Corby Town staged another Steel Park fightback as they maintained their unbeaten start to the new season with a 2-1 success over AFC Dunstable.
The Steelmen were strangely subdued as they trailed to Nathan Frater’s goal five minutes before half-time.
But the Evo-Stik South League Division One Central clash turned when Kyle Ajayi became the sixth player to be sent-off against Corby in just five matches this season with every team the Steelmen have faced finishing with 10 men or less on the pitch.
And Corby took full advantage as substitute Jake Bettles brought them level before Elliot Sandy converted a penalty 10 minutes from the end to wrap up the three points.
Steve Kinniburgh made one change to the starting line-up following the 2-0 success at Coleshill Town on Bank Holiday Monday with Ben Bradshaw replacing the unavailable Joel Carta.
It was a low-key start but it was Corby who created the first chance when a challenge from a Dunstable defender on Jordan Francis inadvertently played in Bradshaw who saw his shot saved by the legs of visiting goalkeeper Jamie Head.
Jordon Crawford’s good strike swerved away from the top corner but, in general, the game never really got going in the warm conditions.
But it was the visitors who made the breakthrough five minutes before half-time.
A cross from the right looked like it would be cleared but an unfortunate ricochet saw the ball fall perfectly for Frater who made no mistake from 10 yards.
Sandy forced Head into a good, low save as Corby tried to respond but it was Dunstable who started the second half the brighter as George was forced to palm away a 30-yard effort from substitute Terry Griffiths.
And there was a heart in the mouth moment for the Corby goalkeeper when he spilled Frater’s shot towards his own goal-line but recovered in time to stop it.
Corby were struggling to get anything going at the other end but the flat performance and atmosphere was lifted just before the hour mark as they got the shot in the arm they needed.
Miles Smith and Ajayi clashed by the corner flag and the Dunstable player appeared to raise his arms. And once calm had been restored, referee Ryan Williams produced a straight red card for the visiting winger.
And just five minutes later, the Steelmen were back on level terms.
Bradshaw’s excellent pass released Bettles on the right, he cut inside by nutmegging Leon Cashman and his final effort was adjudged to have crossed the line after it struck the underside of the crossbar.
There wasn’t a great deal in it after that despite Corby’s numerical advantage.
But they were presented with a golden chance to win it with 10 minutes to go.
Sam Warburton crossed from the left and Sandy got in front of Adam Watkins who caught the frontman. A clear penalty and Sandy picked himself up to send Head the wrong way from 12 yards.
Bradshaw had a shot deflected wide as the Steelmen looked to make the game safe but they had to keep their concentration late on as the visitors threw everything at them in a bid to find an equaliser.
This as a performance that won’t stick for long in the memory. But Corby got the job done while not being at their best. That’s not a bad thing at all...
Steelmen: George; Smith, Mulligan, Anton, Warburton; Ling (sub Bettles, 54 mins), Kennedy; Francis, Bradshaw (sub McBride, 90 mins), Crawford (sub Allen, 87 mins); Sandy. Subs not used: Smith.
AFC Dunstable: Head; May (sub Griffiths, h-t), Cashman, Steele, Carney; Frater, Watkins, Taverner, Ajayi; Clayton (sub Gullerton, 85 mins), Norris (sub Baker, 69 mins). Subs not used: Pickering, Christie.
Referee: Ryan Williams.
Goals: Frater (40 mins, 0-1), Bettles (64 mins, 1-1), Sandy pen (80 mins, 2-1).
Bookings: Smith (foul), Cashman (dissent).
Sending-off: Ajayi (violent conduct).
Northants Telegraph man-of-the-match: Ben Bradshaw - the young midfielder started in a more advanced role and always looked like being the one to make something happen. He showed some nice touches but then produced the big pass of the game as he released Jake Bettles with a perfect through-ball to set up the equaliser. He made his challenges when he needed to and did what he could to keep the Steelmen on the front foot. The fact he is capable to adjust from being a holding midfielder into a more attacking role bodes well.