Bennett and Lewthwaite seal crucial win for Poppies at Leiston
With only the league to concentrate on, you could forgive Poppies fans for giving a long journey to Suffolk on a Tuesday night a miss - especially with their precarious league position.
And after an hour of being under the pump it looked like another disappointing game from Kettering.
But a professional final half hour and the introduction of Tyrone Lewthwaite saw the visitors up the quality and score twice in 12 minutes to seal the points.
The first half started in brisk fashion with the hosts going close within four minutes - Albie Armin should have done better with a cross from the right with his shot sliding past the post.
Dan Jarvis replied with a chance for the Poppies on 11 minutes with a solo run down the center of the field, before firing a low effort from 20 yards out which went wide.
It was a superb piece of defending and some fine goalkeeping that kept Leiston at bay in the latter stages of the half.
On 27 minutes, the dangerous Ross Crane bared down on goal but took too much time on the ball allowing a last ditch tackle to come in from Lewis White on the right, before the ball was hacked off the line from Kelvin Langmead.
Billy Johnson produced heroics just before the break, again Crane latching onto a Jack Manly ball but his heavy touch was well smothered by Johnson who timed his run to perfection.
The hosts continued to have the upper hand in the opening salvos of the second half with Kettering again calling on Johnson to keep the scores level.
Crane forcing a find double save with powerful shots inside the area.
A minute later Joseph Marsden’s lobbed effort need a strong right hand to tip the ball around the post.
As the hosts started to realise that they were facing a keeper in form, Kettering sniffed a chance and made changes to the personnel, with substitute Harry Reilly almost making an immediate impact on 67 minutes.
Three minutes later and the deadlock was broken. Rhys Sharpe played Sam Bennett through into acres of space - the striker taking a touch inside the area before passing the ball past Sam Donkin in the Leiston goal.
Top scorer Lewthwaite was introduced with 15 minutes to go and didn’t take long to cause problems.
On 82 minutes, Jarvis placed his cross on to the head of the umarked Lewthwaite 12 yards out, who placed his header into the bottom corner to send the hardy Poppies support home happy and more importantly Kettering out of the bottom four.
Star Man: Billy Johnson
Referee: Nathan Oaks
The Poppies return to league action on Saturday when they travel to fellow strugglers Berkhamsted.
Kettering moved above Berko on Tuesday night, with their win at Leiston seeing them leapfrog their weekend hosts. Berkhamsted were also in midweek action, drawing 2-2 at home with Stratford Town.
The Poppies’ win lifts them to fifth bottom in table.