East Midlands Counties League: Holwell Sports 3-1 Gedling Miners Welfare

Scott Mooney tries to twist his way through the Gedling defence EMN-151201-092128002
Scott Mooney tries to twist his way through the Gedling defence EMN-151201-092128002
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Chris Hibbitt came within a hair’s breadth of claiming a rare hat-trick as Holwell eased past Gedling at a blustery Welby Road.

The midfielder wrapped up the points with two headed goals after the break, and almost got a head to Kieran Foster’s long-range free kick which had given the hosts a slender half-time lead.

The visitors started the day in ninth and edged a scrappy, feisty first half, playing into a gusting, icy wind.

Holwell keeper Paul Burton was forced into a point-blank block after 12 minutes when a neat lofted ball over Holwell’s defence found Tony Law’s well-timed run into the box.

Kieran Foster also got behind Gedling’s back four to meet Aaron Ridout’s long floated kick, but headed straight at Miles.

Yet Burton was the busier keeper, denying Mitchell Slawson’s low shot and then Law again after the striker broke through one-on-one with another good run.

But after half-an-hour Holwell pinned the visitors back, forcing five successive corners with Michael Stevenson and Liam Chapman’s deliveries causing goalmouth panic.

Holwell made their pressure count after 32 minutes through Foster’s floated free kick from the halfway line. Miles came out, but under pressure from Hibbitt, the keeper failed to gather and the ball drifted into the net.

Slawson then spurned Gedling’s best chance when in acres of space after Holwell’s offside trap again failed in its mission.

With only the advancing keeper to beat, the striker was caught in two minds and guided the ball tamely into Burton’s arms.

Holwell ended the half strongly and could have extended their lead. Miles twice denied Stevenson before Dan Gleeson headed off the line in stoppage time when Foster flicked Chapman’s corner towards the far corner.

The hosts were much improved after the break, carrying the greater threat as a fading Gedling created little.

Stevenson saw another effort blocked and Mooney poked a shot narrowly wide before Hibbitt made it 2-0 after 65 minutes, stooping to head in Chapman’s corner.

The midfield anchor man then killed the game with 15 minutes left from another set piece.

This time, Stevenson whipped in a corner and Hibbitt reacted well to help Foster’s near-post headed flick into the net.

With the game gone, Gedling produced their brightest moments of the half. Burton held on to Ubah’s goalbound header before Slawson atoned for his first half howler with a superb finish, volleying a right-wing cross into the far corner with seven minutes left.

Hibbitt had his hat-trick chance, but headed straight at Miles, and Graham Wells flashed a shot narrowly over before Burton spared his side a nervy finale, getting down well to block full-back Courtney Bartley’s powerful shot in injury time.

Holwell: P. Burton, S. Denigan, L. Chapman, A. Ridout (c), S. Rose, C. Hibbitt, K, Foster (G. Keast 80), B. Smith (J. Hallam 81), S. Mooney (H. Stannard 75), M. Stevenson, G. Wells.