MATCH VERDICT: Griffiths grabs late winner for Holbeach United
The spirit shown by 10-man Holbeach United was summed up with Saturday’s late winner.
Mitch Griffiths grabbed the goal two minutes from the end of the Tigers’ final home game this season.
It wasn’t pretty – but that doesn’t matter because it was a special moment at Carter’s Park.
Not only did Holbeach’s dramatic victory complete a double over Newport Pagnell Town, it provided a boost to the promotion prospects of Yaxley and Wisbech Town.
The Swans’ hopes were badly hit – even though they played with an extra man for 76 minutes.
Charley Sanders put the Tigers ahead but another moment of madness brought a red card for violent conduct.
Although Dave Baker’s second-half header got the visitors on level terms, they left empty-handed.
Griffiths was a key man for Holbeach from start to finish.
He forced a save from Mark Osbourne before a right-wing cross set up the opener.
Danny Barker went up to challenge for the ball but it dropped perfectly as Sanders smashed in a volley.
Griffiths went close again, then a free-kick posed more problems for Newport Pagnell and Tom Curtis fired too high.
However, a positive start was ended by Sanders’ elbow into defender Yaw Ofosu.
It was stupid to get sent off again and leave Holbeach’s hopes under extra pressure.
Barker pushed forward and the Tigers looked pretty comfortable before the break.
Keeper Rick Drury was only called into action from Dominic Lawless’ deflected drive – but he needed to show his shot-stopping skills in the second half with a couple of important saves.
The first came 90 seconds after the restart, immediately followed by Swans skipper Stuart Smeathers sending the rebound over the bar.
Greg Ling also missed the target but his inswinging cross was nodded into the far corner by Baker.
Substitute Will Bird’s header bounced wide before a switch to a three-man backline illustrated the desire of boss Seb Hayes to take three points instead of hanging on for a draw.
Joe Braithwaite’s dreadful back-pass almost gifted a goal to Lawless who, having taken the ball past Drury, fired wide from a tight angle.
Holbeach showed plenty of determination defensively and they won it after Drury’s superb save from Luke Emery.
George Zuerner put the ball into the box, Joe Smith challenged Osbourne and it broke for Griffiths’ tap-in.
4-2-3-1: Drury 7; Harker 7 (sub Smith 77 mins), Braithwaite 8, Cartwright 8, N Jackson 8; Tinkler 8, A Jackson 8; Griffiths 8, Curtis 7 (sub Bird 59 mins, 7), Barker 7 (sub Zuerner 70 mins, 7); Sanders.
NEWPORT PAGNELL TOWN
4-3-1-2: Osbourne; Pryke (sub Winters 57 mins), Ofosu, Baker, Ling; Lyon, Smyth (sub Orosz 87 mins), Smeathers (sub Marius 79 mins); Koriya; Lawless, Emery.
Sanders (5 mins, 1-0); Baker (65 mins, 1-1); Griffiths (88 mins, 2-1).
Sanders (violent conduct).
Barker (dissent); Smeathers (foul); Smith (kicking ball away).
Mitch Griffiths – provided assist for early opener and got late winner in another impressive display. Always offered an attacking threat and looked capable of creating more chances.
Grimsby Borough (Lincolnshire FA Senior Trophy final – at Lincoln United) - Wednesday.