Troubled Kettering Town suffered their fourth defeat in five Calor League Division One Central matches so far this season as they went down 4-1 at Dunstable Town.
Just 24 hours after the club was wound up in London’s High Court, prompting the club to launch a challenge against the judgement, manager Dean Thomas and a much-changed line-up were in action in the first of two matches that was sanctioned by the Southern League despite the events in the capital.
New signings Ashley Fuller and Luke Trotman were handed a starting roles while another new boy Robbie Maddox was named on the substitutes’ bench.
The Poppies started brightly and Fuller’s pass found Louis Hamilton whose long-range effort hit the crossbar.
Kettering goalkeeper Michael Quirke saved Chris Marsh’s snap-shot at the other end but it was the hosts who struck first when Lee Roche poked the ball home.
Roache shot over soon after but the Poppies did level before the break. Fuller sent over a lovely cross and Jonathon Thorpe headed into the corner.
Trotman was replaced by Will Muzvimbiri at half-time and Dunstable regained the lead when Marsh skipped past the substitute after a short corner and squared for Joseph Bruce to fire home.
Kettering responded with Chris Logan shooting on the turn and forcing Jamie Head into a smart save.
But the hosts grabbed their third after Quirke had dallied on the ball near the corner flag when he should have cleared it out. Instead, he was caught out by Roache and hauled him down for a booking. And from the resulting free-kick, Marc Leach had a free header to make it 3-1.
It was one-way traffic for most of the second half with Roache heading against a post but Dunstable rounded it off in the last few moments when Muzvimbiri and Hamilton left a ball to each other and Marsh got away before burying his short into the corner.
The defeat would have done nothing for the morale of players, staff and fans alike with a much bigger battle to be won off the pitch.
Kettering take on Aylesbury United at Latimer Park on Saturday in what could potentially be the last-ever game in the club’s 140-year history unless their legal battle is successful.