VERDICT '“ It's no classic as Poppies' season begins to fade

It's fair to say the Christmas spirit wasn't exactly alive and well as Kettering Town and King's Lynn Town battled out a 1-1 draw at Latimer Park.

Monday, 26th December 2016, 8:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:48 pm
Aaron O'Connor is congratulated by Liam Canavan and Nathan Hicks after scoring Kettering Town's goal in the 1-1 draw with King's Lynn Town at Latimer Park. Pictures by Peter Short

Those who ventured out to watch this one certainly weren’t treated to a Boxing Day classic.

What they did witness was two mid-table teams in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division further enhancing their statuses as clubs who are destined to be to good to be in a relegation dogfight but not up to scratch when it comes to a play-off challenge.

The final outcome was accurate after an encounter that, aside from the two goals, lacked quality.

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Rene Howe battles for a high ball with King's Lynn Tom Ward

And while the travelling contingent of King’s Lynn fans and their manager seemed content with a point on the road, the same couldn’t be said for the Poppies faithful.

Not for the first time this season, boos greeted the final whistle while boss Marcus Law was the target of the supporters’ frustrations – his decision to replace goalscorer Aaron O’Connor with Matthew Barnes-Homer with 19 minutes to go being greeted with some real confusion.

Frustration is most definitely the buzzword for everyone at Latimer Park.

The Poppies now find themselves 12 points off the top-five, they are lacking consistency, their campaign is fading and they look set to fail miserably on the targets that were set at the start of the season.

Action from Kettering Town's 1-1 draw with King's Lynn

Any sort of promotion challenge will now rely on a run of form that really doesn’t look like coming and while that remains the case, the pressure on Law will inevitably continue to grow.

This performance just about summed things up.

True, two similar teams cancelled each other out. But there seemed to be a lack of urgency from the Poppies, not to mention a real lack of quality when a final pass was needed.

O’Connor produced a stunning finish, completely out of character from the game itself, to put them in front but even then they were unable to hold on as another home match ended in disappointment.

Rene Howe battles for a high ball with King's Lynn Tom Ward

There was little to write home about during a poor first half as both teams struggled to settle.

New King’s Lynn signing Tom Ward lobbed an effort over and then headed off target for the visitors and they should have done better than just win a free-kick on the edge of the area after they broke with four against one on the counter-attack at one stage.

Rene Howe fired over with the Poppies’ best chance of the opening period but it was the hosts who took the lead with a moment of magic on 63 minutes.

The game had lacked any sort of quality but it was there in abundance as Nathan Hicks’ ball into the area dropped for O’Connor who hammered his volley into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

Action from Kettering Town's 1-1 draw with King's Lynn

But the Linnets’ response was swift and it was Stevenson who unlocked the door with a perfect cross from the left and Ward made no mistake with a firm header to beat Dean Snedker at the far post.

There were few chances for either side after that, although it was King’s Lynn who went the closest with seven minutes to go when two substitutes combined with Leon Mettam playing in Ryan Hawkins who was only denied by a brilliant last-ditch challenge from the impressive Dominic Langdon.

In the end, a winner either way would have been unfair. This game got the result it deserved.

And that result, ultimately, did no-one any favours...

Poppies: Snedker; Mulligan, Solkhon, Langdon; Hicks, Hornby (sub Kelly, 76 mins), Canavan, Brighton; Carvalho (sub Wilson, 83 mins), Howe, O’Connor (sub Barnes-Homer, 71 mins). Subs not used: Malone, White.

King’s Lynn: Street; Gaughran, Ward, Young; Fryatt (sub Mettam, 67 mins), Clunan, Stevenson, McWilliams (sub Smith, 60 mins), Warburton; Hilliard (sub Hawkins, 76 mins), Revan. Subs not used: Zielonka, Emmington.

Referee: Sarah Garratt.

Goals: O’Connor (63 mins, 1-0), Ward (68 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Solkhon, Kelly (both fouls), Hawkins (entering field of play without permission).

Attendance: 656.