Hatters Wear The Trousers (And Subs Steel The Show) To Press Past Corby
A convincing performance, and three second-half goals without reply, saw County into the hat for Monday’s Fourth Qualifying Round Emirates FA Cup draw, at the expense of Corby Town from the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central.
The goals were rather a long time coming for the Hatters following a dominant display throughout the opening 45 minutes of their first Edgeley Park appearance in four weeks – until a strike after the break by Matty Warburton and Frank Mulhern’s subsequent brace saw off the ‘Steelmen’.
County emerged to the autumn sunshine in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and showing two changes from the starting line-up at Darlington a week previously – with Jamie Stott and Adam Thomas replacing Sam Minihan and Warburton, both of whom were included on the seven-player bench.
The Hatters were to have 21 attempts on goal during the afternoon, and the first of those arrived inside two minutes when Darren Stephenson’s shot from the right was blocked by Miles Smith. Five minutes later, Smith’s fellow defender Gary Mulligan got in the way of an Elliot Osborne effort on the edge of the box that the visiting captain deflected into the arms of goalkeeper Dan George.
County’s pressure continued, albeit without success in the final third. New father Sam Walker drilled wide of the right post from distance and Osborne saw another shot smothered by George, before the ‘keeper denied Nyal Bell at point-blank range around the half-hour mark following the defence’s failure to clear a Thomas cross from the left.
Warburton, by now, had entered the fray – having been introduced when Jordan Keane limped off after only 23 minutes. And the substitute twice went close ahead of half-time, courtesy of one low shot that fizzed shy of the right post and another that George did well to save with his legs.
HALF-TIME: County 0, Corby 0.
The Hatters made a second change upon the resumption – replacing the booked Bell with Mulhern, who, within five minutes, fired a shot across goal and past the near upright after Walker had recycled his own short corner from the right.
Another Walker corner, two minutes later, found the head of Ash Palmer – only for the skipper’s goal-bound effort to be met in kind with a header off the line by Sam Warburton.
But the pressure finally paid off with two goals in four minutes, as, first, County’s Warburton flicked home into the far corner, and with the aid of a deflection, Stephenson’s cross on the right, before Mulhern got behind the defence to latch on to a delicious Scott Duxbury through-ball fromthe County half and rifle in a low shot to George’s left.
George had rather better fortune with two further Mulhern shots that he kept out on account of their lack of pace – and, in between those, Corby’s Number One did well to parry beyond the right post a drive from Thomas.
The Steelmen – now plying their trade two tiers below County, but with an unbeaten record since the season’s start – offered little up front. And Ben Hinchliffe was called into serious action just the once when, after 78 minutes, he dived to smother Mulligan’s low shot through a crowded box.
Eight minutes from time, County put the tie beyond doubt, and made sure of three successive wins in all competitions, as Mulhern produced a close duplicate of his earlier goal – after, on this occasion, being played through by Warburton.
FULL-TIME: County 3 (Warburton, 53; Mulhern, 57 and 82), Corby 0.
Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Keane (Warburton, 23), Palmer (Capt.), Stott, Thomas (Minihan, 79), Walker, Bell (Mulhern, 46), Osborne, Stephenson.
Unused Subs: Ormson, Dimaio, Smalley, Mantack.
Man of the Match: Duxbury.
Attendance: 1,935 (197 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: James Gill.