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Josh Simpson makes winning return for Cambridge City

James Hall laid claims for Cambridge Citys goal against Kempston Rovers. Picture: Rich Marsham
James Hall laid claims for Cambridge Citys goal against Kempston Rovers. Picture: Rich Marsham

Play-maker starts third spell with win over Kemspton Rovers

Josh Simpson marked his third debut with Cambridge City with a masterful midfield display in the club’s 1-0 win over Kempston Rovers in the Evo-Stick League South, Division One Central last Saturday.

It was a bit of a metaphorical battle in the first half as the two teams slogged it out.

However, in the second half, it seemed Kempston Rovers took the term too literally.

Within six minutes both Gary Flinn, the joint first-team manager, and left-back Hateley Mercer saw red. The latter, a second yellow for a two-footed tackle on City’s Ben Robinson.

It was from that tackle which awarded the hosts a free kick in James Hall territory. The Lilywhites’ No 9 whipped in a cross too hot for any Rovers defender to handle, but not for City’s Adam Capel though, who nodded into the roof of the net to score the only goal of the game in the 69th minute.

The victory was a crucial one for Robbie Nightingale and his team, avoiding what could have been consecutive league defeats for the first time since April after last week’s 3-2 shock loss to Aylesbury.

“Going into the game on the back of the disappointing result and defeat last week, it was really important that we got back to winning ways as quickly as possible,” said City manager Nightingale.

“It was pretty dogged, they are a good side that makes things difficult for you.

“In snatches, in the first half, we played some good stuff, in difficult conditions to play in. But I thought second half we controlled large periods and you’d say we deserved the win.”

Commenting on the tackle which saw Kempston’s Mercer ordered to leave the field, Nightingale said he sympathised for the full-back, but admitted he did give the referee a decision to make.

“I feel for the lad because when I was playing everyone would say ‘great tackle’, but because of the force of the tackle, it’s a foul. For me, it should be allowed, but nowadays it’s a foul.”

Despite Capel being announced as City’s goalscorer, that did not stop striker James Hall claiming the ball had already crossed the line.

Whether Hall will be claiming the man-of-the-match prize as well is another contentious debate, especially considering the performance of returning play-maker Simpson, who after his second spell with City went on to play for Peterborough United, Crawley Town and Plymouth Argyle.

“I am really pleased to be back at City,” he said. “I know what this level is all about; it’s hard graft but equally, it was good to get out there and get some minutes and feel a part of what is a good team.”

Nightingale was also impressed.

“You could see from the opening five, 10 minutes, he got on the ball, moved it quickly and got us into good areas. And when Josh is fully up to speed, we’ll have a hell of a player on our hands.”

The Lilywhites are away to fifth-placed Berkhamsted this Saturday.

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