Controversy reigns as Poppies slip to defeat

Alan Doyle

Alan Doyle

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A controversial penalty settled things at Steel Park as Kettering Town slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Evo-Stik Southern League play-off chasers Stourbridge.

Jason Turner was handed his debut having re-joined the Poppies during the week from Holbeach United while Nathan Fox, who is back on loan from Corby Town, was also brought into the starting line-up.

Turner’s debut means the club have now equalled their own record of using 56 different players so far this season - a record that will surely be broken before too long.

But Kettering were dealt a blow before a ball had even been kicked when goalkeeper Yannick Nlate was injured in the warm-up. It meant Ashley Talbot took over between the sticks with Solomon Akinshade added to the substitutes’ bench.

It was the visitors, in the play-off places at the start of play, who had the better of things in the early stages with Luke Benbow heading just wide while Sean Evans shot over the bar from a decent position.

Benbow should have done better when he got clear and skipped round Talbot. But he was unable to pull the ball back to James McPike as the Poppies defence snuffed out the danger.

Kettering’s only real opening of the half came when Joel Gyasi got to the by-line and pulled the ball back into the danger area and forced Gavin Hurren to clear over his own net.

But Stourbridge really should have gone in front just before the break. Talbot half-punched a corner to Paul McCone and he was only denied a goal by a brilliant block from Henry Eze.

Kettering started the second half better and Ben Ford shot wide before Eze went so close with a shot that fizzed past the post after a corner was only half-cleared.

But the game changed in the 64th minute. Troy Johnston was adjudged to have fouled Sean Evans in the area. Contact was minimal and there were few appeals from the visitors.

But referee Dumitru-Ravel Cheosiaua pointed to the spot and, a minute after coming on, substitute Sean Geddes stepped up to fire home from 12 yards.

The decision caused uproar with the Poppies fans and a flurry of bookings followed on the pitch as the game spiced up.

But Kettering struggled to create any openings before the end with substitute Will Muzvimbiri going closest as his overhead-kick went over the bar.

In the end, Stourbridge probably just about deserved the victory but Kettering will certainly feel hard done by.

Poppies: Talbot; Johnston, Eze, Crowie, Fox; Logan; Gyasi (sub Noubissie, 77 mins), Hicks, Ford; Griffiths, Turner (sub Muzvimbiri, 72 mins). Subs not used: King, Maddox, Akinshade.

Stourbridge: Solly; Hurren, McCone, Bennett, Oliver; Canavan (sub Geddes, 64 mins), Fitzpatrick, Broadhurst, Evans; Benbow, McPike (sub Nisbett, 70 mins). Subs not used: Dyson, Turton.

Referee: Dumitru-Ravel Cheosiaua.

Goal: Geddes pen (65 mins, 0-1).

Bookings: Broadhurst, Fox, Logan, Muzvimbiri, Oliver, Ford (all fouls).

Attendance: 517.