VERDICT: Birthday boy Jordon fires Steelmen to victory
Jordon Crawford celebrated his 21st birthday in style as he scored twice to ensure there were no Monday night blues for Corby Town at Steel Park as a fine second-half fightback helped them claim a 3-1 success over Kidsgrove Athletic.
And while the birthday boy will rightly take the headlines, honorary mentions must go to caretaker-manager Steve Kinniburgh and substitute Jake Bettles.
The Steelmen were trailing to Anthony Malbon’s first-half strike when Kinniburgh threw Bettles on in place of Phil Trainer 10 minutes into the second half.
Just five minutes later, Bettles had levelled with his first goal for the club and been brought down for a penalty, which Crawford converted to give Corby the lead.
It was the spark the hosts needed and both Kinniburgh and Bettles can be extremely pleased with their individual contributions.
Kinniburgh sprung a couple of surprises in his squad with defender Jason Lee returning to the club and starting alongside Dean McBride at the heart of the back four while Ryan Bell, who has been at Desborough Town this season, also making a return to Steel Park among the substitutes.
Young goalkeeper Dan Smith retained his place having made his full debut in the the 5-2 loss at Lincoln United at the weekend while Lee Garvie and Steven Leslie came into the team at the expense of Ashley Robinson and Jake Bettles.
After a quiet start, it was Corby who created the first chance as Kidsgrove goalkeeper beat away a decent 20-yard strike from Leslie.
At the other end, Anthony Malbon’s overhead-kick was straight at Smith but it was the hosts who looked the more dangerous in what proved to be a low-key first half.
Crawford looked to have a good claim for a penalty waved away by referee Oliver Mackey after he went down under a challenge from Rhys Thompson.
Crawford was the livewire for the Steelmen and he forced Parton into a save and, from the resulting corner, Connor Kennedy headed just wide.
But the Steelmen were hit by a sucker-punch on the stroke of half-time when the dangerous Malbon turned on the edge of the box and beat Smith with an excellent curling strike into the corner, although there was more than a hint of handball involved as he controlled the ball.
Corby started the second half on the front foot and Kennedy was denied by a last-ditch challenge after he burst into the box while Lee sent a free header over from the resulting corner.
But the game was turned on its head within the space of a couple of minutes as Bettles made an immediate impact from the bench.
He threw himself at Crawford’s deep cross to the far post to head home the equaliser and his first goal for the club.
And just two minutes later, Bettles was at the centre of the action again as he was hacked down just inside the penalty area to give the Steelmen a chance to level from the spot.
And Crawford stepped up to send Parton the wrong way from 18 yards.
Kidsgrove missed a golden opportunity to draw level when Tim Sanders shot wide of a gaping goal after the Corby defence had failed to deal with a cross into the area.
And they were made to pay when Corby grabbed their third with 11 minutes to go.
Leslie’s superb curling strike beat Parton all-ends-up. It smacked off the crossbar but landed at the feet of Crawford who took a touch before hammering into the roof of the net.
That rounded things off nicely for the birthday boy and it could have been even more comfortable had Bell hit the target from a good position after coming on as a substitute.
Another goal wasn’t needed though as Corby completed the double over the struggling visitors in front of a worrying lowly crowd.
Finishing in the play-off positions in the Evo-Stik League South remains a big ask for the Steelmen but they are still capable of finishing with a flourish.
Onto Cleethorpes Town on Thursday night...
Steelmen: Smith; Anton, McBride, Lee, Warburton; Garvie (sub Bell, 79 mins), Kennedy; Crawford, Leslie, Tuksar (sub Allan, 85 mins); Trainer (sub Bettles, 56 mins). Subs not used: Kinniburgh, Aridegbe.
Kidsgrove: Parton; Thompson, Austin, Ashman, Lingard; Graves, Duke, Davidson (sub Diskin, 69 mins), Sanders (sub Rhodes, 79 mins); Cropper (sub Valido-Basi, 62 mins), Malbon. Subs not used: McGraw, McKeever.
Referee: Oliver Mackey.
Goals: Malbon (45 mins, 0-1), Bettles (58 mins, 1-1), Crawford pen (61 mins, 2-1), Crawford (79 mins, 3-1).
Booking: Bettles (foul).