Stow 3-2 Kempston Rovers
Stow picked up another home three points in a real classic at Wadham Lodge. It was the second time in the space of just over a month that the two sides had met, and the second time that Stow ran out 3-2 winners.
In the reverse fixture in Bedfordshire it was Stow who started brightly, but this time it was Kempston who made the most of some early pressure. A blocked shot earned the visitors a corner, which was flicked onto an unmarked Jake Kerrins at the back post who volleyed home into the roof of the net after just three minutes.
Stow were quick to try and get back on level terms; Alex Harris going close with a header which was straight at George Rose. The scores were soon level though, Duncan Culley flicking on Harris’ long throw into the path of Callum Ibe who took a touch to evade the defenders and then poked home from a couple of yards.
Parity didn’t last long though. Just after Ibe was barged over in the Rovers penalty area, Stow tried to counter from their own box, but Bilal Sayoud was dispossessed in midfield, and despite huge protests for handball, Magloire Muyembe got forward and rattled a shot off the crossbar. Stow cleared, and manager Nicky Ironton earned a yellow card for his protests at the hand ball. But from the resulting corner, Stow were caught out again with James Hatch heading home.
Before the break, Stow had three more strong shouts for a penalty. Culley and Kieran Turner were both pushed to the ground in the box without any effort to play the ball, and Kempston centre back Kyle Lincoln kicked the ball against his own had when trying to clear.
The second half continued as the first had ended, with Stow applying the pressure. Sayoud had a good cross blocked, and Demaray Anyadike also sent in a tantalising cross which neither Ibe nor Culley could quite get close enough to.
While all this was happening, Rovers manager Ash Fuller was given his marching orders after throwing the ball away to slow down Stow’s play. It can only be assumed that Fuller had said something untoward to warrant a straight red.
With an hour played, Stow finally got their reward for their second half pressure. Anyadike’s tackle deflected the ball to Callum Ibe whose shot from a tight angle hit Rose on the back, before hitting the far post. Culley was inches away from tapping it in, but the rebound fell to Anyadike whose shot was somehow blocked on the line. In the end, it fell back to Ibe for an easy tap-in. Rovers’ defenders on the line appealed vehemently for offside, but it was those same players who had played Ibe on.
But again Stow were at their most vulnerable after scoring, and a counter from Rovers played in Hatch, who was taken down by Carl Mensah when clean through on goal for a penalty. Mensah was booked, and would have felt his rash challenge was justified when Hatch’s penalty was easily saved by Brad Robinson.
From here, there was only likely to be one winner. George Ironton had a shot from the edge of the box saved, but the turning point came with 77 minutes on the clock when Culley’s shirt was pulled in the box. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Culley almost tore a hole in the net with his spot kick.
In the celebrations and handbags following the penalty, Mensah was given a second yellow card for a pull on Rovers’ keeper Rose.
Despite having to play the final 15 minutes with ten men and only one recognised defender on the pitch (Te Wihongi, just on as a substitute returning from injury), Stow stopped Kempston from creating anything meaningful.
Perhaps most surprising was the amount of time added on; Stow were settling down for a good ten to fifteen minutes – the handbags around Stow’s winner took seven minutes alone – but in the end, only four additional minutes were played. Not that Stow would have cared one bit.