Tigers miss out on big opportunity

Matty Nolan and Jake Duffy were on target
Matty Nolan and Jake Duffy were on target

UCL Premier Division - Holbeach United 2 Cogenhoe United 3

Now it’s all about how Holbeach United respond to their first league defeat since November.

Last time they went on a run of 11 successive wins and the Tigers should not need any extra motivation in the hunt for three trophies.

Saturday’s setback at home to mid-table Cogenhoe United came in one of four games in hand on league leaders AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the title race.

It would have been easy to offer excuses immediately after the final whistle when all thoughts went back to wishing a speedy recovery to defender Jonny Allen.

To his credit, though, joint-manager Graham Drury was honest enough to accept the performance had not been good enough.

He was right – although it must have been incredibly difficult for Holbeach to play on when Allen had been taken to hospital with a broken leg.

The horrific injury came after only nine minutes in an accidental collision with Tigers keeper Nick Conroy.

Allen and Conroy were trying to deny ex-Diamonds striker Alfie Taylor but the screams of pain showed it had been a very serious incident.

An ambulance was called and the match was delayed for 34 minutes as Allen received treatment in the penalty box.

Just two minutes after the restart Conroy came out to collect Danny Harmon’s right-wing cross but he dropped the ball and Karl Bates had a simple tap-in.

Two minutes later Jake Duffy smashed a 25-yard free-kick into the roof of the net past on-loan Diamonds keeper Josh Thomson.

Holbeach went ahead midway through the first half but conceded an equaliser two minutes later.

Lee Dube’s header was tipped over but Lee Beeson delivered the corner and Matty Nolan nodded in at the far post to make it 2-1.

It was all-square again as Danny Tomason slotted into the far corner.

On the stroke of half-time Nolan should have doubled his tally when he was sent clear by Dube’s flick but fired wide.

Early in the second period Bates and Dube both wasted golden chances.

Conroy kept out Dean Lukeman but at the other end Beeson twice had efforts kicked out by Thomson when he should have converted.

Those misses proved to be even more costly after 69 minutes as Cogenhoe got what turned out to be the winning goal.

Lukeman played a crossfield pass which left-back Stacy Cartwright could not cut out, leaving Tomason free to slot past Conroy.

In a matter of seconds Dube, Craig Parker and Gary King were all denied from close range by Thomson.

Holbeach even claimed the final attempt had gone over the line but the desperation saw Kern Miller sent forward to lead a four-man attack.

The only clear-cut chance for a last-gasp leveller fell to Duffy in the third minute of stoppage-time but he blasted over the bar.

So the Tigers had missed a great opportunity to close the gap in the championship battle.

Defensively they left too many gaps which Cogenhoe exploited.

The Northamptonshire side had failed to score in the four previous league games and only the bottom two in the Premier Division had got fewer goals this season.

But Holbeach handed a big boost to their title rivals just eight days after feeling disappointed over the home draw with Diamonds.

HOLBEACH UNITED

4-4-2: Conroy 5; Allen (sub Parker 9 mins, 5), Miller 5, Brown 5, Cartwright 5; Beeson 5, Duffy 6, Steadman 6, Dube 5; Clarke 5 (sub Warfield 64 mins, 5), Nolan 5 (sub King 71 mins). Subs not used: Pinner, Overton.

COGENHOE UNITED

4-4-2: Thomson; Harmon, Harris, Hewitt (sub Power 77 mins), Herbert; Tomason (sub Cassidy 84 mins), Leslie, McGowan, Lukeman; Taylor, Bates. Subs not used: Emery, Bowen.

REFEREE

Chris Day.

GOALS

Bates (12 mins, 0-1); Duffy (14 mins, 1-1); Nolan (23 mins, 2-1); Tomason (25 mins, 2-2); Tomason (69 mins, 2-3).

BOOKINGS

Clarke, Beeson, Herbert, Hewitt (fouls); Leslie (kicking ball away).

ATTENDANCE

112.

STAR MAN

Jake Duffy – fabulous free-kick to make it 1-1 and kept battling away. But this was a day when none of the Tigers were anywhere near top form.

WHO’S NEXT

Erith & Belvedere (H) – FA Vase fifth round, Saturday.