SATURDAY FOOTBALL '“ Poppies miss out on the play-offs, Diamonds to face Royston and Steelmen are beaten again
Kettering Town kept their end of the bargain with a 4-1 win at Dorchester Town but missed out on a place in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-offs.
Leamington’s 0-0 draw with Hungerford Town cost the Poppies a top-five finish by just a point as the Brakes held on to fifth place by gaining the point they needed.
The Poppies started brightly and Rene Howe shot wide before they took the lead when Ben Stephens nodded the ball past home goalkeeper Alan Walker-Harris and squared across goal where Henry Lander put through his own net.
The lead was doubled 10 minutes later when James Brighton’s free-kick from out wide missed everyone and nestled in the far corner.
Dorchester produced an immediate response as Craig Hill could only parry Bradley Tarbuck’s low drive and Toby Holmes reacted quickest to stab home the rebound.
But it was 3-1 on 29 minutes when Stephens brilliantly nutmegged a defender and rolled the ball across goal. Silvano Obeng missed it but Howe was there to tap home at the far post.
Dorchester’s task got even harder when Franklyn Clarke was sent off for pushing Stephens in the face following an altercation between the two after the Kettering man conceded a foul.
After the break, Hill brilliantly tipped Mark Jermyn’s chip onto the crossbar while Tarbuck was denied on the line by Chris Carruthers.
But the Poppies wrapped up the points with nine minutes to go when Brett Solkhon headed home Brighton’s corner.
However, good news was not forthcoming from elsewhere as Leamington and Hungerford played out the goalless draw to ensure the Poppies missed out on an extended season.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds warmed up for the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central play-offs with a 2-0 win over Godalming Town in the final game of the regular season at the Dog & Duck.
Diamonds will travel to Royston Town in the play-off semi-finals in midweek.
Jack Ashton had an early header saved while Matt Finlay, named the Diamonds’ fans’ player-of-the-year before the game, made a comfortable stop at the other end.
Diamonds took the lead on 10 minutes when Shawn Richards was fouled and picked himself up to curl the free-kick into the far corner.
Godalming had a header cleared off the line but Diamonds missed a great chance to double the lead when Richards sent a penalty high over the bar after he had been brought down.
Robbie Parsons shot across the face of goal in the second half but Diamonds did double their lead with 17 minutes to go when Jack Bowen charged down a clearance from the visiting goalkeeper and it flew back into the empty net.
Already-relegated Corby Town rounded off their home programmes in the Vanarama National League North with a 3-0 loss to Stalybridge Celtic at Steel Park.
The first half was goalless with the game having an end-of-season feel to it, although Stalybridge did have the ball in the net twice only for their efforts to be ruled out for offside and a foul respectively.
Cleveland Taylor and Callum Ball went close for Corby early in the second half.
But Stalybridge took the lead through Steve Tames and the advantage was doubled when Jack Higgings nodded home from a free-kick.
And the visitors wrapped things up with a third late on.