Delighted Kettering Town boss Cox is hungry for even more

The Poppies claimed a fine win over Brackley Town but their manager believes they can get even better in the future

Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 7:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 7:26 pm
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox applauds his team from the sidelines during their fine 3-1 success over Brackley Town. Pictures by Peter Short

Paul Cox was understandably delighted after Kettering Town kicked off 2022 with a fine 3-1 victory over table-topping Brackley Town at Latimer Park.

But the Poppies boss insists he and his players “want to get better” after they moved into the top 10 of the Vanarama National League North.

Kettering stormed back into action after a 15-day break due to Covid-19 cases in their squad as they took the lead thanks to Chris Smith’s header - his first goal for the club.

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Connor Johnson and Jordon Crawford show their delight after the final whistle at Latimer Park

Callum Powell doubled the advantage, scoring the rebound after his penalty had been saved by Danny Lewis, before the leaders hit back through Jordan Cullinane-Liburd’s header.

However, Harrison Neal curled home a fabulous third for his first Poppies goal to wrap up a second win in a row.

“I thought the players worked really hard,” Kettering manager Cox said.

“They have been working really hard for a while now. We have tweaked training a little bit and that game has followed on from the Leamington one.

“We have gone to Leamington and scored four goals and now we have put three past a team who had only conceded 11 all season.

“We have talked about the amount of times we have got into the final third and not punished our opponents. That’s been key with us not winning games.

“We are getting better but we’re not the finished product by a country mile. There is a lot more we can do before we can start smiling but we are getting there.

“There was a bit of anxiety coming into the game because we knew we were playing against a good team and we were coming in off the back of a break.

“But I thought the boys played really well. It’s a good result.

“Even in that period where we weren’t winning games and we were taking a bit of stick, I still had the belief in the plan and the process.

“I have always maintained we had a good core of players.

“When people were losing their heads four or five weeks ago, I had to keep mine.

“It’s not about proving any people right or wrong. I have been around the block a few times and I know that when you lose a few, people start doubting.

“It’s up to me and my management team to keep our heads and the people behind the scenes have worked really hard.

“But we aren’t happy with where we are. We want to get better.”

The winds of change have been blowing through the Poppies squad in the last few days.

Luke O’Neill has signed for Sky Bet League Two side Stevenage while Kyle Perry has joined Nuneaton Borough on a dual registration and midfielder Lamine Sherif has left the club.

Striker Gerry McDonagh has gone back to his parent club FC Halifax Town after his loan spell was cut short by an ankle injury.

Former Norwich City midfielder Saul Milovanovic has joined Kettering while the loan deals for Neal and goalkeeper Jackson Smith from Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers respectively have been extended.

But they are now in the market for fresh faces.

And Cox added: “We have a good core of young players who I am hoping the club can tie down and look after so we can take them into next season.

“If we add that little bit of extra something to it then we can start to go places.

“We want to get better players and we have had to make tough decisions to allow us to try to do that.

“We have tried to free up a bit of money with one or two lads moving on.

“We know we need strengthening but we have a really good core of players.”