Kettering 3rd XI complete comprehensive victory (eventually)
Jekyll and Hyde performance but deserved victory
Kettering travelled to Ely to complete the first half of their league campaign and faced an opposition including a wide range of abilities
- from inexperienced young players to 1st team players. The plan was to dominate the match from the outset however we know what they say about best laid plans. It was the hosts who had the better of the early exchanges and Kettering were indebted to goalkeeper Ray Norwood who made several vital clearances to keep the match goalless.
Inexplicably, the visitors played as if they had only just met five minutes before the start of the match. The pitch was very sandy/muddy but that should have been a mere distraction.
Midway through the first half, Kettering shook off their stupor and started to play to their potential. Paul Brooker was the catalyst and his strong tackle in midfield set up Tom Storey down the right wing. He crossed to the left hand side to find Adam Mills in space on the edge of the circle and his well-placed shot was shepherded into the corner of the goal by Ethan Smart. Before half-time, Neil Manley had the ball in the net from a short-corner but the ball was too high so Kettering had to settle for a slender one goal lead.
After some stern words from the skipper at half-time, the visitors started the second half in determined fashion. Ben Smith made a surging run down the right wing and he passed to Storey. The young winger's pass into Ethan Smart was powerfully slotted home to make it two-nil. Kettering had the wind in their sails now and Manley made a burst from midfield into the right-hand corner of the pitch. Initially, it looked like he was in a cul-de-sac but the ball was transferred across the pitch and into Smart, who smashed the ball into the corner of the goal to complete his brace.
Graham Smart and Geoff Elliott helped to smother the home team and the second half was an altogether quieter affair for Norwood. Phil Coward was also dominant in the centre of defence and he was able to break up opposition attacks and then launch Kettering forward with their own counter-attacks.
With fifteen minutes to go, Kettering extinguished any lingering hope that Ely had of getting back into the match. A short-corner routine, straight from the training ground, saw the captain Manley turn in a precise pass from Graham Smart. Not to be outdone, Smart got in the scoring act too and blasted in a short corner strike for his first league goal for the club.
With virtually the final act of the match, Brooker made a break into the right hand side of the circle and beat the keeper with a delicious flick into the far side of the goal.
All in all, it was a good performance from the 3rd XI who have made significant progress this season and will be happy with their second place in the league table. Next week, they travel to Cambridge South 5 and look to finish 2017 on a winning note.