Kettering Town completed an excellent first week of the season by making it three wins out of three with a 2-0 success over Halesowen Town at Latimer Park.
Marcus Kelly’s first-half strike and a stoppage-time header from Brett Solkhon ensured the Poppies hold the only 100 per cent record in the Evo-Stik South League Premier Division in what looks like it could be a wide open league this season.
Just like in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over King’s Lynn Town, Marcus Law’s team were solid if not spectacular as another sound defensive display paved the way for a third win in a row.
In general, the opening period was pretty even. Indeed, Halesowen probably created the better opportunities.
Dion Kelly-Evans was forced to clear a shot off the line from the vastly-experienced Lee Hughes after a corner had been headed back across goal.
And, after the outstanding Lathaniel Rowe-Turner had sent a shot over at the other end, the visitors went close again when Ben Milnes was robbed of possession by the lively James Roberts who curled a 20-yard effort just off target with Paul White beaten.
But as the half wore on, Kettering got more of a grip on proceedings and a real moment of quality helped them break the deadlock five minutes before half-time.
Lindon Meikle switched the play from right to left and Kelly had time to skip past his marker before rifling his shot into the roof of the net for his first goal since rejoining the club.
The Poppies looked the more likely to add to that after the break and Rhys Hoenes sent a diving header over from Michael Richens’ pinpoint cross.
But, just two minutes after that came the game’s key moment. The home defence switched off and the ball sat up for Roberts to crack a shot towards goal, only for White to intervene with a terrific tip onto the crossbar.
That was as close as Halesowen would come and as the game drew towards its conclusion, the Poppies wrapped things up thanks to two substitutes.
There were plenty screaming for Ben Toseland to keep the ball in the corner on the left-hand side in stoppage-time.
Instead he sent over a fine cross and Solkhon was there to head back across goal and into the far corner.
It was a fitting end to a near-perfect week for the Poppies. They look solid, they look determined and they have nine points on the board. Job done, so far...
Poppies: White; Kelly-Evans (sub Solkhon, 80 mins), Towers, Berry, Rowe-Turner, Stohrer (sub Toseland, 84 mins); Meikle, Richens, Milnes (sub Borg, 65 mins); M Kelly; Hoenes. Subs not used: Shamalo, Davidson-Miller.
Halesowen: Platt; Bragoli, Baker, Charlton; Tonks (sub Gilpin, 71 mins), Lawton, Agustien (sub Rae, 68 mins), Ali (sub Ebanks-Blake, 78 mins), J Kelly; Roberts, Hughes. Subs not used: Ekongo, Goddard.
Referee: Ben Cooke.
Goals: M Kelly (39 mins, 1-0), Solkhon (90 mins, 2-0).
Bookings: Bragoli, Ali, Charlton (all fouls), Berry (time-wasting).
Northants Telegraph star man: Lathaniel Rowe-Turner - to be honest, you could have picked an member of the Poppies defence after another solid display but the summer signing stood out. He was given a decent examination by Lee Hughes and ensured the vastly-experienced striker was left to feed on scraps for the majority of the afternoon. But there’s more to Rowe-Turner’s game than just defending, on more than one occasion he showed he is capable of building from the back with a good range of passing.