Assured victory for Men's 3rd XI
Another impressive brace from Ethan Smart
Kettering Men's 3rd XI completed their 2017 league campaign with an accomplished victory over Cambridge South 5th XI. Kettering travelled east and although it was very cold, the pitch was in good condition.
The visitors were determined to learn their lesson from the previous week and start the match on the front foot. They managed to put this plan into action and dominated the early exchanges. Skipper Neil Manley, made a run down the right wing and crossed in for Geoff Elliott. The midfielder's reverse stick shot wasn't hit perfectly but it was good enough to squeeze past the Cambridge goalkeeper. Ben York attacked down the opposite flank and he released Manley to burst into the circle. His cross-come-shot was deflected in at the far post by Ethan Smart to double Kettering's advantage. The visitors welcomed back Harry Tanser following a long spell on the sidelines due to injury. He showed no signs of rustiness and was unlucky to see a powerful shot go narrowly wide.
It was one-way traffic and the Manley/Elliott combination nearly paid off again. This time, the keeper made a good save at his near post. That merely delayed the inevitable and Kettering made it three from a short corner. Graham Smart switched it to Manley whose shot was parried but only into the path of Phil Coward. The defender made no mistake from close range.
In a rare attacking foray, Cambridge South broke into the circle but Graham Smart was on hand to snuff out the danger. To Kettering's surprise, a short corner was awarded to the home side and they scored with a well-placed shot to give them a glimmer of hope. Before half-time there was still time for Kettering to force another opportunity. Manley crossed into the circle but a lack of communication between Adam Mills and Wallace Cairns meant the chance was squandered.
In the second half, Kettering resolved to re-assert themselves and make sure that the three points were safe. York attacked down the right wing and released Ethan Smart. The young forward did well to round the keeper but couldn't quite find the goal. He did earn a short corner however. From the set-piece, Manley combined with Coward but this time the defender couldn't deflect his shot on target. The breakthrough came when York released Smart. His reverse-stick shot from the top of the circle was too powerful for the Cambridge goalie and the visitors restored their three-goal cushion. Tanser continued his good work from the first half and he should have been awarded several penalty corners but the umpires didn't spot the transgressions from the home defence. Eventually, a great flowing move from York, Tom Storey, Smart and Tanser did result in the award of a set-piece. Graham Smart unleashed a powerful flick from the top of the circle that flew into the top corner and made the score 5-1.
With Graham Smart, Don Coleman and Coward distributing the ball with pace and authority, Kettering controlled the play. Adam Mills fired in several dangerous crosses with his reverse stick and Ben Smith was also probing down the right. However, the visitors couldn't convert their pressure into more goals.
All in all, a very professional, composed performance from the 3rd XI, who go into 2018 full of confidence.
Cambridge South were very complimentary in their match report Cambridge South match report