Hicks earns Poppies a deserved draw

Thomas Baillie
Thomas Baillie

Nathan Hicks’ late goal sealed a deserved point for Kettering Town as they stopped the rot with a 1-1 draw against AFC Totton in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.

The Kettering captain struck five minutes from full-time to seal a share of the spoils after they appeared to be heading for a club record 10th successive defeat when Ryan Hill fired Totton in front with a free-kick after 76 minutes.

Poppies boss Thomas Baillie added goalkeeper Michael Quirke to the squad ahead of the game and the former Coventry City youngster came straight into the starting line-up to replace the unavailable Ash Talbot.

But another recent signing, Aman Verma, missed out with the club still waiting for his international clearance as he had been playing in Malta recently.

Pat Noubissie was restored to the Poppies’ starting 11 at right-back with Troy Johnston dropping to the bench.

The early exchanges were even with Stefan Brown shooting wide for the visitors while Kettering responded with Lewis Wilson forcing Ross Casey into a save with a volley.

But Totton went on to have the better of the remainder of the half with Brown somehow missing from close-range after Chris Mason had headed a ball back across goal.

Quirke held on to a Hill free-kick before punching away another but the new stopper produced his best save of the half just before the break when he turned Brown’s stinging shot round the post.

Hicks was off target for the hosts early in the second half while Jamie Griffiths sent a shot straight at Casey.

But the Poppies were handed a great chance to open the scoring when Hill clipped Wilson in the area. Griffiths stepped up to take the spot-kick but ballooned it high over the crossbar.

Casey saved Hicks’ deflected shot soon after while, at the other end, Luke Whitley had his celebrations cut short by an offside flag after he converted a free-kick to the far post.

But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with 14 minutes to go as Hill stepped up with a free-kick on the left side of the box and fired it into the far top corner.

However, Kettering weren’t about to lie down and they found an equaliser nine minutes later when Nathan Hicks advanced to the edge of the box and fired a low shot into the corner.

Eze had a header cleared off the line as the Poppies went for all three points but they couldn’t find that second goal.

Poppies: Quirke; Noubissie (sub Johnston, 69 mins), Crowie, Eze, Fox; Hamilton, Hicks, Logan, Ford; Wilson, Griffiths. Subs not used: Glen, Bradshaw, Muzvimbiri.

AFC Totton: Casey; Hill, Whisken, Whitley, Cargill; Roberts (sub Rudd, 74 mins), Petterfer, Coutts; Davies (sub Mason, 8 mins); Brown, Giillespie. Subs not used: Hollick, Ferrett.

Referee: Chris Pollard.

Goals: Hill (76 mins, 0-1), Hicks (85 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Logan (dissent), Cargill (kicking ball away).

Attendance: 322.