Cox 'gutted' for his Kettering players after Boston defeat

Paul Cox felt “gutted” for his Kettering Town players after they fell to their first Vanarama National League North defeat since he took charge of the club.

Saturday, 28th December 2019, 10:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th December 2019, 10:38 pm
Luke Graham struck the post from close-range as Kettering Town chased a second-half equaliser in their 2-1 defeat at Boston United. Pictures by Peter Short

The Poppies were beaten 2-1 by Boston United in a typically firey encounter with their old rivals on their final visit to York Street.

Roared on by nearly 300 travelling fans, Kettering fell behind to Jake Wright’s goal before Tre Mitford levelled with his third goal in two games.

Wright headed the hosts back in front in first-half stoppage-time but the Poppies piled the pressure on after the break and saw big chances go begging with Luke Graham hitting the post from close-range while Dan Nti had a header hacked off the line.

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A healthy contingent of nearly 300 Poppies fans were on hand at York Street

In the end, it was not to be as the play-off chasing Pilgrims saw things out.

And while disappointed by the final outcome, Cox believes his players proved just how far they have come over the past few weeks.

“I am disappointed, I hate losing,” the Kettering manager said.

“But I said to the players that I was gutted for them. I think they deserved something out of the game just for their endeavour alone.

Tre Mitford shows his delight after he scored Kettering's equaliser

“The simplicities are that we made two mistakes in the first half and got punished like you do against good teams. And we didn’t punish them when we had our opportunities in the second half.

“I think we have come a long, long, long way from eight or nine weeks ago. We are coming to places now and we are asking questions of people.

“It would have been nice to make some more changes during the game to ignite us a bit but hopefully we will get some bodies back over the next two or three weeks.

“But I am pleased with the way we have come to a club who are having a great season with a great home record and we have asked questions of them.

“With all due respect, Boston were trying to kill the game after 48 minutes. There was time-wasting and a lack of desire to do things quickly. That’s experienced players and I wouldn’t expect anything less.

“I am just gutted that we have not won a game, especially in front of the amount of supporters we brought with us. That’s when you want to put on a show, you want them following you up and down the country and coming to your home games every week.

“They applauded us off, they realised the endeavour and they knew we tried to win the game.

“We have to take it on the chin but if we continue with what we are doing then we will win a lot more football matches.

“I just think we have gone from a team that was maybe classed as the whipping boys to one that is competing with clubs who have big infrastructures.

“I don’t think you could tell which team wants to get promoted and which team who has the goal of staying in this league.

“I want to be where the likes of Boston and York are. I think we can do that, it’s just a question of patience.

“But there is nothing to have a go at the players for, we just probably lacked a cutting edge.”

Cox will now be looking for a response from his players when they kick-off 2020 with a tough Northamptonshire derby at third-placed Brackley Town on New Year’s Day (Wednesday, 3pm).

“They need to look after their bodies,” the Poppies boss added.

“These boys are professional footballers and I expect them to really look after themselves.

“We are back in tomorrow (Monday) and we will be preparing like we are a professional football club.

“We have a bitter taste in our mouth after the defeat but it’s now about how we respond and I am looking for the right kind of performance at Brackley."