VERDICT: Solkhon at the double as impressive Poppies see off Weymouth
Kettering Town took a big step towards securing a home semi-final in the Evo-Stik South League Premier play-offs as they claimed an impressive 2-0 win over Weymouth at Latimer Park.
And, in the process, the Poppies inflicted a psychological blow on one of the teams they could face in the post-season.Indeed, this game probably emphasised why boss Marcus Law and his players are so desperate to have home advantage when they make the final push for the promotion.With a decent-sized crowd on top of them, Weymouth were stunned by a flying start from the hosts as Brett Solkhon’s first-half brace gave the Poppies the foothold they were looking for.And, from then on, the job was clear - don’t let them back into it.It was a job the Kettering players executed almost perfectly as goalkeeper Paul White was rarely troubled on his way to a 20th clean sheet of the season.With the likes of Lindon Meikle and Michael Richens dominating the midfield and the rock solid Orrin Pendley, Gary Mulligan and Solkhon behind them, Kettering closed the game out with few alarms while Weymouth continually struggled to get to grips with the surroundings.When you consider this was the Poppies’ fourth game in seven days, the effort put in to get the result they wanted really shouldn’t be underestimated.They started with real intent and were rewarded when, with 10 minutes on the clock, Mathew Stevens produced a moment of magic as he flicked the ball over a defender and raced into the penalty area.He was caught by Thiago Caze Da Silva for a clear penalty and Solkhon, as he has been for weeks now, was coolness personified as he sent Will Dennis the wrong way from the spot.With their tails up, Kettering went in search of more and Rhys Hoenes saw a shot blocked before Gary Mulligan’s goalbound header from the resulting corner was cleared.Mulligan had another effort saved by Dennis but the lead was doubled on 25 minutes.A corner was cleared but recycled to Hoenes on the left who sent a low cross in. Josh Carmichael attempted to turn on the ball but a heavy touch only diverted it into the path of Solkhon who produced an excellent finish into the far corner.Another brace for the ‘Kettering Angel’ and 21 goals in all competitions from centre-half this season. It’s no wonder he’s adored in these parts.That goal sparked an immediate summit meeting between the Weymouth bench and their players and a change of shape followed as they stemmed the flow before half-time.They gave it a go after the break with Jake McCarthy heading over before White held on to Calvin Brooks’ weak effort after a surging run from midfield.Kettering remained a threat themselves with Stevens having appeals for a penalty waved away after he claimed a shot had been blocked with a hand.But, for the Poppies, this was all about game management and while Brooks saw one curling effort flash inches wide, the visitors were left to feed on scraps as the home defenders mopped up everything in front of them.On a big stage, Kettering delivered and while they will still want to try to catch King’s Lynn Town for second place, this win means they hold all the cards when it comes to finishing in the top three.It’s been a big effort over the past seven days and now the Poppies have to recover again as they prepare to head into the bull ring of Edgar Street where over 4,000 fans and champions Hereford await them on Saturday…
Poppies: White; Pendley, Mulligan, Solkhon; Bateman, Meikle (sub Marshall, 86 mins), Richens, Stohrer; Hoenes (sub Carvalho, 71 mins), Stevens (sub Milnes, 71 mins), O’Connor. Subs not used: Willimont, Howe.Weymouth: Dennis; Wells (sub Baggie, 57 mins), Zubar, Da Silva, Buckley (sub Goodship, 77 mins); Brooks, McCarthy, Carmichael, Wakefield (sub Davies, 83 mins); Thompson, Baker. Subs not used: Sa, Stewart.Referee: Scott Postin.Goals: Solkhon pen (11 mins, 1-0), Solkhon (25 mins, 2-0).Booking: Da Silva, Buckley (both fouls).Attendance: 745.