Kempston Rovers turned in a coupon-busting performance to upset the league leaders on Saturday afternoon as they bounced back from defeat to local rivals Bedford Town last week.
Rovers travelled to unbeaten Corby Town, who boasted a 100% home record, on the back of a winless run that stretched to eleven games and produced a superb, dogged performance to pull off a shock win.
Sam Johnson returned to the club in the week and was thrust straight into the line up for this game, which saw a slight defensive re-shuffle as manager Tony Joyce continued to look for an answer to the club’s form.
Kempston were under pressure from the start, forced into a goal line clearance as early as the fifth minute as a Corby corner was swung to the far post and headed towards goal.
A succession of corners followed for the home side, but all were rebuffed by the Walnut Boys back line.
As the rain set in, Rovers were awarded a free kick outside the penalty area. Izale McLeod stepped up and curled the ball around the wall.
It took a bounce just in front of keeper Dan George, who failed to read it, leaving the ball to nestle in the bottom corner of the net as Rovers celebrated an unlikely lead against the run of play.
Corby huffed and puffed but couldn’t find their way through the Kempston defence, and when they did, they found Carl Knox in inspired form, making two crucial saves before the break. Rovers went into half time ahead.
Corby had obviously had a flea in their ear over the break and looked dangerous in the early stages after the restart.
Knox was alert to make an early second half save from Elliot Sandy, smothering the ball at the second attempt from the forward’s left foot effort.
Just before the hour mark, Kempston extended their lead. Absorbing Corby pressure, Stefan Bailey hooked a long pass up field towards Jake Newman.
The forward chased the ball down, although George had come a long way out of his goal to mop up.
As he went to head clear, George found the ball skipping off the top of his head, leaving Newman free to run in on goal and tap home into the empty net.
At the other end, Knox produced a miracle save to deny Sandy’s header midway through the half, reaching behind him to claw the ball away from danger.
Seconds later, Knox was at his acrobatic best again, this time denying Warburton’s drive.
As the clock ticked on, Crawford fired wide for the hosts as they searched desperately for a way back into the game.
They thought their moment had come ten minutes from time, Ireland met a corner with a spectacular overhead kick, which was cleared off the line by a plethora of Kempston bodies.
Dan George nearly had an unwanted hat-trick of goalkeeping errors as he spilled what looked to be a routine save from a Jake Newman free kick.
Fortunately for George, the ball slipped out his hands and went wide rather than in.
On the cusp of stoppage time, Corby did get themselves a goal; a powerful free kick was spilled by Knox, his only mistake all game, and fell to Crawford who slammed home from close range.
Corby piled forwards in search of an unlikely point, but couldn’t find a way past the inspired Knox.
At the full time whistle, some home fans let their keeper know their thoughts on his performance, which resulted in ugly scenes as George attempted to confront them.
The victory puts an end to Corby’s unbeaten start to the season as well as breaking Rovers winless run and lifts them up a place to seventeenth in the table ahead of another tough fixture against one more of the league’s top sides, Halesowen Town.
1 Knox, 2 Bailey, 3 Brennan, 4 Wright ©, 5 Powell, 6 Sage, 7 Johnson, 8 Goodman, 9 Newman, 10 McLeod, 11 Hyde
Subs 15 Dahie, 17 Baker (unused Marsh, Stratton, Massaro)
1 George, 2 Westwood, 3 Warburton, 4 Burgess, 5 Wise, 6 Mulligan, 7 Dean, 8 Duffy ©, 9 Sandy, 10 Ling, 11 Crawford
Subs 12 Hartley, 14 Ireland (unused Robinson, Lyons, Tkacik)
Attendance – 378
Rovers MOM – Carl Knox
Words: Matthew Wilmot