Holwell Sports draw in Andy Gray’s first match in charge

David Hazeldine nipped in to put Holwell in front EMN-180124-085151002
David Hazeldine nipped in to put Holwell in front EMN-180124-085151002
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Holwell Sports held on to secure a much-needed point in Andy Gray’s first match in charge against Radford on Tuesday evening.

The back four managed to subdue Radford’s danger man Ryan Smith for much of the match in an all-round improved performance.

The home side had looked good from the start at Welby Road, looking compact, well set-up, and more lively up front than of late.

Holwell welcomed back Tom Harris after a lengthy injury absence and he stood out with good pace on the right wing.

However, it was Radford who had the opening chances as Ravarne Jackson and Conor Moore sent in some crosses which Smith should have done better with.

The game was scrappy as both sides tried to master the very heavy pitch, but the hosts went in front on 29 minutes after good work by Liam Chapman on the left.

He broke clear, sending in a low cross which David Hazeldine reached first to slot home.

Thereafter Holwell controlled the rest of the half with Radford clearly struggling to get to grips in midfield as Michael Stevenson and O’Grady bossed the play.

But the visitors were much improved after the break and went at Holwell from the off, showing greater intensity as they tried to impose themselves and find a way back into the game.

Gray’s side did well to stem the flow as Radford threatened and put Holwell under the cosh, forcing them to concede dangerous free-kicks on the edge of the box, but wasting them.

Shaun Smith had a decent opening presented to him just after the hour from an acute angle, but Radford keeper Searson-Smithard just managed to get something on the shot to steer it away for a corner.

Moments later Stevenson looked up and sent a great ball over the top for Smith to run onto, but the forward failed to capitalise as Kyle Reek tried to assist and Radford cleared.

The visitors had become ragged as they chased the match and Holwell looked as though they had weathered the storm, with Bitmead and Woodcock strong at the back.

However, Ryan Smith scored the equaliser against the run of play on 63 minutes when he managed to get his head to a cross from the left, the ball looping over Holwell keeper Jamie Witham and settling in the back of the net.

Radford had their tails up again and the home side had to dig deep to keep what they had, but to their credit they hung on against a team eight places higher in the table to secure a much-needed point.

On Saturday, Holwell are at home again as they entertain third-placed Selston. Kick-off at Welby Road is 3pm.

Holwell: Witham, Wright, Bitmead, Woodcock, Betteridge, Harris, O’Grady, Stevenson, S. Smith, Hazeldine (Ambrose), Chapman (Reek). Subs not used: Reeve, Cowling, B. Smith.