Holywood stand-in manager Jim Wilson has sent out a cry for help after witnessing his team slump to the type of devastating defeat that sums up just how far the club have fallen in recent times.
Watching this entirely one-sided encounter, it was difficult to believe that the Holywood subjected to this 7-1 humbling by mid-Division 1B opponents Ballywalter Rec was the same Holywood that played in the top flight of the Amateur League just five years ago.
In actual fact, they aren’t. Far from it, the Seapark Road outfit are currently grateful just to be fulfilling fixtures, and have gone from having four teams to struggling to keep two teams going.
And Wilson fears that the club he once played for may go under altogether if their call for a new manager continues to go unanswered for much longer.
He said: “It’s not looking very good, and yes, it could head that way. With the players we have at the moment, the quality and the experience we need at this level just isn’t there.
“On the ground, we have 15 or 16 players to cover us for two teams at the moment, and if that keeps going, the seconds will be folded. We need bodies, and we need a manager to come in with them.
“Today was depressing, as it has been for a while, because we have a good club here. Obviously we need a rebuilding structure here, so if there’s anyone out there that would like to help and can bring in new players, please get in touch, and Holywood Football Club and the committee will help them in every single way they can.”
Most depressingly of all for the home side was the fact that the scoreline didn’t tell the full story. After negotiations between both teams, referee David Dougherty mercifully agreed to call time on the game with 10 minutes still on the clock.
For winning manager John Johnstone, it seemed the reasonable thing to do in the circumstances.
“It happened to us earlier in the season against Immaculata,” revealed the Ballywalter boss. “We had a lot missing against them in one of the cups, and they beat us twelve and were begging with them to take it easy on us... so I know how it feels.
“It’s one of those common laws, like throwing the ball back to the other team if a player is down injured, that is just common decency. They came to us at half time and asked us if things got any worse could they call it a day, and we weren’t going to stick the boot into them while they were down.
“Believe it or not, that was our first away win of the season. We were expecting a tough game today, but in the end, it was a bit easier than that.”
That last remark could be deemed one of the biggest understatements of the year. Yet, as the saying goes, you can only beat what is put in front of you, and the visitors didn’t show any signs of taking their foot of the pedal until the second half, when they were out of sight.
Ballywalter were first on the score-sheet, Daniel Edgeworth rising for a Jonny Nixon corner to head in at the back post in the 13th minute.
Holywood responded with the type of fighting spirit they’ll need to help get them through this difficult time, with an equaliser a couple of minutes later. Peter Cooling won the ball in midfield, sprayed the ball to Joel Bishop, who laid the ball off to Connor Hindmarsh for a straightforward finish.
However, any positivity this handed the hosts was soon crushed when Ballywalter regained their lead almost immediately. Nixon again was the provider, putting through David Campbell, who had time to slot neatly into the bottom right hand corner.
Soon it was 3-1, as Derek McClean collected the ball from McCausland before drilling accurately into the bottom left hand corner.
Holywood were already beginning to look bereft of all hope, and were left further drained when Edgeworth struck his second and Ballywalter’s fourth in the 37th minute, handily placed to smash in a rebounder with the crossbar still trembling from Scott Shannon’s rasping effort.
The time for showboating had well and truly arrived, and Nixon, who had squandered several earlier attempts, gave the spectators a finish worth waiting for, with a fantastic weighted chip into the top corner.
Next, just before half time, it was Campbell’s turn to send the ball over Roy Nutt’s reaches and into the bulging Holywood goal, after receiving an incisive forward pass from Scott Neville.
The only question now was how many Ballywalter were going to get, but thankfully for Wilson’s men, a low drive from Neville completed the 55 minute demolition job, and for them, Dougherty’s premature full time whistle couldn’t come quick enough.
Roy Nutt: Actually made a few decent saves despite the seven he let in. 4
Gareth McCausland: Beaten to the ball too often. 4
Trevor Graham: Endured a frustrating afternoon. 4
Ben McCadden: Every tackle was fully committed. 6
Stuart Wells: Looked to be struggling and made an early exit. 3
Duncan Moore: Had a quiet match. 4
Aaron Herfield: Drifted in and out of the game. 4
Peter Cooling: Worked and battled hard. 7
Dave Thompson: Looked out of place in the right back role at times. 4
Conor Hindmarsh: Didn’t make a huge impression on the game. 5
Joel Bishop: Did his best on a challenging day for his team. 5
Dale Collins on for Wells, 21
Scott Tyrie on for Moore, 60
Phil Mutch on forMcCausland, 45
David Moore: Didn’t have a lot to do, but what he did, he did well. 7
Daniel Edgeworth: Weighed in with a brace. 8
Jonny Nixon: Played his part, with two assists and a fine goal. 8
Darren Corkum: Solid and authoritative. 7
Graham McKay: A steady showing. 7
Connor Woods: Could be always be relied upon to find his teammates. 7
Ross Kelso: Tidy in possession. 7
Scott Neville: Looked fully in control when on the ball. 8
Derek McClean: Accurate in both passing and shooting. 8
Scott Shannon: Moved well to give his team plenty of options. 8
David Campbell: Two goals and an impressive individual display. 9
Michael Keable on for Woods, 45
Anthony McCleggan on for Shannon, 45
Jason McKeague on for Edgeworth, 45
MAN OF THE MATCH: David Campbell. Always looked a real threat when he got the ball down the right, and scored twice to prove he was so.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The moment that highlighted Ballwalter’s sporting nature and Holywood’s troubles was when ref David Dougherty called time 10 minutes early.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Roy Nutt’s first half stop from Ross Kelso shot, before saving a Scott Shannon header on the follow-up.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: It seems unfair to single out any particular incident on a day that will have been tough for all connected with Holywood to swallow.