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Gloucester City marked their return to Meadow Park with a 3-1 victory against Kettering Town in their opening game of the league season. 
City made a rapid start and took the lead inside the first minute as Alex Whittle fired into the bottom corner. 
 
Matt McClure then doubled Cities lead in the 35th minute with a smart finish from a corner and the Tigers would add a third in the 90th minute through substitute Khaellem Bailey. 
 
Connor Kennedy scored a consolation goal for Kettering in the last minute of the game, but City would hold out and secure a comfortable 3-1 win. 
 
After 13 long years away from Meadow Park, City made their competitive return against Kettering Town, sadly without fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
 
James Rowe made just one change from our FA Cup fixture against Christchurch with Fabien Robert starting in place of Tommy O’Sullivan. 
 
City began the game brightly and took the lead just after the one-minute mark when Whittle burst into the box and fired past the despairing Kettering keeper. 
 
The Tigers continued their rapid start and nearly doubled their lead in the fourth minute, but Matt McClure saw his driven effort well saved by Collin. 
The City pressure did not let up and the lead nearly became two in the 12th minute but Akwasi Asante saw his acrobatic effort well saved. 
 
City had a penalty shout in the 17th minute after George Carline appeared to be brought down in the box but the referee waved away the City appeals. 
 
After a slow start, the visitors began to grow into the game mid-way through the first half, but City were able to comfortably deal with a short succession of Kettering corners. 
 
The first half dominance continued and in the 35th minute Matt McClure found himself free at the back post from a corner and made no mistake when finishing into the bottom corner. It was a two goal lead that City completely deserved after a fine first half showing. 
 
Tempers began to flare at the end of the half after a strong challenge on Asante. Kevin Dawson and Sam Jones were awarded yellow cards from the following altercations but the drama was not yet over. Jones would soon be shown a second yellow after kicking the ball away in front of the referee. 
 
City finished an impressive first half with a two-goal lead and a one-man advantage. 
 
The Tigers started the second half as they ended the first and came close to adding a third from a Gavin Gunning free kick. Gunning delivered a wicked cross from the right that narrowly evaded a number of City heads. 
 
Goal-scorer McClure was replaced in the 54th minute by Bernard Mensah and the City forward made an instant impact creating a number of half-chances. 
 
Kettering had their best chance of the game ten minutes into the second half when Josh Scott found himself unmarked in the box, but his header sailed narrowly over the bar. 
 
The play became stop-start as the second half continued and there were a number of bookings for each side. For City, Gunning, Carline, Thomas and Daly all went into the book as Gloucester battled to maintain their lead. 
 
Substitute Tommy O’Sullivan had a chance to score a third in the 83rd minute after he was played through on goal, but the Kettering keeper stood tall and was equal to the driven effort. 
 
City continued to press and did score a third goal in the 91stminute through Khaellem Bailey. Gunning delivered another brilliant free kick for Bailey to glance past the helpless Kettering keeper. 
 
As the game moved deep into added time, Kettering grabbed a late a goal through Kennedy who smartly turned and finished into the bottom corner. 
 
It would be mere consolation for Kettering as the final whistle would blow just seconds after with the final score Gloucester City 3, Kettering Town 1. 
 
The Tigers are back in action on Saturday as they travel to take on Chorley in the National League North. 
 
Gloucester City starting XI: 1. Mouldon 2. Carline 3. Whittle 4. Gunning 5. Daly 6. Robert 7. Dawson 8. Thomas 9. Asante 10. Mcclure 15. Morgan –Subs: Mensah, O’Sullivan, Bailey, James, Cole 
 
Kettering Town starting XI: Collin, Stohrer, McGrath, Graham, Fryatt, Milnes, Bickley, Kennedy, Scott, Jones, Sheriff – Subs Wilson, Stephans, Turner, Richens, Chisholm 
 
Match report Jack Goodridge 
Photos Neil Phelps 
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