MATCH VERDICT: Holbeach United cut gap with away win over league leaders
The championship challenge is certainly on now.
There can be absolutely no doubt about Holbeach United’s credentials after this stunning performance.
The Tigers were terrific – taking control from start to finish away from home against the league leaders.
They were so much better than Newport Pagnell Town on Saturday, closing the gap to six points with three games in hand.
After heavy defeats for both teams on Boxing Day, the big issue was all about getting the right reaction.
How about scoring after 27 seconds, then?!
Holbeach’s perfect start was orchestrated by George Zuerner then leading scorer Lewis Leckie fired past Mark Osborn into the bottom corner of the net.
Boss Seb Hayes urged his players to pile on the pressure and recover quickly.
However, they got forced back as the game became end to end with Harry Stratton, Dave Baker and Luke Emery missing the target.
Stacy Cartwright’s header was vital to prevent a leveller for Emery who was also denied by Spencer Tinkler’s brilliant block near the end.
Skipper Nick Jackson’s header went wide but the lead was doubled courtesy of the combination between Zuerner and Lockie who lobbed a cool finish over Osborn.
The Swans switched to a 3-4-3 system but they could only force Rick Drury into making one easy save all afternoon.
Harry Beckley came on for his debut and might have set up Leckie’s hat-trick, only for the last-gasp intervention of Adam Pryke.
Leckie’s header was held low by Osborn and Holbeach had few problems at the other end.
As Drury enjoyed a quiet day, all the outfield players deserved plenty of credit for an excellent display.
It would be easy to give the man-of-the-match honours to Leckie for scoring twice from Zuerner’s assists.
But this was a team effort – led by Danny Brooks and Joe Smith who were outstanding.
NEWPORT PAGNELL TOWN
4-4-2: Osborn; Pryke, Baker, Smeathers (sub Liversedge 66 mins), Herbert; Orosz, Winters, Ling, Stratton (sub Spruce 71 mins); Emery, Koriya. Subs not used: O’Neill, Smyth.
4-2-3-1: Drury 6; Tinkler 8, Joe Smith 9, Cartwright 8, Jackson 8; Dougill 8, Brooks 9; Bird 8, Zuerner 8 (sub John Smith 86 mins), Avis 8 (sub Beckley 71 mins); Leckie 8. Sub not used: Edey.
Leckie (27 secs, 0-1); Leckie (58 mins, 0-2).
Danny Brooks – excellent effort to edge the honours ahead of many other candidates.
St Andrews (H) – Saturday.