Threadbare Holwell Sports hold high-flying Irchester to draw

Holwell survive a scare at Irchester EMN-190327-124221002
Holwell survive a scare at Irchester EMN-190327-124221002
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A depleted Holwell Sports hung tough to claim what could prove a precious point at high-flying Irchester on Saturday.

Holwell were without seven first team regulars for the testing trip to Irchester who started the day sixth in Division One.

Holwell foiled Irchester's aerial threat EMN-190327-132041002

Holwell foiled Irchester's aerial threat EMN-190327-132041002

With injuries and absentees still being confirmed on the morning of the match, Neil Miller had to draft four reserves into his starting line-up.

Matt Lowe joined Mike Hendey and Luke Peberdy in the centre of midfield, Stephan Fenwick came in up front, Shaun Smith made his first team return after a spell away from the club, and 16-year-old Owen Blair played on the right of a five-man midfield.

But the young and patched-up side frustrated their hosts, and sensed their chance to nick a big away win before eventually settling for a 0-0 draw.

“There was a little bit of panic, but I had seen enough of these lads in training to know they were very good at taking in information and working hard,” said Miller.

David Hazeldine, in at full-back, puts in a timely challenge EMN-190327-132052002

David Hazeldine, in at full-back, puts in a timely challenge EMN-190327-132052002

“It was vital we got the right performance, regardless of the result, but we picked up a valuable point. To a man they were exceptional.

“Everything we love about football we saw on Saturday – there was heart, passion and togetherness.

“It was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I have had on the touchline.”

Holwell set up to stifle Irchester’s aerial threat and aside from one header that skimmed the bar, kept the hosts at arm’s length.

At the other end, centre-half Ian Bitmead saw a header saved and Peberdy also called the keeper into action with a shot from distance in a first half light on chances.

With an hour gone and the game still goalless, Holwell’s belief they could nick more than a draw grew, and Fenwick screwed their best chance wide when put through by Lowe.

But as full-time approached, the visitors fell back, happy to return to Melton with what they had.

Holwell remain in 17th, but moved four points clear of the bottom three, and level on points with Long Buckby in 16th, with six games left.

“The lads who came in were honest and willing to listen and learn,” Miller added. “It restores your faith.

“It made me realised that this club is very stable and the future, with these lads, looks good.”