Thomas Baillie believes any questions over the “heart and desire” of the Kettering Town players were answered emphatically during the 2-1 victory at Royston Town.
Elliot Sandy marked his return to the club by opening the scoring before Dubi Ogbonna came off the substitutes’ bench to hit the winner with 14 minutes to go.
It was a key win for the Poppies against a team highly fancied to challenge for the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central title and it meant they retained a two-point lead at the top.
With a few indifferent results in recent weeks, some restless fans had called Baillie and fellow joint-boss Scott Machin and the players into question.
But Baillie feels he has nothing to prove and hailed his team’s display as they picked up a crucial victory on the road.
“It’s a massive win for us for many reasons,” he said.
“They have got a strong squad and I still firmly believe that Royston and us could well be the top two in the division this season.
“We have had our setbacks at times but people must remember that other teams have had them as well. There won’t be many teams that go to Royston this season and win so it was a very good day for us.
“I don’t feel I have to prove myself to anyone. I have been in and around the club for a while now so I probably know the ropes better than anyone.
“I have no problem with fans asking questions of us, hopefully we come up with the right answers more often than not.
“Scott and I know what we are doing but I have been around long enough to know that you don’t need to be too downhearted when things don’t go for you and to know not to be too over the top when things go well.
“But if anyone needed any proof that the players want to play for us then they showed it in this game.
“And this idea that they don’t have the heart and desire has been completely blown out of the water.”
Baillie, meanwhile, felt the performance of Sandy as a lone frontman and then the goal from Ogbonna after coming off the bench justified the team selection at Royston.
We have made some tough decisions recently and we had to make some for this game as well,” the joint-manager added.
“We knew how we wanted to play and Elliot was a superb for us, he definitely gives us something we have been missing.
“Dubi was fit and ready to play but we wanted to go with Elliot up there. We had a gameplan and it was something we had thought about for a long time.
“I think Elliot’s performance and Dubi coming off the bench to score the winner justified the decisions we made.”
The Poppies are now preparing for next weekend’s FA Trophy first qualifying round clash at Mickleover Sports.