Dean Thomas praised the character of his Kettering Town as they kept their unbeaten run going in dramatic style at Rugby Town.
The Poppies looked to be heading for their first defeat in 14 games after Mason Rowley headed the second-placed hosts into an early lead at Butlin Road after a mistake from visiting goalkeeper Denham Hinds.
But Thomas’ side, who are firmly in contention for a play-off place in the Calor League Division One Central, went on to dominate the majority of the remainder of the game without being able to finish their chances.
But the Poppies were eventually rewarded as Elliot Sandy marked his first start for the club with a thumping finish in the third minute of stoppage-time, much to the delight of a the 300-plus army of fans who helped make up a big crowd of 778.
And Thomas felt it “would have been a crime” if his team, who are now unbeaten in 15 matches in all competitions, had come away empty-handed.
“We had numerous chances throughout the game but it just felt like it wasn’t going to happen for us in front of goal,” the Kettering boss said.
“We worked hard, we played well but we didn’t put our chances away and, for a long time, it looked like it would cost us.
“Their goal came from a mistake but I am not going to criticise Denham for that. He has been brilliant for us since he came in and things like that happen in football.
“It would have been a crime if we hadn’t taken something from the game and I am just glad we got the goal at the end.
“We showed lots of character. The spirit is great, we have good players and winners in our squad. They are lads who want to succeed.
“There is a real feeling in the squad that we can win every game and I think we had a real go at a very good side who have put themselves in a great position in the league.
“It was a great recovery from us. We deserved more from the game but to take a point in the way we did against the side who are second in the division is pleasing.
“We are 15 games unbeaten now and we want to keep that run going for as long as possible.”
Thomas revealed he was toying with the idea of bringing Sandy off during the second half but was delighted to see his decision to keep the former Brackley Town man on pay off.
“We changed our system to three in midfield and I don’t think we have ever created so many chances,” he added.
“Elliot held his position and he got from box-to-box.
“There was a point where I was going to bring him off but I thought it was best to keep him on there because of his presence in the penalty area.
“He took the goal very well and I am delighted we kept him on there!”
Thomas, meanwhile, reserved special praise for the Kettering fans who made the short trip up the A14 in numbers.
He said: “The fans were fantastic for us from the first minute.
“They made a lot of noise and I think it was one of those days that reminded everyone of how great this club is. It felt like the Kettering Town of old.”
The Poppies are due to return to action on Tuesday night when they take on Premier Division outfit Redditch United in the third round of the Red Insure Cup at Latimer Park. The tie has already fallen victim to the weather on two occasions.