VERDICT – It’s big trouble for the sorry Steelmen

The Corby Town players look dejected after conceding the second goal in their 2-0 defeat to Whitby Town at Steel Park. Picture by Alison Bagley

The Corby Town players look dejected after conceding the second goal in their 2-0 defeat to Whitby Town at Steel Park. Picture by Alison Bagley

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Corby Town are back in deep trouble in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.

This 2-0 home defeat to play-off chasing Whitby Town was more worrying rather than anyone else as the Steelmen surrendered like a team who know they were on their way down.

With Sutton Coldfield Town picking up a 1-0 victory over Spennymoor Town, Gary Mills’ team are now three points adrift of safety with just three games to go. It’s a desperate situation.

And should the worse happen, the past month will be to be blame.

Actually, that’s not fair. The first three months of the season will be to blame, indeed it remains something of a miracle that the Steelmen are in with a chance after being bottom of the table and 12 points adrift of safety when they lost 4-0 at Grantham Town on Boxing Day.

But having got out of the relegation zone, Corby were looking good when they hammered Sutton Coldfield 5-1 at Steel Park on March 11.

Since then, however, the wheels have fallen off. Why? Only Mills and his players can answer that but a miserable run of four defeats in the last five matches has put them on the brink of a second relegation in the space of a year.

And the most concerning thing about this particular day was the manner of the defeat.

Apart from a 15-minutes spell at the start of the second half, the Steelmen were largely lifeless.

There was a lack of fight, a lack of desire and a real lack of quality as they were well beaten by a powerful Whitby side who maintained their pursuit of the top-five places.

There was a real flatness about the Steelmen from the start and Aidan Grant saved well from Luke Bythway early on before the visitors opened the scoring on 14 minutes.

And it was a moment of brilliance that broke the deadlock as Dale Hopson, widely regarded as one of the best players in the division, received the ball 20 yards from goal and produced an outrageous chip that sailed over Grant and into the top corner.

The only good thing about the first half was that Corby didn’t trail by more at the break.

They really should have done as Michael Roberts twice raced through on goal but, on the first occasion, a poor touch allowed Grant to gather while his second effort was wide of the mark.

The Steelmen finally showed some signs of life early in the second and Jordon Crawford forced Shane Bland into a smart save on the angle while the visiting goalkeeper also held on to a decent strike from Phil Trainer.

Sadly, that was pretty much as good as it got for Corby.

And a lapse in concentration let Whitby in for their second on 64 minutes when Bythway latched onto a ball over the top, skipped round Grant and fired home.

That killed the game and, aside from a Spencer Weir-Daley header that went over the bar, and Grant saving from Kyle Fryatt late on, there was little else to report.

It proved to be a desperate day for Mills and his team. The performance was so poor, it didn’t even merit many boos at the end, mainly because the stadium was already half-empty.

There was a real feeling of resignation around the place but one hopes that everyone realises that this isn’t over just yet.

There are three games to go, Corby are going to need to pick up a decent return from those matches to give themselves any chance.

But, having come this far, you’d like to think they aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet...

Steelmen: Grant; Smith, Brown, Lee, Wildin; D Bell, Crawford (sub Weir-Daley, 62 mins), Kennedy (sub Leslie, 62 mins), Milnes (sub R Bell, 69 mins); Iaciofano, Trainer. Subs not used: Anton, Parkes.

Whitby: Bland; Martin, May, Bullock, A Bell; Snaith, May, Bythway (sub Weledji, 73 mins), Hopson; Roberts (sub Fryatt, 88 mins), Tymon (sub Hume, 82 mins). Subs not used: Robinson, Dixon.

Referee: Tom Reeves.

Goals: Hopson (14 mins, 0-1), Bythway (64 mins, 0-2).

Bookings: Milnes, Lee (both fouls).

Attendance: 496.