Poppies to face Daventry in the play-offs

Poppies boss Dean Thomas
Poppies boss Dean Thomas

Kettering Town will take on Northamptonshire rivals Daventry Town in a Calor League Division One Central play-off semi-final at Latimer Park on Tuesday night.

The Poppies’ slim hopes of claiming the title were ended as Dunstable Town and Rugby Town both won as the former took the crown.

But Kettering’s 3-2 victory at North Greenford United coupled with Daventry’s 1-0 home defeat to Chalfont St Peter ensured the Poppies get home advantage for the midweek semi-final clash.

As expected Dean Thomas decided not to risk either Josh Moreman or James Jepson from the start due to injuries while there was no place for top scorer Dubi Ogbonna in the squad.

It meant a first start for Andrew Osei-Siribour while Ash Fuller was also recalled to the team.

The Poppies started confidently enough and should have been in front after just three minutes.

Chris Logan released Osei-Siribour down the right and his low cross found Elliot Sandy who somehow missed the target from close range.

Kettering continued to push with James Clifton’s swerving shot from distance being parried away by home goalkeeper Asen Agov, who also denied Fuller soon after.

But the Poppies did take a deserved lead just before the half-hour when Ose-Siribour was sent clear of the home defence and beat Agov with a confident low finish.

The news that Dunstable and Rugby were both winning before the break may have dampened the mood somewhat but Kettering ensured their rivals had to retain those positions by grabbing a second before the break.

Fuller swung in a deep cross from the right, Agov came for it, missed it and it fell at the feet of Clifton who rolled the ball into an empty net.

Clifton was withdrawn at the break with Louis Hamilton replacing him but the Poppies were straight back into the driving seat with Fulller shooting just wide.

But the hosts pulled one back with their first real attempt on goal when Myles Stephenson produced a composed finish low past Alastair Worby.

Almost immediately, Fuller scooped just over the crossbar from a couple of yards out after good work from Hamilton.

But the hosts silenced the large away following with an equaliser on 66 minutes. Louis Stead sent over a free-kick and Worby made a good stop from Michael Dart but Andrew Manitou was there to score from the rebound.

Henry Eze headed wide as the Poppies looked to respond and they did get their noses back in front when substitute Moreman sent his shot under Agov, much to the delight of the travelling support.

That proved to be enough as Kettering saw the game out with ease in the latter stages.

The winning run goes on and two more, starting from Tuesday, will see them promoted.

All eyes on Latimer Park then...

North Greenford: Agov; Akpiteta, Manitou, Dart, Kearney; O’Connor, Stead, O’Neill, Manu; Stephenson, Senior (sub Amarfio, 86 mins). Subs not used:, Stewart, Brown.

Poppies: Worby; Clifton (sub Hamilton, h-t), Eze, Kinniburgh, Bukasa; Thorpe, Logan, Gooding, Fuller (sub Hull, 78 mins); Sandy (sub Moreman, 64 mins), Osei-Siribour. Subs not used: Jepson, McAlindon.

Referee: Jake Hillier.

Goals: Osei-Siribour (29 mins, 0-1), Clifton (42 mins, 0-2), Stephenson (52 mins, 1-2), Manitou (66 mins, 2-2), Moreman (76 mins, 2-3).

Bookings: Bukasa, Gooding (both fouls).

Attendance: 428.