|Date||Tuesday 20th March 2018|
|Match||Kettering Town v Royston Town|
|Competition||Evostik League South: Premier Division|
Having served up a pulsating encounter at the beginning of February, these two play-off chasing teams were at it again from the very first whistle on a cold Tuesday night.
Crows manager Steve Castle served up a major surprise to the watching crowd as Adam Murray started the match in the Centre Forward position. Whilst the travelling contingent were still dissecting this, the decision was immediately vindicated, as with just 40 seconds on the clock Murray latched onto a weak back header and easily slotted the ball past the stranded goalkeeper to give Royston a dream start.
The early goal was the prelude to an exciting opening half as both teams looked to attack at pace at every opportunity. Murray nearly doubled the away team’s advantage with a flicked header just going wide and Scott Bridges saw his shot clip the post. With Murray steering a Sam Corcoran through ball just over the bar and Rhodell Gordon seeing a fierce low shot well saved, Kettering could count themselves lucky to be only 1 down after the opening 20 minutes.
Despite the early Crows onslaught Kettering were looking dangerous themselves, with their quick, accurate passing seeing them work themselves into good positions, that were ultimately thwarted by good Royston defending, or wasteful finishing. Indeed the Poppies thought they had found an equaliser after 30 minutes, only for Ed Asafu-Adjaye to appear on the line to block an initial effort, with Josh Tibbetts having to be at his best to turn away a ferociously struck shot in the immediate aftermath.
With Murray’s muscular approach continually unsettling the home defence, chances came and went, as a fierce Murray drive went fractionally wide and a clever effort from Corcoran skimmed the bar, but Royston had to be content with just a one goal half time lead.
In a replica of the first half the second half started at a similar breakneck pace. Unfortunately for the Crows it was Kettering who were now applying the pressure, as Royston never found the intensity displayed in the opening 45 minutes. It took the Poppies just seven minutes to make this good start count, as Brett Solkhon rose at the near post to emphatically head the equaliser from a well flighted corner.
The next ten minutes proved to be the defining period of the game, as Kettering took complete control. Just three minutes after the equaliser Corcoran saw red as he competed for a ball in midfield. Overstretching, his leading foot caught the opposing player high and an argument could be made that he was out of control. A borderline decision, but one that the referee deemed worthy of the ultimate sanction. Kettering soon took advantage of the numerical difference as a goalmouth scramble was ended by Matthew Stevens driving the ball into the net. A third goal duly arrived in the 62nd minute as Aaron O’Conner headed in a deep free kick that should really have been defended better.
From this point on the result was never in doubt as despite a change in formation and personnel, Royston were unable to make any inroads towards the Kettering goal. With Stevens shooting over having worked himself into a glorious position, it was left to Linden Meikle to round off the scoring with a low 25 yard drive, capping an excellent individual performance from the hard-working midfielder.
1-Tibbetts, 2-Scott-Morriss, 3-Chappell (15-Alomenu 92), 4-Bridges (c), 5-Murray, 6-Brathwaite, 7-Asafu-Adjaye, 8-Corcoran, 9-Marriott, 10-Thomas, 11-Gordon (12-Castiglione 71)
Unused subs – 14-Powell, 16-Hankins, 17-Taylor
|ROYSTON TOWN||KETTERING TOWN|
|4||EFFORTS ON TARGET||6|
|5||EFFORTS OFF TARGET||5|
|15||FREE KICKS AWARDED||16|