Securing a play-off place is now Poppies' top priority

Aaron OConnors goal opened the scoring in the Poppies 2-0 win at Bishops Stortford in October. The two teams meet again at Latimer Park this weekend
Aaron OConnors goal opened the scoring in the Poppies 2-0 win at Bishops Stortford in October. The two teams meet again at Latimer Park this weekend

There’s no sign of anyone at Kettering Town conceding the Evo-Stik South League Premier title just yet.

But there does now appear to be an acceptance that the task of finishing in top spot is an extremely tough, if not impossible, one.

The Poppies were on top of the pile as recently as a couple of weeks ago but were knocked off their perch after a 4-3 loss at Royston Town.

All of a sudden, they are now eight points behind leaders King’s Lynn Town but, more significantly, seven adrift of title favourites Hereford who still have games in hand on all around them.

The Bulls appear to be doing what everyone feared they might and look well set to pull away at the summit in the coming weeks.

For the time being, that has left the Poppies’ main focus on securing a play-off place and that’s something that is firmly in their own hands.

Having seen their last two matches fall victim to the weather, Marcus Law’s team should be back in action when they take on Bishop’s Stortford at Latimer Park this weekend.

And Gary Mulligan, who has impressed all season mainly in a central defensive role, insists the Poppies are clear in their immediate aim.

“It’s been disappointing not to have the last couple of games but, looking at the weather, we will hopefully be back out there at the weekend and we will be looking to put in a good performance,” he said.

“In terms of winning the title, we have had one or two bad results and Hereford haven’t been easing up in their games in hand.

“At the moment, it looks like it will be difficult for anyone to stop them.

“So we have to concentrate on securing our play-off place and then take it from there.

“I think we would have taken this position at the start of the season.

“We have the situation in our own hands and we need to find another five or six wins to make sure we will definitely be in the play-offs. That’s where our focus is at the moment.”

The Poppies will be highly-fancied to pick up a 13th home league win this season tomorrow (Saturday) against a Bishop’s Stortford team who currently sit in 20th position.

But Mulligan is staying cautious after being impressed with this weekend’s visitors during the Poppies’ 2-0 success in the reverse fixture in October.

“Given our home form and the position Bishop’s Stortford are in, we must be looking for the three points,” he added.

“But I thought they were a decent side when we played them away from home.

“They have young players and they like to play and we had to use our experience in that game.

“It will be tough but we will be aiming to keep up our home form and get another win.”