VERDICT – Steelmen set the standard in the fight to survive

Corby Town's players and management celebrate at the final whistle as they beat Tamworth 2-0 at Steel Park. Pictures by Alison Bagley
Corby Town's players and management celebrate at the final whistle as they beat Tamworth 2-0 at Steel Park. Pictures by Alison Bagley

Isn’t it amazing how much can change in the space of two weeks?

A fortnight ago, things were looking very bleak indeed for Corby Town.

Corby Town debutant Nathan Hicks is shown a red card for a second bookable offence during the 2-0 win over Tamworth

Corby Town debutant Nathan Hicks is shown a red card for a second bookable offence during the 2-0 win over Tamworth

A 2-1 home defeat to Gainsborough Trinity, which came about in all-too familiar fashion, left them in big trouble at the wrong end of the Vanarama National League North.

A clash at Bradford Park Avenue was postponed, giving Tommy Wright and his players plenty of time to prepare for this clash with Tamworth.

That fortnight also included a big turnaround in players, no fewer than six new faces coming into Steel Park as Wright bids to find the right formula to ensure survival.

In the meantime, other results had ensured Corby started yesterday at the foot of the table.

Ellis Myles impressed in his first appearance for the Steelmen

Ellis Myles impressed in his first appearance for the Steelmen

But, by 5pm, they were out of the relegation zone after putting in what was arguably their best performance of the season so far.

The 2-0 victory over the Lambs was well-deserved.

From goalkeeper Sam Donkin, who looks stronger with each game, through to lone striker Greg Mills the Steelmen were excellent.

Three of the new boys started with Ellis Myles producing a highly-impressive display at right-back while Nathan Evans looked lively on the right wing and Nathan Hicks showed a touch of class in the middle of the pitch before his afternoon was ended prematurely.

But the ‘old guard’ also played a key role in what seemed a rejuvenated Steelmen side.

Duane Courtney and Edi Appleton were rock solid at the back, Anton Brown was an enforcer, Mills scored yet again and, leading the charge, was captain Cleveland Taylor.

The skipper defied his years as he charged around the pitch as if his life depended on it.

Taylor seemed like a man on a mission and his energetic and, ultimately, influential display set the standard for everyone else.

Indeed, he had a big hand in the opening goal on six minutes. Courtney’s long throw was only cleared as far as the captain and his volley was deflected in by Mills from close-range.

Taylor forced James Belshaw into a good save at his near post after racing clear in the left channel as the Steelmen continued to force the issue early on.

Far too often, the phrase ‘small margins’ has been used this season when things may not have gone Corby’s way.

But, on this occasion, it went firmly in their favour. Former Steelmen frontman Leon Mettam was out of luck just past the half-hour when his header from an Elliott Durrell free-kick bounced off the post.

And, just three minutes later, it was 2-0 with Taylor again unlocking the door after his lovely ball across goal was perfect for Appleton - still forward from an earlier free-kick - to slide in and stab home at the far post.

It was so nearly 3-0 before the break when Courtney’s looping header struck the top of the crossbar and, even though the visitors were brighter after the break, it was the Steelmen who created the better chances.

Belshaw punched away a fierce Mills free-kick and the striker should have ended the contest when he was played in by Ben Milnes but could only shoot narrowly wide.

Instead, Corby were faced with a nervy 20 minutes after Hicks, who had otherwise impressed, was booked twice in the space of four minutes to ensure he had first use of the hot water.

As it turned out, that red card didn’t matter. The Steelmen maintained their work-rate and, from a defensive point of view, they were excellent with Donkin not called into action until he got down well to save Durrell’s volley with two minutes to go.

At the other end, substitute Ryan Robbins was twice denied by Belshaw as Corby continued to be a threat on the counter-attack.

Another goal, however, wasn’t needed as a first win at Steel Park since November 7 could be celebrated.

This is the standard and hopefully the Steelmen players will keep that in their heads over the next couple of months.

They proved for 90 minutes that they belong at this level. But that is all they’ve done.

One game does not a season make. But, at last, there is something to truly believe in...

Steelmen: Donkin; Myles, Courtney, Appleton, Thomas; Brown; Evans (sub Downey, 56 mins), Milnes, Hicks, Cleveland Taylor; Mills (sub Robbins, 82 mins). Subs not used: Marshall, Reay, Manship.

Tamworth: Belshaw; Burns (sub Moulton, 71 mins), Tomassen, Preston, Strong; Fox (sub Connor Taylor, 82 mins), Green, Deeney, Durrell; Newton (sub Dyer, 63 mins), Mettam. Subs not used: Pace, Smith.

Referee: Declan Ford.

Goals: Mills (6 mins, 1-0), Appleton (36 mins, 2-0).

Bookings: Tomassen, Milnes, Hicks (all fouls), Robbins (kicking ball away).

Sending-off: Hicks (second bookable offence).

Attendance: 539.