Town’s unbeaten run comes to end at high-flying Poppies

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Mike Taylor goes on the attack during Town's league clash at Kettering. Photo: Steve Wood

FOOTBALL
Kettering Town 2-0 Stratford Town
Evo-Stik Southern Premier
Report by Bryan Hale

TITLE-CHASING Kettering ended Stratford’s five-game unbeaten run by scoring early and late at a bitingly cold Latimer Park on Saturday.

The Poppies got off to a dream start by taking the lead in only the fourth minute when Ben Toseland swung in a corner from the right which was bundled in by Matt Stevens at the near post.

Town keeper Louis Connor also ended up in the net and protested furiously that he had been impeded but referee Richard Eley was having none of it and added to Connor’s frustration by brandishing the first of the afternoon’s seven yellow cards.

Kettering had their tails up and on 15 minutes gone Connor did well to turn behind a low drive from Gary Stohrer, but the Poppies should have doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark when Lindon Meikle burst into the penalty area, only to pull his shot well wide with only Connor to beat.

Ben Stephens wins a header against his former club. Photo: Steve Wood

So far it had been all Kettering, and in the final minute of the half Stratford had another let-of when Rene Howe headed in from a Toseland free-kick, only for it to be mysteriously ruled out for apparent pushing as the ball came across.

Kettering continued in control in the second half but also continued to miss chances with Connor saving well from Stevens and Stohrer blazing wildly over from a promising position.

Being only 1-0 down, Stratford were still in the game and Justin Marsden added to the anxiety of the home supporters with five minutes to go when his firmly-struck shot forced a decent save out of Poppies keeper Paul White.

But Kettering at last made sure of the points two minutes from time when Howe seized on a loose ball on the left of the penalty area and drilled it past Connor into the bottom corner.

Kettering Town: White, Bateman, Toseland, Marshall, Mulligan, Richens, Stohrer, Stevens, Howe, Milnes, Meikle. Subs: Solkhon, O’Connor, Akindi, Hoenes, Thomas.
Stratford Town: Connor; Fry, Thomas, Gallinagh, Recci, Summerfield, Marsden, Hancocks, Taylor, Grocott, Stephens. Subs: Bako, Ahenkorah, Luckie, Francis, Evans.

See this week’s Herald for full match report and reaction.