A summery Tuesday night in August, and a visit to Butlin Road- home of my local Northern Premier Central League side Rugby Town. The newly promoted side had made a mixed bag of a start to life in their new league, and the visit of Corby Town looked a tough test from the outset.
Butlin Road is a lovely ground, located not too far from Rugby Train Station. £10 entry with a club house with alcoholic and soft drinks as well as food options made for a great selection. A few hundred supporters, with a hardy following from Corby, the visitors made a strong start and this pretty much carried on for the rest of the game.
The Rugby crossbar was rattled early on, and within six minutes the Steelmen had their lead. Joe Butterworth beat the offside trap to beat Matt Hill in the Valley net. A deserved lead, and there was more to come.
As the half wore on, the hosts struggled to get to grips with the ball and Corby remained relentless in their possession. Midway through the half an error almost let in Toby Hillard, his effort was blocked by Hill and then cleared off the line.
A rare chance for Rugby fell to Loyiso Recci, the defender volleyed over from a set piece and rounded off what was a frustrating half for the hosts. They were, at this point, still in the match- but the flood gates would open earlier in the second half.
Hillard had his second just five minutes into the half as he headed home in front of the delighted Corby faithful. The suckerpunch came for Rugby when Hillard had his second in two minutes. Butterworth took advantage of some slack defending and he raced towards goal. He got the ball over Hill and across goal for Hillard to guide the ball past the defender on the line. 3–0 and game over.
Just past the hour mark, a back-pass picked up by Hill resulted in an indirect free-kick. Despite the mass of Rugby Town players on the line, the strike from Kristopher Oti deflected through into the bottom corner for 4–0.
Rugby continued to struggle holding the ball in midfield, and their attack was unable to muster together anything of note, meaning Corby keeper Ben Heath had little to do in the closing half an hour. It felt as though each time a Rugby player had the ball, he was immediately swamped by white shirts.
4–0 became 5–0 with 15 minutes still left on the clock when a header back towards Hill was intercepted by Butterworth who kept his composure to tuck the ball home. Rugby heads had well and truly dropped.
The sixth and final goal of the night was arguably the pick of the bunch. Full back Kalern Thomas curled the ball into the top corner of Hill’s near post after some brilliant work from Butterworth to chase the ball down and cut it back.
All in all, there was a significant gulf between these two sides. Rugby will pick up points this season, of course, but it feels as though there may not be many stronger teams in this division this season than Corby. Butterworth and Hillard were superb on the night, but Abdul Koroma absolutely ran the midfield in what was a near perfect display from the Steelmen.