Cox: A point was the very least Poppies deserved
Paul Cox felt a point was the “very least” Kettering Town deserved after they claimed a 1-1 draw at Brackley Town on New Year’s Day.
The Poppies went in front against their Northamptonshire rivals when Michael McGrath’s shot took a deflection to beat Danny Lewis in the home goal.
But Brackley, who started the day in third place in the Vanarama National League North, equalised almost immediately through James Armson.
Further drama followed in the second half with the Poppies reduced to 10 men when Ben Milnes was sent-off for a foul on Lee Ndlouv before they won a penalty which Dan Nti took but it was saved by Lewis.
And they almost paid a heavy price in stoppage-time when Brackley were awarded a penalty of their own but Paul White produced a save to preserve the point.
The draw keeps Kettering five points clear of the relegation zone and boss Cox said: ““We have come up against a team whose form has been fantastic. We knew it was going to be a tough test but we asked questions of them, even with 10 men.
“The referee probably needs a mention because even the linesman on our side was questioning some of his decisions.
“For the sending-off, he has pulled the centre-forward up for continuously jumping into people and then wasn’t bright enough to realise that’s what he did for that foul.
“I will have to watch it again to be 100 per cent professional on it but it was one of a multitude. I thought there were some strange decisions and I didn’t think he helped himself.
“Taking that aside, I thought a point was the very least we deserved.
“I think the turning point was the penalty we got. If we had scored that then we maybe would have gone on.
“But in the second half, we could have hit targets when placed in good positions.
“However, like we said at Boston, the lads have given everything against a team who are flying and they are learning.
“Over the two tough away games, we are kicking ourselves a bit that we haven’t come out with a slightly higher points tally.
“The transition from eight or nine weeks ago has been immense and I think the supporters appreciate that.”
Cox, meanwhile, admitted he was expecting Brett Solkhon to take the penalty the Poppies were awarded before Nti stepped up and saw his effort from 12 yards saved.
“I thought it was going to be Brett who would take it but Dan is a centre-forward,” Cox added.
“I think it sometimes takes a lot of mental strength to pick the ball up against one of your former clubs and sometimes you have to be brave enough to miss them.
“I thought it was Brett who takes them when he is on the pitch and we will have a talk about it.
“But there won’t be any hunting down of Dan or anything like that. Like I say, you have to be brave enough to place the ball down and, sometimes, you have to be brave enough to miss.”
The Poppies are back on home soil on Saturday when they take on sixth-placed Farsley Celtic at Latimer Park.