Kempston stretched their unbeaten streak to nine matches with a resounding five nil win over Arlesey Town in the sunshine at Hillgrounds
Already relegated Arlesey arrived at Hillgrounds with no points from their last six games and facing the reality of football at their lowest level since the turn of the century and Kempston Rovers were in no mood to provide any sympathy, running riot in a ten minute spell at the end of the first half.
Joint managers Jimmy Stoyles and Gary Flinn took the opportunity to make some changes to the side after the midweek draw at Barton and gave Harry Stratton his first start for the club since joining and again saw Munashe Sundire deployed in a midfield role.
It took ten minutes for the lively Stratton to repay the faith in him as he got on to a cut back from Benjamin Acquaye in the area and fired an effort goalward, deflected in via an Arlesey leg, for his first goal in Rovers colours. The lead was nearly doubled straight away as Robbie Goodman fired in a cross, resulting in some penalty area pin ball that saw the ball flash wide via Kyal McNulty. Rovers pressed forwards as the half unfolded, but couldn’t quite find the killer pass. Ben Shepherd twice put the ball across the visitors goal, where it was begging to be put away, but on both occasions, no one in red and white was there to turn it home. Just after the half hour mark, Kempston did get the second goal that their pressure had deserved. Mason Spence putting in a cross from the left hand side for Jake Newman to flick into the top of the net from around the penalty spot for his thirtieth goal of the season. After a drinks break, Rovers found an extra gear and netted twice in the space of three minutes to put the game to bed. In what was the best move of the game, Acquaye rolled the ball into Shepherd, where the midfielder flicked the ball over the head of his marker and was about to pull the trigger when he appeared to be brought down. Harry Stratton was first to the loose ball and slipped it into the net before the referee could point to the spot for the foul on Shepherd. Arlesey, desperate not to sink in the game, had an effort at goal straight from the kick off, but with Martin Conway scrambling to get there, it drifted wide. Three minutes later, McNulty threaded the ball into Newman on the edge of the area and the forward’s shot on the turn was too powerful for the Arlesey keeper to keep out. Acquaye and Newman had further chances in the half to extend the lead for the hosts, Newman putting the ball over from a cut back, missing the chance for a first half hat-trick. Kempston thought they had made it five at the end of the half, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on the goal keeper as the cross came in. Rovers went into the break four nil up.
The second half began at a lot slower pace than the first with the visitors making a double change at the break, they showed a greater resilience to Kempston’s attacking football. Mason Spence had the first real chance for the hosts in the second half, but his effort was blocked. Nathan Tshikuna volleyed wide of goal from a free kick with ten minutes to go. Kempston did manage to extend the lead with nine minutes to go, substitute Jamaine Ivy smashing home from close range after a ball played in by fellow sub Josh Crawley.
The victory, Kempston’s biggest of the season so far, keeps Rovers in ninth place in the league. However, AFC Dunstable’s commanding win at Bedford Town means that Rovers faint play off hopes are now over for the season despite being on a run of nine games unbeaten. Rovers will host their final home game of the season on Tuesday evening, as high-flying Hartley Wintney come into town, before signing off the league campaign with two away fixtures at Thame and Hanwell.
Match sponsors Mario’s Hair Design selected Munashe Sundire as their man of the match, while The KR Supporters Club, also match sponsors, selected Harry Stratton for their award.