BASFORD UNITED 2 - 3 KETTERING TOWN
(Aaron O'Connor's winner)
IN A NUTSHELL: The Poppies inflicted Basford’s first defeat of the season in a keenly contested game today at the Mill Street Playing Field. Kettering were two goals up by the 20th minute through Rhys Hoenes and Aaron O’Connor, only for Basford to pull the game level by the 53rd minute through Kieran Wells and Matthew Thornhill. After that the game could have gone either way, but with the Poppies finishing the stronger, O’Connor scored his second and the winning goal on 88 minutes.
THE KETTERING SQUAD: With Paul White suspended, loanee from Nottingham Forest, Jordan Wright took over in goal. Otherwise the starting eleven was unchanged with Ben Toseland deputising for the injured James Brighton.
The Teams lined up:
Basford United: 1 Saul Deeney 2 Ashley Grayson 3 Connor Bartle (15 Harry Wakefield,90) 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Kieran Fenton 6 Dominic Roma (Captain) 7 Matthew Thornhill 8 Deon Meikle 9 Kieran Wells (12 Courtney Grantham,72) 10 Liam Hearn 11 James Reid Unused Substitutes: 14 Rob Darkin 16 Anthony Graham 17 Danny Brown 18 Jacub Tebreham 19 Diaz Cameron. Yellow Cards: Wilson,42;Reid,57
KETTERING TOWN: 1 Jordan Wright 2 Durrell Berry 3 Ben Toseland 4 Brett Solkhon (Captain) 5 Gary Mulligan 6 Michael Richens 7 Rhys Hoenes 8 Aaron O’Connor 9 Rene Howe 10 Ben Milnes 11 Lindon Meikle. Unused Substitutes: 12 Ben Baker 15 Samson Maagbe 17 Justin Greatorex (G/K) 19 Munashe Sundire. Yellow Cards:Hoenes,41;Howe,77.
HOW THE GAME UNFOLDED: With the artificial pitch having been heavily watered, the game kicked off in sunshine albeit this was soon replaced by rain showers. With both teams sitting high up in their leagues, and Basford fielding a number of players who had appeared at higher levels, the game was going to be one to entertain the large crowd. Each side forced an early corner with Basford’s Liam Hearn deflecting the home team corner wide of goal, and Kettering’s corner ended up with a wild shot from Aaron O’Connor. Kettering’s Michael Richens tried a 25 yard shot which zipped wide and on 13 minutes United were a little fortunate as Durrell Berry’s cross from the right cannoned off of Kieran Fenton and fell kindly for goalkeeper Saul Deeney to save. Kettering took the lead on 16 minutes. Rene Howe threaded the perfect ball through the defence. Rhys Hoenes ran clear, took the ball past the advancing Deeney and rolled the ball into the empty net. Within three minute it was 2-0. Again Hoenes broke through and whilst he was thwarted in the end shot, Aaron O’Connor’s predatory goal instincts came to the fore, as he pounced on the loose ball to flick it skilfully past Deeney. Basford almost got a goal back straight away. Loanee keeper, Jordan Wright, failed to clear a cross out of harm’s way and the ball came back in, was headed on and Liam Hearn’s header came off the outside of the left upright. Kettering immediately responded and Richens’ left foot drive was inches over the bar. The game settled for 10 minutes until just after the half hour when a well measured free kick from the left for United saw Kieran Fenton head wide at the far post. United had a good spell and were getting control of the midfield now and Hearn’s snapshot went out for a corner and then a poor clearance was pounced on by Laurie Wilson- but the left foot shot was over the bar. Keeper Wright was in action on 37 minutes as he held a head-on from a long throw. The next minute saw him excel.Kieran Wells forced his way through and Wright was off his line quickly to save. Brett Solkhon was limping and was not to appear in the second half and as half time approached, United got a goal. A set piece saw the ball launched into the penalty area and Kieran Wells rose unchallenged to head in. The Poppies tried to respond in added time and Howe set up Richens, whose shot was deflected for a fruitless corner.
Half Time: BASFORD UNITED 1 - 2 KETTERING TOWN
Liam Bateman replaced Solkhon at the heart of the defence at the start of the half. Basford started very positively, building on their last 15 minute performance of the first period. James Reid powered a shot wide and Wright made a good save diving to his left to deny Matthew Thornhill. Kettering’s first effort of the half,on 52 minutes, saw Howe and O’Connor combine and the cross saw Hoenes’ shot saved by Deeney. A minute later it was 2-2. Kettering had the chance to clear the ball around the penalty spot but failed, allowing Thornhill a fairly easy finish low past Wright. For around another 10 minutes, United had the upper hand with Kettering losing out in the middle of the park. Despite their dominance in possession, United only forced one real chance in this period. Thornhill set up Hearn for a shot- but it was wide of the target. The Poppies gradually clawed their way back into the game with Bateman now looking solid alongside Gary Mulligan in defence. O’Connor had a great chance on 64 minutes as he wriggled clear, but Deeney was out to make his best save to date. A couple of minutes later, Hoenes fired wide. Kettering’s O’Connor was keeping the Assistant’s arm exercised with a succession of offsides as Kettering tried for another goal. Richens and Howe had successive shots very well blocked and as a corner was cleared, Ben Toseland fired over. Another flowing move on 71 minutes saw a Howe back heel to set up Berry for a shot was was again blocked by a defensive lunge. In what was now a rare Basford attempt on goal, Ashley Grayson headed a cross wide of the left upright. Ben Milnes tested Deeney with a 25 yard effort and a dubious corner for Basford on the left saw the ball headed back across goal and out. Kettering looked to be finishing well and went for the winner, albeit United’s Deon Meikle hit a left foot effort just wide on 84 minutes. Deeney took a Berry cross with a few minutes to go. Gary Stohrer and Matthew Stevens replaced Ben Milnes and Rene Howe on 86 minutes. The two substitutes combined in the 88th minute, as Stevens broke away and set up Stohrer on the left of the penalty area. Stohrer’s shot was well saved by Deeney, and as the ball ran loose, O’Connor pounced to score. Kettering could have scored again in added time as Meikle’s left foot shot was saved and Deeney then also saved a Hoenes shot. After five minutes of added time Kettering were the winners and go into Monday’s draw for the 4th round qualifying. The Poppies are at Bedford Town in the Bigfreebet Challence Cup (League Cup) on Tuesday, before another vital home game next Saturday when Merthyr Town are the visitors.
Full Time: BASFORD UNITED 2 - 3 KETTERING TOWN
Attendance: 525 (Poppies fans estimated at 200)
Poppies Man of the Match: Gary Mulligan