VERDICT: Frustration for Steelmen as unbeaten record is ended
Corby Town’s unbeaten record in the BetVictor Southern League Division One Central was ended as they slipped to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Kempston Rovers at a rain-swept Steel Park.
While the Steelmen struggled to find a clinical edge in front of goal, the game was ultimately decided at the other end with two mistakes from goalkeeper Dan George leading to their downfall.
It was an afternoon when frustration was the buzzword and it boiled over at full-time when George had to be restrained from entering the main stand to confront a fan after angry words had been exchanged.
It was an ugly scene to round off a disappointing afternoon, which ended with the Steelmen being knocked off top spot by Berkhamsted who are now the only unbeaten team in the division.
The first half proved to be a tale of frustration for the Steelmen with Kempston looking a much better side than their league position suggests.
Corby did start brightly though and Charlie Wise saw his goalbound header blocked from a Jake Duffy before Jordon Crawford had a good shout for a penalty waved away after he was bundled over in the area.
Referee Shaun Barry didn't exactly endear himself to the home faithful, not least when he penalised Greg Ling for a foul when he clearly won the ball soon after that penalty shout.
The game turned scrappy from there and it seemed to suit the visitors who stunned their hosts by taking the lead on 21 minutes.
Duffy was pulled up for a high boot on Stefan Bailey 25 yards from goal. The experienced Izale McLeod stepped up and his free-kick was missed by Dan George after bouncing in front of him.
The Steelmen struggled for a while after that but finished the half strongly with Crawford volleying wide at the far post after a cross from John Dean before Sam Warburton tested goalkeeper Carl Knox with a long-range effort, which was parried away.
The hosts carried that on at the start of the second period with Elliot Sandy scooping one over the bar and then forcing Knox into a low save.
But disaster struck just before the hour mark. George came from his goal to try to head clear a ball over the top. But it skimmed off the top of his head and the on-rushing Jake Newman was left with the simplest of tasks to tuck into the empty net.
It was a real horror show for George but Corby did react pretty well and Knox produced a superb save to keep out Sandy's header from Crawford's cross before the striker was denied by the goalkeeper again, Knox helping a shot over the crossbar on this occasion.
Substitute James Ireland saw a goalbound overhead-kick headed clear while, at the other end, George only just got enough on Newman's free-kick to turn it round the post for a fruitless corner.
It seemed that the game would just peter out late on but the Steelmen gave themselves an extremely late lifeline when Crawford reacted quickly to fire home the rebound after Knox could only parry Sam Warburton’s well-struck free-kick.
Sensing a grandstand finish, Corby poured forward but they couldn’t force an equaliser with Joe Burgess heading straight at Knox before Wise fired over with the final chance after confusion in the visiting area.
As the final whistle sounded, Kempston were able to celebrate a big victory while, for Corby and George in particular, frustration boiled over with that ugly confrontation with a fan in the stand.
But, as the dust settles, the Steelmen will have to find a way to bounce back and ensure this day is merely a blip.
Steelmen: George; Westwood (sub Hartley, 83 mins), Wise, Mulligan, Warburton; Burgess, Ling (sub Ireland, 65 mins), Duffy; Dean, Duffy, Sandy, Crawford. Subs not used: Robinson, Lyons, Tkacik.
Kempston: Knox; Powell, Wright, Sage, Brenman; Bailey, Goodman, Johnson, McLeod (sub Dahie, 90 mins), Hyde (sub Baker, 83 mins); Newman. Subs not used: Marsh, Stratton, Massaro.
Referee: Shaun Barry.
Goals: McLeod (21 mins, 0-1), Newman (59 mins, 0-2), Crawford (90 mins, 1-2).
Bookings: Mulligan, Wright, Burgess (all fouls), Crawford (dissent).
Raj man-of-the-match: Charlie Wise - the big defender didn’t do a great deal wrong at all. He and Gary Mulligan ensured Jake Newman was kept fairly quiet and Wise also went close to scoring on two occasions. It was another powerful display from the centre-half and he was one who deserved better than the final outcome.