Wasted chances again as losing run continues

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A FOURTH successive away-day brought a third defeat in a row as Kettering Town’s slump towards the wrong end of the Blue Square Bet Premier table continues.

Like at Crawley Town at the weekend, the Poppies took an early lead and once again they were unable to hold on or add to it.

They had their opportunities and that was a familiar tale.

Too many missed chances cost them and Grimsby Town, who finished with 10 men, scored with their two attempts on target.

Good performances are all very well but the truth is, results are needed and needed quickly if Marcus Law isn’t to have to plot a way out of a relegation dogfight.

There was a surprise before a ball had been kicked as Serge Makofo was at Blundell Park – but only to sign for the Mariners.

It meant another reshuffle for Law, who has seen another player sold off just as it seemed his squad was starting to settle down.

But not even the departure of Makofo could prevent the Poppies from making a quite unbelievable start.

Just three minutes were on the clock when young loan signing Tom Flanagan stormed forward from the heart of the defence and unleashed an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner.

That ensured the Grimsby faithful, still in shock over their side’s defeat at Chasetown on Saturday, wasted little time in expressing their disappointment.

There were no takers for Callum Wilson’s pull-back from the by-line after he out-paced Bradley Wood down the right but Kettering had a brilliant opportunity to double their lead before the break.

Jean-Paul Marna’s free-kick landed on the head of the unmarked Brett Solkhon, whose effort was expertly pushed away by home stopper Kenny Arthur.

The final stages of the half exploded into life with Grimsby hitting the bar from a free-kick before Charlie Collins was out of luck at the other end when his shot cannoned off a post after a mix-up in the home defence.

And this time the Poppies were made to pay for a miss. With first-half injury-time looming, debutant goalkeeper Mark Halstead flapped at Robert Eagle’s corner and Robert Atkinson headed home at the far post.

Jon Challinor was handed his debut in place of the impressive Wilson at half-time after the youngster had suffered a heavy fall during the opening period.

But it was Grimsby who started the half the brighter and they so nearly took the lead when Halstead brilliantly tipped away from his own player after Flanagan had been put under pressure by Connell.

But the hosts did go in front when Lee Peacock teed up Eagle and his fierce strike thundered into the net off the underside of the bar.

The lead should have lasted just a minute as Solkhon somehow headed over after a scramble in the Grimsby six-yard area and soon after Solkhon was on the end of a pretty awful lunge by Peacock.

The experienced frontman should have known better than to make a challenge like it and referee Seb Stockbridge wasted little time in showing him red.

It gave Kettering 16 minutes at 10 men to salvage something but in truth they struggled to get past a solid Grimsby defence.

Solkhon tested Arthur with a long-range effort but that was as good as it got as the hosts held on with ease.

It goes without saying that Saturday’s home clash with strugglers Eastbourne Borough is now a massive one for Law and his men.