VERDICT - Impressive Poppies move into second
Kettering Town returned to winning ways in comprehensive fashion as St Ives Town became the latest victims at fortress Latimer Park.
Having played nine of their previous 10 games in all competitions on the road, the Poppies were clearly in the mood to impress in front of their own fans.
The 4-1 success was their eighth win from nine Evo-Stik South League Premier matches on home soil this season and it saw them move back up to second place behind King’s Lynn Town who continue to set the pace.
Right from the first whistle there wasn’t much doubt about which way this game would go.
The Poppies attacked in numbers and, in general, defended resolutely.
And with Rene Howe and Aaron O’Connor linking up so well in the final third, goals were never going to be a problem.
The Poppies started brightly enough but it was the visitors who registered the first attempt on goal when a cross to the back post was missed by Gary Stohrer but Paul White was equal to Phil Draycott’s firm strike.
From there though, it was pretty much one-way traffic.
Lindon Meikle was snuffed out after Ben Milnes had broken into the box and squared the ball into the winger’s path but the hosts did break the deadlock on 17 minutes.
A free-kick into the danger area was cleared but, as the ball came back in, Brett Solkhon - making his 496th appearance for the club - had stayed up and he directed the ball into the path of Aaron O’Connor who made no mistake with a good finish past Tim Trebes.
Solkhon was called into action at the other end as he headed off the line after White had misjudged as cross from the left.
But it was Kettering who continued to pose the bigger threat and Milnes shot just wide before Rene Howe’s close-range effort was hacked clear after more good work from O’Connor.
The theme continued after the break with O’Connor going close before a flowing move started by a wonderful diagonal pass from Howe was finished by O’Connor finding Ben Toseland whose shot was tipped over by Trebes.
It was only delaying the inevitable, however, as the Poppies found that crucial second goal 10 minutes after the restart.
Stohrer slipped the ball through to O’Connor who drew the goalkeeper in and then squared for Howe to convert from close-range.
Almost immediately, Ben Seymour-Shove struck the outside of the post in a rare venture into the Poppies’ penalty area.
But most of the action was still at the other end and Mathew Stevens, on for O’Connor, was out of luck as, with just Trebes to beat, his effort smacked off the post before he had another shot well blocked.
But Kettering did make it 3-0 with 16 minutes to go when more good work from Howe ended with Milnes running across the face of goal before producing a good finish.
And the game was well and truly up when a magical flick from Howe released Stevens. His shot was saved by Trebes but the ball looped up into the air and fellow substitute Rhys Hoenes was there to score from close-range.
There was, however, still time for a blot on the copybook as White completely misjudged Draycott’s free-kick which dropped into the corner, although the goalkeeper did produced a decent save to push away Rogan McGeorge’s long-range effort.
This proved to be a straightforward success for the Poppies as they maintained their impressive home form to get themselves back on track.
One down, two to go in this important run of three home games in a row. And if Kettering carry on like this on their own patch, then more points will be on the way.
Poppies: White; Bateman, Mulligan, Solkhon, Toseland; Stohrer (sub Baker, 74 mins), Richens, Milnes, Meikle (sub Hoenes, 74 mins); Howe, O’Connor (sub Stevens, 58 mins). Subs not used: Sundire, Minus.
St Ives: Trebes; Smith, Ferrell, Groves, Jarrold; Seymour-Shove (sub Watson, 62 mins), McGeorge, McGowan (sub Libertucci, h-t), Draycott; Snaith, Kelly (sub Sawyer, 79 mins). Sub not used: Short.
Referee: Scott Postin.
Goals: O’Connor (17 mins, 1-0), Howe (55 mins, 2-0), Milnes (74 mins, 3-0), Hoenes (82 mins, 4-0), Draycott (88 mins, 4-1).
Bookings: Draycott, Smith, Richens, Libertucci (all fouls).