Nicky Eaden felt Kettering Town showed “what it takes to get results at this level” after they ended their poor run of form with a much-needed 2-1 victory over Alfreton Town at Latimer Park.
The Poppies, who had failed to win in their previous nine matches in the Vanarama National League North, came flying out of the blocks and opened the scoring inside the first minute with man-of-the-match Dan Nti winning and scoring a penalty.
And they were 2-0 up just three minutes later thanks to Marcus Kelly’s fine strike.
Alfreton pulled a goal back just before half-time through Amari Morgan-Smith but a confident second-half display ensured the Poppies saw things out to relieve some of the pressure that had been building on boss Eaden.
“I just said to the boys before hand that I was sick of losing football matches,” the Kettering manager said.
“I might not show my emotions all the time but when I went on the pitch as a player, I’d have kicked my granny for three points.
“You have to have that kind of attitude. To get belief, you have to buy into something and you have to get results. And that performance out there is what it takes to get results at this level.
“The performance wasn’t miles better than what we have had. We have played like that in games and got beat.
“But I thought there was a bit more resilience to us, especially at the back. They stuck to their task and we looked a bit more of a threat as well.
“Nobody has made a mistake, which always helps. But I do think we looked more focused over the whole 90 minutes.
“We limited them to just the free-kick that they scored from in the first half and they probably had one or two chances in the second half. But we had plenty of chances ourselves to get more goals.
“It’s great to get the win and hopefully we can find a bit of momentum. We will remind the boys of what it took to get this result and make sure they take it into the next game and the next one after that.”
Eaden brought Aaron O’Connor straight back into the starting line-up after it was confirmed earlier in the week that the striker would be staying at Latimer Park despite having been previously told that he was free to leave.
O’Connor and Nti didn’t give the Alfreton defence a moment of peace with hard-working displays and Eaden was delighted with what he saw from the two frontmen.
“He is non-stop Dan and that’s why I brought him here,” he added.
“He is just a problem for opposing defences for 90 minutes. He is a good foil to play off.
“I said to all the players before the game that you have to be a problem for the opposition.
“If you’re not 6ft 2ins tall and physical, you have to be a problem in other ways.
“We have probably got four or five players like that and Aaron isn’t a physical striker but I just told him to be a nuisance and be that threat in behind for us and that’s exactly what he did.”
The Poppies now have some midweek action ahead of them as they host Cogenhoe United in the first round of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup on Tuesday night.