Thomas: Pressure is off Poppies for the dramatic finale

Dean Thomas says Kettering Town have no pressure on them, even though they could claim the Calor League Division One Central title on Saturday

Dean Thomas says Kettering Town have no pressure on them, even though they could claim the Calor League Division One Central title on Saturday

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Kettering Town will be part of a dramatic climax to the Calor League Division One Central title race on Saturday.

The Poppies threw themselves into the equation for automatic promotion by beating local rivals Daventry Town 2-0 at Latimer Park on Easter Monday – a result which guaranteed them a play-off place.

But Daventry’s shock 4-1 defeat at Egham Town in the final game in hand last night (Wednesday) now means four teams, including the Poppies, could yet claim the title on the final weekend of the season.

For Kettering to claim the crown, they will have to win at third-from-bottom North Greenford United and hope that current leaders Dunstable Town lose at home to Uxbridge and that Rugby Town and Daventry fail to win their respective matches at AFC Hayes and at home to Chalfont St Peter.

It remains an unlikely scenario but Poppies boss Dean Thomas insists his team are the only one who have no pressure on them going into the final day.

Thomas again reiterated that he is already content with a play-off spot with the one-off semi-final due to be played on Tuesday night.

And he is now targeting victory at North Greenford for two reasons – to either claim the title or to try to finish in second or third place, which would mean their play-off semi-final will be at Latimer Park.

Thomas said: “It’s crazy really and if someone had suggested this would be the way the season would finish a few months ago you would have said they were potty!

“It has been a tight league all the way through and for us to get into the play-offs is a fantastic achievement considering where we have come from.

“Dunstable, Rugby and Daventry will kick themselves if they don’t win it. They have all been in the driving seat at one time or another.

“I think Dunstable will be given a tough test by Uxbridge on Saturday but really it is all about who handles the pressure and who holds their nerve.

“There are a lot of young players in this league and that pressure can get to them, that’s what happens in football.

“We have kept our nerve to this point, we have played well and we will be looking to pick up another victory.

“It is a shame there aren’t another three or four matches left in the season.

“But I am pleased to be in the play-offs. We are in good form and all we can try to do is win another game.

“The aim for us is to finish as high as possible. There are various things that could happen on Saturday.

“If we could win the league then it would be remarkable but the other aim to to try to be at home on Tuesday night. You have to try to give yourselves the best possible advantage.

“People will be looking at us and saying we can win the league. It’s true, we could but I remain happy with what we have got.”

The Poppies go into Saturday’s game on the back of eight successive victories that have secured their play-off place and they have suffered just two defeats in 31 matches since the end of October.

AS IT STANDS

Dunstable 87pts GD +49

Rugby 86pts GD +49

Daventry 86 pts GD +43

Kettering 85 pts GD +44

FINAL DAY FIXTURES

AFC Hayes v Rugby, Daventry v Chalfont St Peter, Dunstable v Uxbridge, North Greenford v Kettering.

Stay tuned to this website for further Poppies news as well as all the fallout from the final day of the season over the weekend