A TERRIBLE first half saw ten-man Blues go down to their heaviest defeat of the season.
Kevin Watson’s side were 5-0 down at half time and had seen Marvel Ekpiteta harshly red carded when conceding a penalty in the 38th minute to leave them with ten men for the majority of the contest for the second match in succession.
While five of the goals werescored during a 25 minute spell, Stortford were outplayed by the Poppies for most of the 90minutes and didn’t dictate any of the action on a heavy pitch.
It was ironic that Watson was able to put out probably his strongest team on paper for some time. Loan players Tom Clifford and Dean Ager returned to the starting line-up whilst Alex Rogers who had been missing for several weeks due to having his tonsils removed was in the squad. Jordan Westcott was also on the bench. Callum Taylor was absent as he was starting a three match suspension for his sending off at Hereford.
It was the Blues who struck first at goal with Jamie Cureton smashing a first time effort a foot over the bar from 20 yards after being slipped a pass by Dipo Akinyemi inside the first minute.
Rhys Hoenes and Aaron O’Connor cutting went close before the Poppies’ opener arrived in the 18th minute.
Matt Stevens appeared to be in an offside position when receiving the ball on his own in the box from a headed pass forward by Lindon Meikle and although Tyler McCarthy blocked his shot the Blues keeper lost track of where the ball was and Stevens was able to steer the rebound into an empty net from ten yards.
Stevens had a hand in Town’s second goal in the 24th minute as it was his low cross from the right that was netted at close range by O’Connor who beat McCarthy to the ball.
It was 3-0 just two minutes later when Meikle centred from that flank and Stevens found the net from six yards.
Just before the half hour skipper Mark Hughes laid the ball off to Akinyemi but the striker’s effort from long range was comfortably held by Kettering stopper Paul White.
Shortly afterwards Stortford won their first corner but Tom Clifford’s flag kick resulted in a header from Joe Robinson that was again held by White.
More indecision in the Stortford defence led to the hosts’ fourth goal in the 38th minute. Marshall fed a long ball up the left for Hoenes who gained possession and advancing for goal was ruled by referee Andrew Dallison to have been pushed by Marvel Ekpiteta. It was a harsh dismissal for the Blues defender who was adjudged to have been the last man.
Kettering skipper Brett Solkhon duly dispatched the resultant spot kick.
There was more pain for Stortford two minutes before the interval when Meikle fed Kalern Thomas wide on the right and Thomas’ cross was easily headed in by O’Connor.
A drive from Darren Foxley wasn’t far off target shortly before the break and it was a very downcast Blues side that retreated to the dressing room.
It was very much a damage limitation exercise in the second half and the Blues boss made a change with Westcott replacing Dean Ager on the resumption.
An early attack was Jack Thomas cross from the right to the back post but Kalern Thomas headed back to his keeper as Dipo Akinyemi closed in.
Most of the action was in the Stortford half but they limited the Poppies chances until the 69th minute when a corner was cleared out to Meikle who floated the ball into the box where Orrin Pendley headed past McCarthy.
The Stortford stopper held a Ben Toseland free-kick with 12 minutes remaining and then in the 81st minute Stortford had their best chance of a consolation goal when Foxley fed Akinyemi with a through ball to run at goal but the Stevenage loan player’s drive at goal took a slight deflection off of White to go out for a corner.
STORTFORD: Tyler McCarthy; George Casey; Tom Clifford; Mark Hughes; Marvel Ekpiteta; Joe Robinson; Dean Ager (Jordan Westcott 46); Jack Thomas; Dipo Akinyemi; Jamie Cureton (Freddie Oakman 63); Darren Foxley.
Unused substitutes: Max Brassington, Chad Cruse and Alex Rogers.
KETTERING TOWN: Paul White; Kalern Thomas; Ben Toseland; Brett Solkhon (Ben Bradshaw 59); Gary Mulligan (Liam Bateman 63); Orrin Pendley; Lindon Meikle; Aaron O’Connor (Rene Howe 74); Matt Stevens; Tom Marshall; Rhys Hoenes.
Unused substitutes: Gary Stohrer and Callum Snow.