Holwell Sports denied third straight win by last-gasp penalty

Mark Cowling is Holwell's second-top scorer with six goals this season EMN-180424-152750002
Mark Cowling is Holwell's second-top scorer with six goals this season EMN-180424-152750002
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Goalkeeper Jamie Witham helped in-form Holwell Sports earn a hard-fought draw away to high-flying Kimberley Miners Welfare on Saturday.

And Holwell went close to taking all three points before a penalty deep into stoppage-time earned the home a side a point.

Kimberley had seen their league aspirations collapse in the space of three straight defeats, including an embarrassing midweek loss to basement side Radcliffe, and had a big point to prove to halt their poor form.

Having lost ground in the title race it seemed they were determined to get back on track against Holwell at all costs.

From the start they peppered Holwell’s back line, but the visitors coped with everything thrown at them thanks to some sturdy defending.

Confidence is high, and having played well in their last few matches, it didn’t take the visitors long to settle and create some moves of their own, with Kyle Reek going close with a great effort.

Holwell lost Liam Chapman with a recurring injury, with Mark Cowling coming on up front and Shaun Smith switched to midfield.

Smith had a great effort on the half-hour as the match became a midfield battle, with both teams guilty of promising moves breaking down in the final third.

As Kimberley pushed for the opener towards half-time, Witham made two spectacular stops, first denying the Kimberley striker from close range before getting down well to turn away a goalbound long-range strike.

Kimberley again came at Holwell at the start of the second half and Witham had to be sharp again to save low down from Kimberley’s right-back.

But Holwell were still in the game, with Smith forcing the Kimberley keeper to tip his goalbound shot over the bar after a sharp breakaway.

With the visitors on top Tinsley’s header was tipped over, while at the other end, Kimberley’s winger forced another top save from Witham.

An end-to-end match was building nicely as Ambrose and then Betteridge went close to the opener as Holwell pressed again with good approach work.

And Holwell were deservedly in front after 62 minutes when another good move saw Ambrose’s cross steered in by Cowling.

Kimberley started to push the panic button as moves broke down against Holwell’s stern defence with Meakin and Wren booked as their frustration grew.

Reek had a sight of goal in the last 10 minutes after beating three players, but shot weakly.

Witham again kept the home side at bay with another big save, but just as another game looked to be ending badly for Kimberley, referee Vayro awarded them a penalty in the fourth-minute of stoppage time after an untimely trip.

Kyle Wren dispatched the spot-kick, but not before Alex Doyle was sent off for striking Cowling in the melee which followed the penalty award.

Despite the frustrating ending, it was another good point won on the road for Holwell which they will hope to add to at Anstey Nomads on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm).

Holwell: Witham, B. Smith, Bitmead, Woodcock, Betteridge, Reek, O’Grady, Chapman (Cowling), Ambrose, Tinsley, S. Smith. Subs: Hazeldine, Cragg.