Cox: Poppies had a bit of a let off

Kettering Town will have to do it all again with Spalding United on Tuesday night after they were hit by a late equaliser in the FA Cup

Saturday, 18th September 2021, 8:34 pm
Updated Saturday, 18th September 2021, 8:36 pm
The look on the Kettering Town players' faces tells the story after the conceded a stoppage-time equaliser at Spalding United. Pictures by Peter Short

Paul Cox believes his Kettering Town players had something of a “let off” after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Spalding United in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.

The Poppies looked set to secure a win after substitute Claudio Ofosu gave them the lead with 15 minutes to go at the Sir Halley Stewart Field.

But Kettering had Connor Johnson sent-off for a second bookable offence and then, in the sixth minute of stoppage-time, the lower-ranked Tulips grabbed an equaliser when Nathan Stanfield powered home a header from a corner.

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It was delight for Step 4 side Spalding as Nathan Stainfield celebrates after he headed home the dramatic, late equaliser against the Poppies

It means the two teams will be in Monday’s third qualifying round draw before they meet again at Latimer Park on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).

Cox was disappointed with the concentration levels of his team in the dying moments but was quick to admit they didn’t hit the standards they have set for themselves in the National League North so far this season.

The Kettering boss said: “I think you have to give credit to Spalding. I thought they defended resolutely.

“I have to look at our first-half performance and how many chances we created but didn’t hit the target and make the keeper make a save.

Claudio Ofosu heads off to celebrate after he put the Poppies in front in Lincolnshire

“The game, in the early stages, could and should have been over because we have had Decarrey’s (Sheriff) chance and there were a couple of other situations we were sloppy with.

“We scored the goal in the second half but we were down to 10 men and we picked up a few knocks and it’s then come down to concentration levels.

“When there’s 97 minutes on the clock, you don’t give someone a free header in your box.

“The good thing is that we have been involved in games like that where we have lost.

Paul Cox conceded his team didn't perform to their best as they were forced to settle for a replay

“We have got another chance on Tuesday to put it right so I have said to the players that they have had a bit of a let off because I don’t think we played particularly well.

“And we are saying that because of the high standards they have set consistently.

“We are going to have some ups and downs with this group because of the age of it but they have another bite of the cherry on Tuesday and hopefully we can put in a better performance and, more importantly, win the game.”

Cox is also having to deal with an ever-growing injury list with the latest concern being captain Connor Kennedy who was forced off with a calf problem in the second half.

The Poppies added former King’s Lynn Town left-back Alex Brown to their squad ahead of the game but Cox admitted the number of injuries are taking their toll.

“We don’t know with Connor at the minute, we’ll have to see what happens,” he added.

“We have got a lot of injuries. We have brought in Alex Brown but we are down to the bare bones at the moment.

“But whatever team we put out on Tuesday will be going out there to try to win the game.”