Steve Kinniburgh was far from downhearted after his first game in charge of Corby Town ended in a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Kettering Town in the final of the NFA Hillier Senior Cup last night (Tuesday).
After a whirlwind few days for the Steelmen, which saw academy director Kinniburgh placed in charge until the end of the season following the sacking of Gary Mills last weekend, they produced an impressive display at Sixfields.
Jason Lee fired them into the lead with an excellent 25-yard strike after 65 minutes before Aaron O’Connor levelled for the Poppies late on.
The game went straight to penalties and it was Kettering who triumphed 7-6 in sudden death after Lee had sent his spot-kick high and wide.
But Kinniburgh was delighted with the way his team performed and he felt they were worthy of victory in the 90 minutes.
He said: “I was absolutely delighted with them. To a man they were first class.
“For 75 minutes we were well on top of the game, deserved the lead and we were doing really well.
“You could see the boys were starting to tire, we have had the same squad go and go and go in a lot of important games recently.
“We tried to change a few bodies but they came on in the last 10 minutes and got their goal.
“You could probably say it was about right but I felt we deserved the win.”
Kinniburgh also had some words of comfort for Lee, who was named captain for the game, after his night went from good to bad in the space of an hour.
“Jason was disappointed because he felt he should be doing better from 12 yards out but a penalty shoot-out is a flip of a coin,” Kinniburgh added.
“But I thought Jason was magnificent for us and Jamie Anton was as well.
“I made Jason the captain for the night because I have known him a long time and he has a lot to offer and I think that was one of the best performances he has had for us.”
The Steelmen are now preparing to resume their bid for survival over the Easter weekend.
They are three points adrift of safety in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division with three games remaining. They head to Stafford Rangers on Saturday before hosting Grantham Town on Monday.