“"O'Brien finally made the break through in time added on".”
When referee Mr Richard Walker signalled there would be five minutes of injury time Corby Town were facing a fifth successive defeat. By the time the Redditch official blew for full time the Steelmen had at least salvaged a point from this "must win" fixture.
Corby certainly did not deserve to lose this game but neither did quite do enough to win it. This was a much improved performance which was only lacking the killer instinct inside the opposing penalty area.
Star man for Corby was Paul Malone, who was making his first appearance at Steel Park since returning to Steelmen colours. Molly won everything in the air and emerged victorious from most tackles on the ground. If he can maintain this form and stay injury free he will quickly re-establish himself as a firm favourite of the supporters.
It was Malone who had Corby's first attempt on goal with a stooping header from a Lee Beeson corner which flew inches wide. Beeson, making his first appearance since re-joining Corby from Spalding in midweek, added some strength to midfield and was another impressive performer. He also went close to scoring with a curling effort which was also narrowly off target.
There was one first half flash point when Steven Leslie was fouled by Richard Adams. The Corby midfielder took great exception to the bad challenge, as well he might, but was fortunate that his retaliation was deemed worthy of only a yellow card when pushing his assailant to the ground right under the nose of the official often produces a straight red.
As the interval approached another half chance went begging. A deep David Bell centre was headed back across goal by Philip Trainer, Sam Mulready's header was blocked by Andrew Gascoigne and Malone was unable to get the dropping ball out from between his feet before it was cleared.
The second half continued pretty much along the same lines as the first, with Corby doing most of the attacking. But Sheffield goalkeeper Brett Souter condidently claimed every high ball which was played into his penalty area and he made a sharp save at his near post from Mulready. The Corby striker had earlier joined team mate Steven Leslie in the book for a late challenge on Souter.
Sheffield had a great opportunity to break the deadlock in the 52nd minute when substitute Joel Purkiss broke clear but had his shot well saved by Paul Bastock. Just a minute later, however, the visitors did take the lead in controversial circumstances. Derry Robson hit a fierce shot into a crowd of defenders and the ball struck Jamie Anton on the arm. There was little that Anton could have done to avoid the contact and it was clearly unintentional but Mr Walker pointed immediately to the penalty spot and Gascoigne sent Bastock the wrong way from the penalty spot.
After an impressive pre-season Jordan O'Brien had previously been a frustrated supporter on the bench. But on the our mark the Steelmen decided it was the right time to give the 16-year-old forward his competitive debut .
O'Brien's first piece of action saw him fire a shot against the legs of Souter after playing a one-two one edge of the penalty area with fellow substitute Jack McGovern. He then set up McGovern for a shot which was blocked and also did his bit defensively by preventing a potentially dangerous pass from reaching its intended recipient inside the penalty area. The referee obviously interpreted this action as an interception and not a back pass as he allowed Bastock to pick up the ball without punishment.
O'Brien finally made the break-through in time added on. Jordan Crawford played the ball through to him inside the box and the teenager calmly hot the ball beyond the flailing leg of Souter and in-off the far post.
Both teams would have been frustrated by the final outcome. Corby because of the injustice of the penalty award and Sheffield due to being deprived of victory at such a late stage.
CORBY TOWN:- Paul Bastock; Kern Miller (c), Jamie Anton; Lee Beeson, Paul Malone, David Bell; Jordan Crawford, Steven Leslie, Philip Trainer (substitute Jack McGovern), Sam Mulready (substitute Miles Smith), Sam Warburton (substitute Jordan O'Brien). Unused substitutes: Connor Kennedy, Steven Kinniburgh.
SHEFFIELD FC:- Brett Souter; Jack Turnbull, Ben Algar; Lewis Price (substitute Damian Magee), Lee Cooksey (c), Richard Adams; Derry Robson, Andrew Gascoigne, Jack Mawson (substitute Matt Roney), Mohammed Tijani, James Gregory (substitute Joel Purkiss). Unused substitutes: Ross Goodwin, Jamie Ingham (GK).
REFEREE:- Mr Richard Walker (Redditch)
Updated 16:22 - 21 Sep 2017 by James McCafferty