Poppies ready to renew rivalry with Barton

Claudiu Hoban is set to make his home bow for Kettering Town tonight after scoring on his debut in the 3-2 defeat at Mickleover Sports in the FA Trophy on Saturday. Pictures by Peter Short

Claudiu Hoban is set to make his home bow for Kettering Town tonight after scoring on his debut in the 3-2 defeat at Mickleover Sports in the FA Trophy on Saturday. Pictures by Peter Short

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Thomas Baillie believes there are plenty of reasons why Kettering Town should want to beat Barton Rovers at Latimer Park tonight (Tuesday).

The most important of those is to regain top spot in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central, something they will do if they avoid defeat.

Claudiu Hoban is set to make his home bow for Kettering Town tonight after scoring on his debut in the 3-2 defeat at Mickleover Sports in the FA Trophy on Saturday. Pictures by Peter Short

Claudiu Hoban is set to make his home bow for Kettering Town tonight after scoring on his debut in the 3-2 defeat at Mickleover Sports in the FA Trophy on Saturday. Pictures by Peter Short

While the Poppies were suffering a 3-2 defeat at Mickleover Sports in the FA Trophy at the weekend, they were also toppled off the summit for the first time in a number of weeks as Hanwell Town took over after a 2-1 success at Marlow.

But the first of two games in hand arrives for Kettering this evening, although joint-boss Baillie knows the clash with Barton is likely to have an extra edge to it.

Relations between the two clubs were not exactly pleasant last season after Kettering moved to sign Tommy Hull from Barton.

Rovers went on to be the only club to do the double over the Poppies and were also responsible for ending their record-breaking 21-match unbeaten run in March.

“They celebrated like they had won the World Cup and that spilled into the dressing-room area as well, it was way over the top,” Baillie said.

“I found some of the comments that were made about our club and about Tommy, in particular, that night very disrespectful.

“It just showed what it means to beat Kettering. They ended our unbeaten run, celebrated like they did but then didn’t make it into the play-offs.

“I know they have had changes there and hopefully there won’t be any repeat of what happened at the end of that game, although I hope our players who are still here remember it.

“So yes, we have more reasons than one to try to win the game but none of them are more important than trying to get back to the top of the table.

“We were disappointed to go out of the FA Trophy at the weekend, we played to win the game and that was the case even after we had Jason Lee sent off.

“But we now concentrate on the league, which was the number one priority at the start of the season.

“It’s an important week for us because this game is followed by another home match against Godalming who are right up there.

“We are desperate to pick up some more crucial points over the next two games.”

Hull returns to the Poppies squad for tonight’s game against his former club after missing the trip to Mickleover to attend his brother’s wedding.

Claudiu Hoban, who scored on his debut after joining Kettering from Oxford City, is set to make his home bow while Baillie reported no other injury concerns coming out of the weekend loss.