Scott Cross scored on his debut for Kettering Town but it couldn’t prevent a disappointing 2-1 defeat at AFC Hayes in the Calor League Division One Central.
As expected, Cross, who signed from leaders Daventry Town during the week, started the game as he came into the side in place of Rob Foster.
The Poppies also confirmed that they have now registered left-sided player Jonathan Bukasa, although he wasn’t included in the squad.
Kettering started brightly enough but they were 1-0 down after three minutes when Lawrie Shennan raced clear down the right and cut inside before tucking the ball into the corner.
Shennan missed a free header at the far post soon after but Kettering responded when Jonathon Thorpe’s cross was turned back in with pace by Ash Fuller and Charlie Crane was forced to clear away for a corner when he could have put it in his own net.
Hayes continued to be the more dangerous while the Poppies struggled to get going and it was 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when Thorpe’s poor back-pass was straight to Shennan and he rounded Charlie Horton to score.
Dean Thomas threw on Louis Hamilton in place of Thorpe at the break and he made an immediate impression when his cross found Jake Newman but he delayed his shot and allowed Charlie Goode to make a block.
Henry Eze headed over when home goalkeeper Ben Goode missed Andy Gooding’s free-kick but the Poppies did get back into it on 67 minutes.
Chimdi Akubuine pumped a free-kick into the area, Chris Logan flicked it on and Cross showed good composure to rifle into the roof of the net.
Kettering had a good shout for a penalty waved away when Gooding went down under a challenge while, at the other end, Shennan shot wide after a mistake from Eze.
In the end, it didn’t matter as the hosts held on for the victory as the Poppies’ recent good run of form was ended.
Poppies line-up: Horton, Akubuine, Kinniburgh, Logan, Eze, Piercewright, Thorpe, Gooding, Cross, Newman, Fuller. Subs: Hamilton, Foster, Muzvimbiri, Knight, Wall.