A ‘bit of freedom’ could suit Poppies in big cup clash

Nathan Hicks scores Kettering Town's second goal in the 2-2 draw at Biggleswade Town. Pictures by Peter Short
Nathan Hicks scores Kettering Town's second goal in the 2-2 draw at Biggleswade Town. Pictures by Peter Short
1
Have your say

Marcus Law is hoping his Kettering Town players will be able to perform with “a bit of freedom” when they head to Solihull Moors on Saturday.

ranked opposition in the form of Boston United in the third qualifying round, the Poppies will have to do it again if they are to book a place alongside the Sky Bet League One and Two clubs in the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup.

James Brighton opened the scoring with a free-kick at Biggleswade

James Brighton opened the scoring with a free-kick at Biggleswade

Solihull currently sit in 14th place in the Vanarama National League and will be hot favourites to dispose of Kettering in the fourth qualifying round clash this weekend.

Law’s Poppies are struggling at the moment. A 2-1 home loss to Chippenham Town on Saturday was followed by Kettering surrendering a 2-0 lead in midweek as Biggleswade Town battled back to claim a 2-2 draw.

The Poppies, who are still without a home league win this season, are now 16th in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division and a long way off the pace as far as their pre-season hopes of a promotion bid are concerned.

But, as they head into the game at Solihull as the underdogs and with the expectation off them, Law is wondering whether that will suit his players.

Nathan Hicks celebrates after scoring for the Poppies at Biggleswade on Tuesday

Nathan Hicks celebrates after scoring for the Poppies at Biggleswade on Tuesday

“It’s something of a free string for us,” he said.

“It’s a one-off game where the expectation is not on us to win. That should allow the players to go out there and perform with a bit of freedom, which I hope will suit them.

“A lot of them have been involved in games like this before and they will know what it takes to get a positive result.

“The most important thing is making sure they leave everything on the pitch.

“If they do that and perform to their best then there isn’t much more me or anyone else can ask of them.”

Law was bitterly disappointed on Tuesday night as Biggleswade snatched a late equaliser after the Poppies had taken a 2-0 lead in the first half through James Brighton and Nathan Hicks.

But he felt his players gave everything they could as they tried to hold on for a much-needed win.

“To concede so late on was gut-wrenching,” the Poppies boss added.

“Biggleswade were big, physical team and we struggled to deal with that at times. With the likes of Liam Canavan, Gary Mulligan, Rene Howe and Aaron O’Connor missing the game, we lacked physicality ourselves.

“I thought we did really well to defend our goal in the final half-an-hour, they ended up with six up front and we just couldn’t hold on.

“But I am not going to criticise our boys too much. They gave me absolutely everything they had and I can’t knock them for that.”

Kettering’s injury problems are also mounting ahead of the weekend.

Wilson Carvalho has been described as “extremely doubtful” for the fourth qualifying round clash after suffering an ankle injury while goalkeeper Paul White (ankle) and Liam Canavan (broken toe) both missed the midweek game.

Gary Mulligan suffered a groin injury during the warm-up and youngster Ben Baker, who started the game, also limped off with a groin problem while Paul Malone will miss this weekend’s game as he is cup-tied.

But, on the flip side, the Poppies did have Callum Westwood back in the squad and he featured for the final half-an-hour at Biggleswade.

And Rene Howe will also be available again after completing his four-match ban.

It was confirmed yesterday that Marcus Law released Kaid Mohamed and Anthony Howell ahead of the game at Biggleswade, which Aaron O’Connor also missed due to “transport issues”.