Corby Town’s winning run under caretaker-manager Steve Kinniburgh came to an end in the ultimate ‘game of two halves’ as their FA Trophy hopes were ended by a 3-2 defeat at St Neots Town.
The Steelmen stunned their hosts by going 2-0 up with a fine first-half display only for the higher-ranked Saints to storm back in the second period, with Corby’s misery being compounded by a red card for Connor Kennedy.
Kinniburgh made one enforced change from the team that won 3-2 at Sheffield FC last weekend with Jordan O’Brien recalled to the starting line-up after Leon Lobjoit’s loan spell from Northampton Town ended this week.
After an even but uneventful first 10 minutes, the game burst into life with the Steelmen stunning their hosts with two quickfire goals.
And the opener was an absolute peach. Jordon Crawford set of on a surging run down the left before cutting inside and unleashing a magnificent strike into the far top corner, leaving home goalkeeper Mike Emery rooted to the spot.
But it got even better just four minutes later. Crawford did the leg work as he kept the ball in play on the by-line. He rolled it back for Steven Leslie whose cross was met by a fine diving header from Ben Diamond at the far post.
The Steelmen remained in the ascendancy for the remainder of the first half with Sam Mulready having a shot deflected off target after good work from Diamond.
St Neots’ only real opportunity came just past the half-hour when Dylan Williams skipped past Jason Lee but dragged his effort wide of the far post.
The hosts made a double change at the break and it had the desired effect.
St Neots were on the front foot from the off and they got back into it when Dion Sembie-Ferris raced past Sam Warburton and, with Wilson racing from his goal, the winger headed it past him and it found its way in off the post.
And that was the start of a remarkable 14-minute spell that saw it all fall apart for the Steelmen.
The game was all-square when a Johnny Herd long throw was flicked on by the head of Paul Malone and Wilson could only palm the ball into the path of Liam McDevitt who fired home.
And just five minutes later, the turnaround was complete. Referee James Turner played a good advantage after a foul from Connor Kennedy and Tom Meechan was played through on goal and made no mistake with a good, low finish.
Things got worse as Kennedy was promptly dismissed for that foul, receiving his second yellow card of the game.
But Corby gave it a go and Crawford was out of luck when he cut in from the left and hit one with his right again, only to see Emery push it onto the crossbar.
As the Steelmen pushed forward, it left gaps at the back and Wilson made a good double-save to deny Meechan before pulling off an even better stop from Scott Sinclair’s low effort.
Corby tried their best to launch a couple of attacks with Crawford continuing to impress.
But it wasn’t to be as St Neots comfortably saw things out to seal the victory.
St Neots: Emery; Bradshaw, McDevitt, Parr, Marsh-Brown (sub Herd, h-t); Wood (sub Wiltshire, h-t), Knight; Sembie-Ferris, Williams (sub Butler, 90 mins), Sinclair; Meechan. Subs not used: O’Malley, Bridges.
Steelmen: Wilson; Anton, Malone, Lee, Warburton; Leslie, Kennedy; Diamond, O’Brien (sub Trainer, 54 mins), Crawford; Mulready (sub Tanga-Gibson, 81 mins). Subs not used: McBride, Cretu, Smith.
Referee: James Turner.
Goals: Crawford (11 mins, 0-1), Diamond (15 mins, 0-2), Sembie-Ferris (51 mins, 1-2), McDevitt (60 mins, 2-2), Meechan (65 mins, 3-2).
Bookings: Parr, Kennedy, (all fouls), Knight, Sembie-Ferris (both dissent), Crawford (diving).
Sending-off: Kennedy (second bookable offence).