Kempston Rovers 1 Hanwell Town 1
Away point gained
The threat of Storm Brian and the one hundred and twenty mile round road trip to Northern Bedfordshire meant that there was only a sprinkling of the ‘Toon Army’, two of whom made a Michael Portillo like trek on various trains, at the Hillgrounds Leisure Centre on Saturday. They witnessed a game lacking in entertaining football owing to the conditions but not short of effort. Manager Ray Duffy fielded a ‘Duffy Three’ at the back again, and throughout the game their mutual understanding and organized defending frustrated the home attack, particularly central striker Jake Newman who was caught off-side on at least half a dozen occasions. He did make one well-timed run early on but Tom Duffy read the play and made a timely interception.
The wind was behind the home team in the first period but its gusty nature only succeeded in making it difficult for both teams to create anything in the final third. This meant that almost a quarter of an hour had been played before Ash Fuller had the first shot of the game, which went harmlessly wide of the Hanwell goal. Town responded with a good attack down the right flank. Georges Ehui found Charlie Mitchell, whose run and low cross almost set up Callum Wright, but he was denied by a well-timed challenge. Up the other end it was Olly Duffy’s turn to frustrate Newman with a timely tackle. Two minutes later the same striker finally beat the off-side trap but he fired wide when he needed to hit the target.
Hanwell’s best hope of getting past the Kempston midfield was via the wing backs with both skipper Kyle Watson and Charlie looking threatening on occasions. The latter player combined with George again to set Callum away but home custodian Martin Conway raced well outside his area to clear. A minute later Callum appeared to be tripped as he raced forward but there was no whistle. While the Walnut Boys had the greater possession and territorial advantage Hanwell continued to defend stoutly, with Calum doing particularly well to clear away a dangerous cross while he was facing his own goal just after the half hour.
The continually raucous home support gave the referee a verbal battering as he awarded Hanwell a number of free kicks, but from a Hanwell point of view a lack of cards being shown for ‘ high boots’ made Nick Turner’s recent dismissal look extremely harsh. As the half was coming to a close Town managed to get forward a bit more. From a free kick Calum played the ball to Callum but his cross was well held. Then a run by Charlie saw his cross diverted to George whose shot was blocked. At the resultant corner Tom rose well but headed narrowly wide.
Hanwell were playing with the wind in the second half but it was Kempston who had the first good chance of the period. Sam Johnson burst through on the right and fired just over, although the referee adjudged that Xavi Comas had made a fine save and awarded a corner. The home side did, however, find the target in the fifty-third minute when Luke Heneghan’s free kick by-passed the Hanwell wall and beat Xavi at the near post. A second goal looked possible a minute later but Tom did extremely well to block Fuller’s shot. Hanwell went in search of an equalizer but a good run and cross by Callum was headed clear. Most of Hanwell’s attacking was down the right and Charlie was seeing a lot of the ball but too often Town’s final ball was going astray. Up the other end Johnson caused concern as he cut inside and shot low. Fortunately for Hanwell he hit the post.
The wind was proving helpful to Hanwell in dead ball situations and a corner from Callum had previously been missed by everyone. The same happened in the eighty-fourth minute, from the other side, Charlie bending the ball directly into the top corner for the third time this season. The goal sparked off some tongue-in cheek extended celebration from the delighted visiting contingent. The remainder of the game was Hanwell’s best period, with both Callum and Glen Yala firing over the bar when well placed, and some free kicks from threatening positions needing to be well defended by Kempston.
Thanks to the wind the match may not have been much of a spectacle but Hanwell had done well to extend their unbeaten run and earn an away point from a team in the play-off places. It made the journey back seem a lot shorter!
TEAM: 1.Xavi Comas 2.Charlie Mitchell 3.Kyle Watson © 4.Tom Duffy 5.Calum Duffy 6.Oliver Duffy 7.Georges Ehui 8.Peter Dean (15.Tom Hunt 82) 9.Glen Yala 10.Callum Wright 11.Jesse Kewley-Graham (12.Joe Chandiram 71). Unused substitute: 14.Ricky Pither.