We certainly got ourselves out of jail as we were second best in what turned out to be a very eventful second half, but it just goes to show that our never-say-die attitude is paying off. Admittedly Kettering must feel gutted to not have won as they tore us apart and missed a couple of sitters. Apart from the obligatory own goal luck was on our side as Kettering missed a penalty, went down to 10 men, and just before time we snatched another late equaliser.
There wasn’t much in the first half at all as it was a very scrappy affair. The pitch was certainly a leveller as it was sloping in all sorts of directions, which made it hard for both sides to play the ball on the ground. Both outfits had their chances, although I’d say we had the better of them as all we had to do was keep our composure. Kettering had the first opportunity of the encounter as Russ Griffiths made a strong stop from a corner. Our first chance went to Kevin Roberts whose free kick went miles over the target, before a volley from Anthony Dudley whistled wide. Gary Roberts was the next to go close as an effort from the edge of the area missed the target. In midfield we struggled to keep possession which made for a very stop-start half as one moment we had the ball, but on another we couldn’t muster anything. Both sides had work to do going into the second period.
In my opinion Kettering were the better side in the second half and will feel hard done by to not have won. It certainly wasn’t short of drama as there was a lot of goalmouth action, whilst both sides were awarded spot kicks. For the first 10 minutes of the half the hosts were the better side as they were a dangerous threat on both channels. On a defensive note we did well to restrict their chances, but they were certainly having a good go at us. Simon Grand went inches close to breaking the deadlock as a dipping header forced Paul White to palm it over. For the next 10 minutes of this period we were actually more lively, as the additions of Danny Elliott and Matty Hughes improved us as they added pace to our frontline. Things began to go downhill for us though as a powerful Connor Kennedy strike went over. Kettering made it 1-0, but once again we gave them a huge helping hand as we scored yet another own goal. I tell you what, we’d be top of the league if our own goals were scored in the opposite net. Kettering had about 3 bites at the cherry as we were all at sea defensively and were too scared to clear it away. Russ Griffiths made a superb save initially, but the follow-up ended in goal as Gary Roberts diverted a cross into his own net. If it wasn’t bad enough already, Kettering were awarded a penalty to put daylight between us and them as Gary Stopforth brought down Daniel Nti. Nti’s confidence got the better of him though as his powerful attempt smacked the post, which gave us some breathing space. The match started to swing into our favour as Marcus Kelly got sent-off for the hosts due to a second booking, which gave us a chink of light. Because of this, we started to get into Kettering as a number of attacks gave us some hope. Danny Elliott blazed a shot over from the edge of the area which gave us a sense that our night was over. However, we continued to give the cherry one last go, and Matty Hughes was on the receiving end of a bad challenge to award us a late penalty. Akwasi Asante cooly slotted home to earn us another late point. You can argue that it wasn’t really deserved, but it just goes to show that our fighting spirit is paying dividends. In the end we saw out the game to extend our unbeaten run.
My man of the match for this evening goes to Brad Jackson who continued his display on Saturday with another impressive one tonight. He was a cut above the rest of our lads as he was pacy on the ball, compared to most of our team who were quite slow when in possession. Our substitutes improved things a lot too as Matty Hughes got into good positions and won a penalty, Danny Elliott was quick on the ball, and Akwasi Asante marked his return with a goal.
It wasn’t a great display, but our ability to snatch another point maintains our promising start. We now face another match at home as on Saturday we will host Gloucester City on ‘Retro Day’. They have picked up some surprising results thus far as they beat Blyth Spartans away on the opening day, held Altrincham to a draw, and came from 2 goals down to stun Kidderminster Harriers with a 3-2 away victory tonight. I wasn’t looking forward to the 3 hour journey home to only get in at 01:00 in the morning, but Akwasi Asante’s late leveller should make it a bit more bearable.