"Bucks face Poppies in season opener"
Match Date : August 3rd, 2019 3:00 pm
Competition : National League North
Ground : Latimer Park
Kick Off : 15:00
The 2019/20 season is finally here, and the Bucks begin with a trip to newly-promoted Kettering Town.
It’s the first league meeting between the two sides in seven years – the Poppies running out 2-1 winners at Nene Park in March 2012. That season saw both teams struggling at the wrong end of the Conference Premier, but while the Bucks ultimately ensured safety, Kettering finished bottom of the pile and were then subsequently demoted to the Southern League as money troubles and off-field issues gripped the club.
A second successive relegation followed the year after, but the Poppies returned to step seven in 2015. And four years at that level culminated in the Poppies swept to the Southern League Premier Division Central title last season. The Poppies finished 14 points clear of second-placed King’s Lynn Town and laying claim to the league’s best attack and second-best defence.
But over the summer Kettering lost dangerous attacking duo Dan Holman and Rhys Hoenes – Holman leaving for Brackley Town, while last season’s 24-goal top scorer and player-of-the-year, Rhys Hoenes, joined Tamworth. Title-winning manager Marcus Law also left the Northamptonshire club this summer, resigning his role in June.
The new man in charge at Latimer Park is Nicky Eaden. A former Kettering player, Eaden has previously had spells in charge of Nuneaton and Hednesford and inherits a squad full of confidence and experience. Among the Poppies ranks are anchorman Brett Solkhon, dangerous forwards Lindon Meikle, Aaron O’Connor and Daniel Nti and combative captain Michael Richens. New signing Connor Kennedy is one to watch in the Poppies’ midfield.
Gavin Cowan, meanwhile, has kept the bulk of his squad together, but key additions have been made throughout the team. Aaron Williams and Chris Lait have been added to boost the Bucks’ firepower, with Adam Walker and Doug Tharme bringing steel and quality to the spine of Cowan’s side, while promising keeper Corey Addai provides Andy Wycherley with some stiff competition for the gloves.
Saturday will, in fact, be the Bucks’ second trip to Latimer Park – the ground that Kettering share with Burton Park Wanderers – having previously visited for an FA Cup tie in September 2015; the Poppies triumphing 2-1 on that occasion too.
Telford will want to improve on the past two visits to Northamptonshire, then. And after narrowly missing out on a playoff spot last season, the Bucks will be eager to make a good start to the new campaign this weekend.
AFC Telford United:
League position: 8th (National League North)
Top scorer: Daniel Udoh (26) – No longer with club
Preseason form: L-W-L-L-D-W-D
League position: 1st (Southern League Premier Division Central)
Top scorer: Rhys Hoenes (24) – No longer with club
Preseason form: L-L-L-L-W-W-W
Preview: Tom Carter