Poppies flower before late Fulham flurry

Kettering Town 2 Fulham 4: Last-gasp goals from Johnson and Zamora flatter illustrious visitors as Kettering cut a dash on the big stage

Not enough of a draw for live television coverage? ITV and Setanta should hang their heads in shame. This match was the essence of the FA Cup. Until Fulham scored twice in the last three minutes the odds were on Kettering, who had twice equalised through Craig Westcarr, becoming the first non-League club to knock Premier League opposition out of the competition. In the end the Blue Square Premier club could not bridge the 92-place differential, but Fulham will not face a more difficult tie if they ride their luck all the way to Wembley.

"I'm sure the television people will be wishing they had screened it now," said Mark Cooper, Kettering's manager. "It was a fantastic cup tie, what the FA Cup is all about. It is not Man United-Tottenham, Cardiff-Arsenal, it is about non-League teams playing on their own patch against Premier League teams."

It was the classic setting. The cameras which did turn up were on a temporary gantry in front of the Sid Chapman Terrace, Radio 5 Live were on plastic garden chairs at the back of the main stand and the national press, laptops on their laps, were dotted among the home support. All it needed was a cluster of fans hanging in the trees rising behind the away end. Fulham had not been to Rockingham Road since losing here in the Southern League in 1903.

Kettering's status has not changed much but they had knocked out 13 League teams in FA Cup ties, most recently Port Vale and Lincoln City this season. This was not so surprising. Conference clubs are no longer a collection of butchers, accountants and firemen, they are mostly all full-time with a smattering of former League pros. Kettering's included Nicky Eaden, who played in the Premier League for Barnsley, Lee Harper, who kept goal once for Arsenal, but more than a hundred times for QPR, and Westcarr, who represented England Under-21s when at Nottingham Forest. On the bench was a man who knew miracles could happen in the Cup, Alfie Potter, who put Havant & Waterlooville ahead at Anfield a year ago.

Alongside him was Terry Cooper, a serial winner of medals with Don Revie's Leeds United, who had flown in from Tenerife to advise his son, Mark. Cooper also knew shocks happen – he was part of the Leeds side famously defeated at Colchester in 1971.

Fulham had only rested John Pantsil, Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy and, after a tentative first few minutes, they began to dominate. This soon brought reward as Simon Davies swivelled to volley in Clint Dempsey's 12th-minute right-wing cross.

It was a quality goal and Fulham briefly threatened to kill the tie with Leon Andreasen going close and Harper denying Dempsey. Then Kettering lifted their game. Ten minutes before the break Westcarr, having been tripped as he dribbled towards the box, drove the free-kick in.

Kettering maintained their momentum. Gareth Seddon and John Dempster should have scored before the cavalry, in the shape of Murphy and Zamora, arrived. Zamora headed a sitter wide from Murphy's cross but Exodus Geohaghan inadvertently deflected Murphy's 77th-minute shot into his own net.

Game over? Not yet. With seven minutes left Brede Hangeland cut down Westcarr who converted the penalty himself. A replay loomed but Harper chased Davies's deep cross and Zamora headed back for Andrew Johnson to score. Zamora added a flattering fourth but it was the Poppies who deserved the standing ovation at the end.

"I'm proud but sick," said Cooper. "We deserved to win. The players are gutted but I said to them, 'be proud of yourselves'."

Attendance: 5,406

Referee: Mike Riley

Man of the match: Westcarr

Match rating: 9/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi and Nick Frost star in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty