BRACKLEY TOWN 1-1 KETTERING TOWN

Two, goals, two missed penalties, a sending off, clearances off the line and a plethora of chances saw 2020 get underway in dramatic style for the Poppies on New Years Day. A goal ahead through Michael McGrath's long range deflected shot, putting Paul Cox's side ahead, well just for 90 seconds as James Armson equalised for the hosts in a goalmouth scramble. Drama in the second half with Ben Milnes seeing red is only half the story.                                                                     Photo - Ed Palmer (Poppies Media).

Vanarama National League North

Wednesday 1st January 2020   3:00pm

 

Brackley Town 

Kettering Town

1

 Danny Lewis

 

 1

 Paul White

 

2

 Ellis Myles

 

 2

 Gary Stohrer

 

3

 Connor Franklin

 Off 78

 3

 Matt Taylor

 

4

 Shane Byrne   (Capt.)

 

 4

 Luke Graham (Capt.)     

 

5

 Thierry Audel

 

 5

 Michael McGrath

 Off 68

6

 Kelvin Langmead

 

 6

 Brett Solkhon

 

7

 Matt Lowe

 

 7

 Daniel Nti

 

8

 Shep Murombedzi

 

 8

 Tre Mitford

 Off 86

9

 Lee Ndlovu

 Off 82

 9

 Connor Kennedy

 

10

 James Armson

 Off 73

10

 Ben Milnes

 

11

 Glenn Walker

 

11

 Marcus Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitutes

 

 

Substitutes

 

12

 Tendai Daire

 

12

 Michael Richens

 

14

 Luke Fairlamb

 On 78

14

 Jay Williams   

 On 68

15

 Lorrell Smith    

 On 73

15

 Joel Carta

 

16

 Carl Baker

 On 88

16

 Michael Harding

 On 86

17

 Mark Noon

 

17

 Jack O'Connor

 

 

Referee: Chris O'Donnell   Assistants: Lewis Morgan and Duncan Robertson

With arrival of Michael Harding on work experience from Northampton Town and no further injuries Paul Cox was able to name a complete bench of five substitutes. Michael Richens reverted to the bench with Brett Solkhon starting as the team reverted to a central defender trio.

With near perfect weather conditions Kettering in blue and white striped shirts kicked off in front of a large crowd with the hosts in red shirts and white shorts. Kettering started well and Mitford broke downfield with the ball early on, however he outran his support and ended up losing possession to the defenders who outnumbered him. Kettering had the first shot of the game with Kelly's effort passing harmlessly over the bar.

Brackley's first excursion into Kettering's penalty area was from a long throw-in taken down by the corner flag by Franklin. A Kettering defender headed the ball out from the danger area where it was picked up by Milnes mid-way inside Kettering's half. Ben played the ball forward for Mitford to chase. Tre closely chaperoned by Audel matched the physicality of his marker and the Kettering player was only stopped at the expense of the defender conceding a throw-in. Kennedy delivered a long throw into the box which Brackley failed to clear swiftly. The ball rattled around the goal mouth on the floor and fell to McGrath who stabbed the ball goal wards. Lewis reacted well and cleared the ball off the goal-line with an outstretched foot.

Six minutes later White performed a similar feat up the other end. Skipper Byrne played a free-kick low into Kettering's penalty area. Armson managed to flick the ball goal wards but it lacked power and Paul was able to with great reactions reach down with his left hand and push away.

Twenty minutes had gone when Kettering won a corner on Brackley's left. Milnes swung the ball into the goalmouth and for a change the referee didn't whistle for an offence by Kettering which appeared to happen every time Kettering got the ball into their opponent's penalty area. The ball was partially cleared but it flew to Kelly who fired in a volley which Lewis at full stretch managed to tip the shot over the bar.

Brackley's centre forward Ndlovu was having a right tussle with former Saint Luke Graham  but any perceived infringements seemed to go in the favour of the home side. Taylor picked up an early booking after twenty-three minutes when Brackley's winger managed to get by him just outside Kettering's penalty area tight on the by-line. Matt tried to pull the winger back but the referee played the advantage and the player put in a cross which was far too close to White who easily plucked it out of the air. The referee was obviously splaying rugby union rules and as no advantage accrued blew his whistle and awarded a do over for the hosts by allowing a free-kick. He then proceeded to book Matt for a most innocuous challenge. At the other end Mitford was being tag teamed by Audel and Langmead who were taking turns at roughing up Tre with no offence seen by the referee. The free-kick was lifted in by Byrne where Langmead nodded the ball down to Audel but his shot was easily taken by White.

Just after the half-hour mark Kettering took a deserved lead from an unexpected source. Kettering had worked the ball to the edge of Brackley's penalty area and played just to the right of the goal where McGrath lifted a shot towards the centre of the goal. Lewis who for a keeper is rather short of stature jumped for the ball one handed. He managed to get a glove on the ball but not enough to prevent it going in. One wonders if he had jumped two handed it would have been an easy save. 0-1 Kettering 31 mins.

Brackley came straight back and a ball was played in low from Kettering's left. Walker turned the ball forward towards Armson and despite Kettering seeming to have enough players present to clear the danger the Brackley number managed to get a shot off. White parried the attempt but the ball rebounded straight back to Armson who took full advantage of his second chance and planted the ball into the back of the net. 1-1 Brackley 33 mins.

Two minutes later Brackley's Murombedzi should have been cautioned for a late challenge on Kennedy which left the Kettering player in some pain on the floor but again the referee saw fit not to even have a word. Nothing else of note occurred in the last ten minutes of regulation time plus an additional two minutes.

Half Time: Brackley Town 1  Kettering Town 1

Kettering were out first for the second half eager to build on their first half performance. Brackley kicked off but Kettering were quickly on the attack with Stohrer well forward pressurising the Brackley full back just outside his own penalty area. Franklin made a mighty clearance but it caught Gary right on in his tender parts before rebounding back into the defender for a Kettering throw-in. The game to be temporarily halted as Stohrer regained his composure. Kennedy's long throw-in was cleared and Brackley quickly broke down Kettering's right. The ball was crossed to the far post where a forward tried a first time shot which went straight into the face of Stohrer sending the Kettering player to the floor for a second time in as many minutes.

Brackley's corner came to nothing and Kettering broke quickly presenting Mitford with a shooting opportunity however he put his shot wide. From the goal-kick Kettering won a free-kick when once again Murombedzi jumped into the player rather than make a bona fide challenge for the ball. Again Mr O'Donnell didn't waste his time talking to the player,

Seven minutes into the half and a mistake from Graham presented Brackley with an opening. The ball was swept out to the wing where Lowe teed up Walker with a great chance, McGrath was alert to the danger though and stole the ball off the Brackley player's toe. Four minutes later good work from Kelly down the left put pressure on the Brackley defence once more. The ball was crossed into the middle but was blocked and rebounded out towards Stohrer in a central position. Gary contorted his body to get a shot off but it passed over the bar. Kettering were well on top at this stage doing the majority of the attacking, Nti showed a flash of skill when as a ball was played towards him he turned his marker brilliantly giving him a couple of yards separation allowing him to play a dangerous ball forward into the box where it was gratefully nodded behind for a corner. The first corner was played behind for a second. This one was not delivered as well and failed to clear the first man but the clearance went straight to Taylor who lifted the ball back into the middle. McGrath rose highest but his header was wide,

 

On the hour mark patient build up by Brackley led to Armson setting up Murombedzi. He did well to make space for a shot but he was closed down quickly by Kettering's hard-working defence and his shot was deflected behind for a corner. There were ironic cheers from the Kettering fans behind the goal when Ndlovu was finally penalised for jumping at the player rather than the ball. A minute later a Brackley attack broke down allowing Milnes to carrying the ball forward from just outside his own penalty area. Brackley were caught out with 3 v 3 break with Nti to his right and Mitford to his left. Ben carried on his run and just as he was approaching shooting range, he fed the ball to his right. The ball wasn't the best and Nti had to check his run-in order to collect the ball giving the defender a chance to close him down necessitating Dan to hit the ball first time but his shot was blasted over the bar.

It was Ben's last constructive act of the afternoon as with twenty-five minutes to go Brackley increased their numerical advantage as it became twelve against ten. With Kettering pressing home an attack Brackley cleared the ball out of defence in the direction of Ndlovu. The Brackley player who'd been having a physical battle with Graham all afternoon and had been previously talked to by the referee for his actions had no trouble overpowering Milnes. Ben was bundled to the floor and run over by Brackley man. Tangled up by Ben trying to protect himself by clinging on Ndlovu was brought down as well injuring Ben in the process. After lengthy treatment Ben got to his feet to be shown a red card as Mr O'Connell considered him to have committed a professional foul in order to stop Ndlovu being the last man. What the referee failed to consider was how Milnes happened to be on the floor as a rugby tackle would be unlikely to be Milnes' first option for stopping the forward.

Up until this point Brackley had been trying to slow the game down drawing out every throw-in and free-kick as if settling for a draw but now their attitude changer. Within three minutes Paul Cox made his first change with Michael Richens replacing McGrath. Hopefully this was for tactical reasons as with the current state of the squad injury wise the absence of Michael who has been one of the side's most consistent defenders this season since joining the team.

Despite being a man down Kettering were still attacking and with twenty minutes to go won a corner. Kelly's delivery into the box was put behind for a second corner from the opposite side. This time Kennedy rose highest and sent a header goal bound. Lewis leapt and managed to tip the ball onto the bar, rebounding to a defender who hacked the ball clear.

With seventeen minutes to go Brackley made their first substitution with Smith replacing Armson. Five minutes later defender Franklin was withdrawn in favour of Fairlamb with the expectation that fresh legs would help defeat the depleted Kettering.

With less than ten minutes to go Kettering were presented with the opportunity to take the lead. With Kettering passing the ball around the Brackley box a ball was played forward after which Kelly darted forward catching Audel slightly on his heels and instead of clearing the ball only succeeded in tripping Marcus. After a slight delay the referee pointed to the spot but did not caution the player. Nti claimed the ball but Dan's firm kick was too close to the keeper and at a  nice height for Lewis to parry the ball away Kennedy reached the rebound but could only steer his effort into the side netting.

Two minutes later Richens rightfully received a caution for a crunching tackle in midfield arriving late into a challenge. He should have been joined in the book two minutes later when Brackley won a corner. The ball came in from Kettering's right and Audel cried out and flung himself to the floor with his arms spread wide Kettering's defence was not distracted by the theatrics and kept their concentration to clear the ball as the rest of the Brackley team carried on playing not joining in the centre-forwards claim for a penalty. The referee was not taken in either but a caution was warranted for the blatant attempt to cheat by simulating a foul.

Kettering were not sitting back content to hold out for a draw and with five minutes left won a pair of corners back to back but were unable to convert either of them. Shortly after a weary Tre Mitford was replaced with debutant Michael Harding. As the game appeared to be winding down to a draw.

As the board displaying an additional four minutes to play Brackley lifted the ball into Kettering's penalty area where Lowe attempted a shot. The player appeared to be falling as he was shooting as photographs corroborated, but Mr O'Donnell attributed his loss of balanced to the interference of a defender and unhesitatingly pointed to the penalty spot. With Kettering fans fearing that the one point would be cruelly snatched away could barely watch. Audel who had conceded the Brackley penalty stepped forward and sent a kick low and hard to White's left. Paul flung himself full length and parried the ball away for a magnificent save. Brackley pressed for an injury time winner but only managed a corner which Kettering defended well and after a very long final four minutes Mr O'Donnell had to sound the final whistle to start the celebrations amidst the large travelling support.

Full Time: Brackley Town 1  Kettering Town 1

Once again Kettering outshone a higher placed team. A neutral would have been hard pressed to identify which team was third in the table and which third from bottom, with Brackley's goalkeeper Danny Lewis easily being their best player with a string of saves to deny the visitors. Kettering looked the side most likely to score in the second half even after going down to ten men. At three o'clock most Kettering fans would have taken a draw. After ninety minutes most were disappointed not to be travelling home with all three. If the team can start converting these draws into wins then the side will start climbing up the table away from the relegation zone.  As more players become available recovering from knocks Paul Cox will be able to exert more influence on match results by having a stronger subs bench. However with Milnes being suspended for the Spennymoor game and a possible injury to McGrath any returning players could be just filling in new gaps in the playing strength.

Brackley Town - yellow cards:  none

Kettering Town  - yellow cards:  Richens, Taylor - foul   Red Milnes – last man professional foul      

Attendance: 905

Kettering Town Man-of-the-Match – Paul White  – possibly at fault for a goal at Boston. Paul  showed his value to the club by pulling out a top draw penalty save at the death to prevent the team being denied a point. A good reaction save in the first half prevented another certain goal. With little to do for most of the match he kept up his concentration level for the whole 90 minutes combined with his kicking today from both hand and ground were faultless.