Brabin: Off field problems will galvanise Kettering

HATTERS manager Gary Brabin believes Boxing Day opponents Kettering will be galvanised by their recent off the field problems when they travel to Kenilworth Road on Boxing Day, writes Mike Simmonds.

The Poppies players have not been paid in recent weeks, the club is currently under a transfer embargo, while the squad also have to make their own travel arrangements for the match, with no coach travel being provided.

Speaking to the press this afternoon, Brabin said: “I honestly think it works the other way. I’ve seen it happen to Luton, when they were having a bad time yet went on to win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“Looking at Wrexham at the moment, all this season there’s been talk of Wrexham being under pressure financally and that seems to have taken the whole pressure off the players.

“A lot has been made of the problems off the field at Kettering but I always found it seems to galvanise players and supporters.

“It seems to get the best out of people, so we’ll give them our full respect.

“They’re doing well on the field. I know they (Kettering) had a bad result a few weeks back against York (losing 7-0), and since then it’s really come out that they’re struggling with certain things.

“But since then I don’t think they’ve lost a game (in the league). They’ve improved. There’s a lot of factors that go into the foootball, you’ve got to be good enough, strong enough, got to be fit enough, so there’s a lot of elements you can sort out.

“Whatever is going on behind the scenes will have lifted a lot of pressure on the field and it’s certainly proved for them with the last few results.”

Kettering boss Mark Stimson recently lost his second in command with Scott Barrett’s contract not being extended, but Brabin didn’t think that would affect their preparation too much either.

He said: “It’s their situation that they’re going to have to deal with. We’ve all lost one thing or another. They’re real good friends and I’m sure they can communicate day in day out, I can’t see it making a massive difference.

“Mark has got a lot of experience, certainly in this league.”

Despite all their problems, Kettering can still field a team that is vastly experienced at this level with their squad containing former Hatters Sol Davis and Stephen O’Leary, while they have still kept hold of Patrick Noubisse and also signed Norwich youngster Josh Dawkin on loan.

Brabin continued: “You look at the players they’ve got and they’re good at this level and even the level above.

“(David) Bridges from Stevenage and (Djouman) Sangare from Oxford too, they’re not going to be any mugs.

“Sol’s another who’s an experienced one in their ranks and will come here looking to do well.

“I think that runs right through their side, so they certainly won’t be any pushovers.”

Luton’s home record of late has been less than impressive as they have failed to win a league match at Kenilworth Road for over two months, suffering two defeats and a draw in that time.

Brabin is ready for what is likely to be a containing effort from the visitors and hopes his side can build on their efforts at Tamworth last weekend which resulted in a 3-1 win.

He said: “I think most teams come here and try and frustrate us. That’s probably going to be in their game plan as well for the first 20-25 minutes.

“He’ll (Stimson) be saying to his lads let’s try and frustrate them.

“It’s going to be important we have a bright start, are positive and have the fans behind us from minute one right until the end.

“We’ve come to a real crucial part of the season now, and its important we aim to get maximum points.

“We had a fantastic performance last weekend, that’s what I’ve been asking for. We got it over 90 minutes, a good score and a good performance, now it’s important we do that bit more regularly.

“After the Tamworth performance, I’ve been really looking forward to the games from now on in. There were a lot pleasing aspects in that game. I’ve been asking for a bit of consistency and I hope that was as a turning point.”

Apart from leading scorer Amari Morgan-Smith, who has now returned to light training, Town have a clean bill of health for the match, with Dan Gleeson suffering no ill effects after being the victim of an x-rated tackle last week, while Stuart Fleetwood is fresh from his two goals in a friendly against Wycombe on Tuesday.

Brabin added: “Dan has been building up his fitness from being out for a long time. When the first tackle happened we were a bit concerned, but he seems to have shrugged it off and hasn’t missed any training.

“It was good to see Fleets get a couple (in the week). He thrives on scoring goals and probably hasn’t got as many as he would have liked, but he doesn’t lower his standards and that will do him the world of good.”

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