VERDICT – Mills now knows what he’s dealing with as Corby slip again

New Corby boss Gary Mills and assistant David Bell tasted defeat in their first game in charge
New Corby boss Gary Mills and assistant David Bell tasted defeat in their first game in charge

Gary Mills will have been left in no doubt about the size of the task he has on his hands as his first game in charge of Corby Town ended in a 2-0 loss to Nantwich Town at Steel Park.

Mills and his assistant David Bell had watched on in midweek as their new charges collected a much-needed victory over fellow strugglers Frickley Athletic to halt a six-game losing streak in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.

But there was an all-too familiar return to what has, so far, been the norm this season as a confident Nantwich side comfortably maintained their unbeaten away record in the league.

From the moment the impressive Osebi Abadaki had put the visitors in front, the final outcome never really looked in doubt.

The Steelmen, as they struggled to do all season, never really posed a massive threat to their opponents’ goal.

They lacked quality in the final third and eventually drew yet another blank - the 10th time they have failed to find the net in 18 matches in all competitions this season.

That will surely be the biggest concern for Mills as the realisation of what he and the Steelmen are up against became crystal clear.

The winds of change have already started. Mills threw Nathan Fox in from the start after he rejoined the Steelmen on Friday while fellow new signings James Jepson and Jake Jones were introduced from the bench, albeit to no avail. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see further fresh faces joining them before too long.

The Steelmen actually started fairly brightly and Nantwich were forced to scramble the ball clear as Shaquille Whittingham tried to get on the end of an early Callum Ball cross.

But Nantwich were soon into their stride and Aidan Grant made a good stop from Tim Sanders after he had been played in by Theo Staire before the deadlock was broken.

Josh Hancock was afforded too much space to switch the play from right to left and he found Abadaki who cut inside and then beat Grant with a fine 25-yard strike in off the post.

Grant prevented it from being worse at the break when he saved with his legs to deny Abadaki a second but a second-half siege of the Nantwich goal never really materialised.

Visiting goalkeeper Dave Parton got down well to save Ball’s 20-yard effort and the Steelmen’s best opportunity fell to Reece Webb who volleyed over from a Jordon Crawford cross.

Parton helped a Danny Draper shot over the crossbar but the game was over with 20 minutes to go when the Steelmen’s inability to deal with a corner ended with substitute David Walker stabbing home from a couple of yards.

Corby were unable to muster up any kind of reaction to that as the game petered out without too much incident.

It’s fair to say Mills’ job truly begins now with a free week to prepare for next weekend’s FA Trophy first qualifying round home clash with league rivals Stafford Rangers.

But, as far as the league is concerned, there’s no doubt that the new management team are dealing with a battle to avoid the drop.

And further changes will clearly need to be made if the Steelmen are to stand a chance…

Steelmen: Grant; Kennedy, Anton, Gascoigne, Fox; Martin (sub Jepson, 67 mins); Whittingham (sub J Jones, 67 mins), Webb, Draper (sub Johnson, 84 mins), Crawford; Ball. Subs not used: Marshall, R Bell.

Nantwich: Parton; White, Harrison, C Jones, Touray; T Staire (sub Crook, 76 mins), Sanders, Riley, Abadaki (sub Walker, 49 mins); Brooke, Hancock. Subs not used: J Staire, Quinn, Walker, Griggs.

Referee: Gareth Viccars.

Goals: Abadaki (9 mins, 0-1), Walker (70 mins, 0-2).

Bookings: Tourary, T Staire (both unsporting behaviour), Gascoigne, Fox, J Jones (all fouls), Ball (kicking ball away).

Attendance: 478.