A trip to the Evo-Stik League South leaders was always going to be a difficult one for Banbury United and so it proved in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Kettering Town.
But United’s task was made even harder as they were unable to overcome the handicap of playing most of the premier division central clash with only ten men. Edmund Hottor got a straight red card on his return to his former club and from then on it was an uphill struggle for United who were already missing skipper Ricky Johnson and Harry Whitehead
First half goals from top scorer Rhys Hoenes, Gary Stohrer and Brett Solkhon wrapped up the points before the break.
Both teams struggled to cope with the strong wind that swept across Latimer Park before the game turned in Kettering’s favour in the 19th minute. Marcus Kelly’s pass left Craig Stanley short and Hotter’s challenge produced a melee before he got a straight red card.
Poppies soon took advantage and two minutes later Charlie Wise’s attempted header to Jack Harding was intercepted by Hoenes who went around the keeper before rolling the ball into the empty net from a narrow angle.
Kettering increased their lead in the 26th minute when Lindon Meikle’s cross was only half-cleared and Stohrer hit a superb volley into the corner of the net. A minute later it was all over during a 60-second spell in which United could have been right back in it.
A neat build-up ended with Ravin Shamsi looking to have beaten keeper Paul White but Joe Iaciofano got the final touch and the effort was ruled out for offside. And just seconds later another Meikle cross wasn’t cleared and the returning Solkhon made no mistake with a crisp finish.
That goal ended the game as a contest and the well-drilled Poppies did an excellent job of killing things off in the second period. Aside from Dan Holman having an effort deflected wide and Solkhon volleying just over, there were few chances created.
But, ultimately, they retained possession and gave the visitors nothing at the other end. Stanley made a fine block from a George Nash shot and in stoppage-time Giorgio Rasulo’s low strike cannoned off the post with White beaten.