VERDICT: Something has to give as Poppies surrender to Harriers

Paul White is beaten by Ashley Chambers' header for the first of Kidderminster Harriers' five goals at Latimer Park. Pictures by Peter Short
Paul White is beaten by Ashley Chambers' header for the first of Kidderminster Harriers' five goals at Latimer Park. Pictures by Peter Short

Kettering Town have some serious problems to solve after their poor early-season form took a turn for the worse in the heat at Latimer Park.

This Bank Holiday Monday must represent a line in the sand because if the Poppies carry on like this then they will be heading back to where they came from.

True, it’s early. It’s very early but when a team ships five goals in the space of just 25 minutes, you know there is an issue.

Kettering looked good for 65 minutes. They were the better team and well worth their 2-0 lead.

But the raw facts are that they folded in the heat. They eventually lost 5-3 to a Kidderminster Harriers side who had been contained pretty well for more than half of the contest.

And the goals Kettering conceded could surely make some sort of highlight reel of how not to defend.

Sam Cartwright celebrates with Ben Milnes after he opened the scoring for the Poppies

Sam Cartwright celebrates with Ben Milnes after he opened the scoring for the Poppies

Even at this early stage, something has to give before the situation at the wrong end of the Vanarama National League North becomes fatal.

The question for everyone, of course, is where do you make the changes?

Manager Nicky Eaden will, undoubtedly, come under pressure. Indeed, the manager carries the can.

But there isn’t a manager on the face of the earth who could have done anything to prevent some of the schoolboy errors made by a Kettering defence that simply crumbled in that ridiculous final 25 minutes.

One way or another, something has to change because, at the moment, Kettering are a team who are far too easy to beat.

Eaden made changes following the 3-1 defeat at Leamington with Ben Milnes handed his first start of the season while Joel Carta, James Brighton and Marcus Kelly all returned.

And, for the first hour or so, there was little sign of what was to come.

The Poppies opened the scoring when Sam Cartwright headed home a Kelly corner at the back post and they looked the most likely to add to it with Dan Nti shooting over late in the half before Carta saw a looping header helped over the bar by Kidderminster goalkeeper Cameron Gregory.

And once Joe Skarz had flashed a volley past Gregory from a Milnes corner on 57 minutes, a crucial home win looked to be on the cards.

But then the madness started.

Ashley Chambers darted to the near post to head home a Sam Austin cross from the right to get Harriers back into it.

And, with their tails up, they were level on 71 minutes. Paul White produced a good save to turn Ed Williams’ deflected effort round the post. But, from the resulting corner, whoever was supposed to be marking centre-half Cliff Moyo forgot to do so as he powered a free header into the top corner.

Kettering responded well to that one and regained the lead just a minute later, Connor Kennedy converting a Brighton cross to renew the hope within the home crowd.

But that hope didn’t last long as, just two minutes later, White punched the ball into his own net after a free-kick was unloaded into the penalty area. A rare mistake from the Poppies goalkeeper, who can be immune from criticism for the time being given he’s saved them from some serious beatings already.

The game settled again after that crazy burst of goals but Kettering were undone late on.

The fourth goal was a touch unfortunate. The Poppies were guilty of not clearing their lines well enough but there was nothing anyone could do as Milan Butterfield’s effort took a wicked deflection off Kennedy and left White rooted to the spot.

But the fifth and final goal was, in every way, a real stinker. Skarz attempted to head the ball back to White but Chambers read it and nipped in and lobbed it over the goalkeeper to seal the Poppies’ fate.

Make no mistake about it, this was a game that Kettering should have won but, for the third time on home soil, they failed to pick up maximum points after holding the lead.

Something has to give. Quite what does give, however, remains to be seen...

Poppies: White; Stohrer, Cartwright, Skarz, Brighton; Milnes (sub Richens, 75 mins), Kennedy; Meikle, Carta, Kelly (sub Hodge, 68 mins); Nti (sub Nimely, 82 mins). Subs not used: Graham, O’Connor.

Kidderminster: Gregory; Moyo, R Williams, Johnson; Austin, Prosser (sub Higginson, h-t), Butterfield, E Williams (sub Freemantle, 90 mins), Davidson (sub White, 63 mins); Chambers, Peniket. Subs not used: Palmer, Lowth.

Referee: Matt Corlett.

Goals: Cartwright (18 mins, 1-0), Skarz (57 mins, 2-0), Chambers (65 mins, 2-1), Moyo (71 mins, 2-2), Kennedy (72 mins, 3-2), White og (74 mins, 3-3), Butterfield (88 mins, 3-4), Chambers (90 mins, 3-5).

Bookings: Kennedy, Davidson, R Williams (all fouls).

Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Ben Milnes - the midfielder came back into the starting line-up and produced a highly impressive display while others around him folded late in the day. Milnes passed the ball well, he got around the pitch and made challenges. He did everything you’d want from a midfielder. It was just a shame that such a display wasn’t rewarded with points on the board but that certainly wasn’t down to him.

Attendance: 911.