No Trophies for guessing Rebels' score as home jinx hits again

Slough Town

Slough Town

Pickett (1-0)
Kettering Town

Kettering Town

Scott (1-1), Gynn (84)
FA Trophy Attendance: 1058 Andy Clement
Ross Pickett celebrated his 21st birthday with a first-touch goal - only his third of the season - as the Rebels hammered Kettering into the ground with their best first-half display for many months in the first round of the FA Trophy.

Unfortunately, his teammates saved the presents not for the lanky striker but for the equally grateful opposition, who gatecrashed the party and ran off with two sloppily-gifted goals when hard lines would have flattered them.

Pickett, formerly of Hayes and once tipped to join QPR, came on as a 31st minute substitute for the injured Neil Catlin and smashed home from a couple of yards out after Ansil Bushay had flicked on a Mark Fiore corner.

That was no more than Slough deserved after the ball had stayed in the Kettering camp for the best part of half an hour. As early as the second minute, Lee Harvey released Mark West and his cross found Bushay with enough space to score. His header was too weak to beat former Oxford and Hereford 'keeper Judge, but Trevor Baron 10 minutes later was only just off target.

Diminutive Garfield Blackman then squeezed past two defenders, swapped passes with Catlin, but with the goal at his mercy saw his shot take a deflection and cannon wide. Brian Lee also crashed one into the boards from 30 yards, and Baron could not keep a free header low enough to nip under the bar.

When danger threatened, Chuck Moussaddik - whose kicking is his only major weakness - stood his ground. Former Coventry cup finalist Micky Gynn ran things for the visitors, and threaded Haworth through and past Harvey during one counter attack, but the Moroccan parried from five yards and handled most high balls with ease in slippery conditions.

Kettering's best player, Nyamah, even went into the book after hacking down West - surely nothing could go wrong this time. But no, the yellow and blue disease was just waiting to strike. Like an unseen virus it spread through the whole team one by one, with devastating consequences.

Bushay, inevitably, was the first to catch it. He had been having a great game until the 53rd minute, when he was cruelly robbed of the use of feet or brain. Pickett got down the left and slipped the ball through the offside trap - Bushay had timed his move well and charged towards Judge with ball at feet. But by the time he arrived at the edge of the area, he had slowed to a shuffle, and spent a good 20 seconds deliberating and painstakingly picking his spot. The result was a weak effort which 34 year-old Gynn, tracking back to cover, deflected wide.

Then it was Blackman's turn. He clumsily took Gynn's legs from underneath him in an unthreatening midfield position and was quickly sent-off by Premier League referee Paul Danson - given his meagre contribution (although he had been tugged and pulled at all afternoon) it was less of a loss than it could have been, but was hardly welcome.

Kettering now saw a way into things and were level by the time Blackman had slipped into his post-dismissal bath.

Scott thumped in following a badly dealt-with comer, and for the first time they were in control and able to delight a very vocal and surprisingly large away contingent who outsung and outnumbered the home support.

Harvey backed off Pope and the result was a thumping shot which smacked off the crossbar, with the rebound falling kindly for Scott, only blocked by Moussaddik's alert smothering. Gynn also bobbled a low shot onto the base of the post as the defence looked on. With six minutes left, a delightful breakaway began in the visitors' box and spanned the length of the field, with Gynn and Nyamah swopping passes until they reached the area, where Gynn sidefooted round the 'keeper and just inside the left-hand post.

The loss of Catlin is one possible excuse for it all, albeit a lame one. While sub Pickett may have grabbed the goal, West could not replace the hard man in midfield and lost his potent edge when away from the main action up-front. But there was much more than just that alone wrong with the Rebels on Saturday.

Kettering return this week with strong intentions of doing it all over again in the league, which is even more of a pressing issue than a cup run. Very little here suggests they won't do it.

Kettering Town Lineup


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