Corby Town kept up their pursuit of Evo-Stik League South Division One Central leaders Peterborough Sports with a 3-1 victory over bottom side Kidlington at Steel Park.
The Steelmen’s fourth win in a row was very much a case of a job well done as they had few problems in dispatching the struggling visitors once Jordon Crawford, who has now scored in the last six matches in a row, had put them in front.
It’s been an excellent festive period and now a fine start to the new year for Steve Kinniburgh’s team as they bid for promotion this season.
And, despite coming across something of a banana skin on this occasion, they safely negotiated it to move into second spot and keep the pressure on the leaders.
Kinniburgh named an unchanged squad following the 4-0 success at Yaxley on New Year’s Day with Joel Carta and Miles Smith still ruled out due to injuries.
The Steelmen put the lowly visitors under pressure early on but Dan George was the first of the two goalkeepers to be called into action when he got down well to push away a decent strike from distance from Kidlington’s Lewis Gabbidon.
However, Corby made the breakthrough on the quarter-hour.
Connor Kennedy’s pass released Jordan Francis and he was denied by visiting goalkeeper Sam Warrell before Tom Franklin cleared the winger’s second effort off the line.
But Francis kept the ball alive and another shot from the edge of the area was flicked into the bottom corner by the in-form Jordon Crawford.
Corby continued to create the better openings and Warrell was forced to tip the ball over the bar after Elliot Sandy turned it back in over his head.
Gary Mulligan went close with a volley at the far post but Kidlington did come back into things before the break and there were no takers when Declan Benjamin fired the ball across goal.
Kidlington started the second half well but it was Corby who went close to a second goal when Greg Ling intercepted a pass and then played a perfect ball into the path of Crawford who saw his shot drift past the post after the slightest of touches from Warrell.
The visitors came close themselves soon after when the ball dropped for Benjamin and he unleashed a fierce strike that looked destined for the net until Dan George produced an excellent reflex save to keep it out.
It proved to be a crucial moment as the Steelmen finally created some daylight just past the hour.
Francis was the creator once again with an excellent cross from the left and Elliot Sandy did the rest with a superb diving header to maintain his impressive form in front of goal.
Captain Mulligan saw a header from a Sam Warburton corner come back off the bar but it was Warburton who all-but secured the three points when another flag-kick was whipped in and it missed everyone and found the far corner.
To their credit, Kidlington kept going and they had a goal to show for their efforts when Anaclet Odhiambo glanced home a Gabbidon cross.
But the final outcome had never really been in doubt.
The Steelmen are well and truly on the march as they enter the second half of their campaign.
They simply have to keep it going...
Steelmen: George; Anton, Mulligan, Gordon, Warburton; Ling (sub Omotola, 55 mins), Kennedy; Crawford, Bradshaw (sub Robinson, 83 mins), Francis; Sandy. Subs not used: Smith, Nkrumah, Atcha.
Kidlington: Warrell; Carbon (sub Stanbridge, 67 mins), Franklin, Bernasconi, Castle; Martin, Benjamin (sub Davies, 74 mins), Gabbidon; Tooke, Odhiambo, Osbourne-Ricketts (sub Williams, 61 mins). Subs not used: Organ.
Referee: Alistair Nelson.
Goals: Crawford (15 mins, 1-0), Sandy (63 mins, 2-0), Warburton (76 mins, 3-0), Odhiambo (86 mins, 3-1).
Bookings: Ling, Benjamin (both unsporting behaviour), Warburton, Stanbridge (both fouls).
The Raj (www.therajrestaurant.net) man-of-the-match: Jordan Francis - I’m not sure if anyone at Steel Park is keeping an assists table but Francis must surely be at the top of it. The winger has been a real asset after joining in the summer and he was at it again this time. He kept the ball alive after being denied twice himself to create the opener and then set up the second after the break as well. Throw in an excellent work-rate and it all added up to another highly impressive display. With him operating on one wing and Jordon Crawford on the other, chances will never be in short supply.