Ogbonna and Clifton send Poppies clear at the top

Kettering Town joint-bosses Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie
Kettering Town joint-bosses Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie

Dubi Ogbonna and James Clifton both scored twice as Kettering Town moved five points clear at the top of the Southern League Division One Central table with a comfortable 4-0 success at Bedford Town.

Both players struck in each half for the Poppies as they made it two away wins in the space of three days to strengthen their grip at the summit.

Joint-bosses Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin made one change to the team that won 2-1 at Beaconsfield SYCOB at the weekend with James Jepson making his first start since returning to the club with Andy Gooding dropping to the bench.

That meant a reshuffle with Ash Robinson joining Jepson in the midfield while Brett Solkhon moved into the centre of defence and Clifton reverted to his more familiar position of right-back.

The Poppies took the lead after 17 minutes when a free-kick led to some head tennis in the area and Ogbonna was there to nod home from close-range.

And it was 2-0 just before the half-hour mark. Andy Hall’s cross was only half-cleared and it fell to Clifton who picked his spot and curled a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Ogbonna missed his kick when he went for a spectacular finish when he had time to bring the ball down.

But the Poppies remained comfortable with goalkeeper Jamie McAlindon generally untroubled in the opening period.

Kettering started the second period slowly and Will Summerfield hit the side netting for the hosts early on.

Jepson was replaced by Gooding due to an ankle injury and Bedford threatened again when McAlindon was forced into his first real save of the night to deny Summerfield from close in.

But Kettering put the game to bed with 16 minutes to go when Gooding’s perfect pass found Ogbonna and he rolled home a shot with the aid of a post.

There was still time for Clifton to add a second of his own as he completed the scoring on 87 minutes when he headed home Gooding’s free-kick.

Bedford substitute Todd Sawko saw red late on after a two-footed lunge on Clifton.

But the game was well and truly done by then as the Poppies continued their impressive start to the new season ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Uxbridge.

Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton, Solkhon, Lee, Kinniburgh (sub Bukasa, 83 mins); Wilson, Robinson, Jepson (sub Gooding, 59 mins), Hall; Ogbonna, Taylor (sub Moreman, 76 mins). Subs not used: Liburd, Marsh.

Goals: Ogbonna (17 mins, 0-1), Clifton (29 mins, 0-1), Ogbonna (75 mins, 0-3), Clifton (87 mins, 0-4).

Attendance: 337.

Don’t miss a full preview of the Poppies’ clash with Uxbridge in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph