VERDICT '“ The end is near as Steelmen are beaten at home again
The end is near for Corby Town.
Another defeat at Steel Park means it is now a matter of when, not if, their relegation from the Vanarama National League North will be confirmed.
They will effectively be condemned to the drop if they lose at Bradford Park Avenue on Wednesday night due to their inferior goal difference.
But if any Steelmen fan was still holding out any hope of their team pulling off the great escape to end all great escapes, that hope was extinguished by FC United of Manchester.
While Corby’s relegation will mean a new chapter for the club, the story was all-too familiar in front of a big crowd in their penultimate home game of the season.
Not for the first time, the Steelmen were a match for their opponents but the old habit of gifting teams goals struck yet again as two in the space of four second-half minutes took the game away from them.
FC United can start planning for next season and another campaign in the division. And given their large and vociferous following on this occasion - there must have been close to 500 away fans at Steel Park - there’s no doubt they belong at a higher level.
The visitors drew first blood after eight minutes when George Thomson curled a wonderful free-kick into the top corner to give Corby’s debutant goalkeeper Oliver Sutton no chance.
But instead of rolling over, the Steelmen fought back but only after Ben O’Hanlon had come to the rescue to clear off the line after Edi Appleton had stabbed a cross towards his own goal.
The response from the hosts came when Callum Ball’s quick free-kick found Greg Mills who passed inside to Ben Milnes and he skipped past a challenge before slotting past Dylan Forth.
And one of the game’s key moments arrived soon afterwards when Mills was blocked off by Scott Kay in the penalty area. It looked clear-cut but referee Robert Massey-Ellis waved away the appeals.
The Steelmen had every right to feel aggrieved but that could be no excuse for the way they switched off at the start of the second half.
Thomson produced another fine finish as he hammered the ball into the top corner are a set-piece had been flicked into his path on the right of the area.
And another corner produced the decisive third just a few minutes later when Luke Ashworth rose above everyone else to head home.
With that, the game was over. The ever-lively Mills did force Forth into a couple of decent saves and the frontman got his goal and his penalty in stoppage-time when he scored from 12 yards after Ellis Myles had been chopped down.
Unfortunately, it was a case of too little, too late.
Another defeat and another day to forget for the Steelmen.
This season will now end in relegation, although it’s a fate many had already accepted.
But, in case anyone at the club is lacking in motivation to get them back to this level, they need only remember this game and the big crowd that came with it.
This is certainly the level that Tommy Wright wants to be at and, as and when the drop is confirmed, the only hope will be that their stay in a lower league will only be a temporary one
Steelmen: Sutton; Myles, Appleton, McKenzie, O’Hanlon; Breeze; Taylor; Hicks (sub McDonald, 67 mins), Milnes, Mills; Ball. Subs not used: Thomas, Draper, Marshall, Courtney.
FC United: Forth; Tonge, Kay, Ashworth, Chantler; Brown, Sheridan; Wolfenden (sub Greaves, 70 mins), Thomson, Wright (sub Walwyn, 80 mins); Johnson (sub Daniels, 70 mins). Sub not used: Eckersley.
Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis.
Goals: Thomson (8 mins, 0-1), Milnes (24 mins, 1-1), Thomson (49 mins, 1-2), Ashworth (53 mins, 1-3), Mills pen (90 mins, 2-3).
Bookings: Sheridan (foul), Greaves (unsporting behaviour).