TIGERS: Holbeach’s unbeaten run finally Hunted down

INSTANT IMPACT: Rob Hughes slots home the Holbeach opener on his debut (above), while (below) Dean Elston spent 50 minutes as a stand-in keeper. Photos by TIM WILSON
INSTANT IMPACT: Rob Hughes slots home the Holbeach opener on his debut (above), while (below) Dean Elston spent 50 minutes as a stand-in keeper. Photos by TIM WILSON
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HOLBEACH UNITED 1 (Hughes 4) Huntingdon Town 2 (Seymour-Shove pen 22, Sawyer 85): All good things must come to an end – and on Saturday it was the turn of Holbeach’s unbeaten UCL Premier Division start to vanish.

After nine wins and a draw from their opening ten league games, a late strike from substitute Ben Sawyer earned Division One champions Huntingdon an unlikely success at Carter’s Park.

Holbeach Utd v Huntingdon Town at Carters Park, Holbeach'Photo: SG131012-TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

Holbeach Utd v Huntingdon Town at Carters Park, Holbeach'Photo: SG131012-TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoto

All seemed to be well when Rob Hughes marked his full Holbeach debut with a cracking fourth-minute opener.

But Ben Seymour-Shove soon levelled from the penalty spot and, although the hosts looked the only side capable of securing the three points, Sawyer’s 85th-minute rocket stunned John Chand’s side.

With keeper Lee Overton out injured, there was a surprise start in goal for James Lambley, while Andy Toyne was ineligible after his loan from Spalding United expired.

The influential Andrew Tidswell was also missing, but the Tigers made a cracking start when ex-King’s Lynn Town midfielder Hughes fired home superbly from just outside the box on four minutes.

Mitch Griffiths was close to doubling the advantage when his strike was smartly stopped by Andy Stevens, as the hosts threatened to run riot.

But a rash challenge by Lambley on Dave Townsend handed the visitors a penalty on 22 minutes – with Seymour-Shove converting into the bottom corner.

Lambley, who then made a cracking stop from Niks Salvalneiks, was later forced off with a gashed eye – meaning veteran player/assistant Dean Elston was forced to don the gloves for the remaining 50 minutes.

In truth, the fan favourite was rarely tested as Holbeach bossed the second period. They had plenty of chances to re-take the lead, too.

Dan Flack saw a strike deflected over following a neat interchange with Tommy Treacher and Adam Jackson, while Treacher himself was inches away after meeting a Jonny Allen cross on the slide.

Griffiths, who didn’t stop running all game, also had a header well stopped by Stevens following a deep Allen cross, before Treacher blasted a near-post effort just over on his unfavoured left foot.

You wondered if Holbeach’s profligacy was going to bite them on the backside – and so it proved, with Sawyer blasting Huntingdon’s only real chance of the half into the roof of the net after a surging run.

With St Ives winning 1-0 at Blackstones the Tigers are now five points off top spot in second place. But defeat is far from a disaster for Chand’s men, who would still go top if they won their two games in hand.

After 11 games, most sides would take that situation.

Tigers: Lambley (Elston 40), Allen, Jackson, Hughes, Brown, Smith, Griffiths, Stupple, Treacher, Harris (Mulready 69), Flack (Parker 79). Not used: Warfield, Lewis.

REACTION

Holbeach boss John Chand

“If we’d have taken our chances, we’d have won pretty comfortably.

“Both of their goals were preventable, but we must give credit to Huntingdon – they’re a decent side.

“Yes, we’ve lost our unbeaten run, but if you’d have given me nine wins and a draw from the first 11 matches I’d certainly have taken that. It’s a very, very good start.

“People outside of the camp may have got a bit carried away with our start and had us down as favourites for the title. But we’ve kept our feet on the ground and knew a defeat would come our way at some stage.

“It’s now important we react in the right way.”

Next fixture

Holbeach United v Sleaford Town (tomorrow, 7.45pm)