VERDICT '“ Poppies' inconsistency shows again as points are dropped
It will be Kettering Town's inconsistency that will have cost them if they don't finish in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-off places.
It has been a common theme for this season, even before the overhaul in the playing squad in November.
There’s a popular belief that the current Poppies squad should be good enough to finish in the top five. Had this group been together for the whole campaign, that would have been the least they would have done.
But this is where they are and the inconsistency that has blighted their season showed its ugly face as Marcus Law’s men finally managed to play at Latimer Park for the first time this year.
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Hopes were high after a highly-impressive 2-0 victory at second-placed Chippenham Town.
Frome Town arrived sitting in the bottom four and with work to do to get out of trouble.
The stage looked set for the Poppies to make it two wins in a row.
For a while, particularly in the first half, it looked like happening.
Kettering didn’t take long to get into their stride and Frome goalkeeper Darren Chitty set the tone for the opening 45 minutes when he denied Spencer Weir-Daley twice in quick succession.
He also almost stopped Wilson Carvalho’s spot-kick, which did open the scoring on 18 minutes. Rene Howe’s effort clearly struck an opposing hand and Carvalho stepped up to convert the penalty, despite Chitty getting a good hand to it.
Frome did look threatening going forward and George Miller missed their best chance of the first half when he dragged his shot just wide from a good position.
But the Poppies finished the half strongly and only the brilliance of Chitty denied them from getting the second goal that potentially would have finished the game.
Howe produced a wonderful touch and turn before firing towards goal, only for the visiting stopper to get in the way and he was in action again seconds later, this time palming away Liam Canavan’s strike.
At that stage, things were looking good and when Canavan volleyed just wide in the second half, you sensed a second was goal was coming.
But gradually, the tide turned. The Poppies have had a lack of match action recently and maybe that caught up with the.
For the final 20 minutes, Frome were firmly on top as Kettering squandered possession cheaply and, for long spells, were unable to get out of their own half.
The warning signs were there when Craig Hill made a good stop to deny James Fitzgibson after he seized on a lapse in concentration and raced away from a static defence.
But there was nothing Hill could do with 12 minutes to go. Gary Mulligan caught Mitchell Page in the area and Kris Miller cooly sent the Poppies stopper the wrong way from 12 yards to level the scores.
Hill was forced to tip a Jake Jackson header over soon after and Frome always looked the more likely to grab a winner.
And they really should have done in stoppage-time when substitute Josh Jeffries, who had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds, was left with all the space in the world 10 yards from goal but a poor first touch resulted in a scuffed finish which was easily gathered by Hill.
You could, perhaps, give the Poppies the benefit of the doubt on this one. It genuinely seemed like their legs went with 20 minutes to go.
There’s no shortage of general fitness but, after such a prolonged spell without playing, perhaps the two quick games caught them out.
The big problem is that time is running out if they are to make a late dash for the top five.
They are now dealing in wins if they are to make it happen...
Poppies: Hill; Langdon, Solkhon, Mulligan, Carruthers (sub Grocott, 81 mins); Carvalho, Pepe-N’Goma, Canavan (sub Baker, 81 mins), Brighton; Weir-Daley (sub Sandy, 73 mins), Howe. Subs not used: McNiel, Stephens.
Frome: Chitty; Walker, Roberts, Mapstone, Tealle; K Miller (sub Jeffries, 90 mins), Cleaverley, Hobbs (sub Hulbery, 67 mins), Fitzgibson; G Miller (sub Jackson, 35 mins); Page. Subs not used: Nkunga.
Referee: Robbie Daley.
Goals: Carvalho pen (18 mins, 1-0), K Miller pen (78 mins, 1-1).
Bookings: Tealle, Roberts, Pepe-N’Goma, K Miller (all fouls).
Don’t miss reaction and a look ahead to the Poppies’ clash with Dunstable Town in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph