VERDICT – Relief all round as Steelmen finally stop the rot

Callum Ball wheels away after opening the scoring for Corby Town in the 3-2 win over AFC Telford United. Pictures by Alison Bagley
Callum Ball wheels away after opening the scoring for Corby Town in the 3-2 win over AFC Telford United. Pictures by Alison Bagley

The roar of relief and approval as the full-time whistle blew told the story as Steel Park found its buzz once again.

The past two and half months or so have been a massive struggle for Tommy Wright and Corby Town, of that there is no doubt.

But, when the time came for them to stand up and be counted before things really spiralled out of control, they delivered.

Of course, they would have liked to have ended the dreadful run - seven league defeats in a row and a run of 13 matches without a win - long before now.

However, given the events of the week leading up to this particular game a win was crucial while another defeat was unthinkable.

The Steelmen started the day at the foot of the Vanarama National League North.

Clayton McDonald takes the congratulations after scoring the Steelmen's second goal

Clayton McDonald takes the congratulations after scoring the Steelmen's second goal

But, after a hard-fought 3-2 win later, they moved off the foot and, for good measure, out of the bottom three - a big morale-booster if ever there was one.

And they were good value for it as well.

The quality from both sides left a bit to be desired at times and the way four of the five goals went in would have left any goalkeeper coach searching for a dark room to have a lie down in.

But Wright’s team had hard work, desire and commitment in abundance, all attributes that have been called into question in recent weeks.

Clayton McDonald fires home Corby's second goal against AFC Telford

Clayton McDonald fires home Corby's second goal against AFC Telford

And they also had one or two heroes out there as well.

Young left back Ben O’Hanlon, who is currently on loan from Wolves, was the best player on the pitch as he produced a display beyond his 19 years.

And, in attack, Callum Ball grabbed his first goal for the Steelmen to cap a highly encouraging performance as he led the line with an impressive mix of skill and power.

It took time for the game to settle on a sodden Steel Park surface but Corby drew first blood on the quarter-hour when O’Hanlon found Greg Mills on the left. He swept the ball over the far post and Ball met it on the volley and it found its way in with the aid of a post.

Telford hit back strongly and there were no takers for Connor McCarthy’s ball across the face of goal while a couple of nervous moments resulted in Corby having to scramble clear.

The warning signs were there when Lucas Dawson’s cross bounced off woodwork and, sure enough, the equaliser arrived on the half-hour.

Darren Campion was afforded far too much time to deliver from the left. Paul Walker could only parry the cross and David Hibbert made no mistake when converting the loose ball.

But Corby hit back and regained the lead when Telford goalkeeper James Montgomery was unable to hold on to Ben Milnes’ free-kick into the near post. A scramble ensued and Clayton McDonald eventually finished things as he also hit his first goal in Corby colours.

However, the mistakes kept coming and Walker’s afternoon got worse three minutes before the break.

Substitute Callum Hassan’s tame volley looked like it would be taken with ease by the Steelmen stopper. But he inexplicably let go with McCarthy this time being the lucky one as he gratefully fired into the empty net.

If nothing else, those mistakes made it exciting and Telford looked the more likely early on the second half, especially when Corby were forced into a change as McDonald pulled up with an ankle injury.

Sean Clancy was out of luck as he rattled the post from 18 yards while Walker saved McCarthy’s attempted lob soon after.

But Corby made them pay with what proved to be the winner on the hour. And, again, it was another goalkeeping howler.

Montgomery looked to have held Milnes’ inswinging corner. But, with no-one around him, he spilled it and this time Mills was on hand to stab home on the goal-line.

The Steelmen went for the throat and the impressive Milnes forced Montgomery into a good save with rasping 30-yard drive.

But there were more nervous moments to come, not least when Walker raced from his goal and looked like he had hauled down McCarthy. But referee Simon Barlow spotted a dive from the Telford frontman, who was subsequently booked.

Telford should have levelled with 13 minutes to go when Ryan Rowe found fellow substitute Johnny Gorman who could only scoop over with just Walker to beat.

Corby dealt with everything else thrown at them after that and, if there were any questions about togetherness to answer, they did so when a 21-man brawl broke out after Cleveland Taylor had fouled Darren Campion.

A further few yellow cards were dished out for that incident but at least the Steelmen stood their ground.

The whistle brought a loud seal of approval from the Corby faithful.

A corner turned? Time will tell on that one. But the rot has been ended and that will be Wright, his players and the fans feel a whole lot better about things.

Now to build on it....

Steelmen: Walker; Thomas, Courtney, McDonald (sub Draper, 52 mins), O’Hanlon; N’Goma, Taylor; Carvalho (sub Revan, 58 mins), Milnes (sub Johnson, 71 mins), Mills; Ball. Subs not used: Donkin, Wright.

AFC Telford: Montgomery; Samuels, Deaman, Tilt, Campion; Dawson (sub Gorman, 61 mins), Rea, Paratore, Clancy (sub Rowe, 74 mins); McCarthy, Hibbert (sub Hassan, 40 mins). Subs not used: Brownhill, Glover.

Referee: Simon Barlow.

Goals: Ball (15 mins, 1-0), Hibbert (30 mins, 1-1), McDonald (37 mins, 2-1), McCarthy (42 mins, 2-2), Mills (60 mins, 3-2).

Bookings: Dawson, Taylor (both fouls), McCarthy (diving), Ball, Tilt, Campion (all unsporting behaviour).

Attendance: 612.