Marcus Law hailed the “togetherness” at Kettering Town as they moved to the top of the Evo-Stik South League Premier after an incredible effort against Chesham United at Latimer Park.
The Poppies looked to be in control of things when they went 1-0 up courtesy of an Aaron O’Connor goal but they suffered a huge setback on 22 minutes when goalkeeper Paul White was sent-off for retaliation after an incident in the goalmouth.
With no replacement on the bench, captain Brett Solkhon took over in goal and frontman Rene Howe moved to the heart of the defence for the remainder of the contest.
Matt Beavans levelled with a stunning long-range free-kick early in the second half but Kettering’s 10 men produced a monumental effort late on and Mathew Stevens put them back in front before the outstanding O’Connor rounded off a 3-1 victory in stoppage-time.
A fourth win from as many home league matches sent the Poppies to the summit and left the manager delighted as he drew a comparison with a game that had the same scenario but ended in a different result almost exactly a year ago.
“It was a bit of a deja vu for us because it was the same weekend as last year when we played Dunstable (the Poppies lost 3-1 after Howe was sent-off) and we had a similar scenario where we had a silly situation from one of our players that put us under pressure,” Law said.
“But the difference from last year to this year has been what it has been all season and that’s the togetherness, the work-rate and belief to make it a positive result.
“Every player involved, every player who came off the bench put in a massive shift for the club and I think the fans appreciated that and that’s why we heard them more raucous than they have been for a long while.
“I was a bit disappointed with the referee for their goal because everything up until that point had been on the whistle.
“The free-kick wasn’t taken from the right place, admittedly my goalkeeper was out of position and that was understandable considering the situation he was put in.
“But I was just frustrated because the ball was taken forward five yards and there was no whistle for it to be taken.
“But I give credit to our players because that was the only way Chesham scored, with an opportune moment.
“Last year we would have crumbled but this time we have bounce back and won 3-1.
“The togetherness and want to get through that game was amazing and the challenge now is to make sure it isn’t wasted.
“A lot of work went into that game but now we have to make sure we match those levels and finish our month in the league on a good note.”
Law revealed White apologised to the squad after the game and the goalkeeper also apologised on social media.
He will be available for Tuesday’s big home clash with Banbury United but will begin a three-match ban when the Poppies go to Basford United in the Emirates FA Cup next weekend.
And Law admitted he and his staff will have to “get to work” as they look for a suitable replacement.
The Poppies boss added: “Paul had a reaction, he retaliated wrongly and he has apologised.
“He’s had a rush of blood and we have to deal with it as a club.
“We have got until next Saturday to resolve the situation. We have signed a reserve goalkeeper but whether or not he is quite ready to come straight in or not, we will have to see.
“There’s no rush for Tuesday but we will get to work on it and look to get some cover in.”