Saints boss Wilkin takes the positives following draw with Poppies

Brackley Town boss Kevin Wilkin saw his side have to settle for a point against the Poppies
Brackley Town boss Kevin Wilkin saw his side have to settle for a point against the Poppies

Despite seeing his side drop two Vanarama National League North points, Brackley Town boss Kevin Wilkin was satisfied with the display.

Brackley Town and Kettering Town shared the points in a full blooded New Year’s Day game full of incident, the first league fixture ever between the two Northamptonshire sides which ended 1-1.

The Poppies took the lead, only to be immediately pegged back before a breathless second half saw the visitors go down to ten men and both sides fail to convert penalty kicks.

Wilkin said: “It is a pleasing point with lots of positives. Kettering had the better moments overall but I didn’t feel either side did enough to warrant the win. I am delighted with my players’ determination and readiness to roll up their sleeves in a game like this that was always going to be hard fought.”

Both sides had chances to open the scoring, the clearest needing Danny Lewis’ outstretched leg to save from Michael McGrath, before Kettering went ahead in the 31st minute, McGrath’s fierce shot from distance taking a deflection and this time finding the net beyond Lewis. But Saints were level within three minutes as Jimmy Armson scored at the second attempt from Glenn Walker’s cross.

The second half provided more incident and goalmouth action at both ends in a pulsating game. Shep Murombedzi’s goal-bound shot was deflected wide and Kettering’s Gary Stohrer fired too high when well placed after an excellent cross by Marcus Kelly as Kettering put Saints’ defence under pressure.

Ben Milnes received a 66th minute straight red card for bringing down Lee Ndlovu who otherwise had a straight run in on goal but the visitors did not allow this to diminish their attacking intent and Luke Graham’s header from Kelly’s cross needed Lewis to tip it onto the bar.

The story of the final minutes was all about penalty kicks as first Kettering won an 80th minute spot-kick that Lewis saved from Daniel Nti diving to his left before Matt Lowe was fouled earning Saints an added time penalty kick of their own that Paul White saved well from Thierry Audel to deny Saints the victory.

“Expectations at the club can be sky high sometimes and here at St James Park we are there to be shot at,” Wilkin added.

"I am proud of the players’ work rate and energy to come away with the draw. You are not always going to have things your own way. If we produce this in every game, we have a chance in every game.”