VERDICT: Ten-man Steemen battle back to secure a fine win
Ten-man Corby Town showed their character as they battled back from a goal down to claim a 2-1 success over Barton Rovers at Steel Park.
Trailing at half-time to a fine Connor Vincent goal, the Steelmen’s unbeaten record in the BetVictor Southern League Division One Central looked to be under serious threat especially when Joe Burgess was sent-off 10 minutes into the second half.
However, Corby brushed that setback off and hit back with goals from Jordon Crawford and joint-boss Gary Mulligan before digging deep to see the game out and make it four league wins out of four on their home turf.
Josh Carpenter continued between the sticks for the Steelmen with Dan George still ruled out due to a dead leg while assistant-manager Elliot Sandy was again only fit enough for the bench.
The visitors started the better and, following a succession of corners, John Sonuga headed over from a good position.
And Corby had something of a let off soon after when a defence-splitting pass sent Victor Osubu through on goal. Carpenter raced off his line and brought the winger down outside the box.
But the goalkeeper escaped with only a yellow card and Osubu wasted the free-kick as he scooped it high over the bar.
The Steelmen finally got going, however, and it was only the brilliance of Rovers goalkeeper Connor Coulson that prevented them from taking the lead.
Steve Diggin muscled Sonuga off the ball on the left-hand side and his pull-back was met by the onrushing Jake Duffy whose stinging shot was beaten away by Coulson.
And, just a minute later, the ball broke nicely for Crawford but Coulson was equal to the task once again.
At the other end, Mulligan deflected a curling shot from Nathan Tshikuna off target but Coulson was at it again as the Steelmen came so close to breaking the deadlock on the half-hour.
Burgess advanced into space and took aim from fully 30 yards but the Rovers stopper threw himself to his right and tipped it onto the crossbar.
Crawford saw an effort deflected wide of the far post and Diggin became the latest player to be denied by Coulson, this time at the near post as Corby continued to knock on the door.
But they were stunned five minutes before the break when the visitors opened the scoring.
There appeared to be little on for Vincent when the ball was played into him on the edge of the area but he produced a good turn and an even better finish as he effort found the far top corner.
The Steelmen were soon on the front foot after the break and Diggin saw an effort deflected over after Callum Westwood had done brilliantly to win the ball on the right side of the area.
But their task looked to have been made a whole lot harder when they were reduced to 10 men.
Burgess went in heavily on Jerome Jibodu close to the by-line and, after consulting with his assistant, referee Matthew Jackson dished out a red card.
However, it only seemed to fire the Steelmen up and the 10 men turned the game on its head with two goals in the space of four minutes.
The equaliser came on the hour when Sam Warburton’s cross to the far post was headed back by Rev James and Crawford was there to hammer a fine strike into the corner.
And, just four minutes later, Corby were in front. The hard-working Diggin saw another effort blocked after a delicious ball over the top from Crawford. But, from the resulting corner, Duffy’s cross was headed into the far corner with Mulligan credited with the final touch.
From there, it was a case of trying to see the game out and the fact that Carpenter never really had another serious save to make tells you the story.
Every Steelman worked their socks off, they defended resolutely and the character was summed up by a terrific covering header from Sam Warburton at the back post with an opponent closing in.
Six minutes of nervy stoppage-time were seen off and, in the end, Corby were able to celebrate one of their best and hardest-earned wins of the campaign so far.
The success moved them up to second in the table and, with character like this, they will be aiming even higher than that in the weeks to come.
Steelmen: Carpenter; Westwood, Mulligan, Wise, Warburton; James (sub Dean, 69 mins), Duffy, Burgess, Crawford; Ling (sub Hartley, 78 mins), Diggin (sub Ireland, 90 mins). Subs not used: Sandy, Duncan.
Barton Rovers: Coulson; Griffth (sub Lukulay, 88 mins), Sonuga, Thomas, Jibodu; Osubu (sub Weekes, 90 mins), Dummett, Gibson, Williams jnr, Vincent, Tshikuna (sub Gittens, 85 mins). Subs not used: Gould, Olaniran.
Referee: Matthew Jackson.
Goals: Vincent (40 mins, 0-1), Crawford (60 mins, 1-1), Mulligan (64 mins, 2-1).
Bookings: Carpenter, Westwood (both fouls).
Sending-off: Burgess (serious foul play).
The Raj (www.therajrestaurant.net) man-of-the-match: Steve Diggin - It may not have been his day in front of goal but the shift the striker put in was outstanding. He ran the channels, he chased loose balls and, on another day, he could have helped himself to a couple of goals. His work-rate was particularly noticeable after the Steelmen had been reduced to 10 men as he did his bit when it came to tracking back as well. No passengers were carried on this night but Diggin was the driving force..