Rovers undone by late goals
Kempston fell to their first defeat since the opening day of the season as Hartley Witney grabbed two late goals to turn the game around at the death.
The hosts began well and could’ve been two goals up in the first ten minutes as Sam Argent shot wide when through on goal and then Steve Noakes stretched to hit wide from a corner. Rovers first attempt at goal came in the sixteenth minute when Damon Herbert
latched on to a poor pass and fed Jake Newman
, but Rovers’ leading marksman’s low drive was saved. Rovers best chance of the half came on the half hour mark when Sam Johnson
found Newman through on goal but he couldn’t make enough contact on the ball to beat the on rushing keeper Strudley. The first half ended goalless.
The second half started with a bang as only three minutes in, Grant Fryer
required treatment following a clash of heads. Shortly after play resumed, Rovers took the lead; Ash Fuller
fed the ball into George Boland
and the young midfielder ran at the Hartley Witney back line before unleashing a shot from between twenty and twenty five yards into the far bottom corner for his second goal of the season. Despite returning to the game, Fryer was replaced after the goal by debutant Adam Moussi
in a reshuffle that saw Robbie Goodman
drop into defence. Ten minutes after the goal, as the hosts were coming back into the game, Ben Shepherd
was cautioned for a late challenge, but the free kick came to nothing. A mix up at the back nearly brought about an equaliser as Paul Hodges stole the ball to go through one on one, only to see his tame shot bobble harmlessly wide. The hosts were really starting to press, but couldn’t find the cutting edge that they needed as half chances came and went, Hodges and sub Perkins both had speculative efforts. The game had been played against a back drop of scattered showers but with fifteen minutes to play, the heavens opened leaving the spectators on the far touchline running for the cover of the veranda on the clubhouse. With five minutes left on the clock, Hartley Witney got their equaliser in fortunate circumstance, a free kick was awarded in the right hand channel and while Martin Conway
managed to block Steven Duff’s initial effort, Hodges was the liveliest man in the box to force the rebound home from a handful of yards. In the commotion after the goal, Kempston manager Jimmy Stoyles was asked to leave the touch line after protesting the award of the initial free kick. The hosts hard work was nearly undone shortly afterwards as keeper Strudley was adjudged to have handled outside the area, he avoided any card and Hartley stood firm to block the free kick. As the game played out, Hodges was cautioned for the hosts for kicking the ball away after a foul. The late blow for Rovers came in stoppage time. A corner from the left wasn’t cleared properly, falling to sub Perfitt on the angle of the area; his volleyed shot was looking to be heading well wide but defender Adam New leaned out to divert the ball beyond the desperate grasp of Conway and into the top corner of the net.
After the game, manager Jimmy Stoyles was in a sombre reflective mood, commenting “we should’ve seen it out. We had enough chances to win, but we’ve been undone by not concentrating and dealing with set pieces”. Rovers slip to twelfth in the table ahead of next weekend’s cup tie with Hereford.