A poor first half cost Holwell Sports dearly as their heroic comeback fell just short against Borrowash on Saturday.
John Webster’s side left themselves a mountain to climb when they allowed Borrowash to take a three-goal lead, but so nearly pulled off a dramatic recovery.
Holwell started strongly enough with Wells and Hazeldine chasing and pressing defenders from the start. Wells found time in the third minute to play in David Reeves on the right, but his return pass was poor.
The hosts set up with three centre-backs in Ridout, Bitmead and Woodcock, but it was Borrowash who made the breakthrough against the run of play after 15 minutes after another defensive error.
Bitmead’s downward header lacked power to find Woodcock, allowing Kirk Francis to seize on the loose ball and squeeze a shot past Witham from a very acute angle.
Borrowash looked to take advantage of the way Holwell had set up as their wingers Francis and Kabongo tormented the back three.
And the visitors made it 2-0 on 21 minutes when Kabongo broke in from the left as defenders backed off, allowing the forward to approach the six-yard box and unleash a fierce rising shot high into the net.
Holwell looked strong enough in midfield and up front, but with three major players in Hibbitt, Foster and Hammond suspended, and Stevenson and Chiavetta unavailable, Webster was once again unable to field his strongest XI.
Borrowash extended their lead 10 minutes before half-time when the hosts failed to defend a corner from the left, and Idris Kabongo got between the Holwell defenders to deftly head past Witham.
Hazeldine went close before the break when his cross-cum-shot skimmed the top of the bar with the keeper beaten.
The home side had a mountain to climb to get anything out of this match, but to their credit they did get in and about Borrowash.
Now under real pressure, the visitors started to commit fouls in dangerous areas.
From another free-kick, Chapman sent in one of his raking crosses which was headed down into the path of Hazeldine who squeezed a close-range effort over the line after 55 minutes.
Holwell were clearly in the ascendancy with Joe Williams and Brad Smith beginning to win more in midfield, but the home side lost the pace of Wells up front as he was felled outside the box and replaced by Tom Harris.
His introduction seemed to increase Holwell’s tempo as he began to run at the defenders who committed further poor tackles.
The fightback was well and truly on midway through the half when Liam Chapman scored with a 20-yard free-kick out.
It looked even better with 15 minutes left when Borrowash’s captain was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Chapman.
But Holwell were caught out three minutes later with a sucker-punch breakaway goal when Borrowash broke out of defence down the right, and Kabongo turned home a low cross into the box.
Holwell pressed the visitors from the restart, and after good work by Harris and Chapman on the left, Williams stole in at the back post two minutes later to make it 4-3.
But the final whistle came too soon, leaving Holwell to rue giving Borrowash such a start.
Holwell: Witham, Ridout, Bitmead, Woodcock, Reeves, Smith, Williams, Chapman, Wells (Harris), Cowling, Hazeldine (West). Sub not used: Cropper.