VERDICT - Poppies' hard work pays off in the nick of time

The Kettering Town players and fans celebrate Lindon Meikle's dramatic late winner as they edged out Redditch United at Latimer Park. Picture by Peter Short
The Kettering Town players and fans celebrate Lindon Meikle's dramatic late winner as they edged out Redditch United at Latimer Park. Picture by Peter Short

Sometimes hard work pays off and Kettering Town were given a timely reminder of that as they made it two wins out of two in the Evo-Stik South League Premier in dramatic fashion at Latimer Park.

On a ground that gave Marcus Law living nightmares for the best part of two months last season, the Poppies grafted away against a strong and resolute Redditch United side before finally blowing their house down in the nick of time.

For so long, it looked like a similar tale would have to be told.

Kettering enjoyed the majority of possession, created the better chances, were almost caught out on the break and then looked to be heading for something of an anticlimax in the last of three minutes of stoppage-time.

But, in one heart-stopping moment, the fortunes changed. A long throw was sent into the area, Rene Howe won the first header, Brett Solkhon the second and the third header in the sequence hit the back of the net as summer signing Lindon Meikle made himself an instant hit with the Poppies faithful.

Latimer Park exploded like any ground would with a last-gasp winner. Another job done, another win on the board and six points out of six to kick off the new season.

You couldn’t help but feel slightly sorry for Redditch after that late drama.

For so long, they defended brilliantly with giant central defenders Gui Mailancol and Orrin Pendley heading and kicking everything in sight.

They ensured the hosts, despite enjoying plenty of the ball, struggled to create any real clear-cut chances in the first half with Meikle’s deflected shot, which went wide, being the closest the came.

Things really opened up after the break though.

Kettering started the second half the better and Gary Mulligan saw a volley cleared off the line before Danny Jackman’s curling free-kick just missed the target with Paul White beaten at the other end.

Howe was denied by a header off the line from former Poppies frontman Spencer Weir-Daley as the frustration grew and White again had to be alert after Dior Angus tried his luck on the counter-attack.

As the game drew to a close, Pendrey produced the goal-line clearance to end all goal-line clearances after Howe’s shot across goal beat goalkeeper Ross Ethan.

But Redditch had a great chance of their own when Vinny Mukendi raced away and found fellow substitute Danico Johnson, whose shot was helped over by White.

From there, it looked like it would all end in stalemate. But then, the magical moment for Meikle and the home supporters.

It is only a start and Kettering fans will, no doubt, keep telling themselves that.

But the desire and effort shown by the Poppies bodes well. Indeed, having the right work-rate is usually half the battle.

And on this occasion, Kettering were rewarded for it. Long may it continue...

Poppies: White; Berry, Mulligan, Solkhon, Brighton; Richens, Bateman (sub Hoenes, 56 mins), Milnes (sub Hicks, 69 mins), Meikle; Stevens (sub Stohrer, 75 mins), Howe. Subs not used: Baker, Sundire.

Redditch: Ethan; Keenah, Mailancol, Pendley, Fox; Jackman, Apustolopoulos, Manning (sub Mitchell, 36 mins), Monteiro; Angus (sub Johnson, 76 mins), Weir-Daley (sub Mukendi, 60 mins). Subs not used: Jung, Simpson.

Referee: Robbie Dadley.

Goal: Meikle (90 mins, 1-0).

Bookings: Hicks (dissent), Richens (foul).

Attendance: 606.