East Midlands Counties
League Cup, third round
Holbrook Sports 2
Heanor Town 1
after extra time
Two goals from fit again substitute Marc Finlay in the space of three extra time minutes saw Holbrook Sports come from behind last Wednesday to storm into the semi-finals in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Shaw Lane.
Both sides rested key players with big games coming up on the Saturday, but Heanor made eight changes to the starting line-up and 13 in all, playing their entire shadow squad.
Joint Heanor managers Craig Hopkins and Glenn Kirkwood claimed it to have been a success giving squad players a game, but after both had said convincingly in advance they were going all out to win the game and the cup, supporters were not so convinced that either claim was justified three hours from a possible cup final.
The first half was feisty, full blooded, and surprisingly leniently officiated, if rather void of goalmouth action.
First chance to Holbrook on six minutes when Moon was sent clear but Frost blocked with his legs. Second chance to Heanor 11 minutes later when debutant Cory Bowler’s free kick came back of an upright with Simon Lillie beaten.
The third arrived for Heanor’s other debutant Spencer Goff who completely missed a free header from Graham Well’s cross in front of goal.
Sadly the Lions also lost Tom Norris, who has been out of the game injured for so long, after just 11 minutes with a knee ligament injury following a beefy tackle.
That summed up the first half. The second was better but with defences still well on top.
Frost saved from Ozmen as Holbrook showed early intentions. Then Hallsworth, looking off-side but allowed to go on by a linesman who was not up with play by a mile, drew Frost but shot wide of the far post.
Even though they had an FA Vase match three days later, Holbrook were certainly prepared to mix their tackles and the game stayed feisty.
Wells shot wide for Heanor before Grayson set up Stevenson, again Heanor’s most impressive player by far, for a thunderous shot which failed to hit the target.
Naughton’s cross went begging in front of goal and substitute Marc Finlay had a shot scrambled off the line at the other end.
And as Holbrook put on pressure towards the end of 90 minutes Frost saved well from Adam Lillie and Finlay.
In the break between the end of the game and extra time Holbrook’s Whitehead tumbled on the greasy surface and landed badly on his right arm. It looked to be dislocated or broken and he took no part in the first half of extra time but came back to play a bit part role in the second half as the Brookies had used all their substitutes.
Ejiofor’s shot struck an upright early in extra time and Ozmen shot wide, but it was Heanor who took the lead after 104 minutes when substitute Lee Naughton, playing his first game since injury in the third match of the season, lobbed the ball over Simon Lillie in a goalmouth scramble.
At the time it looked a match winner.
But the Brookies hit back strongly in the second half of extra time and Marc Finlay was left unmarked on 110 minutes and he raced clear down the right, drew Frost, and tucked a neat shot just inside the far post.
Encouraged by this success, Finlay made a splendid solo run from the left three minutes later and smashed a right foot shot delightfully past Frost and his fellow defenders for the winner.
Naughton appeared to be on the verge of an equaliser with just seconds left but was tripped on the edge of the area.
Holbrook Sports: Simon Lillie, Whitehead, Mitchell, Gregory, Roulston, King Gibson (Ejiofor 62), Ozmen, Moon (Adam Lillie 77), Hallsworth (Finlay 67), Hind. Substitutes not used: Campbell, Whittingham.
Heanor Town: Frost, Stevenson, Hodgman, Norris (Gee-Pemberton 14), Peel, Cox, Goff (Askham 62), Grayson, Bowler (Naughton 80), Hardy, Wells. Substitutes not used: Williams, Kay.
Referee: Liam Snodden (Chesterfield)