Poppies fight back to earn a replay

Poppies manager Dean Thomas
Poppies manager Dean Thomas

A fine second-half display earned Kettering Town another chance against Romulus as the FA Trophy preliminary round clash at Latimer Park ended in a 1-1 draw.

The two teams are now scheduled for a replay on Tuesday night but that will only be confirmed if the Poppies come through their defining day in court on Monday as they appeal the decision to wind the club up over a debt owed to Rushden & Diamonds (2008) Ltd.

If this was to be the club’s last-ever game, it turned into a decent spectacle as Kettering recovered from a poor opening period to earn a deserved draw thanks to Chimdi Akubuine’s first goal for the club.

Poppies boss Dean Thomas was forced into changes following the departure of Lewis Wilson during the week while Jonathon Thorpe was ruled out after suffering from food poisoning.

With Jake Newman serving a one-match ban it meant a new partnership in attack with Will Muzvimbiri partnering James Tricks.

From the off Romulus looked the brighter and they could have been a goal up inside two minutes when Daniel O’Callaghan got clear in the area but shot wide with only Charlie Horton to beat.

But the Poppies were punished for their sluggish start on 14 minutes when their defence stood still and waited for a flag that never came. Craig Marshall did look onside and he ran on before skipping past Horton and rolling the ball into the empty net.

And it could have been worse soon after had Chimdi Akubuine not cleared a low cross away for a corner as Marshall waited to pounce at the far post.

Kettering showed little in the final third, although Henry Eze headed over from an Ash Fuller corner when he should have done better and there was a shout for a penalty just before the break when Louis Hamilton appeared to be upended in the area.

The Poppies came out with a bit more purpose about them after the break and they were unlucky not to level things up when Hamilton forced Lewis Exall into a good save at the near post after good work from Muzvimbiri.

But when the equaliser did arrive on 67 minutes, it was a bit special. The ball broke to full-back Akubuine on the right flank. He cut in and hit it with his left and Exall could only watch as the ball nestled in the far corner.

Substitute Rob Foster headed over soon after as Kettering continued to control things.

And they could have won it late on. First, Eze headed over from a good position and then Hamilton sent a shot agonisingly wide.

But, in the end, a good second-half display wasn’t quite enough and it needed a fine block from Brad Piercewright to deny Nick Hadley a winner for the visitors.

And so the replay will be in the West Midlands on Tuesday, hopefully...

Poppies: Horton; Akubuine, Eze, Piercewright, Kinniburgh; Hamilton, Gooding, Logan, Fuller; Tricks (sub Foster, 65 mins), Muzvimbiri. Subs not used: Wall, Knight, McAlindon.

Romulus: Exall; Hadley, Evans, Barnett (sub Fincher, 74 mins), Francis, Evans; O’Callaghan, Lee, Turton; Marshall, Keen. Subs not used: Gueyes, Danville, Darkin, Coton.

Referee: Nic Evans.

Goals: Marshall (14 mins, 0-1), Akubuine (67 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Lee, Keen (both fouls), Logan, Marshall (unsporting behaviour).

Attendance: 561.