Rovers stay in play-off chase after Farnborough stalemate

Action from a recent Kempston Rovers clash
Action from a recent Kempston Rovers clash

Southern League Division One Central: Kempston Rovers 0 Farnborough 0

Kempston Rovers earned a hard-fought point against second-placed Farnborough at Hillgrounds on Tuesday night to stay in the play-off hunt.

It extended Rovers’ unbeaten run to eight matches and as a consequence of Farnborough failing to secure three points, handed the Southern League Division One Central title to Royston Town.

The game began at a frantic pace, with high-pressure football from the visitors.

Boro forced a succession of early corners but without troubling Rovers’ keeper Martin Conway.

It took until the 24th minute for either keeper to be really tested and it was Rovers that forced the issue.

Luke Heneghan crossed for Jake Newman to head goalwards, but it was parried behind. From the resulting corner, the ball worked its way to the edge of the box where Heneghan curled his effort just wide.

Very early in the second half, Conway had to be at his sparkling best to deny Farnborough with a spectacular low save, down to his left at full stretch.

The match continued to be a tight affair, with both defences on top.

It was easy to see why Farnborough have maintained their second-place position in the league so well this season, with a high-pressure, robust style of football.

Kempston found another gear in the last 10 minutes and went in search of the elusive goal that would surely have won the game.

Jamaine Ivy had a shot deflected which just went wide and from the corner, Seb Simpson rose unmarked in the area but couldn’t find the target with his header.

With two minutes left on the clock, Ash Fuller drove into the box and delivered an inviting low cross, only for a Boro leg to block it at the last minute. The corner was headed just wide by Simpson, again unmarked.

Joint boss Jimmy Stoyles said: “We once again proved how far this group of players have come when they entertained a full strength ex-Conference side.

“At half time the conversation was to keep the ball a bit better, keep being solid while being full of confidence in all we do.

“Te second half was once again a well contested and intense game as we dominated the exchanges and the ball and were the side that looked like breaking the deadlock with the Farnborough keeper pulling off a few top saves.

“However, this keeps us in the race with a game in hand and a very exciting last five games coming up.”

The 0-0 result leaves Rovers just one point behind the play-off positions and with one game in hand, crucially with the same goal difference as fifth-placed Marlow.

Farnborough remain in second, and although the title is now mathematically out of reach, they still need a win to seal the second-place slot and home advantage throughout the play-offs.

Rovers next travel to Ashford in Middlesex on Saturday as they look to keep their unbeaten run going and break into the play-off places.

Rovers: Conway, Sundire, Lyon, Goodman, Simpson, Fryer, Heneghan, Macrae, Ivy, Newman, Fuller. Subs: Shepherd, Johnson, Boland.

Attendance: 121.

MOM: Fryer.