Bukasa the unlikely hero as Poppies produce storming fightback

Poppies joint-bosses Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie

Poppies joint-bosses Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie

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Jon Bukasa was the unlikely late hero at Latimer Park as Kettering Town produced a superb fightback to beat Potters Bar Town 3-2.

The substitute grabbed a dramatic winner in the final minute after Elliot Sandy, with his sixth goal in six games, and Andy Gooding had got the Poppies back on course after the visitors had taken a 2-0 lead in the first half.

It was a storming fightback from the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central leaders and a thoroughly deserved win, in the end.

New signing David Kolodynski had to settle for a place on the bench after his move from Rugby Town as joint-bosses Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie made one change to the team that won at Aylesbury.

Claudiu Hoban was ruled out through injury so it meant a first league start for 17-year-old winger Reubus Richard-Noel.

It was a frantic start with Potters Bar giving as good as they got in the early stages as they showed plenty of pace on the counter-attack.

But Kettering created the better openings with Richard-Noel poking an effort wide before Brett Solkhon headed over from Gooding’s free-kick.

Gooding should have broken the deadlock when James Clifton’s mis-hit shot found its way to him but his final shot was saved by Mike Underwood.

And the Poppies were made to pay as the visitors hit them with a stunning double-blast in the space of four minutes.

James Ewington did brilliantly down the right and his superb cross to the far post was powerfully headed home by Hutchinson.

That hit Kettering hard and they were caught napping soon after as the lively Hutchinson jinked his way to the edge of the box and his shot took a deflection to leave Jamie McAlindon helpless.

It could have been worse when Ewington beat the offside trap and McAlindon raced from his goal to close him down. The winger crossed and Joe Bennett shot wide of an open net, although plenty of Kettering bodies had got back to put him off.

The Poppies needed some inspiration before the break and they got it with Sandy being the catalyst.

His cross found Gooding whose shot cannoned off the post and out for a goal-kick.

But two minutes before half-time, the Poppies did get a lifeline. Gooding swung in a free-kick from the left, Clifton’s header was blocked and Sandy was there to finish it off.

Sandy came so close to an equaliser 13 minutes into the second half when he controlled a Gooding cross and turned before hitting a volley that smashed off the crossbar.

McAlindon had to be at his best soon after as he saved well with his feet to deny Ewington.

But the equaliser did come on 65 minutes. Sandy got away in the area but was hauled down by Tom Boxer.

The centre-half, despite being the last man, somehow escaped without even a booking but Gooding, after missing from the spot last week, stepped up to send Underwood the wrong way.

That goal was the signal for Kolodynski’s arrival in place of Ogbonna but the Poppies so nearly fell behind again when Bennett rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort.

Kolodynski so nearly made his mark soon after coming on as an audacious curling shot drifted just wide of the far post.

When Sandy hit the bar for a second time - his fierce strike hitting the underside and coming back out - it looked like it wouldn’t be happening for the Poppies.

But they had an unlikely hero in the ranks. Bukasa burst forward down the left and got to the by-line.

From the moment the cross left his boot, Underwood looked in trouble and he was unable to hold on to it as the ball dropped into the net to send Latimer Park into raptures.

They saw it with few problems and the remarkable comeback was complete and thoroughly deserved.

Another game down, another three points earned. Next stop, Bedworth on Tuesday...

Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton, Solkhon, Hull, Kinniburgh; Richard-Noel (sub Jepson, 74 mins), Gooding, Robinson, Hall (sub Bukasa, 81 mins); Sandy, Ogbonna (sub Kolodynski, 66 mins). Subs: Lee, Marsh.

Potters Bar: Underwood; Feltwell, Friend, Boxer, Clifford; Ewington (sub Azzapordi, 85 mins), Bowditch, Doyle, Shepherd, Bennett (sub Hatherby, 85 mins); Hutchinson. Subs not used: Sanson, Woodridge, Sullivan.

Referee: Rob Smith.

Goals: Hutchinson (25 mins, 0-1), Hutchinson (29 mins, 0-2), Sandy (43 mins, 1-2), Gooding pen (65 mins, 2-2), Bukasa (90 mins, 3-2).

Bookings: Clifford, Clifton, Bowditch (all fouls), Hutchinson (dissent).

Attendance: 648.