VERDICT: Poppies and Curzon battle it out in a stalemate

Kettering Town’s run without scoring extended to three matches after a scrappy 0-0 draw with fellow relegation candidates Curzon Ashton at a windy Latimer Park.

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:16 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:18 pm
Michael Richens' shot, which took a deflection and hit the post, was as close as Kettering Town came to a breakthrough in their 0-0 draw with Curzon Ashton. Pictures by Peter Short
Michael Richens' shot, which took a deflection and hit the post, was as close as Kettering Town came to a breakthrough in their 0-0 draw with Curzon Ashton. Pictures by Peter Short

The Poppies suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time under Paul Cox in the week, losing 2-0 at home to play-off chasing Altrincham.

In a match of few chances, Kettering and the Nash gained valuable points in their battles against relegation.

Mark Bradshaw’s side had the first chance of the game less than a minute in, as James Bailie’s shot across goal went just wide.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Matthew Taylor's first-half free-kick was just over the bar

Matthew Taylor came close to giving the home side the lead 10 minutes in, putting his free-kick from the edge of the box a yard over the bar.

Tre Mitford released Daniel Nti who only managed to fire into the side-netting five minutes later.

On the stroke of half-time, Michael Calveley almost rounded Paul White, but the Poppies goalkeeper recovered to make a good save.

After an hour, Gary Stohrer went on a good run, playing in Mitford but the Kettering striker put his shot straight at the on-rushing Cameron Mason.

Luke Graham's looping header was headed off the line in the second half

Paul Cox’s men continued to press for an opener, and a few minutes later Michael McGrath’s looping cross was cleared only as far as Michael Richens whose deflected shot from the edge of the box hit the post.

Conor Dimaio responded almost instantly for Curzon, running from the halfway-line and playing Josh Askew through on goal, but the left-back saw his effort well-saved by White before the Kettering goalkeeper held substitute Owen Watkinson’s follow-up.

Moments later, Connor Kennedy’s cross was headed across goal by Luke Graham at the back-post, only to be headed off the line by Nash defender Mohamud Ali.

Neither team could break the other down in the remaining quarter-of-an-hour, and the match ended as a tight draw that both defences performed well in.

The Poppies welcome Vanarama National League North rivals Brackley Town to Latimer Park in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup semi-final on Tuesday, before renewing their relegation fight next Saturday away to Altrincham.

Poppies: White; Graham, Solkhon, McGrath; Stohrer, Richens, Meikle (sub Smith, 58 mins), Kennedy, Taylor; Nti, Mitford (sub O’Connor, 63 mins). Subs not used: Bennett, Milnes, Law.

Curzon Ashton: Mason; Halls, Shaw, Ali; Bailie, Calveley, Evans, Broadbent, Askew; Sinclair (sub Watkinson, 58 mins), Dimaio. Subs not used: Crawford, Thornley, Wroe, Merrill.

Referee: Dale Baines.

Bookings: McGrath, Richens (both fouls).

Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Paul White – In a scrappy encounter that both defences impressed in, Paul White made two crucial saves that helped his side gain an important point. The Kettering goalkeeper has been one of the club’s best performers this season, and against Curzon he earned a well-deserved clean sheet. He made a good recovery save after Michael Calveley tried to round him in the first-half, before making a superb double save in the second-half, preventing both Josh Askew and Owen Wilkinson from winning the game for the away side.

Attendance: 684