BY NICK WILSON
Despite a spirited second half fightback, Basingstoke were left to rue a difficult first half as they fell to defeat by two goal to one at Kettering.
Kettering started strongly, winning a few corners early on and threatening the visitors backline, thanks in large part to the hold up play of Rene Howe. David Ray had to be particularly alert, clearing a goalbound header off the line when it seemed destined to nestle in the back of the net.
At the other end, Sam Deadfield had Basingstoke’s best chance of the first half, being picked out in space at the far post only to place a volley straight at Kettering keeper Paul White. Both Charlie Kennedy and Matt Partridge had shots from range without challenging White but Basingstoke struggled to break down the hosts backline and create clear cut chances.
The opening goal came for Kettering after 27 minutes following another set piece. Paul Malone came up from the back to bundle the ball in at the third time of asking from close range after Howe’s shot had been saved and Matthew Barnes-Homer hit the bar.
Basingstoke continued to probe and look for chances but after Aaron Jarvis headed wide, Kettering doubled their lead. A corner was cleared as far as Aaron O’Connor and his scuffed shot fell to Howe who was able to turn and slam the ball past Alex Tokarczyk to put Kettering 2-0 up at half time.
HALF TIME: 2-0
The second half started more positively for Basingstoke as Kennedy forced a good save from White to keep his powerful strike out at the near post and Jarvis became more of a threat running in behind the home side’s defence.
On 70 minutes, substitute Aaron Redford got the goal to get Basingstoke back in the game, outpacing Malone down the right hand side before drawing White out and finishing across him from a tight angle.
The goal boosted Basingstoke and momentum shifted as they pushed on for an equaliser. Nana Owusu’s cutback was met by Deadfield who was denied while Matt Partridge sent a shot skidding just wide. The equaliser didn’t come though and Basingstoke returned home empty handed.