Another midweek and another defeat for Kettering Town but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story.
Unlike the 4-0 defeat at Dunstable Town seven days ago, the Poppies could more than make an argument that they deserved far more than the 2-1 loss to high-flying Chippenham Town at a rain-swept Latimer Park.
Kettering gave as good as they got all evening and but for the heroics of visiting goalkeeper Kent Kauppinen and two frustrating lapses in concentration, things would have been a lot different.
But there lies the difference when you move up a level.
Ultimately, the players are better, the strikers are more clinical and points are harder to come by.
This sort of defeat can only be described as frustration and Marcus Law really won’t enjoy another hard luck story.
There was positive news for the Poppies ahead of the game with midfielder James Brighton signing a contract with the club to run until May 2017 while Liam Canavan, who was ruled out through injury, joining on a non-contract deal after being released by Nuneaton Town.
But the hosts were hampered by an injury to goalkeeper Jamie McAlindon in the warm-up, meaning Enol Ordonez came into the side along with Jevani Brown, who replaced Canavan.
The early exchanges were even with a neat move involving Brown and Brighton giving Dubi Ogbonna a chance to shoot or cross but his final effort was straight at Kauppinen, who would go on to have a key role in the first half.
Chippenham looked sharp going forward and Ordonez was almost caught out when Ashan Holgate’s cross from the right bounced off the crossbar.
But the Poppies gave as good as they got and only two fine saves from Kauppinen stopped them from taking the lead.
First, he brilliantly clawed away Gary Mulligan’s shot after a corner flicked into his path.
And shortly afterwards the Chippenham stopper was at it again as he tipped away Brown’s left-footed curler that looked destined for the top corner.
The Poppies were forced into a re-shuffled when Ollie Thorne was withdrawn through injury.
And they were caught out two minutes before the break. Steve Kinniburgh gave away a cheap free-kick on the right, James Guthrie whipped it in and after it was only half-cleared, Greg Tindle stabbed home through a crowd of bodies.
Kettering almost responded immediately but again Kauppinen came to his side’s rescue as he pushed away another Brown shot from long range.
Conditions deteriorated as the rain poured down during the break and it was Chippenham who dealt with it the better.
Ordonez got down well to save Andy Sandell’s low free-kick, which skidded off the surface while Elliot Sandy probably should have done better at the other end when he shot wide after finding a bit of space.
But the game looked over on 65 minutes when the experienced Sandell doubled Chippenham’s advantage.
Guthrie crossed from the left and as two Kettering defenders missed it, Sandell simply allowed the ball to come to him before beating Ordonez with a firm strike.
Marcus Law rolled the dice with Saul Williams replacing Steve Kinniburgh and, with 15 minutes to go, the Poppies were given a lifeline.
Brown’s driving run ended with him finding Ogbonna and he danced round a defender before firing low past Kauppinen.
A siege on the Chippenham goal was expected after that but it never really materialised as the Poppies struggled with the final pass when it was needed.
At the other end, Ordonez prevented Sandell from extending the visitors’ lead but they didn’t need another goal as they comfortably saw things out.
It was another tale of what might have been for the Poppies.
They won’t want it again when Bamber Bridge roll into town for the FA Cup clash at the weekend.
Poppies: Ordonez; Solkhon, Thorne (sub Gooding, 36 mins), Langdon, Kinniburgh (sub Williams, 72 mins); Mulligan, Brighton; Brown, Ogbonna, Sandy (sub Grocott, 65 mins); Baker-Richardson. Subs not used: Bryan, Marsden.
Chippenham: Kauppinen, Smith, Preece, Tindle, Beeden; Freginson, Harvey, Pook, Guthrie; Holgate, Sandall. Subs not used: Jones, Bevan, Campbell, Ballinger.
Referee: Richard Hart.
Goals: Tindle (43 mins, 0-1), Sandell (65 mins, 0-2), Ogbonna (75 mins, 1-2).
Bookings: Ogbonna, Pook (both fouls),