Football: Young charges ease pressure on Flynn

Kettering Town 0 Wrexham 2
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The Independent Online
BRIAN FLYNN can breathe a little easier this morning. Two of his youngest players, Stephen Roberts and Danny Williams, struck their first senior goals at Rockingham Road, simultaneously ending Wrexham's run of eight games without a win and Kettering's hopes of emulating their Conference neighbours, Rushden & Diamonds, by upsetting supposed superiors in the FA Cup.

Flynn, who took over as manager at the Racecourse Ground 10 years ago this month, came under fire from Wrexham's fans last weekend. Having needed a late penalty to earn last night's replay, he may have feared the worst against opponents unbeaten at home. Instead, ruthless finishing and agile goalkeeping from Kevin Dearden ensured a relatively smooth passage to a second-round home tie against Rochdale.

After five Second Division games in which their only goals had come from the spot, Wrexham wasted little time in rediscovering the knack of scoring from open play. In the 12th minute, Kettering's clearance of a Gareth Owen corner was met with a thunderous first-time volley by Stephen Roberts, although the scorer's brother, Neil, was blocking the keeper's view in an offside position.

Another opportunist goal, whipped in low past Adam Sollitt by Williams from just outside the area, gave Wrexham a two-goal cushion after 22 minutes. Kettering, however, created the more clear-cut chances, with Dearden and Brett McNamara often appearing to be engaged in a personal duel.

Dearden's best save, immediately after the opening goal, was a one-handed effort from McNamara. He again excelled in the seconds after Wrexham doubled their advantage, his outstretched left foot diverting Craig Adams' shot behind. From the corner, Craig Norman's header clipped the crossbar; a sign, perhaps, that Flynn's luck had changed at last.

Kettering sent on the much-travelled Carl Shutt as a third attacker. Yet fortune continued to favour Wrexham. Three minutes after the substitution, Lee Hudson's 20-yard drive shook the base of Dearden's right-hand upright and rebounded into play.

Darren Ferguson, the only member of the Manchester United manager's family competing in the competition this season, used his experience to try to take the feet out of the tie. Owen's volley from a Kevin Russell cross would have done the job, only for Sollitt to be perfectly positioned to prevent a third goal that would have reflected harshly on the part-timers.

Kettering Town (3-4-1-2): Sollitt; Cox, Vowden, Norman (Ridgway, 63); Diuk (Shutt, h-t), Fisher, Adams, Setchell; Brown; Hudson, McNamara. Substitutes not used: Hopkins, Banya, Wilson (gk).

Wrexham (4-4-2): Dearden; McGregor, S Roberts, Carey, Hardy; Russell, Williams, Ferguson, Owen; Connolly, N Roberts. Substitutes not used: Ridler, Gibson, Stevens, Faulconbridge, Walsh (gk).

Referee: A Wiley (Burntwood, Staffs).