MATCH REPORT – Poppies 1-1 St Ives Town

Kettering Town v St Ives

Pitching in Southern League Premier Division Central 

Monday 28th August 2023   3:00pm

Kettering Town  St Ives Town
1 Billy Johnson   1 Eddie Brearey
2 Owen Cochrane   2 Patrick Casey        
6 Lewis White               Off 61 3 Aaron Smith             
5 Kelvin Langmead                4 Michael Richens    (Capt)             
3 Ben Toseland Off 68 5 Jordan Williams  
11 Rhys Sharpe   6 Charlie Johnson  
15 Huw Dawson   7 Dan Barton Off 61
8 Gary Stohrer  (Capt) Off 14 8 Ed Hotter              Off 77
12 Dan Jarvis   9 Brandon Njoku
9 Tyrone Lewthwaite   10 Luke Harris Off 88
20 Will Mellors-Blair    11 Tiago Nassunculo                   
  Substitutes     Substitutes
4 Harry Reilly  On 68 12 Johnny Herd         
17 Charley Baker   14 Fernando Bell-Toxtle           On 77
14 Gedeon Okito  On 61 15 Kellan Hickinson  
16 Luca Purse   16 Tyrone Baker On 61
10 Josiah Bridgeman On 14 17 Enoch Andoh On 88


Referee: Daniel Smith       Assistants: Clifford Mills and Brian O’Sullivan

Another quick turn around for Kettering playing on a Monday following a defeat on Saturday. The performance at Redditch showed promise and commitment but things did not fall Kettering’s way and,  after another defeat despite being the better team for long periods, the team left the West Midlands with no tangible gain. Manger Andy Leese’s squad was looking light in the forwards department, with Tai Williams released on dual registration to March Town FC and Sam Bennett unavailable following an injury at Redditch. Thankfully, Ty Lewthwaite was fit to start after failing a late fitness test on Saturday, and was the only change to the starting line up. The substitutes bench showed some changes with Kai O’Keefe and Luca Miller dropping out of the squad, and new signing Josiah Bridgeman and Luca Purse returning from injury taking their places. St Ives had two ex-Poppies in their starting XI, Michael Richens, who captained Kettering the last time we were in this league leading the club to the title, and Ed Hottor, who made a few appearances for the club at about the same time.

Despite it being a Bank Holiday Monday it was a dry but slightly overcast afternoon with sunny periods. There was a breeze blowing across the pitch from the clubhouse side which would cause lofted ball to drift. The pitch, once again, looked to be in a good condition. St Ives in white shirts and black shorts kicked off, with Kettering in all red defending the Tin Hat. 

St Ives had the first attack of the game as Smith delivered a long throw-in into Kettering’s goalmouth. Langmead headed the ball clear but it fell Dan Barton, who tried a long shot, but his effort was well over the bar. Kettering responded with an attack of their own with Stohrer playing the ball forward to Lewthwaite’s feet, who played a well timed ball out to the left wing where Jarvis beat the off-side trap, but the promising move petered out to nothing. 

Eight minutes into the game Gary Stohrer took a knock and play was held up as he required treatment. Five minutes later, Stohrer came off second best after a challenge and required further treatment. Gary could not continue and Kettering were forced into an early substitution, with Josiah Bridgeman making his Kettering debut. Rhys Sharpe took over the captain’s armband. 

On the quarter hour mark Toseland took a quick throw-in in front of the blue stand, picking out Jarvis tight on the touchline. Dan turned his marker well and sent an angled low ball towards the far post where Mellors-Blair ghosted in behind the left back. Will stretched his leg out in an attempt to make contact but was just short. It was immaterial though as he would have been flagged offside.

Three minutes later a Kettering attack broke down and Richens carried the ball out of defence. Lewthwaite, tracking back, tried to regain possession but on feeling contact Richens tumbled to the floor to win an easy free-kick midway inside Kettering’s half. St Ives’ tall centre-backs trundled forward into Kettering’s penalty area, and Richens duly lifted the set piece in their general direction. Nobody managed to make contact with the ball as it dropped to Charlie Johnson, who showed why he is a defender by sending a low shot well wide. 

Kettering were looking good going forward but had yet to test the St Ives goalkeeper. But, in the twentieth minute, did just that. The ball was lifted in towards the St Ives penalty area by White, Lewthwaite rose highest and nodded the ball on to Jarvis, who fed the ball to Bridgeman, testing Brearey with a fierce shot aimed at his near post. Brearey saved well with the rebound going out for a throw in by the turnstiles. Sharpe’s long throw refused to fall for Kettering and St Ives cleared the ball for another throw in. Once again the ball was aimed towards Langmead who went down, accompanied by appeals for a penalty, but Mr Smith was unimpressed and waved play on as the action moved to the opposite end. Toseland looked like he had done enough to quash the counter-attack and fed the ball to Sharpe recycle the ball, but Rhys made a real hash of it coughing up possession thirty yards out from his own goal. Ed Hottor flicked the ball to Njoku who must have suffered a “Burton Bobble” as he sent his shot miles over the bar.

Mid-way through the first half St Ives were awarded the first corner of the game after a long throw into the box was headed forward but deflected behind by Langmead. The corner came to nothing and was easily cleared. Kettering looked to break away as Bridgeman sent the ball for Lewthwaite to chase. Ty had evaded his marker but was kicked in the hip by Jordan Williams. Mr Smith blew his whistle immediately preventing Kettering from taking advantage of the situation, but he saw fit to produce the first yellow card of the afternoon for the defender. The free-kick came to nothing as Lewthwaite was penalised for a push in the penalty area.

Mr Smith had cause to show another yellow card with just over ten minutes left of the half as Aaron Smith pulled back Mellors-Blair who had got past him. The second foul by him on WMB in as many minutes.

St Ives finished the first half strongly as Nassunculo carried the ball forward and cut inside Cochrane and tried a shot from the edge of the box. The shot lacked power but fortuitously struck White and deflected behind for a corner. Casey swung the ball in from the open side aiming for the far post, where it was nodded back into the middle by Johnson, before being stabbed towards goal by Smith. Johnson made a great reaction save at the expense of another corner this time from the opposite side. The ball was once again played deep towards the far post where Johnson headed the ball down into the ground only to see it bounce up onto the face of the bar. The rebound reached Lewthwaite who carried the ball some fifty yards down the pitch with Barton on his shoulder, before the ball bobbled and hit his shin to go out of play, but the pressure on Kettering’s goal had been relieved. With five minutes to go Nassunculo once again broke down Kettering’s right. He got lucky when he was tackled by Cochrane but the ball fell back to his feet. He crossed the ball inside towards Njoku, but Johnson came off his line to intercept the pass, but falling to the floor allowed the ground to dislodge the ball from his grasp. Jarvis hacked the ball clear but the ball came straight back with Kettering unable to properly clear their lines. 

In the final minute of regulation time Barton got well forward but saw his attempt at goal deflect off Toseland into the side netting. The resulting corner was back-heeled towards goal but was blocked by Lewthwaite and cleared. 

Four additional minutes were played at the end of the forty-five, mostly due to the treatment received by Stohrer and his subsequent substitution. Kettering once again almost hit the self destruct button as Toseland took an age over a routine clearance and gave the ball away, but Njoku only succeeded in putting the golden opportunity high over the bar. The half-time whistle when it came was a relief to the Kettering defence, not withstanding the dressing down Andy Leese would give them in the changing room during the break.

 Half Time: Kettering Town 0  St Ives Town 0

The first action of note of the second half came after five minutes, when St Ives were awarded a free-kick some twenty-five yards out but in a central position. Richens lined up to take it confronted with a loose two man wall. Richens struck the ball well but did not trouble Johnson as his dipping shot passed over the bar.

Just after the hour mark Kettering made their second substitution, with White limping off to be replaced by Gedeon Okito who took up the left-back spot, allowing Toseland to move into a central defender role. St Ives also made a swap with Baker replacing Barlow.

On sixty-eight minutes Kettering had a great opening when the ball was played forward for Jarvis to chase. With Dan appearing to be clearly off-side the Linesman kept his flag down as Jarvis stole a couple of yards on his marker. Jarvis, however, sent his shot wide. From the goal-kick the ball was sent downfield. Toseland challenged for the ball but went down injured as the ball went out of play. Ben knew straight away that he couldn’t continue and forced Kettering into their final substitution, with Harry Reilly coming on in a straight swap.

Kettering were made to pay for the wasted chance two minutes later. Richens advanced down Kettering’s left taking advantage of the space given to him. He lifted the ball towards the far post, where Cochrane was outnumbered by two forwards. Nassunculo had a free header and had time to pick his spot, placing his header wide of Johnson from two yards out to the rapturous applause of the travelling fan.  0-1 St Ives 70 mins.

St Ives were pushing forward looking for a second goal which would seal the game, but the attack broke down and Mellors-Blair looked to break down-field towards a depleted St Ives defence. Richens, aware of the situation, took one for the team and grabbed the Kettering man around the waist to stop the attack and was quite rightly booked.

Kettering had a big appeal for a penalty turned down after seventy-three minutes, when Dawson went to the floor. Jarvis’ appeal was adjudged too vociferous for Mr Smith and he was carded for dissent. 

St Ives made their second substitution after seventy-seven minutes when Hottor was replaced by Fernando Bell-Toxtle. Two minutes later St Ives were nearly caught out when a Sharpe throw-in was played short, as opposed to all the long attempts throughout the match. The ball was touched back to Rhys who whipped in an inswinging cross from the stand side. It was met in the goal mouth with a glancing header by Langmead, pushed into a forward role in a desperate attempt to salvage something from the game, but it passed wide of the post.

As the game entered the final five minute the ball was played long down St Ives left with Jarvis chasing down Smith. The defender controlled the ball with his lower arm directly in front of the linesman who immediately flagged the offence, and Mr Smith blew his whistle. Smith then volleyed the ball downfield, not the smartest move for a player on a yellow card. Mr Smith produced a second yellow card and followed it with a red. 

St Ives were desperately trying to cling on, taking as much time as possible over everything, with the keeper being continuously warned to speed things up. With two minutes of regulation time to go St Ives made their final substitution with goal scorer Tiago Nassunculo making way for Johnny Herd. 

Kettering appear to have sealed their doom as normal time expired. A long, high ball towards Njoku was dropping just on the edge of the penalty area. Johnson raced out of his goal looking to punch the ball away but just turned his back and leapt into the forward. The keeper was lucky not to receive a red card for violent conduct but escaped with only a yellow but conceded a penalty. Njoku, the victim of the foul, looked to gain revenge by sealing all three points for the visitors, but his daisy cutter effort passed at least a foot wide of the post.

With five additional minutes to play Kettering, having had a reprieve, looked to make it count. Njoku gave a free-kick away midway inside the visitor’s half following a foul on Dawson, and keeper Johnson came up from the back to pack the St Ives penalty area. Sharpe lifted the set-piece into the free kick, caused panic in the box, and resulted in a overhead effort by Mellors-Blair going just wide. 

With time running out Kettering got the ball in towards Langmead, playing as centre forward. The ball was partially cleared, but only to Lewthwaite on the edge of the box. Ty connected well with the ball but it was rising from when it left his boot, and passed narrowly over the bar. With the referee checking his watch Kettering showed remarkable patience passing the ball around the edge of the St Ives penalty area probing for an opening.  Mellors-Blair finally put the ball into the middle where it took a deflection straight to Lewthwaite, who headed in from close range.1-1 Kettering 95 mins. 

 There was only enough time for St Ives to restart before Mr Smith sounded the final whistle.

 Full Time: Kettering Town 1  St Ives Town 1

Kettering salvaged a point from a game, which looked lost, with the final touch of the game by a Kettering player, seeing Ty Lewthwaite score his fourth goal of the season from five starts. If Kettering could display that same resolve shown in the final five minutes throughout the previous ninety, things would be better. 

Kettering Town yellow cards: Johnsonfoul  Jarvis – dissent

St Ives Town yellow cards:  Williams, Smith, Richens – foul     2nd yellow/red: Smith

Attendance: 871

Kettering Town Man-of-the-Match –  Dan Jarvis