Manager Garry Haylock gives debuts to new loan signings Sam Rents and Steve Masterton in midfield while Lee Harrison, Lewis Ferrell and Ben Wright also return to the starting XI.
United got off to the worst possible start as the Poppies broke the deadlock in just the third minute. Jon Challinor’s long throw is flicked on at the near post to Nick McKoy who stoops glance a header and the ball loops up and over Harrison into the United net.
United came straight back at their visitors and Elliott Buchanan was inches away from getting on the end of a near post Lee Brown cross, Kettering Willy Gueret holding on after a little near post juggle. Harrison was soon in action again though when a long punt upfield was collected by McKoy who held off Peter Holmes challenge before hitting a shot that the United stopper got fully behind.
United were level in the 17th minute. a cross from the left was collected by Holmes who made space for himself just inside the area and having seen Gueret off his line tried a delicate chip that the backpeddaling keeper did very well to tip over. Steve Masterton took the resultant corner and Tom Cadmore rose highest to head through a clamour of players with the ball nestling just inside the unguarded upright.
Another Challinor long throw was flicked on to Marna but Brown quickly closed him down and then just three minutes later United took the lead. Masterton sprayed a pinpoint pass left to Sam Rents, he picked out Holmes who saw his shot pushed out by Gueret. Pritchard picked up the loose ball and found Ben Wright just inside the area and as the striker tried to turn, defender Sol Davis bundled him over and referee Amphlett awarded United a penalty which Brown easily converted by sending Gueret the wrong way.
Just after the half way mark United had a let off when Jean-Paul Marna's corner was met by the towering Ian Roper who headed over Harrison only for the ball to come back off the face of the crossbar before being cleared by the United defence.
In first half stoppage time quick thinking by Bradley Pritchard saw him roll a short corner to Masterton who attacked the bye-line before picking out Buchanan but his right foot volley was into the ground and Gueret grabbed the ball easily.
First chance of the second period went United as Brown was allowed to advance before letting fly from 30 yards, Gueret doing well to touch the shot over the bar. Kettering were quickly on the break though as a clearance saw 3v2 in their favour going forwards. McKoy exchanged passes with Marna before advancing into the area, a combination tackle of Holmes and Harrison stopping him in his tracks as the ball rolled away for a corner.
Just after the hour mark Wright forced a save from Gueret after being put through by Lewis Ferrell and minutes later the United striker collected a throughball from Holmes and tried his luck from 35 yards with the ball just missing the target to the right of Gueret's goal.
United continued to press for a third and this looked like coming when a sliderule Pritchard pass put Buchanan through only for the United man to be denied by Gueret's outstretched foot. Buchanan
was not to be denied though as a minute later he collected a pass from substitute Andy Yiadom with his back to goal, the striker quickly switched the ball to his left foot before placing it into the far corner of the Kettering net.
As always with United, nothing is smooth when it comes to earning three points and with just nine minutes remaining veteran striker Paul Furlong
lofted a pass over Adam Bygrave that Marna latched onto, lifting the ball over the advancing Harrison to give his side a sniff of a recovery.
Thankfully the United defence remained solid in the closing ten minutes and the best chance actually fell to Pritchard at the other end as he headed the ball forwards into his own run before forcing a diving save from Gueret.
Report by Kevin Watts.
United Man of the Match: Tom Cadmore.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.