Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Tilt (2), T. Williams (10), Modest (62)

Corby Town

Tshimanga (48), (50), (55) 

(2) 3

(0) 3



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Nathan Modest


North Ferriby United (A) 22.8.15

An incredible, topsy-turvy encounter at Keys Park this evening sees both sides settle with a point apiece, despite Hednesford dominating the first half and Corby having much the better of the second period

Back on the touchline after a three-match ban, Rob Smith made the bold decision to start the game with three strikers by recalling Nathan Modest to the side in place of Paul Ennis. Otherwise, it was as you were for the Pitmen, still smarting from the injury-time winner at Harrogate on Saturday which denied them a well-earned point

Corby had adapted to life back at step two well since their promotion from the Southern Premier League last season, winning one and drawing two of their three opening games. Ashley Sammons - brought in over the summer from Redditch United - had scored in all three games and was looking to add to his season's tally alongside the pacy Kabongo Tshimanga

The hosts immediately went at Corby from the off, penning Corby inside their own third and forcing successive corners in the opening minute. From the second one, Tom James found Curtis Tilt lurking at the near post, with the centre back heading into the net, despite the best efforts of three Corby players on the line to keep the ball out

The livewire Ahmed Obeng tested Corby keeper Paul Walker for the first time in the evening on eight minutes, firing in a swerving shot that the stopper did well to palm away from goal

Obeng them improvised to test Walker again two minutes later, chesting an Andy Todd cross goalwards and forcing Walker into a smothering save at his near post

The Pitmen's domination of the opening exchanges bore further fruit for them in the tenth minute, as Kyle Perry did brilliantly to head Modest's cross into the path of Tyrone Williams, who lashed the ball past Walker from fifteen yards out

Corby were rattled, playing several risky and misplaced passes across their own half in an attempt to find some rhythm. A great run from Modest in the fourteenth minute saw him shimmy his way past three challenges and feed the ball to Todd, whose powerful rising shot was turned away by the overworked Walker

Perry fancied getting in on this goalscoring lark and tried his luck with a free-kick two minutes later that Walker held on to low down to his right

Ben Bailey was causing problems for Corby with his long, accurate thrown-ins anywhere within striking distance of the Corby penalty area; one such throw on nineteen minutes saw the ball drop to Obeng, whose low shot hit the legs of Walker through sheer fluke before being hacked clear by the Corby defence

Perry - a focal point of the attack and a powerful figure to aim for - was having a far more productive evening than his debut at Harrogate on Saturday, bullying the Corby centre backs and creating openings for Obeng and Modest to run onto. Great play down the right on twenty-eight minutes saw Modest feed Tyrone Williams, whose deep cross was glanced over by Perry at the far post

 Two minutes later, a superb effort from Obeng saw the striker gallop onto a Tom Thorley through ball and lash a shot inches wide of Walker's post as he let fly from a wide position

A scuffed effort from Perry on thirty-five minutes was the Pitmen's last real chance of a breathless, supremely impressive first half from the hosts, who could have been five goals to the good at the break and Corby would have had very little to argue about. As it was, they were limited to the two-goal lead at the break but were dealt a significant blow just before half-time when Bailey came crashing to the ground with a nasty-looking head injury

Bailey, unsurprisingly, failed to appear at the start of the second half and was replaced by Ennis. This required significant rotation of the side, with Todd slotting in at right-back and Tyrone Williams playing at centre back alongside Tilt

It's rare to have one player's absence have such a dramatic effect on a side but that's exactly what happened to the Pitmen, as they completely capitulated in a nightmare spell at the start of the second half. Tilt was at fault in the build-up to Corby's first goal on forty-eight minutes, failing to clear his lines and allowing Kurtis Revan to slip the ball to Tshimanga, who fired past Parton to give Corby a lifeline

Despite the warning signs, Hednesford failed to get to grips with Corby's aggressive, direct approach to the second half and conceded a quickfire equaliser two minutes later. Dave Parton looked to have done enough in clearing the ball away from Greg Mills, but only succeeded in scooping it into the path of on-loan Tshimanga, who turned the loose ball into the empty net

It got even worse for the Pitmen five minutes later, as Corby incredibly took the lead for the first time in the evening through that man Tshimanga. Mills was given time to pick out the striker, playing a ball over the top of the all-at-sea Hednesford defence and giving Tshimanga time to take a touch and fire past a horribly exposed Parton

The Pitmen reacted quickly to stem the tide after such an awful spell, with Tyrone Williams and Todd switching places to allow new captain Todd to dictate the centre of defence in Bailey's absence. This appeared to have the desired effect, with the Pitmen pushing forwards in search of an equaliser

A succession of corner kicks saw the Pitmen exert pressure back on the Corby defence as the game hit the hour mark, with an Ennis corner eventually finding a way through on sixty-two minutes. A deep corner was headed back across the face of goal, finding Obeng lurking fifteen yards from goal; his overhead kick caught Corby out, hitting the ground and bouncing up towards goal. Walker managed to get a hand to the ball, but could not prevent Modest from forcing it over the line from a couple of yards out to level matters once more

Tshimanga was still a threat to the Hednesford defence with his pace, finding another route through on sixty-nine minutes but this time firing wide with a shot across the face of goal

At the other end, Perry continued to give Corby a tough time up front, winning a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and earning Aaron Brown a yellow card. Ennis's resultant free-kick appeared to strike the arm of Brown en route to goal, but the referee remained unmoved, despite the protests

Kennedy Digie was given another chance to add legs to the flagging midfield with fifteen minutes remaining, coming on in place of Sean Williams

Ennis went agonisingly close to restoring the Pitmen's lead a minute later, clattering the crossbar direct from a corner with an inswinging ball from the left

With eleven minutes remaining, Marvin Robinson came on in place of the hard-working Perry to add more muscle to the Hednesford attack

Both sides had chances in the final minutes, with Tyrone Williams heading wide and Sammons having the ball stolen off his foot by Parton

Corby will be delighted at earning a point in the context of the game and how poorly they started, whist the Pitmen will be ruing not taking one or two of the numerous excellent chances presented to them in a dominant first half. Bailey's injury means that another season of player unavailability is likely to have an effect on the Pitmen's morale - Bailey joins first picks Adam Thomas, Paul McCone, John Disney and Adam Thomas, as well as the barely-fit Jon Adams, all missing from action. Smith will have his work cut out to work his magic with the squad ahead of a tricky trip to old foes North Ferriby United on Saturday

Hednesford Town: Parton, T. Williams, James, Bailey © (Ennis 45), Tilt, Thorley, S. Williams (Digie 75), Modest, Perry (Robinson 79), Obeng, Todd      Subs Unused: Adams, Spencer

Corby Town: Walker, Courtney, Carruthers, Anton Brown, Aaron Brown, Milnes (Thomas 25), Mills, Taylor, Tshimanga, Revan (Weir-Daley 78), Sammons       Subs Unused: Hartley, Kennedy, Donkin

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