Two late Kettering Town goals completed a smash 'n' grab victory for the away side, turning a dominant Hayes & Yeading United win into a cruel, unfortunate defeat.
United found Poppies keeper Lee Harper in top form, keeping the lead down to one goal, and this proved to be crucial in setting up their late burst to victory.
The home team got quickly into their stride as Danny Allen-Page's cross caused confusion in the Poppies' defence and Ram Marwa struck a half volley from the edge of the area which Harper did well to reach and tip around the post. A minute later, United had the ball in the net when Marwa headed on Dale Binns's corner and Sean Canham converted at the far post, but from an offside position.
Kettering gave notice of their intent to attack when a Lee Fowler free kick picked out John Dempster at the far post and his low shot was parried by Simon Overland in the United goal. A goalmouth scramble ensued but was ended when Francis Green skewed his shot well wide of goal.
United hit back with Justin Cochrane collecting Sean Canham's lay off and shooting, but his effort rolled harmlessly into Harper's arms. Then Kettering's Mustapha Carayol thoguht he'd try his luck from long range, getting a decent connection, as well, but he was not able to direct his shot beyond Overland's reach.
United suffered a setback when Justin Cochrane was injured whilst contesting a 50/50 ball, but they piled forward for wave after wave of attack from that point to the half time whistle. Scott Fitzgerald's pass put James Mulley clear on the right and his first time shot rose just too high. Then Binns crossed and Fitzgerald's header was pushed back out by Harper who somehow prevented Marwa's follow up from going in at point blank range.
Sean Canham dispossessed Dempster before firing a shot goalwards which Harper tipped over the bar and when the Poppies' keeper was finally beaten, Mulley found the post in his way after the young winger had raced onto substitute Marc Canham's perfectly weighted pass.
In first half stoppage time, their reward came somewhat fortuitously as Tom Cadmore's deep cross was met by Ian Roper's hand high above his head and a penalty was awarded. Sean Canham sent Harper the wrong way with his spot kick.
Kettering's players were sent out for the second half early, obviously with a flea in their ear, but United once again assumed control after the break. Marc Canham put Sean Canham through on goal but Harper produced a fine save to keep his low shot out, tippping the ball wide of the far post. Then, when Sean Canham headed down Marc Canham's free kick into Marwa's path, the midfielder couldn't quite steer his volley between the posts.
On the break, Fowler found the onrushing Patrick Noubissie but he slid the ball wide of the far post. United soon went back on the attack and Allen-Page crossed to the far post for Fitzgerald who was stunned to see his close range header pushed over the bar by Harper. Harper continued to hold United at bay, catching Binns's surprise shot from an acute angle. Then Kettering survived a vehement penalty appeal when Sean Canham was tackled by Dempster and he and a number of his team mates thought it was unfairly. Kettering nearly caught the home team out with a swift counter attack but Overland saved his team by blocking a goalbound shot by Damien Spencer, who had raced onto Harper's long clearance.
Overland comfortably saved Francis Green's header while United's Adam Green crossed for George Daly who headed over the bar from a good position. Daly then won a ball he had no right to win on the right hand side and slid the ball into Mulley. His turn and shot was blocked by Harper and Roper was able to block Marwa's follow up shot.
With five minutes left, Tom Cadmore tried his luck from a free kick routine and was inches over with his shot. But unfortunately for United, the one goal lead wasn't to be enough. Out of the blue, Kettering equalised. Exodus Geohaghan sent over a long throw in, and although Binns got a clearing header in, Fowler hit a screamer into the top corner from 25 yards out to equalise.
And Kettering turned the scoreline around completely in the 90th minute when Moses Ashikodi went on a lateral run before sliding the ball to Francis Green who finished from a tight angle. To compound United's misery, Allen-Page was sent off for the second time this season in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.
Report by Nick Bell. Photos by Ray Peploe.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video
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