Kettering Town were left frustrated by struggling Northern Premier League Division One South East side Sutton Coldfield Town in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup at Latimer Park.
The 1-1 draw came off the back of a victory over high-flying Alfreton Town in theVanarama National League North last Saturday and a dominant display against Cogenhoe United in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup the following Tuesday,
Nicky Eaden’s team took a while to settle into the game but, as the Royals tired, the Poppies gained control and will be disappointed with the 1-1 scoreline.
The first chance of the game led to the first goal of the game when on 12 minutes, a push on Aaron O’Connor on the halfway line was not given by the referee, before Isai Marselia was played through on goal and slotted the ball under Paul White, making it 1-0 to the visitors.
Kettering were slow to get into their rhythm, their first chance coming from a Marcus Kelly cross-field volley out to Lindon Meikle, who played through Gary Stohrer on the right, however the right-back’s curled ball across the goal was out of the reach of Daniel Nti from six yards.
Nti linked-up with Stohrer moments later, playing a one-two before the latter floated a cross onto the head of Brett Solkhon, who headed straight at Lewis Gwilliams from six yards.
A Meikle low-shot from 30 yards was sliced wide by James Beresford, after the midfielder was set-up by an O’Connor header across the box from a Ben Milnes corner, which had been punched away by Gwilliams.
On the half-an-hour mark, Stohrer was shoved over by James Mutton in the area, allowing Nti to step up and place his penalty to the bottom right, scoring Kettering’s 890th FA Cup goal, despite a Gwilliams touch.
And, in the last action of the half, Gwilliams had to beat away Connor Kennedy’s strong shot from 30 yards.
Ten minutes into the second-half, substitute Elliot Hodge laid the ball off to Kelly on the edge of the box, who moved it onto his right before aiming for the top-right, but the shot was well-held by Gwilliams.
But Kettering were presented with the chance to go in front when Beresford tripped Nti in the box after O’Connor had played him into space.
A second penalty was awarded when Hodge couldn’t make use of the advantage but this time Nti’s spot-kick was saved to the left of Gwilliams.
Moments later, a Kennedy shot from 10 yards squeezed under the ever-busy Gwilliams, who recovered and held the ball on the line.
With 15 minutes left, the Poppies countered from a Sutton Coldfield corner through a Meikle run. He found Nti in space on the edge of the box before he played it through to James Brighton, whose powerful shot was heading for the top-left from 10 yards had it not been blocked by a defender.
Chances continued to come in injury-time and Joel Carta curled a yard wide of the post with Gwilliams rooted to the spot.
And with their final chance, O’Connor played in Hodge, who crossed deep, finding Meikle who shifted past the defender but had his shot blocked from eight yards. And, in the follow-up, Nti worked the ball to Carta but his shot was blocked and cleared.
The two teams will now meet again in a replay on Tuesday night at Coles Lane, an unwelcome addition to the Poppies fixture list before the trip to Hereford next Saturday.
Poppies: White; Cartwright, Solkhon (sub Hodge, 45 mins), Skarz (sub Carta, 80 mins); Stohrer, Kennedy, Milnes, Meikle, Kelly (sub Brighton, 70 mins); O’Connor, Nti. Subs not used: Vidal, Sebbeh, Graham, Norman.
Sutton Coldfield: Gwilliams; George, Beresford, Mutton, Christophorou; Leek, Halsall, Martin, Shaw (sub Ahenkorah, 58 mins), Okoro (sub Rose, 78 mins); Marselia. Subs not used: Healey, Powney, Harrison.
Referee: Andy Sykes.
Goals: Marselia (12 mins, 0-1), Nti pen (29 mins, 1-1).
Bookings: Kennedy, Christophorou, Halsall (all fouls).
Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Gary Stohrer – although Kettering had chances, the match, in truth, was poor. Sutton Coldfield played well and matched their stronger, on paper anyway, opponents for much of the match, their efforts shown by their players falling to the floor at the full-time whistle. The majority of the entertainment came from the Sutton Coldfield fans behind Paul White’s goal, as the Poppies were loose in possession and wasted opportunities. Many of Kettering’s attacking exploits were started by Gary Stohrer, as the right-back created chances and played well throughout, and on another day he could have finished the game with a handful of assists, in addition to him winning the penalty that led to Nti’s equaliser. A consistent performer wherever he is asked to fill-in on the pitch, Stohrer has become an important part of Nicky Eaden’s plans this season.