Holbrook Sports 1 Louth Town 3

Saturday 3rd September 2011
Holbrook Sports 1 Louth Town 3
FA Cup with Budweiser Preliminary Round
At: O-kra Ground
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1
Attendance: 42
Weather: sunny
Duration: first-half: 45:10; second-half: 48:12

To mark the second annual Non-League Day and to watch an FA Cup Preliminary Round tie at the same time, I decided to make a first visit to the O-kra Ground, the home of East Midlands Counties League side Holbrook Sports who entertained Baris Northern Counties East League side Division 1 side Louth Town.

While the respective league tables don’t necessarily reflect the fact that both sides have made a decent start to the season, neither Holbrook (10th with 5 points from 3 games) or Louth (12th with 4 points from 2 games) have tasted defeat this season in any competition. So with the prospect of £1500 prize money and a home tie against Buxton in the next round at stake, I anticipated a decent game and wasn’t disappointed.

The present Holbrook Sports FC was founded a recently as 1996 after the previous tenants of the Welfare Ground (aka O-kra Ground) disbanded. Like their predecessors, the name of ‘Holbrook Miners Welfare’ was adopted until a recent change of name to ‘Holbrook Sports’ last year. Geographically, Holbrook is a village to the north of Derby and a few miles south-east of Belper between the A6 and A38.

To progress through the last round, Holbrook needed to win a replay at Greenwood Meadows. After drawing 1-1 in the original tie, they made no mistake at their league rivals with a 2-0 victory. Louth also faced East Midlands Counties League opposition, winning a home replay 2-1 following a goalless draw at Gedling Miners Welfare (which ‘On the Road’ Malc and Kev watched). The replays probably explain why both sides have games in hand in the league.

The ground was located behind the Welfare on Shaw Lane. Running lengthways from the entrance, the main stand was down the left-hand touchline containing 60 seats with an additional adjacent small area of cover. Dugouts were opposite and it wasn’t possible to watch the game behind the goal at the top of the slope.

Holbrook (in all blue) got the tie underway attaching down the slope in the first half towards the entrance end but they fell behind in the 9th minute to a messy goal. Andy Appleby’s long throw into the area from the right bounced across the face of goal, appeared to deceive Holbrook’s keeper Damien Clark and was bundled over the line by Steve Nelson.

Louth (wearing white shirts, black shorts and socks) were well on top and threatening to score again until Holbrook levelled things up in the 32nd minute. Niall Matter got on the end of Lee Mitchell’s corner to head home despite the attempt of Sam Smith to clear the ball off the line.

The visitors suffered what appeared to be a massive blow with the dismissal of captain Jordan Walden eight minutes before the interval. The central defender received a straight red card for bringing down Paul Fisher on the edge of the area to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Even with ten men, I fancied Louth attacking down the slope during the second half and they regained the lead in the 48th minute. Norton send a free-kick awarded for handball past the wall and straight into the net from 22 yards out.

Holbrook pressed for an equaliser. Substitute Endo Chilaka curled a free-kick over the bar and Louth keeper Craig Wherry did well to block Jordan Gregory’s header on the line.

The decisive third goal and the one that wrapped up Louth’s victory came in the 81st minute. Norton’s initial shot was blocked by Clark but Mark Fairburn had the time to slot the home rebound despite two defenders back on the line.

0-1 Steve Norton (9)
1-1 Niall Mather (32)
1-2 Steve Norton (48)
1-3 Mark Fairburn (81)