Defender Brad still wants Poppies to look up as they bid to secure safety

Brad Gascoigne is still hoping Kettering Town can drag more teams into the relegation dogfight as the Vanarama National League North campaign enters its final stages.
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Having lost 4-1 at title-chasing King’s Lynn Town on Good Friday, the Poppies responded in perfect fashion as they beat fellow strugglers Leamington 3-0 at Latimer Park on Easter Monday to open up a four-point gap between themselves and the relegation places with three games to go.

Kettering were helped by the sending-off of Theo Streete for a foul which led to Jimmy Knowles opening the scoring from the penalty spot before substitutes Lewis White and Sam Bennett both struck in the final 14 minutes to wrap up a vital win.

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The job is far from done, however, and Kettering now face a tough run-in with Saturday’s trek to Spennymoor Town being followed by a home clash with third-placed Chester and a final-day trip to Kidderminster Harriers.

Brad Gascoigne in action during Kettering Town's 3-0 win over Leamington on Easter Monday. Picture by Peter ShortBrad Gascoigne in action during Kettering Town's 3-0 win over Leamington on Easter Monday. Picture by Peter Short
Brad Gascoigne in action during Kettering Town's 3-0 win over Leamington on Easter Monday. Picture by Peter Short

But centre-half Gascoigne isn’t looking any further ahead than this weekend and he insists it’s still better for the Poppies to look up, rather than down.

“We have always said that we can only control the controllables and, after Friday’s defeat at King’s Lynn, we always knew at the back of our minds that the Leamington game was a big one and a must win,” he said.

“So credit to every single one of the lads, even those coming on like Whitey who got a goal.

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“The gaffer (Lee Glover) has always said we will need every single player and Monday proved that.

“The conditions didn’t help with the strong wind blowing one way and then the other.

“And it’s not always easy playing against 10 men, you have to stay switched on.

“We wanted to stay on the front foot in the second half and they had a spell when they were spinning things in behind us.

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“But we dealt with it well and then Whitey and Sam have come on and scored the goals and we got the result we needed.

“I said it a few weeks ago that I wanted to look at the teams above us rather than below us and see if we could drag those who are two or three points ahead of us into it.

“Trying to chase something rather than escape something just makes it that bit more positive.

“We just have to take it game-by-game. It’s Spennymoor next and we have to go there and do what we did on Monday and try to get a positive result.”

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While Kettering’s lack of goals has proved a problem all season, it’s been their defensive record that has kept their head above water so far in the second half of the campaign.

In 21 league games since Christmas, the Poppies have conceded just 19 goals which has helped them pick up 27 of their 49 points that are now on the board.

Included within that spell have been nine clean sheets, the latest of which was on Monday.

And while a number of 0-0 draws haven’t made for the most entertaining of games, Gascoigne believes those points could prove crucial.

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“I know that people will have watched games that haven’t always been pretty, sometimes it looks a bit direct,” he added.

“But our job as defenders, first and foremost, is to keep the ball out of our net.

“As long as you can do that, it always gives you a platform and it gives the forwards the hope that if we get that one chance then they can take it knowing we are doing all we can at the back.

“If you look back at the clean sheets we’ve had and the 0-0 draws, they are big points.

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“I know people say we needed to turn those draws into wins and we did but if you go back and lose those games 1-0 then you have probably lost five or six points.

“Those clean sheets are as big as goals sometimes.”