NEWPORT PAGNELL 0
HOLBEACH UTD 2
Boss Seb Hayes finally admitted that Holbeach United are ChromaSport UCL Premier Division title candidates after seeing his side win 2-0 at leaders Newport Pagnell Town on Saturday.
Lewis Leckie notched on 28 seconds and 58 minutes to sink the table-topping Swans at Willen Road, moving the third-placed Tigers to within six points of the summit with three games in hand.
Before the festive period Hayes felt that his side needed to pick up seven points from their three festive fixtures and insisted that beating Pagnell was key.
But, with the leaders only collecting one point from their set of games, the Holbeach chief is more than happy with the six points his side managed.
“That win was massive for us,” enthused Hayes. “I thought they may have been too far ahead before the Christmas games.
“But we’re very much in the mix now, I can’t deny it really. To do so would be disrespectful to my players.
“I didn’t really want to mouth off ahead of what were three very hard Christmas games.
“But with Pagnell dropping so many points, it’s wide open now. We’re one of five or six teams that have a great chance of winning the title.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved the win on the day and limited them to little more than a few half chances.
“We defended well and Lewis Leckie took his chances when they came his way.
“Do I think Pagnell are losing their way? No.
“But I think it’s no coincidence that they’ve slipped up when their manager (Darren Lynch) had a three-game stadium ban.
“He’s a huge influence for them and it showed.”
The Tigers boss was looking for a reaction after the 4-0 loss at Wisbech on Boxing Day (see, below) – and he certainly got one.
George Zuerner fed leading scorer Leckie, who fired a low effort past Mark Osborn inside 30 seconds.
The hosts missed a few half-chances as Harry Stratton, Dave Baker and Luke Emery all sent efforts wide, while Stacy Cartwright and Spencer Tinkler put in a number of top blocks.
After the break Holbeach went close when Nick Jackson sent a header wide, but they duly doubled their lead when Zuerner teed-up Leckie again.
This time the striker expertly lobbed home to put the Tigers in complete command.
Harry Beckley, signed from Daventry Town, made his debut as a second-half substitute – and he almost set-up Leckie for a third.
Still, with Joe Smith and Harry Brooks standing out as star performers, Holbeach saw the game out impressively to ignite their title charge ahead of what promises to be a pivotal January.
Tigers: Drury, Tinkler, Joe Smith, Cartwright, Jackson, Dougill, Brooks, Bird, Zuerner (John Smith 86), Avis (Beckley 71), Leckie. Sub not used: Edey.