Corby Town’s unbeaten start in the Southern League Premier Division was ended as title favourites St Neots Town claimed a 3-1 win at Steel Park.
The Steelmen had produced an impressive first-half display after falling behind early on as Greg Mills equalised before a series of chances went begging.
And they were made to pay in the second period as St Neots eventually ran out deserved winners after a much-improved display.
Unsurprisingly, Tommy Wright named an unchanged starting line-up following Saturday’s 1-0 win at Chesham United with striker Spencer Weir-Daley still only fit enough to be on the substitutes’ bench.
But the morning leaders were stunned inside four minutes when St Neots took the lead with their first attack.
A good ball forward released Arthur Lee down the left and it couldn’t have been much simpler as he squared the ball across goal for Drew Roberts to side-foot home.
Corby’s response was swift, however. Wilson Carvalho fired just over after a neat exchange of passes with Mills before the latter did find the net.
The visitors didn’t clear their lines and the ball eventually fell to Mills who turned his marker and calmly rolled the ball across Nathan Abbey and into the bottom corner.
With their tails up, Corby went in search for a second and Carvalho forced Abbey to scramble across his goal to save his shot before Paul Malone glanced a header just wide of the far post from a Lewis Jackson corner.
Malone went even closer soon after when, from another corner, he headed towards goal only to see it blocked on the line by his own team-mate Ben Milnes.
Despite being in control, the Steelmen did get a warning on the half-hour when Malone missed his header and Paul Walker had to sprint off his line to prevent Roberts from getting a shot away.
Abbey was unconvincing as he could only punch Jackson’s 30-yard piledriver over the bar but the visitors had the best chance before half-time when substitute Lorenzo Ferrari beat the offside trap but Walker came to the rescue with a good low save.
Corby were the first to show after the break and Carvalho clipped the top of the bar with a fierce strike after cutting inside before Mills saw a deflected effort fly wide of the post.
The visitors probably should have regained the lead when a cross from the left found Ferrari but he could only head wide when unmarked.
Roberts saw a goalbound shot blocked by Edi Appleton before the Steelmen threw on Weir-Daley for his home league debut for the last 20 minutes.
But it was St Neots who looked the more threatening and Walker made another sharp stop to deny Jay Davies after he had broken clear.
Mills curled a free-kick over at the other end but it was the visitors who grabbed what proved to be the winner with seven minutes to go.
Ferrari lived up to his name as he raced away from a static home defence and he made no mistake with an excellent low finish.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts and St Neots took advantage of that in the first minute of stoppage-time.
Malone brought down Davies in the area and Roberts stepped up to beat Walker from the penalty spot.
And so the unbeaten run is ended. But the Steelmen did enough to show they can compete with the top sides in the division, a fact they should remember in the weeks to come.
Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Malone, Appleton, Jackson; Daramola, Byrne (sub Weir-Daley, 69 mins); Milnes, Taylor, Carvalho; Mills. Subs not used: Kennedy, Clarke, May, Wright.
St Neots: Abbey; R Frater, Hoyte, Bickerstaff (sub Powell, 72 mins); Spence, Spring, Ford (sub Davies, 52 mins), Farrell, Lee; N Frater (sub Ferrari, 25 mins), Roberts. Subs not used: Wilson, Greygoose.
Referee: David Avent.
Goals: Roberts (4 mins, 0-1), Mills (13 mins, 1-1), Ferrari (83 mins, 1-2), Roberts pen (90 mins, 1-3).
Bookings: Taylor, Farrell (both fouls).