Kettering Town 0, York City 0

YORK City battled their way to a hard-fought goalless draw at Kettering in Vanarama National League North to concede a three-point deficit to leaders King’s Lynn.

A total of 17 places separated the two sides prior to kick-off but it wasn’t evident throughout a 50-50 contest.

In the end there was no winner and it seemed to be as a result of the muddy pitch, which limited both sides' attacking potential.

And while it didn’t give either side a tangible edge of any sorts, it’s hard to underestimate its influence upon proceedings.

Kettering certainly edged the chances, in terms of both quantity and quality, with Kallum Griffiths’ goal-line block the best of the bunch.

But, on balance, the draw was a fair result and York may well be pleased to have come away from a tricky assignment without defeat.

Steve Watson’s pre-match prediction that the most aesthetically pleasing game of football wouldn’t be played looked to play true even before kick-off.

The boggy conditions meant that even the warm-up was a slow affair.

To make matters worse, there was no power in the dressing rooms up until 20 minutes before the start, with players using their phone torches to get changed.

In opening minutes, even a relatively simple Steve McNulty pass to the returning Joe Tait was looped in the air courtesy of a prior bobble on the surface.

After 10 minutes of jostling, Aaron O’Connor sparked the Kettering fans into life with the first real chance of the game.

The striker took a pass from the right and had his initial shot blocked but showed great endeavour to quickly come off the floor and fire another effort on goal. Again though it was seen clear of goal by the City backline.

The electric pace of live-wire forward duo O’Connor and strike partner Daniel Nti forced Peter Jameson off his line on a few occasions but, aside from collecting a corner, he had few saves to make.

After 20 minutes, the Minstermen managed to conjure a chance of their own.

David Ferguson broke away down the left and weighted a great pass to Paddy McLaughlin, who forced Paul White into a good stop.

The keeper was then worked again as Alex Kempster showed a nice touch to take down the ball on his chest and get his shot away, though it was tipped over the bar.

City top scorer Kempster was then put through on goal by a neat McLaughlin pass only to see the shot go wide amid a defender’s intervention.

While the surface restricted any form of free-flowing football, York were generally the side creating chances by playing through the thirds.

Elliott Durrell sent a teasing cross in which Kempster was very close to before White beat him to the ball.

Kettering’s aerial threat, as anticipated in the build-up, was evident though and O’Connor had a header well stopped by Jameson soon after.

The war of attrition pattern soon resumed with both sides having to dig deep to deal with the tricky surface.

With seven minutes of the half left, the dangerous O’Connor looked to have put Kettering in front.

The number eight’s header from six yards out beat Jameson but Griffiths was ideally placed to make a stunning goal-line clearance.

It was by far the best chance of the first half and signified O’Connor’s constant danger.

The frontman had another opportunity when the ball fell kindly for him after a scramble, but the ball ended up in the stands from the shot in the half’s last chance.

The hosts were the quickest out of the blocks from the restart and were loudly appealing for a penalty when Connor Kennedy was brought down by McLaughlin.

The referee ruled it as a free-kick inches outside the box, which Nti smashed at the wall before Michael McGrath shot straight at Jameson.

City then replied with a dangerous free-kick of their own which Sean Newton put straight at the keeper. This time Kempster was around the box and found the top of the net with a looping effort.

Town’s directness remained a very real threat as Nti held up the long punt forward before blazing the effort powerfully wide.

Back came City, once more from a Newton free-kick, which flashed closely wide of goal on the latter occasion.

Another effort flew across goal when Nti raced away from a long ball forward and had the beating of Newton before driving the ball past Jameson and past the far post.

By this point, Watson looked to his bench and in a fairly attacking alteration, brought Kieran Green on for Adriano Moke after 67 minutes.

In truth, it did little to alter the course of proceedings. The most meaningful change was the pitch which continued to worsen as the game went into its final quarter.

The Kettering fans were momentarily celebrating when McGrath struck at goal after a long free-kick, but it soon was clear that it had only found the side netting.

It was the home side who were finishing by far the better but, for all the balls into the box and crosses from wide areas, York were just about equal to it.

In the dying minutes, York produced one last chance through Jordan Burrow on the left channel but his shot only found the legs of White.

But, justly, it remained all square until the final whistle.

Kettering: White, Stohrer, Taylor, Graham (C), Solkhon, Nti, A O’Connor, Kennedy, Meikle, Richens. Subs not used: Kelly, Carta, Mitford, Sebbeh, J O’Connor.

York City: Jameson 6, Griffiths 7, Tait 6 (Spratt, 6), McNulty (C) 6, Newton 6, Ferguson 5, Moke 5 (Green 67, 6), McLaughlin 5, Durrell 6, Kempster 7, Burrow 6. Subs not used: Whitley, Bond, Langstaff.

Yellow cards: Griffiths (3), McLaughlin (49).

Star man: Kallum Griffiths. His incredible goal-line block denied Kettering in the first half, a rare golden chance in the game.

Attendance: Not given.

Referee: Dean Watson.