A hat-trick by Scott Staniland propelled Holbrook Sports to a tremendous victory over the leaders of the East Midlands Counties League that replaced them in top spot.
Staniland’s treble earned The Brookies a 3-1 win at home to Blaby and Whetstone Athletic, who had lost only one of their opening 12 league games. And it also earned rich praise from manager Mark Wilson ahead of another test against title-chasing rivals, Teversal, on Friday night (kick-off 7.45).
“I asked some serious questions of my side, and we went out and beat a very good team,” said Wilson. “Scott’s goals represented a hat-trick of a class finishes.”
Blaby opened the game by missing a golden chance when a cross into the box was headed wide, and they were made to pay in the 19th minute as Holbrook took the lead. Josh Williams was brought down in the box for a penalty that Staniland stroked home.
Ryan Baker went close to a second goal with a header and after the visitors had flashed a shot wide, The Brookies really should have doubled their lead when Williams raced clear for a one-on-one that he put narrowly off target.
It wasn’t long before the hosts did make it 2-0, though, as a defensive mix-up allowed Staniland to charge free on goal and calmly beat the ‘keeper seven minutes into the second half.
Blaby reacted as tabletoppers should, by immediately reducing the deficit to one again. Goalkeeper Steve Smith saved the initial effort, but Ross Lavin pounced on the rebound with a cool finish.
The visitors went looking for an equaliser too and were unlucky with one effort. But instead it was Holbrook who scored the game’s next goal to give themselves crucial breathing space. This time, good play on the right by Aaron Kendrick and Ryan Baker set up Staniland, whose volley from inside the area gave the ‘keeper no chance.
Blaby hadn’t finished yet and only a magnificent one-handed save by Smith in the 72nd minute kept the two-goal advantage intact. But from then on, Holbrook saw the game out comfortably and could even have added to the scoreline.
The victory gave Wilson’s troops a one-point lead over Blaby, who have two games in hand. On the same number of points as the Leicestershire side are Teversal and Anstey Nomads in third and fourth. Indeed only seven points separate the entire top half of the table after an exciting opening third of the season when it has appeared that most teams are capable of beating each other.