Fuller on the spot for in-form Poppies

Poppies boss Dean Thomas
Poppies boss Dean Thomas

Ash Fuller’s second-half penalty proved to be enough for Kettering Town as their fine run of form continued with a 1-0 victory over North Greenford United in the Calor League Division One Central.

It looked like being an afternoon of frustration at Latimer Park as the Poppies struggled to break their dogged visitors down.

But Fuller converted from the spot on the hour after Jonthon Thorpe had been fouled and that was enough to extend Kettering’s unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions.

There was a boost ahead of the game when the club announced that striker Dubi Ogbonna had signed a contract to keep him at Latimer Park for the foreseeable future.

Manager Dean Thomas, meanwhile, brought Daniel Akubuine back into the starting line-up with Andy Gooding being the player to make way.

Kettering started brightly enough with Ogbonna heading over from Louis Hamilton’s cross.

But the visitors proved to be lively on the counter-attack and Omar Vassell shot over after Louis Stead’s free-kick had been blocked.

North Greenford went even closer when Henry Eze was forced to challenge Myles Stephenson in the penalty area and the ball was heading for the bottom corner before Denham Hinds got down well to turn it away.

The Poppies responded with Fuller seeing a fierce strike palmed away by Lee Pearce while the Kettering winger also curled a free-kick just over the crossbar.

But there was an element of frustration from the Poppies faithful in the opening period as the visitors’ 4-5-1 formation proved to be fairly solid and ensured clear-cut chances for the hosts were few and far between.

There was a lively start to the second half with Stephenson having claims for a penalty waved away while, at the other end, Ogbonna got in and shot wide before being clattered by the on-rushing Pearce.

But a penalty did arrive just before the hour. Jonathon Thorpe juggled the ball into the penalty area and was bundled over by Charlie Defty, who was eventually booked for the challenge.

Having missed four penalties already this season, it was the turn of Fuller to step up and he made no mistake when sending Pearce the wrong way to put the Poppies in front.

There were few chances after that as the game became scrappy while a flurry of substitutions for both teams ensured there was no flow for the contest.

Kettering were dragged deep though and the visitors continued to look a threat, although they never really tested Hinds.

The Poppies keeper was forced to punch a Stead free-kick away during a frantic finish but the hosts held on to ensure the unbeaten run continues.

Poppies: Hinds; Akubuine, Hull, Eze, Kinniburgh; Thorpe, Logan, Jepson, Fuller (sub Gooding, 82 mins); Hamilton, Ogbonna (sub Newman, 76 mins). Subs not used: Foster, Bukasa, Beckley.

North Greenford: Pearce; Defty (sub Izokun, 83 mins), Stewart, Dart, Brown; O’Connor, Hind, Stead, Jackson (sub Silcott, 75 mins); Vassell (sub Vincent, 75 mins); Stephenson.

Referee: Abbas Khan.

Goal: Fuller pen (60 mins, 1-0).

Bookings: Defty, Jepson (both fouls), Logan, Silcott (both unsporting).

Attendance: 580.