Holwell Sports were left wondering what might have been as they faced title-chasing Teversal in the first of four games in six days.
A disastrous start saw Teversal score two bizarre goals inside 15 minutes, compounded by two more by half-time.
With five first team regulars missing and second-placed Teversal clearly up for the fight, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Holwell. But a tremendous second-half display left the visitors relieved they had done the business before the break.
Teversal started at a fast pace, with Jordan Slack’s shot from the edge of the box hitting the post within a minute.
And the visitors led when Fletcher somehow kept the ball in play with his chest before hooking it back across goal.
The ball came back down off the bar and David Cockerill bundled it over the line in a melee of players.
Teversal’s second was even stranger when Cockerill’s attempted pass cannoned off Danny Fletcher and looped high over Holwell keeper Richard Cragg into the goal.
A deflated and bemused Holwell struggled to respond to the onslaught, and it was 3-0 after 22 minutes when Slack collected the ball to the right of the 18-yard box, cut in and shot low past Cragg.
Holwell did well to find some composure and started to move the ball around better.
But a defensive mistake on the stroke of half-time let Fletcher in for his second.
Holwell looked stunned as they went into the break, but came out fighting in the second half, looking to salvage some pride.
Five minutes after the restart they got one back when Shaun Smith’s shot from the edge of the box beat Teversal keeper Joshua Turton.
Minutes later Smith nearly halved the deficit following a good move, when Mark Cowling’s fine pass left him one-on-one, but Turton made a smart reflex save to tip the shot away.
Holwell were in the ascendency as a tactical change left them pressing much higher up the park.
Ross Cragg replaced Hazeldine who had been pressed into service with five regulars out with illness.
Walker was moved to right-back and Reek to left-back, allowing Chapman to bolster midfield, and Holwell began to play with more pace.
Reek outstripped defender Bacon down the left and sent in a good cross which Smith just failed to convert.
A ragged Teversal seemed to have run out of steam, and Holwell had the ball in the net following another goalmouth scramble, in off a Teversal defender, but Smith was judged to have impeded the keeper.
It was all Holwell as they reduced another top side to clearing the ball into space as the clock ticked down.
With two minutes left, Connor O’Grady met Ambrose’s corner, but Turton managed to grasp the shot.
A much better second half from Holwell, with the home crowd pleased with the fight shown.
Holwell visit Anstey Nomads on Monday afternoon (ko 3pm) and finish their league campaign at home to Arnold Town on Wednesday (ko 7.45pm).
Holwell: Cragg, Hazeldine (R. Cragg), Bitmead, Stevenson, Chapman, Reek, O’Grady, Ambrose, Walker, Cowling, S. Smith.