Steve Kinniburgh had nothing but praise for his Corby Town players, despite their season ending in play-off heartbreak.
The Steelmen were beaten 4-3 after extra-time in a dramatic Evo-Stik League South Division One Central play-off final at Bromsgrove Sporting, who have now been promoted to Step 3.
Nearly 3,000 fans packed into the Victoria Ground to witness an incredible encounter as the Steelmen took the lead through Elliot Sandy, only for Richard Gregory to level before half-time.
Dan George saved a Gregory penalty but two goals from the impressive Jason Cowley put Bromsgrove 3-1 up.
However, Corby stormed back and strikes from Steve Diggin and Jordon Crawford forced extra-time.
Both sides had chances but Kieren Westwood hit what proved to be the winner for the hosts while George, incredibly, made another penalty save to deny Cowley while Delroy Gordon was sent-off for the incident that led to the spot-kick.
It was a draining afternoon but Kinniburgh was left proud of the effort his team put in, particularly after they looked dead and buried at 3-1 down.
“You ask your players before they go out to have no regrets and that they live for that moment and I think we did that to a man,” the Corby manager said.
“We have taken the lead and then they have come back and then hit us with a couple of goals in quick succession to go 3-1 up.
“At that point it’s easy to throw the towel in, the lads could have downed tools but they haven’t all season.
“The amount of times they have shown that resilience and that hunger and desire to want it has been incredible.
“They have done it again to get back into it and then you are looking at the fine margins of Elliot Sandy and Steve Diggin both seeing their goalkeeper make unbelievable saves and then they go up and hit one from 20 yards and it’s in the bottom corner.
“But for me, if you are looking at the whole picture of the game the difference is the boy up front for them (Cowley).
“From what’s being said, he could be playing in the Football League next season. The second goal is a game-changer and the way he has taken it, you are talking four or five leagues above this level.
“That’s why he has people watching him. He has that quality.”
The Steelmen still have one more game to play when they take on a Rangers XI in a special match to celebrate Corby’s 70th anniversary at Steel Park tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
Tickets for the game will be on sale at Steel Park this evening between 5.30pm and 7pm.