AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 3 HOLBEACH UNITED 1: There was plenty of pride in defeat for Holbeach United as they pushed title-chasing Diamonds all the way in the UCL Premier Division on Saturday.
The Tigers were much-improved from their last outing against Rushden two weeks earlier, but ended up losing by the same 3-1 scoreline at the Dog and Duck.
Fazel Koriya put the hosts ahead (24), but Tommy Treacher (44) hauled Holbeach level before the break.
Second-half strikes from Matt Gearing (pen 62) and Joe Henderson (81) sealed it for the hosts, but Tigers chief Glen Maddison was pleased with his side.
He said: “We decided to go 4-5-1 and it seemed to suit us. The plan was to be in the game for as long as possible, unlike the home game.
“That was the case up until they got a penalty that we’re a little bit aggrieved about, with Matt Warfield being fouled in the build-up.
“We also felt we could have had a penalty for a foul on Jordan Keeble late on. It wouldn’t have changed the game, but 3-2 looks a lot better than 3-1.
“Overall we’re very pleased with the lads. Although we lost, we did much better than in the first game and can take plenty of positives from it.”
The hosts started well and went close when Gearing fired across goal in the opening exchanges.
But they lost star striker Russ Dunkley – who caused Holbeach no end of trouble at Carter’s Park – to injury inside the first 15 minutes.
It didn’t hit Diamonds too hard though and they went ahead on 24 minutes when Koriya buried an Alfie Taylor cross at the back post.
Holbeach had their moments though – and should really have levelled when Treacher headed a great chance wide moments later.
The Tigers’ talisman made amends for his miss a minute before the break when he lifted home a clever leveller following a long ball over the top.
However, the hosts went back ahead from the penalty spot just past the hour when Ian Dunn fouled Greg Ling in the box, allowing Gearing to coolly convert.
Holbeach keeper Leigh Overton then pulled off a string of fine saves to stop Rushden running away with the game. He kept out a cracking Taylor free kick, before pulling off a top stop to deny Henderson.
Overton could do nothing about Henderson’s clincher, though, as he volleyed home his first Diamonds goal via the under-side of the bar after a cross from Koriya.
One final save from Holbeach’s number one did deny Taylor again in the closing stages, but the game had already gone for the visitors.
Meanwhile, Holbeach have lost key defender Lewis Sturman to higher-graded Dereham Town.
Maddison added: “I’m a little disappointed by the timing, but Lewis is a good lad and the door will always be open for him to come back here. He’s got the chance to play at a higher level, so we all wish him well.”
Tigers: Overton, Delahoy, Warfield, Bishop (Keeble 84), Mattless, Dunn, Rothery, James Reed, Bayliss, Treacher (Allen 89), Hollingworth (Sevilha 81). Not used: Shipley.
• Attendance: 487.
• Saturday: Desborough v Tigers (3pm).