Home is where the heart is for Poppies

Aaron O'Connor heads home his 28th goal in all competitions this season during Kettering Town's 4-1 win over Royston Town. Picture by Peter Short
Aaron O'Connor heads home his 28th goal in all competitions this season during Kettering Town's 4-1 win over Royston Town. Picture by Peter Short

Kettering Town are back at Latimer Park again this weekend and will, no doubt, be fancied to take the spoils when they entertain Frome Town.

Indeed, it would take a brave man to bet against the Poppies on home soil when you glance at the statistics.

Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over Royston Town was Kettering’s 14th home win from 17 in the league this season.

They have taken 44 points from a possible 51 on their own patch so far, scoring 48 goals and conceding just eight in the process.

It’s a far cry from last season in which they claimed just nine wins at Latimer Park. Indeed, they have already accumulated more points at home this season than they did in the last campaign and they still have six more games to play in their own back yard.

Kettering’s home form has, undoubtedly, held the key to their push for a play-off place in the Evo-Stik South League Premier.

So what has changed?

“It took until the end of October for us to win a home game last season and now we are standing here with an excellent record,” Poppies boss Marcus Law said.

“If I am being honest, we set things out in pre-season. We looked at the environment, the supporters and the facilities. We looked at everything to find a way to change it.

“Last season we were in control of games and warranted wins at home but we had a soft underbelly. We didn’t work as hard and we didn’t have the never-say-die attitude.

“We have installed that from the start of pre-season and, at the moment, we revel in playing at home and that’s the way it should be.

“I think our work-rate, our attitude and the pace at which we play really excites people.

“And now we have to make sure we keep it going for as long as possible.”

Law also believes the Poppies’ form in front of goal has been one of the reasons for their impressive campaign so far.

They are currently the top scorers in the division while frontmen Aaron O’Connor (28 goals in all competitions) and Mathew Stevens (24 in all competitions) have been enjoying real purple patches of late.

Throw in the 14 goals from the ever-reliable Brett Solkhon and it all adds up.

“Yes, we have definitely been more clinical,” Law explained.

“I think Aaron O’Connor has shown he is one of the best strikers at this level and not just because of his goals. His work-rate and movement is second to none.

“And I think that has really rubbed off on Matty who has really come to the table in the last few weeks.

“And then you add in the ‘Kettering Angel’ in Brett and, even if you take away the penalties, he is still coming up with important goals from set-piece situations.

“To have a defender chipping in with 14 goals and counting is huge for us."