Corby Town boss Tommy Wright says his team’s inability to defend set-pieces is becoming a bit of a “joke” after a 3-2 home defeat to FC United of Manchester edged the Steelmen ever-closer to the Vanarama National League North trapdoor.
Corby conceded all three goals from set-plays in the opening stages of each half, firstly, from a sublime free-kick from George Thomson, who also scored the second following a corner before Luke Ashworth headed home another corner soon after.
“We have gone and conceded another two set-plays at the start of the second half which has ultimately cost us again,” Wright said.
“I have protected the boys all season, in terms of making excuses for them.
“We are where we are because of the way we are playing and we consistently keep making the same mistakes and we have had to pay the price.
“So at the minute the opposition are getting free-kicks, corners and throws in the first five, 10 minutes of a game and it’s becoming a bit of a joke now where I am turning around to Liam (assistant-manager O’Neill) and saying ‘I don’t like this’.
“I am literally petrified of every single ball that comes into the box in the opening minutes of games.”
The Steelmen found themselves level at half-time after Ben Milnes’ goal but could have found themselves ahead if the referee had awarded what appeared to be a stonewall penalty when Greg Mills appeared to be fouled.
The Corby boss admitted the decision could have provided a much-needed boost to his side but insisted the result wasn’t reflected in just that one moment.
“At the end of the day, the penalty that’s been given in the last minute is kind of a token gesture,” Wright added after Mills scored a late spot-kick to reduce the arrears.
“That one was actually softer than the one he has ignored in the first half.
“If you go in leading at the break 2-1 it’s almost like a psychological advantage to us, because when was the last time we were leading a game of football?
“So the first one is ignored, but we are kind of nit picking at that.
“I think if the referee has anything about him he will hold his hands up and say ‘look I missed that one’, but that is no excuse for the fact that we have gone and conceded another two set-plays at the start of the second half which has ultimately cost us again.”
Corby’s preparations for the fixture were disrupted with somewhat of a goalkeeping crisis as first-choice keeper Sam Donkin was still suffering with injury after the previous weekend.
Oliver Sutton, son of former Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers and Celtic striker Chris, was put straight into the starting line-up to make his Corby debut.
“It’s not ideal, Sam told me late on Wednesday night that he was struggling from the game on Saturday,” Wright said.
“Obviously, Ollie, with it being late notice, couldn’t then train on Thursday so he has literally turned up to play a game of football.
“So we haven’t had chance to work with Ollie but in all fairness to him I think he had a pretty steady game.”
Jonathan Breeze also made his debut for the Steelmen in midfield after his international clearance came through.
Their latest defeat has left Corby nine points adrift of safety with four games to play.
Their fate will be all-but sealed if they are beaten at Bradford Park Avenue on Wednesday night.