A superb 74th minute strike from Harry Kingdon earned Hollands & Blair all three points in a hard fought 2-1 win over Punjab United on Tuesday night.
Match report from Hollands & Blair Media Team
Blair quickly got the disappointment of Saturday out of their system with this 100% better all-round team performance at the Steve Cook Stadium.
Boss Si Halsey made three changes to his starting XI from the weekend with George Benner, Luke Exall and Harry Goodger coming in but a change in formation saw Callum McGeehan moving just in front of the back line.
Blair started brightly and only a great point blank save from home keeper Max Ovenden denied Chris Saunders giving the visitors an early lead.
Louis Valencia then failed to get a decent touch at the far post after skipper McGeehan nodded down a Jack Simon free-kick.
At the other end Punjab’s first threat saw a curling effort from Dominic Vincent force a back-pedalling Mitchell Ware to tip over.
Kingdon should really have then put Blair in front, a low Valencia cross was not cut out and fell perfectly to the attacking midfieder but he was unable to beat the advancing Ovenden.
It was tit-for-tat chances wise, Will Johnson-Cole clipped an effort just over the bar before Goodger sent a long range strike straight at the keeper.
It was McGeehan who did give Blair a 24th minute lead, rising to glance home Jack Simon’s free-kick beyond Ovenden and inside the far post.
Benner almost doubled the lead when ghosting in on the blind side of the home defence to meet another Simon free-kick but his angled strike flew inches wide.
Punjab had a great chance to equalise just before the break, a Johnson-Cole corner was met at the far post by former Blair man Stephen Ratcliff but he inexplicably failed to hit the target from six yards.
After keeping the visitors waiting at the start of the second-half for what seemed ages, the home side did level matters just two minutes after the restart when Diljit Boora sent a dipping long-range volley over Mitchell Ware after Blair only half-cleared a set piece.
Goodger headed another effort over before a decent forward run forward by Saunders took him into the area but went tumbling looking for a penalty when a calm finish looked the better option.
As stated earlier, the winner came 16 minutes from time, Valencia left three men in his wake and although Goodger couldn’t get on the end of his excellent cross, Kingdon came in behind to slam a fierce angled right-foot strike past the keeper.
Blair had the chances to make the game safe late on, a Goodger free-kick was parried by Ovenden, Simon struck the bar with the follow up and Kingdon rushed the rebound sending it over the top.
A fractious second 45 minutes that had been bubbling away with Valencia, Simon and even boss Halsey booked eventually saw United midfielder Zac Henry dismissed for two yellows with six minutes left on the clock.
Simon flicked a Goodger cross wide and Kingdon shot into the side netting but the points were safe.