Holwell Sports denied by last-gasp penalty save at Gedling Miners Welfare

Connor O'Grady tapped in Holwell's second EMN-180205-101731002
Connor O'Grady tapped in Holwell's second EMN-180205-101731002
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Goalkeeper Dan Brown’s late penalty save denied Holwell Sports a point after a thrilling fightback fell just short on Tuesday evening.

Holwell started the game well, taking the game to their hosts by pushing on and forcing Gedling to backpedal.

However, the home side looked dangerous, with speedy wingers Dwayne Brown and Abou Sylla threatening early on.

But the visitors hit the front after 14 minutes when Holwell keeper Richard Cragg’s quick distribution to Reek led to a swift move from back to front.

When the ball came into the centre, Mark Tinsley showed good control before holding off centre-half Brett and slotting the ball under Brown.

Gedling responded with pace down both flanks as Sylla and Brown tried to get behind the defence.

The visitors did well to limit these attacks, but lost Betteridge to a hamstring injury which forced a reshuffle, with Reek moving to left-back to combat Brown’s pace and Shaun Smith on in midfield.

But Sylla took control, giving Holwell a torrid time down the left with pace, agility and quick feet.

He was guided away from goal towards the left of the 18-yard box, but as the defence moved towards him, the winger sent a cross to the back post where the unmarked Brown tapped in the equaliser.

And just two minutes later Gedling were ahead when Sylla again forged forward and sent in a fierce shot which Cragg did well to parry, but Jack Jepson fired in the rebound.

Holwell took time to consolidate, and did well to regain some control in midfield, but the hosts went 3-1 up five minutes before half-time when Sylla collected the ball 20 yards out and sent a thunderbolt past the helpless Cragg.

Andy Gray’s side came back out after the break and again seemed ready for the fight as Shaun Smith’s overhead kick shaved Brown’s left-hand post.

Holwell showed a renewed impetus, with Stevenson and O’Grady winning possession in midfield and probing at the home defence.

Reek sent in a high cross which deceived the keeper as it dipped and came back off the bar, with Connor O’Grady following in to make it 3-2.

It was game on as Gedling’s stellar performers Brown and Sylla became less and less effective.

This allowed Holwell to keep pressing, and as the game wore on they looked the more dangerous, with Cowling and Tinsley worrying the home defence, and Ambrose imposing himself as Holwell dominated the latter stages.

Tinsley had a half-chance when his side-foot shot went past Brown’s left-hand post, and desperate defence looked the only answer for Gedling.

The feeling grew among Holwell fans that they could go on and win the game with a break, and with both sides running out of steam, O’Grady was bundled over in the last minute and referee Fryer awarded the penalty.

Stevenson stepped up, but his shot to Brown’s right was at a good height for the tall keeper who turned the shot away for a corner.

Holwell now face a run of four games in six days to end their league campaign.

On Thursday they host title-challenging Teversal at Welby Road (ko 7.45pm) before visiting Aylestone Park on Saturday (3pm).

They then travel to Anstey on Monday (3pm) before hosting Arnold Town in their final game next Wednesday (7.45pm).

Holwell: Cragg, B. Smith, Bitmead, Woodcock, Betteridge (S. Smith), Reek, Stevenson, O’Grady, Ambrose, Cowling (R. Cragg), Tinsley. Sub not used: Hazeldine.