Leese hoping cup win can help kickstart Poppies’ league season

Andy Leese is hoping a welcome win in the Emirates FA Cup last weekend can be the kickstart Kettering Town need as they look to get their Southern League Premier Central campaign properly up and running.
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Kai O’Keefe’s first goal for the club earned the Poppies a 1-0 success at Step 5 side Hullbridge Sports in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup last Saturday.

That represented Leese’s first win as manager in competitive action after a poor start to the league campaign, which has seen Kettering pick up just two points from their first six games.

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One of those came in their last league outing when a stoppage-time goal from Tyrone Lewthwaite rescued a 1-1 draw against St Ives Town on Bank Holiday Monday.

Kettering Town boss Andy Leese. Picture by Peter ShortKettering Town boss Andy Leese. Picture by Peter Short
Kettering Town boss Andy Leese. Picture by Peter Short

Now the hunt for a first league win of the season continues with a trip to Bromsgrove Sporting on Saturday.

And Leese is well aware that his team need to “give a better account” of themselves than they have done in the early stages of the league campaign.

“The hope has to be that the late goal against St Ives being followed by the win last Saturday will be the kickstart we need for the league,” Leese said.

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“We have a number of games in September which we should be targeting to pick up a decent haul of points and we have the FA Cup in the middle of it.

“But we have got to target that first win and that will be the focus this week.

“Nothing is straightforward in this league and Bromsgrove are an established side at this level.

“We need to go there and give a better account of ourselves than we have been doing.

“We have played five of the top seven teams at the moment.

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“Obviously, I was hoping we would be one of those but we aren’t. Now we have to make the games coming up count.”

The Poppies were forced to make a number of changes for the FA Cup success at Hullbridge with the likes of captain Gary Stohrer, goalkeeper Billy Johnston and Ben Toseland all absent through injuries while Lewis White was suspended and Sam Bennett was unavailable.

Leese added goalkeeper Josh Blunkell, who made his debut from the start, midfielder O’Shane Stewart and forward Frankie Moriarty to his squad ahead of the cup tie.

And he conceded the number of absentees was far from ideal.

“When I wrote the list of seven substitutes, which you are allowed for the FA Cup, the list of players who were unavailable and injured was the same length and they were all starters,” the Poppies boss added.

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“At the moment, it feels like if it can go wrong, it is going wrong.

“We had to bring some bodies in last week just to keep the squad up to its numbers.

“We are hoping a couple of those injured players recover for this week but we aren’t making excuses.

“We will always put a competitive team out but I would like it to settle down a bit.”

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