Hanwell Town 1 Kempston Rovers 2
The last hurrah
Being played after the official end of the league season, with little at stake for either team, this game had a real end-of-term feel to it. That it was the final game for the Manager, the Match Secretary and a long-serving player all added to the unusual atmosphere. On the positive side Manager Ray Duffy came on to the pitch with a guard of honour from both teams, Chris Mills wore the captain’s arm-band and the Match Secretary ended the game with no disciplinary paperwork with which to deal after the end of the season. On the negative side Hanwell were missing a number of first choice starters for a variety of reasons, and in-form Mergim Qarri was declared unfit to play minutes before kick-off. Finally, the numbers on the backs of the Hanwell players were highly confusing to regular Town supporters. It could be surmised that Peter Dean was wearing the number five shirt because of him him having worn all the other nine numbers this season, and not a conversion to central defence late in his career, but Wayne Carter at three and Mason Welch-Turner at seven had everyone guessing!
Hanwell began the game well against in-form Kempston (unbeaten in twelve), winning a couple of corners, but as the tenth minute approached the visitors began to have more possession in the Hanwell half. Firstly top scorer Jake Newman had a good chance but it was comfortably saved by Sam Bunting. Then, the aerially dominant Alex Collard headed a deep corner back across the six yard box where Newman untangled his feet to find the back of the net off Sam, from close range. Two minutes later Sam saved from Jamaine Ivy’s long range effort.
With twenty minutes on the clock Tom Duffy headed a free kick into the six yard box but Wayne Carter’s toe poke found Rovers’ keeper, Martin Conway, perfectly placed. The visitors went straight down the other end where Ben Acquaye missed the target as Sam closed him down. Two minutes later Town were level. Mason, playing with more freedom than usual, made a cutting run deep into the opposition’s half. His ball in was deflected towards Imedd Kartita who crashed it into the net from twenty yards.
Kempston responded strongly and Nathan Tshikuna looked set to score but Alfie Cain appeared from nowhere to dispossess him. Another strong dribble by Mason ended with him finding Ricky Pither on the edge of the area but he was closed down before he got his shot away. Mason was being able to go forward as Wayne was playing in central defence, making a solid back three alongside Tom and Oliver Duffy. Tshikuna was looking good on the ball for the visitors and he had a goal-bound shot turned away by Sam for a corner in the thirty-fifth minute. A minute later Acquaye crossed in to Collard whose downward header was well saved by Sam. It was all Kempston now and another bending effort from Tshikuna was tipped away by Sam for a corner. Rovers then had a penalty shout turned down when Tshikuna went down in the box. As the half came to a close Collard once again rose above everyone at a corner but headed wide. Town supporters were pleased to hear the half time whistle.
The second half started to strains of ‘Only One Ray Duffy’ from the loyal ‘Massive’ behind the goal but it was Kempston who were in the ascendancy. Collard once more got his head to a corner but the follow-up shot was saved. Tshikuna then fed Acquaye but Sam was out well to block the danger. Then, in the fiftieth minute, the Walnut Boys went ahead. Ever-present Robbie Goodman dribbled into the area and cut inside from whence he shot. The ball was blocked on the line but, unluckily for Hanwell, went straight back to him and he netted. A minute later it was almost three but Olly’s challenge put off Acquaye and he fired wide. Luke Heneghan then fired a low free kick inches wide and Tshikuna’s shot was diverted on to the post. Hanwell were pinned in their own half and Anthony O’Connor and substitute Tom Hunt were finding it hard to get on the ball despite a great deal of running and closing down. Just after the hour mark Town had their opening shots of the half. Firstly, Chris had a long-range shot saved after being set up by Anthony. Then, a really good move, involving Imedd, Anthony and Mason finished with Peter’s shot from distance going narrowly wide.
Wayne cleared off the line in the sixty-fifth minute. Newman then fired over when well-placed before missing a tap-in two minutes later. In the seventy- fifth minute Nick Turner replaced Chris Mills, who left the playing area, for the last time, to prolonged applause. With Nick on the field Wayne moved forward, and sent over a free kick that was just deflected away as Olly closed in. From the ensuing corner Nick rose well but headed over. The final ten minutes saw Sam saving from substitutes Ash Fuller and Harry Stratton before racing out of his area to defy Acquaye.
The final whistle of the season ended an entertaining game, probably more entertaining for the visiting supporters than the home crowd owing to Kempton’s much greater possession in advanced areas and good chances created. They had deserved to win but it was a pity that Ray and Chris could not go out on a high. Referee Daniel Simpson must be congratulated on keeping the game under tight control without reaching into his pocket once!
TEAM: 1.Sam Bunting 2.Alfie Cain 3.Wayne Carter 4.Oliver Duffy 5.Peter Dean 6.Tom Duffy 7.Mason Welch-Turner 8.Chris Mills © (Nick Turner 75) 9.Ricky Pither (12.Tom Hunt 46) 10.Anthony O’Connor 11.Imedd Kartita. Unused substitute: 16.Marco Alfonso.