Vanarama National League North

Saturday 28th April, 2023


The Poppies were relegated today after a 3-0 defeat at Kidderminster courtesy of Blyth winning their home game against Hereford. After a goalless but decent first half for under pressure Kettering, a goal in the first minute of the second half from the Harriers’ Joe Foulkes dented Kettering’s hopes and further goals from Joe Leesley and Ashley Hemmings put Kidderminster into the play-offs. The near 300 away fans gave the team absolutely magnificent support from start to finish.


Lewis White and Tom Scott came in for the suspended Gary Stohrer and Ethan Hill who dropped to the bench, which also featured Jordan Graham back from his loan at Hednesford Town.



31    Christian Dibble

2      Alex Penny (4 Nat Knight-Percival,76)

3      Caleb Richards

5      Krystian Pearce

9      Amari Morgan-Smith

10    Ashley Hemmings (19 Jack Bearne,88)

12    Joe Foulkes

14    Zak Brown

16    Kyle Morrison

23    Shane Byrne (Captain)

30   Joe Leesley (18 Kai Lissimore,81)

Unused substitutes:

1    Tom Palmer

28  Kobe Hall

Yellow Card: Foulkes,84



 1    Owen Mason

4    Lewis White (17 Decarrey Sheriff,66)

6    Brad Gascoigne (Captain)

9    Jimmy Knowles

10  Keaton Ward

11  Rhys Sharpe

12  George Cooper

15  Ellis Myles

16  George Forsyth

18  Tom Scott (7 Sam Bennett,76)

20  Ben Sault (5 Jordan Graham,60)

Unused Substitutes:

14  Ethan Hill

19 Tyrone Lewthwaite

Yellow Card: Cooper,58



As anticipated, the home side started quickly and a first minute Joe Leesley shot sailed over the bar. This was followed by an Ashley Hemmings’ low shot taken well by Kettering keeper, Owen Mason, and a second Hemmings shot which was straight at Mason. Mason was again busy as he gathered a low cross from the right and, as Kettering got forward, Rhys Sharpe’s long throw was partly cleared to Ben Sault. With two players down after a clash of heads, the Referee resumed play with a dropped ball to Kidderminster keeper, Christian Dibble!

Kettering were content to keep 9 or 10 men behind the ball, and this left Jimmy Knowles largely on his own with occasional support from Keaton Ward. Knowles had a run but could not keep the ball as it drifted over the line for a goal kick.

The Harriers were taking very quick free kicks and on 15 minutes Mason got down very well to take a low cross from Joe Foulkes. Almost immediately Lewis White got in a great saving tackle and Amari Morgan- Smith who looked to go clear. White then got on the end of a Keaton Ward corner at the other end, but headed over the bar.

The Harriers were next to threaten, but Leesley’s teasing cross was headed on and over all the other advancing Kidderminster attackers. On 31 minutes keeper Mason made a great point blank save as Leesley’s free kick was headed down almost on the goal line. The Harriers kept coming and a corner from the right side was bundled wide at the back post by Zak Brown.

A rare Kettering foray forward saw Ward’s right foot shot go high and wide. Then what looked to be Kettering’s best chance saw George Forsyth’s shot blocked – only as far as George Cooper- but the Assistant’s flag for offside denied him a shot with just the keeper to beat.

Visiting keeper, Mason, got in a mess as a Foulkes cross from the right eluded him but the ball sailed past the left upright. Just before the break, a poor Sharpe clearance gave Brown a shooting chance which he lashed wide. There was just time for a home corner which Mason took well under pressure.



There were no half time substitutions.

Kidderminster again started brightly and this half it proved fruitful. The impressive Joe Leesley sent a deep cross from the left and Foulkes got in front of Sharpe to connect well to score at the far post.

Owen Mason was soon busy again taking a cross from the left under pressure. There was a brief moment of hope for Kettering as Sharpe’s free kick to the back post looked just right for skipper, Brad Gascoigne, but he could not reach the ball. The Poppies then set up a good move as Sault sent Ward away on the right but the low cross found no takers.

The Poppies were fortunate on the hour as Morgan-Smith hit a post and then, under pressure, put the rebound over the bar. Kettering then substituted Ben Sault for Jordan Graham.

Kidderminster’s second goal on 65 minutes saw Hemmings’ pass reach Leesley and with a nifty change of feet his left foot curler from 20 yards gave Mason no chance. Kettering’s response was to introduce Decarrey Sheriff for Lewis White as the formation changed to a much more attacking basis.

Sheriff was soon in the game as a flowing move saw him force a save by Dibble, albeit an offside flag was raised. Sheriff won a 75th minute corner and George Cooper saw his first header cleared and then a second header from the same player was saved by Dibble.

Sam Bennett then replaced Tom Scott and the Poppies had four strikers on the field! But, with Kettering pressing there was more space for the home team. Hemmings took advantage of this on 77 minutes as he fired a 30-yard shot high past Mason.

Kettering had to keep going forward and a neat lay off by Graham to Knowles saw Dibble make a great save to deny the on-loan striker. Kettering had a couple of half chances with Ward’s volley going just wide and Sheriff winning a late corner. However Kidderminster could have made it four as substitute Kai Lissimore got clear only to blast the ball over the bar.

After the final whistle, the Kettering players took time to acknowledge the massive away support as the Harriers move into the play offs with Kettering likely to return to the Southern League.


Match Officials: Referee: Richard Aspinall; Assistants: Thomas Durno and Lewis Mansfield-King

Attendance: 3,786 (Kettering fans and Officials 300)

Poppies Media Elgoods Brewery Man of the Match: Owen Mason

Match Report by Sadman KTFC. Thank you all for reading my away match reports this season.