ROMFORD 1 (0) - (0) 4 Kettering Town (FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round) Attendance 271 -Rookery Hill
By Gary Redwin
Romford fought hard but were ultimately defeated with all the goals coming in a twenty two minute spell at the start of the second half.
Kettering arrived with a hundred per cent record as leaders of the Southern League Premier Division Central, a tier above Boro and this eagerly awaited clash would bring back memories for both side's older supporters of many meetings during the sixties and seventies in the Southern League Premier Division, which at the time was the most powerful competition outside of the Football League.
Still hampered by injuries to his squad, Paul Martin set up his team to get behind the ball and press their opponents in possession and the plan worked in a cagey first half which saw Kettering being restricted to half chances which were hit high or wide of the goal or snuffed out by keeper Rhys HUGHES and his defenders. Romford counter attacked when they could and did in fact come nearest to scoring just before the interval when Joanathan Nzengo got clear down the left and hit a low cross into the goalmouth which beat the defence and headed to the unmarked Ernest OKOH who was an inch away from connecting with the ball in front of an empty net.
Everything changed at the start of the second period when it took Kettering less than half a minute to take the lead with Brett Solichon heading home a cross from the right. Boro and their supporters were stunned but seven minutes later they were back in it when Khadean CAMPBELL won the ball close to the corner flag on the right and slipped a pass to Greg AKPELE who dribbled along the line, beat a man and cut inside. His avenue to goal was blocked off so instead he squared the ball back to Kurt SMITH who smashed an unstoppable left foot shot into the top corner.
However it took only a further three minutes for the Poppies to regain the lead through Solichon again, via the penalty spot as for once Romford skipper Danny COSSINGTON was beaten by his opponent and could only stop him unfairly. This time there would be no quick reply by Romford as instead Rhys Hoenes scored a quickfire brace for the visitors, running clear to beat Hughes with a cross shot and then scoring from the rebound after two good saves from Hughes in quick succession.
After this flurry the last quarter of the match settled down to something like the first half but now with Kettering happy to consolidate. Towards the end and with nothing to lose, Romford threw caution to the winds and were unlucky not to make the score line a fairer reflection of the game as Nzengo went close with a header and Nick REYNOLDS looking like he was sure to score before his effort was blocked by a last ditch challenge.
ROMFORD (0) 1 Kurt SMITH 52,
KETTERING TOWN (0) 4 Solichon 46, 55, Hoenes 65,67
Team: Rhys HUGHES, Jonathan NZENGO, Nathan JOSEPH, George FORREST, Nathan OKOYE, Danny COSSINGTON (c), Chris TAYLOR, Ernest OKOH (Nick REYNOLDS 74), Khadean CAMPBELL (Toby BARLOW 74), Greg AKPELE, Kurt SMITH ( Jamie MARSH 80)
Unused Subs: Kris Newby, Stephen Reynolds, Max Bolton
Yellow Cards: Nathan OKOYE 43, Jonathan NZENGO 50, Nathan JOSEPH 79