A magnificent seven as Poppies set up an intriguing final day
Kettering Town produced a devastating second-half display as they hammered in seven goals to give themselves a little sniff of squeezing into the play-offs on the final day of the season.
Marcus Law’s team, having looked somewhat lacklustre before half-time, tore into already-relegated visitors Bideford to register a 7-0 success and really set up a tense last day in the battle for the top-five places in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.
The Poppies blew Bideford away with four goals in the space of 18 minutes before Ben Stephens and then Ben Baker grabbed the all-important fifth and sixth goals late on to send the Poppies above Weymouth and into sixth place.
It all means Kettering will head to Dorchester Town on Saturday knowing that a win for them and a defeat for Leamington, who take on fellow high-fliers Hungerford Town, will in all likelihood send them into the play-offs.
Law made two changes to the team that lost 2-1 at Redditch United on Monday with Stephens and Obeng coming into the side at the expense of Dom Langdon and David Popa.
And there was no sign of what was to come after a first half that proved to be fairly uninspiring as the Poppies struggled to make any inroads against a dogged Bideford defence.
In fact, the visitors had the ball in the net early on but Jamie Chamberlin had already been flagged offside.
At the other end, Brett Solkhon scooped one over the bar while Obeng had an effort blocked.
But, in general, the Poppies were a bit shot shy while Bideford created the best chance of the half when the beautifully named Kelvin Fineboy shot just wide after being played in by Joe Barker.
With a sense of resignation around the ground, a spark was needed and boy did it arrive.
Whatever was in the tea in the home dressing-room had the desire effect as the Poppies blew their visitors away.
A bit of fortune got them started as James Brighton’s corner found its way in with the help of a touch or two.
And then young Obeng took a grip on proceedings. Just two minutes later, he received the ball from Liam Canavan, turned his marker wonderfully well and then beat Kyle Moore with a low shot.
All of a sudden, Kettering were piling forward and Obeng grabbed his second with a fierce left-footed strike across the goal and into the far corner.
The frontman was denied his hat-trick when his shot was blocked on the line but, worryingly, he was then forced off with a knock with Popa replacing him.
But a devastating spell from the hosts was completed when Wilson Carvalho skinned Ben Wood on the right. He pulled the ball back to Canavan, whose shot was beaten away by Moore but only onto the head of Rene Howe who nodded home.
Still they piled forward in search of the fifth that would have taken them into sixth place.
Howe’s headed was deflected narrowly off target and then, with five minutes to go, the fifth goal did arrive.
Stephens did wonderfully well to create some space. He played in Popa who then pulled it back and Stephens was there to beat Moore at the near post.
But that wasn’t the end, far from it.
Youngster Baker produced a cool finish at the far post to make it six and then Brighton rounded off what he started with a thunderous right-footed strike.
A more devastating second-half display you are never likely to see.
Kettering did what they had to do and a little bit more. They are now in pole position to be the team to sneak through the back door.
See you in Dorchester...
Poppies: Hill; Bateman (sub Cotton, h-t), Solkhon, Carruthers, Brighton; Carvalho, Canavan (sub Baker, 76 mins), Pepe-N’Goma, Stephens; Obeng (sub Popa, 62 mins), Howe. Subs not used: Bradshaw, Grocott.
Bideford: Moore; Egan, Squire, Story, Reed; Barker (sub Joyce, 62 mins), Weston (sub Dandridge, 77 mins), Wood, Tucker, Chamberlin; Fineboy (sub Nelson, 90 mins).
Referee: Andrew Fox.
Goals: Brighton (49 mins, 1-0), Obeng (51 mins, 2-0), Obeng (59 mins, 3-0), Howe (67 mins, 4-0), Stephens (85 mins, 5-0), Baker (90 mins, 6-0), Brighton (90 mins, 7-0).
Bookings: Reed (foul).