Rhys Hoenes believes things are “looking good” for Kettering Town after their title hopes were boosted by a dramatic finish in the New Year’s Day derby against AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
Hoenes was the last-gasp hero for the Poppies as his stoppage-time header completed a late fightback as they edged out their local rivals 2-1 in front of over 2,000 fans at Latimer Park.
Nathan Hicks had fired Diamonds into the lead before Lindon Meikle equalised and, after both teams had been reduced to 10 men, Hoenes popped up with the late winner to secure another win for Marcus Law’s team.
With Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central leaders Stourbridge being held to a 1-1 draw by Rushall Olympic, the win saw Kettering move to within two points of top spot with three games in hand.
They return to action with a home clash against Tamworth tomorrow (Saturday) and Hoenes said: “It’s a long season but it’s looking good for us.
“We will have to go and win those games in hand when they come along but all we can do is keep trying to put the other teams up there under pressure.
“Every team has a bad patch and we have to make sure that when we have one, it doesn’t last for too long.
“I think our record against the teams up there has been really good.
“Rushden are obviously up there and we have taken four points against King’s Lynn and we had the win against Stourbridge as well so we have performed well in those big games, which is encouraging.”
Hoenes admitted he just had to “close my eyes and finish it off” when he nodded home the winner and he conceded it was the most important of his 12 goals this season.
He added: “It’s definitely my most important goal of the season so far. It’s one for the fans and they obviously loved it.
“The first thing I did was to look at the linesman to make sure I was onside but I think Dion (Kelly-Evans) headed it straight across and I just had to close my eyes and finish it off! I don’t remember much after that!”