Scott Machin was pleased with the “character and desire” of his Kettering Town players as they extended their lead at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central with a 1-0 derby success at Daventry Town.
Brett Solkhon’s first-half header proved to be enough for the Poppies to secure all three points in front of a record crowd of 660 at Communications Park, an attendance boosted by a huge following from north Northamptonshire.
The game went ahead following a morning pitch inspection and, despite the tough conditions, they battled away to earn all three points in a game that saw three players, including James Clifton for the Poppies, red-carded.
But the victory means they will go into 2015 and the New Year Day’s home clash against Rugby Town with a seven-point lead at the summit.
And Machin was pleased with the response from his team as they bounced back from last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Northwood.
The Kettering joint-manager said: “It was very hard-fought and it’s never an easy place to go to. Daventry made it very hard for us.
“I thought they were better than their position in the league. They got the ball into the box and we have had to deal with it.
“A second goal would have killed the game off but we just couldn’t get that and we had to be resilient and we had to defend quite well in the second half.
“We couldn’t ask for more really. We slipped up in the last game against Northwood but sometimes it’s about how you bounce back and I thought the lads showed a lot of character and desire to go and win the game.
“I am really pleased with it from that point of view. We could have done more from the football side of it but the result was the key thing.
“We kept our shape ever so well defensively, we dug in when we needed to and I don’t think they really broke through us.
“The key now is to follow it up and keep it going. We have had the odd hiccup over the past couple of months and we have to make sure we don’t allow that to happen.
“It was important to get another win under our belt and get going again.”
The Poppies weren’t helped by the early loss of goalkeeper Richard Knight who was forced off with an arm injury and replaced by Jamie McAlindon, who had been recalled from his loan spell at Burton Park Wanderers.
David Kolodynski was only fit enough to be on the bench due to a bout of illness while Elliot Sandy was still missing because of a chest infection.
And Machin is hopeful all three will be ready in time to face Rugby on Thursday while another home clash with Beaconsfield SYCOB quickly follows on Saturday.
“It was a poor challenge on Richard and he has a gash all the way down his arm,” Machin added.
“He is going to get that x-rayed and we will have to see how it is.
“We will see with Elliot. He is on another course of antibiotics so hopefully they will sort him out.
“David wasn’t feeling very well on Boxing Day and overnight so we could only have him on the bench. Touchwood he will be okay as well.
“It was difficult because we only had one recognised striker in the squad so we had to shuffle the pack a little bit.”