A first-half barrage saw in-form Holwell Sports ease to a comfortable win over newly-promoted Whittlesey on Saturday.
All of the goals in the 4-0 win at Welby Road arrived in the first half and extended Holwell’s record to four wins and just one defeat in their last eight United Counties League matches.
Boss Neil Miller said: “We had picked up a little bit of knowledge about Whittlesey on how they play so we spoke before the game about how we needed to counter that and play to our strengths.
“The info we had picked up was bang-on, and without being disrespectful, Whittlesey were by far the most direct football team we have played against this season.
“But when you have two big lads up top, like they do, then why not play to your strengths?”
Holwell came under the cosh for the opening 10 minutes and had plenty of set pieces to deal with, scrambling some away and getting away with a few more.
But the hosts soon settled and bossed the rest of the half, treating the crowd to some great individual and team goals.
Shaun Smith settled the nerves after 12 minutes when he collected the ball 10 yards inside the Whittlesey half, and drove forward before unleashing a 30-yard thunderbolt into the top corner.
Aidan Black added a second 15 minutes later after combining well with Luke Peberdy and Harry Allcock on the edge of the visitors’ box.
Black then ghosted in between centre-half and full-back to poke home.
His brother Aaron Black made it 3-0 just after the half-hour mark, picking up the pieces from a defensive lapse and wrong-footing the keeper with a turn and shot.
Almost straight from the restart it was 4-0.
More one-touch football down the right between Aidan Black, George Coser, Luke Peberdy and Alfie Gaughan saw the latter played in one-on-one with the keeper and kept his cool to complete the first-half scoring.
Miller emphasised the importance of a clean sheet for the second half, with memories still fresh of the Huntingdon match when the hosts let slip a three-goal lead to draw 4-4.
“It was mission accomplished in that sense second half,” Miller added.
“I didn’t feel we ever really looked in danger of conceding and though we didn’t create many clear-cut chances ourselves I always thought we had another gear to go up into if we needed it.”
The win moved Holwell up to 11th in Division One and within one more win of the top 10.
Holwell now face a tough run up to Christmas, with a trip to Stamford to take on top-seven side Blackstones on Saturday (ko 3pm) and then the rearranged derby at fifth-placed Melton next Tuesday (ko 7.45pm).
Tough tests ahead for us between now and Christmas that we are really looking forward to.
The festive build-up ends with a home match against eighth-placed Harrowby on Saturday, December 21.
Miller said: “It’s tough, but this will give us a really clear idea of how far we have moved forward this season and how close we can actually get to the teams above us.”