than fifteen minutes to play. Kempston pressed to get back in the game again, but to no avail.
Rovers left the pitch muddied, bloodied and beaten, but not defeated as the second half performance gave plenty of positives to take into this weekend’s local derby at Bedford Town.
1 Hudson, 2 Marsh, 3 Hyde, 4 Wright ©, 5 Bailey, 6 Nicholls, 7 Johnson, 8 Goodman, 9 Phillips, 10 Dahie, 11 Baker
Subs 14 Stratton (unused Birch, Shortt, Hunt)
1 Tavares, 2 Ebengo, 3 Sexton, 4 Close, 5 Njie, 6 Rolfe, 7 Stead, 8 Payne, 9 Watson, 10 Keenlyside ©, 11 Opoku
Subs 12 Berchiche, 14 Matthews, 15 Taylor (unused Smaldone, Pant)
Attendance – 52
Rovers Man of the Match – Sam Johnson
Words by Matthew Wilmot