Mulligan hopes Poppies can gatecrash the play-off party

Gary Mulligan watches on as Liam Canavan battles for possession during Kettering Town's midweek win over Stratford Town
Gary Mulligan watches on as Liam Canavan battles for possession during Kettering Town's midweek win over Stratford Town

Gary Mulligan believes the teams currently in the top five of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division will be “looking over their shoulders” as Kettering Town bid to gatecrash the play-offs.

The Poppies have moved into contention for a top-five finish after they extended their unbeaten run to six matches with a 3-1 victory over Stratford Town on Tuesday night.

While Marcus Law’s team were doing the business in the third of seven successive games at Latimer Park, fifth-placed Hitchin Town lost 1-0 at King’s Lynn Town.

The Poppies are now four points behind Hitchin with two games in hand while the two teams are due to meet at Latimer Park a week on Saturday.

Mulligan, who captained the team in the absence of Brett Solkhon in midweek, believes Kettering can be the team to “sneak” into the extended season, especially if they keep up their impressive home form when they host Slough Town on Saturday and then Bedworth United on Easter Monday.

“We are unbeaten in six matches now and you always get one team who comes in with a late charge,” said Mulligan, who has been playing at centre-half in recent weeks.

“If we win our games in hand we will be in the play-offs so I think everyone will be looking over their shoulders and hopefully we can sneak in.

“We have got games against two teams that, on paper, we should have a good chance of beating this weekend. Our home form is great and hopefully we can continue it.”

Mulligan was pleased with the way the Poppies upped their game during the second half on Tuesday night.

After a goalless first period David Popa, Spencer Weir-Daley and Wilson Carvalho were all on target as Kettering had just too much for Stratford.

And Mulligan said: “If we want to get a play-off place we really needed three points on Tuesday.

“And to be fair to the lads, after it was 50-50 in the first half, they really dug in after half-time and once we got the first goal it was comfortable enough.

“The lads are confident, we all want to win so much and when you have games that are 0-0 for a while we get a bit frustrated.

“That’s when the older guys have to make sure the younger ones keep their heads. We know we will get chances and it’s all about taking them.”