Corby Town slipped to only their second home defeat in the Calor League Premier Division as Hitchin Town recorded a 2-1 success at Steel Park.
It proved to be one of those nights for the Steelmen. There were chances aplenty, none better than Tom Berwick’s late penalty which was saved to deny the hosts a point they would have deserved.
But they came up against a defence and goalkeeper in good form and, along with a bit of flatness to the performance, it resulted in a rare off-night for the Steelmen in their own back yard.
As expected, joint-manager Tommy Wright was ruled out with a groin injury, which forced him off at half-time in the 3-1 win at Redditch United last weekend but Paul Malone returned to the squad on the substitutes’ bench following an ankle problem.
Berwick was given the job of leading the line in Wright’s absence while Greg Mills was handed a place amongst the substitutes after joining on a month-long loan from Skrill North side Barrow.
The Steelmen got off to a slow start and they were punished inside five minutes when they failed to clear a corner properly. Kim Forsythe drove the ball back in and Stuart Pearson eventually stabbed it into the corner.
Corby’s response was good though and they were nearly level when Stuart Hendrie was denied by visiting goalkeeper Tahj Bell, who then did brilliantly to get down to save Sam Ives’ low shot.
Berwick scuffed a volley wide of the mark but the Steelmen did draw level when Chris Carruthers smashed into the bottom corner after Ives had crossed the ball back into the area following a half-cleared corner.
The hosts were nearly in front within a minute of the equaliser as Bell parried Kalern Thomas’ shot straight to Berwick whose effort was bravely blocked by a defender and deflected away for a corner.
Hitchin continued to look dangerous on the break and captain Callum Donnelly sent a long-range volley wide of the mark before he played a key role in his team regaining the lead.
Donnelly was attempting to get on the end of Simon Martin’s pass but was pulled back by Brad-Lee Gascoigne. Referee Kevin Morris pointed to the spot and Martin stepped up to hammer the spot-kick into the top corner.
Corby were denied by Bell again before the break when Nathan Fox forced him into a low save while Aman Verma sent a free-kick just over the bar soon after the restart.
But that had only come after Forsythe had seen a fierce volley go over at the other end and it was Hitchin who could and probably should have put the game to bed.
Matt Lench saw his goalbound effort blocked by his own player Martin after he arrived on cue to get on the end of Forsythe’s cross while Martin was denied by Paul Walker soon after before having an effort rightly ruled out for handball.
Steelmen joint-managers Wright and Andrew Wilson threw Mills on for his debut in place of Fox on the hour and he almost made an immediate impact when Bell was forced to tip his curling free-kick over the bar.
Verma couldn’t quite get on the end of Ives’ cross into the area and they both went close again when Ives saw a shot saved by Bell before he and Verma saw rebound efforts blocked.
But the golden chance to level came with four minutes to go. A corner was sent in and it popped up on to Michael Noone’s hand.
The penalty was awarded but a bad night was compounded when Berwick’s spot-kick was palmed away by Bell, who rounded off a good display between the sticks for the visitors.
Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Gascoigne, Carruthers, Jelleyman (sub May, 85 mins); Verma, McGowan; Hendrie, Ives, Fox (sub Mills, 60 mins); Berwick. Subs not used: Carpenter, Moon, Malone.
Hitchin: Bell; Lench, Webb, Pearson, Bickerstaff; Noone, Barker; McGeorge (sub Rolfe, 58 mins), Donnelly, Forsythe (sub King, 90 mins); Martin. Subs not used: Hulman, Burtenshaw, Jones.
Referee: Kevin Morris.
Goals: Pearson (5 mins, 0-1), Carruthers (20 mins, 1-1), Martin pen (35 mins, 1-2).
Booking: Noone (foul).