BARTON TOWN OLD BOYS 0 HOLBEACH UNITED 2 (Kennedy 20, Wilson 90): NINE years of hurt were banished on Tuesday night as the Tigers were crowned county champions.
Goals in either half from Luke Kennedy and unlikely hero Dave Wilson sunk Barton in the Lincs FA Senior Shield final at Sincil Bank, as John Chand delivered Holbeach’s first silverware since 2003.
Clearly worse for wear after drinking Lincoln dry until the early hours of Wednesday morning with his jubilant ‘crazy gang’ of players, Chand hailed the victory as an amazing moment for himself and the club.
“Hopefully it’ll be the first of many titles for this club,” said Chand, who has lived up to his old ‘trophy magnet’ nickname. “It’s great for this team to win our first trophy, I’m delighted – what an amazing feeling.
“What a top night, the result was great and the fans were just brilliant, I can’t praise them enough.
“They deserve that after the support we’ve had all season.
“I think only King’s Lynn have a higher average gate than us, so this is the best possible way to thank them.
“This team is probably a little ahead of schedule. We are guaranteed a top six spot and have won a trophy already – which was the aim for next season really.
“If we can keep the nucleus of players together over the summer and add a few more, who knows what we can achieve?”
Cheered on by a sizeable crowd, Holbeach totally bossed the first half. Andrew Tidswell, who led the line superbly all night, forced a smart save early on after racing clear, while Dan Flack also saw an effort tipped wide.
Both then played a part in Kennedy’s sumptuous opener. Tidswell galloped down the left and delivered superbly for Flack, who cushioned the ball back for the classy midfielder to fire firmly into the corner from 20 yards.
Scott Phillips did spurn two decent chances at the other end, but the Tigers twice went close through Tidswell.
The striker skilfully skipped past his marker on both occasions, but saw a pair of left-footed efforts go just off target.
Northern Counties East League outfit Barton were much improved after the break, but found man-of-the-match Ben Brown and his defence in solid mood.
While a classy Tidswell lob just missed the top corner, most of the chances were created at the other end.
Another Phillips shot flew over, while the combination of Brown and keeper Leigh Overton somehow kept the ball out after a goalmouth scramble from a corner.
As Barton searched for a late leveller, Holbeach looked dangerous on the break – and it was they who killed the game off in injury time.
Reserve team player Wilson – making his first appearance of the season – captalised on a keeper error before coolly firing home a far from easy clincher into the empty net, sparking jubilant scenes both on and off the pitch and ensuring skipper Jamie Stevens would lift the county cup.
Chand added: “What a great moment for Dave Wilson. He was chomping at the bit to get on and I knew he would make an impact.
“I want to see better progression from the reserve team up to the first team, hopefully this will encourage a few more to involved.
“Kennedy’s goal was sensational, you won’t see a better goal than that. I must say, great advantage by the referee in the build-up too.”
Liam Nimmo, Derwayne Stupple and James Wilson all return for Holbeach’s final two games of the UCL Premier Division season at Daventry United (tonight, 7.45pm) and Deeping Rangers (Saturday, 3pm).
Two wins will see Chand’s men secure fourth and complete a superb season in style.
Tigers: Overton, Allen, Jackson, Kennedy, Brown, Stevens, Flack, Goodhand (Newton 85), Tidswell, Warfield (Wilson 81), Griffiths. Not used: Elston, Johnson, Leatherland.