Stevenson fires Holwell Sports to Anstey victory

Man-of-the-match Michael Stevenson EMN-161010-094333002
Man-of-the-match Michael Stevenson EMN-161010-094333002

An outstanding display from skipper Michael Stevenson helped Holwell taste a league win for the first time in nine outings as they outplayed Anstey Nomads on Saturday.

With both teams in the bottom half of the table, Sports kicked off knowing the importance of beating the teams around them to ensure they were not dragged down further.

Holwell had to survive an early scare as Joe Hartopp latched on to a through ball which opened up the visitors’ defence, but he shot wide; yet another early wake-up call.

The early stages were poor, but Nomads had another chance to open the scoring after 10 minutes when Stacey Cooke was bundled over on the edge of the box. But Cooke hit the shot straight at the wall and Norris cleared.

The visitors began to show greater endeavour which was rewarded on 14 minutes when Mark Tinsley put them in front with a glancing header from Liam Chapman’s corner.

Holwell were now in control with Wells and Tinsley finding good space up front. Williams was unlucky not to increase the lead when a corner came out to him on the edge of the box, and his shot was just over the bar.

Anstey were not completely out of it with home captain Daz Taylor trying to break down Holwell’s solid centre-half pairing of Bitmead and Norris, but it was full-back Simon Richmond who brought the home fans to their feet.

A poor corner conceded by Holwell was cleared out to Richmond whose 20-yard shot crashed back off the left-hand post.

In the second half Holwell’s dominance continued with Foster seeing an early opportunity saved by keeper Joyce.

The Anstey attacks were rare, but Taylor missed a chance on 55 minutes after Richmond had got beyond Cropper to send in a telling low cross.

The game was effectively won by Holwell two minutes later when Graham Wells got free in the box and slid the ball under Joyce to double Holwell’s lead.

Anstey tried to respond, but Stevenson and Williams were in complete control of midfield to limit their progress.

Throughout all of the first and most of the second half the game’s outstanding player was Stevenson, winning possession in midfield with quick thinking and even quicker feet.

Yet just after the hour Anstey were again denied by the woodwork when Nick Reeves’ header hit the post and centre-half Russell’s rebound was cleared off the line by Joe Williams.

Holwell hit back as Tinsley found space to break, but the striker sent his shot just over the bar.

Hartopp then got the better of Cropper, but fired over rashly.

It was now Wells’ turn to break through the home defence and Joyce did well to get a finger to his shot and turn it away.

The injured Foster was replaced by Fontoura, while Hazeldine came on for Wells after a great shift and Holwell finished the match off with nine minutes left.

The spritely Reeves moved out of defence and sent in a ball over the top of the home back four for he tireless Tinsley to beat the keeper with a shot on the run.

Jamie Witham brought off another fantastic save to preserve his clean sheet when Taylor got his first real chance of the afternoon.