ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division - Holbeach United 2 Northampton Spencer 2
Pre-match optimism was turned into despair – even though Holbeach United picked up a bonus point.
The mood of manager Darren Jarvis summed up the Tigers’ frustrations on an afternoon where they were so fortunate and really didn’t get what they deserved.
Before the game he was happy and relaxed while checking his programme notes which spoke about the squad challenging inside the top four.
After the final whistle, however, Jarvis was rightly critical of the performance and inconsistency.
There was relief over a draw which came courtesy of two Josh Ford penalties in a two-minute spell after Northampton Spencer had taken a 2-0 lead.
But there is no absolutely doubt that Holbeach must do much better to keep alive those targets of being one of the title contenders.
The display was nowhere near good enough against last season’s Division One champions.
The Tigers were lucky to get any reward and it seems highly unlikely they would get away with it again.
Not only should they have lost, it’s baffling to work out quite how they managed to keep 11 players on the pitch as defenders Chris Ward and Jamie Stevens couldn’t have complained if they had been sent off.
Yet it had started quite brightly with opportunities for Ford and Gary King.
Only one of those four efforts was on target and at the other end Ward cleared off the line when Ryan Dove headed past Ricky Drury.
Stacy Cartwright had a penalty appeal rejected and Holbeach failed to take any advantage from a bizarre moment following Spencer goalkeeper Josh Thomson’s yellow card.
Three minutes after the break Ward tripped Matty Long but somehow got a booking instead of a red card for a professional foul.
Dove converted from the spot and then doubled the lead with a far-post finish.
Drury’s brilliant save kept out Jonny Clay’s header as an own-goal would have surely ended the contest.
Instead, Ford made it 2-2 with a couple of penalties and Holbeach pushed for a winner which would have been totally unfair.
Stevens, who had been booked for a foul earlier in the second half, should have got a second yellow card for a trip on Long.
That was simply the last example of how Holbeach had enjoyed good luck.
4-4-2: Drury 6; Worthington 5, Clay 5, Stevens 5, Ward 5 (sub Limb 57 mins, 5); Clitheroe 5, Tidswell 5, Pinner 5 (sub Treacher 73 mins), Cartwright 5; Ford 7, King 5. Subs not used: Madigan, Law, Roberts.
4-4-2: Thomson; Melling, Lowery, Avery, Tuck (sub J Bartley 32 mins); J Gartland, McBride, Matiyenga, Inwood (sub E Bartley 77 mins); Dove (sub Clamp 72 mins), Long.
Dove pen (48 mins, 0-1); Dove (61 mins, 0-2); Ford pen (73 mins, 1-2); Ford pen (75 mins, 2-2).
Matiyenga, Ward, Stevens (fouls); Thomson (unsporting behaviour); Cartwright (dissent).
Josh Ford – wasted first-half chances but kept cool from the penalty spot.
Harrowby United (H) – Wednesday.