AFC FYLDE 2-1 KETTERING TOWN

Lee Glover's new look side applied themselves in a professional manner at title favourites AFC Fylde, taking the lead against the home side with Jordan Graham's debut goal.  But former Poppy Connor Barratt levelled the scoreline 5 minutes later, before Nick Haughtom scored the winner in the second half.  Decarrey Sheriff could have equalised late on but scuffed his shot as goalkeeper Chris Neal collected the ball for the Coasters.  It was a good performance by Kettering, showing a lot of promise in the process. 

AFC Fylde v Kettering Town

Vanarama National League North

Saturday 6th August 2022   3:00pm Mill Farm Sports Village, Wesham

AFC Fylde 

Kettering Town

1

 Chris Neal

 

21

 Cameron Gregory

 

5

 Emeka Obi

 

2

 János Bodnár         

 Off 67

3

 Jordan Cranston

 

3

 Harry Reilly             

 Off 89

6

 Alex Whitmore  (Capt)

 

4

 Lewis White               

 

33

 Pierce Bird

 

5

 Ben Toseland

 

17

 Connor Barrett

 

6

 Brad Gascoigne

 

8

 Danny Philliskirk

 

7

 Andrew Oluwabori

 

7

 Joe Rowley

 Off 79

8

 Gary Stohrer  (Capt)          

 

23

 Danny Whitehead

 

9

 Jordan Graham

 

38

 Brad Holmes

 Off 74

10

 Keaton Ward

 Off 86

10

 Nick Haughton

 

11

 Rhys Sharpe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitutes

 

 

Substitutes

 

21

 Tommy Simkin

 

12

 Decarrey Sheriff         

 On 86

28

 Harry Davis

 

14

 Ben Sault

 On 67

15

 Kyle Morrison

 

15

 Sam Bennett

 On 89

29

 Keenan Patten

 On 79

16

 Andre Wright

 

11

 Sam Osborne

 On 74

18

 Neo Richard-Noel

 

 

Referee: Dale Baines       Assistants:  Mark Ryder and Neil Evans

Just 14 weeks after visiting the Fylde coast Kettering once again made the long trip to the North-West to face the heavily fancied hosts. In that time Kettering narrowly missed out on securing a play-off berth confounding the pre-season predictions of many.  That team unfortunately is now part of Kettering's long history as a summer exodus of manager, coaching staff and players lured away by financial inducements and guileful agents. Incoming manager Lee Glover was left with a massive task of rebuilding a team to still be competitive at this level.  The team sheet would include only 3 players who played in April fixture with 8 of the starting XI making their competitive debut for Kettering. Mansfield loanee George Cooper would've made it 4 but he was unavailable due to suspension.  Fylde's season also had a disappointing end crashing out at home in the play-offs.  This prompted a summer flexing of their financial muscle signing a clutch of quality players to improve their already formidable squad. Among the 5 debutants in the Fylde line-up was the familiar face of Connor Barrett. Looking at the facilities and resources available at Fylde coupled with the prospect of full-time football the young man's decision was understandable.

On a bright sunny day but not too hot for the players the pitch looked perfect, a flat even surface with luxuriant green turf reminiscent of Latimer Park. Kettering kicked off in all red with Fylde in all white attacking the goal in front of the Kettering supporters. The first shot of the game fell to Kettering as debutant Peterborough loanee Andrew Oluwabori, he advanced with the ball before firing off a shot from the edge of the penalty area which unfortunately flew straight at keeper Chris Neal for a routine catch. Two minutes later Fylde probed forward down Kettering's left where Connor Barrett was operating out wide close to the touchline. Old habits were showing though as his ball into the middle went directly to the red shirted Gary Stohrer.

Fylde controlled possession for most of the opening quarter hour content to pass the ball around and patiently wait for an opportunity to strike but Kettering's defence was disciplined and prevented the host's from finding any opening's. Fylde were assisted in this by playing almost twice as many pre-season games as Kettering and coupled with their full-time status looking to fine tune an established side with a few additions whereas Lee Glover had been virtually working with a blank sheet.

Kettering had the first real attack of the game just after the fifteen minute mark when Oluwabori carried the ball forward with purpose picking out Keaton Ward who filtered it onto János Bodnár  who as a youngster making his debut, chose the safer option and played the ball into the box rather than taking on the shot. Unfortunately, it proved the wrong choice as the ball was cut out by Danny Philliskirk who halted the attack. Fylde came straight back and forced the first corner of the game. It was taken deep into the box picking out the towering figure of 6' 6” Emeka Obi and with the time and space he had should have done much better than send the ball well over the bar.

On twenty minutes, a Fylde corner taken by Haughton found Whitmore whose header was blocked on the line but Kettering were unable to clear the ball completely and Fylde were camped in and around the edge of the penalty area. The defence worked hard though closing players down and giving them no time on the ball.  Openings were made though with a couple of shots being blocked before a Nick Haughton effort was held well by Gregory. Cameron's clearance though only found a white shirt and Fylde were straight back onto the attack. A shot from distance by Haughton struck a defender and deflected to Rhys Sharpe who pushed the ball onto Keaton Ward who fed it onto Oluwabori who ran straight down the middle of the park piercing deep into Fylde territory swiftly changing defence into attack drawing the covering defenders towards himself. Ward joined the forward surge and was available to receive a return pass from Andrew in space. Keaton Ward continued to advance forward before cutting the ball back into the middle from close to the by-line where Jordan Graham steered the ball past Chris Neal's left hand from close range. 0-1 Kettering  25 mins.

Fylde responded well  and were straight back onto the attack and earned a corner when Sharpe was forced to put the ball behind. The set piece came to nothing after a foul on Stohrer. The host's stung by going behind continued to apply pressure overloading Kettering's right where Bodnár was consistently facing two opponents in the form of Bird and Cranston. A young lad playing alongside virtual strangers can be forgiven for not being assertive enough to demand greater assistance. The goal when it came was not a surprise as patience paid off for Fylde a ball in from Kettering's right by Pierce Bird was met by, who else but, Connor Barrett for a simple header from 6 yards out which gave Gregory no chance. 1-1 AFC Fylde 30 mins

Barrett showed good grace after scoring that despite having received some barracking from elements of the Kettering support and showed little reaction for a 20 year old that had just scored on his debut with his team mates showing more excitement and Connor a slightly embarrassed smile.

Fylde now sought to drive home their advantage before half time with most of the action being in the Kettering half. Kettering had the goalkeeping skills of Cameron Gregory to thank for keeping them in the game on thirty-eight minutes he managed to parry a fierce drive from Jordan Cranston. A minute later Haughton was in possession inside Kettering's penalty area showing his class by twisting and turning to generate the space to fire in a wicked shot but his skills were matched by those of Gregory who falling to his left flicked the ball over the bar with his right hand. The resulting corner by Haughton once again found Obi who once again sent his header high over the bar.

Nothing of note occurred in the remaining four minutes of the half and Kettering could be content with their first half performance.

 Half Time: AFC Fylde 1  Kettering Town 1

Fylde picked up where they left off in the first half going straight onto the attack and winning a corner in the first minute. The kick was dealt with well by the Kettering defence and the ball rattled around the penalty area before Joe Rowley shot high over the bar. A second corner shortly after was driven low into the box but came to nothing.

On fifty minutes Connor Barrett found time and space wide out on Kettering's left and sent in a dangerous cross looped towards the far post where it was met by Cranston six yards out but he sent his header high over the bar.

Kettering were not sitting back waiting for Fylde to attack and pushed forward where possible this was nearly punished after fifty-five minutes when a long ball out of defence by Fylde looked to prise open Kettering's defence. Poor control by Connor Barrett provided Sharpe with enough time to recover and curtail the attack. Two minutes later a probe down Kettering's right saw Cranston produce a driven low cross into the box but with two white shirted forwards stretching in the box neither managed to apply the finishing cup and the ball flashed across the face of the goal.

Just after the hour mark Whitmore played the ball out wide to left-back Cranston who controlled the ball on his chest before pushing the ball inside to Nick Haughton. The classy Fylde forward was given too much time and space and made the most of it by turning, picking his spot and from 15 yards out planting the ball beyond the diving reach of Gregory and into the top corner. 2-1 AFC Fylde 61 mins

Looking to seal their win Fylde were out for a third goal continued pushing. Two minutes after the goal a corner was nodded towards the far post by Whitmore but Obi failed to get a touch on it and the ball flew past the post.  

It wasn't one way traffic and following a Kettering free-kick they won a corner with just under twenty-five minutes to go when a Ben Toseland cross come shot was deflected behind with the defence looking rattled but the set piece was overhit by Ward and collected by Barrett to break away, Keaton did very well to chase back and cover the danger. Lee Glover made his first change almost straight after replacing Bodnár with Ben Sault a more attacking type of player.

With twenty minutes to go the referee produced his first and only card of the game, a yellow for Harry Reilly for pulling a forward back in midfield, which seemed rather harsh as it was nothing worse than some of the offences committed by some of the home players.

Fylde made their first substitution with a little over fifteen minutes to go with Sam Osborne replacing Holmes. Straight after another attack down Kettering's right led to Cranston delivering another good ball into the box but Rowley's glancing header was too light a touch and the ball passed by the far post. It was Rowley's final contribution being replaced by Keenan Patten, who was at Cardiff City last season, shortly after.

Kettering finished the stronger of the two teams pushing forward with nothing to lose. Stohrer made a surging run up the middle of the park advancing some thirty yards but on reaching the edge of the penalty area the ball ran away from him. A break down Fylde's right saw a dangerous low ball played into the penalty area but it ran behind the Kettering forwards. Kettering made a second substitution with under five minutes to go with Sheriff replacing Ward and just before the end of regulation time Sam Bennett replaced Reilly.

It was in time added on for stoppages that Kettering had their best chance of salvaging a point when again Kettering exploited Fylde, cutting through with comparative ease by Sharpe who fed the ball into Sheriff's feet some four yards out, but Decarrey only managed to send the ball into his standing foot and the chance was gone. In the final minute of the game Fylde substitute was presented with a golden opportunity to get Fylde's third but he was denied by another excellent save by Gregory.

 Full Time: AFC Fylde 2  Kettering Town 1

An opening day defeat for Kettering but not many teams will take points away from Mill Farm. A lot of positives can be taken from the result. With eight debutants with very little game time as a unit without the disruption of multiple substitutions of pre-season friendlies the gelling of the team is a matter of time. The prophets of doom have been thwarted in their prophesies of annihilation with a determined away performance at a tough opponent giving more hope than last season's first away trip at Gateshead a 3-1 loss. Time is not a commodity which is in plentiful supply though as the sides next two home matches are against teams predicted to be at the wrong end of the table come April and are therefore the sort of games that Kettering should be getting positive results from if the club is going to be able to enjoy it's anniversary season.   

AFC Fylde yellow cards: None

Kettering Town yellow cards:  Reilly - foul

Attendance: 832

Kettering Town ‘Elgoods Brewery’, Man-of-the-Match – Cameron Gregory

A fine debut by the young goalkeeper making two fine saves in the closing stages of the first half ensuring that the teams went in level at half time. With very little chance of stopping the two well taken goals by Fylde he topped of his performance with a good save at the end to prevent a third goal which would have flattered the hosts. All good teams are built on the bedrock of a solid goalkeeper and this performance will inspire confidence in the defenders in front of him and driving them to higher levels of performance. An honourable mention must be made of the performance of Andrew Oluwabori who proved to be a thorn in Fylde side whenever he was in possession driving at their defence sowing seeds of uncertainty.