With several players missing through injury or suspension, Slough brought in Ryan Parsons from Hemel Hempstead, the left-back slotting straight in to the starting eleven. Three other changes were made to the side which started on Boxing Day, with Ollie Burgess, Scott Harris and Jake Parsons all starting.
After suffering defeat against a strong Beaconsfield side two days earlier, perhaps the last thing Slough could have wished for was a match against another in-form side in Kettering, arriving at Holloways Park looking to gain revenge for a heavy defeat at the hands of the Rebels in late August, and extend their run of ten league games unbeaten.
However, the Poppies had not played a match for two weeks due to postponements, and had been unable to train for ten days. This looked to affect them in the first half, which Slough edged, but the Rebels were unable to find a breakthrough despite having the better of the play and chances.
Early on, Jonathan Thorpe lost possession and presented the ball to Darren Wheeler, who looked up and whipped a ball in which was missed by the otherwise impressive and imposing figure of Henry Eze, and poked against the far post by Johnnie Dyer, rushing in desperately to make contact.
Wheeler posed problems for Kettering again shortly after, putting in a curling cross which just evaded Dyer and Scott Harris in the middle.
Kettering came into the match a lot more as the first half wore on, and an inviting low cross from the left was missed by everyone in the middle as the Poppies threatened. Recent signing Dugi Ogbonna, a dangerous physical presence, was dealt with well for the most part by Guy Hollis and Adam Foulser, whilst Ashley Fuller looked a real threat on the left – a sign of things to come in the second half.
The match swung from end to end, with Harris having an effort chalked off after Dyer was ruled offside, before Dyer dragged a shot well wide after being played in by former Kettering man Burgess.
Harris almost forced Kettering keeper Hinds into a mistake as he charged him down, but he scrambled the ball away. Whilst Slough were working tirelessly, they had failed to score when chances presented themselves, and were punished three minutes into the second half.
Slough had started the second half well, but were hit on the counter-attack with Sean Fraser out of position. Fuller burst clear on the left and, unchallenged, he brought the ball into the box before lashing the ball past Jake Somerville, who got a hand to the ball but could not prevent it crossing the goal line with Josh Moreman lurking in the goalmouth to make absolutely sure.
A few minutes later, Somerville need to make a smart save to tip over another fierce drive from Fuller, and the Slough keeper superbly kept out a deflected shot from Ogbonna which was destined for the bottom corner. Meanwhile, George Short was forced off with a facial injury, and replaced by youth team captain Seb Castello.
Castello was soon in the action as Slough showed great fighting spirit to try and get back into the game – his cross was cleared behind with Jake Parsons lurking, though the resulting corner was wasted.
Wheeler tried his luck from a free kick, but Hinds was equal to it, tipping over the bar. Kettering again broke quickly and Ryan Parsons took a yellow card after chopping down Moreman as he looked to burst clear. The resulting free kick was kept out superbly by Somerville, the keeper moving quickly to his left to save James Jepson’s effort.
With around fifteen minutes left, Slough were dealt another blow. Moreman raced through on the left and was felled by Guy Hollis, with the referee deeming the defender’s tackle to merit a straight red card. Hollis left the pitch and Fuller stepped up to take the penalty, but Somerville guessed correctly, diving to his left to push away the strike.
There was still hope for Slough’s depleted side, but Jake Parsons needed to be replaced by defender Michael Blount as the winger’s lack of match fitness caught up with him. Late pressure from Slough saw a series of corner kicks cleared well by the visitors, and Ryan Parsons had a goal bound header blocked in the six yard box.
In the final minute, Kettering sealed the points against a tiring Rebels side. Ogbonna slipped a pass through to Fuller, who drilled the ball across for Moreman to score a debut goal from close range.
Slough’s efforts were ultimately unrewarded, and Harris saw another effort ruled out for offside in the dying seconds.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 Jake Somerville
- 2 Sean Fraser
- 3 Ryan Parsons
- 4 Guy Hollis
- 5 Adam Foulser
- 6 George Short 15
- 7 Johnnie Dyer 16
- 8 Ollie Burgess
- 9 Scott Harris
- 10 Darren Wheeler
- 11 Jake Parsons 12
Kettering Town Line up
Denham Hinds, James Clifton (Louis Hamilton), Steve Kinniburgh (c), Andy Gooding, Henry Eze, Tommy Hull, Jonathan Thorpe (Dan Crowie), James Jepson, Dugi Ogbonna (Jake Newman), Josh Moreman, Ashley Fuller. Subs not used: Harry Beckley, Jonathan Bukasa.