Kettering Town 5, Merthyr Town 0
Merthyr Town suffered a five-goal defeat in their Southern League clash with Premier Division leaders, but they are intent on bouncing straight back.
Manager Gavin Williams and his players are now focused on their home match against promotion-chasing Slough Town at the Loadlok Community Stadium on Tuesday (7.30pm).
The Martyrs played far better than the scoreline suggests at Latimer Park, Kettering and were the better team for much of the opening half, but they finished second best over the 90 minutes.
They were 2-0 down at the break and that was still the score with more than an hour gone, but Kettering were clinical in front of their biggest attendance of the season.
The Poppies recorded their biggest win of the season in front 857 spectators thanks to goals from man of the match Matty Stevens (2), Aaron O’Connor, Gary Stohrer and Ben Toseland.
Kettering included Marshall Willock, a 6ft 4ins defender signed on loan from Chesterfield, for his debut.
Willock had a big chance to open the scoring, but headed wide unchallenged.
The earlier sunshine had disappeared as the cloud, and eventually rain, came to Latimer Park’s blustery conditions.
Merthyr goalkeeper Oliver Davies was beaten after 24 minutes when he guided Ben Toseland’s free-kick into the net with a downward header.
Merthyr had their best chance when Ashley Evans headed over from a central position and they had a decent spell of possession, knocking the ball about and home keeper, Jordan Wright, saved Mo Touray’s 43rd minute left-foot shot.
Within a minute Kettering were 2-0 ahead. A free-kick rebounded to Ben Milnes and his low shot was deflected by Stevens and with Davies wrong footed the ball flew into the net.
The Poppies forced an early corner, which saw a clearance and a quick break for the visitors. Fortunately, Durrell Berry dispossessed danger man Ian Traylor to cut out the danger.
Merthyr forced a corner on the right and from the clearance, the cross came in for Touray to head goalwards, but it was an easy take for keeper Wright.
Both teams were playing passing football at this stage and in no way were Merthyr without hope of pulling a goal back.
Martyrs’ goalkeeper, Davies, excelled on 61 minutes as he saved well from Stevens and then made a great stop with his legs on O’Connor’s follow up.
After 63 minutes it was 3-0. A misjudged defensive header saw Stevens clear on the left and his delightful low cross was expertly finished by O’Connor when he placed the ball past Davies and in, low, at the left upright.
Corey Jenkins had been on the pitch as a substitute for just two minutes and he had a great chance to pull a goal back, but he headed Traylor’s cross from the right wide.
Substitute Stohrer made a pretty quick impact, scoring Kettering’s fourth goal in the 79th minute. He ran on to a through ball down the right, rounded Davies and steered the ball in from a tight angle. It got better for Kettering three minutes later as
Ben Toseland’s free kick on the right skewed off a defender’s boot and went past Davies’ left to make it 5-0 and completed a miserable day for Merthyr Town.
Kettering Town: Jordan Wright, Durrell Berry, Ben Toselan, Marshall Willock, Gary Mulligan (capt), Michael Richens, Rhys Hoenes, Aaron O’Connor (Munashe Sundire 77), Matthew Stevens, Ben Milnes (Gary Stohrer 72), Lindon Meikle (James Brighton 83). Unused Subs: Ben Baker, Brett Solkhon
Merthyr Town: Oliver Davies, Adam Davies, Cameron Pring, Ashley Evans, Jarrad Wright (capt), Jay Bowen (Curtis McDonald 62), Kyle Patten, Mo Touray (Kerry Morgan 80), Eliot Richards, Ian Traylor, Scott Tancock (Corey Jenkins 62).
Unused Subs: Kyle Copp, Robbie Patten.