United Counties League Premier Division
Sleaford Town 1
Kempston Rovers 1
IT was all too easy to forget that there was a football match being played at Eslaforde Park on Saturday afternoon.
Players from every decade since Brian Rowland’s very first game for Sleaford Amateurs in 1963 were in attendance to witness a well-deserved draw for Town against a side placed ninth in the table.
Kempston had the better of the first half, although Town’s Sam Husband had an early effort go past the far top angle. Then twice in as many minutes home right-back Adam Weston had to clear his own lines.
On 37 minutes Kempston took a controversial lead. Their wingman Jarrold tried his best to take defender Joe Braithwaite’s shirt off his back but as the pair fell, the referee amazingly gave the free-kick to Kempston. The ball was delivered towards the near post by Jarrold and neatly turned in by Ryan Smith. One-nil to the visitors at half time.
With Brian Rowland on photographic duty at the request of the Standard for an historic picture with a group of former players, Paul Ward took the half-time talk.
Whatever he said, it worked, for Town came out for the second half and took charge. Twice within five minutes a Pete Sutton corner was met by a rising Kris Jones who headed back past the top angle. On any other day one or both efforts would have gone in.
Just as unfortunate was striker Liam Tunstall who has not found the net in open play since scoring a hat-trick on November 12. Here he could have scored twice, perhaps three times with a little more rub of the green in front of goal, but found himself robbed by the keeper, blocked by the centre-half as he was about to pull the trigger and having a shot deflected narrowly wide.
However, he did set up the Town equaliser and scored the ensuing penalty.
Seventy-three minutes had gone when good work by Tunstall to the right of goal brought a touch inside to lively Jamie Shaw but, as he shaped for his familiar turn and shot an opposing defender was pulled up for hand-ball. Tunstall despatched the penalty and Town were deservedly level.
From here on the home side had much the better of the play, admirably led by skipper Shaun Popple.
Kempston had one excellent effort but record-making keeper Andrew Scott, again pulled out of retirement, made a tremendous save. Scotty had played well throughout and was named man-of-the-match. How fitting that he should play in Rowland’s final game.
In the latter stages, teenager Harry Ginniff went on to perform very well, as did another substitute Aaron Stirling.
Town (4-4-2): A Scott; A Weston, J Braithwaite, K Jones, A Fenton; P Sutton, S Popple, C Ward, S Husband; L Tunstall, J Shaw. Subs P Ward, H Ginniff, A Stirling, C Rossington.