Rovers under the influenza at Hitchin
Kempston Rovers, with several first team players unavailable due to a winter sickness bug, bowed out of the Southern League Cup at the quarter final stage with a spirited performance away at Premier Division Hitchin Town.
The opening half was a very cagey affair, mostly played in the middle of the park as both sides felt out their opponent. It was the hosts though that opened the scoring just before the quarter hour, a missed interception allowed Hitchin to break through the left hand channel. The ball was played across goal, where Brett Donnelly was waiting to tap home from eight yards. Thereafter the remainder of the half consisted of industrious midfield play. Hitchin pressed Rovers on the ball and forced turnovers in possession, but Rovers back line stood resolute to the efforts of the hosts.
It was in the fifty first minute that Rovers registered their first effort of the night, George Boland warming the gloves of Johnson in the Hitchin goal from the edge of the box. Kempston should’ve levelled just before the hour as Luke Heneghan played a delicious cross field through ball to Jake Newman. The forward saw his effort smothered by Johnson as he rushed from his line to deny the one on one situation. Shortly afterward, Newman hit the side netting after rounding Johnson from an extremely tight angle. As Rovers pressed forward, they were left vulnerable to the counter attack. Hitchin broke with pace and purpose. From a late corner, sub Patrick Tshikala scuffed a volley across the Rovers box to the far post where fellow sub Vincent was there to stab the ball over the line to settle the matter.
Rovers bow out of the competition for the second time this season, but can hold their heads high as the depleted side more than matched a strong Hitchin side. Kempston can take heart from the chances they created and must be proud of reaching the quarter finals, even if it did need a little help to get past round two.
On Saturday, Rovers play host to Marlow in a three o clock kick off.