VERDICT – Festive cheer shortlived as Steelmen suffer at home

Corby Town manager Tommy Wright
Corby Town manager Tommy Wright

The festive cheer was shortlived for Corby Town as they ended 2015 with a 5-3 home defeat to Lowestoft Town.

Having picked up a crucial 2-1 success at Brackley Town on Boxing Day, the Steelmen conspired to throw away the lead on two occasions on Bank Holiday Monday as two goals in the space of three second-half minutes gave Lowestoft the vital points at the bottom end of the Vanarama National League North.

Tommy Wright will, no doubt, be frustrated. His team were worthy of leading through Greg Mills and Massiah McDonald in the opening period.

And while Lowestoft worked their way back into it, their quick start after the break proved to be the difference.

Corby did give it a go late on with Mills doubling his tally to set up a grandstand finish but Lowestoft rounded things off with a penalty of their own in the latter stages.

With captain Cleveland Taylor away, Danny Draper came into the Corby starting line-up while Spencer Weir-Daley was also recalled in place of the injured Sam Downey.

Edi Appleton kept his place in defence with the returning Paul Malone having to settle for a place on the substitutes’ bench while Ben O’Hanlon was still missing due to a hamstring problem.

The early stages were played at a high intensity by both teams and Mills shot straight at Ben Killip in the Lowestoft goal before Corby were forced to clear their lines after Jake Reed had pulled the ball back into the area.

But the Steelmen made the breakthrough on eight minutes. Massiah McDonald was the creator as his driving run ended with a perfectly-timed pass to Mills on the left of the area and he coolly curled the ball into the bottom corner.

Weir-Daley missed his kick from a tight angle after being played in by Massiah McDonald but Corby were pegged back in the 16th minute.

Sam Donkin produced a terrific save to deny Andrew Fisk but was out of luck as the ball fell to Reed who scored into an unguarded net.

But, within a minute, the Steelmen were back in front and this time the roles were reversed as Mills crossed from the left and Massiah McDonald guided his header into the far corner.

Ben Milnes tested Killip from distance and the goalkeeper reacted well to save Clayton McDonald’s follow up as the Steelmen stayed on the front foot.

At the other end, Donkin got down well to push away Ryan Jarvis’ 25-yard free-kick but there was little he could do when Lowestoft equalised for a second time seven minutes before the break.

Massiah McDonald shoved Robert Eagle over on the left of the penalty area. He may claim it was a shoulder barge but referee Neil Hair was in no doubt as he pointed to the spot.

And Jack Ainsley stepped up to send Donkin the wrong way from 12 yards.

Malone was introduced for the injured Clayton McDonald at the break but the game looked to have gone beyond the Steelmen seven minutes after the restart as Lowestoft flew out of the blocks.

They took the lead for the first time when Reed muscled Duane Courtney off the ball and then cut into the area before beating Donkin with a low, curling shot.

Anton Brown’s fierce strike fizzed over the crossbar as Corby seeked an immediate response but it was 4-2 just a minute later when Eagle stepped up and sent a magnificent 25-yard free-kick into the top corner after Kalern Thomas had been harshly penalised for a foul.

The Steelmen tried to hit back but Killip was equal to a Weir-Daley shot as he tipped it over the bar while, at the other end, Donkin produced another excellent reflex save to push Rossi Jarvis’ deflected shot away for a corner.

Ryan Jarvis was just off target with another effort before Wright brought himself on in attempt to boost his team’s fortunes.

But it was Lowestoft who continued to look the more likely to add to their lead and Donkin, who was one of the positives from the afternoon, produced another excellent save to deny Harvey Hodd who took aim from long-range.

Corby did give themselves a chance when Mills was felled in the area and, after a bit of handbags following the decision, he beat Killip from the penalty spot.

Wright was agonisingly close to getting on the end of a low cross as the hosts went in search of a dramatic equaliser.

But, instead, Lowestoft finished things off when Ryan Jarvis was fouled by Massiah McDonald and Ainsley stepped up again to beat Donkin with a well-struck spot-kick.

This was one that got away for the Steelmen and the fact it was against a team just above them, who have now pulled further clear just adds to the frustration.

That’s 2015 done and dusted. A big start to 2016 is now needed in the bid for survival...

Steelmen: Donkin; Draper (sub Aridegbe, 52 mins), Courtney, C McDonald (sub Malone, h-t), Appleton; Thomas, M McDonald, Milnes (sub Wright, 67 mins), Brown; Mills, Weir-Daley. Subs not used: Dutton, Bell.

Lowestoft: Killip; Barker, Ainsley, Spillane, Eagle; Hodd, Fisk (sub Smith, 90 mins), Rossi Jarvis, Ryan Jarvis; Bammant, Reed. Subs not used: Henderson, Woods-Garness, Mason, Smith, Jessup.

Referee: Neil Hair.

Goals: Mills (8 mins, 1-0), Reed (16 mins, 1-1), M McDonald (17 mins, 2-1), Ainsley pen (38 mins, 2-2), Reed (49 mins, 2-3), Eagle (52 mins, 2-4), Mills pen (87 mins, 3-4), Ainsley pen (90 mins, 3-5).

Bookings: Wright (foul), Reed, Appleton (both unsporting behaviour).

Attendance: 616.