Poppies’ fate set to be confirmed after dramatic defeat

Poppies boss Thomas Baillie
Poppies boss Thomas Baillie

Kettering Town could be put out of their misery when they face St Neots Town for the second time in four days on Wednesday night.

Should Redditch United avoid defeat at Arlesey Town on Tuesday and the Poppies are beaten at Steel Park 24 hours later then their relegation from the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division will finally be confirmed.

And should that be the case, it will round off a thoroughly miserable few days after Kettering conspired to throw away a 3-0 lead as St Neots fought back to claim a 4-3 victory at a wintry Rowley Park on Saturday.

In only the second time in the Poppies’ history that they have surrendered a 3-0 advantage and lost, they seemed to be cruising after a Nathan Hicks penalty and goals from Will Muzvimbiri and Henry Eze early in the second half gave them a big lead.

But St Neots pulled one back and then, in 12 stunning final minutes, scored three more to secure victory and reward those fans who spent all morning clearing snow from the pitch to enable the game to go ahead.

Poppies boss Thomas Baillie and his players were left shell-shocked by the events and he was left to rue to individual errors that handed the hosts a route back into a game that looked all over after Eze had scored Kettering’s third on 54 minutes.

“No-one is happy and they were very down about what happened,” Baillie said.

“We knew St Neots were a good team, who like to pass the ball, but we knew our pace in attack could cause them problems, which it did.

“To be fair to some of the players, when you do your work in pre-season now is the time when that drags you through.

“It’s not making any excuses because you should never lose a game after being 3-0 up but some of them are dead on their feet.

“Fair play to the people at St Neots because they have gone great guns to get the game on but we are very disappointed, you should never be 3-0 and lose.

“It is mistakes that have cost us again. For one, the ball has gone across, Louie Hamilton hasn’t marked his man and they have scored, Henry should have dealt with another one and then Michael Quirke, who had a good game, came out to punch one and as with all these things, if your keeper comes out to punch it and misses then you are in trouble.

“When they got the second goal the momentum was with them but being 3-0 up and losing just isn’t good enough.

“The individual mistakes that came after we were 3-0 up are poor and we only have ourselves to blame for it.”

The game in Cambridgeshire was just one of a handful of games that went ahead in the local area.

Corby Town’s Blue Square Bet North trip to Hinckley United was called off due to the wintry conditions and none of the local United Counties League teams were able to get any match action as just one game in the whole league survived.