Holbeach United and Pinchbeck United share the spoils in a United Counties League Premier Division North derby duel
Veteran Dean Elston rolled back the years to help a severely depleted Holbeach United side net a derby day point against Pinchbeck United on Saturday.
The 52-year-old Tigers legend - now assistant manager of the first team - volunteered to come out of retirement to help the club who had 11 first team players missing for the United Counties League Premier Division North match.
Elston - a multiple winner of the Premier Division crown during his heyday - formed a strong partnership with stand-in skipper Luke Wilson at the heart of the Holbeach defence to frustrate a Pinchbeck side who had been looking to build on last week's first league success for more than two years.
They organised, cajoled and encouraged their young team-mates - many who had graduated through the ranks at Carter's Park - to stifle a contest where clear-cur chances were at a premium to pocket a point which delighted boss Phil Barnes.
He said: "We had so many players missing but the lads who came in gave us everything and credit to them for that.
"I thought we frustrated them and they didn't have many clear-cut chances. It was a poor game to watch but, at the end of the day, we would have taken 0-0 at the start and we have got something out of it.
"Deano did ever so well. The bloke's a legend and I love him to bits. We were talking in the week about who could play centre-half and he put his hand up and volunteered for it so I'm glad he's come through it unscathed.
"We all pulled together when we had to which is what the club is all about. I kicked every ball and felt like a nervous wreck at the end but it was all worth it after the few weeks we have had."
The Tigers were missing goalkeeper Rick Drury, defensive trio Nick Jackson, Stacy Cartwright and Luke Nicholson as well as Will Barnes, Jordan Elston and Jordan Keeble from their midfield plus the attacking threat of Fraser Bayliss, Harry Grigas and Aaron Eyett with Keiran Rose also suspended.
And Pinchbeck boss Lewis Thorogood was left frustrated as his side his struggled to break through the Holbeach ranks.
He said: "It was very much a case of two points dropped rather than one gained but I have to give credit to Holbeach.
"They had a bit of a patched up side but they have frustrated us and been hard to break down and got a well-deserved point. They had a game-plan to stop us from playing and did it very well.
"We looked fairly comfortable but I did feel 0-0 was a fair result. With the best will in the world though, we should have had enough about us to win the game.
"We didn't work their keeper enough and, although I can look at it with the fact we've kept a clean sheet and it's another point on the board, we should have put it to bed if we're got aspirations of moving up the table.
"We had plenty of possession and looked nice and comfortable at the back but we just didn't create enough so it was disappointing that we couldn't capitalise on it."
Pinchbeck's best opening of the early exchanges had seen a surging run from Dan Worthington pick out Krisztian Gagyi whose low shot from saved by Brad Waters in the home goal.
Fin Armond did then have the ball in the Holbeach net when Ben Johnson's shot was deflected into his path but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Will Britton curled a free-kick just over for Holbeach before Gagyi sent a sweet strike narrowly past the home crossbar as the opening period finished goalless.
The second half continued in a similar vein as Pinchbeck enjoyed the lion's share of possession but Holbeach were organised and resolute in everything that they did.
Waters reacted well to palm away a free-kick from Gagyi but wasn't seriously tested by the Knights who failed to turn their possession into chances as Holbeach held out for a deserved share of the derby day spoils.
Holbeach: Waters, Carter, Balding, Richardson, Elston, Wilson, Horne (Bell), Wirkowski, Britton (Cook), Compton, Coote (Finlay). Sub not used: Carver.
Pinchbeck: Smith, Worthington, Stevens (Hebblethwaite), Baldock-Smith, Fixter, Spafford, Peasgood (Opayinka), Johnson, Gagyi, Havard (Holland), Armond. Sub not used: Taylor.