SATURDAY SPORT - Poppies return with a win but poor Steelmen are beaten
Kettering Town maintained their push for the Evo-Stik South League Premier play-offs with a fine 4-0 victory at Stratford Town.
Michael Richens was recalled to the starting line-up while there was the welcome sight of Ben Milnes being included among the substitutes following an ankle injury.
Paul White was called into some early action as he tipped over a free-kick from former Kettering man Ben Stephens.
Aaron O’Connor had a shot saved from close-range but Kettering did take the lead when Mathew Stevens was fouled by home goalkeeper Louis Connor in the area.
And Brett Solkhon stepped up to score from the penalty spot.
There were few other chances in the first half with the best falling to Rhys Hoenes who saw a shot palmed away by Connor with Stevens unable to get an effort away on the rebound.
But Kettering took control of things in the second half after White had pulled off another save from a Stephens free-kick.
Richens doubled the lead with a superb 25-yard strike that found the top corner.
And soon after, it was 3-0, as O’Connor held the ball up and played in Stevens who drilled home from a tight angle.
The Poppies rounded off an excellent second-half display with a fourth late on with Stevens returning the favour for O’Connor as the top scorer tapped home from close-range.
Corby Town suffered a poor 2-0 home loss to struggling Gresley FC at Steel Park to leave their top-six hopes in the Evo-Stik League South hanging by a thread.
Ash Robinson and Peter Dearle both returned to the starting line-up for the Steelmen while there was a surprise inclusion on the bench in the form of Luke Aridegbe who had been out for a lengthy spell due to injury.
It proved to be a first half to forget for the Steelmen as, aside from Jordon Crawford’s shot which was tipped over by Callum Hawkins, they rarely threatened.
And it was Gresley who took the lead on 34 minutes when Reece Morris fed the ball into Danny Quinn who turned Dearle and then shot low into the far corner.
It could have been even worse before half-time when Matt Melbourne cut in from the left and saw his curling shot cannon back off the inside of the post.
Corby were better after the break and Ash Robinson was unlucky with a shot that hit the top of the crossbar and went out for a goal-kick.
But they were hit with a sucker-punch on 20 minutes to go when Quinn broke away on the right and he square the ball across for Oliver Bassett who fired past Sam Wilson.
The Steelmen huffed and puffed after that but were unable to find a goal.