Derby Day Delight
Luke Heneghan’s stunning stoppage time goal gave Kempston Rovers victory in ‘el Kempstico’
Midfielder Luke Heneghan sent Hillgrounds into a state of delirium with a twenty five yard wonder goal two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game to seal a comeback victory for the Walnut Boys in this pulsating and full-blooded local derby.
Nathan Tshikuna had the game’s first chance in the sixth minute, but the lively winger fired over from long range. Bedford’s first chance was also put over the bar, Grant after a knock down from a free kick. Kempston felt they should’ve had a penalty as captain Jamaine Ivy showed some deft touches to surge into the Bedford box, where he was bundled to the ground as defenders converged. Josh Crawley had a shot flash wide of the target for the hosts shortly afterward. Bedford may feel they should’ve taken the lead on the quarter hour as veteran forward Paul Benson saw his shot initially saved by Martin Conway, the follow up looked to be goal bound only for a last gasp intervention on the line from Robbie Goodman. Bedford Town did take the lead just before the half hour, Jimmy Hartley burst down the right hand side and pulled back a cross, Benson’s mis-kick fell perfectly for Callum Donnelly, who swept home for his first goal of the season for the Eagles. Moments later, Jake Newman raced onto a long ball and managed to beat the on-rushing Kyle Forster as he raced out of goal. Newman looked to get to the loose ball and slide into the empty net, but Rovers’ leading marksman was crowded out and the danger passed. As the half wore on, the challenges became more robust and the referee had to be stern and in control as Donnelly and Olukamni were involved in needless challenges for the visitors. Kempston drew level moments before half time, Josh Crawley nodding down to Newman. Newman showed a turn of pace to burst passed his man on the outside and power a finish beyond Forster at his near post. It is Jake’s twenty fifth goal of the season in all competitions, the highest return in a single season for any Rovers player since 2011. The two sides left the field at the break level.
The second half nearly began perfectly for the visitors, Olukamni drifted a cross to the back post that went only just wide. Tommy Hull had a header saved by Conway from a free kick, although the header was somewhat tame. Josh Crawley then saw a header flash just wide before Robbie Goodman powered a long range effort wide in a breathless opening five minutes to the second half. Ben Shepherd was booked for his reaction to a heavy challenge from Donnelly, who escaped caution for his part in the incident. The game then settled down as both sides looked to make the small adjustments to gain the upper hand. In the seventieth minute, a poor clearance from Forster left him way out of goal while the ball was at the feet of Crawley. The forward’s long range effort drifted wide of the target. With fifteen minutes to go, Rovers again thought they should’ve had a penalty. Jake Newman broke into the box, his first shot was saved as was the follow up the ball broke to sub Benjamin Acquaye who’s effort appeared to strike a hand as it was blocked. Bedford pressed forward in search of their own winner, but with five minutes left they were cut open on the counter attack. Nathan Tshikuna raced clear, but pulled his effort wide. Moments later, another counter attack saw Newman lay the ball back to Acquaye, who took aim from the edge of the area, his effort came agonisingly back off the foot of the post and went behind. Tshikuna went through again in the last minute, between him and Acquaye they had three bites at the cherry. One was cleared off the line and the other two blocked by desperate Eagles defenders. Tommy Hull for Bedford and Luke Heneghan for Rovers had efforts wide from long range either side of the ninety minute mark. Then, two minutes into stoppage time, Heneghan battled for possession in the left hand channel before weighing up the chance. The midfielder curled the ball perfectly into the only place the stranded Forster couldn’t reach in the goal from fully twenty five yards out to spark scenes of delirium on the terraces.
There was further joy for Kempston after the game as it was confirmed that last season’s player of the year Munashe ‘Manny’ Sundire had re-joined the club.
Victory for Kempston leap-frogs them over Bedford Town in the table as well as Moneyfields into eighth place, nine points off the play off places. Rovers are next in action on Tuesday night when they travel to Egham Town for the re-arranged league fixture before next weekend’s trip to Barton Rovers. Bedford Town must wait till next weekend to travel to Hanwell Town.
Man of the match, as chosen by match sponsors Phoenix Roadshow, Luke Heneghan