VERDICT – A harsh reality check for Steelmen

Corby Town manager Tommy Wright
Corby Town manager Tommy Wright

Corby Town were victims of the harsh reality of the Vanarama National League North on Bank Holiday Monday.

With the Steelmen heading into the clash on the back of an unbeaten run in the first six games, hopes were high that they would provide early pacesetters Solihull Moors with a stern test at Steel Park.

From that point of view, it was mission accomplished because Solihull will definitely have more comfortable afternoons than this particular one.

But that will come as little consolation for Tommy Wright as his team’s impressive start to life at a higher level was ended in a 3-1 defeat.

You could probably pinpoint a few areas where it didn’t quite go right for Corby on this occasion.

They struggled to cope with Solihull’s swift counter-attacking football and, at the other end, they found it hard to penetrate a big, strong and physical defence.

But, overall, on this day they simply came up against a better team and a side, on this evidence at least, that will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

Solihull set their stall out early and Ryan Beswick stabbed an effort just wide after jinking his way into the area before they took a deserved lead when Darryl Knights sprung the offside trap and squared for the excellent James Armson to wrong-foot Paul Walker with a close-range finish.

Knights volleyed wide soon after but the Steelmen gradually worked their way into things and equalised on 27 minutes.

Kabongo Tshimanga, who was quiet by his recent standards, laid the ball back to Ben Milnes who stood a cross up towards the far post. And Spencer Weir-Daley rose highest to plant a downward header past Danny Lewis for his third goal in as many games.

But, despite that one moment, the Steelmen continued to struggle and their inability to deal with Solihull’s attacking play was evident again when the visitors regained the lead before half-time.

A ball was switched from left to right and found two Solihull players chasing after it without a Steelman in sight. One of them, Beswick, got hold of it and then swung in a perfect cross, which Akwasi Asante met with a powerful header.

The second half would prove to be a lot more competitive.

Both teams exchanged opportunities with Armson shooting over for Solihull while Weir-Daley saw an effort deflected over at the other end.

Walker kept his side in it with a superb stop to deny Armson but the game was ultimately decided in the space of one crazy minute.

And the Steelmen were out of luck as Kurtis Revan’s shot was spilled by Lewis, Weir-Daley got his head to the rebound but Lewis recovered to save well and then Greg Mills saw his shot deflected away.

And just 60 seconds later, the game was over. Solihull launched another counter-attack and it ended with substitute Stefan Moore breaking through the middle before rounding Walker and slotting into an empty net.

Ash Sammons did force one more save from Lewis before the end but it was not to be for Corby.

They found themselves counting the cost of a difficult opening half while not taking their chances when they came after the break.

Lessons will be learned from this and they have seen the standard that will be needed if they are to challenge at the top end.

But, make no mistake about it, their long unbeaten run at Steel Park wasn’t ended in an unfortunate manner. It was ended by a very good side who will surely challenge for the title.

Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Courtney, Aaron Brown, Carruthers; Taylor, Milnes (sub Wright, 70 mins); Tshimanga (sub Revan, 60 mins), Sammons, Mills; Weir-Daley. Subs not used: Anton Brown, Donkin, Draper.

Solihull Moors: Lewis; Streete, Cowan, Dean; Nottingham, Walker, Beswick, Franklin (sub Daly, 84 mins); Knights, Asante (sub Moore, 70 mins), Armson (sub Gittings, 74 mins). Subs not used: Leslie, English.

Referee: Neil Hair.

Goals: Armson (11 mins, 0-1), Weir-Daley (27 mins, 1-1), Asante (38 mins, 1-2), Moore (78 mins, 1-3).

Attendance: 760.