Steelmen forced to settle for a point

Steelmen joint-manager Andrew Wilson
Steelmen joint-manager Andrew Wilson

Corby Town twice squandered leads at Steel Park as Chippenham Town secured a deserved 2-2 draw in the Calor League Premier Division.

The Steelmen looked to be heading for a home win when Aman Verma curled home a brilliant free-kick to put them 2-1 up with 14 minutes to go.

But the visitors, who were lively all afternoon, denied the hosts late on when Lee Phillips headed home to earn a point.

The big news in the fallout to Tuesday’s shock 4-0 defeat at Cogenhoe United in the NFA Hillier Cup was the departure of top scorer Tom Berwick, who has now joined league leaders Hemel Hempstead.

Joint-managers Andrew Wilson and Tommy Wright moved to strengthen their squad in the wake of Berwick leaving with young midfielders Louis Greenway-Tambini and Wilson Carvalho both joining on loan from Port Vale.

They were both handed places on the bench as Paul Malone made his return to the starting line-up following an ankle injury.

It was a fairly scrappy opening 20 minutes with neither side really taking a grip on things.

And it was the visitors who carved out the first chance when Phillips flicked on a cross and found the unmarked Alan Griffin who volleyed over when he should have done much better.

Griffin also sent a shot wide at the near post after good work from Joe McClennan, who was also denied after his stinging effort was blocked by Steelmen goalkeeper Paul Walker.

Corby went close themselves when Wright’s header was clawed away by Matt Bulman and then, from the corner that eventually followed, Malone was out of luck as his header crashed off the crossbar to safety.

Chippenham continued to look a threat on the break and Walker had to be at his best to save James Guthrie’s low strike across goal while, at the other end, Stuart Hendrie saw his effort deflected out for a corner after he had been released by Malone’s pass.

Wright saw another header saved by Bulman but the visiting goalkeeper was beaten on the stroke of half-time when Sam Ives got the better of Tyron Leigh and calmly lofted the ball over Bulman to give the Steelmen a half-time lead.

Chippenham started the second half brightly and they were unlucky not to be on level terms as chances continued to fall for them.

Griffin nodded wide of the mark before McClennan lofted a shot over the bar after Chris Carruthers had blocked his first effort.

And only a brilliant clearance off the line by Malone denied Guthrie as his fierce strike from the left side of the area looked destined for the back of the net.

An equaliser seemed inevitable and it duly arrived just past the hour when McClennan robbed Carruthers on the right wing and his low cross went all the way to Guthrie who hammered home.

Corby threw on Carvalho and Greenway-Tambini for their debuts but they were lucky not to go behind on 72 minutes when Phillips headed wide for the visitors when he really should have hit the target.

But a moment of magic swung the game back in the Steelmen’s favour.

They won a free-kick some 25 yards from goal, Verma stepped up and, with near-perfect execution, he curled his shot over the wall and into the corner to give Bulman no chance.

It looked like being a worthy winner but Chippenham continued to press and they grabbed a deserved equaliser with four minutes to go, although the simplicity would have annoyed the Corby managers.

A cross from deep was sent into the Corby area and Phillips rose unchallenged to power a header past the helpless Walker.

Overall, there could be no arguments. Indeed, Chippenham could argue they might have deserved more than a point.

But, having led twice, the Steelmen will be furious with themselves for letting it slip.

Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Malone, Gascoigne, Carruthers; McGowan (sub Greenway-Tambini, 69 mins), Verma; Hendrie, Ives, Mills (sub Carvalho, 66 mins); Wright. Subs not used: Jelleyman, Carpenter, May.

Chippenham: Bulman; Purnell, Tindall, Leigh, Monks; McClennan, Dean (sub Ferguson, 61 mins), Harvey, Guthrie; Griffin (sub King, 80 mins), Philips. Subs not used: Blackmore, Knighton, John.

Referee: Andrew Tonks.

Goals: Ives (45 mins, 1-0), Guthrie (63 mins, 1-1), Verma (76 mins, 2-1), Phillips (86 mins, 2-2).

Bookings: Harvey (foul), Guthrie (dissent).

Attendance: 312.