Tigers rewarded with home tie

Holbeach celebrate at Thurnby Nirvana on Saturday. Photo: Steve Relf
Holbeach celebrate at Thurnby Nirvana on Saturday. Photo: Steve Relf

Holbeach United remain on the road to Wembley after reaching the last 16 of the FA Vase for the first time in 26 years.

The Tigers needed a stoppage-time equaliser and an extra-time winner to knock out Thurnby Nirvana in Saturday’s fourth-round tie.

They were rewarded in today’s draw with a home match against Erith & Belvedere to be played on Saturday, February 7.

The Kent club – who beat Yaxley 1-0 on Sunday – are second in the Southern Counties East League.

Holbeach led 2-0 at the weekend through Lee Dube and Matty Nolan but went 3-2 down before Kern Miller levelled and substitute Jamie Clarke headed home the winner.

Joint-manager Graham Drury said: “It was a great cup tie.

“When Clarke missed a chance with a few minutes to go, maybe everyone else thought it was all over.

“But I felt we would get another opportunity and we threw everything at it. We don’t want to lose and we always believe right until the last minute.

“We sent Miller up front and it paid off at the end with the equaliser before Clarke won it for us.

“However, we can’t afford to make bad mistakes again if we want to go further in this competition.

“We have made history for Holbeach in reaching the last 16 and we are flying the flag for Lincolnshire.”

Joint-manager John Chand added: “A few weeks ago I looked around the squad and wondered whether we have got the togetherness which we had when we won the league.

“Now I can see we have got all that in abundance and it showed again after we conceded uncharacteristic goals to go from 2-0 up to 3-2 down.

“We want to fight right to the end. We showed a lot of character and togetherness.

“We deserved to win and it’s great for Holbeach to reach the last 16 for the first time since Alan Day was manager in 1988-89.

“Thurnby Nirvana are a very expansive, attacking side and not many teams play that way.

“We had a spell of 15 to 20 minutes when they scored three goals and we can’t afford that to happen again.”

Miller, meanwhile, was relieved after his goal forced extra-time and kept the Tigers’ dreams alive.

The former Spalding United centre-half admitted: “I thought it was all over when we were 3-2 down in the last minute.

“But we always keep battling away right to the end.

“At 2-0 up we were quite relaxed but all of a sudden people were getting out of position and not doing their jobs.

“That doesn’t matter now because we bounced back and showed how much we want to stick together. We definitely want to get to Wembley.”

Holbeach have another big test on Saturday at home to ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division leaders AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

Miller said: “It’s a massive game but I’m not too bothered about them.

“We feel confident of beating them and we think we are the favourites to win the league with our games in hand.

“We have won 11 games in a row and we don’t think anyone else can compete with us at the moment.”

FA Vase fifth-round draw: Bradford Town v Highworth Town or Tunbridge Wells, AFC St Austell v Stanway Rovers, Ascot United v Ashford United or Norwich United, Walsall Wood or Shaw Lane Aquaforce v Flackwell Heath, Worksop Town or Glossop North End v Dunston UTS, Holbeach United v Erith & Belvedere, North Shields v Phoenix Sports, Chadderton or AFC Mansfield v Tadcaster Albion. Ties to be played on Saturday, February 7.

FA Vase odds (BetVictor): North Shields 4/1, Dunston UTS 6/1, Tadcaster Albion 7/1, Shaw Lane Aquaforce 8/1, Glossop North End 14/1, Phoenix Sports 14/1, Erith & Belvedere 14/1, Flackwell Heath 14/1, Worksop Town 14/1, AFC St Austell 16/1, Holbeach United 16/1, Tunbridge Wells 20/1, Norwich United 25/1, Bradford Town 25/1, Walsall Wood 33/1, AFC Mansfield 40/1, Stanway Rovers 40/1, Ascot United 40/1, Highworth Town 50/1, Ashford United 66/1, Chadderton 66/1.