Nicky Eaden felt Kettering Town’s opening-day success over AFC Telford United came down to one word - ‘belief’.
The Poppies found themselves trailing to a fine Steph Morley free-kick at half-time as they made their return to the Vanarama National League North.
But an action-packed second half saw Kettering draw level through Joel Carta before they were hit by a setback as Sam Cartwright was sent-off for a barge on Marcus Dinanga in the penalty area.
Paul White produced a brilliant save to stop Aaron Williams’ spot-kick and, despite the numerical disadvantage, the Poppies grabbed all three points when a fine counter-attack ended with Dan Nti scoring what proved to be the winner in the 88th minute.
It was a dramatic finish for Eaden’s first league game in charge.
And he insisted it was all down to the players.
“You are at home, it’s your first game back at this level and you want to get something out of the game,” the Poppies boss said.
“But I probably wouldn’t have picked to do it that way! Telford are a good side, they are established at the level and they were well organised.
“I just said to the boys at half-time that we aren’t going to out-football every team and create chance-after-chance.
“They have to work their socks off and dig in. I just said that if they didn’t get disheartened by the goal just before half-time and if they carried on doing the right things then they would be okay.
“They needed to believe that if they kept the work-rate up then they would get something out of the game.
“It’s not me, it’s the lads. They have to keep doing the work and as long as they do that, they will get results.
“They were really disciplined, they really worked hard and I am just glad that we nicked that goal.
“If I am saying to them that they should believe they can win the game and it happens, then it strengthens my case that they believe what I am saying!”
Eaden, meanwhile, felt goalkeeper White’s magnificent penalty save simply ‘galvanised’ his team as they went on to take all three points despite being down to 10 men.
“Sam made contact in the box and, generally, as a defender you can’t do that,” he added.
“I am not sure what the letter of the law is as far as it being a straight red but as soon as Whitey has saved it, it seemed to galvanise us.
“It’s little bits like that along the way that you need.”
The Poppies are now preparing to hit the road this week as they head to King’s Lynn Town on Tuesday night before a long trip to Darlington next weekend.