VERDICT: Poppies edged out at Boston
Kettering Town slipped to their first league defeat under Paul Cox as they were beaten 2-1 by Boston United on their last-ever visit to York Street.
It proved to be another excellent contest between the two old rivals but the Poppies will be wondering how they didn’t head home with at least one more Vanarama National League North point in the bag.
Kettering were still without injured duo Aaron O’Connor and Lindon Meikle but Northampton Town loanee Jay Williams was available after suspension and was named among the substitutes.
Kettering looked lively in the low-key early exchanges and Dan Nti saw a shot deflected into the side-netting after he had been played in by Gary Stohrer.
However, with the flow of the game being stemmed by a flurry of free-kicks, neither side really got into their stride until Boston broke the deadlock out of nothing just past the half-hour.
Brad Abbott’s ball into the area gave Jake Wright a bit of space and, as Paul White came out of his goal, the frontman calmly lobbed it over the Poppies goalkeeper.
That proved to be the spark the game needed and Kettering responded seven minutes later.
A loose clearance from the Boston defence was seized upon by Nti and a fortunate ricochet saw the ball fall perfectly into the path of Tre Mitford who made no mistake with a clinical finish for his third goal in two games.
Kettering deserved that but the Pilgrims regained the lead in the first minute of stoppage-time.
Luke Graham was far from impressed to be penalised for a foul but little could excuse what followed from the free-kick.
Abbott whipped it in, Wright was left unmarked but his weak header was straight at White and it somehow slipped through his hands and into the net.
The Poppies started the second half with purpose and they went close to a leveller when Mitford headed over from a Marcus Kelly corner.
And that set the tone for the first 20 minutes of the second period as Kettering continued to threaten, particularly from set-pieces and the long throws from Connor Kennedy.
The golden chance came on 67 minutes when a corner from the left was swung in, it was flicked on to the back post and Graham somehow struck the post when it seemed easier to score.
As the Poppies looked to commit bodies forward, it left gaps at the other end and Wright had another sight of goal after good work from Dayle Southwell but could only shoot straight at White.
Wright had an even better chance to complete his hat-trick in the final 10 minutes when he was put in by substitute Nicky Walker but White stood up and made a good save with his legs.
But the Poppies continued to pile on the pressure at the other end and they went so close again when Ben Milnes whipped in a free-kick, Nti flicked it on ahead of home goalkeeper Peter Crook but Luke Shiels was in the right place to hack the ball off the line.
That proved to be their last chance as the Pilgrims did an impressive job of seeing the game out in the latter stages.
Boston: Crook; Middleton, Ainge, Shiels, Whittle; Rowe (sub Walker, 65 mins), Platt, Abbott, Rollins; Southwell (sub Wafula, 82 mins), Wright (sub Woolford, 88 mins). Subs not used: Knowles, Willis.
Poppies: White; Graham, McGrath, Taylor; Richens (sub Williams, 66 mins); Nti, Milnes, Kennedy, Kelly (sub Carta, 86 mins); Mitford. Subs not used: Solkhon, J O’Connor.
Referee: Jonny Urwin.
Goals: Wright (33 mins, 1-0), Mitford (40 mins, 1-1), Wright (45 mins, 2-1).
Bookings: Richens, Whittle, Abbott, McGrath (all fouls), Wright (dissent), Rowe (unsporting behaviour).
Attendance: 1,718 (281 Kettering fans).