Match day

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Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Wed Apr 17

Match day

Team logo
Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Wed Apr 17 14:00
The National League U19 Alliance

Red Hot Rebels Football Feast

Kettering Town

Kettering Town

Christie (9), Graham (2-3)
Slough Town

Slough Town

Joseph (1, 55), Thompson (3)
League Attendance: 1830 Alan Pluckrose
Slick Slough were superb on Saturday when they chalked up an impressive win at in-form Kettering. Though the Rebels and their vociferous travelling fans came home with the spoils, it was really football that won the day. For all the goals it will probably be the breathtaking brilliance of both goalkeepers that makes this afternoon stretch long into the memory. If it hadn't been for these two, the score would have read more like 7-4.

The other high point of the day were the Slough fans, who didn't stop singing and cheering throughout and encouraged the Rebels' boss Alan Davies to rush over to them at the final whistle and thank them. Slough were unchanged for this game from the Reading match and got off to an amazing start that virtually killed off their hosts.

With only a minute played Allan Pluckrose linked with Paul McKinnon on the left and suddenly the pair had pierced a great hole behind the full back and Pluckrose sped into the gap and crossed to the far post where Francis Joseph beat the bobble and finished.

If that wasn't enough, with just three minutes gone it was 2-0. Gary Donnellan found space on the right and sent in a cross which Joseph controlled superbly on his chest. With the Poppies' defence watching he lined up his shot but a desperate lunge stopped him and the ball just 10 yards out. But on hand was Steve Thompson who darted in to poke the loose ball home much to the amazement of the crowd.

The Rebels' were finding space and creating some superb moves from the middle of the park. McKinnon's snapshot flew just wide and Kettering unbeaten in 10 games, with the meanest defence in the league until then — didn't know what had hit them.

Kettering came back at Slough and a show of what was to come saw Trevor Bunting tip over Paul Jones' spectacular volley. Kettering flooded back at Slough and Bunting excelled himself with a spectacular tip over from the ever dangerous Trevor Christie. But Kettering pulled a quick goal back on nine minutes when Christie followed up from a corner to bury the ball.

Slough rallied and Shoemake saved well from Thompson while at the other end Trevor Slack's far post header flashed across goal. Slough looked in trouble from set pieces with Kettering well organised and aggressive but some stoic defending saw them through.

Slough moved forward again and a move identical to the first goal saw Pluckrose's cross fall awkwardly for Thompson. Slough were now playing some fine flowing football. Donnellan was quite superb on the right while Pluckrose turned in an array of skills and had one of his best games for Slough on the left. Colin Fielder was the architect of some delightful passing in the centre of midfield with both Thompson and Joseph causing a host of problems in the Kettering defence and McKinnon holding the ball up and distributing superbly.

Shoemake was forced into an acrobatic tip over from McKinnon who blasted in a snapshot but was then lucky to get away with a dubious decision. With Joseph closing in he raced out of his goal to punch the ball and did it outside the box — an offence that had the Witton keeper sent off a couple of weeks previously. But Shoemake wasn't even booked though his dismissal would have proved a loss to the afternoon's entertainment.

Referee Mr Jeavons made some erratic decisions and at one stage stopped Thompson at full pelt on the left and with the goal in his sights, after Christie lay prostrate in the middle. Kettering applied late first half pressure but failed to find a way through and Pluckrose went close at the other end with a powerful header.

Slough's second half performance was quite stunning. They found width and imagination on both flanks against a highly rated Kettering side. Joseph roamed and foraged up front while Slough built from the back, kept the ball down and under control and opened up the home defence with some slick passing movements.

Donnellan's cross saw Joseph power a header goal wards at the far post and somehow Shoemake dived across goal to palm it away. But Kettering kept coming back at Slough and looked dangerous on the edge of the box. With 51 minutes gone, Trevor Bunting turned in the highlight of the match with a stunning save. Christie nipped in on a floated ball and with the Slough defence opened up, Bunting raced off his line only for Christie to chip him. With that, an already committed Bunting flung himself backwards and finger-tipped the ball just over the bar to the take the crowds' breath away.

With 55 minutes gone Joseph did find a way past Shoemake. Brilliance from Donnellan saw him weave his way down the flank and swing in a cross which Joseph headed under the diving keeper for 3-1.

Bunting then turned in another excellent save to deny Perry Cotton from close range but as Slough stopped Kettering from getting the space they wanted to get round the full backs, Mark Mallinson took a knock. Steve Whitby replaced him with Donnellan switching to the left but the home side kept pushing forward and eventually were rewarded.

John Graham's strike from a corner was almost identical to Kettering's first and the next quarter of an hour was to prove tense.

But it was Slough that came forward. Shoemake twice denied Fielder, who got into good positions as both wide men whipped in some dangerous crosses and the Shoemake made a fine reaction save to deny Joseph a hat-trick. Bunting then tipped away looping header as the minute ticked by and was in the right place to hold Graham's close range header.

With the game in injury time Slough worked hard to preserve what was a fine three points and when the final whistle went they had ended Kettering's unbeaten home record — the only one left in the league.

Kettering Town Lineup


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