Simpson delighted as Kettering Town take a point against leaders

Kettering Town coach Joe Simpson praised his side as they remained in the Vanarama National League North play-off places with a 1-1 draw at home to top-of-the-table Gateshead.

By James Wiles
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 8:01 pm
Connor Johnson celebrates after he gave Kettering Town the lead against Gateshead. Picture by Peter Short

Connor Johnson gave the Poppies an early lead, but Connor Malley equalised for the visitors before half-time.

And first-team coach Simpson was pleased with the way his team matched up with the league leaders.

“It’s a very good point against an outstanding side,” he said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“These boys are very honest and hardworking, and they always stuck to the task.

“We started brilliantly, but sometimes you can score too early, which makes it a case of stick or twist.

Gateshead play in a way that builds pressure, and when pressure builds, you start to get stretched.

“They created overloads in wide areas, caused us problems and took their goal well.

“It was important to go in at half-time 1-1, and the best chance of the second half fell to us.

“Our shape was tremendous. Crawfs (Jordon Crawford) led the line well, we were disciplined behind him and Jacko (Jackson Smith) didn’t have a save to make.”

Gloucester City’s late equaliser at York City means that the Poppies stay in the final play-off spot on goal difference. The Minstermen do have a game in hand on Kettering, though.

Simpson is taking it one game at a time as his side look to secure a spot in the top seven.

“When you’re playing top of the league, you’d take a point any day of the week,” he added.

“It’s another one to add to the tally and it keeps us in the hunt.

“If you’d have asked people where they thought Kettering would end up at the start of the season, I don’t think anyone would have said seventh place.

“That’s a massive testament to how hard this group of players works. They’ve been excellent for us since we got in here, and we’re enjoying it.

“There were over 900 here today, that’s phenomenal backing from the fans and we thank them for the noise they made.

“We want to give it a proper go and finish in the play-offs, but there’s a lot of teams fighting for those spots at the same time.

“We can only worry about what we can control, today is a good point and we’ll see where we end up.”

The Poppies travel to third-placed AFC Fylde next week, having only lost once in their last nine games.