‘Respect’ was a word that featured regularly as Kettering Town joint-boss Thomas Baillie reflected on his team’s 2-0 success at Barton Rovers on Saturday.
Steve Kinniburgh was the unlikely hero as he scored twice in the second half to secure victory for the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central champions.
The Poppies’ win dented Rovers’ own play-off hopes and also ensured they complete the league double over their opponents.
There hadn’t been a great deal of love lost between the two clubs before they faced each other again with Tommy Hull’s move to Kettering from Barton last season being the main cause of the rift.
But Baillie was delighted with the welcome his team received at the weekend as they were given a guard of honour before the game.
And he insisted it was important the Poppies showed the same respect on the pitch, both to Barton and to the other teams in the hunt for the play-offs.
“We don’t want the season to peter out and we never want to lose a game,” Baillie said.
“The players performed well again like they have done for me and Scott (fellow joint-boss Machin) all season in the main.
“But it was also important that we gave Barton and the rest of the teams in the play-off places the right respect. We will do exactly the same when we play Bedworth United next weekend.
“Barton were very respectful and we thank them for that.
“The two clubs have had their moments with each other in the past but their people were the first to come up to us and congratulate us.
“They gave us a guard of honour before the game and, in general, made us feel very welcome, which is something we very much appreciate.”
Kettering play their final home game of the season against Bedworth on Saturday in their first match at Latimer Park since they clinched the title.
They will be presented with the championship winners’ trophy immediately after the match.