Match Report: Poppies 2 – 2 Halesowen Town

Kettering Town v Halesowen Town

Pitching in Southern League Premier Division Central 

Saturday 19th August 2023   3:00pm

Kettering Town  Halesowen Town
1 Billy Johnson   1 Dan Platt   (Capt) 
2 Owen Cochrane    2 Joshua Ezewele      
4 Harry Reilly                3 Reece Mitchell             
5 Kelvin Langmead                4 Todd Parker  
3 Ben Toseland 5 Ryan Wynter  
11 Rhys Sharpe Off 76 6 Kieran Morris   
15 Huw Dawson   7 Joshua Hawker Off 68
8 Gary Stohrer  (Capt)   8 Caine Elliott Off 59
12 Dan Jarvis  Off 89 9 Miracle Okafor
9 Tyrone Lewthwaite   10 Ryan Boothe Off 74
20 Will Mellors-Blair     11 McKauley Manning                   
  Substitutes     Substitutes
7 Kai O’Keefe   12 Kieran Donnelly        
17 Charley Baker   14 Nathan Howard            On 59
18 Luca Miller   15 Jack Holmes On 68
19 James Carvell  On 89 16 George Cater  
14 Gedeon Okito On 76 17 Richard Gregory On 74


Referee: Jason Porter       Assistants: Peter Brothwell and David Jarrett

After Kettering’s third defeat in a row manager Andy Leese in his post-match interview at Barwell stated that changes were needed. True to his word the today’s line-up showed two new signing announced on Friday and both would make their debuts in today’s fixture. In midfield the experienced Dan Jarvis would start and up front Will Mellors-Blair. Jarvis was accommodated by Harry Reilly moving into the right-hand side of the back three to replace the absent Lewis White. Mellor-Blair occupied the place of Sam Bennett injured in the Stourbridge game and absent from Monday’s game at Barwell. It is hoped that his injury is not serious as Ty Lewthwaite and him were beginning to gel as a forward duo. Luca Miller reverted to the bench after making his first start for Kettering in a Man of the Match performance at Barwell. The substitutes bench was completed with the inclusion of Gedeon Okito unavailable for the opening three fixtures due to suspension. There was no place on the bench for Tai Williams. The visitors after a opening day victory at home had followed it up with two goalless draws meaning that Kettering had outscored them 6 to 2 however Halesowen had 5 points and were mid table whilst Kettering were pointless and bottom of the league.   

 A wet Friday in Burton, where rain fell steadily throughout the day, meant that the pitch looked in great condition. There was a cloudy sky but when the sun emerged it was bright and warm. A breeze was blowing across the pitch from the club-house side, not enough to mar the game but it would cause high clearances from the goalkeepers to veer towards the open side. 

 Halesowen in green and black striped shirts, green shorts and socks kicked off attacking the Tin Hat with Kettering in all red. The first five minutes of the game were unremarkable with neither side producing any action of note until Halesowen forced the first corner of the game when a cross was deflected by Dawson behind. The set piece was headed clear by Toseland but only as far as the edge of the box where Elliott lifted a looping ball into the goalmouth but Billy Johnson came out confidently to punch the ball away before the referee stopped the game awarding Kettering a free-kick for handball.

Eight minutes had been played when the ball was passed out to Lewthwaite midway inside his own half facing his own goal. Ty performed a great turn throwing off his marker and strode forward with the ball drawing defenders towards him before threading a ball on the floor through to Jarvis tight on the stand side touchline but the promising move was brought to a halt by a dubious flag for offside. Halesowen won the second corner of the game after eleven minutes but it was easily dealt with by the Kettering defence. Six minutes later Stohrer could feel aggrieved at a handball decision given against him when a ball was fired into him from close range and struck his arm which was across his chest. The resulting free kick was lifted into the penalty area but was an easy catch for Johnson. 

 The deadlock was broken after twenty-three minutes. A ball was played through towards Okafor deep inside Kettering’s penalty area. Stohrer stuck his foot out to try and cut the pass out but only managed to get a toe to the ball and it diverted straight to the feet of Miracle, who, controlled the ball, steadied himself and fired in a powerful shot aimed at the far post from an acute angle. Johnson got a hand to it but was not able to keep the firm shot out. 0-1 Halesowen 23 mins.

 Halesowen could have doubled their lead five minutes late when a cross field ball was lifted from deep towards the far post but Okafor with a free header but could only put the ball the wrong side of the post. On the half hour mark Kettering won their first corner of the game when Lewthwaite chased down a seemingly lost cause of a long ball but pressured the defender into conceding the set piece. Jarvis took the corner from the stand side lifting it into the middle of the goal. With a suspicion of handball the ball was cleared to the edge of the penalty area. Dawson determined to gain possession fearlessly rushed in leading with his head. Stooping slightly towards the ball the ball was at chest height when he was caught by Elliott’s boot sending Huw to the floor and a penalty awarded. Will Mellors-Blair showed great belief in himself by stepping up to take the penalty on his debut. The confidence was well founded as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. 1-1 Kettering 33 mins.  

  Almost straight from the restart Halesowen were on the attack when they were awarded a free-kick just outside their penalty area in a dangerous area when Toseland was penalised for a high boot. The set piece was punched clear by Johnson. Shortly after Halesowen won another corner when Cochrane was forced to put the ball behind in cutting out a low cross. Johnson claimed the corner with a clean catch and swiftly switched play to end and two passes later it was with Jarvis who fired in a swerving shot which passed narrowly over the crossbar having taken a deflection on the way to give Kettering their second corner but this was too close to the keeper and claimed easily by Platt.

 With five minutes left in the half had the chance to go in at the interval leading a diagonal ball into the box picked out Manning at the far post whose header hit the post with Johnson beaten before it was sent behind by a defender. The resulting corner was headed clear by Lewthwaite. This was the last action of the half including two additional minutes. 

  Half Time: Kettering Town 1  Halesowen Town 1

  With no changes of personnel by either manger at half time the first action of note occurred after five minutes when a low shot from Ezewele drew a good save from Johnson but an offside had already been flagged. Two minutes later Okafor tried a long range shot after advancing into an empty space left by Kettering but his low effort was wide of the post. Kettering responded with a good passing move applying pressure on the Halesowen defence but the attack broke down following a poor ball from Sharpe going out for a goal-kick.

 Halesowen regained the lead just before the hour mark. The green shirts advanced down Kettering’s left where Toseland had been left exposed with no covering midfielder. The ball was played to Ezewele who had moved forward into the free space and on reaching just short of the penalty area looked to be shaping up for a shot as he cut inside travelling parallel to the edge of the box. Being closed down by defenders he shovelled the ball outside to the unmarked Manning who picked his spot beautifully to strike a low shot past the diving full length Johnson striking the inside of the post before nestling in the back of the net.  2-1 Halesowen 58 mins. 

 Before the restart Halesowen made the first substitution of the game with Nathan Hayward replacing Caine Elliott. Halesowen looked to put the game beyond Kettering’s reach and pressed forward looking for a third exploiting the free space down Kettering’s left the source of their second goal through Ezewele. He picked out Boothe with a pass and Johnson had to be alert to keep out a shot from the angle of the six yard box pushing it around the post for a corner. The corner from the stand side picked out Okafor who once again spurned the opportunity of a free header putting it wide. Halesowen made their second substitution on sixty-eight minutes with Jack Holmes coming on for Joshua Hawker.

 With twenty minutes to go Kettering were level once again as the other debutant opened his Kettering goal account as a ball broke to Dan Jarvis as he found some space in the Halesowen penalty box and powered the ball home from 10 yards. 2-2 Kettering 69 mins. 

  With just over fifteen minutes left in the game Halesowen made their final substitution when Boothe was replaced by the returning from injury Gregory. Two minutes later Kettering made their first substitution with Sharpe making way to allow Gedeon Okito to make his debut in a like for like swap. 

 On eighty minutes substitute Gregory showed how dangerous he could be who in being fed the ball to feet turned and shot in a smooth movement but saw his shot pass narrowly wide. Play was switched to the other end and Toseland made his way forward. With no options on Ben continued on his run cutting inside but the ball was getting away from him and when a defender positioned himself in Toseland’s path performing a block tackle to dispossess Ben whose momentum took him into the defender bowling him over. It was a free-kick but with no malice a caution from Mr Porter seemed excessive. Three minutes later a second Kettering player received a yellow card as Okito was deemed to have led with an arm jumping to challenge for an aerial ball. 

 In the final minute of normal time Kettering made a second substitution when James Carvell came on for Dan Jarvis. Before the additional minutes could be displayed another attempt by Gregory drew a very good double save Johnson as the rebound of his initial save was sent goalwards by Okafor however it wouldn’t have counted as he had been flagged offside.

 There would be an additional six minutes of play which seemed to be a number picked at random as there had been no stoppages in the second half. Halesowen were pressing for a winning goal and won a corner two minutes into stoppage time but the delivery was poor. Halesowen had most of the ball but Kettering were bending but not breaking. Mr Porter though Billy Johnson was taking too long over a goal-kick and issued another caution this time for time wasting something he paid little regard to when Halesowen were doing the same when they were leading. With pressure building Kettering managed to hold on as the referee was insistent on wringing out every last second on the clock.

Full Time: Kettering Town 2  Halesowen Town 2

 After three successive defeats Kettering stop the rot and battled for a much needed home point twice coming from behind to secure a point. After display controlled passing football in the first two games of the campaign Kettering displayed a more direct approach to this game where the result was more important that the means in how it was obtained. With two players who joined the club during the week, Jarvis and Mellors-Blair, the attack looked dis-jointed but as familiarity with the existing team members builds a more efficient displays should be forthcoming. Hopefully the injury to Bennett will not be too lengthy and his promising start alongside Lewthwaite can continue to blossom. Kettering maintained their two goal a game scoring run but the fact that the team only had two shots on target all game, with one being a penalty, but managed to score from both of them is of concern by the fans and will be the management as at time Halesowen’s keeper was relegated to being a mere spectator.  

Kettering Town yellow cards: Toseland, Okito – fouls Johnson – time wasting

Halesowen Town yellow cards:  none       

Attendance: 905

Kettering Town Man-of-the-Match – Dan Jarvis – Despite only meeting his team-mates for the first time on Thursday Dan’s quality showed as he played a key role in helping Kettering to their first point of the season. A goal on his debut in front of a crowded Tin Hat will do wonders for the support he can expect to receive from the Kettering faithful.  As his familiarity of the players alongside him grows understanding the way they play and their strength and weaknesses and the role Andy Leece wants him to fulfil he will become more effective in forging the link between the defence and the strikers. Mention must also be made of Will Mellors-Blair who had the confidence and self-belief to step up to take a penalty after just half an hour into his first game for the club.