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Halesowen Town 1-2 Kettering Town: Late Bennett winner secures first win in four for Poppies

Match Preview

After two and a half weeks without a game, Kettering Town were finally back in action as they faced a tough trip to playoff-chasing Halesowen Town.

James Le Masurier’s permanent reign as Poppies boss didn’t get off to the best of starts with a 2-0 home defeat to Nuneaton Borough last time out, and his side set out to make things right in the West Midlands. Tyrone Lewthwaite returned to the starting lineup following injury, with Sam Bennett relegated to the bench once again.

How They Lined Up

 

 

 

HALESOWEN TOWN

1. Dan Platt

2. Jak Hickman

3. Reece Mitchell

4. Todd Parker

5. Ryan Wynter

6. Luke Redfern

7. Kieren Donnelly

8. Nathan Hayward

9. Miracle Okafor

10. Caine Elliott

11. McKauley Manning

 

KETTERING TOWN

1. Joshua Blunkell

2. Ben Toseland

3. Kelvin Langmead

4. Harry Reilly

5. Gary Stohrer

6. Tyrone Lewthwaite

7. Rhys Sharpe

8. Neo Dobson

9. Huw Dawson

10. Luca Miller

11. Tom Scott

The Match

The away support arrived at The Grove hoping for better following Kettering Town’s last league outing, but what they wouldn’t have expected was a dominant first half performance from their side’s hosts, with Caine Elliott firing just wide of the far post with two minutes gone.

McKauley Manning was next to try his luck against Poppies goalkeeper Joshua Blunkell, but he steered his effort past the near post before his overhead kick was denied a few minutes later by a last-minute block from Kettering captain Gary Stohrer. Miracle Okafor was unlucky to see his header go wide with eight minutes gone, before seeing another headed effort travel over the bar seventeen minutes later.

James Le Masurier’s side finally reacted to the hosts’ dominant start with new signing Neo Dobson going close, but his effort was blocked and cleared by Luke Redfern. A few minutes later, Tom Scott sent a free kick from the left hand side, but it failed to threaten Dan Platt in the Halesowen goal. Luca Miller also saw his lobbed effort travel well over the bar.

Up the other end, Kieren Donnelly went close, but his curling effort was blocked well by Kelvin Langmead, before having a further headed effort cleared by Ben Toseland. Todd Parker also fired just wide of the far post just before the half-time whistle.

HALF-TIME: HALESOWEN 0-0 KETTERING

An action-packed second half began with the Poppies taking a surprise lead, as some excellent work from Rhys Sharpe and Neo Dobson saw the latter fire the ball in low towards Tyrone Lewthwaite, who continued his goal-scoring feats for the season by poking the ball past Dan Platt from just inside the box.

Platt was forced into keeping the scoreline at 1-0 just six minutes later, with Lewthwaite’s low shot parried away by the Yeltz goalkeeper. This, however, seemed to spur Halesowen on, with substitute Richard Gregory going close for the home side, but he fired his effort just past the near post.

Kettering had two successive chances to increase their advantage. Firstly, Tyrone Lewthwaite was able to take the ball round Dan Platt and looked to slot the ball home, but Luke Redfern cleared the ball away at the last minute. Kelvin Langmead then saw his tap-in from the resulting corner cleared off the line.

Halesowen forward Richard Gregory had really made an impression since coming on, and it would be him that found what was a deserved equaliser, as the substitute smashed the ball home from the edge of the box past Joshua Blunkell; albeit via a deflection off Harry Reilly.

With just under ten minutes to go, Kettering boss James Le Masurier was sent off for an apparent comment towards an official, which was later confirmed in a external post-match interview by the Poppies head coach as a case of ‘mistaken identity’.

Halesowen continued to dominate the second 45, as they came close to winning the game twice. In the 86th minute, Todd Parker’s long-range effort was deflected wide by Poppies substitute Gedeon Okito. McKauley Manning then saw his low strike fly just wide of the bottom corner in stoppage time.

However, it was the Sam Bennett show as the Poppies striker won it for his side late on. After being substituted on for Neo Dobson earlier in the second half and seeing an effort be deflected out for a corner just moments before, the Poppies no. 10 received the ball from Tyrone Lewthwaite’s flick-on before volleying it home with, virtually, the last kick of the game to send the away support into raptures.

This was a game where character won out over performance for the Poppies, as their willingness to stay in the game till the very end saw them rewarded with a huge three points to stave off fears of a second successive relegation.

FULL-TIME: HALESOWEN 1-2 KETTERING

 

Attendance: 1,061

NPTNFootball Man of the Match: Tom Scott

 

Article provided for Shire Sounds Radio by Contributor Jenson Coleman