2 v 1
The opening day of their campaign saw the Bucks tumble to a defeat in a game where they were left bemoaning both the officiating and conditions, but where ultimately Kettering’s will proved unbreakable.
The Bucks had looked decent value for a lead given to them by former Kettering player Steph Morley, but they switched off at the back for an equaliser just after the break, then conceded a late sickener from Daniel Nti to hand the Poppies all three points. In between those two Kettering goals came a sending off and an unsuccessful penalty kick, with home defender Sam Cartwright dismissed before Aaron Williams saw his spot-kick saved by home custodian Paul White.
Cowan’s team started the more positively, although clear chances for either side were few, Aaron Williams going closest with a shot across keeper Paul White that he got down well to save.
Kettering, newly promoted and enjoying their return to the National League, began to find their feet. Most of their attacking play involved the wily Aaron O’Connor, the experienced forward pulling wide to try and stretch the Bucks. They won a succession of corners, but James Brighton’s delivery often failed to reach their intended target.
The Bucks were trying to exploit the pace of new signing Chris Lait. The flying winger, signed from Tamworth, looks set to become a fan favourite with his direct style; however, the home defence held firm.
The breakthrough came a minute before the interval; Aaron Williams was taken down by Connor Kennedy on a swift counter-attack, and from the free-kick, 25 yards out, Steph Morley’s left foot curled an unstoppable free-kick past White and into the net via the inside of the left post.
Buoyed by their advantage, the Bucks opened the second half well and could have been two goals ahead without the intervention of Paul White. He first saved Williams’ smart low shot, low to his right, and then recovered to stop Marcus Dinanga’s follow-up with his body.
Those saves proved pivotal, as moments later Kettering drew level. Captain Shane Sutton was drawn wide to stop a quick break and when the Poppies took the resulting throw-in quickly the Bucks weren’t set to defend their position. The ball was smuggled into the box for Joel Carta, and he scored low across Bucks debutant Corey Addai, into the bottom corner.
With parity restored, the game hung in the balance, although the Bucks were the better side in possession; however, on 64 minutes they spurned a golden chance. Dinanga sprung the home defence but as he bore down on goal, Sam Cartwright’s desperate challenge barged him over. It was a certain penalty, but fans from both sides were perhaps surprised to see Cartwright dismissed for the challenge.
Williams stepped up to open his Bucks account, but White read his kick and dived to push what was a decent penalty kick up and onto his crossbar before the ball was cleared.
From that point, the Bucks had more of the play, although Kettering didn’t completely shut up shop. With the visitors looking the more likely to snatch all three points, they fell to a quick counter-attack. Cowan claimed after the game that Morley was fouled in the build-up, but that wasn’t a view many in the crowd of 959 held. Kettering switched the ball right to the unmarked Nti and he beat Addai under the keeper’s body to make it the Poppies day.
Author: Richard Worton
Match Date: August 3rd, 2019 3:00 pm
Competition: National League North
Kick Off: 15:00
Venue: Latimer Park