St Ives will provide Poppies with ‘biggest test so far’

Andy Hall wheels away after opening the scoring Kettering Town's 5-0 success at AFC Hayes at the weekend. Pictures by Peter Short
Andy Hall wheels away after opening the scoring Kettering Town's 5-0 success at AFC Hayes at the weekend. Pictures by Peter Short

Thomas Baillie believes Kettering Town will face their “biggest test of the season so far” when they take on St Ives Town at Latimer Park tonight (Tuesday).

The Poppies maintained their impressive start to the Southern League Division One Central campaign with a thumping 5-0 success at early strugglers AFC Hayes at the weekend thanks to goals from Andy Gooding (2), Andy Hall, Dubi Ogbonna and James Clifton.

Kettering Town 2014

Kettering Town 2014

They now take on a St Ives team who have enjoyed a reasonable start and who are unbeaten in four away matches so far this season.

And Baillie is in no doubt that his team’s credentials will be severely tested after they produced what he described as “the best all-round display” since he has been at the club in their victory at the weekend.

“St Ives will be our biggest test of the season so far, there’s no doubt about that,” the Poppies joint-manager said.

“They signed three or four players recently and they have had a good start themselves.

Kettering Town 2014

Kettering Town 2014

“They are big and strong, they work very hard and they are quite direct with how they play. It will be an extremely tough game for us.

“Saturday was probably the best all-round display since I have been here.

“They had a player sent off but we were totally dominant before that and some of things that were going on, including that challenge, were simply down to them being frustrated.

“We are performing well. Aside from the Leighton game, we have played some good stuff.

“Of course, we will drop points along the way but it has been an encouraging start.”

Baillie, meanwhile, was pleased with an “assured” display from debutant Jason Lee, who signed for the club ahead of Saturday.

Lee joined from King’s Lynn Town with last season’s player-of-the-year Henry Eze going the other way to the Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division outfit.

Lee was with Kettering as a youngster and made 12 appearances for the club 14 years ago.

And Baillie added: “Scott (fellow joint-boss Machin) and I have been looking at one or two players over the last few weeks and Jason was one of them.

“Events that have taken place recently meant we had to step things up and we were delighted to get him on board.

“He is a good footballer, he passes the ball well and he is a calm head which is something we need.

“I thought he looked very assured alongside Tommy Hull at the weekend and hopefully that will be a partnership that blossoms as time goes by.”

Baillie confirmed Ross Oulton is set to rejoin Daventry Town before this weekend after they made a seven-day approach for him last week.

Josh Moreman may return to the Poppies squad for tonight’s clash after he missed the weekend win due to illness.