Holwell Sports fight back at Stapenhill to record third straight win

David Hazeldine drew Holwell Sports level before half-time at Stapenhill EMN-180226-134544002
David Hazeldine drew Holwell Sports level before half-time at Stapenhill EMN-180226-134544002
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A thrilling fightback saw Holwell Sports claim their third straight win on Saturday, and their first away points in three months.

Holwell found themselves 2-0 down inside 11 eleven minutes after a poor start at Stapenhill, but they dug deep into their reserves of grit, determination and resilience to turn the game on its head.

Early pressure from kick-off soon turned to despair as Stapenhill scored against the run of play with their first attack.

George Teeney collected the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box before unleashing a shot which seemed to go straight through keeper Richard Cragg.

This gave the hosts a boost and they continued to dominate, spreading play well, with Pete Martin causing problems on the left.

Martin as the architect of Stapenhill’s second as he won the ball and sent in a cross which Holwell failed to deal with, allowing Teeney to head home.

Holwell had a hill to climb, but Michael Stevenson and Connor O’Grady in midfield started to gain a foothold, backed by good hold-up play from Ambrose up top.

The signs were good after 25 minutes when Ben Betteridge sent a great ball through to Mark Cowling who was unlucky to see his effort go narrowly wide.

A minute later Betteridge used his accurate left peg to send in a peach of a free-kick to the back post where skipper Bitmead steered the ball home to bring Holwell back into the match with a deserved goal.

The visitors were now the stronger with Ambrose running his heart out to harry and pressure defenders holding up play to link with the midfield.

The hard work paid off seven minutes before half-time when Ambrose combined with Stevenson on the edge of the box.

David Hazeldine latched onto the loose ball to wrong-foot Stapenhill keeper Gough with a well-placed shot low to his right.

Connor O’Grady had a half-chance right on half-time, but Gough smothered the shot well.

There were some issues manager Andy Gray had to attend to in the dressing room, but Holwell started the second half with their tails up.

However, Stapenhill were still dangerous with Teeney trying to impose himself and get his hat-trick, but skipper Bitmead marshalled him well to win every aerial battle and stay strong on the tackle.

His example seemed to rub off on his team-mates in a tense battle.

Michael Stevenson had a good shot at goal on the hour, but Gough dealt well with it and started a flowing move which ended with Cragg being forced to save.

Charlie Rumin then cracked a shot against the Holwell post a minute later.

It was a big let-off for Holwell who were having to concentrate as the game became more physical and Stapenhill’s frustration grew.

Teeney was booked for a lunge on Wright before the influential O’Grady was forced off with a back injury following a bad tackle in midfield. He was replaced by Nicholas Andrews.

Holwell went close on the break with 20 minutes left when Ambrose sprinted through the defence, and the ball broke to Ross Cragg, on for Mark Cowling, who shot agonisingly over the bar.

Holwell later replaced Ambrose with Shaun Smith as they looked to introduce some fresh legs up front.

All of Holwell’s subs did well as the visitors started to gain a foothold again.

But the game seemed to be heading for a draw until, with five minutes left, Gough did well to parry a Smith shot, but the loose ball fell to Ross Cragg whose shot on the rebound was just too strong for the Stapenhill keeper.

A real gritty team performance to overcome a side who sit six places higher in the league.

Holwell remain 19th, a point above the bottom three, and will hope to overcome second-bottom Arnold Town at Welby Road on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.

Holwell: Cragg, Wright, Bitmead, Woodcock, Betteridge, Reek, Stevenson, O’Grady (Andrews), Hazeldine, Cowling (Cragg), Ambrose (S. Smith).