Alan Doyle revealed he “went mad” at his Kettering Town side at half-time in their 5-2 defeat at Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division leaders Hemel Hempstead Town.
After three wins in a row, the Poppies found themselves 4-0 down at the break as Hemel ran riot in the first 45 minutes.
But some stern words at half-time had the desired effect and Doyle’s side restored some pride in the second period thanks to goals from Will Muzvimbiri, with his first for the club, and Jamie Griffiths.
But the Kettering manager was still disappointed with his team’s first-half showing and the defeat means they remain 13 points adrift of safety ahead of further tough matches this month, the next of which is against Stourbridge, who thrashed fellow high-fliers Leamington 5-1 at the weekend, at Steel Park on Saturday.
“I went mad at them at half-time,” Doyle admitted.
“I was reading their manager’s programme notes before the game and he made a point of praising our work-rate and desire having watched us.
“Unfortunately, we showed neither in the first half and we deserved to be 4-0 down. They looked organised, we didn’t.
“So I had a go at them at half-time and when you are 4-0 down all you can do is go out there and restore some pride. To be fair to our lads, that’s what they did.
“I warned everyone after the Bedford game that we were heading into some hard fixtures and it is important everyone keeps their feet on the ground.
“It is still important to be realistic. Hemel had nine of the 11 that played against Kettering earlier in the season on the pitch in this second meeting. We had none.
“That is the difference. What we have to do now is regroup and make sure we are ready for next weekend, which is another very hard game.
“I just felt sorry for the fans again. It felt like a home game with the number that travelled down there. Hopefully there will be a big crowd on Saturday and we will try to make it up to them.”
Doyle confirmed Nathan Fox missed the game as he was back at Corby Town following the end of his loan spell. But it is understood the Poppies are hoping the left-back will return this week.
“Our preparations were not great because Lewis Wilson went back to Northampton and then we lost Nathan as well,” the Kettering boss added.
“But that is what happens in football sometimes and you have to deal with it.”