Greg Mills sunk Brackley Town with a penalty as Corby Town piled more misery on Kevin Wilkin’s side in the Boxing Day derby at St James Park.
The first all-Northamptonshire clash in three years ended controversially but it was the visitors who left with the points in a 2-1 victory and swapped places with Saints in the bottom three of the Vanarama National League North table.
For the second successive Saturday Saints can feel aggrieved at coming away empty-handed after a game that turned on key decisions that went against the home side. Strong performances are cold comfort in a world where only hard-earned points register and Saints faced an uphill struggle, having to play for ten men for most of the contest after captain Joe Clarke was sent off.
Saints started brightly playing sharp and incisive football and were in the ascendency. Sam Smith spurned a fine chance early on and Tom Winters saw his shot scrambled away before Corby went close when on-loan Massiah McDonald on his debut hit the woodwork.
The Steelmen then took an unlikely 38th minute lead when Mills drilled in a fierce effort that Sam Hornby could not keep out. Saints were reduced to ten men two minutes later when Clarke was dismissed for a midfield challenge but were level on the stroke of halftime when Smith reacted quickest as a high ball caught the strong wind.
Even with nine outfield players Saints continued to pose the greater threat after the restart. Keeper Sam Donkin punched off his line from Winters’ in-swinging corner and Stephan Morley’s 30 yard effort was only inches wide.
Saints had their own late penalty claim for handball waved away and moments later felt aggrieved at the award of an 88th minute penalty to the visitors as Mills went down too easily again yet this time winning the decision. It was Mills himself who got up to convert the spot-kick and send the Steelmen home jubilant after a first win in four games leaving Saints to reflect on another dose of rough justice.