Holbrook Sports’ East Midlands Counties League season opener saw them earn a 1-1 draw on Saturday against visitors Kimberley Miners Welfare.
A lacklustre first half performance from a nervy Holbrook Sports saw their hopes of a first time win on the opening day in the EMCL dashed after six minutes when a long ball was finished with a aplomb by Kimberley’s lively forward Anthony Gregory.
Kimberley firmly had the bit between their teeth and could have increased their lead within a few minutes with better finishing.
The tone of the first 20 minutes was firmly set with Holbrook struggling to find their passing game and snatching at no better than half chances. Gradually, as the half progressed, Holbrook gained a foothold in the game and chances by Cory Bowler, Isaac Minott and Sam Ridgard gave them renewed optimism.
After half time, Holbrook made changes to their pattern of play and, driven on by captain and man of the match Niall Mather,
Kimberley were now pinned in their own half with Holbrook testing their resolute defence, the introduction of substitute Ryan Fitzhugh gave Holbrook added vigour and it was the same player that fired a shot from 20 yards in the 86th minute which deceived the Kimberley defenders and the startled keeper to equalise.
The goal set up a frantic finale with Holbrook going close through substitute Olawale Salami, and they were also denied two penalty decisions when the referee waved away appeals for what Holbrook felt were trips on Isaac Minott and Joshua Hooley after a mazy run from outside the box when he beat five Kimberley defenders.
With the seconds ticking away, Niall Mather flashed a free kick inches past the post which would have been harsh justice on a determined Kimberley side.
Kimberley went close to grabbing all three points in the dying seconds through a counter attack as Holbrook pushed for the winner.
Fortunately for the home side, the Kimberley forward miscued his shot and the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the game.
Holbrook Sports’ manager Paul Romney said: “On reflection, the draw was a fair result. Excuse the cliché but it was most definitely a game of two halves.
“Once we had settled, we dominated the second half but we struggled to break down a resolute and well organised Kimberley defence.”
He added: “If our goal had come earlier in the half, I think we would have gone on to win the game”.