Poppies must 'graft' in their bid to achieve ambitions

Mitch Austin insists all at Kettering Town have the same ambitions as they gear up for another crucial home game this weekend.

Thursday, 25th January 2018, 9:44 am
Updated Thursday, 25th January 2018, 9:52 am
Mathew Stevens celebrates his goal during Kettering Town's 4-2 success at Merthyr Town last weekend, which got them back to winning ways and put them on top of the Evo-Stik South League Premier. Picture by Peter Short

The Poppies will head into tomorrow's (Saturday) clash with Biggleswade Town at Latimer Park sitting on top of the Evo-Stik South League Premier having returned to the summit after a 4-2 success at Merthyr Town.

They are a point clear of King’s Lynn Town and two ahead of Hereford, who remain favourites for the title as they still have four games in hand on the teams above them.

The margin for error is getting smaller as each week passes and Kettering will hope they can maintain their impressive home form when they take on the Waders this weekend.

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And while he is well aware that Hereford are waiting to pounce, assistant-manager Austin insists the Poppies’ focus will stay right where it should be – on their own performances.

“We have just got to concentrate on what we are doing,” he said.

“All the talk is about Hereford and they are on a big run and some will say they are looking unbeatable.

“But all we can do is concentrate on picking up points from our games and that especially goes for the away matches when we have to make sure we are coming home with something instead of nothing.

“Our home form has been solid and that has given us the foundation to build the season on.

“But make no mistake, we have got a tough opponent on Saturday in Biggleswade. There are no easy fixtures and no gimmes.

“We will definitely have to graft for whatever we get but the lads know what is expected.

“They are as ambitious as everyone else, whether it’s the board, the fans or the manager.

“Everyone wants the same thing and we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.”

It was a welcome return to winning ways in South Wales last weekend as Kettering stormed into a 4-0 lead thanks to goals from Aaron O’Connor, Rene Howe, Mathew Stevens and Brett Solkhon.

Merthyr pulled a couple of goals back but the victory was much-needed after a slightly sticky spell, which had seen the Poppies beaten at Basingstoke Town before they were held to a 1-1 draw by Kings Langley at Latimer Park.

“We definitely needed that after the two previous games in which we produced lacklustre performances to be honest,” Austin added.

“We should have done better. At Basingstoke we conceded in the last minute when we probably should have seen things out for a point after coming from 2-0 down to be at 2-2.

“And the result against Kings Langley wasn’t good enough if we want to be challenging for promotion.

“Going to Merthyr, we knew it would be another tough away game because, even though they have had their problems, their results hadn’t been bad at all.

“So we knew we had to go there and do a job and, credit to the lads, they did what was asked of them.

“It was a good and important result for us.”