REVIEW OF THE SEASON: Remarkable campaign ends in play-off heartbreak for Poppies

Kettering Town's season ended in disappointment as they were beaten at Slough Town in the Evo-Stik South League Premier play-off semi-final
Kettering Town's season ended in disappointment as they were beaten at Slough Town in the Evo-Stik South League Premier play-off semi-final

You’d think it will be a fair while before Kettering Town find themselves embroiled in a season like the one that has just passed.

In any normal campaign, a return of 97 points, 122 goals scored, a goal difference of plus 66 and the best home record in the division would have delivered the title.
But the Evo-Stik South League Premier was no normal division this time around.
There was almost an acceptance that the presence of Hereford meant it would be a one-horse race for the automatic promotion slot
and so it proved as the Bulls ran away with things at the top.
But no-one could have predicted that four more teams, including the Poppies, would finish with more than 95 points.
It’s hard to point out any huge flaws in what has to go down as a fine campaign at Latimer Park.
Certainly, the Poppies’ home form was a massive area for improvement and they finished with 19 wins from 23 matches in front of their own fans.
But there will be some regrets.
The notable statistic when it came to the fine margins was in the ‘goals against’ column
as the Poppies shipped 56 goals, which was at least seven more than their top-four rivals and 23 more than the champions.
That will be an area that will need to be addressed over the summer while further regrets will come when they look at some of the games they lost.
After beating King’s Lynn Town on New Year’s Day, the Poppies looked to be right in the hunt for the title.
But losses to the likes of Basingstoke Town, Royston Town and Chesham United during the run-in were ones that couldn’t be afforded.
It became evident that if Marcus Law was to deliver a promotion then it would have to be through the play-offs and a stumbling finish after a big pile-up of fixtures saw them miss out on home advantage after a 3-2 defeat to Tiverton Town at Latimer Park.
It left them facing a trip to Slough Town in the play-off semi-final and, on the night, the Rebels had just a bit too much for the Poppies as Law’s team were beaten 3-1 while Slough went on to gain promotion.
The last time Kettering lost to Slough in a play-off, they went up automatically the next season.
And that will surely be the aim once again in the next campaign, which is likely to be in the new Central League Premier, which will be introduced during a summer restructure of the non-League game.
The Poppies have already confirmed Law will still on to lead another charge and he will, no doubt, will be keen to nail down his big hitters to ensure there is an element of familiarity to what was an impressive squad.
Kettering will be fancied to go well again next season and if they reproduce anything like their record of this one, then they won’t be far away.