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Mann nets late penalty as excellent effort is rewarded

A last-gasp penalty secured a dramatic victory for Ketton who toppled reigning Peterborough League Premier Division champions Netherton on Saturday.

Tom Mann struck home the vital penalty with the last kick of the game at Pit Lane to give Ketton victory in a seven-goal thriller.

Ian Abbott's side had to battle back from going behind three times to claim their first-ever victory over their Peterborough visitors who swept the honours board with a haul of four trophies last season.

Tom Mann scored the match-winning penalty for Ketton. (6691216)
Tom Mann scored the match-winning penalty for Ketton. (6691216)

Abbott enthused: "It was a fantastic performance and a massive win for us. It was my best win in my short time as a manager.

"We showed character, desire and aggression as well as the quality which was needed. We were behind three times in the game, but just didn't give up.

"Every single player put in a fantastic amount of effort. We worked extremely hard. It was pure graft and quality."

Netherton had taken a third minute lead through a Mark Baines spot kick after home goalkeeper James Hogg was penalised for a push as he went to collect a ball from a corner.

However, Ketton levelled soon after through full-back Sam Linford who was making just his second start of the season due to Matt Woodman's hamstring injury.

Linford - who linked up well with Connor Breakell throughout - burst forward on the overlap and, with nobody closing him down as he arrowed in on goal, hit a left-footed shot from just outside the box into the bottom corner to equalise.

Ketton were then punished from another setpiece with Baines scoring his second goal, but the hosts soon levelled again.

Dom Jones, who had a fantastic game in midfield, linked up superbly with Mann throughout and he played the ball through for Ketton's leading marksman to hold off a challenge and bring the scores level again before half-time.

Baines was also denied his and Netherton's third goal by a top drawer stop from Hogg while Greg Rawlinson headed a good chance wide for the hosts.

The Netherton play-maker was not to be denied his hat-trick haul though as he put his side back in front after the restart with a well-struck effort from outside the box which Hogg had turned onto the underside of the crossbar - the visitors did react first to bundle home the rebound but felt the ball had already crossed the line from Baines' first effort.

This prompted another Ketton response and they equalised with 18 minutes left when Breakell's cross was met by a superlative header from Rawlinson which flew into the top corner of the Netherton net.

James Hogg made some superb saves. (6691212)
James Hogg made some superb saves. (6691212)

An incredible double save from Hogg then kept Ketton on level terms before they snatched victory at the death.

Linford's long ball over the top saw Mann - who had caused Netherton numerous problems all match - take control and, as he raced into the box, was held back by two defenders for a penalty.

The Ketton frontman then kept his cool under pressure and buried the resultant penalty into the bottom corner for his 13th goal of the season.

Abbott added: "After going behind so early on, I was thinking it could be a very long afternoon.

"We had a game-plan though which was to work extremely hard and not give them any time on the ball because, if we did, they would punish us.

"Mark Baines is a fantastic player, he's ridiculously good, and we gave Dom Jones the task of man-marking him which he did very well.

"Netherton really upped the tempo in the second half. They moved the ball quicker in the final third and really stepped it up, but we showed such intensity in our work-rate that we didn't give them an inch.

"You couldn't have written the script of scoring the winner from the penalty with the last kick of the game.

"Netherton are the benchmark for every team in this league so, if that doesn't lift our confidence, then nothing will.

"It was a bonus three points for us and shows again that we can compete with the top teams in this division."

Ketton are back on their travels this weekend when they visit Tydd looking to improve an away record which has seen them lose seven of their 11 matches away from Pit Lane.

Abbott continued: "We have got a run of a must-win games coming up. It's really tight around us in the table and we want to go into next month's semi-final with plenty of momentum.

"Our away record is lousy so we need to start winning. It's a nice bonus to be playing at Wisbech Town's ground, but Tydd have only lost twice at home this season so it's definitely not a gimme.

"We can't rest on our laurels. It will be a very hard game so we need this sort of performance every week and get some consistency."

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