VERDICT: It’s a demolition derby day as Harborough thump Corby

It proved to be something of a demolition derby day at Steel Park as Harborough Town inflicted a 4-0 defeat on Corby Town.
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In the build-up, Bees boss Mitch Austin had spoken of his desire to get Harborough breaking into a ‘big four’ in the area and more results like this will make it happen sooner rather than later.

It was dominance from Austin’s team pretty much from the first whistle while the Steelmen were sorely off colour with the game being sewn up inside 46 minutes.

With both sides having play-off ambitions in the Northern Premier League Midlands, on this day, it was Harborough who looked the more likely to push on and threaten the top five.

Ethan Johnston celebrates after scoring Harborough Town's third goal in their 4-0 win at Corby Town. Picture by Jim DarrahEthan Johnston celebrates after scoring Harborough Town's third goal in their 4-0 win at Corby Town. Picture by Jim Darrah
Ethan Johnston celebrates after scoring Harborough Town's third goal in their 4-0 win at Corby Town. Picture by Jim Darrah

It was an emotional afternoon for the hosts in their first home game since the untimely passing of long-serving club secretary and president Gerry Lucas and the bumper crowd did him proud with an impeccably observed minute’s silence.

On the pitch, Lee Attenborough was forced into changes with Scott Floyd serving a one-match ban, Curtis Burrows only well enough to be on the bench and Dan Collins also not fully fit as Curtis Hartley, Jack Norman and Matthew Slinn all came into the starting line-up.

For Harborough, former Steelmen captain Paul Malone was ruled out due to a fractured foot but four ex-Corby men were included in their starting line-up.

And it was one of them – James Ireland – who opened the scoring just before the quarter-hour.

Former Steelman Gary Mulligan holds off the challenge of Tristan Thompson-MatthewsFormer Steelman Gary Mulligan holds off the challenge of Tristan Thompson-Matthews
Former Steelman Gary Mulligan holds off the challenge of Tristan Thompson-Matthews

There hadn’t been much to write home about in a tentative opening 10 minutes but the game sparked into life when Harborough’s Rhys Hoenes beat the offside trap, only to see his effort come back off the post.

But just a minute later, Ireland found himself in too much space and he made no mistake with a cool, low finish past Jason Alexander.

The Steelmen struggled to lay any kind of blow on the strong visitors and they paid the price 10 minutes before half-time when a ball was swept to the far post and Dan Cooper stole in before finishing well.

Little was seen of Corby as an attacking force and, aside from Dan Gordon seeing a shot well blocked by former Steelmen defender Sidik Atcha, they rarely threatened.

And it got a whole lot worse for them on the stroke of half-time when Harborough grabbed their third. Hoenes got in behind again and, again, he saw his shot come back off the post but Ethan Johnston was on hand to pick up the pieces and finish into an empty net.

If that wasn’t game over, it was all done and dusted inside the first minute of the second half

And it was another former Steelman who did the damage as Joel Carta was allowed time and space to twist and turn before stabbing the ball home from eight yards.

And, just to compound the misery, Alexander suffered a worrying injury and had to be withdrawn.

With no substitute keeper on the bench, Gordon had to take over between the sticks with youngster Joe Hobson coming on as an outfield substitute.

From there, however, it all became a bit flat with Harborough in control and ensuring their goalkeeper Elliot Taylor remained a spectator.

They did go close to extending the lead with Josh Walsh attempting to catch Gordon out with an outrageous effort from a free-kick fully 45 yards from goal while the same player fired wide late on.

But no further goals were needed.

This was a job very, very well done by Harborough in front of a big crowd on a big day.

The Steelmen, on the other hand, will have plenty of food for thought before they head to Loughborough Dynamo next weekend.

Corby: Alexander (sub Hobson, 50 mins); Thomas, Jacklin, Gordon, Hartley; Slinn, Norman; Arthur (sub Brown, 80 mins), Thompson-Matthews, Florian; Molyneaux (sub Furey, h-t). Subs not used: Collins, Burrows.

Harborough: Taylor; Cooper, Atcha, B Williams, Kelly (sub Edwards, 85 mins), Walsh; Mulligan, Carta, Ireland (sub Ansu, 90 mins); Johnston (sub Wysocki, 82 mins), Hoenes. Subs not used: J Williams, Gbehe.

Referee: Richard Eley.

Goals: Ireland (14 mins, 0-1), Cooper (35 mins, 0-2), Johnston (45 mins, 0-3), Carta (46 mins, 0-4).

Booking: Slinn (foul).

Man-of-the-match: Rhys Hoenes – the Harborough frontman didn’t stop running all afternoon. Played off the shoulder and Corby struggled to live with his pace. Out of luck to hit the post twice, although the second one led to the Bees’ third goal.

Attendance: 713.