Kettering Town’s first-ever home fixture at Latimer Park ended in an anticlimax as Barton Rovers ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
And it was a crying shame after nearly 800 came through the turnstiles to see the Poppies’ first game under the chairmanship of Ritchie Jeune and back in the borough.
The supporters did come out but it seemed the Kettering team didn’t. A lack of penetration in attack was the biggest problem, the final ball always seemed to be lacking.
And the fact that they were continually picked off on the counter-attack by Barton’s pacy forwards will be a major concern for manager Dean Thomas.
The manager made two changes from the team that was beaten at Potters Bar with Dave Deeney and Jermaine Clarke coming in at the expense of Wes Emery and Lewis Wilson.
It was a fairly uneventful start as far as clear-cut chances were concerned. Kettering’s approach play was decent enough but they lacked a final ball - it was a theme that would continue throughout the half.
The first real chance fell to Poppies captain Brad Piercewright as his header was held by Barton goalkeeper Kyle Foster.
And barely 60 seconds later, the visitors tore up the script by taking the lead.
A cross from the right was only cleared as far as Bobby Dance and he brilliantly curled his shot into the far top corner.
That stunned the crowd but their team did get going again towards the end of the half. Jermaine Clarke headed wide and also did well to get to barge his way to the by-line but his cross found no takers.
Dave Deeney and Jonathan Thorpe both shot over before the break but the Poppies were hit again early in the second half and it couldn’t have been easier for Barton.
A free-kick was whipped in from the right and Ricky Case was left all alone to head past Michael Quirke.
There were some brief moments of hope for Kettering with Andy Gooding volleying wide before Clarke forced Foster into a fine save with a stinging shot on the turn.
But time and again the Poppies were caught out on the counter-attack and Nat Peacock’s pace finally paid dividends on 64 minutes when he got away from Chris Logan and beat Quirke with a fine finish across goal and into the far corner.
That ended the game as a contest as Kettering struggled to create any clear-cut chances while always looking like they would be caught out at the other end.
Peacock was denied by Quirke after racing away again but that was the last real chance for either team.
And so a new era is under way off the pitch for Kettering. Unfortunately, it seems there is quite a lot to do on it.
Poppies: Quirke; Thorpe, Logan, Piercewright, Kinniburgh; Hamilton (sub Lewis Wilson, 65 mins), Gooding, Deeney, Fox (sub Emery, h-t); Clarke, Newman (sub R Foster, 71 mins). Subs not used: Muzvimbiri, Joseph.
Barton Rovers: K Foster, Hoenes, Andrews, McDevitt, Grinham; Dance, Hull, Edgerley (sub Lee Wilson, 67 mins); Case (sub James, 89 mins); Hall (sub Hassan, 67 mins), Peacock. Subs not used: Kinneford, Belwith.
Referee: Stephen Finch.
Goals: Dance (21 mins, 0-1), Case (49 mins, 0-2), Peacock (64 mins, 0-3).
Bookings: Newman (dissent), Hull (kicking ball away).