Halifax Town 1 Corby Town 3: Town unable to rise to occasion

So close: James Dean (right) and Liam Hogan watch as Corby clear off the line early in the second half   Pictures: Jim Fitton
So close: James Dean (right) and Liam Hogan watch as Corby clear off the line early in the second half Pictures: Jim Fitton

Ouch. No one saw that coming.

After two seasons of unparalleled success, Town’s first game in Blue Square Bet North ended in major disappointment as Corby returned south with the spoils.

FC Halifax Town v Corby Town at The Shay Stadium.

FC Halifax Town v Corby Town at The Shay Stadium.

The scoreline looks like a bit of a home hammering which was by no means the case.

But the Shaymen will have to sharpen up, especially at the back, in the coming weeks if they are to make the impact they expect on the title race.

The early signs were promising enough with Halifax dominating possession, but while delivery from free kicks was good, they were unable to take advantage.

And none of the seven or eight first half corners they won as Corby scrambled to clear were made to count.

FC Halifax Town v Corby Town at The Shay Stadium.

FC Halifax Town v Corby Town at The Shay Stadium.

They eventually went behind, but levelled immediately through Danny Holland and that should have given them the lift they needed.

But indecision at the back ended up costing Town dear as Corby scored twice in the last 10 minutes to condemn them to defeat.

Simon Eastwood was off his line smartly inside the opening couple of minutes to dive at Andy Hall’s feet while Liam Needham needed attention to a cut after clashing heads with Danny Lowe.

Needham was forced to change his shirt and spent four minutes on the sidelines waiting for a personal inspection from the referee before being allowed to return.

FC Halifax Town v Corby Town at The Shay Stadium.

FC Halifax Town v Corby Town at The Shay Stadium.

He was back in time to help defend Paul Mayo’s massive throw in which David Haggerty cleared well.

And within a minute the Shaymen had fashioned the first real opening of the game when Aaron Hardy laid the ball back for Holland whose cross from the right was met at he far post by Jamie Vardy, but he was unable to head on target.

Within 60 seconds, James Dean flicked on a Simon Eastwood clearance for Holland, whose shot was blocked by the keeper before a defender conceded the game’s first corner.

Holland did brilliantly to win the ball back on the edge of the Corby area in the 20th minute but Dean’s cross was cleared behind.

And, as the Shaymen started to increase the pressure on the visitors’ goal, a Tom Baker free kick was flicked for another corner.

Sadly for the Shaymen their set piece delivery was not good enough to put Corby under pressure.

Matt Rhead had the ball in the net for Corby but a long time after the flag had been raised for offside.

Corby’s players were not averse to staying down after a challenge, nor were they shy about dishing it out either in what was proving to be a physical opening day contest.

The visitors appeared to gain confidence from not conceding in the opening quarter and pushed the Shaymen back, Needham conceding a corner which Dean headed clear.

The final pass continued to elude Town, the best example coming eight minutes before the break when Haggerty’s ball was flicked on to Holland by Vardy before the ball was worked wide to Danny Lowe, but his cross went behind everyone.

And there was further disappointment a minute later when Needham did well before releasing Dean wide on the right but the shot ended up in the side netting.

Town finally got the ball in the net four minutes before the break when Lowe met a floated cross at the far post and headed down.

Dean got a touch before it crossed the line but it was not clear whether it was him of the full back who had been flagged offside.

The Shaymen threatened again in stoppage time, Vardy and Holland flicking on for Dean, whose low cross was played back by Vardy to Hardy.

The full-back’s low shot took a deflection but was saved by Chris McKenzie and moments later Scott McManus crossed from the left for Dean, who headed over.

It took the Shaymen just 90 seconds to create the first chance of the second half. Lowe’s corner was met superbly by Dean, whose downward header was cleared off the line by Aynsley McDonald.

That was not an indication that the standard was going to improve appreciably as Town struggled to find their best form.

And the visitors took full advantage, albeit fortuitously, after 58 minutes when they were awarded a free kick they should not have been and Liam Hogan’s diving header from Hall’s delivery gave Eastwood no chance.

The Shaymen levelled within a minute as they raided down the left through Vardy who found Hardy and his cross enabled Holland to open his account for the season from close range.

The game threatened to open up, and Eastwood got down well to save from Jordan Smith after he fired a shot in from the right.

The Town keeper did well again soon after, rising high to tip Delroy Gordon’s flicked header over the bar.

The Shaymen’s defensive frailties were almost exposed with 15 minutes remaining as Nick Rogan slid home at the far post only to be denied by t,he linesman’s flag. Then A jinking run from Sam Ives opened them up again, Eastwood saving well low down to his left.

There was still a threat at the other end and Vardy’s cross was met perfectly by Lee Gregory, but the sub’s side footed volley from 10 yards went over the bar.

Vardy collected the ball on the edge of the Corby area and, despite slipping, managed to force a save from Mackenzie.

The second goal Corby had been threatening came with 10 minutes remaining as Matt Rhead made enough of a nuisance of himself to allow the ball to roll to Jordan Smith, who smashed home from 15 yards.

And they made the game completely safe in the fourth added minute when Smith raced clear down the right and squared for Sam Ives, who fired home their third.