Holwell Sports made a cautious but winning start under new manager Neil Miller against fellow mid-table side Bugbrooke on Saturday.
Ross Dunlop was another new face for Holwell at right-back who was confident and assured on debut, slotting into a spot which had troubled Holwell of late and calming nerves with an early goal.
Fellow debutant Ben Challis also came through the game with a welcome clean sheet.
Bugbrooke kicked off with the very strong wind behind them and started sharply as centre Folabo Totele Agunbiade caused early problems, but McGarry did well to get in a covering tackle.
Both teams struggled in the very warm temperature and swirling gusts, but Holwell started to come more into the match.
A great move involving Brad Smith and David Hazeldine saw him find O’Grady whose telling cross nearly brought the opener when defender Betts wildly sliced the ball over the bar.
Bugbrooke thought they had cleared the corner at the second attempt, but as the ball fell to the edge of the box Dunlop smashed in an unstoppable volley to open the scoring after 12 minutes.
Holwell were the better side and Dunlop was involved again to send Ross McGarry away down the right and his centre just eluded Matt Hendey at the far post.
McGarry and Connor O’Grady then combined to send the ball into the middle, but this time Boatang just got to the ball first with Hendey in close attendance.
McGarry’s pace caused problems and on the half-hour only Boatang’s last-ditch interception turned his centre away for a corner.
Betts turned McGarry’s shot away, and from Betteridge’s corner O’Grady thought he had scored, only to be denied by Farrel’s fine point-blank save.
Challis was handling well and his good long-range kicks into the wind helped Holwell finish the half strongly, with Michael Stevenson running midfield.
Bugbrooke came out looking to recover the deficit after the break and for a spell caused the home defence problems as they struggled to keep possession.
Gohkan Uikel bore down on goal from the left and unleashed a shot from inside the box, but Challis did very well to get down to his near post and turn the goalbound shot away for a corner.
The back four otherwise remained solid, with Bitmead and Ridout handling everything thrown at them.
Challis used the wind to good effect as long balls out of goal into the heart of Bugbrooke’s defence caused real issues.
McGarry found himself clean through on goal on the hour, but shot straight at the keeper.
Bugbrooke immediately broke upfield, but Uikel spurned an opportunity to level when his shot across goal went beyond the back post.
Holwell lost Brad Smith to a knee injury, bringing on Tom Harris who opened up the defence minutes later with a strong run before poking the ball forward.
Ling and Farrel got themselves in a muddle, allowing the quick-thinking O’Grady to sneak in and deftly nut-meg the advancing keeper before following his shot into the empty net for 2-0.
Holwell managed the game to secure three-much needed points, and head to Huntingdon on Saturday looking to capitalise on the new feelgood factor (ko 3pm).
Holwell: Challis, Dunlop, Bitmead, Ridout, Betteridge, Hazeldine, Smith (Harris), Stevenson, Hendey (Cowling), McGarry, O’Grady. Subs not used: Gilbertson, Cragg.