Season over as Holwell Sports beaten in League Cup semi-final

Richard Cragg's man-of-the-match display came in vain EMN-180516-092045002
Richard Cragg's man-of-the-match display came in vain EMN-180516-092045002
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Holwell’s season came to a disappointing end on Tuesday night when their hopes of reaching the League Cup final were dashed by two second-half goals.

Sports had almost a week to recover from their tough schedule of five league games in eight days, but never really got going against Radford, and apart from man-of-the-match keeper Richard Cragg, no-one stood out in an overall below-par display.

Radford started positively and only a fine point-blank save by Cragg prevented dangerman Ravarne Jackson from opening the scoring inside three minutes.

Holwell did have a good chance soon after when David Hazeldine played in Kyle Reek, but under pressure from Hopewell his fierce shot found the side-netting.

Both sides were guilty of losing possession too easily in an uninspiring first half, but Radford looked the more likely to score.

Cragg raced out to smother at the feet of Ryan Smith, and then twice thwarted Jackson, who gave full-back Ben Betteridge a torrid time, by diving to cut out his low cross before turning away his snap-shot right on the half-time whistle.

The danger signs were there early in the second half when Jackson again broke free and squared to Smith who shot straight at Cragg.

The goal wasn’t long in coming, though, and what a cracker it was.

There looked to be no danger when a cross from the left found Smith 20 yards out, but he neatly chested it down before volleying a thunderbolt into the top corner past a helpless Cragg.

Holwell tried hard to respond, but with centre-forward Mark Cowling well shackled by Spencer they just couldn’t find a way through a well-organised defence.

And on 62 minutes Sports had a mountain to climb when substitute Moore got past two defenders down the right and sent in a low cross.

From the ensuing goalmouth scramble, Tom Black was on hand to knock home from close range.

It was 65 minutes before Holwell had a shot on target when Liam Chapman forced a low save from Dunne.

With Radford’s key player Jackson limping off, Andy Gray’s side had their best spell of the match, but Radford regrouped and Cragg made a fine save with his feet from Moore’s neat back-heel.

In the dying minutes Holwell had their best chance when Michael Stevenson’s free-kick to the far post picked out defender Rob Woodcock, but with the goal at his mercy he headed wide.

Radford finished well on top and should have increased their lead, with Reeves missing two golden opportunities from close range.

Holwell: R. Cragg, B. Smith, B. Betteridge, M. Stevenson, I. Bitmead, R. Woodcock, K. Reek, C. O’Grady, M. Cowling, D. Hazeldine (S. Smith 65), L. Chapman.