Match Report - Stratford Town
Kettering Town FC: 1
Gary Mulligan 17
Stratford Town: 1
Edwin Ahenkorah 21
Kettering Town FC: 1
Will Grocott 83
Saul Williams > Courtney Baker-Richardson52
Andy Gooding > Liam Canavan61
Elliot Sandy > Nick Wright83
Stratford Town: 2
Rob Thompson-Brown 61
Dior Angus 56
Liam Francis 89
Dior Angus > Aaron Moses-Garvey66
Jamie Sheldon > Simeon Tulloch67
Scott Hadland > Tyrone Fagan75
In hindsight, this was a game which Kettering should'nt have lost as defensive errors cost both goals, in the 22nd and 62nd minutes, after Gary Mulligan had headed The Poppies into the lead on 18 minutes.
Despite the vast majority of possession - especially in the second half – those vital goals did not come at the DCS Stadium.
Ollie Thorne returned at centre back as Gary Mulligan moving into midfield which meant Courtney Baker-Richardson reverted to the bench. New loan signing from Nuneaton, Liam Canavan, was named amongst the substitutes but there was no place for Brett Solkhon, as he returned from holiday on Friday night.
It was a sunny day at the DCS Stadium and the pitch looked perfect for good football.
Both teams took a while to settle and Enol Ordonez was not called into action until the 7th minute, when he collected a high ball under pressure.
The Poppies first corner came on 9 minutes but was cleared and a decent home move, three minutes later, saw Joe Halsall fire wide.
Home keeper, Andy Kemp, came to the fore on 14 minutes when Elliot Sandy’s control allowed him a shot at goal, but Kemp saved well at the expense of a corner. The home shot stopper was beaten four minutes later, however, as Kettering took the lead.
Andy Gooding shaped to shoot from a free kick, but instead passed the ball wide left for James Brighton who's cross was firmly headed home at the near post by Mulligan.
Rob Thompson-Brown was causing problems for Richard Bryan on left side all afternoon and his shot, on 20 minutes, was straight at Ordonez.
The Poppies have been guilty of holding on to leads so far this season and quickly conceded a penalty two minutes later. Dior Angus got away on the left and was scythed down by Gooding which ended with Edwin Ahenkorah dispatching home the spot kick.
The Poppies tried to respond as Brighton’s free kick came off the wall and Bryan fired well wide from the ensuing play.
On 29 minutes, Kettering should have regained the lead as the otherwise subdued Jevani Brown sent a lovely ball through for Saul Williams, but the shot was rolled marginally wide of the left post.
Marcus Law's troops controlled the majority of the play and possession in the last third of the opening half.
After Thompson-Brown had fired weakly at Ordonez, Bryan saw his shot deflected wide for a corner and Will Grocott fired over after a clever pass from Sandy.
On the cusp of half time, Brown’s cross/shot was flapped away for a corner by Kemp and from the restart, Sandy headed wide.
There was still time for Ordonez to make a full length save from Aaron Stringfellow.
The Poppies continued on the offensive at the start of the second period.
Williams and Sandy both saw shots blocked after a good ball from Brown before Sandy forced a corner. Kemp juggled a Brighton cross but finally held the ball.
It was a positive start by the visitors but Ahenkorah did break free for a rare host attack – but his shot was blocked for a corner.
Courtney Baker-Richardson replaced Williams in the 53rd minute and Liam Canavan made his debut on 58 minutes, at the expense of Gooding.
Home defender, Emmitt Delfouneso, broke forward to send a shot high over the bar before disaster struck for Kettering on 62 minutes.
Bryan, with the ball at his feet in the area, hesitated and was quickly robbed by Thompson-Brown who turned towards goal, and despite the presence of three defenders, was allowed to drill a shot low into the far corner.
Baker-Richardson fired wide after the restart as The Poppies were allowed to control virtually the rest of the game.
Mulligan this time headed a Brown cross wide, and another Brown cross from the right saw Baker-Richardson also head wide.
The Irishman's presence in the air was causing the host's some concern as Mulligan’s header on, after 71 minutes, saw Sandy’s volley saved well by Kemp. The keeper was then out quickly to punch clear from a Brighton cross.
Another rare home break saw Ahenkorah get clear on the left and his low cross was threaded through the six yard box with no one there to finish.
The Poppies were still trying and after an unsuccessful call for a foul on Mulligan (now a centre forward), Baker-Richardson reacted the quickest but his shot was just wide of the left upright.
Finally Brown’s last minute drive was deflected for a fruitless corner.
Attendance: 410 (Poppies Fans: Estimated at 150)
Poppies Man of the Match: Gary Mulligan