Poppies in confident mood for another big test

Kettering Town welcome high-flying Spennymoor Town to Latimer Park this weekend

By Jon Dunham
Friday, 24th September 2021, 8:00 am
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox. Pictures by Peter Short

Paul Cox believes Kettering Town are heading into tomorrow's (Saturday) tough test with Spennymoor Town with confidence.

The Poppies made it through to the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup as they saw off Step 4 side Spalding United at the second time of asking on Tuesday night.

Having drawn 1-1 in Lincolnshire on Saturday, Kettering finally broke Spalding’s stubborn resistance thanks to a fine goal from Claudio Ofosu, who also scored at the weekend, and a second of the season from Decarrey Sheriff at Latimer Park.

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The Poppies players return to league action this weekend after getting past Spalding United in Tuesday's FA Cup replay

That means the Poppies will head to Vanarama National League North rivals Leamington in the third qualifying round next weekend.

But, before that, they have a difficult assignment as they entertain fourth-placed Spennymoor this weekend.

The Moors had an FA Cup replay of their own in midweek as they beat league rivals AFC Fylde 1-0 after a 1-1 draw last Saturday while they have won their last two league matches without conceding a goal.

But the Poppies are in reasonable nick themselves as they are now unbeaten in six matches in all competitions and sit in seventh place in the table heading into the weekend.

“It’s another test against another club who have the infrastructure in place to get promoted,” Kettering boss Cox said.

“We will have to play better than we did over the two games with Spalding and get back to the standards we have set for ourselves.

“That’s taking nothing away from Spalding who I thought were excellent over the 180 minutes we had against them.

“But we have to dust ourselves down and move on to another test.

“I think we have only lost one game in eight now so that extra bit of confidence that comes from winning matches can only drive us on.”

Kettering, however, aren’t being helped by a growing injury list.

Captain Connor Kennedy is facing between two to three weeks on the sidelines after suffering a calf injury in the first meeting with Spalding while the likes of Rhys Sharpe and Riccardo Calder are at least two weeks away from recovering from knocks.

Cox revealed both Gary Stohrer and Chris Smith could be fit for this weekend while the Poppies boosted their ranks with the addition of former King’s Lynn Town left-back Alex Brown at the end of last week.

Connor Johnson serves a one-match ban tomorrow after being sent-off for two bookable offences in the first meeting with Spalding but on loan centre-half Max Dyche will be available again having been ineligible for the FA Cup.

“We have a lot of injuries and when you look at the quality of the players who are out, people are going to have to play really well to keep their place in the side,” Cox added.

“Rhys is going to be another two weeks, Riccardo is probably looking at two to maybe four depending on how quickly he heals.

“Gary could be a shout for Saturday, which would be fantastic because everyone knows what he gives us. It would be lovely to have him back.

“Chris Smith could also be a possibility but we have to make sure he is 100 per cent right.

“Every team gets injuries. We haven’t moaned about them. We get on with it here. We have young players who are taking their opportunities.

“Alex Brown looked a bit more accomplished in his second game and I left Decarrey out but he came on and scored and rammed it down my throat.

“We have got a lot of hungry, young players who want to make themselves and the club a success and it gives me lovely decisions to make moving forward.”