East Midlands Counties League: Holwell Sports 1-2 Holbrook Sports – match report

Liam Chapman keeps a close eye on Holbrook forward Isaac Minott EMN-150427-094017002
Liam Chapman keeps a close eye on Holbrook forward Isaac Minott EMN-150427-094017002
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The return of manager Simon Daws couldn’t help Holwell as they ended the season on a low key note with home defeat to Holbrook.

Daws was back on the touchline following his six-match ban, hoping to seal an eighth place finish from the pursuing Arnold Town.

Chris Hibbitt's stunning goal was not enough for Holwell as they tasted defeat on the final day of the season EMN-150425-181949002

Chris Hibbitt's stunning goal was not enough for Holwell as they tasted defeat on the final day of the season EMN-150425-181949002

But Holbrook arrived in good form having beaten leaders St Andrews and pushed title rivals Bardon Hill close, and it was the visitors who made the brighter start.

Playing with a strong wind behind them, Holbrook kept the hosts pinned back early on. Keeper Richard Stainsby made a smart low save to deny Ashley Hayes’ shot from the edge of the box, before blocking efforts from Isaac Minott and Nduoma Chilaka who combined well throughout the half, while Chris Hibbitt also made an important sliding tackle in the box.

But Holwell gradually began to impose themselves and got a foothold in midfield to limit the space the visitors had enjoyed.

The hosts created little in attack, but should have been ahead after 33 minutes when Michael Stevenson’s well-timed through ball put Scott Mooney clear on goal, but the striker sliced his effort well wide.

Four minutes before half-time, Holbrook had a golden chance as Ryan Fitzhugh found himself with time and space in the heart of Holwell’s goalmouth. But neither he nor Chilaka, following up, could get a shot away as Holwell’s defence recovered.

Holwell began the second half on the front foot, but without fashioning a clear opening, and the visitors capitalised 10 minutes in.

Kyle Hazeldine cut in from the left and unleashed a shot from the edge of the box which left Stainsby rooted to the spot.

Holwell should have levelled just three minutes later when Stevenson’s corner found Hibbitt lurking at the far post, but he somehow headed wide from five yards.

Holbrook continued to threaten on the counter and won a penalty when Chilaka broke into the box from the left. He went down under Dean Randall’s sliding challenge which appeared to have connected with the ball as well as the attacker.

But Stainsby dived to his left to keep out Fitzhugh’s spot kick and smothered the ball at the second attempt.

The respite lasted only a few moments, however, as Holbrook went two goals up with 16 minutes left.

Chilaka again beat Holwell’s cover for pace, cutting in from the left before playing the ball across goal for sub Dominic Hayes to apply a simple close-range finish.

The game appeared to be up, and when Stainsby was forced into another low save from a testing effort, Holwell supporters feared further punishment.

But with 12 minutes left, the home side were back in the game when a quick, incisive move through the middle found Hibbitt. The midfielder took a few steps before arrowing a superb low drive into the right corner of the net from 20 yards.

Holwell drove forward, but still couldn’t turn pressure into clear chances, and when Liam Chapman picked out Mooney well in the dying moments, the leading scorer hooked the ball over his shoulder and over the bar.

Holwell: R. Stainsby, D. Randall, L. Chapman, A. Ridout, J. Hallam, C. Hibbitt, B. Smith (S. Denigan 78), M. Stevenson, S. Mooney, H. Stannard, T. Barnard. Subs not used: G. Wells, R. Parra-Watson.