Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Corby Town

Moore (3), (33), Brown (85)

Hednesford Town

Mukendi (26), Thorley (48)

(2) 3

(1) 2



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Tom Thorley


Barwell (H) 4.2.17

The Pitmen failed to follow up last week's morale-boosting victory over Rushall Olympic with defeat at Steel Park this afternoon against a struggling Corby Town side


The preceding week at Keys Park had seen their re-arranged away game at basement side Ilkeston called off on Tuesday night due to a waterlogged pitch, allowing manager Paul Casey time to bring in experienced midfielder Jordan Fitzpatrick from Rushall to add to his ranks. The former Hereford United and Solihull Moors man had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes as Casey elected to make two changes to the side that had started against Rushall, with Dan Crane returning to the side in place of Lloyd Ransome and Jamie Sheldon coming on for David McDermott in midfield


Corby - relegated alongside the Pitmen last season from Vanarama National League North - had endured a rotten season back at step three level, sitting at the foot of the Evo-Stik Premier League table. Despite this, new manager Gary Mills had started to turn things around for the Steelmen since taking charge, with Corby currently in a run of form that had seen them lose only one game in the last five, including a 1-0 win over Ilkeston last weekend. Former Hednesford men Phil Trainer and Courtney Wildin were named in the Corby side by Mills alongside old adversary Stefan Moore, who had recently signed for the strugglers and was looking to add to his fine scoring record against the Pitmen dating back over much of the last ten years


And, perhaps unsurprisingly for the seasoned watchers of the Pitmen, it was Moore who was to have a major say in the game straight from the off; in the very first minute, a ball from Ben Milnes found Moore out wide, with the former Villa man crossing for Trainer whose header was saved by former team-mate Crane from close-range before the danger was cleared


Two minutes later, dreadful defending from the Pitmen gifted Moore a golden opportunity to open his account with a simple chance. Jordan Crawford showed Kyle Haynes a clean pair of heels down the left-wing and crossed towards Moore, who was lurking in the penalty area. Gavin Caines looked favourite to head a simple cross away but somehow allowed the ball to drift over his head and fall to Moore, who chested the ball down and slotted past a horribly exposed Crane. A terrible start from the men in red


 With their tails up, Corby went looking for a second goal as they tested the Pitmen's fragile defensive resolve. Milnes fired narrowly wide of goal on seven minutes after bursting past a static Hednesford central defence and drilled his low effort just past Crane's right-hand post


The Pitmen responded through Sheldon in the ninth minute, picking up a Dan Preston pass before testing Aiden Grant's reactions in the Corby goal with a low drive that was turned away for a corner kick


Crane came to his side's rescue again in the fourteenth minute, once again denying Trainer a goal after the veteran midfielder had got in behind the Hednesford defence to shoot at goal

A deep cross from Haynes on sixteen minutes was headed back across goal by Vinny Mukendi, only for Spencer Weir-Daley to sky his shot high over the crossbar from ten yards out


Tom Thorley looked to add to his solitary Hednesford goal for the campaign on twenty minutes as he reacted quickest to a bouncing, bobbling ball inside the Corby penalty area and forced Grant into a save low down to his right to concede a corner


The Pitmen pulled themselves level through new cult hero Vinny Mukendi on twenty-six minutes, as the giant striker did brilliantly to get above the Corby defence and head Iwan Cartwright's lofted ball past Grant from eight yards out for his fourth goal in four games


Mukendi followed this up three minutes later with a yellow card after incurring the wrath of the referee for an accumulation of niggly fouls on a couple of Corby players

Crawford's strong run down the left on thirty-one minutes saw him turn inside Haynes and cross low to the far post, where Moore showed an uncharacteristic lack of timing to scuff his shot into the stand behind the goal


The Pitmen's good work in getting themselves level was all wasted on thirty-three minutes, as that man Moore once again punished some poor defending to score his, and his side's, second goal of the afternoon. A long ball forwards saw Moore nip in behind the Hednesford defence once more and lob the ball over the onrushing Crane and into the net unchallenged by a dithering Pitmen back line

This appeared to affect the Pitmen's attacking intent as they struggled to create openings of any real note in the next ten minutes. Indeed, Corby looked the more likely side to grab the next goal as Moore continued to play on the shoulder of Caines and Preston, with the striker adjudged to have been narrowly offside on thirty-eight minutes as Trainer played him in behind the visitor's defence

Former Corby striker Weir-Daley played in Sheldon in the final action of a busy first half, but the former Sutton Coldfield midfielder lacked conviction and skewed his shot horribly over the crossbar, rather than testing Grant

It had been another hugely disjointed display from the Pitmen thus far, looking shaky and error-prone at the back and a little uninspiring in midfield with Moore likely to grab a goal every time he approached the Pitmen's penalty area 


The visitors made a flying start to the second half after Casey's half-time talk and equalised for a second time just three minutes after the restart. A cross from youngster Remeao Hutton picked out skipper Thorley, who fired past Grant with a brilliant first-time shot from twelve yards out to level matters


Suddenly, it was the Pitmen who were looking the more likely to take the lead in this topsy-turvy game with Sheldon again getting into a great position on fifty-two minutes only to see his effort blocked in a timely manner by Aaron Brown


Danny Glover was introduced into the action on fifty-six minutes, coming on up front in place of Weir-Daley to add power and craft to the Hednesford attack


At the other end, Crane was again on top form to deny Jason Lee on the hour mark, making a fine one-handed save to turn the midfielder's long-range shot away from goal for a Corby corner kick


Two minutes later, Crane was in action once again as he threw himself full length to his right to turn the goalbound shot behind for another Corby corner kick

Moore was denied a clear shot on goal by Preston on sixty-eight minutes as he skipped past Caines but his attempted shot was well smothered by the Telford loanee

A quickly-taken free-kick from Wildin was played into the feet of Trainer on seventy-two minutes with the former Crewe and Tamworth man lifting his shot over Crane's crossbar from just inside the Hednesford penalty area

The Pitmen made their last two changes of the afternoon within a few minutes of each other as Fitzpatrick coming on for his debut in place of Cartwright in midfield, followed soon after by the introduction of Tony Clarke in place of Sheldon which also saw a positional change for the visitors to 4-3-3 as they looked to try and find a winner

Caines headed well over the Corby crossbar from Thorley's corner kick on seventy-nine minutes before Glover's quick thinking saw him pick out Mukendi with an early cross from the right that the lanky striker headed straight into the arms of Grant


With the game entering the final minutes, Corby stole all three points to continue their good run in 2017; a corner kick from David Bell found Trainer at the far post, with the former Hednesford man heading back across goal and gave Brown the chance to nod the winning goal home from close-range

This appeared to knock the stuffing out of the Pitmen, who struggled to muster a response in the final minutes of the game. Fitzpatrick did well to dispossess Milnes in the final minute of the game and play a quick one-two with Glover before lifting his shot over the crossbar with the Pitmen's final chance of the afternoon


Defeat leaves Casey's men drifting away from the play-off picture after a fourth defeat in five league games since December 10th to leave them down in twelfth place in the table. Next weekend sees Barwell make a first-ever trip to Keys Park as the Pitmen looked to avenge the 2-0 defeat handed to them by the Leicestershire side back in October


Corby Town: Grant, Smith, Wildin, Kennedy, Brown, Lee, Bell, Milnes (Tank 90), Moore (Leslie 64), Trainer, Crawford (Osei-Bonsu 75)      Subs Unused: Anton, Bell


Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Hutton, McNaught, Caines, Preston, Thorley ©, Cartwright (Fitzpatrick 70), Mukendi , Sheldon (Clarke 75), Weir-Daley (Glover 56)       Subs Unused: Ransome, Brenan