Poppies boss Cox still looking to boost attacking options

Kettering Town's misfiring in front of goal continued as they were beaten in a penalty shoot-out at AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 9:04 am
AFC Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Dean Snedker denied Kettering Town a late winner in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup quarter-final at Hayden Road last night with Diamonds going on to win on penalties. Pictures by Peter Short

Paul Cox confirmed he is still hoping to strengthen his attacking options after Kettering Town’s misfiring in front of goal continued in the NFA Hillier Senior Cup last night (Tuesday).

The Poppies took an early lead in their quarter-final clash at AFC Rushden & Diamonds with defender Connor Johnson, who returned after a bout of Covid-19, scoring from close-range.

Kettering were pegged back early in the second half with Ty Deacon scoring his first goal since joining Diamonds but it was the Poppies who had the better chances to win it in normal time.

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Connor Johnson gave the Poppies an early lead at Hayden Road

In the end, they were beaten 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw but Cox was left to rue another misfiring evening in front of goal.

Kettering have only scored 10 goals in their nine Vanarama National League North games so far this season and, as they now look ahead to Saturday’s home clash with Blyth Spartans, that area of the pitch remains the manager’s biggest focus.

“It’s quite simple really, you have to put the ball in the back of the net,” the Poppies boss said.

“I don’t think the performance was bad to be fair, I made a few changes and had a look at a few people and I thought they did well.

Paul Cox watches on during the NFA Hillier Senior Cup clash

“But we had enough chances in the second half to win the game and it summed us up in the last minute when the goalkeeper (Dean Snedker) has made a great save and then we have missed the target from the rebound.

“Having had the break because of Covid, we are looking a bit rusty in front of goal and it’s just a question of finding that formula again.

“It’s goals that we are lacking at the moment and we need to find then as soon as possible.

“I am still looking to strengthen because it’s obvious we are struggling to score goals at the moment so we are working really hard on that.

Ed Cook impressed for Kettering as he featured for them having been on a dual registration at Stamford so far this season

“I am not getting too downhearted. There were some very promising performances and I think I have a tough job on Saturday now to pick the best side.”

Cox made a total of seven changes from the team that started last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat to Darlington with Ed Cook, who has been playing on a dual registration at Stamford, starting alongside Johnson and Luke O’Neill at the back.

Rhys Sharpe, who has recently returned from injury, impressed while Jordon Crawford put in a hard-working display in his first start for the Poppies.

And Cox was, in general, pleased with what he saw.

“I thought we played well and I thought there were some good individual performances,” he added.

“Rhys Sharpe, Connor Johnson and Jordon Crawford have all come into it and done very well.

“Ed Cook has been at Stamford and done well and I thought he was a colossus for us.

“It would have been easy to put the team from Saturday out there again.

“Emotion can sometimes overtake logic in these games. I have been a player at this club so I know what the fixture means.

“But getting my first 15 to 16 match fit and raring to go again is my priority and if it wasn’t, I would have stayed with the same XI that started at the weekend.

“No-one likes losing. Would we have liked to go to Rushden and win? Of course. I picked a strong side with the onus being on one or two getting good minutes under their belts.

“Sometimes you have to see beyond the emotion of the game to ensure we are in the right position for the next two or three months.

“I was happy with our overall performance and it will only be on Saturday and next Tuesday when we see how well they have come through this.”