Lessons learned as Poppies finish with a win

Rene Howe congratulates Aaron O'Connor after he hit Kettering Town's winner in the 2-1 success at Banbury United on the final day of the season. Pictures by Peter Short
Rene Howe congratulates Aaron O'Connor after he hit Kettering Town's winner in the 2-1 success at Banbury United on the final day of the season. Pictures by Peter Short
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Marcus Law insists “lessons have been learned” after Kettering Town wrapped up their Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division campaign with a fine 2-1 success at Banbury United.

The Poppies finished the season in ninth place, well short of the expectations back in August with the club keen for a push for promotion.

Aaron O'Connor scores the Poppies' winning goal at Banbury

Aaron O'Connor scores the Poppies' winning goal at Banbury

But they did, at least, finish with a flourish in front of a healthy band of travelling supporters as Ben Baker’s fine strike from 15 yards gave them a first-half lead.

Manny Duku levelled from the penalty spot but top scorer Aaron O’Connor secured all three points when he skipped round home goalkeeper Jack Harding and scored into an empty net with seven minutes left on the clock.

Law praised his players for their efforts in the latter stages of the campaign, despite their play-off hopes going up in smoke and he conceded their poor form at Latimer Park had been the main reason for their inability to challenge.

“The last three weeks have been about getting the season wrapped up and I think we have finished with one defeat in eight matches,” the Poppies boss said.

Aaron O'Connor celebrates his goal

Aaron O'Connor celebrates his goal

“Our form at the start of March really sealed our fate as far as the play-offs were concerned and it is a big shame.

“I think the players deserve some credit because they kept going when it would have been quite easy to turn the season in at the beginning of April.

“Ultimately, the league table never lies and we have under-achieved when it comes to our expectations, there’s not doubt about that.

“I believed we could push for promotion but when you break everything down, our home form has proved very costly and that is the main reason why we didn’t get to where we wanted to be.

The Kettering players acknowledge their fans after the final game of the season

The Kettering players acknowledge their fans after the final game of the season

“Lessons have been learned and we have to make sure we take those into the next season.”

Law, meanwhile, is hoping big things lie ahead for youngster Baker who has impressed late in the season after being given a chance to shine.

“The big positive over the last few games has been Ben Baker,” the Poppies boss added.

“He has come into the team, he’s scored goals and he has performed well.

“He was very unfortunate in terms of injuries at the start of the season but he has shown what he can bring to the team and hopefully the work he will do over the summer and in pre-season will set him up for the next one.”