The mentality was all wrong, says Poppies boss Cox
Paul Cox was unable to contain his disappointment following his first defeat as manager of Kettering Town as they were dumped out of the Buildbase FA Trophy by FC United of Manchester.
Two goals from Tunde Owolabi gave the Northern Premier League hosts a deserved 2-0 lead and a late flurry from the Poppies, which saw Luke Graham pull a goal back, proved to be in vain as they were condemned to a 2-1 loss in the first-round tie.
Kettering were without injured striker Aaron O’Connor and the unavailable Brett Solkhon but boss Cox refused to use his threadbare squad as an excuse.
“I am disappointed for the supporters who travelled all that way to see us and I am disappointed because I love this competition to bits,” the Poppies manager said.
“The mindset we have created just wasn’t there and that is the biggest worry for me.
“It was just a token gesture at the end to be honest. You can’t turn up for five minutes and expect to win a game, I find it a bit embarrassing that all of a sudden we try to win a game in the last five minutes.
“We knew how they were going to play, we had done our homework and everything had been drilled into the players.
“But there wasn’t one individual battle won and FC United were the better team.
“They deserved to go through and we deserved nothing and that hurts, it’s the first time I’ve said it since I have been here.
“Everyone knows we have a small squad but it’s no excuse. We didn’t apply ourselves right from the first whistle. The mentality was all wrong.
“The players have been brilliant since I have come in but that can sometimes cloud everyone’s judgment.”
Carrying on that thought process, Cox believes he now has some key decisions to make as far as the squad is concerned.
The Poppies have re-signed defender Jay Williams on loan from Northampton Town, although he won’t be available until Boxing Day due to suspension.
And Cox believes the good run of form the team have been on since he joined the club may have papered over some cracks.
“It told me a lot,” Cox said as he reflected further on the Trophy defeat.
“There were a lot of questions when I first came to the club that needed answering and sometimes results paper over cracks.
“But the cracks were in abundance this time. We had a good chat afterwards, a lot needed to be said. I didn’t need to shout and a lot of questions were answered in my head right from the first minute.
“We can’t afford just to turn up at a game and play like that and expect to win.
“I knew a loss would come at some point, I thought it would probably come earlier than this.
“I am all about dissecting things and making decisions and there were decisions maybe three or four games ago that probably needed to be addressed.
“The questions that I am asking myself now need to be answered.
“It’s going to be an interesting weekend for me. We will sit and dissect everything and see where we are. I have got to go away and do a lot of thinking. We want to set really high standards and we fell below them.
“I go away having learned a lot about individuals. So I will be sitting down with John (assistant-manager Ramshaw) and having a chat with the chairman (David Mahoney) and Ritchie (owner Jeune) and seeing what we can do about it.”
The Poppies return to Vanarama National League North action with a trip to Alfreton Town next Saturday in their final game before Christmas.