Plenty of life in the title race as Poppies face up to a tough month

Goalscorer Mathew Stevens (centre) is congratulated by Rene Howe and Aaron O'Connor after he gave the Poppies the lead in their 3-1 win over Biggleswade Town last weekend. Picture by Peter Short
Goalscorer Mathew Stevens (centre) is congratulated by Rene Howe and Aaron O'Connor after he gave the Poppies the lead in their 3-1 win over Biggleswade Town last weekend. Picture by Peter Short

Kettering Town kick-off what could be a pivotal month in the race for the Evo-Stik South League Premier title and play-off places with a tricky trip to Royston Town tomorrow (Saturday).

The Poppies and their fans could only sit back and watch events unfold in midweek as a number of their rivals were in action in key games.

King’s Lynn Town ended Hereford’s incredible unbeaten away record, which stood at 53 matches before Tuesday night, as they fought back from 2-0 down to beat the title favourites 3-2.

That result lifted them above the Poppies and back to the top of the table.

Weymouth are now right in the hunt for the title after they won 2-1 at Royston while Slough Town, who have the games in hand to catch everyone, were held to a 1-1 draw by Kings Langley.

When it was all said and done, it was a decent night for Kettering despite them not playing.

But assistant-manager Mitch Austin insists the Poppies will only stay in the hunt for top spot if they continue to produce wins.

“It’s tight at the top,” he said.

“I think we would have taken the eventual outcomes on Tuesday night if someone had given them to us.

“You can’t take anything away from Hereford. I think a lot of people thought they were looking unbeatable during the run they went on.

“But King’s Lynn, who are another very good side, got the win and it highlights that Hereford are human and that the title race has plenty of life in it.

“However, the only way you stay involved in it is by winning games and from our point of view, that’s our focus.”

Royston’s midweek loss was a big blow to their own hopes of forcing their way into the play-off places.

But Saturday’s clash still represents a tough test for the Poppies, who are facing a key month in which they will play a number of the teams who are trying to secure a top-five finish.

Austin believes Kettering are in confident mood after they saw off Biggleswade Town 3-1 at Latimer Park last weekend.

And he added: “It’s a big month for us, starting at Royston on Saturday.

“We are looking forward to a tough test, we are confident and we know exactly what we want from the game.

“Royston were beaten in midweek so I think that’s something we have to be aware of. They will have a point to prove and they will believe there is no better way to do that than by beating us.

“But we will be fully prepared and ready to give it 100 per cent to get what we want from the game."