Steve Kinniburgh conceded Corby Town “weren’t at the races” after their title hopes were hit by a 3-1 defeat to fellow high-flyers Peterborough Sports at Steel Park.
A bumper crowd of 933 were on hand for the big game of the day in the Evo-Stik League South Division One Central but it was the visitors who were celebrating in the end as they enhanced their own automatic promotion ambitions.
Kinniburgh admitted his team only had themselves to blame for the final outcome, although he was disappointed with the decision to award Sports a penalty after Gary Mulligan was penalised for a foul on Mark Jones with the spot-kick being converted by Dan Lawlor to give the visitors the lead.
Steve Diggin’s third goal in as many games since returning to the club made it 2-1 in the second half but the Steelmen’s hopes were ended by a late third after Camron McWilliams had been sent-off for a second bookable offence.
“I thought we started the game fairly well, we had a couple of half chances with some good crosses across the goal,” Kinniburgh said.
“And I thought it was a fairly even game up until two decisions that were identical in my opinion.
“Their centre-half came over the top of (Steve) Diggin in the penalty area and the referee doesn’t give it and minutes later our centre-half comes over the top of their player and he gives it.
“When I spoke to him at half-time he said their player didn’t go down as softly as our’s did.
“Now, as far as I am aware, if it’s a foul, it’s a foul. They were identical but he didn’t see it that way and it changes the game.
“They had their tails up and they are a very defensive side and are very organised and difficult to break down.
“But from our point of view, we have to do better with the second goal.
“And we never got ourselves going in the second half. They never really caused us any threats and we didn’t cause them any because we weren’t getting hold of the ball, we weren’t looking after it and we weren’t putting it in the right areas.
“We got a great goal to get us back in the game and we never stepped up after that.
“The sending-off was disappointing, I thought young Camron won the ball. That deflated us and we made another mistake and that goal killed us off.
“There is no blame on anyone else because we have got to be better. We weren’t at the races like we have been in the past.
“The disappointing thing is that the game was there, had we turned up, to be won.”
With their title hopes now out of their hands, the Steelmen remain well set to secure a play-off place and will be looking to bounce back when they head to Barton Rovers on Wednesday night.
And Kinniburgh added: “We have got 10 games left.
“This wasn’t a be-all and end-all game for us because we set this up by winning last Saturday and last Tuesday and we had to win again to stay in it.
“We have had an excellent season, we are not getting away from that. We have got 10 games to go and we will dust ourselves down and go again.”