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Poppies defeat is a missed opportunity for Bards

Kettering Town 1, Stratford Town 0

WITH rivals Redditch United, Mickleover and Leamington out of action on Saturday, the Bards missed a huge opportunity to bolster their play-off aspirations when they went down to a buoyant Kettering side who adapted the better to the extremely difficult conditions, reports Steve Wood.

Manager Gavin Hurren made a number of changes to the side that beat Berkhamsted the previous Saturday, Mackenzie Lamb and Jack Storer coming in for Josh Hawker and Jamie Molyneux, and there was a place on the bench for new signing Andre Landell and the returning Dan Vann and Charlie Williams.

The testing condition of the pitch was evident in the opening minute as the ball was passed wide to Chris Hussey who attempted to dribble on the bobbly, uneven surface with a strong wind also making life difficult for the players.

Stratford Town manager Gavin Hurren
Stratford Town manager Gavin Hurren

Lewis Ison had the game’s first real effort on seven minutes with a fiercely struck free-kick just over the bar with the hosts creating their first opportunity five minutes later from a corner when, with the Bards defence struggling, Kelvin Langmead crashed a header against the woodwork.

By the mid-point of the half, Storer was beginning to get involved and when he collected an excellent cross field ball from Hussey, he sent a clever chip just over the bar.

The midfielder then had a couple of audacious shots from distance in the opening half – one from within his own half – but it was the home side who made the breakthrough on 32 minutes. Central defender Liam Daly appeared to be pushed but nothing was given and Adi Yussuf fired goalwards. The ball hit the post and rebounded off keeper Callum Smith before ending up in the back of the net with Dan Jarvis getting the credit.

As half-time beckoned, Smith was called on and made a smart save to keep out a well-struck Yussuf effort.

Williams entered the fray at the start of the second half and Stratford went on to dominate the next 45 minutes but without really testing the Kettering keeper.

The game swung even more in the Bards favour with the introduction of Landell – signed from Rushall Olympic on the eve of the game – his power and know-how quickly becoming evident.

The Poppies created several chances on the break which Smith dealt with calmly before a melee inside the home side’s box on 75 minutes saw Landel, Daly and Ison all having efforts blocked.

The closing stages saw Landell put an overhead kick wide while Smith needed to pull off a decent save in added time to limit the home side to a solitary goal.

Kettering: Doherty, Marzano, Sharpe, Langmead, White, Forsyth, Dawson, Reindorf (Andrade 80), Yussuf (Lewthwaite 61), Jarvis (Scott 78), Rowe-Turner. Subs (not used): Chong, Reilly

Stratford: Smith, Wilson, Worley (Williams 46), Daly, McCone, Hussey, Lafferty (Coyle 75), Lamb (Landell 55), Ebanks, Ison, Storer. Subs (not used): Clutterbuck, Vann


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