Kettering Town’s play-off hopes still alive after draw at Fylde

Kettering Town claimed an impressive point on the road as they drew 0-0 at third-placed AFC Fylde to keep their Vanarama National League North play-off hopes alive.

Saturday, 30th April 2022, 6:02 pm
Jackson Smith makes a save during Kettering Town's 0-0 draw at AFC Fylde. Pictures by Peter Short
Jackson Smith makes a save during Kettering Town's 0-0 draw at AFC Fylde. Pictures by Peter Short

The Poppies are two points behind seventh-placed Boston United with two games to play and have now set up a monstrous home clash with Alfreton Town, who are immediately above them in the table, on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).

It was another battling display from Kettering in the north-west and the point was certainly welcomed by first-team coach Joe Simpson who insists the Poppies are in a position no-one could have expected.

“I don’t care about anyone else to be honest,” Simpson said.

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Kettering Town battled out a goalless draw at AFC Fylde

“This group of players, if you’d said that with two games to go they’d still be in with half a chance of getting a play-off spot and they would go to Kidderminster, play Gateshead at home and go to Fylde and be unbeaten, anyone would have taken that.

“We can’t credit the group enough for the way they’re trying to apply themselves in games. They are giving it a go.

“A point is a point and a point here against a James Rowe side that is flying and play good football on a carpet of a pitch in an unbelievable stadium five hours away from home is a point you take.

“You have to have a bit of realism. We wanted to stay in this race, we have stayed in this race for a long time, far longer than anyone expected.

Rhys Sharpe thanks some of the travelling Kettering fans after the final whistle

“When we first came through the door, there wasn’t one word about a play-off place. And with two games to go, we are still in it.

“It’s a process. We want to improve, we want to get better and that’s our focus.

“We want to go up, the same as everyone else and we are going to try.

“But we also have to be realistic about where we are and where we are trying to get to.”

The Poppies once again showed encouraging signs of manager Ian Culverhouse’s brand of football at Mill Farm while on-loan goalkeeper Jackson Smith produced another impressive display to further enhance his growing reputation.

“What we are asking these players to do is not easy,” Simpson added.

“We don’t have the luxury of training four or five times a week.

“These boys are being asked to almost completely 360 how they’ve been asked to play for the last two or three seasons. And there’s no right or wrong way to play this game, there’s just ‘a way’.

“Our gaffer has his philosophies of how he wants to play, he’s had a lot of success with it and he wants to help players get better.

“There are some talented boys in this group and people will never appreciate how tough it is to turn up here and try to play possession-based football against one of the best sides in the league.

“They did it. They created chances. Will it always work? No. But we are getting there.”