Kettering Town are in need of some good fortune at the moment, and they got it in spades yesterday, both on the field and off it. After heroic defending had seen them come through what might otherwise be described as a battering by the runaway leaders of League One to win a money-spinning replay at Elland Road, the Poppies will travel north in the knowledge that if they can somehow chisel a victory, Manchester United await them at Old Trafford in the third round.
It is an eye-widening prospect for a club which, because of a long-standing dispute about the redevelopment of their stadium with the local council, claims to be facing extinction.
"There's no reason we can't go to Leeds and win, we've actually got a better away record," insisted Kettering player-manager Lee Harper, who pulled off two astonishing second-half saves before finally being beaten by Jermaine Beckford 13 minutes from the end of a match which Town had spent almost entirely on the back foot.
Ian Roper's headed goal, capitalising on a mistake by Leeds goalkeeper Casper Ankergren shortly after the hour, represented a rare excursion up-field for the Conference side, but having somehow gone behind, Leeds manager Simon Grayson admitted wondering if his side was destined to lose.
"The chances we had, including hitting the post and the bar in the first half, and Lee making those saves, you do begin to fear the worst, but I always knew we would get more opportunities, and you have to give the players credit for remaining patient."
Kettering Town (4-4-2): Harper; Taylor, Dempster, Roper, Davis; Noubissie, Heslop, Boucaud, Partridge (Marna, 83); Ashikodi (Thomas, 58), Elding. Substitutes not used: Bussey, Wrack, Bain, Fowler.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Ankergren; Crowe, Bromby, Michalik, Capaldi; Doyle, Howson, Kilkenny, Snodgrass; Beckford, Grella (Becchio, 71). Substitutes not used: Martin, Marques, Prutton, Robinson, Showumni, White.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).
Booked: Kettering Town Dempster, Davis.
Man of the match: Harper.
Attendance: 4,887.Reuse content