Dream start for Sports paves way to good win

Holwell's Connor O'Grady challenging for possesion EMN-180417-113013002
Holwell's Connor O'Grady challenging for possesion EMN-180417-113013002
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Holwell could not have wished for a better start, going one-nil up after less than two minutes.

Winning possession in midfield shortly after the start, Holwell mounted their first attack, with the ball fed to David Hazeldine just inside the Holbrook half.

He took four or five steps to set himself up before unleashing an unstoppable thunderbolt shot into the top right of the Holbrook goal.

It was just the start needed against Holbrook who had beaten Holwell at home only ten days earlier in a rearranged league fixture.

With Holbrook five places higher in the league table before the game and the home side having stuttered to one win in four recently, it was always going to be a tough job for Sports.

It didn’t take Holbrook long to get into the game and they nearly equalised through Sebastian Szondi- - his header zipping narrowly wide of the post.

Szondi had another chance within a minute as the visitors pressed to get on top.

Meanwhile Holwell were confidently spreading the ball around, with Cowling and Shaun Smith up front busy. The home side had the ball in the net again on 15 minutes but Smith had strayed offside.

Holbrook’s star man Szondi had to leave the field with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Isaac Raymond, and this seemed to sap some life out of the visitors.

Holbrook were quickest out of the blocks in the second half but they were let down by poor finishing, which helped Holwell hold on to their slender one goal advantage.

Having weathered that early storm, Holwell began to come more into the second half.

Shaun Smith, on the left, held off a Holbrook defender before playing the ball into the danger area where Mark Cowling picked it up on the edge of the six yard box.

He held off a stiff challenge, turning the defender, before Michael Stevenson took the ball, evaded the challenge of a defender and bent a low shot to the left of keeper Sam Gilbert to put Holwell two goals clear.

At two-nil and Holwell very much on top, there was a sense of resignation in the Holbrook players that the game had gone but they still had chances as slack play in the Holwell defence let in Isaac Raymond, but his finish went wide of the mark.

As Holwell pressed to find the goal which would kill the match, Ross Cragg, who had replaced the industrious Shaun Smith, was unlucky when last ditch defending kept his name off the score sheet.

Kyle Reek, brought on for the tiring Mark Cowling, also came close to closing out the match in the 83rd minute but Holbrook keeper Gilbert pulled off a great save.

Late in the game, Jamie Witham saved well to keep a clean sheet for Holwell.

The win took Holwell four places up the league and ended a punishing schedule of four games in eight days.

On Saturday, Holwell are away to Kimberley Miners Welfare FC.

Holwell: Witham, Wright, Bitmead, Betteridge, Chapman, Hazeldine, Stevenson, O’Grady, B Smith, Cowling(Reek), S Smith(Cragg)