Tommy Wright had sympathy for his Corby Town players after their relegation from Vanarama National League North was all-but confirmed with a 1-0 defeat at Bradford Park Avenue last night (Wednesday).
Dylan Mottley-Henry grabbed the only goal of the game 12 minutes from full-time to leave the Steelmen nine points adrift of safety with just three games to go and with an inferior goal difference.
Wright gave youngsters Danny Draper and Liam Marshall a chance to shine and the manager hailed “the best football” he had seen his team produce in what has proved to be a tough campaign.
“I am disappointed to lose because it’s probably the best football we have played all season and the lads deserved a lot more than they got,” Wright said.
“It was a poor decision from the referee not to give a foul in the build-up to the goal because Ben Milnes was virtually rugby tackled as he went to make a block.
“I felt hard done by and I felt sorry for our players.
“But that doesn’t just go for last night. I think our performances in the last four or five games have deserved better results than we have had.”
Wright revealed the realisation of relegation dawned on the squad after the defeat.
But he insists he is focused on the job ahead as the Steelmen prepare for life at a lower level after just one season in National League North.
They head to Stockport County on Saturday before the final home game of the season arrives against Stalybridge Celtic at Steel Park next weekend.
The Corby boss added: “There were a lot of heads in hands in the dressing-room after the game and I think that was the realisation of what has happened.
“To be honest, I had pretty much done my sulking after the defeat at AFC Telford a few weeks ago but I am probably more focused now than I have ever been.
“Our oldest player on the pitch last night was Greg Mills who is 24. Oliver Sutton produced a goalkeeping masterclass and the likes of Danny Draper and Liam Marshall were excellent.
“Everyone played really well and I have to make sure they keep their heads up and we will go to Stockport and try to play like that again.
“But the big one for me is the last home game against Stalybridge next weekend.
“We want the fans to come along and I want us to play like we did last night and show them that, despite us going down, this is how we are going to play next season.”