Nicky Eaden felt football hit Kettering Town “where it hurts” after they were denied a second Vanarama National League North win of the season in heartbreaking fashion.
The Poppies, despite having missed a penalty and having had Marcus Kelly sent-off, looked to be heading for victory over Chester at Latimer Park after a Gary Roberts own-goal had put them in front with 20 minutes to go.
But just as it seemed Kettering would bounce back from two successive away defeats with a victory, Chester nicked a point thanks to Akwasi Asante’s penalty after Joe Skarz had fouled substitute Matty Hughes.
It was tough to take for Eaden and his players after a vastly-improved display from the one that had seen them well beaten 3-0 at Darlington at the weekend.
And Eaden was keen to draw on the positives, despite the late setback.
“Football just has that habit of kicking you where it hurts,” the Poppies boss said.
“Maybe before the game, after Saturday, you’d be thinking we just needed something out it, which we got.
“So I will take the positives, the performance was chalk and cheese from Saturday. The boys were really disciplined, really hard-working and we managed to get it down and play a bit.
“I knew we had a front four out there that could cause them problems with their pace and trickery.
“Dan Nti led the line and I thought he was magnificent, he was a real handful. And we had a threat from out wide and with Lindon Meikle in behind.
“The penalty miss is obviously frustrating. I was cursing a bit because I felt we probably could have scored the chance immediately before it. But it happens in football, you have to take the rough with the smooth.
“We were trying to win the game and at 1-0 up and then getting the penalty, you feel we might have got it.
“But even when we were still 1-0 and down to 10 men, it felt comfortable. I didn’t make any subs because the lads looked strong and fit and they were all sticking to their jobs.
“I didn’t really want to upset the rhythm because sometimes, as a sub, it’s difficult to get up to the pace of the game immediately and I didn’t want that to cost us.”
One big positive for the Poppies was the performance of young Peterborough United loanee Sam Cartwright who was named man-of-the-match after a fine display alongside Luke Graham at the heart of the defence.
And Eaden added: “Luke will have helped him along. It’s always good for a youngster to have an experienced player at your side.
“But I have set Sam the challenge of trying to improve with every game. I want him to bring a little bit more aggression into his game by being dominant in the air.”
Kettering are back on home soil again on Saturday when they entertain Gateshead.