The frustration of back-to-back league defeats at Carter’s Park is finally out of Holbeach United’s system after the Tigers ended Sileby Rangers’ 10-game unbeaten league run.
But the Northampton-based side caused their own downfall with a moment of madness that saw two of their most dangerous players – striker Michael Byrne and goalscorer Brian Farrell – given straight red cards for violent conduct.
Holbeach were already back in the game before the mass brawl, super sub Josh Ford lashing home a rebound from a corner after being brought on as a right wing-back.
There were plenty of signs before the equaliser that when, rather than if, the Tigers warmed to the task, they could show that Rangers’ run of seven wins and three draws in the league was not necessarily the sign of title challengers.
Tom Roberts’ men nearly had the ideal start when Jonny Allen narrowly missed the target with a header from an Aaron Eyett cross.
But it was Sileby who were celebrating early on after a defence-splitting pass caught the Tigers’ back line cold and Farrell raced through to coolly slot past Holbeach keeper Travis Portas.
Rangers’ attacking midfielder Andy Hall tested Portas from 20 yards midway through the half just before Eyett shot into the side netting after making an unmarked run from the Holbeach right.
Then before the break, Matt Warfield nearly showed what he can do from distance with a low 20-yard effort that Sileby keeper Kris Bartle was called upon to stop.
Eyett had another chance to equalise when his header on goal from a corner was cleared before Hall almost doubled Sileby’s lead with an outrageous 35-yard flicked lob that went wide of the Tigers’ goal.
Unrest amongst the Carter’s Park faithful who were calling for changes appeared to be answered when Roberts brought on Ford who, within a minute, brought his side on level terms.
But Hall could have regained the lead for his side when he worked an opening to shoot across Portas’ goal, with the effort going wide.
Stuart MacMichael and Eyett then exchanged chances for both sides, the Tigers’ man particularly impressive in troubling the Sileby goal again.
Before the flashpoint which ultimately decided the game, Ford went close with a sharp header just minutes after the Tigers’ marksmen was found wanting defensively as Farrell ghosted past him and nearly scored.
Holbeach should have been 2-1 down after a defensive mix-up handed MacMichael a tap-in with the Sileby left-winger heading wide instead.
But a flare-up from nowhere saw the visitors reduced to nine men, an incident Tigers’ boss Roberts described as “an embarrassment to watch”.
Holbeach went on to take full advantage as Eyett crashed in the second, with the help of the crossbar, after he was set up by Jake Clitheroe.
Spencer Tinkler was then rewarded for his solid work in the Tigers’ central defence as he drilled home a loose ball from a corner awarded after Andrew Tidswell’s 20-yard clever free-kick had to be tipped behind by Bartle.
There was even time for a late show of pace from Tigers substitute Jordan Thomas who almost weaved and drifted his way through the deflated Rangers’ defence to make it even more convincing.
3-5-2: Portas 6; Allen 7, Tinkler 8, N Jackson 7; Walton 5 (sub Ford h-t, 7), Eyett 9, Warfield 7 (sub Tidswell 70 mins, 6), Muldrew 6, A Jackson (sub Thomas 82 mins); Treacher 6, Clitheroe 7.
4-1-4-1: Bartle; Leslie, Nugent, Bettles, Burgess; Johnston; MacMichael (sub Maki 87 mins), Forbes (sub Uzoma 87 mins), Hall, Farrell; Byrne.
Farrell (7 mins, 0-1); Ford (46 mins, 1-1); Eyett (81 mins, 2-1); Tinkler (86 mins, 3-1).
Byrne, Farrell (both violent conduct).
N Jackson, Treacher, Forbes (fouls); Ford (unsporting conduct).
Aaron Eyett - the goal was full justice for his eye-catching display.
Peterborough Sports (A) – Tuesday.