Kettering 3rd XI draw a blank
Good away point against tough opponents
Kettering 3rd XI lost their 100% record as they failed to find a way past a strong, powerful Ely City 2nd XI.
Kettering started their away match in Ely on the wrong foot as goalkeeper Ray Norwood was stuck in traffic. With Graham Smart deputising as kicking back, they struggled to find their normal fluent rhythm and they were put under considerable pressure by their opponents, who were, on average, stronger and more powerful.
Nevertheless, Kettering stuck to their guns and continued to try and pass the ball around. Skipper Neil Manley released Ben York down the left but his shot was blocked. Norwood arrived midway through the first half and Kettering tried to regroup. A spell of pressure resulted in a short corner and Tom Storey saw his powerful shot saved by the Ely City goalkeeper. The home side had lots of willing runners but not much subtlety about their play and Smart, alongside Tom Ward snuffed out their attacking moves.
In the last action of the first half, Kettering had a glorious chance to score on the break. Ben York released Wallace Cairns but his cross couldn't quite be gathered in by Ethan Smart.
In the second half, Kettering realised they had to step up and meet the physical challenge laid down by their opponents. The young players responded to the half-time rallying call from their captain Manley. Adam Mills was undaunted playing his first full match in defence while Storey and Jacob Tattersall showed that they could cope with the close attention paid to them by Ely.
After a neat move down the left, Ben York was unfortunate to see his shot hit a Kettering foot. Cairns and Ethan Smart combined well on numerous occasions but they couldn't quite carve out a gilt-edged chance.
At the other end, the Kettering defence stood firm. Ben Smith put in a solid performance despite picking up a minor knee injury and keeper Norwood made some decisive clearances. Even when Graham Smart was sin-binned, Ely couldn't find a way through.
Kettering's best chance came after Ben York fired in a pinpoint cross to Paul Brooker at the top of the circle. Unfortunately he dragged his shot wide of the post.
All in all, a good away point for Kettering who look forward to the visit of table-topping Cambridge South next week.