Crawford sent off as depleted Gorleston battle to earn a share

Gorleston 2 Holt Harlequins 2

Gorleston could only muster 10 players for the visit of Holt Harlequins 1st XI but dedication and commitment earned a point against one of the leading sides in the league.

Gorleston started the game with a “wait and see” approach against the Holt side that have been in the top two all season. It became clear to the home side that they could match and even better their opponents.

With a different defensive line-up of Saunders, McDonald and Austin dealing comfortably with the Holt attack, Pallant and Long were able to mop up a lot of play in the central midfield. With Inkley and Crawford keeping disciplined width either side of the pitch, Gorleston were able to involve all players and attack the Holt defence. Kev McDonald was inspirational in charging out from defence to join the attack on a number of occasions. Against the odds it was Gorleston that took the lead. Austin started the move in the home defence, moving the ball to Crawford on the left wing who evaded the Holt defenders to slip the ball to Peter Skitmore to hammer home from the top of the circle.

Shortly afterwards it was 2-0 to the home side. The Holt defence were being penned in. An attempted clearance was intercepted by Hudson, who attacked the circle and found Skitmore in space, who calmly lifted his shot over the diving Holt keeper for his second of the day.

Gorleston could almost afford the luxury of having a player yellow carded near the end of the half. The influential Pallant was too vocal in disputing a decision and left the field for a rest. Now two players down, Gorleston still managed to contain the Holt team for the remainder of the first half.

It seemed a different Holt side at the start of the second half; they were resurgent in their efforts and won a series of short corners. They were back in the game after 10 minutes when Gorleston’s resolute defence was eventually breached when they were unable to clear the circle after King had saved a shot and the follow up was bundled home. With their tails up, Holt took control of the game and drew level when a surging run along their right wing resulted in a tremendous cross which a Holt attacker managed to reach ahead of the home defence, and that touch looped the ball up into the roof of the Gorleston net.

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It could have been an onslaught for Holt at that stage, but Gorleston showed their mettle to recover their composure and finish the game on top. The game finished on a slightly sour note for the home side when chairman Crawford received his marching orders for tussling too intently with a Holt player with a couple of minutes to go, unfairly in the eyes of the nearest umpire. Crawford was then bizarrely sent off again after the end of the game for not agreeing with the umpire’s decision.

Gorleston next travel to face Ipswich Cranes. The man of the match award went jointly to Kev McDonald and Richard Pallant.

Squad: B King (C); A Sanders; K McDonald; J Austin; R Crawford; S Long; R Pallant; D Inkley; P Skitmore; N Hudson