VERDICT – Battling Steelmen offer some hope despite a late loss

New signing Steve Kinniburgh talks it over with assistant-manager David Bell during the Steelmen's loss to Workington at Steel Park. Pictures by Alison Bagley
New signing Steve Kinniburgh talks it over with assistant-manager David Bell during the Steelmen's loss to Workington at Steel Park. Pictures by Alison Bagley

Corby Town will be rock-bottom of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division on Christmas Day.

But there may just be a few glimmers of hope for the second half of what looks set to be a doomed campaign.

Corby goalkeeper Dan Farrell is left stranded as Joe McGee's shot gives Workington the lead

Corby goalkeeper Dan Farrell is left stranded as Joe McGee's shot gives Workington the lead

Yes, they suffered another defeat as Workington eventually escaped Steel Park with a 3-1 success.

But, as they made the long trip back to Cumbria, they must surely be counting their lucky stars as they definitely snatched the points in this one.

Steelmen boss Gary Mills has continued to make changes since arriving at Corby but he does, at least, now look like he has a group of players who are ready to fight for the cause.

For the first time in a long time there could be no question marks over the work-rate or desire of this Steelmen side.

Connor Kennedy stretches for the ball with one of Corby's first-half chances

Connor Kennedy stretches for the ball with one of Corby's first-half chances

They battled for everything, they created plenty of chances that should have been converted but just when it seemed they would have something to show for their efforts, it was cruelly snatched away from them.

Mills included no fewer than four new signings in his squad with Steve Kinniburgh being one after he joined from Kettering in a player-coach role, which will also see him become the club’s academy director in the new year.

Other new arrivals at Steel Park included full-back Miles Smith, defender Jason Lee who had recently been with AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Philip Bilson, who signed from Leicester Nirvana.

Corby started well and Connor Kennedy should have done better when he scooped over from close-range after Steven Leslie had nodded down Stefan Moore’s cross.

But Workington opened the scoring on 14 minutes when a free-kick was sent in and the ball was eventually teed up for Joe McGee who hammered home a low shot with Dan Farrell unsighted.

The Steelmen continued to create chances though and Jamie Tank’s header looped wide before their best opportunity of the half arrived.

Jordon Crawford’s shot was parried by Aaron Taylor and it fell to Lee. The flag stayed down but the defender could only blast over.

Farrell produced a decent save at the other end when Jack Ryan beat the offside trap but Corby finished the half with another chance as Kennedy headed wide at the far post from Moore’s cross.

After a slow start to the second half, Corby did grab a deserved equaliser on the hour.

The ball was played through for Moore who was left one-on-one with Taylor and the striker held his nerve before coolly rolling it under the goalkeeper.

Leslie flashes a volley just wide as the Steelmen hunted a winner but it was Workington who snatched the crucial third goal of the game with nine minutes to go.

And it was a mistake from Farrell as he was deceived by Jakob Simpson’s cross and could only palm it out. It fell to substitute Elliot Newby and he turned and scored into the far corner.

And the game was well and truly over in stoppage-time when McGee’s shot was too hot for Farrell to handle and substitute Scott Allison bundled in from close-range.

No-one can kid themselves. We are already dealing somewhere close to miracles when it comes to the Steelmen’s hopes of surviving a second relegation in as many years.

But if more performances like this follow then they will, at the very least, give it a real go to pull off the great escape.

Steelmen: Farrell; Smith, Tank, Lee, Kinniburgh (sub Draper, 71 mins); Kennedy, Trainer; Crawford, Milnes (sub Bilson, 87 mins), Leslie; Moore. Subs not used: R Bell, Blake, B Marshall.

Workington: Taylor; Simpson, Douglas, Calvert, Rowntree; Symington (sub Newby, 71 mins), Wilson, Earl (sub Wright, 83 mins), Tinnion; Ryan (sub Allison, 69 mins), McGee. Subs not used: Henderson, Fowler.

Referee: Richard Price.

Goals: McGee (14 mins, 0-1), Moore (60 mins, 1-1), Newby (81 mins, 1-2), Allison (90 mins, 1-3).

Bookings: Moore, Symington (both fouls).

Attendance: 377.