Match Report: Kettering 4-0 Avenue

Bradford (Park Avenue) dropped to bottom of the league thanks to a third successive defeat at the hands of Kettering Town.

Kettering leapfrogged Avenue off the bottom with an absolute rout at Latimer Park thanks to goals from London Meikle, Connor Kennedy, Ben Milnes and Aaron O’Connor, though in truth it could have been more on a woeful afternoon for Mark Bower’s men.

The game was in doubt for most of the day, with news of a planned pitch inspection arriving as late as 11am, with the team bus well on its way. Eventually, thanks to some hard work by volunteers and the rain easing up, the match referee passed the surface as playable around 15 minutes after the Avenue coach arrived at Latimer Park.

Bower had named an unchanged starting XI for the fixture, with the returning Oli Johnson taking the place of his namesake Andre amongst the substitutes, though due to an injury in the warm-up, recent signing Cieron Keane was handed a full debut in place of Germaine Agustien.

The hosts were fastest out of the box by far and came close inside 10 minutes as Keith Lowe could only flick a cross in the direction of an unmarked Milnes, who should probably have hit the target with his volley.

Milnes definitely should have done better moments later as again Avenue couldn’t clear and he strode onto a loose ball, but could only fire over from 12 yards out.

Kettering did take the lead with 15 minutes on the clock though, on the end of a brilliant breakaway.

A sweeping move ended with a neat one-two between Daniel Nti and Gary Stohrer, with the former cutting it back to Meikle, who just about forced the ball home with a bit of a scuffed effort.

The home side were causing problems with their pace, and another breakaway almost resulted in a second goal as O’Connor got the better of Lowe, but his cross was just behind the run of Nti and the chance went begging.

It took until the half-hour for the visitors to threaten, almost drawing level through Alex Hurst. The Port Vale loanee burst onto a Billy Priestley knock-down, and his eventual shot took a wicked deflection, Kettering goalkeeper Paul White doing excellently to react and tip the ball round the post.

The half time break seemed to do nothing to reinvigorate Avenue, and Kettering were afforded the simplest of goals just 11 minutes into the half, Kennedy heading home a Milnes corner from inside the six-yard box.

And Milnes added his own goal just after the hour, Lowe pulling down O’Connor just outside the box, with the midfielder stepping up and placing the free-kick into the bottom corner.

Bradford thought they’d pulled one back with 18 minutes to spare, as the returning Johnson flicked home Dan Sweeney’s shot, but the linesman’s flag went up for offside.

Nti, who was possibly lucky to escape a second yellow card for a foul on Knight, came oh so close with a brilliant chest-and-volley, before earning his side a penalty, his opposite number seven clipping him in the box leaving the referee with no option.

O’Connor stepped up and stuttered, sending Joe Green the wrong way to complete the rout.

The Bradford goalkeeper did have time to make a great save, as Tre Milford got in behind, but the offside flag was up regardless.

Meikle should have grabbed a second in the dying minutes, as Mitch Lund’s slip allowed him in on the right, but he curled over after cutting inside.

Kettering Town: White, Stohrer, Skarz (c), Graham, McGrath, Milnes, Nti, O’Connor (Milford 83), Kennedy, Meikle, Kelly

Subs not used: Solkhon, Brighton, Carta, Sebbeh

Goals: Meikle (15), Kennedy (56), Milnes (63), O’Connor (79P)

Booked: Skarz (45), Nti (70)

Bradford (Park Avenue): Green, Lund, Priestley, Lowe (c), Hughes (Bazeley 46), Heaton (O.Johnson 60), Knight, Keane (Dockerty 46), Sweeney, Hurst, Nowakowski

Subs not used: Marriott

Booked: Hurst (18), Hughes (45+3), Lowe (62)

Referee: Daniel Lockyer

Attendance: 625