Kettering Town 3-0 Banbury United
By Steve T
Calamity at Kettering as winless away run continues
Banbury came away empty-handed from their trip to league leaders Kettering. What was always going to be a tough trip was made more difficult by the absence of Ricky Johnson and Harry Whitehead, both unavailable, and Charlie Hawtin, still sidelined by injury. Jack Finch returned to strengthen the bench and Greg Kaziboni, still struggling with a knock, was also amongst the subs.
Banbury started brightly enough. Probing runs by Shamsi, Awadh and Iaciofano kept the Kettering defence alert, with a couple of attempted clearances sliced out for corners, while the Banbury defence was largely untroubled. However, the match turned against Banbury in the 17th minute. Kettering's Marcus Kelly sold Craig Stanley short with a pass on the left touchline and Edmund Hotter's enthusiasm to get the ball led to a tackle worthy of a straight red in the opinion of referee Tallis. There were no real complaints.
Two minutes later and things got worse for Banbury. Charlie Wise, unaware of the presence of the Poppies top scorer Rhys Hoenes on his shoulder, attempted to head a hopeful long ball back to Jack Harding. Hoenes anticipated it, stole possession, rounded the stranded Harding and slipped the ball into the empty net from a tight angle.
Five minutes on, Banbury found themselves 2-0 down. Lindon Meikle was allowed too much space on the left and his cross was headed out by Matt Taylor only as far as the unmarked Gary Stohrer on the edge of the box. He had time to send a clinical volley past Harding's right hand into the corner of the net.
To their credit Banbury took the game to Kettering and were unlucky not to pull a goal back. George Nash won the ball in midfield to set up Amer Awadh for one of his trademark runs down the left channel. He squared the ball for Ravi Shamsi who shot goalwards. Joe Iaciofano, in an offside position, got a slight touch on the ball on its way into the net. His striker's instinct cost Banbury as the goal was disallowed.
As Banbury rued their ill-fortune, Kettering effectively finished the match off with ten minutes to go before half-time. Another left-wing cross wasn't dealt with and Brett Solkhon had as much time as Stohrer had had to score from close range.
Three goals ahead and with an extra man, Kettering were happy to take the sting out of the game in the second half. The introduction of Greg Kaziboni for Shamsi did not give Banbury their usual fillip. A late consolation almost came when Giorgio Rasulo cut inside from the left and hit a shot against the Kettering right-hand upright but the ball bounced away to safety.
While Kettering went 11 points clear at the top with this victory, Banbury will quickly want to forget a first-half horror show that saw their winless away run extended to 14 matches.
Kettering: 1. Paul White, 2. Dion Kelly-Evans, 3. Declan Towers, 4. Stanley, 5. Marcus Kelly (Sub 13. Brighton 85'), 6. Michael Richens (C), 7. Gary Stohrer (sub 12. Ben Toseland, 78'), 8. Brett Solkhon, 9. Lindon Meikle (sub 14. Bradshaw, 85'), 10. Dylan Holman, 11. Rhys Hoenes.
Subs not used: 16. Ben Milnes, 16. Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.
Banbury: 1. Jack Harding, 3. Matt Taylor, 4. George Nash (Sub 13. Jack Finch 73'), 5. Charlie Wise (C), 6. Ravi Shamsi (Sub 16. Greg Kaziboni 55'), 8. Edmund Hottor, 10. Joe Iaciofano, 12. Amer Awadh, 14. Lee Henderson, 15. Eddie Odihambo, 18. Giorgio Rasulo.
Subs not used: 11. Prudence Anaele, 19. Ryan Macdonald, 20. Jamie Heapy.
Man of the Match as selected by Puritans Radio – Amer Awadh
Attendance – 760