VERDICT '“ Mills gets off the mark as Steelmen offer some hope
A new year has dawned and Corby Town kicked it off in perfect style to give their followers a bit of renewed hope.
Let’s make no mistake about it, it’s a long, long way back for the Steelmen if they are to avoid a second successive relegation.
But everything has to start somewhere and this 3-1 victory over play-off challengers Spennymoor Town, following on from last Friday’s 0-0 draw with Halesowen Town, isn’t a bad starting point at all.
For Gary Mills, the monkey is off his back. There was no honeymoon period for him after he took over the reins at Steel Park and he has had to take the rough end of things since taking the job.
But this first league victory will hopefully be a big shot in the arm for him and his players as they bid to pull off the greatest of escapes.
And it was fully deserved as well. Preparations for both teams weren’t exactly easy as Spennymoor’s late arrival meant kick-off was push back for an hour.
Once things did get under way, the Steelmen were happy to give up possession to the high-flyers.
But once they got their noses in front, the confidence began to flow through the veins and while they had to defend for their lives at times, they were clinical when their chances arrived.
In Stefan Moore, the Steelmen have a proven striker and he certainly showed what he is capable of with two excellent finishes while Phil Trainer - deployed in an attacking role - set the ball rolling with a composed finish.
But there were good performances throughout with assistant-manager David Bell coming back into the side to provide a calm head in the middle of the pitch.
With a back four willing to put their bodies on the line for the cause, it all added up to a successful recipe for Mills.
Spennymoor’s late arrival didn’t stop them from getting on the front foot early on and Aidan Grant saved twice from Glen Taylor inside the first 10 minutes while Mark Anderson fired another effort just wide.
But it was Corby who broke the deadlock when a mistake from James Curtis gave Trainer a clear run on goal and he was the coolest man in the stadium and as he rolled the ball under the advancing Daniel Lowson.
With their tails up, the Steelmen piled forward and Jordon Crawford’s fine strike was beaten away by Lowson but there was nothing the stopper could do when, after a swift counter-attack, Moore took aim from 25 yards and found the bottom corner.
Ben Milnes tested Lowson again before half-time while, at the other end, Jason Lee produced an excellent block to deny Taylor.
But Spennymoor were given a lifeline five minutes after the restart when Grant fumbled Kallum Griffiths’ cross from the right and Taylor stole in to score from close-range.
A testing period for the Steelmen defence followed but they dug in and did what they had to do.
Steven Leslie hacked a Curtis header off the line and Grant redeemed himself with two quickfire saves from Curtis and Nathan Fisher.
And when the goalkeeper was beaten, a much-needed stroke of luck arrived as Anderson’s deflected effort went narrowly wide.
It was the sort of break that Corby really haven’t been getting of late and they took full advantage when, in a rare attack, the ball fell to Moore who hammered a wonderful strike into the far corner to wrap things up.
Almost immediately, the unmarked Anderson headed straight at Grant but that was the only scare as Corby saw things out.
This was a day and result for the Steelmen and Mills, in particular, to savour.
The manager has already come in for some stick during the poor run of results since he took over but, on this evidence, he does at least have a team who are going to give it a go for him in the coming weeks and months.
But it is only one win and should be regarded as a key building block for Mills and his team.
The start of the great escape? Time will tell on that one…
Steelmen: Grant; Smith (sub Anton, 78 mins), Tank, Lee, Leslie; D Bell, Crawford, Kennedy (sub Kinniburgh, 90 mins), Milnes; Trainer, Moore. Subs not used: Blake, R Bell, Draper.
Spennymoor: Lowson; Griffiths, Tait, Curtis, Watson; Ramshaw, Anderson (sub Johnson, 80 mins), Chandler, Henry (sub Mitchell, 69 mins); Taylor, Dowson (sub Fisher, 56 mins). Subs not used: Mason, Rafferty.
Referee: Edward Pidduck.
Goals: Trainer (14 mins, 1-0), Moore (20 mins, 2-0), Taylor (50 mins, 2-1), Moore (72 mins, 3-1).
Booking: Tait (unsporting behaviour).