County Cup semi-final: “It was a brave, battling performance”

Holwell Sports 2016/17 with Martin Shepherd, managing director of sponsors Technical Turf EMN-170221-165648002
Holwell Sports 2016/17 with Martin Shepherd, managing director of sponsors Technical Turf EMN-170221-165648002
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Holwell Sports reached their first Senior County Cup final in 17 years on Tuesday evening after a penalty shoot-out win over Heather St Johns.

John Webster’s side raced into an early two-goal lead but were left hanging on through 90 minutes and then extra time as Heather fought back to level.

A nerveless and clinical display then won them the shoot-out 4-1 as Holwell booked their place in the final against Leicester Road on Tuesday, May 2.

Assistant manager Andy Hill said: “I thought Heather were a very good footballing side, and it was a hard-fought win for us rather than a brilliant performance.

“At 2-0 up I thought we were okay, but we conceded a really soft goal before half-time and that gave them the impetus.

“They deservedly equalised in the second half and then it was really a battle for us.

“We’re very pleased to win; it was a brave, battling performance from the players. Everyone gave it their all.”

It is the first time the Asfordby Hill side have reached the senior county final since the 1999/2000 season when they lost to Coalville Town.

Silverware would be a real feather in the cap for Webster and his management team in their first season in charge at Welby Road.

Sports have lifted the cup just three times in their history, the last time coming almost 60 years ago in the 1957/58 campaign.

It would also be the club’s first major silverware since winning the Beacon Bitter Senior League Cup a decade ago.

“We are all proud of it; there has been a lot of hard wok put in,” Hill added.

“We are nowhere near where we want to be in the league, but it is still a work in progress.

“The club have stuck by us when things got a bit rocky and it’s really pleasing to give them a final at Holmes park.

“The committee and chairman do a lot of hard work down there so it will be a nice evening for them we hope.”

Holwell lie 15th in the East Midlands Counties League with five games of the season left, while cup final opponents Leicester Road are having a good campaign and are third in Midlands League Division One.

But having beaten Leicester Road’s rivals Heather, Hill cannot see why the trick cannot be repeated.

He said: “I’m not sure if the semi-final being delayed had an effect on the league form, but now we have got to the final, let’s hope our form will be better and we finish as high as we can.

“I have watched Leicester Road this season and they are another good footballing side so it will be very tough and I would expect us to go in as underdogs because they are having a better season.

“But sometimes the will to win can get you over the line, especially in cup ties.”

* For full match report, turn to page 60.