Cox: Poppies must banish the ghost of Buxton
Paul Cox says Kettering Town need to banish the ghost of Buxton as he bids to get their season back on track.
It’s been a strange few weeks for the Poppies as their disappointing FA Cup fourth qualifying round exit at the hands of Buxton was followed by a near three-week period of inactivity due to an outbreak of Covid-19 within the camp.
They returned to Vanarama National League North action with a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Darlington last weekend and then lost out in a penalty shoot-out at AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Tuesday night having drawn 1-1 after 90 minutes in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup quarter-finals.
The Poppies are back at Latimer Park to take on Blyth Spartans this weekend as they bid to end a run five games without a win.
And Cox feels they have to fully rid themselves of the memories of their FA Cup games with Buxton, in which they led 2-0 at Latimer Park before drawing 2-2 before losing the replay 3-1 after extra-time having led 1-0, if they are to get back on course.
“Everyone remembers the Buxton game,” the Poppies boss said.
“They have gone away to York in the first round last Saturday and beaten a team with a huge budget on their own patch.
“We can’t get too carried away by that negative. We got beaten by probably the best team we have played this season, I thought Buxton were that good.
“We have to erase Buxton from our minds as quickly as possible.
“I think everyone was looking forward to a big FA Cup run and, because we got so close to the first round, I feel like it has left the whole club on a bit of a downer.
“But I maintain that we are still ahead of where we should be. That might surprise a few people.
“But going into the Buxton games, I did say we were miles ahead of where we should be with a new squad, young players and where we are as a club.
“Now is the time when one or two could go hiding. I don’t want them to do that.
“We have some good players, never forget we have some good, young players.
“And now it’s about turning those young players into men and getting back to doing what we are at good at.”
Cox was furious immediately after the final whistle after last weekend’s loss to Darlington as he accused his players of looking “fragmented and individualistic”.
However, after a few days of reflection, he now has a different take on things.
“The weekend gave me a lot of time to reflect and we had a lot of boys who hadn’t played for two, maybe three weeks,” he added.
“It’s a long season and the main thing is making sure we are getting players back and fit after that break we have had for Covid.
“I was emotional speaking immediately after the game on Saturday but when I sat down and reflected, it’s a fact that some of the boys hadn’t done anything for a couple of weeks.
“And then, after maybe 45 minutes of a friendly and one training session, we are asking them to go and compete against a decent team. That isn’t as easy as it sounds.”