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Leigh RMI 1 Kettering Town 4

By Matt Lawton
September 1 2007

Goal-hungry promotion chasers Kettering Town maintained their 100% start to the Blue Square North season with a comfortable victory over a Leigh RMI side that failed to impress at a blustery Hilton Park, with the Railwaymen suffering their third defeat inside a week.

With his side looking to bounce back from Monday’s 3-1 loss to Stalybridge that followed the 2-0 home defeat to promotion challengers Harrogate Town last Saturday, RMI boss Stuart Humphreys was boosted with the return of defender Stephen Hill and winger Steve Settle, while previous injury victims Owen Roberts and Mark Maddox were fit enough to be selected amongst the substitutes.

After having to cope with the incisive passing of Harrogate a week ago, Saturday saw RMI having to contend with the aerial presence of a slightly more direct Kettering side that have racked up a significant number of goals in a ruthless winning streak that has put them in a commanding position at the top of the table.

Throughout this opening period of the season, the Leigh defence have proved to be particularly vulnerable from set pieces, so it wasn’t particularly surprising that Kettering took the lead from a right wing corner, with full back John Dempster left completely unchallenged to head past RMI goalkeeper John Lamb after just twenty minutes of play.

The aerial power of a commanding Kettering side, coupled with a relatively strong wind, left RMI struggling to make any headway in the game, with their only genuine chance being an Andy Heald shot that went well wide of the target after a jinking Settle run had created the opportunity.

During the Bank Holiday defeat at Stalybridge, RMI centre half Gavin Lee-Ellison suffered a torrid time at the hands of the Celtic attack, and his week wasn’t to improve when he found himself dispossessed by the lively Andy Hall, who raced through to fire the ball past Lamb and give the visitors a comfortable two goal half-time cushion.

Half-time saw Humphreys replace Steve Settle with Kieran Lugsden, but the change did little to affect the flow of the game, with Kettering cruising in second gear and the home side struggling to get in to the encounter.

Kettering’s lead was stretched even further with twenty five minutes remaining with undoubtedly the goal of the game. There are appeared to be little danger for the defence when a loose ball bounced innocuously to David Bridges, but the Kettering midfielder struck to a terrific half-volley on the turn that flew past Lamb and in to the top corner of the net.

RMI’s poor day was summed up nine minutes later when Andy Hall’s sliced cross deceived Lamb to hit the crossbar, with the rebound falling to Brett Solkhon, who made no mistake in headed the ball in to the unguarded net from little more than a yard out.

The introduction from the bench of Owen Roberts, on his return from injury, managed to somewhat spur RMI in to their best period of the game, and they pulled a goal back with six minutes left when substitute Kieran Lugsden turned the ball in to the net after a goalmouth scramble. Minutes later, Lugsden headed narrowly over from a corner kick, but it was far too little, far too late for the home side, who face another daunting task when they renew their rivalry with Southport on Friday evening (7:45pm kick off), with the Sandgrounders making their first league visit to Hilton Park in more than four years.

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