Kempston win battle of Rovers
Kempston Rovers ran out as comfortable 4-1 winners over Barton Rovers in a fiery local encounter at the weekend.
Barton arrived at Hillgrounds on Saturday in poor league form but the near neighbours were the only side to take all six points from Kempston last season – and the form book goes out of the window in these derby fixtures.
But on this day, the windows were kept firmly closed by Kempston to keep in what little heat there was.
Barton had early chances from Andrew Phillips and Robbie Parsons, as they hit the post in the 20th minute and forced Kyal McNulty to pick up his fifth booking this season.
Sam Johnson had the first notable opportunity for Kempston, pulling a shot wide when put through.
On the half-hour Kempston made the breakthrough.
Jake Newman found Johnson in the area, where the winger turned and rode a challenge before slipping the ball home from a very acute angle.
The lead lasted five minutes after a Barton free-kick was turned home by ex-Kempston forward Phillips.
Kempston restored their lead two minutes before the break when Luke Heneghan threaded the ball to Newman, who neatly rounded the keeper to make it 2-1.
Both Newman and Heneghan had chances before the break as the half-time whistle brought to a close a very stop-start period of football, with the referee not allowing the game to flow.
Indeed, the referee had to have words with joint-boss Gary Flinn in the Kemspton dugout before the break and a prolonged chat with Barton captain Paul Andrews as the two sides left the field.
Early in the second period, Andrews got involved with Johnson, wrestling him to the ground after the ball had gone as both players were cautioned.
Kempston keeper Martin Conway was called into action to tip away a Phillips free-kick shortly after.
On the hour, Kempston increased their lead after Newman latched on to a long pass and showed great composure to finish low past the keeper from the edge of the box.
Five minutes after going 3-1 behind, Barton were a man down, too, after Andrews committed a needless foul to earn a second yellow card.
Newman saw a chance of a hat-trick denied by a diving save from Matt Finlay.
Kempston’s hearts were in mouths with 15 minutes to go when Conway was caught out of his area by Dan Jarvis on the right. Jarvis crossed and Michael Lyon was lucky his unorthodox clearance went just wide of the goal.
The hosts wrapped up proceedings in the 81st minute when Ben Shepherd’s long ball found sub Josh Crawley on the left with time enough to size up a shot and find the bottom corner across the keeper.
Barton had the ball in the net again, but Phillips’ spectacular finish with five minutes left was denied by a linesman’s flag.
The 4-1 win lifted Kempston to seventh in the Southern League Division One East standings, level on points with Hartley Wintney for the last playoff place, but having played a game more.
The Walnut Boys are back in league action this Friday night at high-flying AFC Dunstable.