VERDICT: Kettering Town 1 Gateshead 1

Kettering Town remained in the Vanarama National League North play-off places after a 1-1 draw at home to top-of-the-table Gateshead.

By James Wiles
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 6:17 pm
The celebrations begin after Connor Johnson put Kettering Town in front against Gateshead. Pictures by Peter Short

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

The hosts started brightly and opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Johnson stabbed home after a scramble.

They should have doubled their advantage midway through the first half, but captain Connor Kennedy hooked just wide from Connor Barrett’s cross.

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Connor Malley levelled for the leaders at Latimer Park

Gateshead, who had scored 14 goals in their last three matches, grew into the game after the half-an-hour mark and missed a huge chance to equalise when Macauley Langstaff was played in over the top of the defence and lifted the ball over the crossbar.

But the visitors did get back on level terms when Adam Campbell’s blocked shot fell to Malley, who found the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Jordon Crawford came close to restoring the Poppies’ lead in the final minute of the half, cutting inside from the left and firing low into the side-netting.

Gateshead were on top without really troubling Jackson Smith in the Kettering goal after the break. Matty Jacobs created their best chance of the half, taking the ball down on the edge of the area and volleying just over.

The Poppies had two good opportunities midway through the second period, Callum Stead firing over from Alex Brown’s low cross and Kennedy having a close range header blocked after Rhys Sharpe’s corner hit the top of the bar.

The visitors threatened late on when captain Greg Olley’s powerful effort was well-blocked by Johnson, but Kettering held on to a valuable point in their hunt for the play-offs.

They travel to third-placed AFC Fylde next week, having only lost once in their last nine games, whilst Gateshead host Southport.

Poppies: Jackson Smith, Barrett, Johnson, Cooper, Chris Smith, Brown; Stohrer, Kennedy, Sharpe; Crawford (sub Deacon, 90+2 mins), Stead (sub Sheriff, 72 mins). Subs not used: Davies, Milovanovic, Jack Smith.

Gateshead: Marschall; Tinkler, Williamson, Storey, Jacobs (sub Charters, 67 mins); Olley, Bailey, Malley (sub Ward, 75 mins); Scott, Campbell, Langstaff. Subs not used: Magnay, Hunter.

Referee: Joel Mannix.

Goals: Johnson (1-0, 4 mins), Malley (1-1, 40 mins).

Bookings: Johnson, Storey (both fouls).

Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Connor Johnson - The defender finished well to put the Poppies in front very early on, and played his part in keeping a front three that has scored 61 between them this season quiet. He made a good block from Olley to secure a point for his side late in the day.

Attendance: 915.