VERDICT – Impressive Poppies send Dorchester packing

Kettering Town manager Marcus Law
Kettering Town manager Marcus Law

Kettering Town got their push for the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-offs back on track with an impressive 3-0 success over Dorchester Town at Latimer Park.

The Poppies produced some excellent passing football to warm the souls on a freezing night and goals from the recalled Will Grocott, Spencer Weir-Daley and the excellent Rene Howe proved to be enough.

The Magpies arrived on the back of a fine win on the road at Merthyr Town at the weekend but they had no answer to the Poppies who caused their visitors all sorts of problem while remaining resolute at the back.

It was a far cry from the way they folded against Frome Town a week earlier.

This is the standard and if the Poppies maintain it, there may still be life in this season.

After an even start, which saw Craig Hill hold on to a Luke Holmes shot, it was the Poppies who took control.

Wilson Carvalho saw a shot hacked clear after Shane Murphy could only punch a James Brighton half-clear.

Weir-Daley had an effort blocked after a neat turn but Kettering broke the deadlock on 24 minutes when Brighton’s free-kick found Rene Howe at the far post.

He drove it across and the recalled Grocott was there to fire home.

From there, the Poppies visibly grew in confidence and a sensational passing move ended with Brighton crossing from the left but Howe’s crisp volley was well saved by Murphy.

And Howe could have been forgiven that it wasn’t going to be his night when his magnificent curling effort cannoned off the angle of bar and post.

Despite their dominance, Dorchester fired a warning shot when Nathan Walker should have done a lot better than head off target from a Holmes cross.

But Kettering finished the half well with Brett Solkhon having an effort blocked and they carried it on into the second period when they doubled their advantage five minutes after the restart/

Only Weir-Daley will know if he meant this one as he floated a cross over from the left and it drifted over Murphy and dropped into the net.

It should have been game over when Liam Canavan had his shot saved by Murphy before, from the resulting corner, the same player struck the crossbar after Solkhon had knocked the ball down.

Substitute Ben Watson shot straight at Hill from a good position as the visitors tried to find a way back into it.

But Kettering gave little away and they rounded things off in style late on.

Substitute Ben Stephens did all the work as he found Howe on the right of the area and he coolly slid the ball under Murphy for a deserved goal.

There was still time for Canavan to hit the woodwork again from a Stephens pass but the damage had long been done by then.

A very good night for the Poppies then. And they must now try to replicate it in the busy weeks to come.

On this evidence, a top-five finish is certainly not beyond them…

Poppies: Hill; Bateman (sub Langdon, 52 mins), Mulligan, Solkhon, Brighton; Pepe-N’Goma, Grocott (sub Stephens, 64 mins), Canavan, Carvalho; Howe, Weir-Daley (sub Sandy, 79 mins). Subs not used: Carruthers, P Walker.

Dorchester: Murphy; Oldring, Jermyn, N Walker, Smeeton; Davis, Clarke; Hanger, L Holmes (sub Brooks, 83 mins), Sayers (sub Watson, 60 mins); T Holmes (sub Tarbuck, 69 mins). Subs not used: Proffitt, Walker-Harris.

Referee: Wayne Porter.

Goals: Grocott (24 mins, 1-0), Weir-Daley (50 mins, 2-0), Howe (89 mins, 3-0).

Bookings: Jermyn (foul), N Walker (dissent),

Attendance: 342.