East Midlands Counties League
IBSTOCK UNITED 1 HOLWELL SPORTS 2
HOLWELL ground out a result on an unreliable pitch on Saturday to consolidate their top six position.
A bumpy playing surface did neither side any favours with control difficult and several shooting chances sent skyward by wicked bobbles.
Holwell started well and after four minutes Scott Mooney went close from Michael Stevenson’s free kick. Both teams took time to get to grips with the conditions, and on 12 minutes Tendai Chitiza should have done better after being put through, but Stuart Rose cleared the danger after Chitiza had beaten keeper Richard Cragg.
The game was frenetic, but Holwell plugged away and on the quarter-hour, Jay Kirkby was put through by Stevenson and shot against the inside of the left post with Mooney unable to adjust to net the rebound.
Holwell gradually showed a more assured flow to their game, and after 23 minutes, Kirkby did well to rise and head home from a left-sided cross.
Three minutes later, Kirkby struck again after good work on the left by Liam Chapman put Kirkby free to chip the advancing keeper Sam Taylor from 20 yards.
The two-goal lead was short-lived as Ibstock went straight up the park from the restart and won a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard box. Ben Harris bent a shot round the Holwell wall to beat Cragg low to his right.
A scrappy end-to-end match brought chances for both sides but no decent finishing. Kirkby had the ball in the net for third time two minutes before the break, but the referee penalised him for the meekest of pushes on a defender.
The game continued the second half as it finished the first, scrappy and with little quality, but Holwell tried to get the ball down and play football.
Harris was the most prominent home player, but Ibstock couldn’t get their forwards working and Holwell coped with everything thrown at them.
With injuries and absence affecting team selection, Levi Fray and Jamie Simpson produced some big value performances to shore up the defence, while up front the physical presence of Sam Bettinson was a great benefit, creating space for Mooney and Kirkby.
Holwell: R. Cragg, I. Bitmead, L. Fray, J. Simpson, S. Rose, M. Stevenson, B. Smedley, S. Mooney, J. Kirkby, S. Bettinson, L. Chapman. Subs: T. Barnard, G. Wells, H. Calver, C. Hibbitt.