Without funding or the backing of the local council, the Blue Square Premier club's future is bleak and their Rockingham Road ground is earmarked for demolition. When their lease ends in 2013, the intention is to pull the old place down and build houses on what has been Kettering's home for over 100 years.
Related ArticlesFA Cup third round drawStaines Town 1 Millwall 1Harper's baptism of fireBrighton 2 Wycombe Wanderers 0Sport on televisionAlthough the lease ends in three years' time, the club's chairman Imraan Ladak has said that unless a solution is found in the next six weeks Kettering will face extinction at the end of this season.
Most local fans fear that this plucky draw with League One leaders Leeds United will be the ground's FA Cup finale after a long and distinguished record in the competition that has seen some of the game's rich and famous humbled.
If it is to be a swansong there could not be have been a more fitting one that yielded a tantalising twist even as the two teams sat in their dressing rooms anticipating a replay at Elland Road a week on Tuesday.
In the Tin Hat social club, home fans shrieked with delight when it was announced that the winners of Kettering v Leeds would play Manchester United in the third round.
'I thought about hanging up my boots because I have a back problem,' said Kettering player manager Lee Harper, who replaced Mark Cooper when the latter departed to become manager of Peterborough three games ago. 'But I'll be walking out on crutches to be there for this replay.
'You can see what it means to fans of this club who don't want to see it die and if we manage to get past Leeds, it would give us a perfect platform to state our case.'
Harper executed several superb saves, the best from a Michael Doyle header as Leeds mounted unrelenting pressure to salvage a draw.
Jermaine Beckford and Robert Snodgrass both smacked efforts against the woodwork in the first half, but it was Kettering who secured an unlikely lead when Ian Roper headed home Richie Partridge's free kick. Roper's effort registered Kettering's 838th goal in the FA Cup, the most prolific tally of any of the participating clubs.
Kettering's defence was later undone as Beckford glanced a Snodgrass shot beyond Harper.
Kettering Town (4-4-2): Harper; Taylor, Dempster, Roper, Davis; Noubissie, Heslop, Boucaud, Partridge (Marna 82); Ashikodi (Thomas 58), Elding. Subs: Bussey (g), Wrack, Bain, Fowler, Thomas. Booked: Dempster, Davis. Leeds United (4-4-2): Ankergren; Crowe, Michalik, Bronby, Capaldi; Howson, Kilkenny, Doyle, Snodgrass; Grella (Becchio 71), Beckford.Subs: Martin (g), Marques, Prutton, Robinson, Showunmi, White. Referee: A D' Urso (Essex).