Baillie praises Poppies after two wins in 24 hours

Poppies boss Thomas Baillie and assistant-manager Dean Thomas have led their team to three successive victories

Poppies boss Thomas Baillie and assistant-manager Dean Thomas have led their team to three successive victories

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Thomas Baillie was full of praise for his Kettering Town players after a gruelling weekend was rewarded with an impressive six-point haul..

The Poppies may have already been relegated from the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division but they made it three wins in a row and four in the last five with a 1-0 victory at Bedworth United on Saturday before beating Bideford 3-1 in a re-arranged clash at Steel Park on Sunday.

Baillie’s team are enjoying a final flourish in the latter stages of a campaign that has been dominated by off-field issues. And he didn’t hold back in his praise of the youngsters in the Poppies squad, whom he feels have proved a point to some of their critics.

“It was an extremely tough weekend for the boys but they have done brilliantly,” the Kettering manager, who has put a joint-application in for the permanent position from next season with his assistant Dean Thomas, said.

“It was backs to the wall for us at times on Saturday because Bedworth desperately needed the points to get them away from the bottom of the table.

“And even when we went down to 10 men, the lads defended resolutely and we could have even nicked another goal to put them away.

“It was a big effort and that obviously made things a bit harder going into Sunday.

“We were having to put square pegs in round holes a bit because of injuries and players being unavailable but everyone worked hard and they were rewarded for it.

“There have been a few comments made about the desire of our lads, which I felt were unfair.

“But the players have responded and I don’t think anyone could question their desire over the weekend. They have worked very hard and put a big shift in over 180 minutes.”

The Poppies have three games left to play this season, the first of which is against Barwell at Steel Park on Wednesday night.

They then take on Gosport Borough in their final home game of the season on Saturday and that has been made a ‘pay what you want’ game.

The initiative has been organised in an attempt to gauge support for next season following a huge reduction in home attendances following the financial problems that occurred during October last year as the club almost went out of business.

Club stalwart Ken Samuel, who is part of a band of volunteers who have helped keep the club alive along with Ritchie Jeune, said: “To try to generate some interest and to try to gauge the level of support next season we have obtained the league’s permission to stage a ‘pay what you want’ offer at the turnstiles for the last home game of the season against Gosport Borough. There will be no minimum admission fee.

“We are asking for fans to come and show us that they want a club and will support us, hopefully at Latimer Park, or if we have to start at Corby and move to Latimer Park later.”