Holwell Sports have begun the search for a new manager after John Webster resigned last week following a poor start to the season.
Webster ended his 16-month tenure a few days after the 3-1 defeat at relegation rivals West Bridgford which left the club second-bottom with just two wins in 17 this season.
His assistant Ryan Peacock took charge as caretaker manager for Saturday’s visit of second-placed Belper, supported by coach and former striker Graham Wells, and the pair oversaw a brilliant 1-0 win.
Webster said: “It has not been an easy decision, but I feel at this time it is in the best interests of the club and myself that we go our separate ways.”
Webster took over from Simon Daws before last season with ambitions to improve Holwell’s position in the East Midlands Counties League.
He guided Sports to their first Senior County Cup final in 17 years, which ended in a last-minute defeat to Leicester Road.
Struggles to field a settled First XI saw the club finish 16th in Webster’s first term, the same position Daws managed in his final season, albeit with a better points tally.
But hopes they would kick on for a promotion challenge this campaign instead turned into a relegation dogfight.
Yet Webster’s decision still came as a surprise to chairman Graham Lewin.
“Everything happened out of the blue really; I was dumbfounded to find out,” he said.
“In the back of my mind it has probably been coming for a while, but I wasn’t putting him under any pressure and tried to support John as much as I could.
“I think he had a decent first season and we were all hoping to move forward from that, but it hasn’t worked out for him.
“The pressure may have got a bit too much for him and perhaps he felt he couldn’t take them any further. Credit to him for making the decision himself.”
He added: “I won’t fault his commitment or what he did at the club.
“He worked so hard and put so much into the job; he should walk away holding his head up high.”
The club is now inviting applications for Webster’s replacement, and Lewin is confident Holwell can climb out of the bottom three and avoid any relegation jitters.
But only if the players match the commitment of their departing manager.
“I went into the dressing room on Thursday after training and told them they have to go out with a positive attitude and that they are more than good enough to get out of this situation,” Lewin said.
“But they have to commit and put a shift in every game.
“If we get everyone available every week I know we can start climbing the league.”
Goalkeeper Jamie Witham rejoined the club from Melton Town before Saturday’s match and his fine saves were instrumental in getting Peacock’s spell as caretaker boss off to a winning start.
And while the chairman is keen to get a long-term successor in place, he is happy to give Peacock and Wells a run in charge.
“With Ryan and Graham stepping in it takes the pressure off to find a new manager,” he added.
“But we want to plan for the long-term and find someone who can give us stability, and I’ve had contact with a couple of people tendering their interest.
“I would love ex-players to be interested; I think that would be a massive boost for the club.”
* Applications for first team manager should be sent to Graham Lewin at Holwell Sports FC, Welby Road, Asfordby Hill, Melton Mowbray LE14 3RD