VERDICT: The pressure is growing as Poppies are beaten again
The pressure is beginning to mount on Kettering Town manager Nicky Eaden after his team slumped to a third successive home defeat as Boston United triumphed 2-0 at Latimer Park.
The natives are beginning to get restless and, when you look at the cold, hard facts, it is understandable.
The Vanarama National League North season may only be nine games old for the Poppies but it already looks like they are facing a fight to avoid the drop - admittedly not something uncommon for a team that has made that significant step up.
You could argue that some performances, particularly on home soil, have been worth more than the points on the board.
But something, somewhere isn’t quite right as poor mistakes, bad decision-making and a general naivety is costing the Poppies badly.
Eaden is keen to make changes to the personnel available to him with Aaron O’Connor seemingly being the first casualty after he was told he was free to find another club.
And change is certainly needed one way or the other because this Kettering team remains far too easy to beat, even after a glimmer of hope was served up in the 1-1 draw at Southport at the weekend.
Once again, in the first half at least, Kettering were well in this latest contest.
It was tight and chances were few and far between at both ends in the opening 45 minutes with the best opportunity falling to the hosts when a Marcus Kelly corner was only punched clear by Boston goalkeeper Peter Crook as far as Ben Milnes who blasted over from 16 yards.
However, the visitors moved up a gear or two after the break and, with the Poppies struggling to contain them, the Pilgrims broke the deadlock on 49 minutes.
Nicky Walker sent a corner to the far post, Tom Platt’s header came back off the crossbar and, after his first attempt was blocked, Jay Rollins hammered home the loose ball - much to the delight of Boston’s impressively loud following.
The Poppies, initially, responded pretty well and Crook was forced into his only real save of the night when he kept out Lindon Meikle’s shot after he drove into the box following a neat pass from Milnes.
But then, disaster struck on 62 minutes. A ball was pumped into the Kettering area and, with no-one around him, young loanee Sam Cartwright got his attempted header back to Paul White horribly wrong as it looped over the stranded goalkeeper and into the net.
Eaden threw on Brett Solkhon in an attacking role as well as the returning Jahvan Vidal in a bid to turn the tide.
And things could have been interesting if Solkhon had found the net instead of blasting open a gaping goal after the hard-working Dan Nti had charged down Crook’s attempted clearance.
Instead, Boston dished out a masterclass in game management - hopefully some were taking notice of it - as they kept possession and ran down the clock when they needed to.
The league table makes for grim viewing at the moment. Is it too early to judge? Perhaps. But, once they have played at Farsley Celtic on Saturday, the Poppies will be, more or less, a quarter of the way through the season.
Change is indeed needed. Whether that happens to the squad or higher up is for those of importance to decide…
Poppies: White; Stohrer, Cartwright (sub Vidal, 68 mins), Skarz, McGrath, Brighton; Meikle, Milnes, Carta (sub Solkhon, 68 mins), Kelly; Nti. Subs not used: Graham, Hodge, Nimely.
Boston: Crook; Byrne, Shiels, Ainge, White; Thanoj, Platt; Rollins (sub Jackson, 90 mins), Abbott, Walker (sub Thewlis, 73 mins); Knowles (sub Clare, 81 mins). Subs not used: Willis, Adebayo-Smith.
Referee: Ritchie Watkins.
Goals: Rollins (49 mins, 0-1), Cartwright og (62 mins, 0-2).
Bookings: Meikle, McGrath (both fouls), Platt (unsporting behaviour).
Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Dan Nti - the Poppies fans do seem to be having a gripe at some of the summer recruitment but Dan Nti has certainly been a welcome arrival. He works hard, he chases lost causes and he looks the most likely to make something happen for the team at the present time. All those attributes were on show again. But, unfortunately, there was nothing to show for it.