Cox praises players after epic cup clash

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PAUL Cox has praised the mentality of his Eastwood Town players as they prepare for the next instalment of their FA Trophy adventure.

The Badgers disposed of Conference National side Rushden & Diamonds courtesy of a dramatic 4-3 extra-time win on Tuesday night.

And with AFC Telford United the next opponents this weekend, manager Cox took time out to pay tribute to his side’s recent exploits.

He said: “Even though we made it hard for ourselves in the end, I can’t criticise the players too much as we’ve just beaten one of the top teams in non-league football and are playing some great stuff at the moment.

“After 90 minutes and having lost a 3-1 lead the lads were a bit demoralised before extra-time, but we said a few harsh words and to their credit the adrenaline got pumping again and they went out and finished the job.

“Despite Rushden being the full-time outfit, I think we actually finished the stronger and fitter side, which shows just how hard our lads have worked in recent weeks, particularly when matches being called off have resulted in some pretty gruelling training sessions.

“And it’s even more remarkable when you consider we lost Lindon Meikle early in the game and were without Russell Cooke altogether - two of our key players.”

Attention now turns to the New Buck’s Head on Saturday where Eastwood will face a side currently third in the Blue Square North.

And despite Tuesday’s heavy exertions, Cox is confident his team won’t be too tired to put on another good display.

He said: “It’s likely we’ll give them a night off training on Thursday as they probably need more recovery time following a tough training session last Saturday and then a very physically demanding game on Tuesday.

“So hopefully they’ll be fine for Saturday and we can continue our unbeaten run.”

While scoring goals hasn’t been a problem in recent games, nor has conceding them, something Cox is keen to eradicate if his side is to make progress in league and cup.

“We still need to defend more as a unit as we’ve been cut open a bit too easily at times, and the players can’t be too cavalier, which some have been guilty of on occasions,” he added.

“But they’ve been grabbing the concept of what we now require from them well and the result has been some good football being played.

“Lee Stevenson has been in superb form at one end and John Danby has kept us in a few games with some great saves at the other, and we’ve also been able to keep a fairly regular line-up too as perfomances have been consistently good.”

Striker Lindon Meikle is rated as ‘very doubtful’ for the Telford clash having been withdrawn just ten minutes into Tuesday’s game.

It had been thought a thigh injury sustained against Boston had cleared up in time to face Rushden, but with Meikle having been unable to continue after a bright start, he is now unlikely to make Saturday’s squad.

Cox said: “We need to bear in mind that there are a lot of league games to cram in over the next few weeks and we can’t take any chances with injuries, so it’s likely Lindon will have to sit out the Telford game.”