FA Cup win meant a lot but Poppies defender Johnson is only looking forward

Connor Johnson admits it is 'exciting' that Kettering Town will have the chance to play for a place in the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 5:00 pm
Connor Johnson has his eyes on the ball during Kettering Town's FA Cup success over Leamington on Tuesday. Picture by Peter Short

You could see that Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup victory over Leamington meant a lot to everyone at Kettering Town.

For whatever reason, Paul Holleran’s team have had the edge over the Poppies during their recent meetings.

And, having been leading 3-2 against 10 men in Warwickshire at the weekend, many might have thought that Kettering had missed their opportunity to end the hoodoo when they were pegged back by a Dan Turner penalty.

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But Kettering were worthy 2-0 winners in the replay at Latimer Park as goals from Callum Powell and Isaac Stones booked a fourth qualifying round showdown with Northern Premier League high-flyers Buxton on Saturday week.

The replay win certainly meant a lot to central defender Connor Johnson, who gave away the penalty from which Leamington equalised at the weekend.

And he admitted the Poppies were determined to “put things right” in the replay.

“It did mean a lot, especially after Saturday when we felt we should have won and I was disappointed because I gave away the penalty,” Johnson said.

“But we went out there and put it right and the lads were buzzing with it.

“Leamington are a tricky team to play against, they are well drilled and they know what they are doing.

“Looking at the chances they had, they did start very well but I can’t remember them having too many opportunities. I thought we limited them to very little. A clean sheet is always good.

“We are just excited to be through. We will think about the Buxton game when it comes around but to have the opportunity to get into the first round proper is great.”

That clash with Buxton is on the backburner for the time being as Kettering gear up to host Chester on their return to National League North action this weekend.

It’s been a highly encouraging start to the campaign for Paul Cox’s new-look Poppies side and they head into Saturday’s clash sitting in eighth place in the table.

Chester, on the other hand, will head to Latimer Park wounded by a shock 4-0 home defeat to Northern Premier League side Marske United in their FA Cup third qualifying round replay on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, they remain one of the biggest clubs in the division but Johnson is in no doubt that the Poppies are capable of matching anyone they come up against.

“We are always looking forward,” the central defender added.

“I know people say it all the time but it’s a great dressing-room and everyone wants to do well for themselves and the club so there is a good bond.

“It will be tough against Chester but I think that if we stick to our game plans and do what we are good at then I think we are capable of matching anyone.

“We always have a goal in us and we are working hard to be solid at the back.”