McKenzie the hero as Steelmen produced a stunning fightback

Chris Plummer
Chris Plummer

Leon McKenzie was the hero of the hour as Corby Town produced a superb second-half comeback to beat Hayes & Yeading United 3-2 at Steel Park and book a place in the second round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy.

Introduced as a 70th-minute substitute, the experienced striker set up the equaliser for Jason Crowe and then headed home a dramatic stoppage-time winner to send a small but vocal crowd home very happy indeed.

There was no sign of the drama to come as Hayes took a 2-0 lead at the break thanks to some clinical finishing. But Carl Piergianni pulled a goal back before McKenzie arrived to steal the headlines.

Chris Plummer recalled Crowe, Stefan Galinski, Tom McGowan and Ryan Semple to the starting line-up while Liam Hughes was handed his debut after signing on loan from Cambridge United.

But it was Hayes who started the brighter in miserable conditions and on a soaking Steel Park pitch.

Daniel Wishart forced Paul Walker into a good save before Avelino Vieira shot wildly over the bar in Corby’s first attack.

It proved to be a very open first half and Sam Ives shot wide before Hughes headed over but it was the visitors who struck first just past the hour.

And the simplicity would have frustrated Plummer as Luke Williams sent over a free-kick and Marc Bentley rose above Paul Malone to head into the top corner.

The Steelmen should have drawn level when Semple scuffed his shot in front of goal after he was teed up by Vieira and Hughes also should have done better than head wide from Semple’s cross after Tom McGowan had shown nice footwork before releasing the winger.

But Hayes always looked dangerous going forward and Walker did superbly to deny both Sam Cox and Kudus Oyenuga before they doubled the lead a minute before half-time.

Lewis Webb conceded possession and Williams ran on before beating Walker with a superb strike into the far corner.

The next goal was always going to be crucial and, as the heavens opened completely, it was Corby who got it 11 minutes after the break.

A free-kick was half-cleared but Hughes found Semple down the right and his pin-point cross was bundled in by Piergianni, who is now making a habit of scoring goals for the Steelmen.

That gave the hosts the initiative and they dominated possession with Avelino Vieira having an effort chalked off for offside before the equaliser arrived with eight minutes to go.

And once again, Leon McKenzie was a difference-maker. The substitute produced a lovely turn in the area and his cross was hammered home at the far post by Crowe.

McKenzie could have won it earlier when his shot was saved by Brandon Hall and Piergianni was denied a second of the day when his header was cleared off the line by Daniel Spence.

But then, a minute into added on time, fellow substitute Marc Manga crossed and McKenzie headed home to send Steel Park into raptures and send his team into the hat for Monday’s second-round draw.

Steelmen: Walker; Galinski, Malone, Piergianni, Crowe; Webb (sub McKenzie, 70 mins), McGowan; Semple, Ives, Vieira (sub Manga, 85 mins); Hughes. Subs not used: Fox, Richardson.

Hayes & Yeading: Hall; Moutaouakil, Montieio, Butcher, Spence; Bentley, Cox; Oyenuga (sub M Williams, 85 mins), L Williams, Wishart (sub Anderson, 78 mins); Joseph. Subs not used: Goddard, Cadmore, Beasant.

Referee: Stephen Ross.

Goals: Bentley (32 mins, 0-1), L Williams (44 mins, 0-2), Piergianni (56 mins, 1-2), Crowe (82 mins, 2-2), McKenzie (90 mins, 3-2).

Attendance: 322.