Tough test at Coalville is the next stop in Poppies' two-horse race

Marcus Law and his Kettering Town team face a tough test at Coalville Town this weekend
Marcus Law and his Kettering Town team face a tough test at Coalville Town this weekend

A crucial month for Kettering Town continues with a trip to play-off contenders Coalville Town this weekend.

The Poppies are embroiled in a two-horse race with Stourbridge for the sole automatic promotion place in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central.

Having moved to within two points of the leaders on New Year’s Day, both teams won last weekend to ensure the gap remains the same with Marcus Law’s team still having three games in hand.

Those are about to come into play with the Poppies’ game at Coalville being followed by a midweek clash with fifth-placed Biggleswade Town at Latimer Park next Tuesday while Coalville also visit Kettering on January 22.

It means the Poppies will have four games between now and January 26, which is the date they make the trip to the West Midlands for a showdown against Stourbridge.

Kettering have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 since suffering a humbling 4-1 defeat at Banbury United on December 15.

And Law knows his team will have to at least match what Stourbridge do in their matches and then take advantage of their games in hand before the top two collide at the end of the month.

“At the moment, I think it’s fair to say we are looking at a two-horse race,” the Poppies boss said.

“With the games we have got in front of us and the fact we go to Stourbridge at the end of the month, it means we have got to at least match what they do over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s an interesting time and then the games in hand start to come into play from next week so we have to make sure we are ready for that.

“I think you have to give credit to the players for the way they have reacted since the Banbury game.

“They had a meeting between themselves after that, the staff had meetings and then we brought it all back together.

“We needed a couple of changes in personnel, we made those and you are always hopeful that the changes you make do work.

“Certainly since that Banbury game we have had a good reaction but we have to keep it going.”

A treacherous run of fixtures are only set to get tougher for Kettering as they get ready to take on a Coalville team who have suffered only one league defeat on home soil all season and who have the games in hand to force their way into the top five.

“Coalville are real contenders for the play-off places and will be right in the mix, I am sure of that,” Law added.

“They had a great start but I think they may have suffered from a couple of players leaving and then having to deal with injuries and suspensions when they were going through a tough run of matches.

“But they are going well again now and are pushing hard for those top-five places. It will be very tough for us.”

Law revealed he was “hopeful” striker Aaron O’Connor will have recovered from illness in time for the clash but the Poppies will be without captain Michael Richens who is suspended.