Steve Kinniburgh conceded the final-day display at Coalville Town was “a shambles” as Corby Town were relegated from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.
The Steelmen were hammered 4-1 in Leicestershire while Sutton Coldfield Town claimed a 0-0 draw at Workington to condemn Corby to a second relegation in the space of a year after they dropped down from the Vanarama National League North last April.
Kinniburgh admitted the performance at Coalville was “nowhere near good enough” as they fell 2-0 down in the first half while Aaron Brown was sent off after the break.
But the temporary boss, who replaced Gary Mills who had previously led the club on an incredible run to give themselves a chance of survival, was quick to defend the squad that finished the season at Steel Park.
A dreadful first few months of the campaign left Corby 12 points adrift of safety and bottom of the league after a 4-0 defeat at Grantham Town at Boxing Day before a stunning revival that began at the turn of the year.
But, in the end, as Kinniburgh observed, they fell at the final hurdle.
“Based on that 90 minutes, it’s a shambles and nowhere near good enough from start to finish,” the Corby manager said.
“We didn’t really create much, we had a few half chances and I don’t even know whether our goal went over the line.
“They (Coalville) wanted it, they were free, they were playing and we got stage fright.
“It’s a game of football that if we were going into the next one, you would analyse that and find out where we go but we have not got any more, that’s it, the end of the line.
“If you want to look at the big picture, nine of us in this squad got put together at the end of December and the start of January and we accumulated I think 35 points from 20-odd games, which is not far off play-off form.
“This squad attempted survival, they gave us the game yesterday and over the last couple of weeks they have had cup final, after cup final, after cup final and we won them.
“We got to yesterday and we fell at the last hurdle but this squad of players is not a relegation team, it’s a squad that came in and nearly got the great escape.”
Kinniburgh paid tribute to the large army of fans who made the short trip up the M1, only to be left devastated after seeing their team relegated again.
There were some angry scenes immediately after the final whistle and emotions spilled over but the Steelmen supporters were on hand to console the players as they made their way over to them after the game.
“We had great support on Easter Monday and we had 200 or 300 with us at Coalville and it was fantastic,” Kinniburgh added.
“You don’t mind a bit of the passion rolling over. The boys went over to them and they are upset that we have been relegated but it’s not that group of boys who have done it.
“Yesterday wasn’t good enough, we didn’t put on a show and we can’t get away from that but the big picture of the whole thing is that it was the first four months of the season that killed us.”