Glasshoughton Welfare joint manager Darren Holmes has spoken of his pride in his players despite the club’s season ending in disappointment with defeat at Grimsby Borough in the Toolstation NCE Division One play-offs.
After a superb finish to the regular season that saw Welfare finish in the top six from a mid-table position at the half-way point the play-off semi-final proved a game too far as they lost 3-0, but Holmes reckoned the score did not reflect his side’s performance.
He said: “We’re obviously all disappointed, but what we have said to the lads is that no-one can take away what we have achieved this season.
“It has been a fantastic season for us. Myself and Lee (Vigars) are proud of every single one of the lads.
“It has been a squad effort, they’re a great set of lads and it has been fantastic for us to get to this point.
“We are a little disappointed with the goals we have given away (at Grimsby). We gave away two sloppy goals when we should have defended better and we missed three or four gilt chances. Their goalkeeper also made two worldie saves.
“It could have been totally different. People will look at the result and think ‘3-0, Grimsby have won easily’. It wasn’t like that at all. We gave it a real go.
“If we could have nicked a goal at 2-0, it would have been totally different and we probably have gone onto win the game.”
An early double from Luke Mascall and a late Callum Lovett goal saw Grimsby home in the play-off semi-final with Houghton left to reflect on a lack of luck in front of goal.
Welfare started with a different 4-5-1 formation with Andy Horbury up front on his own. The plan was to keep Grimsby at bay in the first half and then release the shackles as the game progressed.
It worked to a small degree. Glasshoughton played well and enjoyed a lot of the ball in the first half. They were solid on a whole, but two key moments early on left them with a mountain to climb.
After just three minutes, Welfare fell asleep at the back and Mascall suddenly found himself bearing down on visiting goalkeeper Mat Zaniewski. The stopper made himself big, but Mascall squeezed the ball home.
Welfare looked to hit back and their best chance of the first half came from a break down the left as Rob Oldham accelerated away and sent in a lovely low cross to the far post towards the unmarked Connor Rollinson who got a good connection on his shot, but was unable to get it on target.
Against the run of play, Grimsby added their second. Daniel Trott broke down the right and his cross was steered into the net by Mascall.
Welfare went 4-4-2 and caused their hosts more problems. Another decent chance came and went eight minutes into the second half as Horbury breached Grimsby’s back-line after running onto right-back Alex Marsh’s defence-splitting ball. The striker’s superb first touch gave him the edge in the battle and his shot beat Drury only to flash wide.
As the hour mark approached, Welfare brought on another attacker in Tom Carr and changed to a 4-3-3 formation soon after when youngster Ryan Ferguson was introduced.
The changes made the game wide open and chances flowed at either end. Zaniewski made a terrific stop to deny Mascall his hat-trick while Houghton’s Conor Glavin forced Drury to make a great save from his well-hit free kick. Horbury also nearly scored with a close range header.
Glasshoughton finally knew it was not their night when after all the near misses it was Lovett sealing Grimsby’s victory with a bullet header from Caine Winfarrah’s corner.
Even in the death throes, the ball would just not go in for Holmes and Vigars’ men as Horbury twice broke clear and was denied by Drury.
Although defeat was an undoubted disappointment, the Glasshoughton players could be pleased to have played their part in the club’s best season since their promotion year in 2012.
The team and impressive management duo are vowing to continue the good work into next season when if the squad can be kept together they will be among the favourites for promotion.