Poppies extend their lead after goalless draw

Poppies joint-managers Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie
Poppies joint-managers Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie

Kettering Town strengthened their grip on the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central title race, despite a poor 0-0 draw with Marlow at Latimer Park.

There was a lack of quality throughout the game as the Poppies struggled to create anything.

But in the end, given that second-placed Bedworth United were beaten 1-0 at home by Godalming Town, it proved to be a good point and another closer to the title.

Joint-managers Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin were forced into a couple of changes.

Goalkeeper Richard Knight was unavailable so it meant a recall for Jamie McAlindon while Dubi Ogbonna was ruled out due to illness so Andy Gooding returned in a role just behind lone frontman Elliot Sandy.

The first half proved to be fairly poor throughout with both teams struggling on the bobbly surface.

It took 23 minutes for the first chance to arrive when Marlow’s Dan Hicks headed Richie Whittingham’s free-kick over the bar.

Josh Moreman should have put the Poppies in front when he could only shoot wide after Elliot Sandy’s mis-kick fell at his feet.

But controversy struck on 29 minutes when Sandy was barged over by Hicks as he charged towards goal.

Referee Guy Stretton awarded the free-kick but Hicks somehow escaped with only yellow card while Gooding saw his set-piece well saved by Simon Grant.

Grant also denied Andy Hall before the break but it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock.

A free-kick was only half-cleared. It was headed back in and Lee Barney flicked it over the helpless McAlindon but the ball bounced off the crossbar.

Mr Stretton had to be replaced by his assistant Scott Postin at half-time due to an injury.

Unfortunately, there was no improvement on the pitch as the Poppies struggled to create any clear-cut chances despite having plenty of possession.

David Kolodynski was thrown on just past the hour as the hosts looked for a spark but it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes that the chances finally came at both ends.

Sandy saw a shot deflected just over and was out of luck soon after when his lovely lob beat Grant but also beat the crossbar.

But it needed a piece of pure bravery from captain Steve Kinniburgh to keep it goalless at the other end as he put his body on the line to deny Romone Rose when he seemed destined to score.

In the end, 0-0 was about right but it proved to be a useful point for the Poppies as news filtered through of Bedworth’s defeat.

Kettering remain on course...

Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton, Solkhon, Lee, Kinniburgh; Hall, Jepson, Hull, Moreman (sub Richard-Noel, 82 mins); Gooding (sub Kolodynski, 63 mins); Sandy. Subs not used: Tayal, Robinson, Duffy.

Marlow: Grant; Bovell, Salmon, Hicks, Ovenden; Ashton, Alexis, Gabbadon, Whittingham (sub Rose, 69 mins); Barney (sub Downes, 80 mins), Holder-Spooner (sub Branker, 73 mins). Subs not used: Rarity, Bennion.

Referee: Guy Stretton (replaced by Scott Postin at half-time).

Bookings: Hicks, Clifton, Ashton (all fouls), Sandy (unsporting behaviour).

Attendance: 704.