FA Cup replay: Holwell Sports downed in extra time at Bedworth United

Graham Wells went closest for Holwell at Bedworth with a fine header
Graham Wells went closest for Holwell at Bedworth with a fine header
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Holwell’s bold FA Cup odyssey ended on Tuesday evening after an epic first qualifying round replay at Bedworth.

With Sports missing the suspended Dan Marshall and stalwart Ian Bitmead, unavailable due to work commitments, manager Simon Daws brought in Tom Harris and Dean Copson.

Both teams made a cagey start in wet conditions, but on 10 minutes Alex Naughton found a way round Holwell’s defence and his crossed evaded everyone and rolled agonisingly along the goal-line and away to safety.

Bedworth began to impose themselves and a good move on 20 minutes was wasted when Degville-Cross shot high and wide when well-placed.

Holwell were trying to get to grips in midfield with Michael Stevenson, Chris Hibbitt and Copson trying to break down Bedworth.

Julian Joachim lost possession in midfield and allowed Bedworth to break, but Richard Stainsby pulled off an important save.

The visitors came into the game in the latter part of the first half with Liam Chapman clipping the bar a minute before the break, but both teams cancelled each other out.

Holwell started the second half well and Graham Wells broke free of the defence eight minutes in, but his shot at goal was weak.

As was the pace of the game, Bedworth went straight down the pitch and again Stainsby had to be smart to save from Aron Wint.

As the game really opened up it was Wells who so nearly gave the underdogs the lead when he headed towards goal only to see home keeper Denham Hinds pull off a wonder save to tip the effort over.

Joachim, who had been carrying a strain, was replaced by Stannard, but Holwell were in the ascendancy as Hibbitt was narrowly off target with a strong header.

Holwell shuffled players in an attempt to get more direct attacks and Copson, who had his best game since his move from Sileby, went to left-back. But he was still was able to thrust forward and his 25-yard shot skimmed past the left post.

Bedworth pressured and nearly broke the deadlock late on when Westwood tried his luck from 30 yards only to see Stainsby turn the shot away for a corner.

Extra time saw two sets of tired legs slug it out, and for most of the first period Holwell looked the more likely scorers.

But Wint finally broke the deadlock after eight minutes when his downward header beat Stainsby.

The resilience of Bedworth told six minutes later when Degville-Cross got behind the Holwell defence and his low cross was converted by sub Blenkinsopp.

The tie was all but dead as Bedworth kept possession, but still Holwell battled to get something out of the game.

Holwell’s brave run was over, but they can hold their heads high in holding a team from two leagues higher for nearly 190 minutes of play.

The performance should give them strength and confidence as they seek to make up ground in the league, starting with a testing trip to unbeaten Radford who lie second in the early season table.