Holwell Sports sunk by injury-time strike at South Normanton

Chris Hibbitt headed Holwell level after a stunning move EMN-170116-090950002
Chris Hibbitt headed Holwell level after a stunning move EMN-170116-090950002
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After a tireless, battling display Holwell Sports were flattened as title contenders South Normanton struck a 94th-minute winner.

John Webster’s men twice drew level and did not deserve the late hammerblow after their backs-to-the-wall display.

Holwell hope to finally return to action on Saturday EMN-170901-144805002

Holwell hope to finally return to action on Saturday EMN-170901-144805002

It was an all too familiar start as the visitors found themselves behind again within four minutes. A route one kick down the slope from keeper Charlie Mansfield picked out man-of-the-match Luke Crosby who beat one defender and fired a shot under Jamie Witham.

Holwell were riled for the next few minutes, but showed determination as they were put under severe pressure.

But Sports equalised on 10 minutes when a super move saw Michael Stevenson win the ball in midfield, look up and spray a superb cross-field pass to Kieran Foster.

Holwell’s leading scorer took the ball in his stride and sent a pinpoint cross which Chris Hibbitt met with a brave flying header for a stunning goal.

However the feelgood factor was short-lived as Ridout and Foster gave the ball away cheaply on the right, leaving Leighton to send a ball into the middle which Warren Hatfield dispatched after 13 minutes.

Holwell fought a rearguard action for the rest of the half as the Shiners used the slope advantage and the long ball tactic to their advantage.

The visitors defended well, broke when they could and were unlucky not to equalise when Mark Tinsley played in Chris Hibbitt whose shot brought a very good save from Mansfield.

Tom Harris also brought the best out of Mansfield when he broke into the box and forced another save.

But all too often Holwell were caught offside, breaking down good attacking opportunities.

Holwell had the slope advantage for the second half, but again chose to play through Normanton, not over them, and it paid off within five minutes.

Hibbitt, who had been roughly handled throughout the first half, was brought down again midway in the home half. Liam Chapman’s low free-kick found its way through to Foster who turned it in for 2-2.

Holwell were back in the game on merit and began to boss the game as the Shiners began to blame each other.

Crosby showed good control and balance, giving Holwell’s defence a torrid time, but Normanton’s finishing was woeful.

Ridout stretched to stop a shot, only to see it squirm off his boot and up onto the crossbar and away.

There was another big let off with 15 minutes left when Crosby freed himself of Woodcock and his shot from an impossibly acute angle beat Witham and cannoned off the post.

Farcical misses from Courtney Bartley and his replacement Hamilton followed as Holwell hung on.

But Holwell were also still battling for a winner which so nearly came on 85 minutes when Mansfield, at full-stretch, tipped Tinsley’s chip onto the bar.

The hosts threw everything at Holwell in the final minutes and could have gone down to 10 men when Chapman was badly tackled from behind by Sam Kellogg.

The referee booked Kellogg and Holwell’s Brad Smith.

When play resumed, Normanton won possession, and Crosby again weaved his way through defenders before shooting across goal. His effort was off-target but fell to Mark Strzyzewski who slotted a cruel winner.

Holwell: Witham, Ridout, Chapman, Bitmead, Woodcock, Foster (Revie), Hibbitt, Stevenson (Hazeldine), Smith, Harris (Williams), Tinsley.