Holwell Sports quick out of the blocks at Dunkirk

Brad Smith smashed Holwell's second EMN-161212-131815002
Brad Smith smashed Holwell's second EMN-161212-131815002
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Holwell Sports showed grit and determination away at Dunkirk on Saturday to upstage their more fancied opponents with a powerful and dominant display.

With both teams below where they wanted to be in the table at this point of the season, the hosts and visitors knew the importance of getting the upper hand early on and dictating play.

David Hazeldine made an almost instant impact for the second time in three matches EMN-161128-172901002

David Hazeldine made an almost instant impact for the second time in three matches EMN-161128-172901002

The early signs from Holwell were positive as they took the game to Dunkirk, pressing the home defence, with Foster shooting just over after three minutes.

This early pressure paid off after 10 minutes when Holwell took the lead from their first corner as Chapman sent in another peach of a cross for Kieran Foster to rise highest and power in an unstoppable header.

Dunkirk tried to get hit back by sending right winger Adrian Lang away down the channel to force Chapman back to defend.

And Lang came closest to equalising two minutes later, but Jamie Witham saved well.

But Holwell continued to look the stronger side and were rewarded with a second goal on 15 minutes.

Aaron Ridout’s cross from the right found Laithan Hammond who held the ball up before his smart lay-off allowed Brad Smith to smash a finish just inside the keeper’s left-hand post.

Holwell were dominant and Dunkirk had no answer to Hammond, Foster and Harris, while Stevenson, Smith and Williams bossed midfield.

Witham dealt with anything which got through the defence where Woodcock was outstanding, well supported by Bitmead and Ridout.

Dunkirk had half-chances as Stephen Chaplin tried to break through, but Holwell stood up to any pressure.

The second half mirrored the first as Holwell resumed control with the home side now reduced to individual effort rather than concerted teamwork.

Hammond was unlucky not to stretch the lead on 54 minutes after doing well to bring the ball down and shoot on the turn, but keeper Sam Andrew did well to get down to his left and save.

After his tireless running and excellent forward play Hammond was replaced by the fit-again Mark Tinsley.

The game became stretched with end-to-end play as Dunkirk tried desperately to get something out of the game, and the visitors had to dig deep in defence.

However, the Holwell forwards were doing their bit with Foster causing havoc wide on the right, sending in good crosses and denying the hosts the upper hand.

Holwell manager John Webster stiffened up the midfield to protect the lead by sending on Chris Hibbitt for the tiring Smith, who had put in a great shift, and David Hazeldine for Joe Williams.

And it was that man Hazeldine who sealed the win with nine minutes left, prodding home a ball delivered from the left - the second time in three games the striker has struck a decisive blow only minutes after coming on.

It was now a measure of keeping the ball and protecting the clean sheet, but five minutes from time Dunkirk sub Ben Gowing was allowed to move the ball along the 18-yard box and beat the unsighted Witham with a shot through a crowd of players.

Holwell can take pride from a committed and assured display and build confidence for tomorrow’s re-arranged County Cup quarter-final at Melton Town.

On Saturday, Holwell make the short trip into Notts to take on Radcliffe Olympic (kick-off 3pm).

Holwell: Witham, Ridout, Bitmead, Woodcock, Chapman, Foster, Smith (Hibbitt), Stevenson, Williams (Hazeldine), Harris, Hammond (Tinsley).