VERDICT '“ Somehow the goals don't come as Corby's misery grows
It never rains, it only pours for Corby Town at the moment.
Indeed, the rain came down at Butlin Road and the Steelmen’s FA Cup hopes for another season were washed away by lower-ranked Rugby Town.
But don’t let the 1-0 scoreline fool you, it doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.
The goals just aren’t coming. The stats don’t lie. Corby have now played six games this season and found the back of the net just once.
And the poor start to the new campaign has resulted in pressure growing on manager Tommy Wright.
But, on this day, whether you were a chairman in the boardroom, a journalist in the press box or a fan on the terrace, it was hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for the Steelmen boss.
Corby didn’t do themselves any favours in the first 120 seconds as Jamie Anton pulled back Rugby striker Darryll Thomas, even though the ball was heading out for a goal-kick, and Andy Gooding duly sent Aidan Grant the wrong way from the penalty spot.
But what followed for the next 88 minutes of action defied belief at times.
Instead of going into their shell, Corby came out fighting and they dominated the remainder of the game.
They created chance, after chance, after chance but were unable to find a way through.
Home goalkeeper Louis Connor produced an inspired display while Rugby, to their credit, defended as if their lives depended on it to keep the Steelmen at bay.
Callum Ball, who really looked the part in the lone striker’s role, sent a volley just over after he controlled the ball well on his chest before Connor made the first of a series of fine saves when he tipped Andre Johnson’s rasping drive over the crossbar.
Quite how Corby weren’t level at the break remains a mystery. Danny Draper had a header cleared off the line and then Rugby scrambled the ball clear after Johnson nodded towards goal.
And, soon after, another Draper header was half-cleared and, after a bit more pinball in the six-yard box, Brad-Lee Gascoigne could only scoop the ball over from close-range.
Grant denied David Kolodynski in a rare Rugby attack but it didn’t take long for the Steelmen to regain dominance after the restart.
Again, the big chances fell to Johnson. He forced Connor into another decent save after cutting in from the left and then shot off target when the goalkeeper came out to close down the angle as he headed towards goal.
Ball had an effort deflected narrowly off target but Connor took his display to a new level with 18 minutes to go when he made an incredible point-blank save to deny Gascoigne who connected perfectly with a header from Liam Marshall’s corner.
Still the chances came. Connor recovered well to gather the ball after spilling a long-range effort from Ball while substitute Femi Orenuga and Cleveland Taylor both had shouts for penalties waved away by referee Andrew Dallison.
As time ticked away, the Steelmen kept on peppering the Rugby goal.
Gascoigne should have scored from another set-piece but was unable to make the right connection and then, typically, Corby did have the ball in the net when Ball finally beat Connor with a cool finish, only for the celebrations to be halted by an offside flag.
There was to be no way through and the sheer dejection from the Steelmen players as the final whistle blew summed it all up.
The long run without a win in competitive football continues, the miserable run in the FA Cup goes on and, no doubt, the pressure will continue to grow on Wright.
But the Steelmen’s effort to get a positive result on this occasion could not be questioned.
More displays like this and things will surely have to turn in Corby’s favour...
Rugby: Connor; Print, Tank, Lavery, Fox; Smithson (sub Fishwick, 89 mins), Belcher, Gooding, Hall; Thomas (sub Bukasa, 27 mins), Kolodynski. Subs not used: Jepson, Bolton, Heath, Yussuf.
Steelmen: Grant; Taylor, Anton, Gascoigne, Marshall (sub Odofin, 78 mins); Milnes, Draper, Webb (sub Orenuga, 67 mins), Revan (sub Ogilvie, 67 mins); Johnson, Ball. Subs not used: Aridegbe, Parkes, Crawford, Bell.
Referee: Andrew Dallison.
Goal: Gooding pen (2 mins, 1-0).
Bookings: Bukasa (unsporting behaviour), Milnes, Belcher, Anton (both dissent),