Corby Town’s Evo-Stik League South Division One Central title hopes suffered a big setback as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to fellow high-flyers Peterborough Sports.
The big game build-up clearly had an impact as a huge crowd of 933 descended on Steel Park to see two of the title contenders go head-to-head.
And, unfortunately for the majority of that attendance, the day ended in disappointment as Steve Kinniburgh’s team didn’t quite hit top gear.
For their part, Sports looked a strong and well organised outfit and they were good value for the three points when all was said and done.
The Steelmen started brightly and almost went in front when Jordon Crawford’s corner was met by Elliot Sandy at the far post but his effort was hacked off the line.
However, Corby faded after that promising start and it was the visitors who eventually got a grip on proceedings.
Dan George made a good save from former Steelman Josh Moreman after he cut in from the left and the home goalkeeper also blocked an effort from Stuart Wall at the far post after Richard Jones had flicked on Lewis Hilliard’s free-kick.
And it was Sports who made the breakthrough just past the half-hour.
Another Hilliard set-piece came in from the left and Corby captain Gary Mulligan was penalised for climbing on the back of Mark Jones.
Referee Oliver Mackey was in no doubt about awarding the spot-kick and Dan Lawlor stepped up to send George the wrong way.
And things took a turn for the worse for Corby just four minutes later.
Mark Jones switched the play to the right and the Steelmen stood off the dangerous Dion Sembie-Ferris who needed no second introduction as he fired a low angled drive into the far corner.
The Steelmen were still unable to get on the front foot in the second half and George made another decent save to turn Moreman’s low shot round the post.
But the spark Corby needed finally came on 66 minutes. Crawford produced a fine cross from the left and Steve Diggin met it with a superb far-post header back into the far corner.
The majority of the crowd would have hoped that an onslaught would follow but, in truth, it never materialised.
Camron McWilliams had their best chance to equalise when he skipped past a challenge but fired wide from a good position.
And McWilliams was heading for an early shower soon after when he picked up a second bookable offence, although it seemed somewhat harsh as he appeared to get as much of the ball as his opponent.
That sucked the life out of the game and it was all over with a minute of normal time to play.
Sembie-Ferris took aim from 20 yards with George unable to hold on to it. And another former Steelman Avelino Vieira reacted quickest to nip past the goalkeeper and fire into the roof of the net.
In the end, there could be few arguments. The visitors seemed to hold the edge for the majority of the afternoon while the Steelmen didn’t seem to be quite at it.
But there is still plenty to play for in this season and Corby must recover quickly as they gear up for Wednesday’s trip to Barton Rovers.
Steelmen: George; McWilliams, Mulligan, Gordon, Warburton; Newell, Carta; Fortnam-Tomlinson (sub Francis, 60 mins), Sandy, Crawford; Diggin. Subs not used: Robinson, Smith, Ling, Anton.
Peterborough Sports: Moat; Griffiths, Wall, R Jones, Bucciero (sub Herd, 73 mins); Lawlor, McCammon, Hilliard; Sembie-Ferris, M Jones, Moreman (sub Vieira, 60 mins). Subs not used: Sand-Sali, Macleod, Nkobi, Herd.
Referee: Oliver Mackey.
Goals: Lawlor pen (33 mins, 0-1), Sembie-Ferris (36 mins, 0-2), Diggin (66 mins, 1-2), Vieira (89 mins, 1-3).
Bookings: Griffiths (unsporting behaviour), Sembie-Ferris, Carta, McWilliams (all fouls).
Sending-off: McWilliams (second bookable offence).
The Raj (www.therajrestaurant.net) man-of-the-match: Steve Diggin - there were few standout performers for the Steelmen but the frontman continued his goalscoring form since returning as he made it three goals in as many matches. The service into him and Elliot Sandy wasn’t of the usual standard but they both worked hard to try to carve out opportunities. And when one fine cross from Jordon Crawford did come in, Diggin showed his ability with a fine header to get Corby back into the game.