HOLBEACH UNITED 3 SHEPSHED DYNAMO 1: Andrew Tidswell defied the odds to net a first-half hat-trick on Saturday and keep Holbeach on-course for the UCL Premier Division title.
The striker notched three times in the opening 24 minutes at Carter’s Park to take his tally for the season to 22 – and maintain the Tigers’ three-point cushion at the top of the table.
Not even illness could stop Tidswell from being the best player on show at Carter’s Park, as he managed over an hour despite suffering from flu.
But it wasn’t all about the hat-trick hero. Each and every Holbeach player delivered on a day when John Chand’s side passed another huge test of their title credentials.
Relegated from Evo-Stik League Division One South last season, Shepshed boast a decent pedigree – and are much better than their mid-table position in the standings suggests.
Any hope they had of upstaging the Tigers was extinguished within six minutes, however.
Holbeach, hungry to keep themselves top of the pile, went ahead from their very first attack when Tidswell headed home an inch-perfect Tommy Treacher cross on two minutes.
It was 2-0 soon after, with Tidswell racing clear and shrugging off a clear foul before composing himself and picking out the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
If that was an uphill task for the visitors, their plight was even worse on 24 minutes. The hard-working Treacher showed great desire on the right before sending over another cracking cross for Tidswell to complete his treble.
The hitman couldn’t really miss, but finished well through the legs of the keeper with his left foot.
With Holbeach looking rock solid at the back – with skipper Jamie Stevens and Jack Smith exceptional in the centre – Dynamo rarely troubled the hosts before the break. Rob Hughes and Treacher both sent efforts wide, but 3-0 was still a fair reflection of their dominance.
It was different in the second period, with the away side much-improved – and although Mitch Griffiths had a goal ruled out, most of the goal-mouth action was at the other end.
Keeper Michael Emery was forced to pull off a sensational stop to tip Ben Wood’s long ranger blockbuster over the bar. But the Holbeach number one was beaten by a 25-yard free kick from the same player 12 minutes from time.
Wood’s strike was a stunner, picking out the top corner.
Shepshed were then awarded a penalty after an Emery foul, but Keiran Davies’ 85th-minute spot-kick ballooned way over the bar, ensuring a much less nervy final five minutes for the victorious Tigers.
Tigers: Emery, Allen, Jackson, Toyne, Smith, Stevens, Griffiths, Hughes, Tidswell (Harrold 62), Treacher (Warfield 75), Parker. Not used: Overton, Flack, Brown.
Hat-trick hero Andrew Tidswell
“I thought Shepshed looked a good team who tried to play – and at times we had to be patient. Being 2-0 up after six minutes is always a great way to start, but it’s not a safe scoreline, so to get the third left us all very pleased at half time.
“We knew the game wasn’t done and that Shepshed would come at us, and that’s what they did.
“Credit to them, a lot of teams come to us for damage limitation. They got one back from a set piece and possibly could of had another with the penalty, but the lads worked tirelessly and our quality in the final third was the difference.
“I’ve said it for a while – I’m as good as the team and the service is unbelievable, like Tommy Treacher today. The boys make it easy for me, I’m just the one at the end of the move to apply the finishing touch.”
Boss John Chand
“We flew out of the blocks and really seized control of the game. It did get a bit ragged in the second half and we made things difficult for ourselves by giving them a free kick and penalty. They’re a good side and we’re pleased with the points. Hats off to ‘Tids’, he was really struggling with flu but turned up and got his goals. His form has reignited over the past few games.”