Kettering Town 2 AFC Mansfield 1 - Five Things We Learned

Ben Milnes' superb free-kick proved to be the winner as Kettering Town beat AFC Mansfield 2-1 in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup. Picture by Peter Short
Ben Milnes' superb free-kick proved to be the winner as Kettering Town beat AFC Mansfield 2-1 in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup. Picture by Peter Short

Kettering Town returned to winning ways as they booked their place in the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.

But what did we learn?

On this occasion, the football was almost secondary.

It’s not often that football takes a back seat on a Saturday but that was pretty much the case on this particular weekend. The announcement of a fans’ forum ahead of the game certainly sent the rumour mill into overdrive and, by the time the club had confirmed that they have now purchased some land in town with the aim to build a new stadium complex, everyone had pretty much guessed what was coming. It is the first big step towards bringing the Poppies back to Kettering, something that everyone has wanted ever since they left. Oh, why on earth did they leave in the first place eh? But let’s not look back. Let’s look forward. The first step has been taken and there are plenty more to take before the job is done. But fair play to everyone from Ritchie Jeune to David Mahoney to Cllr Michael Brown to the fans who got off their backsides and made their voices heard. September 22, 2018 is a date that could well be etched in the club’s history from this day onwards.

The Poppies’ rich history with the FA Cup continues.

Kettering Town really do love the FA Cup. Their name is one that will spring to any football expert’s mind when the subject of non-League clubs in the competition comes up. They now have 885 goals to their name in the FA Cup, 13 ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and they will have at least one more chance to add to that this season. The FA Cup is what puts non-League clubs on the map and it’s good to see the Poppies at it again.

Take your chances, it only takes one moment for the game to change.

It goes without saying that goals win football matches. And, although the Poppies saw this one through, it really could and should have been a lot more comfortable. In general, they played pretty well. They created opportunities both in open play and from set-pieces. In the end, however, it took two dead-ball situations to give them their goals. With a bit more composure, there would have been more and that inability to finish those chances off gave their lower-ranked opponents a sniff. An error from Paul White let them back into the game and the goalkeeper managed to redeem himself with a superb stoppage-time save to prevent a replay on Tuesday night. Had that last chance gone in, Kettering would have had only themselves to blame.

Ben Milnes takes a decent free-kick.

Not for the first time, the midfielder produced the goods with an outstanding free-kick. To be honest, his delivery from set-pieces was highly impressive all afternoon while is general play was also good. He was a worthy man-of-the-match. But the free-kick, which turned out to be the winner, was as good as you will see. It had pace, it had precision and it gave Mansfield goalkeeper Jason White absolutely no chance. Hopefully there are more in Milnes’ locker in the remainder of the season.

Fresh faces are on the way.

This was something we learned after the game. Marcus Law is ready to add some reinforcements and the timing is perfect. As the manager observed, the FA Trophy will soon be starting, the club are still in the FA Cup and the league season is in full flow. The Poppies have started very well but in the past couple of weeks, the strength in depth in their squad has been called into question.

Maybe this win in the FA Cup has given Law the extra finances he needs to bring some fresh faces in. Whoever they are, they will be most welcome.