Poppies must 'earn the right' for a big cup run

Kettering Town travel to Leamington in the third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup this weekend
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter ShortKettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter Short
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter Short

Paul Cox is hoping his Kettering Town players will put their recent setback firmly in the rear view mirror as they bid to move a step closer to the first round proper of the Emirates FA Cup this weekend.

The Poppies suffered their first home defeat of the season last Saturday as Spennymoor Town claimed a 2-1 success at Latimer Park.

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The Kettering manager conceded his team weren’t at their best as they slipped to a second loss of the Vanarama National League North campaign.

But there is little time to dwell as the Poppies face a tough trip to Leamington in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Cox has made no secret of his love for the competition, having masterminded memorable runs for Mansfield Town and Eastwood Town in the past.

And he believes his players are fully aware of what the FA Cup can do for them and the club.

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“The result on Saturday came down to fine lines,” the Kettering boss said.

“We weren’t at our best and, on the day, we could have been a bit better but this is what we are going to get with young players.

“There was a lack of consistency over the 90 minutes because when we did go for it, we looked a threat but it all came a bit too late in the game.

“But we will get the boys back up. I have spoken to a few of them since Saturday and you can tell they are excited about the next game on Saturday.

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“We have spoken in depth about the FA Cup and the memories and excitement it brings to football clubs.

“You have to earn the right in these games to go on and create those memories in the first, second and third rounds.

“I have spoken about the time I was at Mansfield and we went through a tough route but we stayed resolute and strong and we ended up playing Liverpool.

“It’s a creator of great dreams and memories but only if you apply yourself properly in the early stages.

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“I just love the competition. It’s the best cup competition in the world and the further we go the better.”

Cox, meanwhile, gave a positive update on the injury situation at Latimer Park as he revealed he was hopeful both Gary Stohrer and Rhys Sharpe would be returning to full training this week.

Captain Connor Kennedy and Riccardo Calder remain sidelined but Connor Johnson will be available again after serving a one-match ban, although Max Dyche is ineligible.

“We will assess everyone in training,” Cox added.

“We are hopeful that Gary Stohrer and Rhys Sharpe will be back in full training but we will have to assess them in terms of how close they are to actually playing.

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“What we don’t want to do is lose key players for longer than we ought to.

“It’s a big game for us on Saturday but we are mindful that we want players back in the right time frame and not rushing them back just because it’s an FA Cup game.

“We have been a bit light on the ground for bodies but we will put one or two through their paces this week and see how they come through training.”