VERDICT '“ Steelmen's miserable year ends with a stalemate
A miserable year for Corby Town ended in low-key fashion with some Friday night football as they shared a 0-0 draw with Halesowen Town at Steel Park.
It put a point on the board for the rock-bottom Steelmen but, in truth, it does little to aid their cause at the wrong end of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.
Corby did at least show a bit of grit and determination to grind out a share of the spoils but there was a lack of quality from both sides for long periods.
The Steelmen and their followers certainly won’t be upset to see the back of 2016.
Their record of just six wins and a huge 32 defeats from 49 matches in all competitions over the calendar year makes grim reading.
Throw in the relegation from the Vanarama National League North and the seemingly inevitable second successive one to come this season and it all adds up to a sad, old tale.
Gary Mills has his work cut out at Steel Park and he has now picked up just two points from 30 since taking the reins.
It goes without saying that record needs to improve dramatically if 2017 is to be a better year.
Mills brought Aidan Grant back into the side to play in goal with Dan Farrell dropping out of the squad completely while Mansfield Town loanee Tyler Blake also started.
After a quiet start, the first shot in anger came from Corby and, more specifically Jordon Crawford, as the youngster controlled Blake’s cross from the right and saw his fierce shot fly just over the bar.
But Halesowen responded and Grant gathered the ball at the feet of Kaiman Anderson as he went through after a mistake from Jamie Tank.
Grant then had to beat away a good strike from Jordan Goddard before pushing away Anderson’s effort on the rebound.
But the game took a sad turn for the worst on 20 minutes when, after an innocuous challenge, Halesowen’s left-back Louis Ezewele landed badly.
In obvious distress with his leg looking like it was broken, Ezewele was immediately attended to by medical staff from both teams and, after a lengthy delay, he eventually departed on a stretcher to warm applause from the crowd.
When the game restarted, Stefan Moore tested John Bateman with a decent strike after being played in by Steven Leslie while, at the other end, Tristian Dunkley shot into the side-netting after getting in behind the home defence when Tank decided to leave a ball instead of heading it.
Lee Chilton fizzed an effort just wide before the break and, at the start of the second half, Leslie had a shot blocked after a Corby corner had caused a nervous moment in the visiting defence.
Ben Milnes tested Bateman with a low shot after a neat turn but a big chance fell Corby’s way just past the hour.
Moore played the ball into Phil Trainer and as he was denied by a good challenge, the ball ended up at the feet of Crawford who blasted over from a good position.
Halesowen were out of luck with 20 minutes to get when Anderson’s curling shot left Grant rooted but, fortunately, it hit the bar and went out for a goal-kick.
And they hit the woodwork for a second time when Chilton took aim from fully 30 yards and his swerving drive smacked off the crossbar before being cleared.
Crawford forced Bateman into a late save at the other end but, on reflection, a winner either way would have been unfair.
And so, 2016 is over for the Steelmen. That’s something to be happy about given the statistics.
It can only get better in 2017, can’t it?
Steelmen: Grant; Smith, Tank, Lee, Kinniburgh (sub Anton, 67 mins); Milnes, Trainer; Blake (sub Kennedy, 55 mins), Leslie, Crawford; Moore. Subs not used: Frisch, R Bell, Draper.
Halesowen: Bateman; Bennett-Tindall, Slade, Charlton, Ezewele (sub Morrison, 28 mins); Denny; Dunkley (sub Bowerman, 56 mins), Goddard (sub Birley, 79 mins), Bragoli, Chilton; Anderson. Subs not used: Cleet, Platt.
Referee: Matthew Smith.