Holwell Sports drop into bottom three with Graham St Prims defeat
Holwell Sports failed to make it four straight wins as they slipped to a narrow defeat at Graham St Prims on Wednesday.
The visitors could not build on a promising start, allowing themselves to be bullied in the second half by a side which showed more desire to win the ball.
The defeat dropped Holwell back into the bottom three of the East Midlands Counties League.
Things started well for the visitors and they looked in control for the opening half-hour, but just couldn’t convert any chances, despite forcing several free-kicks and a host of corners.
They went closest in the 27th minute when Prims keeper Fretwell parried a Liam Ambrose shot, and Ian Bitmead’s follow-up was cleared off the line.
The missed chances came back to bite Holwell on 32 minutes when the hosts went ahead against the run of play.
A moved down the left flank saw the ball worked into the box which Holwell failed to deal with, and the loose ball sat up nicely for Ashley Griffiths to lash a sweet shot past the helpless Cragg.
Holwell were aggrieved to trail at half-time, having had such a large slice of the play.
But their luck seemed to be turning just two minutes into the second half when midfielder Griffiths was shown a second yellow card, followed by a red, for another lunging tackle.
However, this seemed to galvanise Prims, making them fight for every ball responding to what they saw as an unjustified dismissal.
Holwell tried to stretch Prims, but bad decision-making in the final third cost them as moves broke down.
Smith did well on the left to advance towards the home goal, but with players spare he took on one too many defenders and the chance was lost.
Prims dug in and chased everything, with Sam Wright doing well to clear off the line for Holwell.
The visitors were running out of ideas and options as they chased the game, while Prims became physical and resorted to wasting time where they could.
Centre-forward Kevin Morrow hustled and harried Holwell’s centre backs in the second half, and his reward came after 67 minutes when he outmuscled Bitmead to a ball over the top and hit a shot high past Cragg’s left to double the lead.
With the odds now stacked against them, Holwell battled on and pulled one back with 11 minutes left.
Shaun Smith did well to win the ball on the left and show the full-back a clean pair of heels, sending a low cross into the box which Mark Cowling prodded home.
However, there was to be no further comeback as Prims leapfrogged above Holwell into 19th.
Holwell return to Welby Road tomorrow (Saturday) when they entertain top-six side Dunkirk.
They then turn to knockout action with a league cup quarter-final at home to Gedling Miners Welfare on Tuesday (ko 7.45pm).
Holwell: Cragg, Wright, Bitmead, Woodcock, Betteridge, Reek (B. Smith), O’Grady, Stevenson, Ambrose (Cowling), Tinsley, S. Smith.