O'Connor: Added steel is giving Poppies a good chance

Aaron O'Connor believes Kettering Town have already given themselves a 'really good chance of getting promotion' this season.

Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 7:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:38 am
Aaron O'Connor scores his 11th goal of the season as he gave the Poppies the lead in Tuesday's 2-0 win at Bishop's Stortford. Picture by Peter Short

The Poppies ended a run of six games without a win in all competitions with a 2-0 success at Bishop’s Stortford on Tuesday night as they moved into third place in the Evo-Stik South League Premier and to within a point of the top two.

It’s now been 576 minutes since Kettering conceded a goal in the league.

And O’Connor, who opened the scoring in midweek with his 11th of the season, is in no doubt that there is more “steel” to the Poppies squad as they bid to keep themselves in the hunt.

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Kettering head to Farnborough this weekend and the top scorer said: “I think all the players can sense that we have a bit more steel about us, especially when you look at some of the games earlier in the season.

“There were matches where we didn’t play particularly well but we stayed strong and went on to win.

“We played some good football last season but we did gift teams a lot of goals.

“We weren’t a million miles away but I think a lot of credit has to go to the management team for the way they have recruited.

“They recognised the areas that needed strengthening and they have added some experience, along with some younger lads who have come in and taken their chance.

“We have had a good start and we have given ourselves something to build on.

“All the way through the squad, we look strong and we are making teams work hard to score goals against us.

“And with the players we have going forward, I always think we are likely to score goals.

“If we can stay strong and we can keep everyone fit then I think we are going to have a really good chance of getting promotion.”

O’Connor, meanwhile, feels he is on course to hit his own personal target this season.

The experienced frontman finished the last campaign as the Poppies’ top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions, despite not arriving at Latimer Park until the beginning of September.

And normal business has been resumed in the current campaign.

The season hasn’t been without its hitches, however, as O’Connor said it was “my fault” that the Poppies went out of the FA Cup after he missed a late penalty in the 1-0 replay defeat to Nantwich Town in the fourth qualifying round.

Being a bit harsh on himself, perhaps. But he insists he hasn’t allowed that setback to affect him as he bids to continue firing in front of goal.

He said: “I know there was a lot of disappointment about going out of the FA Cup and that was my fault.

“I see missing a penalty as being like missing a good chance in open play. It happens but I don’t let it bother me, I like to move on and make sure I take the next one.

“I backed myself to score that penalty and I didn’t but I would back myself to take the next one as well.

“But overall, I am pleased with where I am. I missed the first three games because of suspension so to be on 11 goals at this stage, I feel like I am on course for my own target.

“I feel a lot fitter and sharper and I think people can see that. I certainly notice the difference.

“I think most strikers will tell you that 20 goals in all competitions is always the main aim.

“But I have set myself a slightly higher target than that this time.”