Kettering Town boss Thomas Baillie was far from downhearted after his team’s three-game winning run was ended by Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-off contenders Barwell.
The Poppies slipped to a 2-1 defeat in their penultimate home fixture at Steel Park with Nathan Hicks’ late penalty not being enough as the visitors claimed a crucial victory to move them clear in the final play-off position.
But despite seeing their impressive good form of late ended, Baillie was pleased to see his already-relegated team push one of the division’s high-fliers all the way.
“The conditions were difficult because it was so windy but I thought our boys gave a good account of themselves,” the Kettering manager said.
“Barwell are a very big and strong side and they play a very direct game. They used the wind to their advantage and, to be fair, it worked for them.
“It was still a bit difficult for us because we had two attacking players having to play in defence because of a lack of bodies.
“But I give our boys credit because once again they have worked very hard, we possibly just didn’t win as many of the individual battles as we should have done.
“There wasn’t a great deal between the sides. I don’t think any neutral would have thought it was a game between a side who are going for promotion and a team who had already been relegated.
“I think there were times when it showed that our lads have now played four games in eight days. There are a few of them carrying knocks but they turned up and played when we needed them.”
Kettering have two games left in the campaign, the first of which is their final home game of the season at Corby Town’s stadium on Saturday when they entertain Gosport Borough, who are chasing Barwell for that final play-off place.
The club have made the game a ‘pay what you want’ event, giving supporters the chance to decide their own admission fee.
The Poppies will have central defender Henry Eze available again after he completed a three-match ban on Wednesday night.