Gary Mills felt the “huge hearts” of his Corby Town players helped them make it two wins in a row as they claimed a superb 2-1 victory at Matlock Town.
A three-match unbeaten run has breathed new life into the Steelmen’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division and this latest success moved them off the bottom of the table for the first time since the end of October.
First-half goals from Phil Trainer and Ben Milnes proved decisive for Corby, who included giant defender Aaron Brown in their starting line-up after he rejoined the club.
But they were forced to hold on in the second half after Trainer received a straight red card and, although play-off contenders Matlock pulled one back, the Steelmen saw it out.
The victory was Corby’s first on the road in the league this season and their first away success in the league for almost a year.
They also made it back-to-back league wins for the first time since April 2015.
And Mills was full of praise for his players.
“We started the game well, our shape was good and a set-piece we have worked on came off for us,” the Steelmen boss said.
“Then we got the second goal and we could have been 3-0 up because Stefan (Moore) has gone one-on-one but not finished it off this time.
“But they hit the post just before half-time and that could have been a turning point if it had gone in.
“We had no complaints over the sending-off, Phil has gone into a tackle and stood on their lad. It’s disappointing and the most concerning thing is that we will miss him for three games. He’s been fantastic for us since he came in and we will really miss him.
“But we kept our shape, they stayed as a unit and they organised themselves.
“Their high energy levels and huge hearts got us through to the end.”
Mills, meanwhile, insists he always felt it would only be a “matter of time” before the Steelmen’s form turned around.
They remain eight points adrift of safety but have given themselves a lifeline with a three-match unbeaten run.
“It’s not been easy, there have been a lot of question marks thrown around,” Mills added.
“With all the hard work that we have done, I felt it would only be a matter of time until it turned for us and, in the last three games, it has.
“I am just delighted for everyone, from the fans, to the players, to the people at the top of the club that we got some results on the board and now we have to build on them.”