Poppies go through after much-needed home success

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

Kettering Town returned to winning ways at Latimer Park as they beat Lincoln United 2-1 to move into the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

First-half goals from Andy Gooding and Andy Hall proved to be enough for the Poppies, although they had to endure a nervy last few minutes after the visitors pulled a goal back.

But they held on for what was just about a deserved success and a much-needed one after a barren run of form on their own ground.

The news in the build-up to the game was that Josh Moreman has joined ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division side Huntingdon Town on loan until November 11.

With the Poppies squad looking thin ahead of some perspective further moves in the transfer market next week, joint-bosses handed 17-year-old Rebus Richard-Noel his first start.

Jon Bukasa came in at the expense of skipper Steve Kinniburgh as Brett Solkhon took the armband on what was his 350th competitive appearance for the club.

Dubi Ogbonna was passed fit while James Jepson was named on the bench following an ankle injury.

Lincoln started brightly and could have been in front inside three minutes had it not been for a smart low save from Jamie McAlindon to deny Andrew Hutchinson,

And the Poppies were firmly under the cosh in the early exchanges as Busaka was forced to hack another Hutchinson effort off the line.

But gradually the Poppies grew into the contest with Hall and, in particular, young Richard-Noel posing a real threat down the flanks.

And the breakthrough came on 24 minutes, although it couldn’t have been softer as Daniel Brooks handled James Clifton’s cross into the area.

It gave Gooding the chance to step up and he made no mistake from the penalty spot.

That gave the hosts a much-needed lift and they doubled their lead eight minutes later. A loose ball fell nicely for Hall 20 yards from goal and his technique was near-perfect as he hammered a volley into the bottom corner.

Lincoln struggled to respond to that double blast and Kettering almost went further in front when Jason Lee headed Hall’s corner over the bar.

The Poppies started the second half brightly with Ogbonna firing wide after he was found by Richard-Noel and the frontman also forced visiting goalkeeper Robert Peet into a save after wriggling free from his marker.

Lincoln battled away to try to find a way back and there was a nervous moment in the home defence as Kallum Smith’s shot headed for the bottom corner but Bukasa was there again to clear the danger.

Richard-Noel’s impressive debut was ended when he was replaced by Louis Hamilton but the game was far from over as Lincoln pulled a goal back with nine minutes to go.

There was no mistake from Hutchinson on this occasion as he beat McAlindon with a firm strike high into the net.

That immediately rattled the Poppies and their supporters inside Latimer Park and Kinniburgh was thrown on as the looked to see the game out.

But there were no further scares, despite plenty of nervousness on the terraces as Kettering held on to seal a much-needed home success and book themselves a first qualifying round clash at Mickleover Sports, who won 4-1 at Coalville Town.

Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton, Solkhon, Lee, Bukasa (sub Kinniburgh, 85 mins); Richard-Noel (sub Hamilton, 74 mins), Gooding, Robinson, Hall; Taylor, Ogbonna. Subs not used: Marsh, Jepson, Liburd.

Lincoln United: Peet; Wright, Jacklin, Ward, Field; Nichol, Brooks (sub Cotton, 56 mins), Toyne, Smith (sub Asplin, 85 mins); Hutchinson, Ruthean (sub Cann, 60 mins). Subs not used: Brown, McDaid.

Referee: Robert Cairns.

Goals: Gooding pen (25 mins, 1-0), Hall (32 mins, 2-0), Hutchinson (81 mins, 2-1).

Bookings: Robinson (dissent), Clifton, Field, Smith (all fouls), Ogbonna (unsporting behaviour).

Attendance: 540.