Poppies take another point

Poppies manager John Beck
Poppies manager John Beck

Another game and yet another draw for Kettering Town.

And, all things considered, this point from a 0-0 stalemate at Stourbridge was probably the best they have earned so far this season.

With rumours in the build-up rife that the Poppies squad hadn’t received their wages as expected and the fact that the club’s future remains uncertain, credit is due.

While Stourbridge more than edged it on chances, the Poppies were competitive and certainly gave their all for the cause.

How long that can go on for under the current circumstances, only time will tell.

And credit is due, in particular, to goalkeeper Laurie Walker, who was a well-documented victim of the financial problems that crippled the club last season.

He was the key man on this occasion. Had it not been for a string of decent saves, it probably would have been a second defeat of the season.

There were two new faces in the Poppies squad with Joe Lamplough making his debut on the left side of midfield while Joel Gyasi was named on the bench.

There was also a change in positions for Ed Palmer and Omar Beckles with the former moving into the midfield while the latter dropped back to centre-half.

Stourbridge started the better and it was a theme that continued throughout the majority of the first half.

Walker was called into action inside the first two minutes as he tipped Paul McCone’s header over the bar and he saved well from Chris Knight soon after.

Kettering went close themselves when Omar Beckles headed over the bar after David Moyo had turned the ball back into the box following a corner.

But it was the hosts who continued to pose the bigger threat and Walker was called into action again on the half-hour when he got down well to push away Stuart Hendrie’s low strike after a neat piece of skill from the winger gave him a shooting opportunity.

The rest of the half remained even, although there was a blow for the Poppies just before the break when Beckles was forced off through injury.

Stourbridge started the second half on top and Walker was soon in action again as he saved Sam Rock’s low shot with his legs before being forced into a more spectacular stop soon after as Andy Geddes took aim with a volley.

But from there, the game became scrappy with neither side able to take a firm grip on proceedings.

There were only half-chances with neither goalkeeper being seriously tested and the game ended with an inevitable result.

The Poppies are back in action on Saturday when they head to Wisbech in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Stourbridge (4-4-1-1): Solly; McCone, Smith, Bennett, Lloyd; Rock (sub Billingham, 71 mins), Broadhurst (sub Dovey, 87 mins), Geddes, Hendrie (sub Griffiths, 71 mins); Canavan; Knight. Subs not used: Turton, Oliver.

Poppies (4-4-2): Walker; Ifil, Gerring, Beckles (sub Gyasi, 44 mins), Radford; Moyo, Burns, Palmer, Lamplough; Griffiths, Byerley (sub Blazio-Muzvimbiri, 57 mins). Subs not used: King, Peake, Gathercole.

Referee: Mark Russell.

Bookings: Smith (dissent), Ifil, Gerring (both fouls).

Attendance: 486.