Kempston Rovers 2 Hitchin Town 1


Friendly 2023-24

Top Field68 Fishponds Rd, Hitchin SG5 1NU, UK

Kempston Rovers
Hitchin Town
2 - 1
Final Score


For me it was a first visit to Hillgrounds, the developing home of Kempston Rovers who, like our last opponents, Stotfold, will be contesting matters in the Southern League, Division One Central. And again, as a Bedfordshire man I wish them success for the season. I think that division has no fewer than seven teams from Bedfordshire.

Arriving quite early I noticed the team coming out for preparation and it did look somewhat unfamiliar and I recalled that Mark burke did mention that is was a Squad fixture. After the excellent performance from Hitchin at New Roker Park, I hoped for a game that could match it in terms of both skill and entertainment. Please note that I received no details of the home team, so apologies for that.

Once I had it confirmed with the team sheet that it was indeed an experimental squad wearing the colours, including a Trialist A and B and the mind boggles at the hush hush anonymity. We started a little late and both teams seemed eager to impress.

The first bit of meaningful action came from a home free kick, but this was defended and led to a Hitchin counter. It was very competitive in midfield, and after eight minutes The Walnut Boys won a corner, which was beaten away so well that it enabled Trialist B to Terry a diagonal shot that trailed across the goal, off target. Then there was a cross from the right, easily cut out by the Kempston keeper.

The possibles or probables of the Hitchin team had settled well into this game and were responsible for a couple of decent breaks on goal and looked fairly comfortable in defence and midfield. Another Hitchin cross from the right looked the business and needed monitoring. Devine won a free kick in an inviting area after twenty minutes play that had marginally favoured Hitchin and lo and behold it brought the first goal and it was scored by Trialist B who, pun intended, can make a name for himself.

Kempston responded with a sustained attacking moment but when a shot came it was defended by Stan Georgiou, who took a bit of a stinger in the face. This was followed by a Hitchin effort that was unintentionally blasted over the bar into the excavated car park.

A good home move strayed offside, and George Devine had his intended shot blocked at the other end. We had reached the half hour mark and Hitchin were comfortable and worth their lead. They had prevented the hosts from even one direct goal attempt so far. Henry Silver’s shot was well saved and Stan Georgiou tried in vain to follow up.

Then there was a Kempston chance but Mollison held the shot comfortably. We were five minutes from half time and the Canaries took their one goal lead to the interval. There were no substitutions for Hitchin upon resumption. The half started with a shot from Ola Okeowa, which was saved and the resultant corner was cleared.

There was a scrappy period of low intensity apart from a dissenting home player receiving a caution and further dissent followed over some minor infraction . The referee observed the punctilios of the game with a determined will. Hitchin continued to exert their control. Kempston had a free kick wide on the right that beckoned a good cross and this was headed home at close range by number four to make it 1-1 after fifty-five minutes.

It ought to have made the game more challenging, was my thought as Hitchin sent in a corner and Georgiou’s header was only just over the bar. Chris Khoo, and I hope I have his name right, came on as a substitute. Meanwhile, the hosts had another corner of innocuous quality. Kempston had also employed a number of substitutes. Hanson Hughes- Graham came on, and seconds later The Walnut Boys snatched the lead and were turning this game around. We had played sixty-five minutes and there was still plenty of scope.

The lustre had gone from Hitchin’s play and another replacement came on, one Sammy Hammonds, and I also noticed Nabil Rahman. You do not get announcements at pre-season games and have to keep a sharp lookout on proceedings. A promising Hitchin attack resulted in a free kick wide on the right, close to the corner flag. This was defended and the move forward by Kempston was illegally defended by Trialist B who received a caution for the offence. The free kick was scrambled away by Hitchin who badly needed their first half composure.

There were fifteen minutes of normal time remaining and from a corner we saw Mollison hold a close range header of indifferent power. The Canary keeper spilled the next shot, but recovered instantly, but there was no doubt now which was the better performing team and it was The Walnut Boys, who then made a final substitution.

However, Lewero won a free kick, centrally just outside the penalty area, so there was a possibility. This was intercepted but the attack continued but to no good effect. A Hitchin corner in the eighty-third minute was headed clear and an equaliser was beginning to look unlikely.

Then came the last two Hitchin substitutes- James Campbell and Franklin Ojumbo who had but a few minutes to work some magic. This did not materialise and victory went to the hosts who had turned the game round well with two set pieces and some effective defending. It was a typical pre-season game with multiple substitutions, fairly entertaining to watch, and for the Canaries they move on to face an Arsenal youth team on Saturday where we honour former captain Dan Webb with a Testimonial.

Josh Mollison, Marley Rochester-Stein, Ola Okeowa, Trialist A, Stan Georgiou, Malaki Black, Max Smith, Jeremiah Luwero, George Devine, Trialist B, GOAL, 20 MINUTES, cautioned, Henry Silver.

Substitutes- Chris Khoo, James Campbell, Hanson Hughes-Graham, Nabil Rahman, Sammy Hammond, Franklin Ojumbu. Not used – Jack Trickett.

No details of match officials or of the Kempston team, or the official attendance. Apologies.



Competition Season
Friendly 2023-24