VERDICT - Steelmen suffer a setback as Lincoln triumph

Steve Kinniburgh tasted defeat at Steel Park for the first time since being appointed caretaker-manager at Corby Town
Steve Kinniburgh tasted defeat at Steel Park for the first time since being appointed caretaker-manager at Corby Town

Corby Town tasted defeat at Steel Park for the first time under caretaker-manager Steve Kinniburgh as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat to Lincoln United.

An uncharacteristically flat display from the Steelmen saw them trail 3-0 before they pulled two goals back in stoppage-time.

And it was a blow to their hopes at the top end in the Evo-Stik League South as they dropped to eighth place, although they are just one point off the play-off places as their season heads for the halfway point.

Kinniburgh was forced into one change with Jordan O’Brien recalled to the starting line-up in place of the injured Dino Tuksar while Sam Mulready returned to the squad and was named among the substitutes.

The Steelmen started brightly enough with Jordon Crawford having an early effort held by Phil McGann, who was also called into action to push away a 30-yard free-kick from Steven Leslie.

But the hosts were stunned by their visitors who scored twice in the space of three minutes.

The opener was a decent strike as the ball fell to Matt Cotton on the edge of the box and he planted a fine volley into the bottom corner.

But the second was preventable as a free-kick came in from the right and two former Steelmen combined with Jack McGoven nodding it down and, while the Corby defence stood still, Phil Watt was left with the simple task of tapping in from close-range.

It could have been even worse as Sam Wilson produced a decent save to deny Cotton, who took aim from distance.

There was almost a response from the Steelmen as Paul Malone headed a Sam Warburton free-kick onto the top of the crossbar but, aside from Crawford sending an acrobatic effort over, the hosts struggled to find a way through.

And the visitors felt they had a good shout for a penalty before the break when Paul Grimes went down under a challenge in the box, only for the referee to wave away their appeals.

But Corby did come out with more vigour after the break and only a superb reflex stop from McGann to tip Malone’s header from a Leslie corner kept them out.

There was plenty of huffing and puffing from the Steelmen but the visitors should have put the game beyond them when, firstly, McGovern ballooned over from a good position after good work from Cotton before the striker saw an effort cannon off the bar soon after.

But a golden chance to set up an interesting finale came Corby’s way with 18 minutes to go when Crawford’s pass struck the arm of Charlie Ward in the area.

Mulready had only been on the pitch 10 minutes and he stepped up but saw his spot-kick brilliantly turned round the post by McGann who dived full-length to his left.

And Corby were made to pay as Lincoln made it 3-0 with seven minutes to go.

Jamie Anton attempted to pass the ball back to Wilson from the best part of 35 yards and substitute Jack Wightwick seized on it to spark a rush for the exits for the home faithful.

But the Steelmen didn’t give in. Malone fired home what appeared to be a consolation after good work from Crawford and then, with a minute of stoppage-time remaining, it was 3-2 when Visan-Vasile Cretu volleyed in his first goal for the club.

There was one final chance to get the ball forward after that but Lincoln cleared their lines to confirm their victory.

Those two late goals possibly glossed over things for Corby, who definitely weren’t at their best at either end of the pitch.

Such has been their incredible progress in recent weeks, any defeat is now regarded as a disappointment. But they now have to find a way to bounce back...

Steelmen: Wilson; Anton, Malone, Lee, Warburton; Healey (sub Mulready, 62 mins), Bradshaw; Kennedy (sub Cretu, 76 mins), Leslie, O'Brien (sub Trainer, 55 mins); Crawford. Subs not used: McBride, Tanga-Gibson

Lincoln: McGann; Hornsey, Callum Ward, Watt, Blunden, Matthews; Cotton, Charlie Ward, Norris; McGovern (sub Wightwick, 81 mins), Grimes (sub Oliver, h-t, sub Smith, 90 mins). Subs not used: Brooks, Hutchinson-Wilkes.

Referee: Richie Watkins.

Goals: Cotton (18 mins, 0-1), Watt (21 mins, 0-2), Wightwick (83 mins, 0-3), Malone (90 mins, 1-3), Cretu (90 mins, 2-3).

Attendance: 379.