Kettering Town boss Culverhouse keeps his eyes on the prize

Ian Culverhouse insists Kettering Town are fully focused on their “objective” this year.

By Jon Dunham
Friday, 4th March 2022, 7:15 am
Ian Culverhouse applauds the travelling fans after Kettering Town's 3-2 defeat at Boston United last weekend. Picture by Peter Short
Ian Culverhouse applauds the travelling fans after Kettering Town's 3-2 defeat at Boston United last weekend. Picture by Peter Short

The Poppies boss is targeting a spot in the Vanarama National League North play-offs in the final 14 games of the season.

Culverhouse suffered only his second defeat in eight games since taking charge of Kettering as a six-match unbeaten run was ended in a controversial 3-2 defeat at fellow play-off contenders Boston United, managed by former Poppies boss Paul Cox, last weekend.

Kettering had led 2-1 in the game but had Connor Johnson and then Gary Stohrer sent-off while assistant-manager Paul Bastock and coach Joe Simpson were also red-carded on the touchline for the protests following Stohrer’s late dismissal.

Kettering now sit in ninth place and two points off the top seven ahead of this weekend’s home clash with Guiseley after in-form York City moved into the play-off places following a fine 2-0 win at AFC Fylde on Tuesday night.

Saturday’s visitors are chasing points for a different reason as they are hovering just above the sole relegation spot this season.

But Culverhouse is expecting his team, who are set to be without both Johnson and Stohrer due to suspension, to be in for a tough afternoon as the battle for points at both the top and bottom of the division heats up.

“It’s going to be a really hard game,” the Poppies manager said.

“Guiseley are a big, tall, strong and physical side so we are going to have to stand up to that and try to get our game going.

“But there’s no better way to come back. It’s a home game, the emphasis is on us to take our game to them and that’s what we will be looking to do.

“It’s the business end of the season now and there’s everything to play for at both ends of the league.

“We won’t be taking our eye off what the objective is this year.

“And if we do it, it would be a marvellous occasion for the football club and a massive achievement for the players and fans.”

The Poppies were backed by a big following of 332 at Boston last weekend, something that was much appreciated by Culverhouse who also met with supporters at a fans’ forum this week.

And he insists they have a role to play as he bids to keep Kettering amongst the play-off contenders.

“They really got behind the lads and drove them on all game, which was fantastic,” he added.

“They have been brilliant since we walked through the door, they really have.

“They have got behind the team and driven them forward.

“The fans will be a big part in what we hope will be a successful finish to the season as we try to get that play-off spot.”

This week, Kettering extended George Cooper’s loan deal from Mansfield Town until the end of the season.

The centre-half has been impressive performer for the Poppies in recent weeks but is a doubt for this weekend’s clash with Guiseley after he went off with an injury in the 3-2 defeat at Boston United.

The Poppies, meanwhile, confirmed the departure of defender Luke Ward ahead of last weekend’s loss.

Poppies boss Culverhouse, meanwhile, will be the guest at a sports breakfast at The Stirrup Cup in Barton Seagrave on Saturday, March 26.

A former Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur player, Culverhouse will attend the morning chat show ahead of the afternoon match at home to Chorley.

The event gets under way at 11.00am with breakfast served from 10.30am and places are £12 including breakfast and a drink.

Bookings can be made by calling The Stirrup Cup on 01536 722841.