Manager Paul Cox wants Poppies to be as competitive as possible in the league this season

Kettering Town welcome Bradford (Park Avenue) to Latimer Park for National League North opener

By Jon Dunham
Friday, 13th August 2021, 6:00 am
Poppies manager Paul Cox
Poppies manager Paul Cox

Paul Cox is determined to make Kettering Town as competitive as possible in the Vanarama National League North this season.

The Poppies kick-off their new campaign on Saturday when they take on Bradford (Park Avenue) at Latimer Park, after drawing their final friendly with Peterborough Sports 2-2.

While the last two seasons have ended prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both teams had struggled in the lower reaches of the table in both campaigns.

That could, from the outside looking in, make the opening-day clash even bigger than normal.

But Poppies boss Cox insists what has gone on in the past means little and he is instead focused on making sure his team are capable of standing up to any team in the division.

“It’s a big game because we want to get off to a good start,” the Kettering manager said.

“Previous league positions and things like that don’t really matter to me. It’s not until you are into October, maybe 10 games into the season, that things start to settle down.

“Our mindset is all about being competitive no matter who is in front of us. Anyone who comes in front of us, we have to try to affect the game as much as we can.

“The most important thing about this weekend is making sure we impose ourselves at home and give the crowd a reason to get behind us.

“It’s going to be a tough league but I think we have some good players.

“You can never guarantee anything but the main aim right now is to get back to enjoying football and trying to get off to a good start. I am really looking forward to it.”

Cox is fast approaching his two-year anniversary as Poppies boss but, due to the incredible circumstances in the last few months, he is yet to take charge of a full season.

He is hoping that will change this time with hopes high that this will be an uninterrupted campaign.

“It’s been frustrating,” he admitted.

“But, at the same time, people know that I don’t like to cry about stuff. I just want to get on with things.

“I do think Covid is going to be here with us and we have to work around it. We have worked really hard to put things in place to protect the squad.

“Fingers crossed we can get through a consistent season at the end of which we can be judged. We, like everyone, just want a clear season.

“The boys are more understanding of their roles and responsibilities and what the objectives are and I just think everyone is champing at the bit to start the season.”