Thomas Baillie gave a brutal assessment of Kettering Town’s performance after they scrapped their way to what proved to be a crucial 2-1 success over AFC Hayes at Latimer Park.
Elliot Sandy’s late penalty proved decisive after David Kolodynski’s first-half opener for the Poppies had been cancelled out while Gary Mulligan was sent off along with an opponent following a brawl in stoppage-time.
Joint-boss Baillie conceded the Poppies were “poor” and is certain his team “will never play that badly again”.
But the victory proved to be vital in the race for the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central title.
Second-placed Bedworth United’s game with Hanwell Town was postponed due to the latter being stranded in traffic while Aylesbury’s match at Egham Town fell foul of the weather.
It all meant Kettering moved three points clear at the top with a game in hand and they are now five ahead of Aylesbury, who visit Latimer Park next weekend.
But even those facts couldn’t really change Baillie’s mood in the final assessment of the performance.
“It’s one of those occasions where I feel like we should take the three points and say no more about it,” he said.
“Hayes’ results have picked up of late and they were a very big and physical side with a lot of athletic players in there.
“But there is no other way of dressing it up from our point of view, we were poor.
“We created our own problems and put ourselves under pressure. Individually and collectively we didn’t perform well enough.
“It was a catalogue of errors for their goal and I am sure Hayes will feel disappointed that they haven’t taken anything from it.
“But it’s a results business and the players have shown a bit of grit and determination to come back and get the victory.
“It’s great to win the game but I certainly didn’t feel like we had won afterwards, albeit the league table looks a lot better for us than it did beforehand.
“We knew the Aylesbury match had been called off and then the situation arose with Bedworth and Hanwell so this became one of the games in hand.
“The only thing that really matters at this stage is points on the board and we have put three more on there.
“I am sure we will play a lot better than that and lose. But I am confident and hopeful that we will never play that badly again.”
The game ended on a sour note with that brawl that saw Mulligan, who was making his first start for the club, red-carded.
And Baillie added: “Gary was in the corner and went down and one of their players appeared to stamp on him.
“Gary has got up and pushed him and then another player has come in and started throwing punches.
“Gary didn’t retaliate to that but when someone is hitting you then you are going to defend yourself.
“It was obvious their lad was going to be sent off and Gary has gone for the initial push.
“To be honest, there’s not a lot you can say or do because the inconsistency of referees seems to be a recurring theme.”