United Counties League
Harrowby United 0
AFC Kempston Rovers 2
Harrowby United went down by two unanswered goals at a warm and sunny Environcom Stadium against one of the early front runners for the title.
The Walnut Boys from Bedford made all the early running and absolutely dominated the first half without making a breakthrough against a resolute Arrows rearguard.
Former Grantham Town striker Jason Turner had a perfect opportunity after 26 minutes when a fine cross from the left presented him a free header, but he somehow failed to make contact with the ball. Three minutes later Turner got up above Sam Hill to this time connect with a header that went straight at Arrows keeper Craig Rhodes.
Harrowby’s only first half threat came in the shape of a Danny Durkin lob which cleared the bar, and a good break down the right which opened up the Kempston defence, but John Twentyman’s attempted cross for Durkin was too close to keeper Martin Conway who gathered to avert the danger.
Despite totally bossing the first half, the visitors’ efforts petered out in the final third and, to Harrowby’s delight, they must have wondered how they were not in front at the break.
A couple of personnel changes early in the second half helped Harrowby come more into the game and finally cause the Kempston defence some problems. Just past the hour mark, Lewis Watson made good ground down the left before passing inside to George Stainfield whose shot was turned behind for a corner by Conway.
The delivery, from Simon Bolland, was met by Sam Hill whose header was blocked. Jack Whyley pounced on the loose ball to fire a shot goalwards, only for Rovers full back Lea Coulter to keep the ball out with his hands. Referee Mr Basker pointed immediately to the spot and awarded Harrowby a penalty kick. Top scorer Durkin stepped up but ballooned the penalty high over the bar to leave the scores level.
The miss proved to be a major turning point in the game as Rovers got back on top and went in front on 66 minutes. The ball was played up to Ash Fuller just outside the penalty area who spun and fired a right foot shot that swerved to deceive Rhodes and find the back of the net.
On 70 minutes, a ball over the Harrowby defence was picked up by Shane Bush whose well struck shot went straight at Rhodes. Three minutes later, Turner shot wide as the visitors looked to kill the game off.
The important second goal arrived with 12 minutes left when a cross from the right was met by Coulter, arriving at the far post, to poke into the net.
The Arrows almost grabbed a late consolation in the 90 minute when a cross into the Kemptson area was headed out only as far as Rick Brewer who fizzed a rising shot inches over the bar.
Harrowby United: Rhodes, Currall, Brewer, Hill, Stubbs, Watson, Hillier (Andersen, 45), Stainfield (Taylor, 71), Bolland, Twentyman (Whyley, 50), Durkin.