Marcus Law admitted Kettering Town “hit the self-destruct button” as a shock 3-2 home defeat to Tiverton Town last night (Tuesday) left their hopes of securing a home play-off semi-final in tatters.
The Poppies went into the clash knowing that two wins from their final two home matches of the season would be enough to secure second place and home advantage throughout the Evo-Stik South League Premier play-offs.
Instead, a second home league defeat of the campaign left them in fourth place and facing the prospect of an away-day in the post-season.
Kettering took the lead through Mathew Stevens but three goals in the space of 11 second-half minutes put Tiverton 3-1 up and ensured Brett Solkhon’s late penalty was in vain.
The Poppies could yet move back up the table on the final day of the regular season when they take on Farnborough at Latimer Park.
But boss Law was left to reflect on a tough night.
“It wasn’t a great performance but we were certainly on top of the situation,” Law said.
“It was all a bit lacklustre on the pitch and in the stands and it just felt like everyone was waiting for something to go wrong.
“But there is no question we hit the self-destruct button. We seemed to hit the wall.
“The ball kept coming back at us from the front areas too easily.
“This is something we didn’t see coming but I am going to defend the players because I know they have given their all in what has been a crazy time.
“We have been playing virtually every other day for the last 12 days.
“There is obvious disappointment because we had got into a fantastic position to get ourselves a home semi-final and we blew up in the last half-an-hour.
“But if someone can find me another club who have come out of a similar run of fixtures with more points than we have then I would like to see it.
“We weren’t helped by key players being injured, unavailable and suspended on top of the long-term injuries and we haven’t got a squad of 20 first-teamers to call on like a couple of other teams.
“I understand the disappointment but we are still in the same situation. We have a shot in the play-offs and that’s what we must focus on.”
Don’t miss more news from Latimer Park in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph