Holwell Sports beat high-flying Belper in caretaker manager Ryan Peacock’s bow

Jamie Witham challenges while David Hazeldine and Rob Woodcock look on as Holwell mount a successful rearguard action against Belper EMN-171120-110539002
Jamie Witham challenges while David Hazeldine and Rob Woodcock look on as Holwell mount a successful rearguard action against Belper EMN-171120-110539002
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Joe Hartopp’s strike gave Holwell Sports only their third win of the season after a tremendous performance against high-flying Belper on Saturday.

Belper arrived at Welby Road in second place in the East Midlands Counties League and there was added trepidation as Holwell kicked off their first match since the resignation of manager John Webster in midweek.

With injuries to forward Mark Tinsley and skipper Aaron Ridout, and Tyson breaking down in the warm-up, the squad was the bare minimum 11 plus Luke Underwood returning from injury.

Ryan Peacock stepped up from assistant to caretaker manager, helped by the experienced Graham Wells and Ridout in the technical area.

As expected, Belper started at pace and play was all one-way with Holwell having to defend stoutly against centre-forward James Rushby and wingers Tim Adcock and Zakim Evans.

But Holwell had the first half-chance when young Kyle Reek saw a goalbound shot blocked by Foster.

From then Holwell held their own against a strong Belper side.

The normally dependable Rushby could have opened the scoring on 35 minutes when one-on-one with newly-returned keeper Jamie Witham, but to Holwell’s relief, he sent his shot past the post.

The second half was much more intense as the visitors hit Holwell with wave after wave of attacks.

United had another glorious chance when Evans broke in from the right, but his cross to the far post was too strong for the incoming Adcock.

Holwell were giving as good as they got, however, and Liam Chapman was beginning to come to the fore, breaking down moves in midfield and trying to set the front runners going.

Andre Fontoura also came alive in the second half with strong runs and good footwork, laying off a ball to Michael Stevenson whose shot from distance went high and wide.

Bitmead and Woodcock were back in the centre of defence and were immense, cutting out and stopping anything Belper had to offer.

The visitors did get through on the hour when Evans broke in from the right and slid a pass to Adam Dring whose shot was denied by Witham at full stretch, turning his shot away.

Minutes later Witham made another smart save from Dean Oliver as Belper threatened to overrun Holwell, and the keeper then did well to get his frame down to his left to turn away a deflection off Woodcock.

Three great saves which kept Holwell alive.

The hosts still made progress forward as Belper started to wain, with Fontoura the recipient of some rough tackling.

Reek, in particular, stuck to his task, using his speed to match winger Adcock on the left and working well with Reeves on the right to break up attacks and stop the supply to Rushby and Dring.

Stevenson, Randall and Chapman were beginning to get to grips with the midfield, and the breakthrough duly arrived on 68 minutes.

Chapman won the ball near the centre circle, looked up, and sent a ball over the top for Joe Hartopp to battle for.

His presence and timing forced Foster into a mistake and Hartopp pounced, beating the advancing keeper Kennergon with his one big chance of the afternoon to send the home fans delirious.

Holwell were now well and truly on top, and as much as Belper tried to get back into the game, the home side defended well to secure a much-needed win.

Holwell: Witham, Reeves, Bitmead, Woodcock, Hazeldine, Randall, Stevenson, Fontoura (Underwood), Chapman, Reek, Hartopp.