HOLBEACH UNITED 3 (Kennedy 16, A Stevens 22 & 76) LONG BUCKBY 3 (Dunkley 4 & 90, Koriya 67): DESPITE becoming the first team to take a point from Long Buckby this season, the Tigers were left gutted by a disputed injury-time Russ Dunkley leveller on Saturday.
Having led 2-1 and 3-2 thanks to Ashley Stevens’ brace and a Luke Kennedy penalty – and seen Buckby’s Richard Bunting sent off in the second-half – Holbeach were poised to register their finest win of the UCL Premier Division campaign to date.
But seven minutes into added time Dunkley headed home from a corner that was initially called a goal kick by the referee, leaving boss John Chand deflated.
Moments earlier Fazel Koriya blazed a 94th-minute penalty over in what proved a pulsating new year’s eve encounter at Carter’s Park.
“I’m left thinking of what might have been,” admitted Chand. “We’ve taken a point from games against King’s Lynn and Long Buckby, when we could have easily got six with the same two performances.
“I don’t want to moan about the officials again, but the linesman has overruled the referee despite being over 40 yards away from the incident at the end.
“When you play the best teams in the league, you need the rub of the green. I don’t feel we’ve had that.
“All in all, it’s a credit to the lads that we’re disappointed to draw against a side that has rolled over every other team in the league. They’ll be happier than us with the result, which says it all.”
The Bucks came into the clash with a perfect 16 wins from 16, which saw them level-pegging with second-placed Holbeach despite playing seven games less.
They made the perfect start too, with Dunkley heading home inside five minutes.
The Tigers were soon level though, as the ever-reliable Kennedy slotted home from the spot after Andrew Tidswell was fouled.
Six minutes later the hosts hit the front, Stevens turning home Dan Flack’s cross.
It got better for the Tigers after the break, with Bunting dismissed on the hour for kicking the ball into the crowd. Boss Glen Botterill also saw red in the aftermath.
That seemed to inspire the title favourites though, who levelled when Koriya nodded home from six yards.
Holbeach hit back when Flack again set up Stevens for what looked like a deserved winner, before Koriya dramatically spooned a last-gasp penalty over. Unfortunately for the Tigers, there was still time for Dunkley to level.
Tigers: Overton, Allen, Jackson, B Brown, J Stevens, Flack, Kennedy (Warfield 88), Goodhand (Lewis 77), Griffiths, Tidswell (Treacher 90), A Stevens. Not used: N Brown, Newton.
• Saturday: Northampton Spencer v Tigers (3pm).