Cox's 'harsh words' bring the right response from Poppies
Paul Cox was pleased his Kettering Town players shoved his “harsh words” back down his throat after they produced a stunning fightback to earn a 4-4 draw with Blyth Spartans at Latimer Park.
The Poppies looked to be heading for their first defeat under Cox after a poor first-half display left them trailing 3-0 to their fellow strugglers in the Vanarama National League North.
But a remarkable second half saw Michael McGrath and Luke Graham pull goals back before the outstanding Callum Roberts completed his hat-trick to put Blyth 4-2 up.
However, Lindon Meikle make it 4-3 before substitute Tre Mitford’s first goal for the club earned them a share a spoils in the final minute.
Boss Cox admitted he used some “harsh words” in the dressing-room at half-time and he was left delighted by the response of his players in the second period.
But he conceded they can ill-afford to produce displays like they did during the first half.
“Every bad habit that the squad, that I have inherited, came out in that first half,” the Poppies manager said.
“There was no application, the desire to win first balls and second balls and all the basics of football weren’t there and we got exactly what we deserved.
“We spoke to the players at half-time, there were probably a few harsh words said.
“But the one thing I asked was for the players to shove everything I said back down my throat and the second-half performance was frightening, it was amazing and it carried on from the two games they’d already played under me.
“In the end, we should have won the game, we had the chances.
“But I shouldn’t have to go into the dressing-room at half-time and talk like I did and say the things I did to get a response.
“We have got some good players, some of them are learning their trade but I shouldn’t have to say some of those things.
“I have been here two-and-a-half weeks and the players should already know about standards and expectations.
“But we have got a half-decent result out of nothing because at 3-0 down, usually teams are dead and buried.
“We showed tremendous character in the second half, we showed a resilience, we showed a desire to try to win the game never mind draw it and, for that, I have got to applaud the players.
“But I want that for 90 minutes, not 45. We can’t afford to just turn up for 45 minutes and expect to get something.
“I reminded the players of where we are in the league and that the league table doesn’t lie. And if we are going to achieve anything here then we have to earn the right.
“We can’t afford to have a day off, we have to work every time we are in.”
Cox, meanwhile, was delighted with the backing his team received from the home supporters as they battled their way back into the game.
“The supporters came alive again in the second half but we have to play off each other,” he added.
“We had to give the supporters something to play off and once we’d scored the goals, they were trying to suck another one into the net for us.
“We will get the 100 per cent backing of the fans but we have to be consistent.
“I have played in front of these fans, they will back us but the players have to do their bit and we aren’t good enough to take 45 minutes off against anyone.”
The Poppies are back in action on Tuesday night when they make the short trip to Wellingborough Town in the quarter-finals of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup.