“it dipped just under the crossbar for a spectacular goal.”
Corby Town came through another tricky afternoon with their character beyond question. Taking on a team fighting for survival at the wrong end of the table on a bobbly, sloping pitch in freezing cold conditions with sleet falling from the grey sky was never going to be easy. But the Steelmen shrugged off all this, and going behind early on, to register another impressive victory.
Hat-trick man Jordan Crawford will obviously take the headlines - and rightfully so. But there were good performances all over the pitch - from debutant Cameron Healey in midfield to penalty-saving goalkeeper Sam Wilson.
There was, however, little to warm the spirits and bodies of the travelling Corby supporters throughout a pretty poor first half. Wilson was forced to make a smart low save from Matt Melbourne in the home side's first decisive attack but in their second in the 18th minute they took the lead. Jamie Anton did well to force Melbourne wide as Gresley's leading scorer bore down on goal again but when he pulled the ball back across the penalty box Wilson was stranded in no-man's land as Reece Morris stuck out his left boot to steer it into the empty net.
Corby did enjoy plenty of possession but rarely looked like threatening the home goal. Dino Tuskar was involved in many of the Steelmen's better moves so it was fitting that he should provide a glimmer of hope with a shot which was turned round the post at full stretch by Callum Hawkins, on work experience from neighbours Burton Albion, between the posts. It was unfortunate for Dino that he should be forced off with an injury on the stroke of half time after being on the receiving end of a couple of hefty tackles.
By this time Corby were level thanks to Crawford's 40th minute strike. A Connor Kennedy free kick was cleared to the edge of the box, from where skipper Jason Lee hit a shot goalwards. The ball was deflected into the path of Crawford and, with Gresley defenders appealing in vain for offside he shot across Hawkins into the far corner of the net.
The Steelmen then went close to claiming a second when Anton was just unable to get on the end of Steven Leslie free kick.
A second Corby goal did arrive four minutes into the second half. Kennedy played the ball in from wide on the right and although it was probably meant as a cross aimed at the head of substitute Philip Trainer it dipped in just under the crossbar for a spectacular goal.
Crawford was not about to be upstaged by this effort, however, and struck twice in quick succession to complete his hat-trick. The first was a 65th minute tap-in after Kennedy had headed down a deep centre rom the left wing by Healey while the second two minutes later was a far more impressive effort from the left edge of the penalty area after being set up by Trainer.
With the game now won the Steelmen took their foot off the pedal and manager Steve Kinniburgh took the opportunity to give well earned rests to Crawford and Paul Malone. Gresley responded by sending on their midweek signing Danny Quinn and the former Loughborough Dynamo forward showed enough in his short time on the pitch to suggest that he could play a big part in Gresley's quest to climb away from the foot of the table.
In the 77th minute Quinn was brought down inside the penalty area but Wilson stuck out a leg to save Jamie Barrett's penalty kick and maintain the three goal lead.
GRESLEY FC:- Callum Hawkins; Lucas Harrison, Louis Danqua (substitute Sean Phillips); Jamie Barrett (captain), Josh Eggington, Tom Manship (substitute Matt Roome); Dexter Morris-Clarke, Reece Morris, Keenan King (substitute Danny Quinn), Matt Melbourne, ason Law. Unused substitutes:- Quirino Bahati De-Ataide Dias, Zack Hill.
CORBY TOWN:- Sam Wilson; Jamie Anton, Sam Warburton; Paul Malone (substitute Visan-Vasile Cretu), Jason Lee (captain), Cameron Healey; Connor Kennedy, Ben Bradshaw, Jordan Crawford (substitute Jordan O'Brien), Steven Leslie, Dino Tuskar (substitute Philip Trainer). Unused substitutes: Dean McBride, Dan Smith (GK).
REFEREE:- Mr Paul Stonier (Newcastle-under-Lyme).
Updated 18:31 - 27 Nov 2017 by David Tilley