Walker the hero as Steelmen are held

Corby Town manager Tommy Wright
Corby Town manager Tommy Wright

Corby Town missed the chance to close the gap on Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division leaders Poole Town after they drew 1-1 with Chesham United at Steel Park.

With Poole’s game being called off, the Steelmen had the opportunity to move to within two points of them with a victory.

Instead, they were perhaps a bit fortunate to come away with a draw as Paul Walker produced an inspired a performance in goal while Cleveland Taylor grabbed the equaliser early in the second half.

There was just one change to the Steelmen side following the 1-0 FA Trophy defeat to Redditch United last weekend as skipper Paul Malone returned after four weeks out with a back injury in place of the suspended Edi Appleton.

And there was further good news on the substitutes’ bench with Shane Byrne and boss Tommy Wright both included following respective hamstring and shoulder problems.

Chesham got themselves on the front foot early on and, as the first half went on, only a combination of poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Paul Walker prevented them from taking the lead.

The Steelmen stopper saved from Ryan Blake inside the first two minutes before Toby Little saw his excellent curling free-kick smack off the inside of the post with Walker beaten.

Walker was back in action when he saved Simon Thomas’ header and reacted quickly to deny Blake as he looked to finish the rebound.

Former Birmingham City man Darren Purse headed over when he should have done better but Corby did finally wake up and Ben Milnes drew a fine save from Shane Gore with a crisp half-volley following a corner.

But the visitors did have further chances with Blake finally beating Walker with a lob, which fortunately also cleared the bar while Thomas flashed another header wide.

Despite the pressure mainly being on their goal, Corby so nearly took the lead against the run of play.

Greg Mills delivered a pin-point cross from the left and Elliott Chamberlain was unlucky as his glancing header struck the post with Spencer Weir-Daley unable to pick up the pieces.

However, the visitors did take a deserve lead on the stroke of half-time. Little lined up another free-kick and this time it took a deflection which ensured it flew past Walker and into the bottom corner.

One would guess the words from Wright may have been choice in the home team’s dressing-room at the break.

And whatever was said had the desired effect as Corby levelled three minutes after the restart.

Wilson Carvalho sent in a low cross from the right, Purse mis-kicked it horribly and it left Taylor with the simple task of scoring into an empty net from a couple of yards.

The Steelmen had claims for a penalty when Carvalho went down under a challenge from Purse, who felt the Corby man dived.

There was a worrying sight for the Steelmen when Kalern Thomas was forced off with a nasty looking injury after falling awkwardly.

He was replaced by Curtis Hartley while Wright also brought himself on for the final 10 minutes.

But it was Chesham who went close to a winner with Walker again coming to the rescue with good stops from Blake and Dave Pearce.

Weir-Daley had a late effort deflected away for a corner but there was to be no late drama as both teams had to settle for a point.

Steelmen: Walker; Kennedy, Malone, Anton, Thomas (sub Hartley, 80 mins); Milnes, Taylor; Carvalho (sub Byrne, 71 mins), Weir-Daley, Mills (sub Wright, 80 mins); Chamberlain. Subs not used: Clarke, May.

Chesham: Gore; Smith (sub Fenton, 64 mins), Purse, Brown, Little; Pearce, L Malone, Poulton, Bell (sub Wood, 74 mins); Blake, Thomas. Subs not used: Effiong, Beasant, Melford-Rowe.

Referee: Rob Smith.

Goals: Little (45 mins, 0-1), Taylor (48 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Poulton (foul), Mills, Smith (both dissent).

Attendance: 400.