PILGRIMS v POPPIES: Jake Wright double sees Boston United edge past Kettering Town

Boston United 2 Kettering Town 1
Jake Wright.Jake Wright.
Jake Wright.

(Jake Wright 33, 45; Tre Mitford 40)

Jake Wright netted a double as Boston United ended the year with three points at the expense of old rivals Kettering Town.

It took some desperate defending to see off the in-form Poppies, as Craig Elliott ended 2019 with 25 wins from 50 matches.

United’s were without leading scorer Jordan Thewlis, missing out due to injury, while Martyn Woolford dropped to the bench, Wright and Aaron Rowe coming into the starting XI.

Pilgrims old boy Ben Milnes returned to York Street with a Poppies side that began the day unbeaten in seven league games.

The contest began at a slow, staggered pace with neither side having an effort close to troubling within the first half hour.

That changed when Brad Abbott’s lofted ball dissected the Town defence and Wright twisted himself goalside to cleverly loft the ball over the onrushing Paul White.

Suddenly the game came alive and Kettering found themselves level when the hosts failed to deal with a bouncing ball in their box, Tre Mitford capitalising to force a neat finish beyond Peter Cook.

But Boston regained their lead in first-half stoppage time.

It was that man Wright again, although fortuitously on this occasion.

Abbott was again the provider, Wright meeting his teasing inswinging free kick, making scuffed contact with his header and wrongfooting White in the process.

Mitford came close to levelling again moments into the second half as he met a Marcus Kelly corner and headed over from almost under the crossbar.

Tom Platt then came to United’s rescue, clearing off the line as the Poppies pressed.

As Boston looked to hold onto their advantage Wright found himself booked for kicking the ball away and Rowe received a yellow for not leaving the pitch quickly enough when replaced by Nicky Walker.

Luke Graham will still be wondering how he didn’t score when Milnes’ corner found him at the back post, but less than two yards from goal he somehow volleyed against the post, Kelly’s follow-up held by Crook.

Wright was offered the chance to complete his hat-trick after bullish running from Dayle Southwell teed him up, but the contact wasn’t clean enough to beat White, who gathered comfortably.

And when Wright sent Walker through, the Town stopper made another vital save.

Back came Kettering, Daniel Nti beating Crook in the air but Luke Shiels desperately hackling off the line.

The five minutes of time added on saw United hang on and repel a series of long balls as they held on to remain eighth in the National League North, just out of the play-off spots on goals scored.

UNITED: Crook, Middleton, Whittle, Platt, Ainge, Shiels, Rowe (Walker 65), Abbott, Southwell (Wafula 82), Wright (Woolford 88), Rollins; Subs (not used): Knowles, Willis.

KETTERING: White, Stohrer, Taylor, Graham, McGrath, Richens (Williams 66), Nti, Mitford, Kennedy, Milnes, Kelly (Carta 86); Subs (not used): Solkhon, J. O'Connor.

REF: Jonny Urwin.

ATT: 1,718 (281).