“"Leslie completed his hat-trick from the spot".”
Corby Town once again experienced the disappointment of losing on penalties as, following last season's Northants Senior Cup Final defeat to Kettering, the Steelmen exited the Integro League Cup in a shoot-out at Lincoln United.
Steven Leslie, Kern Miller, Jordan O'Brien, Paul Malone and Lee Beeson were all successful from the spot but Lincoln's first chosen five kickers proved equally proficient. And after Jamie Anton had put the first sudden death kick wide Kallum Smith stepped up to win the tie 6-5 for the hosts and earn them the prize (??) of a trip to Grantham in the next round of the competition.
The shoot-out followed an entertaining ninety minutes of normal play. Lincoln took the lead after just seven minutes when Corby conceded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and Danny Brookes fired his shot through the wall and into the net. The Whites almost added a second just three minutes later when a lob by Jack Wightwick was heading for a spot just inside the post until the intervention of Paul Malone on the line.
As Corby came into the game Steven Leslie hit two shots over the bar. Then, on the half hour, a Beeson free kick was headed down to Leslie who slid the ball in from close range for the equaliser.
As the Steelmen continued to hold the upper hand David Bell fired an effort off target. In Corby's next attack Jordan Crawford lost the ball inside the Lincoln penalty area and it was quickly launched up field to the unmarked Sean Cann who ran on to chip Paul Bastock and restore the host's advantage.
Corby were level again in the 42nd minute when a cross by Jack McGovern was to laid back by Crawford to Leslie and his first time shot found the bottom corner of the net.
The first half still had one final sting in the tail, however, as referee Mr David Hunt awarded Lincoln a penalty which was converted by skipper Brookes.
Malone headed wide from a Beeson corner early in the second half but it wasn't long before Corby were level again, Crawford scoring the best goal of the evening with a shot from just outside the box which struck both post and bar before finally going in.
On that occasion the ball had clearly crossed the line and the Steelmen were convinced it had done so again minutes later when a header by McGovern was blocked by goalkeeper Phil McGinn. But this time the officials declared: "No goal".
Corby did take the lead for the first time in the 72nd minute from the penalty spot. As Crawford and James Blunden challenged for the ball inside the area it was nudged away by the hand of the Lincoln defender. The linesman was standing only a matter of feet away but, in his own words: "didn't see it". Fortunately Mr Hunt did and Leslie completed his hat trick from the spot.
And that should have been that. Kallum Smith hit a shot narrowly wide for Lincoln and Corby's debutant substitute Ben Diamond - signed from Northampton team ON Chenecks - had a couple of half chances but neither 'keeper was seriously troubled by these attempts.
With just seconds remaining, however, Bell and Malone combined to block Kallum Smith's route to goal but the loose ball fell kindly to Lincoln substitute Matt Cotton. His shot took a deflection off of Malone which wrong-footed the unsighted Bastock on its way into the net to make the score 4-4.
And so to penalties...
LINCOLN UNITED:- Phil McGann; Luke Hornsey, Scott Matthews; Danny Brookes (captain), Callum Foster, James Blunden; Jack Wightwick, Harry Millard, Ryan Oliver, Sean Cann, Kallum Smith. Substitutes: Rob Norris, Matt Cotton, Phil Watt, Andy Toyne.
CORBY TOWN:- Paul Bastock; Miles Smith, Sam Warburton (substitute Jordon O'Brien); Paul Malone, Kern Miller (captain), Jamie Anton; Lee Beeson, David Bell, Jordan Crawford (substitute Philip Trainer), Jack McGovern (substitute Ben Diamond), Steven Leslie. Unused substitutes: Connor Kennedy, Jason Lee.
REFEREE:- Mr David Hunt.
Updated 09:16 - 12 Sep 2017 by James McCafferty