VERDICT: A fair outcome as Steelmen and Yeltz battle out a draw
Honours ended even in the big top-of-the-table clash at Steel Park as Corby Town and Halesowen Town battled out a 1-1 draw.
With nearly 800 fans on hand, the game sparked into life after the break following a dull opening period with Elliot Sandy pulling the Steelmen level after Jordan Piggott had fired the Yeltz into the lead.
Both teams had chances to win it but, in the end, the points were shared with the result seeing Berkhamsted take over at the top of the BetVictor Southern League Division One Central on goal difference from Corby while Halesowen now have the games in hand to overhaul the top two.
The Steelmen gave Steve Diggin his first start since his return from a knee injury but were otherwise unchanged from the 2-1 defeat at Barton Rovers last weekend.
And Corby started brightly enough with joint-manager Gary Mulligan volleying over the crossbar after a corner dropped for him.
But it was Halesowen who looked sharper and they carved out the best chances of the opening period.
A pass from Simeon Cobourne unlocked the door and Luke Yates saw his 20-yard effort parried by Alastair Worby who recovered well to tip away Montel Gibson’s follow-up.
But the Yeltz went even closer to breaking the deadlock soon after when a mistake from Charlie Wise, who had headed over from a Jake Duffy free-kick earlier on, allowed Cobourne to be played in but his effort cannoned off the post with Worby well beaten.
After that, the game disintegrated into a scrappy affair with neither goalkeeper being troubled.
However, the match soon sparked into life in the second half.
Robert Evans fired a warning shot just over the Corby bar from 30 yards before the visitors drew first blood on 55 minutes.
Right-back Jordan Piggott stormed forward from inside his own half and found Cobourne on the right. He knocked the ball into the area and Piggott continued his run before burying a shot into the far corner.
Gibson went close to a second when he shot wide after cutting in from the left but the Steelmen pulled level just four minutes after the opener.
Duffy sent a free-kick into the area, Ahmed Ali could only head it down as he attempted to clear and James Clifton turned the ball towards goal with Sandy in the right place to finish things off from close range.
As the game became more stretched, the chances continued to come and Clifton saw an effort well blocked before an astonishing few minutes saw both teams go so close to taking the lead.
Jordon Crawford did everything right when he found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Brendon Bunn but Evans got back to make the most heroic of goal-line clearances.
Halesowen went straight down the other end and were within inches of regaining the lead when the impressive Gibson got his shot off despite being under pressure but it struck the bar before being cleared.
And then, from the resulting long throw, the ball was flicked on but Evans saw his goalbound header brilliantly tipped round the post by Worby.
There was plenty of huff and puff after that but no more clear-cut chances were created as the game fizzled out into a draw.
There could be few arguments that it was the right outcome and, with four games in hand and six points to make up, Halesowen will probably have felt the happier once the final whistle went.
For Corby, it was the right reaction after the loss at Barton Rovers but they will now need a winning run, starting at St Neots Town on Tuesday night, if they are to keep their title hopes alive.
Steelmen: Worby; Hartley, Wise, Mulligan, Warburton; Duffy, Burgess (sub Ling, 78 mins); Clifton, Diggin, Crawford; Sandy (sub Robbins, 81 mins). Subs not used: Ireland, Robinson, Montgomery.
Halesowen: B Bunn; Piggott, McCone, Evans (sub Ashmore, 81 mins), Bowen; Ali; Hawker (sub Sammons, 72 mins), R Bunn, Yates (sub Holmes, 63 mins); Cobourne, Gibson. Subs not used: Manning, Marselia.
Referee: Christopher Hunter.
Goals: Piggott (55 mins, 0-1), Sandy (59 mins, 1-1).
Bookings: Yates (dissent), Burgess, Ashmore, Duffy (all fouls).
The Raj (www.therajrestaurant.net) man-of-the-match: Steve Diggin.