Champions-elect West Bridgford proved too strong for Holwell Sports despite a determined effort at Welby Road on Saturday.
The 3-0 defeat is likely to be Holwell’s final match of their East Midlands Counties League campaign with their one outstanding match unlikely to go ahead after Greenwood Meadows were suspended for non-fulfilment of fixtures.
With Bridgford needing just four points from their final two games to clinch the title, Holwell let them know they were in for a test with some high tempo pressing early on.
The visitors had most of the early play, but their end product was poor, allowing the hosts to respond through youngsters Logan and Warrilow who were again pitched into the fray with first pick players Foster, Chapman, Woodcock all unavailable and Graham Wells out injured.
And the hosts enjoyed a good spell, as Logan’s hard work created several good moves and allowed Tinsley to find space, but West Bridgford’s defence, well marshalled by captain Jonathon Ventrella, was too experienced and strong.
Tinsley robbed a defender and fed Colton Cropper whose super cross was just too high for Chris Hibbitt.
Bitmead and then keeper Witham stopped goalbound shots from Tim Hopkinson as Bridgford countered with Arnbalal Silla then skying a shot high and wide.
Holwell kept up the challenge and Cropper came closest to scoring after 37 minutes when his high cross deceived keeper Kearney who did just enough to tip the ball over the bar.
Minutes later Witham pulled off a great save from Jimmy Spiers’ fierce shot from inside the box, but from the subsequent corner, Hopkinson was afforded a free header at the back post to put the visitors ahead.
It was tough for Holwell to go in at the break behind as they had been the more dominant side in the first half.
The hosts went on the attack from the restart with Cropper sending over another tricky free-kick.
Bridgford dealt with the threat, but David Hazeldine intelligently sent the ball back in where Hibbitt headed down for Bitmead who was marginally offside.
Holwell were still on top, finding space and opportunities, but to a man the visitors’ defence was much stronger and able to contain Warrilow and Tinsley if they did get through.
The visitors created little until with 14 minutes left, all of the home side’s hard work came to nothing when Cropper felled Hopkinson just inside the box.
Carl Westcarr, on for Jaeylola, easily beat Witham with the penalty.
Holwell still tried to get back into the game and went close soon after when Kearney let a cross through his hands, but Michael Stevenson’s shot was headed off the line by Ross McLinghy.
Sports then suffered a potential big blow for their cup final hopes when they lost Hibbitt to injury after a worrying turn of his ankle.
And the game was killed off with 10 minutes left as Westcarr bustled his way into the box before passing to Hopkinson who claimed his second.
Stevenson had a late chance from the edge of the six-yard box, but again the keeper tipped the shot over.
Holwell: Witham, Smith, Ridout, Bitmead, Cropper, Logan (Harris), Stevenson, Hibbitt (S. Smith), Warrilow (Cowling), Tinsley, Hazeldine.