Holwell Sports belied the form book as they defeated fancied Gedling on Tuesday night to reach the semi-finals of the East Midlands Counties League Cup.
On a heavy Welby Road pitch following Monday’s deluge, the hosts were switched on from kick-off as Mark Tinsley got an early chance just seconds into the game.
It didn’t take long for Gedling to wake up to the fact they were in a match, with goalkeeper Jamie Witham having to save well. And when the corner was cleared, winger Joe Meakin’s powerful rising shot just cleared the bar.
Poor communication in midfield saw Gedling win back possession moments later, but left winger Jepson failed to punish the hosts when he missed when well placed.
Holwell controlled the ball well, working hard with good inter-play as O’Grady, Pele Orton and Liam Chapman imposed themselves.
A great move on 18 minutes nearly led to the opener when Chapman and Mark Cowling combined well to set up Tinsley, but Gedling keeper Brown saved well.
The home side had plenty of possession, with Chapman and Kyle Reek giving their full-backs a hard time, and when a cleared corner fell to Reek on the edge of the 18-yard box, his volley forced a decent save.
There was no doubt the first half belonged to Holwell with the action firmly in Gedling’s half.
And when the visitors did break out, their forwards were either wasteful or caught offside by a well-marshalled back line of Smith, Ian Bitmead, Andrews and Betteridge.
Just as it looked it would be all-square at the break, Orton was again dumped to the ground on the edge of the box, and Chapman’s free-kick beat Brown and found the corner of the net.
Holwell had to summon up all of their skills as Gedling tried to respond after the break, but the visitors’ passing was woeful, matched only by their poor finishing.
And frustration set in as they complained about every decision which went against them.
Holwell were playing a high line, relying on the offside trap which was working well, but as the game went on and the heavy pitch took its toll, the tactic could have been risky.
Gedling introduced Sylla and Boafo to add pace up front, but with Jepson they continued to waste chances through poor final balls and repeated offsides.
Holwell were cruising, controlling the ball well and playing on the floor when they could, and they went further ahead after 67 minutes.
A break, against the run of play, saw Reek feed Tinsley who set Chapman free on the left.
He broke into the box at pace as the visitors tried to recover and sent in a shot which hit the far post and was swept in by Tinsley on the rebound.
Gedling continued to push, but caused little concern until the last minute when Witham made a great save from Jepson to preserve the clean sheet.
A tremendous performance saw Holwell become the first team into the last four with all of the other evening’s ties postponed.
Andy Gray’s side will look to make it five wins in six matches on Saturday when they entertain ninth-placed Clifton All Whites in the league. Kick-off is 3pm.
Holwell: Witham, B Smith, Bitmead, Andrews, Betteridge, Reek, Orton, O’Grady, Chapman (S. Smith) Cowling, Tinsley. Subs not used: Ambrose, Woodcock, Lowe.