Improved performance for 4's
Scoring debut for Paris!
This week Kettering 4's found themselves on the grave yard shift away at St Neots 5's. A team that was just above them in the table and an opportunity to get themselves off the bottle of the table. Due to availability of players the 4's managed to field a much changed team and a makeshift keeper in the form of Harry Tanser swapping his usual goal scoring exploits for the 3's to put on the pads. Thankfully he proved not to be "makeshift" in his performance making many good saves and managing to command the D like a more experienced keeper.
Last week, the performance of the 4's left a lot to be desired. Too much space was left in midfield allowing the opposition to overwhelm the defence. With this in mind and with the personnel to hand, the captain decided to change formations to a 3 - 5 - 2 and give instructions for the team to push on and press the opposition at every opportunity.
The game started in a cagey fashion. Both teams not getting into their stride. Kettering settled first into the new way of playing and began to assert themselves, stopping St Neots attacking. The initial period of play culminated with some good passing and league debutant and returning KHC player Lee Paris finding some space in the D to slot the ball home. 4's were now in uncharted territory this season, having actually taken the lead in a game for the first time. Whether this went to their heads and they got a bit sloppy or St Neots got their game together, it meant that Kettering were under a period pressure with them being pushed back to their goal.
St Neots were a mixed team of pacy youth up front, full of running, good skills and enthusiasm, with more experienced players at the back marshalling the troops. A few breaks through the Kettering defense lead to a couple of shots on goal which were either saved or went wide. Then a spate of penalty corners were given away. The first was fluffed and easily dealt with, the second a few minutes later was a fine example of ball striking. The ball was injected, 4's Captain Justin Smith,who was running one, was to slow to the top of the D and the shot was fired home past a bemused defence. Lightning then struck twice within 2 minutes with a carbon copy goal being scored. St Neots' tails were now fully up and further pressure applied until Smith forgot were he was in the D and cleared the ball behind the goal line to give away another penalty corner. With St Neots setting up as before, Smith changed the plan asking Josh Cox to run "one" and deciding to run "two" to the penalty spot. The plan worked with the ball being struck down the same line . Smith parried the ball to his feet and then confidently cleared to the sideline. This injected some confidence into the team who finished the first half strongly with some good play.
The second half saw Kettering go back to plan A and push forward with confidence, pressing the play and restricting the space in midfield. A conscious effort to get the ball into wider positions gave them some success. Shaun "Boris" Curtis (apparently one of the Umpires thought he looked like Boris Johnson) was sitting in a deep central midfield position driving the team forward and covering the defense. Dan Carter also had time on the ball deserving a mention in the report for his all round skillful energetic play. Tony Heath was twinkling again conducting the attacks and Simon Davey was definitely finding his feet up front with robust skillful forward play. Even the defense found themselves with space in midfield to go and assist the forwards on occasions with the space being created.
However, no matter what they tried, either the ball was given away by poor final touches or the shots would not go in. St Neots were now operating on the counter attack trying to get the ball up to their speedy forwards. Kettering were taking risks, but the first few breaks were dealt with. The defense were showing there experience to deal with the threats. But finally a risk too many was taken and an unmarked St Neots midfielder scored a good goal from a tight angle with ten minutes to go. Kettering didn't falter and continued to surge forward as before finishing the game strongly.
Overall, their best performance of the season was provided by 4's. Deserving at least a draw. Those two short corner goals proved costly. All players played well and it is only a matter of time that a win will come.
Next week sees a Home match against St Ives 4's who are currently 4th in the league.