Poppies power past Dorchester

BY: Josh Donaldson Dorset Echo Sport


DESPITE a fighting second half performance, the 10-men Magpies were powerless to stop Kettering at the Avenue on Saturday as they lost 4-1 to end their season on a sour note.

A Henry Lander own goal opened the scoring for the Poppies after five minutes and James Brighton doubled their lead nine minutes later.

Toby Holmes got one back for the Magpies but Rene Howe tapped in the visitor’s third in the 29th minutes after good work from Ben Stephens.

Franklyn Clarke was then sent off for the home side 10 minutes before the break, but the Magpies showed resolve in the second half.

However Kettering added a fourth through captain Brett Solkhon to round off the scoring for the visitors.

There were two changes for the Magpies from Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Stratford as player-manager Mark Jermyn was replaced by Franklyn Clarke. Oakley Hanger also came back into the side for Ben Walker.

The visitors knew a win would give them a chance at catching Leamington and they started fast.

Silvano Obeng threatened early but it was an own goal that would break the deadlock after five minutes.

Ben Stephens jinked his way to the by-line and pulled a ball back along the goal line. An onrushing Lander could not himself quick enough as he helplessly poked the ball into his own net.

The pressure continued from the visitors as Rene Howe and Liam Canavan both went close.

The Poppies were 2-0 up after 14 minutes as a James Brighton free-kick evaded everyone to find the bottom corner of the Magpies’ goal.

However the hosts responded almost immediately. A good shot from Bradley Tarbuck was spilled by keeper Craig Hill and Holmes was on hand to score the rebound from a tight angle.

Undeterred by the setback, Kettering continued to pile on the pressure. Silvano Obeng had a good chance before Stephens created the third goal on the half hour mark.

He looked isolated on the by-line but managed to evade Lander and place a great pass to the feet of Howe who made no mistake.

The game had been played at a ferocious pace throughout and tensions started to rise. They spilled over 10 minutes before the break as Clarke saw a straight red.

After a foul, Stephens goaded the midfielder and he reacted, pushing the face of Stephens. The referee Ben Cobb pulled the red from his pocket and as he did so both players and management of the Magpies protested the decision vehemently.

However a frustrated-looking Clarke made his way off the pitch, kicking a bottle for good measure.

The pattern of play did not change as Kettering continued their onslaught, but they could not breakthrough before the break.

Player-manager Jermyn bought himself along with Ben Watson in place of Hanger and Luke Holmes.

This meant Nathan Walker moved back into defence as Lander went to right-back, and the change in personnel seemed to have the desired effect as the Magpies started the second-half brightly.

A Neil Martin free-kick rolled dangerously through the Kettering box but no-one could get onto it.

Jermyn then tried a speculative clip from the edge of the box and it looked to have beaten Hill but the back-peddling keeper tipped it onto the bar.

From the resulting corner Tarbuck found some space at the far post but his shot was cleared off the line in what was the home side’s best spell of pressure.

A tiring Kettering looked to settle on their lead but they added fourth with nine minutes to play.

Solkhon produced a wonderful header going away from goal as Kettering looked to see the game out.

Despite the score line the away side were muted in celebration as Leamington held on for a draw at Hungerford to leave the Poppies just a point shy of the play-offs.

The defeat capped a disappointing end to the season for Jermyn’s men as they look to rebuild over what could be a very long summer.

Magpies: Walker-Harris, Hanger (Jermyn, 45), Martin, Clarke, Lander, Dillon, Davis, L Holmes (Watson, 45), N Walker, T Holmes (Brookes, 81), Tarbuck

Subs not used: B Walker, Proffitt

Kettering: Hill, Bateman (Cotton, 74), Brighton, Solkhon, Carruthers, Pepe-N’Goma, Carvalho, Canavan, Howe, Stephens (Baker, 69), Obeng (Grocott, 57)

Subs not used: Popa, Bradshaw

Booking: Magpies – None. Kettering – Brighton

Red Cards: Magpies – Clarke

Attendance: 507