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Holdup hails work-rate after game-plan frustrates unbeaten table-toppers

Ketton Reserves became the first side this season to take points off Peterborough League Division Two table-toppers Stilton in Saturday’s clash at Pit Lane.

Matt Holdup’s charges had gone into the clash on the back of six successive victories, but faced a daunting test against a visiting side who had won all 14 of their league games after scoring 72 goals and conceding just 18.

It was Stilton who started the strongest and soon claimed the lions share of the possession.

Ketton had set up to disrupt the league leaders and in the first half limited them to a handful of corners which were well dealt with by the home defence.

There was one heart-in-mouth moment for the hosts when they failed to clear a ball in the box and a snap-shot from the Stilton forward came crashing back off the underside of the bar and away to safety.

Veteran striker Keith Gray. (6531425)
Veteran striker Keith Gray. (6531425)

Half-time was met with the departure of striker Keith Gray with a hamstring problem, the veteran striker had been in excellent form following his 35-yard screamer away at Warboys some weeks earlier and was a blow for the side after leading the line so well.

Sam Linford then took up the lone striker role in the compact 4-5-1 formation and Ketton quickly set about the second half closing down the opposition again and limiting their space to play.

As the game wore on Stilton had several chances with two crashing back off the post, but Ketton held firm and with 10 minutes left could have gone on to snatch the points themselves.

Firstly, after neat football led to a corner, Martin Trawford rose highest but failed to keep his header down.

This was then followed with minutes to spare by a dipping free kick from Mat Bird which forced the Stilton keeper to scramble the ball wide down to his right.

The game finished goalless and marked the first dropped points of the season for Stilton who will no doubt go on to win the league comfortably in the coming months.

Ketton Reserves manager Matt Holdup. (6531422)
Ketton Reserves manager Matt Holdup. (6531422)

Manager Holdup said: “I couldn’t be prouder of my squad.

“We were playing a side with undoubtedly better quality and with lads who could and probably should be playing at a much higher level.

“But we set out a game-plan to disrupt their game and to keep a clean sheet and try to catch them on the break where possible and the lads did everything that I asked of them.

“I can appreciate the frustration of the Stilton lads after the game but there’s more than one way to play football and unfortunately for them they couldn’t make the break through.

“My main target this season was to build a team with the correct attitude and work-rate as I am a firm believer that, you can have all the best players but without this as a starting point, you won’t achieve anything.

“The lads are giving me everything at the minute and the results are showing that. We have come from behind to win games on more than one occasion and this result is a great achievement to continue our unbeaten run.

“I have a target in mind for this season and, if the lads keep this attitude and belief up with the obvious luck and good fortune with injuries that all sides need, I know we will achieve it.”

Ketton make the trip to face second-placed Rippingale and Folkingham this weekend.

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