Tshikuna-matata! Nathan is Rovers' Lion King at the Rams
Nathan Tshikuna inspired Rovers to victory away at high flying Beaconsfield with two goals and an assist in a superb second half turnaround.
Kempston started the brighter and right from the off pressed forward. The early pressure led to home keeper Jamie Norris to slice a back pass out for a corner. Luke Heneghan went across to take the corner from the left hand side, whipping the ball across the six yard box to find Nathan Tshikuna unmarked at the far post to nod Rovers into an early lead. The goal was almost a carbon copy of the winning goal from Tuesday night’s dramatic win. Beaconsfield, somewhat stunned by the early goal gathered themselves and drove forward. Heneghan earned himself an early caution for cynically ending a counter attack. On twelve minutes, the hosts deservedly levelled the game, as Morgan cross, Martin Conway in the Rovers goal got a palm to the ball and unfortunately the ball fell to forward Aaron Minhas, who half volleyed into the net from roughly ten yards. On twenty minutes, Beaconsfield found themselves in front, as Cousins long ball found Minhas who took on and beat Robbie Goodman at the by line before making an angle to shoot past Conway and into the roof of the net. A truly special goal. Jake Newman was largely feeding on scraps in front of goal, but did force a save from the keeper on the half hour. Shortly afterwards, Beaconsfield could’ve been three one up as Jones whipped in a right wing cross to tall forward Lewis Putman, who saw his flick header go agonisingly wide of the opposite top corner. Michael Lyon and Heneghan had half chances toward the end of the half, but not enough to really test the home keeper.
Early in the second half, the hosts’ captain Wes Daly took a midfield freekick quickly, spotting Conway off his line, but the ball landed on the roof of the net. Ten minutes into the second half, Jake Newman thought his chance had come as he controlled a Kyal McNulty long ball, with the home keeper attempting a move more fitting for the NFL than the Southern League to attempt to intercept, Newman turned and fired goalward, only to see the effort blocked on the line by Gutteridge. Just after the hour mark, Kempston did manage to get level. Nathan Tshikuna got the ball wide on the left hand side, he cut infield taking his marker with him. He made the angle for the shot and curled an effort toward the top corner – the shot taking a wicked deflection on route to wrong foot the keeper. Conway was called into action to turn away a long range Putman free kick. On seventy minutes, Rovers made the decisive move to turn the game. Very neat interplay on the edge of the area, saw Newman play a one two with Tshikuna, leaving the former with a shooting opportunity just inside the box. He drilled the ball low under the keeper to hand Kempston the lead. Beaconsfield attempted to raise the pressure in an effort to grab a point. Minhas seeing a shot saved from long range, before he found himself free in the box to shoot on goal – only to see his effort blocked by sub Grant Fryer. With ten minutes to play, Ben Shepherd picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, earning himself a one match ban, for kicking the ball away at the award of a free kick. Seven minutes from the end of the match, Rovers made the points safe; a cross into the area was only half cleared, falling to Luke Heneghan on the angle, who volleyed back low and across goal, through a forest of legs and into the far bottom corner. Wes Daly had a late free kick for Beaconsfield but it troubled neither the scoresheet or the result.
Rovers move up one place to fifth in the play offs, with games in hand on most sides around them. On Tuesday, Kempston play host to Southern Premier side Biggleswade Town in the first round of the Bedfordshire Senior Cup. The fixture has reduced admission prices at the turnstiles.