Kettering Town 1 AFC Fylde 1 - The Talking Points

Kettering Town’s encouraging start to the new Vanarama National League North season continued as they ended AFC Fylde’s 100 per cent record in a 1-1 draw at Latimer Park.

Sunday, 5th September 2021, 7:00 am
Callum Powell was out of luck when this first-half free-kick cannoned off the crossbar, one of three occasions Kettering Town struck the woodwork in the 1-1 draw with AFC Fylde. Pictures by Peter Short

Sports reporter Jon Dunham highlights some talking points from an entertaining encounter.

If you want to show someone what the National League North is all about, show them this 90 minutes

I may be easily entertained but I thought this was a cracking game.

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Kettering's Lamine Sherif keeps close tabs on Fylde's Stephen Dobbie. Recent signing Sherif impressed again with an all-action display in midfield

Right from the first whistle, it was fast and furious, it was competitive (not dirty) and it was end-to-end at times.

There were plenty of tackles flying in but the officials ran the game well and let it flow as much as they possibly could.

Early leaders Fylde struggled to get things going at times, mainly because of the hard work and endeavour that Kettering had on show.

It all made for a very watchable game that could have gone either way.

Callum Powell was hauled down by Stephen Dobbie to earn a penalty for Kettering, which the in-form forward duly scored to bring his team level

The National League North is a better division than people give it credit for and this 90 minutes of action would be a good piece of evidence to show anyone who isn’t convinced by it.

After a slow start, Kettering grew into things. By the end, they had their visitors worried

I have to admit, when the impressive Nick Haughton headed Fylde into an early lead, I feared it might be a long afternoon for Kettering.

The last thing you want to do against a side that have won four on the bounce is give them some early encouragement.

But the Poppies’ response was great.

They worked themselves back into it and in Callum Powell they had a real livewire who didn’t give the visiting defence a moment of rest.

He won and then scored the penalty to bring Kettering level and was out of luck when a free-kick cannoned off the crossbar.

Powell’s fortunes didn’t improve after the break. He cut in from the left and hit one with his right but, again, the ball smacked off the crossbar.

And when Fylde goalkeeper Chris Neal tipped Luke Ward’s shot onto the post, you wondered whether this would be Kettering’s day or not.

Even in stoppage-time, Neal had to be very good to tip another Powell effort over.

It’s not to say Fylde didn’t have their chances because they did.

But, having made such a fast start, it was the high-flying visitors who seemed the happier when the final whistle blew.

The early signs are encouraging, the recruitment programme seems to have worked well

Whenever a squad undergoes a complete facelift over the summer, there will always be a bit of concern about how quickly it takes for things to gel.

With instant reactions now the norm on social media, it seems that time isn’t something managers really have anymore.

With all that in mind, Paul Cox must surely be satisfied with how his Kettering team have started.

And he must be fairly pleased with the recruitment programme he has followed over the summer.

True, it took a while for all the signings to be made official, but the squad was pretty much together right from the start of pre-season.

I know the manager doesn’t want to harp on about it but it is a young side but there is plenty of quality in there and, more importantly, plenty of heart and fight.

The recent addition of Lamine Sherif looks like a masterstroke after he followed up an impressive debut with an all-action display in this game and, in Callum Powell, they have a pure talent.

Indeed, it’s almost harsh to pick out individuals. The Poppies have looked a decent all-round team early on and it will be fascinating to see how the season develops from here.

Now, as Paul Cox continues to say, it’s all about finding consistency

Paul Cox is certainly consistent in his calls for his Kettering team to find consistency.

The manager is always wary of not getting ahead of himself and while he will be happy with the early stages of the campaign, he knows it will count for little if his team don’t continue on the same path in the coming weeks.

It’s not even consistent results Cox is looking for. It’s just consistent performances, the belief being that if the displays remain at the right level then the results will follow naturally.

Kettering were good against Farsley Celtic, they deserved to win but were pegged back by a late goal.

They then turned in that fine display at Gloucester and pulled off an excellent win on the road.

Now they have gone toe-to-toe with one of the division’s big hitters and have been unfortunate to come away with only a point.

But the performance levels have been good in the last three games and haven’t dropped.

That’s what Cox is looking for and, to simplify things, if Kettering continue to perform at the level they did in this game, then they will be absolutely fine - if not better - this season.