Kettering Town have been left to rue two missed opportunities after their Emirates FA Cup hopes went up in smoke at Buxton last night (Tuesday).
Having led 2-0 in the first fourth qualifying round meeting at Latimer Park at the weekend, the Poppies squandered that advantage with the unbeaten Northern Premier League high-flyers hitting back to force a replay thanks to a last-gasp penalty.
And, again, in the replay last night, Kettering took the lead thanks to the returning Kyle Perry’s second-half goal only for former Poppy Ben Milnes to level things up before two goals from Diego De Girolamo won it for Buxton in extra-time, during which Harrison Neal was sent-off for two bookable offences.
And Kettering boss Paul Cox believes the FA Cup exit came down to his team not doing the basics well enough over both games.
“I think both games mirrored each other,” the Poppies manager said.
“I think a bit of complacency or arrogance and lack of experience caught up with us in both matches.
“I thought we were in control for 60 minutes and then we stopped doing what we are good at.
“The shape of the side was good, we looked organised and we didn’t give them much scope to affect our goal.
“But we stopped doing what we are good at and the sooner we get back to that mindset, the sooner we will get back to the standards we have set for ourselves this season.
“I don’t think we have played particularly badly but we forget what we are good at and how good we look when we just do the basics really well.
“We are talking about an hour or so over two games - the last half-an-hour on Saturday and the last half-an-hour or so last night, if you take extra-time out of it.
“We haven’t set the world alight in that time but, having said that, we have had the chances in both games to kill it off but for some reason we have lacked that cutting edge.”
Cox conceded a lot of people were “hurting” after the defeat at Buxton but he knows there is little time to dwell as the Poppies resume their National League North campaign with a home clash against bottom side Southport at the weekend.
“Everyone is hurting,” he added.
“We feel we have given the supporters a massive boost with what we are trying to do but I can understand that people went home hurt last night.
“I am hurting, my staff, the players, the fans, we are all hurting but it’s my job to pick everyone up and to make sure this club stays on track in the short, medium and long term because if I wobble and we wobble as a management team then we are not going to achieve our goals.
“As much as it’s hurting, we have to put this one to bed and we have to pick ourselves up and refocus for Saturday. We have to get back on the horse.”