Poppies move to within a point of the title

Kettering Town joint-managers Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie
Kettering Town joint-managers Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie

Kettering Town need one more point to secure the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central title after they left it late to beat Bedford Town 2-0 at Latimer Park.

Jason Lee and Elliot Sandy finally broke the Eagles’ resistance in the final five minutes to put the Poppies onto the brink of the title.

In truth, it’s done and dusted due to a superior goal difference. But Kettering will have the chance to finish things on their own terms on Monday afternoon.

They head to Rugby Town knowing that if they avoid defeat then they will be crowned champions on the bank holiday.

Joint-managers Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie made two changes to the starting line-up as James Clifton returned after a two-match ban in place of Tommy Hull while David Kolodynski came in at the expense of Dubi Ogbonna.

There was very little to choose between the teams in what proved to be a scrappy opening half.

There were full-blooded challenges aplenty on a bobbly surface but chances were few and far between.

Josh Moreman had an early effort held by Gary Malone while Richard Knight had to get down smartly at the other end to deny Rob Parker before Jason Lee cleared the loose ball.

But it was Kettering who created the better openings before the break with Brett Solkhon scooping over the bar while James Jepson’s excellent free-kick was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Malone.

It didn’t get much better in the early stages of the second half and Ogbonna was thrown on in place of Moreman before Kolodynski saw a header from Andy Hall’s cross held by Malone.

Few chances came after that but then, with five minutes to go, the breakthrough came.

And Lee was the coolest man in the ground as he fired a loose ball into the corner after a free-kick fell to him.

That sent the place crazy and there was a cherry to add to the cake when a quick free-kick from Andy Gooding sent Sandy away and he made no mistake.

The celebrations were slightly more subdued than they perhaps might have been,

Indeed, it’s not over officially just yet. A red army of epic proportions will now descend on Rugby in 48 hours to see if the job gets done.

Poppies: Knight; Clifton, Solkhon, Lee, Kinniburgh; Hall, Jepson (sub Gooding, 71 mins), Mulligan, Moreman (sub Ogbonna, 56 mins); Sandy, Kolodynski (sub Hull, 89 mins). Subs not used: McAlindon, Robinson.

Bedford: Malone; Cooper, McGoldrick, Wilkinson, Smeathers, Bukasa; Curtis (sub Davis, 87 mins), Oulton, Lewis, Parker (sub Fairlamb, 80 mins); Shaw (sub Liversedge, 75 mins). Subs not used: Winters, Ling.

Referee: Martin Dexter.

Goals: Lee (85 mins, 1-0), Sandy (90 mins, 2-0).

Bookings: Curtis, Moreman, Lee, Oulton (all fouls), Parker (dissent).

Attendance: 974.