VERDICT – A collapse of epic proportions as Steelmen surrender

Both sets of players question the referee's decision during Corby Town's FA Trophy loss to Tamworth. Pictures by Alison Bagley
Both sets of players question the referee's decision during Corby Town's FA Trophy loss to Tamworth. Pictures by Alison Bagley

It’s hard to put what happened in the final 18 minutes at Steel Park into words.

Capitulation would probably be the appropriate word but even that doesn’t seem to be enough to describe it.

Action from the Steelmen's defeat to Tamworth at Steel Park

Action from the Steelmen's defeat to Tamworth at Steel Park

With 72 minutes on the clock, things looked good for Corby Town.

They recovered from a very early setback to lead Vanarama National League North rivals thanks to Greg Mills’ brace.

The first round of the FA Trophy was beckoning. But then, it happened.

Connor Taylor’s turned in the area and shot past Harry Burgoyne to make it 2-2 and that one moment changed the course of the game in dramatic fashion.

Greg Mills scores from the penalty spot for Corby

Greg Mills scores from the penalty spot for Corby

Just eight minutes later, the Lambs had opened up a 5-2 lead and then, for good measure, added one more to really rub the salt into Corby’s wounds.

That equaliser sparked a collapse of epic proportions. The Steelmen folded, they surrendered and, I choose these words carefully, it was uncomfortable and embarrassing to watch.

Clearly, something isn’t right. Professional pride should be enough to prevent something like this from happening. But, on this occasions, that didn’t happen.

Corby went into their shell and Tamworth were in no mood to waste the opportunity.

The 18-minute humiliation left Tommy Wright shell-shocked and he now faces yet another test of his managerial skills to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Perhaps the most concerning thing about all this was that no-one could have foreseen it.

Tamworth made a quick start and took the lead after just 41 seconds.

Clayton McDonald conceded possession cheaply. The ball was swept out wide, Curtis Strong crossed from the left and the ball ended up at the feet of Elliott Durrell who finished well into the corner.

It could have been worse when Strong’s fierce drive cannoned off a post but the Steelmen regained their composure and began to work their way back into the contest.

They levelled on 24 minutes when Ben O’Hanlon won the ball on the left and sent in a cross that Mills converted from close-range.

And things were looking really good four minutes before the break when Mills confidently beat James Belshaw from the penalty spot after he had been hauled down by Paul Green.

Tamworth were unlucky not to be level again just before half-time when Taylor became the second player to hit an upright with a terrific long-range effort.

Initially, the visitors found it hard to put the Steelmen under pressure in the second half.

Indeed, Corby might have increased their advantage when Ben Milnes had a shot from a good position deflected wide before new signing Sam Downey’s near post volley from a Mills corner was spilled by Belshaw before being cleared.

Had it gone to 3-1 what followed may not have happened. Sadly it didn’t and Corby paid the price, even though they caused their own downfall.

Taylor’s neat finish on the turn was the spark and just five minutes later Strong found the top corner to put Tamworth in front.

From there, they opened the hosts up at will as little resistance was offered.

The fourth was unforgivable as Durrell’s corner was met by an unmarked diving header from Ross Dyer and he was celebrating again soon after when he picked up the pieces when Harry Burgoyne only half-saved Durrell’s strike.

Just like that, the Steelmen had been humiliated and the misery was complete when Dyer ran through unchallenged and beat Burgoyne with the most confident of finishes.

By the time that happened, Steel Park was virtually empty as the home fans headed for the exits. They simply couldn’t watch any longer.

Whether this unbelievable sequence of events has a long-lasting effect remains to be seen.

But, with a trip to league leaders Nuneaton Town to come next weekend, some serious soul-searching will need to be done.

The events of the last 18 minutes of this match simply can’t be allowed to happen again...

Steelmen: Burgoyne; Kennedy, Courtney, McDonald, O’Hanlon; Thomas; Cleveland Taylor (sub Revan, 76 mins), Downey, Milnes (sub Brown, 73 mins), Mills; Johnson (sub Ball, 73 mins). Subs not used: Donkin, Wright.

Tamworth: Belshaw; Burns, Tomassen, Preston, Strong; Durrell (sub Davis, 84 mins), Clarke, Green, Fowler, Connor Taylor (sub Mettam, 81 mins); Dyer. Subs not used: Heaton, Morrell.

Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis.

Goals: Durrell (1 min, 0-1), Mills (24 mins, 1-1), Mills pen (41 mins, 2-1), Connor Taylor (72 mins, 2-2), Strong (75 mins, 2-3), Dyer (78 mins, 2-4), Dyer (80 mins, 2-5), Dyer (90 mins, 2-6).

Bookings: Thomas, Green, Fowler (all fouls), McDonald, Burns (both unsporting behaviour).

Attendance: 335.