Marcus Law was delighted with a “great start to the year” after Kettering Town sealed a derby-day success over AFC Rushden & Diamonds in dramatic fashion.
The New Year’s Day clash at Latimer Park attracted a huge crowd of 2,147 and the majority of those eventually went home happy after Rhys Hoenes headed home a stoppage-time winner for the Poppies.
Diamonds had taken a second-half lead through Nathan Hicks before Lindon Meikle levelled things up with 16 minutes to go.
Diamonds had Jack Westbrook sent-off for a second bookable offence and he was soon followed by Poppies captain Michael Richens who saw red for a challenge on Alex Collard.
But Kettering nicked it at the death and it proved to be a crucial win as they closed the gap on Stourbridge to two points with three games in hand, after the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central leaders were held to a 1-1 draw by Rushall Olympic.
But Law was just happy to put some smiles on the Poppies fans’ faces with victory over their local rivals.
“We had some good interlink play in the first half and we didn’t take our chances,” the Poppies boss said.
“They started the second half brightly and it looked like we had stifled it but then we haven’t dealt with a free-kick and the lad has produced a very good finish.
“That put us on the backfoot and I just felt we needed to change the shape and we needed to lose something to gain elsewhere and the introduction of Aaron O’Connor hurt them.
“We put some pressure on and we got the equaliser, then there were two sendings-off which you can’t fault the referee with and we just managed to find a bit of quality at the end.
“A 94th-minute winner on New Year’s Day against your local rivals and moving closer to Stourbridge, it’s a great start to the year.
“I am just really pleased, especially with the big crowd we had in.
“It’s a results business and we have shown character after going 1-0 down. I don’t think there was a Kettering fan who wouldn’t have gone home with a smile on their face.”
The victory wrapped up a decent festive period for the Poppies with 10 points from four matches and they will now look to add to that when they take on Tamworth at Latimer Park on Saturday.
“We need to build on the fact that we have taken 10 points over the Christmas period,” Law added.
“We have done it while playing two of those games against teams within the top four so we have to keep going.”