Match Report: Poppies 1 – 1 Needham Market

Kettering Town v Needham Market

Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central

Tuesday 12th September 2023   7:45pm


Kettering Town  Needham Market
1 Josh Blunkell    1 Marcus Garnham
2 Owen Cochrane    2 Jake Dye           
6 Lewis White   3 Thomas Smith          
5 Kelvin Langmead   (Capt)    4 Kyle Hammond            
3 Ben Toseland 5 Kieran Morphew (Capt)   
14 Gedeon Okito Off 65 6 Daniel Morphew
4 Harry Reilly   7 Luke Ingram  
12 Dan Jarvis Off 21 8 Dylan Williams          Off 70
15 Huw Dawson   11 Tevan Allen  
9 Tyrone Lewthwaite   12 Oliver Fraser Off 59
17 Josiah Bridgeman  Off 61 17 Reece Harris Off 63
  Substitutes     Substitutes
7 Kai O’Keefe    9 Callum Page       On 59
10 Sam Bennett  On 61 10 Jacob Lay On 70
16 Luca Purse    15 Seth Carroll-Chambers On 88
19 O’Shane Stewart  On 21    
20 Will Mellors-Blair On 65    


Referee: Luke Scott        Assistants:  Paul Mihalache and Aaron Lloyd

With Kettering registering their first league win of the season on Saturday at Bromsgrove, any confidence gained from that game would be tested in tonight’s game with the visitors currently sitting second in the table and, after an opening day 6-1 defeat, are now on a 6 match unbeaten run. Andy Leese would, once again, have to make changes to his starting XI. Rhys Sharpe would be unavailable due to illness and Luca Purse, who had to be substituted on Saturday due to injury, was not considered fit enough to start and would be replaced in the starting line-up by his replacement at Bromsgrove, Ben Toseland. Gedeon Okito would play in the space vacated by Sharpe. Lewis White, after appearing to be hurt and hobbling at the end of Saturday’s game, had recovered and would feature from the start. Sam Bennett returned to the subs bench after recovering from a Covid infection. Goalkeeper Josh Blunkett would be making his home debut for Kettering. Gary Stohrer remained on the injured list and, with Rhys Sharpe absent, Kelvin Langmead took over the captaincy.

Despite being only three days since the last match, the weather conditions felt more like three months. After playing in the stifling heat of Saturday afternoon, tonight’s game was a great contrast. Persistent rain had fell in Burton throughout the day but had stopped by kick-off time. Although beneficial for the pitch, it would mean that the ball would skid over the surface causing any over-hit ball to race away from any chasing player. There was a stiff breeze blowing the length of the pitch from the stand end. 

Prior to kick-off, the teams changed ends resulting in Kettering Town kicking off with Needham Market, in all yellow, defending the Tin Hat end. The game started in a basketball fashion with the teams alternating attacking the oppositions goal. Needham attacked down the flanks, moving the ball quickly on the floor and taking every opportunity to have a shot a goal, but the accuracy was somewhat lacking. Kettering were taking time to adjust to the wind at their backs and were overhitting their forward balls, sending them straight to Garnham in the Needham goal or behind for a goal kick. 

After twelve minutes a long throw from Toseland on the open side caused a frantic moment in the Needham goalmouth, but the ball would not fall to a Kettering boot as it bobbled around at knee height. The ball was partially cleared but only to Okito who lifted the ball straight back into the middle, where there was a loud appeal for a hand ball by Kettering missed by the referee, but he spotted an Kettering infringement and awarded a Needham free kick. 

On the quarter hour mark Needham were awarded a free kick out wide on the open side about twenty yards from the byline and two yards from the side line. The kick was angled into the goalmouth and went into the goal untouched. With Needham celebrating a goal the linesman flagged for an infringement. A Needham player in an offside position had ran across in front of Blunkell causing Josh to lose sight of the ball. After consulting with his assistant Mr Scott disallowed the goal much to the annoyance of the Needham players, who made their feelings known to the referee, a recurring theme throughout the game with every decision being questioned by a yellow shirted player.

Three minutes later Kettering broke down Needham’s right and the ball was threaded through to Lewthwaite, who took the ball to the byline before sending a firm cross into the middle that, with any sort of touch, would have rebounded anywhere. A defender got to the ball just in front of Bridgeman diverting the ball away from goal, but only to Jarvis lurking on the edge of the box, his first time strike went well over the bar. It would prove to be Dan’s last contribution to the game as within a minute he was down on the floor requiring treatment. He could not continue and Kettering were forced into an early substitution with O’Shane Stewart replacing him on twenty-one minutes, also making his Latimer Park debut.

The game produced it’s first corner after twenty-six minutes following a free kick lifted into the Needham penalty area after a late challenge on Stewart. The ball ended up with White but, with numerous yellow shirts between him and the goal, he opted to take the ball to the byline before cutting a cross into the middle. Before it could reach the danger zone, it was put behind by a defender. The set piece came to nothing.

Five minutes later Reilly picked out the overlapping Cochrane with an accurate pass. Owen got around the back and sent in a fierce cross. The defender opted for safety first and put the ball behind for a corner. Reilly’s delivery into the middle was aimed towards Lewthwaite but Garnham came off his line to punch the ball clear. It was not the best of contacts on the ball but the referee blew his whistle penalising Lewthwaite for allowing the goalkeeper to run into him.

Kettering were on top at this stage of the game and, with ten minutes left in the half, a ball was played long towards Lewthwaite. Daniel Morphew raced with Ty towards the ball but Ty had the pace forcing the defender to try, just outside the penalty area, to muscle the forward off the ball but Lewthwaite gave as good as he got and it was the defender who ended up on the floor. Ty took the ball on a 1v1 against the keeper, Garnham did well making himself even bigger than he was already and Ty’s shot struck the keeper and rebounded straight back at the striker hitting him, but with such a pace that Ty could not direct the deflection in a desired direction going out for a goal kick.

With forty minutes on the clock, Needham won their first corner of the game when a shot deflected behind off White. The defence dealt with the set piece with ease and play transferred to the opposite end, where Lewthwaite chased a seemingly lost cause and managed to force a corner off Daniel Morphew. The corner from Reilly was met by the head of Langmead and Garnham performed another good save diving low to deny Kelvin a goal in consecutive matches. This was the last action of note of the half including an additional three minutes. 

 Half Time: Kettering Town 0  Needham Market 0

Neither manager made any changes at half time but, there was in the weather, as during the half time break a heavy drizzle started. Kettering had the first attack of the second half after two minutes when Toseland carried the ball forward after dispossessing Hammond, who was shaping up for a shot on the edge of the Kettering penalty area. Ben had little in front of him the the form of defenders or attackers and just carried on running with the ball as far as the edge of the visitor’s penalty area. He feinted to the right and then switched to his left before firing off a shot. It took a deflection off a defender and ballooned up into the air and looped towards the Needham goal. Fortunately for Needham, Garnham had not strayed too far off his line but still only managed at full stretch to get a couple of fingers to the ball and tip it over the bar. The resulting corner came to nothing. 

The drizzle stopped but the wind picked up in strength as the game went through a period of inconsequential play, as the players struggled to adjust to the change in conditions.

Needham made their first substitution just before the hour mark bringing on Callum Page to replace Oliver Fraser. Page was quickly into action, carrying the ball to the touch line with Cochrane in close company. Page managed to get a cross in which went straight out for a corner off Cochrane. Page’s momentum sent his sliding over the wet surface into the boundary fence, leaving him needing of the services of the sports therapist. The corner was sent deep to the far post where it was nodded back into the middle, but a Needham player squandered a great chance by sending his free header wide. 

Before the restart Kettering made their second substitution with Sam Bennett replacing Josiah Bridgeman. Four minutes later Kettering made their attacking intent known by withdrawing Okito in favour of Will Mellors-Blair. 

With the game meandering to a 0-0 draw Needham made their second substitution when Jacob Lay replaced Dylan Williams for Needham after seventy minutes. Shortly after, Dawson gave away a free kick in a dangerous position some thirty yards out, but the free kick was put high over the Tin Hat. Kettering had a fine sweeping move with Mellors-Blair and Lewthwaite moving the ball with purpose until two perfectly-timed tackles from Needham defenders stopped the move dead. 

As the game entered the last quarter of an hour, Riley ran the ball out of defence up the middle of the park. He played the ball out to the open side where Bennett was waiting. Sam took on the left-back twisting and turning, driving to the by-line before sending over a low cross which eluded everyone. Lewthwaite was close to making the slight contact needed to turn the ball home, but there were groans from the fans behind the goal as the ball emerged on the opposite side of the goalmouth, untouched, before being cleared downfield.

With ten minutes of regulation time left Riley, once again, carried the ball out of defence. On reaching the half way line, he fed the ball outside to Bennett before being caught late by Hammond. The referee waved play on, giving Kettering an advantage as Sam moved forward purposely. On reaching the edge of the penalty he turned through ninety degrees running parallel to the goal line, shaping up for a left footed shot. He let loose with a fierce shot, which had Garnham diving to his right to parry the ball. Such was the power of the shot, it spun up into the air and onto the bar and, to the good fortune of the keeper, bounced back into his arms. Once the ball went out of play Mr Scott called over Hammond and issued the first yellow card of the game. 

Needham made the most of their good fortune and, from a throw-in deep inside their own half, the ball was thrown to Ley who moved the ball onto Ingram in the middle of the park exploiting acres of space left by the Poppies. Ley continued his run and Ingram delivered a perfect pass to the substitute, who steered the ball past Blunkell in Needham’s only shot of target of the second half to take the lead. 0-1 Needham Market 83 mins

Mr Scott appeared to compound Kettering’s misery by giving a succession of soft free kicks to Needham, who milked plenty of time of the clock by taking time to regain their feet and restart the game. In desperation Lewis White moved into a forward position. The referee indicated that four additional minutes would be played. With Kettering camped inside Needham’s half, time was running out for the host’s. Needham were content with just hoofing the ball away. In his frustration Cochrane was adjudged to have given away a free kick with a foul deemed worthy to deserve the game’s second caution. Needham delayed the taking of the free kick as long as possible but their plan to put the ball into the corner was foiled by Stewart, who won back possession. He played the ball forward towards White who looked second best to get to it. Lewis was determined though and charged forward with the ball at his feet before being bought down half a yard outside the penalty area. Daniel Morphew was cautioned and Mr Scott tried to get the Needham wall ten yards back but, as he moved away, the wall moved forward. Toseland took the free kick and struck the wall. The ball rebounded to Bennett whose shot was blocked behind for a last chance corner. Reilly took the corner from the open side. An out-swinging, low trajectory corner picked out Toseland perfectly whose powerful header was unstoppable as it hit the back of the net.  1-1 Kettering 95 mins In his excitement Ben took his shirt off in the celebrations and was booked as a consequence. As in the St Ives game the visitors only had time to restart the game before the final whistle was sounded. 

 Full Time: Kettering Town 1  Needham Market  1

 As with the previous home game against St Ives the last touch by a Kettering played rescued a point for the hosts. On balance, Kettering fully deserved a point as Marcus Garnham was much the busier keeper and Needham’s man of the match, keeping his side in the game with good saves at crucial times. Kettering showed a never say die attitude and threw players forward to try and salvage something from the game and were rewarded for their efforts. The team has had the addition of several players over the last few weeks and those players are starting to bed in, starting to play as a team rather than a group of individuals. A four match unbeaten run is improving team morale and, after an opening home game defeat by Stourbridge the Poppies have avoided defeat in three consecutive games. 

Kettering Town yellow cards: Cochrane – foul, Toseland – removing shirt

Needham Market yellow cards:  Hammond, Morphew D. – fouls  

Attendance: 561

Elwood’s Brewery Kettering Town Man-of-the-Match – Lewis White  – After a solid defensive performance at Bromsgrove he shrugged off an injury to put in a performance of a similar standard in this game. It was Lewis’ driving run which led to the free kick which in turn led to the last gasp equaliser.