Chances go begging as Poppies take a point

Poppies boss Dean Thomas
Poppies boss Dean Thomas

It was another day of frustration for Kettering Town at Latimer Park as Chalfont St Peter snatched a 1-1 draw.

The Poppies took the lead through Andy Gooding’s penalty 14 minutes from the end. But a lapse in concentration at the back allowed the visitors to claim a point with just five minutes left on the clock.

That summed up a disappointing day for Kettering in front of over 700 fans as chance-after-chance went begging.

Eventually, it cost them dearly although they are now unbeaten in 21 Calor League Division One Central matches as they continue their push for a play-off place.

Dean Thomas made two changes from the team that drew 0-0 at Northwood in midweek as Ash Fuller and Dubi Ogbonna came in for Josh Moreman and Chris Logan.

It was Ogbonna’s first start since returning from injury and it meant Elliot Sandy dropped back into a role just behind the frontman.

The Poppies started brightly and Fuller’s early inswinging free-kick forced visiting goalkeeper Michael Power-Simpson into his first save.

Ogbonna was off target after getting a sight of goal before both he and Sandy had efforts deflected wide in the space of two minutes.

The striker continued to cause the visitors problems with his runs in behind and he shot over again before Sandy forced Power-Simpson into another save with a glancing header.

But the golden chance of the first half fell to Jonathon Thorpe. He had the goal at his mercy from a low cross by James Clifton but the winger somehow missed the ball completely from six yards out.

Chalfont’s attacks were rare but substitute Scott Fitzgerald shot wide before the break and they threatened again after half-time when Terrell Lewis got away and rounded Alastair Worby.

However, the striker was forced wide and his cross was eventually hacked clear by Steve Kinniburgh.

But it was the Poppies who continued to carve out the better chances and Power-Simpson tipped Sandy’s header over the bar while Henry Eze saw an effort cleared off the line from the resulting corner.

However, the hosts really should have gone in front on 64 minutes. Ogbonna got clean through and skipped round Power-Simpson. He was forced slightly wide but with an open goal gaping, the striker conspired to hit the post instead of the net.

It looked like being one of those days for the hosts. But, with 15 minutes to go, they got a stroke of fortune.

Clifton took it upon himself to push forward and he went down under a challenge from Lewis. It looked like the visiting player had taken the ball but referee Matthew Smith pointed to the spot.

And Andy Gooding wasn’t about to argue as he stepped up and sent Power-Simpson the wrong way from 12 yards.

That looked like being the winning goal. But Chalfont had other ideas and they stunned the home crowd with the equaliser with five minutes to go.

A free-kick was sent into the home penalty area, the Kettering defence didn’t clear their lines from the second ball and Alan Hedley left Worby rooted with a decent low strike into the corner.

The Poppies pushed hard late on and Clifton was desperately unlucky when his header from a Gooding free-kick cannoned off the post while Gooding also forced Power-Simpson into an even later save from another set-piece.

Alas, it was not to be. Ultimately, missed chances cost the Poppies again and it is a problem they need to sort out, particularly in front of their own fans.

But it is another game unbeaten and another step closer to the play-offs. Tuesday’s clash at fellow top-five chasers Barton Rovers is certainly a big one.

Poppies: Worby; Clifton, Eze, Hull, Kinniburgh; Thorpe (sub Osei-Siribour, 90 mins), Gooding, Jepson, Fuller (sub Moreman, 68 mins); Sandy; Ogbonna (sub Hamilton, 82 mins). Subs not used: Logan, Crowie.

Chalfont: Power-Simpson; Pepera, Fowler, Paxton, Lennon (sub Vincente, 53 mins); Cumber, Paine, Carroll (sub Fitzgerald, 28 mins), Hedley, Clarke; Lewis. Subs not used: Kamau, Walker, Christie.

Referee: Matthew Smith.

Goals: Gooding pen (76 mins, 1-0), Hedley (85 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Hull, Fowler (both fouls).

Attendance: 729.