VERDICT - Routine win gets Poppies back on track

Brett Solkhon celebrates after he doubled Kettering Town's lead in the 2-0 win over Gosport Borough. Pictures by Peter Short
Brett Solkhon celebrates after he doubled Kettering Town's lead in the 2-0 win over Gosport Borough. Pictures by Peter Short

Kettering Town got their Evo-Stik South League Premier campaign back on track with a routine 2-0 success over struggling Gosport Borough at a perishing Latimer Park.

This wasn’t vintage stuff from the Poppies but, in truth, it didn’t need to be.

Gosport goalkeeper Tom Price is beaten by Brett Solkhon's header

Gosport goalkeeper Tom Price is beaten by Brett Solkhon's header

All that was needed here was a win to warm the souls of those who turned up and to make sure there was a quick response after the shock 4-1 loss at Dorchester Town last weekend.

A comfortable midweek victory at Daventry Town got Marcus Law’s team back in the groove and they carried that back into the league action as they picked up a seventh win and clean sheet from eight league matches at Latimer Park, which is fast becoming something of a fortress.

In truth, the final outcome of this game wasn’t really in doubt once top scorer Aaron O’Connor had fired the hosts into an early lead.

But it proved to be a frustrating afternoon as they were continually thwarted by a young and hard-working Gosport side, who had a real hero in the form of goalkeeper Tom Price.

Mathew Stevens takes a shot at goal but he was denied by visiting goalkeeper Tom Price

Mathew Stevens takes a shot at goal but he was denied by visiting goalkeeper Tom Price

He pulled off a number of outstanding saves, particularly from Mathew Stevens, to ensure the scoreline didn’t become embarrassing before he was finally beaten for a second time when Brett Solkhon wrapped up the points.

The Poppies piled the pressure on in the early stages and there was nothing Price could do when O’Connor rolled his marker before charging towards goal and eventually finishing with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net from a narrow angle.

The duel between Stevens and Price then get underway with the goalkeeper making a smart save from the striker at his near post before producing an even better stop when Stevens had time to turn and shoot from close-range.

That battle continued into the early stages of the second half with Stevens unable to take advantage after Price dropped a cross from O’Connor while the goalkeeper produced his best save of the afternoon soon after when he somehow clawed out Stevens’ deflected shot.

It wasn’t just the frontman who was frustrated by the visiting stopper as Price brilliantly turned a Gary Stohrer shot round the post before he was finally beaten again on 68 minutes.

Ben Toseland sent in a free-kick and Solkhon rose above the rest to send a powerful header back across goal and into the far corner.

If there had been any nerves, that goal certainly settled them.

Kettering’s own goalkeeper Paul White had been a spectator for the majority of the contest but he kept his concentration to preserve the clean sheet as he denied Conor Davis with his own save of the afternoon.

At the other end, Lindon Meikle’s effort was cleared off the line and Price had one more save in him as he denied substitute Rhys Hoenes.

More goals would have been nice, of course, but in the end they weren’t needed.

This was a simple case of job done for the Poppies who will face much tough tests in the future, not least when they head to Banbury United on Tuesday night.

Poppies: White; Bateman, Mulligan, Solkhon, Toseland; Stohrer, Milnes (sub Hoenes, 56 mins), Richens (sub Sundire, 78 mins), Meikle; Stevens (sub Howe, 64 mins), O’Connor. Subs not used: Minus, Snow.

Gosport: Price; Buckland (sub Sanchez, 76 mins), Saunders, Molyneaux, Medway; Paige (sub Sinclair, 71 mins), Wakley, Lis, Breed; Thompsons (sub Onuwachu, 81 mins), Davis. Subs not used: Walters, Watch.

Referee: Andrew Dallison.

Goals: O’Connor (6 mins, 1-0), Solkhon (68 mins, 2-0).

Bookings: Richens, Wakley (both fouls).

Attendance: 565.