Steelmen pick up a crucial win in front of new boss Mills

New Corby Town manager Gary Mills (left) and assistant David Bell show off their colours after they were appointed ahead of the 2-0 win over Frickley Athletic at Steel Park. Picture by Alison Bagley

New Corby Town manager Gary Mills (left) and assistant David Bell show off their colours after they were appointed ahead of the 2-0 win over Frickley Athletic at Steel Park. Picture by Alison Bagley

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New boss Gary Mills watched on from the stands as Corby Town chose the perfect time to gain a much-needed victory at Steel Park.

Goals from Shaquille Whittingham and Andre Johnson secured a 2-0 success over fellow Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division strugglers Frickley Athletic.

Mills was confirmed as the Steelmen’s new permanent manager moments before kick-off with former Norwich City and Coventry City midfielder David Bell joining him as his assistant.

And their arrival seemed to add an extra spring into the Steelmen’s step as they gave themselves a big lifeline to boost their problems at the wrong end of the table.

Mills who, like Bell, played for Rushden & Diamonds and also Kettering Town, had previously been at King’s Lynn Town as player/assistant-manager this season but has now become the successor to Tommy Wright at Steel Park.

Both Mills and Bell were interested onlookers as Eddie Johnson took charge of the Steelmen for the final time after filling in as interim boss following Wright’s departure.

Having left King’s Lynn, Mills said: “It’s a great opportunity for me to get back into management.

“Also the location was a big, big plus for me, I do feel like I’ve let Setch (King’s Lynn boss Gary Setchell) and the lads down but I just couldn’t turn down this opportunity.”

On the pitch, it was an even first half until the latter stages when the Steelmen took control.

Reece Webb headed wide from a Callum Ball cross before the frontman unleashed an effort from fully 35 yards, which visiting goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski tipped over the bar.

But the Steelmen did go in front four minutes before the break. Ball was involved again as his cross to far post found Whittingham and his shot eventually found its way in, despite the efforts of Malkowski.

Ball tested Malkowski with a well-struck volley early in the second half but the game became cagey after that with few chances at either end.

However, the Steelmen gave themselves some breathing space on 68 minutes.

Johnson had only been on the pitch for four minutes but he received a lovely threaded pass from Ball and, while the Frickley defenders appealed for offside, the frontman coolly slotted past Malkowski to double the advantage.

Frickley’s problems were compounded as they were forced to play the final 15 minutes with just 10 men when, with all the substitutes having entered the fray, Noel Burdett limped off with a hamstring injury.

That opened things up and Jordon Crawford saw a curling effort palmed away by Malkowski and then shot wide from a Johnson pull-back.

Aidan Grant, who had been mainly a spectator on his return to the starting line-up, produced a save to deny Luke Hinsley late on and preserve the clean sheet.

And so, a second win of the season and most welcome it will be.

There would have been plenty for Mills and Bell to think about as they now prepare to take charge for Saturday’s home clash with Nantwich Town.

There’s still a great deal of work to do to haul the Steelmen out of trouble.

But this was a good way to kick-off a new era. Interesting times lie ahead…

Steelmen: Grant; Bell, Anton, L Marshall, Kennedy; Webb (sub Magee, 90 mins), Martin, Draper; Crawford, Ball, Whittingham (sub Johnson, 64 mins). Subs not used: B Marshall, Frisch, Chechlacz.

Frickley: Malkowski; Stohrer, Gooda, Hanna, Parkinson (sub Kay, 33 mins); Burdett, Burton, Waters, Williams (sub Dockerty, 71 mins); Hinsley, Morris (sub Fish, h-t). Subs not used: Diggles.

Referee: Scott Postin.

Goals: Whittingham (41 mins, 1-0), Johnson (68 mins, 2-0).

Bookings: Fish, Johnson (both fouls), Grant (time-wasting).

Attendance: 397.