Kettering Town secured their place in today’s (Monday) Buildbase FA Trophy second qualifying round draw by beating their fellow Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central high-flyers.
But what did we learn?
Changes were made and the Poppies still got the job done
Marcus Law made good on his pre-match comments when he said he would be utilising his squad for this game. He made four changes to his starting line-up and would have been pleased to give some of his big hitters a bit of time on the sidelines before bringing them into the action in the second half. True, Stourbridge enjoyed plenty of possession but a resolute defence and some ruthless finishing ensured the Poppies still got the job done. The likes of Ben Toseland, who scored a superb goal, and Luke Graham both staked their claims for regular starts with decent displays. Overall, this game would have served its purpose from Law’s point of view.
The FA Trophy isn’t at the top of the priority list
Continuing on the same theme from above, both Kettering and Stourbridge showed that the FA Trophy isn’t at the top of their ‘to do’ list this season. Both teams made changes and, at times, it felt like the game wasn’t played at the same intensity that a league fixture would be. The FA Trophy certainly gets exciting once you get to the quarter-finals as Wembley lurks in the distance. But in these early stages, a lot of teams are so caught up in their league programmes that the knockout competition becomes a secondary thought. The Poppies will be happy that they are through. Stourbridge will, no doubt, be disappointed to have lost. But I doubt they will be losing too much sleep about the fact that their Trophy campaign is over.
Maybe it’s time for opponents to start showing a bit of respect to Rhys Hoenes
I see plenty of rubbish written on social media on a daily basis and while it’s generally accepted that Kettering are universally disliked amongst their peers (must be the mountains of money they are allegedly paying out and the fact that they win a few games), Rhys Hoenes seems to be an easy target for opposing teams and their fans. It’s no real surprise. Hoenes has shown he can be a constant pest to defences at this level with his electric pace being his main asset. He wins penalties. Does he go over a bit too easily at times? Yes. But, in general, the penalties given in Kettering’s favour when Hoenes has won them have looked excellent shouts that every team would have been screaming for. The truth is, it’s up to opposing teams to find a way to deal with them and not whinge and complain when they are unable to do so. No doubt someone will find something wrong with his thumping header that wrapped up this win as well. The truth is, Hoenes has done an unbelievable job for the Poppies - filling the void left by Aaron O’Connor’s absence. He’s run his socks off and scored vital goals. Make no mistake about it, there isn’t one team in the Poppies’ division who would turn down his services.
Aaron O’Connor is already looking sharp
Speaking of Aaron O’Connor, he’s back and he’s already looking sharp. I wasn’t there to see his return to action in the FA Cup defeat at Aldershot Town but, by all accounts, he looked good considering he’d been out of action for over three months. He got 25 minutes in that game and he got another half-an-hour and a bit more under his belt on this occasion. He forced Stourbridge goalkeeper James Wren into a good save and, more importantly, took a couple of challenges and seemed to come through it all without any problems. The Poppies will continue to ease him back into things over the next few weeks as he gets up to full speed. But once he’s there, it will be like a new signing. A new signing who scored 40 goals at this level last season. That definitely can’t be a bad thing.
Stourbridge look a good side. Mark November 20 down in your diaries
I have to say, I was impressed with the way Stourbridge played. They knocked the ball round with confidence, they tried to keep it on the floor and their approach play put them into some dangerous areas. The Kettering defence was at their resolute best to ensure clear-cut chances were at a premium but, nonetheless, The Glassboys look a good side. It’s generally believed that these two clubs should be there or thereabouts at the top end of the table at the end of the season. So it’s definitely worth marking the date of Tuesday, November 20 in your diaries. That date will see Stourbridge visit Latimer Park again but this time there will be crucial league points at stake. Both teams will be at full strength and if their league positions (Kettering first, Stourbridge third) are still similar on that day, then it should be a real cracker. One to look forward to.