Corby Town’s excellent start to the new season continued as they eased into the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup with a 2-0 victory over Hertford Town at Steel Park.
As far as weeks go, the last one hasn’t been too bad at all.
An Evo-Stik South League Division One Central victory over AFC Dunstable last weekend was followed by a first FA Cup win in nearly four years as they dispatched Dunstable Town in their preliminary round replay.
And, having waited so long for some joy in this competition, the Steelmen rounded a fine seven days off by seeing off their Bostik League South Central opponents.
It is a week that has earned the club the best part of £9,000 in prize money and they will also have been heartened by a 500-plus attendance for the first time this season.
And it’s no surprise people are taking notice. It’s seven games without defeat at the start of the season, this looks to be the Corby team Steve Kinniburgh wanted to build and as was once said ‘if you build it, they will come’.
Kinniburgh made one change to his starting line-up following the 4-0 victory at Dunstable Town the preliminary round replay last Tuesday night with Miles Smith returning to replace Dean McBride.
Corby started brightly and an early chance which saw Elliot Sandy stretching to head wide at the far post set the tone for an open half.
Joel Carta nodded over after a brief scramble in the six-yard box and Ollie Sharman went close with a header of his own at the other end.
Sandy didn’t get enough on a Smith cross from the right and then Sam Warburton was off target after a driving run from midfield.
Carta went even closer with a curling effort after he was played in by Sandy and, after Tommy Wade had shot wide in a rare Hertford attack, the Steelmen were out of luck when Warburton’s free-kick cannoned off the crossbar with goalkeeper Charlie Mann beaten.
They could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t their day but they took advantage of a slice of good fortune in first-half stoppage-time.
A cross came in from the left and, instead of clearing, a visiting defender mis-controlled the ball and it fell for Sandy who took one touch before firing low into the corner.
That lead was almost doubled early in the second period as half-time substitute Jake Bettles robbed Sharman of possession and then cut back inside before seeing a shot saved by Mann.
Hertford’s attacks were rare but Michael Toner headed wide from a good position from a corner.
And that miss was punished as the Steelmen gave themselves some breathing space with 20 minutes to go.
Jordan Francis sent the ball in from the right, Sandy stretched to get a touch and Joel Carta arrived on cue to finish things off with a close-range header.
The visitors tried to respond and Tyler Hatherley was just off target with an acrobatic effort but Corby remained resolute and never really looked like letting Hertford back into it.
It was another thoroughly deserved success for Kinniburgh’s team. They look solid and they are a constant threat at the other end.
As far as the FA Cup is concerned, no-one can begrudge this club a bit of success following their barren run in the competition.
A kind draw on Monday will hopefully give them the chance to go even further...
Steelmen: George; M Smith (sub Bettles, h-t), Mulligan, Anton, Warburton; Carta, Kennedy; Francis (sub Garvie, 90 mins), Bradshaw, Crawford (sub Allen, 90 mins); Sandy. Subs not used: D Smith, Robinson, McBride.
Hertford: Mann; Clemo, Beck, Sharman, Joynes; Keenleyside (sub Beattie, 68 mins), Toner, Ruff (sub Twumasi, 81 mins); Lutaaya, Wade, Logan (sub Hatherly, 63 mins). Subs not used: Brownson, Thomson, Basden, Mitchell.
Referee: Christopher Bodell.
Goals: Sandy (45 mins, 1-0), Carta (70 mins, 2-0).
Bookings: Logan (kicking ball away), Beck (foul).
Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Elliot Sandy - not for the first time, there were plenty of candidates after an impressive overall display and another clean sheet. But the frontman caught the eye. He did, of course, grab the opening goal but he also missed a couple of decent chances before it. But it wasn’t just about his exploits in front of goal. Playing the role of a lone frontman can be a frustrating task at times. However, the experienced Sandy is putting the work in. He didn’t stop running, he made life hard for the visiting central defenders and when the chances didn’t come his way, he was playing a key role in creating openings for others. His arrival looked a key signing when it happened. And he is already showing just why Steve Kinniburgh wanted to bring him in.