Holwell Sports were given a real lesson in their Kitmanuk League Cup tie at home to Premier Division side Sleaford Town on Tuesday.
Michael Hayden, with four goals, certainly showed the art of finishing to a Holwell side struggling to bag a goal.
With a few injury-enforced changes, manager Andy Gray went with a team that on paper might have given a better account, but Sleaford gave their opponents total respect in playing a very strong side.
Two down inside 10 minutes, the evening was already looking pretty bleak, but Holwell dug in to stem the tide and look tidy as they tried to get back into the game.
But the third goal was a killer when defender Dan Worthington planted a powerful header home from the edge of the six-yard box from a corner after 21 minutes.
Holwell seemed to have accepted their fate and were hit by the loss of Harry Thompson to a hamstring injury midway through the half, replaced by Ilja
Ben Greenwood was allowed in to score four minutes from half-time, and Hayden completed his hat-trick just before the whistle, stealing in right in front of keeper John Binns to glance the ball in.
After the break, home fans hoped Holwell would come out blazing, but another individual error allowed poacher Hayden an easy tap-in, six minutes in.
But from here on in, Holwell did graft and compete with Sleaford whose target in a more competitive tie became about keeping a clean sheet.
Gray rang the changes with Bitmead replacing Hendey at the break, Foster pushed up front with Tinsley, and Surridge moved to right back as the home side set about getting something out of the game.
Jack Baker started to show his craft and grew into the game, while Michael Stevenson, Connor O’Grady and new boy Fjodorovs also started to get a foothold in midfield.
Sleaford knew they were in a game as their midfield crunched into tackles, with three clean, but very committed challenges from Machin on Stevenson, one after the other, showing the visitors’ commitment.
Town’s defence was now kept much busier, dealing with Foster’s power, and Holwell certainly can take heart from this belated, but spirited fightback as a decent home crowd saw desire – and soem decent football – to regain pride in an encounter long since lost.
Holwell: Binns, Foster, Betteridge, Surridge, Ridout, Stevenson, Baker, O’Grady, Thompson (Fjodorovs), Hendey (Bitmead), Tinsley. Subs not used: Cowling, Hazeldine, Nikolajevs.