Narrow Defeat for 4s
Improvement continues in 2018.
This week saw 4s undertaking their first away match of 2018 against Cambridge South 5s. The first meeting this season saw Cambridge beating Kettering 10 - 1 which marked a low point of the season. Kettering were expecting a difficult game, but in 2018 the performances have been improving markedly with better fitness, organisation and communication all contributing. A tight competitive game came to pass.
This week, the dreaded lurgie came calling with a couple of regular players being sidelined with illness. In addition the higher teams were having availability issues so another couple of regulars meant that Kettering travelled with only two subs. But to temper this, Tom Ward from 3's volunteered to take part in a swap deal for Tim Plevin so that he could play in the earlier match. Tony Heath made his welcome return after a long lay off with injury and thirteen year old Tom Hampden-Smith made his club league debut in goal.
Cambridge pushed back and the first 10 minutes or so saw both teams trying to find their feet with few attacking moves of merit from either side. Cambridge then began to find their passing moves and some good play by their lively young front players put the Kettering defence under pressure. However their final passes were wayward and Kettering's skipper was able to disrupt the play making a few timely interceptions. This spurred on the away team to press the home side further up the pitch and assert some pressure. Numerous attacks were made but no end product resulted.
Cambridge began to counter attack forcing a couple of shots on goal, one went wide and the other was confidently saved by the debutant Tom for the defence to clear. The pressure continued for another ten minutes. The Kettering defence began to have problems clearing the mid field on 16 hit outs. On one occasion the hit out was intercepted and the resultant melee of players forced a penalty corner to be awarded. 4s couldn't clear and Cambridge scored.
The first half ended with Kettering finishing strongly with better movement through midfield, orchestrated by the returning Tony Heath. Linking play with Josh Cox down the right saw numerous chances being created with the forward line of Kettering being unable to capitalise by either being unable to get on the end of the pass or hitting the ball wide.
The second half started with Kettering in more determined mood. Ben Mayes showed his further improvement by chasing down and reaching lost causes and generally making a nuisance of himself against the opposition midfield and defence. Dan Carter was also putting in the effort to stretch Cambridge. Then Tim McDowell was becoming more effective in attack and having two chances but hit the ball inches wide of the left post and then struck a lifted ball directly at the keeper. Despite the confident play of Kettering the home side still proved a threat. A break down of play saw them pass the ball to one of the young players up front who skillfully played through the Kettering defense taking the ball to the left of the goal to then fire the ball home into the right hand corner. A good well taken goal.
Finding themselves two goals down, Kettering redouble their efforts. Finally, the endeavor was rewarded with the ball being played to Lee Paris who managed to break through the home defence with pace to confidently score. The game finished with Kettering pushing further forward in a desperate attempt to equalise. The opportunity came with Tim McDowell having a clear sight on goal but only to see his shot rebound wide off of the right post.
The game ended and Kettering came off the field with the feeling of what might have been. A chance to lift themselves off of the bottom of the table had gone.
Tom Hampden-Smith was voted player of the match, for some good saves and generally displaying an experienced head on his young shoulders. He organised the defence well and showed no nerves.
Next week sees a home game against St Neots 5's. Another opportunity to show the growing confidence and skills of the team and gain additional points to really set up the run in to the end of the season.