Five-star Poppies destroy Royston

Poppies manager Dean Thomas
Poppies manager Dean Thomas

Five-star Kettering Town took things up a notch or two at Latimer Park as they destroyed fellow Calor League Division One Central play-off contenders Royston Town.

A devastating 16-minute spell in the first half was rewarded with four goals as the Poppies recovered from a slow start to blow their visitors away by half-time.

Things were a bit calmer after the break as James Jepson rounded things off nicely with his team’s fifth.

But the final 5-0 scoreline will surely put the other sides chasing a top-five finish on alert as Kettering powered their way to a second home success in a week.

Poppies boss Dean Thomas named an unchanged side from the 4-0 midweek win over Potters Bar Town with new signing Andrew Osei-Siribour, who joined from Arlesey Town on Friday, named on the bench.

Despite that big win in the week, it was a tentative start from the hosts and there were few chances for either side in the first 28 minutes with Royston looking dangerous on the break.

There was certainly no sign of what would follow in the 17 minutes before half-time but the game changed when a ball into the area bounced up onto Craig Hammond’s hand.

The referee’s assistant immediately signalled for a penalty and Gooding, who is enjoying a purple patch in front of goal at the moment, stepped up and confidently sent Nick Thompson the wrong way from 12 yards.

And the floodgates opened. Royston seemed to go into their shell and it was 2-0 just four minutes later when Sandy, again leading the line, turned on the edge of the area and gave Thompson no chance with a fine strike into the far corner.

If that was good, better was to follow as the Poppies finished their visitors off with two goals in the last four minutes of the period.

Moreman got the third when he finally fired home after seeing three attempts blocked and that also came after James Jepson’s shot was stopped in front of goal after good work from Gooding.

And a fourth goal in 16 minutes arrived when Jepson’s cross to the far post was met by the stretching Logan who saw his volley find its way in with the aid of a post.

The Poppies so nearly made it five early in the second half when Gooding found Moreman on the left and he cut inside before unleashing a thunderbolt which smashed off the inside of the far post to safety.

Having been shell-shocked before half-time, Royston made a couple of changes before the hour mark and looked better for it as Rob Mason left Jamie McAlindon flat-footed with a volley that went just wide.

But the game was up for the visitors with 21 minutes to go. Jonathon Thorpe produced an industrious run down the right, he found Sandy who in turn found Jepson and the midfielder made no mistake from 10 yards.

With the contest well and truly finished, it gave Thomas the chance to hand run-outs to both Osei-Siribour and Louis Hamilton as the Poppies comfortably saw things out in the latter stages.

So, 15 league matches unbeaten and Kettering appear to be firmly on the march. If there were any doubts about their credentials, they have been well and truly quashed now.

Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton, Eze, Hull, Kinniburgh; Thorpe (sub Hamilton, 73 mins), Gooding, Jepson, Logan, Moreman (sub Fuller, 80 mins); Sandy (sub Osei-Siribour, 73 mins). Sub not used: Bukasa.

Royston: Thompson; Parr (sub Edwards, 70 mins), De La Salle, Hammond, Dhillon; Collins, Nightingale (sub Cambridge, 58 mins); Dobson, Ingrey (sub Mentis, 58 mins), Robins; Mason. Sub not used: Baird.

Referee: Michael Scriven.

Goals: Gooding pen (28 mins, 1-0), Sandy (32 mins, 2-0), Moreman (41 mins, 3-0), Logan (44 mins, 4-0), Jepson (69 mins, 5-0).

Bookings: Mason, Thorpe, Mentis (all fouls).

Attendance: 669.