VERDICT: Nat’s immediate impact earns Harborough the derby spoils over Corby

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Nat Ansu was the instant hero for Harborough Town as they completed a Northern Premier League Midlands double over Corby Town with a 1-0 success in a feisty local derby at the Harborough Town Community Ground.

A bumper crowd of 934, swelled by a large following from Corby, witnessed a hard-fought encounter with no love lost on the field, despite close mates Mitch Austin and Gary Setchell in the respective dugouts.

There was plenty of commitment, if not quality at times, on show with the Bees definitely edging the contest as the Steelmen failed to fire in the final third.

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The result moved Harborough level on points with their local rivals but above them on goal difference as both clubs desperately try to stay on the heels of the top five.

Harborough Town won their local derby against Corby TownHarborough Town won their local derby against Corby Town
Harborough Town won their local derby against Corby Town

There was little to choose in the early stages but, as the half wore on, Harborough created the better chances with Dylan Hill sending a fierce strike just over the crossbar from 25 yards.

And then Corby goalkeeper Tomasz Bukowski produced a magnificent save to deny Josh Walsh whose well-struck free-kick seemed destined for the top corner.

But there was a key moment late in the first half when Dan Cooper went in high on Kalern Thomas and, after a bit of pushing and shoving, Cooper was perhaps a bit fortunate to escape with just a caution.

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Boss Austin immediately withdrew him with Dan Forbes coming into the fold but, from the resulting free-kick, Michael Jacklin was out of luck as his looping header bounced off the crossbar and out for a goal-kick.

Jacklin had another goal bound header hacked clear by former Steelman Joel Carta early in the second half but it would be Carta who would have a key role in the winning goal.

Ansu was thrown on after 58 minutes and just 30 seconds later he was heading off to celebrate as he scored at the far post after Carta had played a wicked ball across the face of goal.

There was plenty of huff and puff from Corby but they continually lacked punch in attack.

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The closest they came was when Elliott Taylor turned Kern Miller’s header around the post but it was Harborough who looked the more likely to score again with Bukowski denying Rhys Hoenes and Walsh again before the end.

Overall, the outcome was probably about right but Corby, at least, did put up more of a fight than they did in the first clash between the two clubs in December.

Harborough, however, bounced back well from their shock defeat at Yaxley and are still capable of making a late surge for the play-off places between now and the end of the campaign.

Harborough: Taylor; Cooper (sub Forbes, 40 mins), Kelly, Williams, Walsh; Mulligan, Carta; Wysocki (sub Ansu, 58 mins), Hill, Hoenes; Lockley (sub Malone, 76 mins). Subs not used: Ireland, Gbehe.

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Corby: Bukowski; Thomas, Jacklin, Miller, Gordon, Black (sub Furey, 63 mins), Collins, Slinn, Thompson-Mathews; Darlington (sub Arthur, 63 mins), O’Brien (sub Florian, 55 mins). Subs not used: Alexander, Norman.

Referee: Martyn Gospel.

Goals: Ansu (59 mins, 1-0).

Bookings: Slinn, Cooper, Kelly, Florian (all fouls).

Man-of-the-match: Gary Mulligan – the former Corby man was the lynchpin for Harborough in their midfield. A typically combative yet controlled display.

Attendance: 934.