Kettering Town 0 Hitchin Town 4


Southern League 2023-24

Latimer ParkBurton Park Country Club, Polwell Ln, Burton Latimer, Kettering NN15 5PS, UK

Kettering Town
Hitchin Town
0 - 4
Final Score


Our hosts tonight have suffered mixed fortunes in the most recent seasons and a glance at our excellent statistics page on the website reveals, at a cursory glance, what seems a somewhat dismal set of results against the Northamptonshire club. Indeed, one has to look hard for the solitary Hitchin win, in 2015, but the sequence of seven draws represents half the total meetings, so maybe that is not so dismal after all. I have up Dated this later courtesy of information supplied in the Kettering programme.

Perhaps my view is coloured by our last visit to Latimer Park, in December 2018 where we were at the wrong end of a 5-0 score. The current league table showed Hitchin to be some ten places above our hosts who had only secured one win in their nine games, but it is certain that they were not to be underestimated, even f their return to this division has not had the best of starts.

As Hitchin were being held to a goalless draw at home to Barwell, the Poppies were in fact losing to bottom Club Long Eaton United, but scored a late equaliser, which if deemed fortuitous would probably have strengthened their outlook on tonight’s game, which to me represented a stern challenge for the Canaries.

I need hardly mention that we have also been paired in the FA Cup at Top Field and thus both clubs had an extra incentive to do well in this initial meeting. But who knows what managerial tactics are on these occasions?

Latimer Park, since I was last there has improved drastically, from the pitch to the addition of stands and I do believe that the club has a controlling interest, but Burton Park Wanderers still play there.

The Hitchin selection for tonight was much the same with Isaac Galliford starting and Jack Snelus placed on the bench. So, it was the Poppies in their red versus the Canaries in all purple. The rain had ceased, and it was all in the lap of the gods.

The beginning was hectic, and it was clear that the pitch had some zip to it. Both teams had an early but abortive attack. Eadie, in sudden possession in the box, found himself to complete a pass, but it was a steady beginning from the visitors. There was a good move involving Wilkinson, Galliford and Bell but the finish was timorous.

I fancied this might be the right kind of stage for Dan Idiakhoa but he was as yet to become fully involved. Then he made me out a liar with a typical run, but Bell’s cross/ shot was somewhat wayward. Both keepers had to deal with a dodgy back pass and the hosts were not, at this stage, dominating possession as expected.

Mellows-Blair had three first real opportunity, but his shot was prevented by good defending. A free kick from the right saw Lewis Barker coolly head back to Horlock. We were approaching the fifteen-minute mark and Galliford’s careful lob was just too hard for meaningful connection.

Idiakhoa exploded into action, suggesting something above the ordinary but he was now being closely monitored, his pace being noted. If anything, Hitchin had more of the possession, but the hosts awaited opportunities for the quick dart forward., Gleeson’s forward pass looked for Bell, but again, just over hit.

Barker, in his duel with Mellors-Blair was doing well. I will say that that Hitchin defending had been good so far and just a little bit of frustration was creeping in for home players. Kettering built an attack on the left finished with a long throw that won a corner-the first of the game and Gleeson headed away.

The half hour mark was almost with us and a half hence for Sam Bennett remained that. But the Poppies came back on the right, favouring the long throw again, and Horlock was safe. Galliford, with a sweet pass saw Gleeson take aim, but the effort cleared the bar. Galliford himself saw his shot blocked in the next foray, with Kettering needing to defend well. Then Tearle’s excellent work with a clever back heel from Bradley Bell snatch the lead after thirty-four minutes. It was not show-boating but a definite only option. Hitchin were cockahoop, but Idiakhoa with a chance, almost immediately after the goal should have been on target.

A run from Gleeson brought a corner for Hitchin, and then another. Time to make tell, perhaps? Well, it was cleared but it led to a shot from range from Tearle who had every right to have a go and it was on target. Bell’s work was Idiakhoa’s shot deflected for a corner, with Hitchin having the initiative and Gleeson having a meaningful conversation with the referee.

There was a decent shot from Tyrone Lewthwaite who was narrowly off target and just as well for Charlie Horlock. Eadie slipped the ball to Galliford who had a go at range, which skidded past the post, but it was all good so far from Hitchin. Then Lewthwaite had another go, it went along the floor and wide, but he needed watching. There was just one minute tacked on to this intriguing half where Wilkinson’s late shot needed saving from William Johnson.

I was delighted to meet Kettering’s President, Ken amulet whom I have known since my days at Dunstable and he, along with his wife made me feel very welcome. It was Ken’s birthday as well.

Well, would you Adam and Eve it, we kicked off for the second half and an immediate Hitchin attack resulted in a second goal for Hitchin after excellent work from Eadie and a cool finish from Idiakhoa. It was both remarkable and unexpected, but very welcome.

The response from the Poppies was muted so far but they had a free kick by the right corner flag, and this brought a killer of a breakaway attack, with Idiakhoa charging in possession where his pass to Wilkinson was a formality with Finley delighted to make it 3-0 after fifty-four minutes, and then he ran to celebrate with the travelling supporters. Kettering had poured forward for the free kick and were really caught napping, and a victim to the pace of Idiakhoa.

There was a bit of a goalmouth scramble where it seemed an outstretched boot might reduce the arrears for Kettering, but Horlock ensured that he controlled the situation, then there was a real blooper from the home keeper who missed a hopeful looped ball forward, which he unaccountably missed and there was Isaac Galliford who converted off the post, and we had played sixty-four minutes. What a contrast to our December 2018 visit, where we conceded five without reply and had been played off the pitch.

Snelus replaced the injured Eadie and there were twenty minutes of normal time remaining on this most memorable of nights. It was worth the traffic jam to get here, since there was no coach for this one, understandably. I think the last time we had a 4-0 was at Peterborough Sports – oh and there was that fine win by the same score away at Stourbridge, with Jacob Hutchinsonscoring a hat-trick in half an hour.

Idiakhoa was replaced by Chris Khoo and the Poppies won a corner after a good chance for Lewthwaite and it was Barker again who cleared the danger. Khoo settled comfortably in midfield and Snelus seemed to be enjoying his contribution. The Galliford departed the stage, being replaced after seventy-seven minutes by Temilola Akinbusoye. Ciaren Jones, with a timely tackle denied the hapless Lewthwaite. If you were a home fan it may well have been one of those nights when you know that your team will not score. Even when they came close, Hitchin players were haranguing one another for closer attention to duty. The thinning racks of Poppies fans behind the goal still harassed Horlock in a manner more aligned to duty than passion. Mind you, I was surprised at the now general exodus of home supporters when it was at this torrid time that their team needed them the most. There was a late free kick by the corner flag, inviting a cross, with six in the box but the ball went to a Hitchin defender.

Diogo Freitas Gouveia, sitting next to me announced to our commentator Marac that his man of the match was Bradley Bell, a decision that brought my humble agreement, but Lewis Barker ran him close. Four minutes were added, which was like a penance for the hosts.

Departing home supporters were understandably eager to draw a one under this result but or two opined that the ‘training game ‘was concluded and Saturday’s FA Cup clash at Top Field would be entirely different. I do not see this as mere bravado and it will make an interesting clash of management tactical input as well as overall team performance.

This was an impressive display from Hitchin right the way through and was generally acknowledged as such. The jubilant travelling support paid homage to their team who reciprocated in like manner, and we celebrated the best league win of the season, home or away and with a clean sheet as well.

My small print will read do not underestimate Kettering – they had their chances, but everything fell butter side down for them, and the game Saturday will be as demanding as they come.

My personal thanks go to Kettering, where the stewarding was good and the hospitality as excellent as I remember. I enjoyed sitting next to Marac and Diogo and I could thus enjoy the match and their commentary. Freddie our man of inexhaustible words would have been somewhat excited at this one, and I hope his studies have commenced to his liking.

I am indebted to the programme editor who provided a nice update on statistics for Fishponder and he was probably not around to witness Hitchin’s two FA Cup encounters in 1905/6 and 1906/7 and in the latter Hitchin won the tie, FA 2QR, 5-0. So tonight, was in fact our third win in our eighteen meetings, with seven wins for Poppies and eight draws. If Fishponder can seek me out on Saturday I will give him tonight’s programme with all the details.

William Johnson, Owen Cochrane, Rhys Sharpe, captain, Harry Reilly, Kelvin Langmead, Lewis White, (Ben Toseland), O’Shane Stewart, (Huw Dawson), Daniel Jarvis, Tyrone Lewthwaite, Sam Bennett, William Mellors-Blair, (Thomas Scott). Substitutes not used – Luca Purse and Josiah Bridgeman.

Charlie Horlock, captain, Bradley Bell, Hitchin man of the match, GOAL,1-0 34 MINUTES, Layne Eadie, (Jack Snelus), Stanley Georgiou, Ciaren Jones, Lewis Barker, mentioned in despatches, Kye Tearle, Stephen Gleeson, Dan Idiakhoa, GOAL, 46 MINUTES, 2-0, (Chris Khoo), Finley Wilkinson, GOAL, 3-0, 53 MINUTES, Isaac Galliford, GOAL, 64 MINUTES, (Temilola Akinbusoye). Substitutes not used- Dan Emovon and Henry Silver.

Referee – Mr K Donaghey, assisted by Mr J Hobbs and Mr S Hanna.

Attendance 631



Competition Season
Southern League 2023-24