Boss praises displays of young players in Holbrook Sports’ loss against Bardon Hill

After two player withdrawals on Friday due to injury, to take the tally of unavailable players to seven, it was always going to be a big ask from a weakened Holbrook Sports squad to get something from their East Midlands Counties League game on Saturday at Bardon Hill.

Holbrook’s fears were quickly realised after six minutes when a defensive slip let in Ashley Garner for a one-on-one and he calmly despatched the ball into the net.

Holbrook had a gilt-edged chance to equalise when Tom Sealey blazed over the bar from six yards when it seemed easier to score but Holbrook were not deterred and a plucky first half display saw them carve out more chances than the home side, without converting them.

The start of the second half was almost a carbon copy of the start of the first. Two more defensive errors in the space of five minutes saw Garner grab his brace and Rich Hanslow add himself to the scoresheet.

Holbrook responded by bringing on Lee Hillier and Harry Bell and, within ten minutes, they pulled a consolation goal back from Lee Hillier after fine work by Holbrook’s man of the match Ryan Fitzhugh, who was a constant thorn in the side to Bardon Hill. The goal lifted Holbrook and suddenly Bardon looked edgy.

Further chances fell to Holbrook but they could not capitalise on them.

Manager Paul Romney said: “The odds were always going to be stacked against us after the unavailability of seven key players. I thought the lads who came in from the u18s and reserves did an admirable job and experiences like today will serve them well in their development.”

He added: “We came up against one of the form sides in the league and with a bit of luck and added quality we could have quite easily come away with a win.”