VERDICT: Perfect Jordon fires Steelmen to a superb win
Jordon Crawford hit a perfect hat-trick as Corby Town produced one of their best displays of the season so far to defeat play-off contenders Aylesbury United 5-2 at Steel Park.
The Steelmen made a flying start and never really looked back with Crawford the star of an excellent show as they maintained a five-point lead at the top of the BetVictor Southern League Division One Central.
After a busy week at Steel Park which saw two departures in the shape of Callum Westwood and Declan Rogers, the one new arrival at the club James Clifton was handed his debut while there was the welcome sight of Steve Diggin returning to the bench following a knee injury.
In total, three changes were made to the starting line-up following the 2-1 defeat at Coleshill Town with Elliot Sandy and Joe Burgess both coming back into the side and the Steelmen wasted no time in getting down to business.
There wasn’t even three minutes on the clock when they opened the scoring as Crawford arrived on cue to finish from close-range after a cross from the left.
And the explosive start from the hosts got even better just four minutes later when Sandy stretched to beat Aylesbury goalkeeper Jack Hopwood to the ball for a typical striker’s goal.
Corby remained in total control for the remainder of the half and would have been slightly disappointed that they didn’t extend their advantage.
Hopwood got enough on Crawford’s final shot after he had been picked out by impressive debutant Clifton, who then went close himself with his cheeky back-heel drifting just wide of the far post.
Sandy headed wide from a Crawford cross and then shot off target after being played in by Burgess.
And there were further chances, both for Clifton, as a first-time flick from Crawford’s cross was held by Hopwood before the visiting stopped was parry away a 20-yard free-kick from Corby’s new boy.
Little was seen of Aylesbury as an attacking force and it wasn’t until the dying moments of the first half when they got their first real sight of goal with Max Hercules shooting wide.
The visitors started the second half brightly but Corby put the game to bed 10 minutes after the restart when the excellent Burgess rose to head home Jake Duffy’s pin-point corner.
And, from there, it was all fairly straightforward for the Steelmen.
Diggin was given the final 24 minutes on his return from and, almost immediately, Corby were presented with the chance to make it 4-0 when Sandy was pulled back by Jordan Jenkins in the box. The striker picked himself up to take it but saw his spot-kick well saved by Hopwood.
But the fourth goal arrived just four minutes later and it was Diggin who created it with a fine cross from the right and Crawford gave Hopwood no chance with a near post header.
And a memorable afternoon for Crawford when, after some good work down the left from Sam Warburton, the hometown boy found the bottom corner with his left foot to complete the perfect hat-trick.
That should have been that but the Steelmen were unable to hold on to their clean sheet.
The Ducks pulled one back when a free-kick was headed on and Mark Riddick stabbed home from close-range.
Hercules saw a fierce effort come back off the underside of the crossbar soon after but they did grab a second before the end when substitute Ty Deacon beat Alastair Worby to a through-ball, took it round him and scored into an empty net.
But not even that sloppy finish to the game could take the gloss off a fine display from the Steelmen as they maintained top spot.
Steelmen: Worby; Hartley, Wise, Mulligan, Warburton; Burgess (sub Diggin, 66 mins), Duffy, Ling; Clifton, Sandy, Crawford (sub Ireland, 82 mins), Sandy (sub Robbins, 78 mins). Subs not used: Parsons, Montgomery.
Aylesbury: Hopwood; Jones (sub Jenkins, 26 mins), O’Connor, Wood, Bewley; Riddick, Osbourne (sub Seaton, 53 mins); Ball (sub Deacon, 70 mins), French, Hercules; Feyi. Subs not used: Williams.
Referee: Ruebyn Ricardo.
Goals: Crawford (3 mins, 1-0), Sandy (7 mins, 2-0), Burgess (55 mins, 3-0), Crawford (70 mins, 4-0), Crawford (80 mins 5-0), Riddick (84 mins, 5-1), Deacon (89 mins, 5-2), .
Bookings: Burgess, Jenkins, Mulligan, Ling (all fouls).
The Raj (www.therajrestaurant.net) man-of-the-match: Jordon Crawford - a perfect hat-trick on a perfect afternoon. What more is there to say? Outstanding.