Newport Pagnell Town ended 2017 with back-to-back defeats after going down 2-0 to fellow UCL Premier Division title contenders Holbech on Saturday.
Swans have seen their 12 point lead atop the league cut to just six over the festive period after just one win in five outings, and their cause to end that run was dealt a miserable start against Holbech when they were trailing after just 25 seconds. Lewis Leckie flashed the ball across Mark Osbourne in the Town goal and inside the far bottom corner to stun their hosts and put the visitors 1-o up.
Newport found it difficult to maintain any possession from there and were always at risk of conceding again, and on nine minutes Leckie again drove at the defence cutting in from the left his shot had to be smothered by Osbourne at the foot of his near post.
Holbeach were the better side for the opening twenty minutes but Newport grew into the game and should have had something more when Harry Stratton received the ball wide out on the left, cleverly beating his man his cross then eluded everyone in the area and rolled harmlessly away to safety. Moments later a corner swung in found the head of Dave Baker but he could only steer over the top.
As the half wore on the home side were enjoying more of the play and again missed a great chance when a cross from Taylor Orosz was met at the back post by Fazel Koriya who headed back across the goal face but amidst a crowded box a defender was on hand to beat everyone to the ball and again the chance gone.
The United defence was standing resolute and just past the half hour mark a superb cross from Stratton almost on the corner flag looked destined for the forehead of Luke Emery, but a defender got back to cover at the last second to clear for a corner. From the corner Damon Herbert threw himself at the ball but could only head over.
The Swans should have been level six minutes into the second half when Josh Winters got down the left and put the ball into the six-yard box where at the front post Emery got to the ball first but could only stab wide. A Holbeach corner was then swung into the box and almost falling over each other Nick Jackson & Dan Dougill both competed for the ball but headed over.
On the hour mark Holbeach doubled their lead and virtually killed the game off when a ball up to George Zuerner saw him cushion the ball down to Leckie who spotted Osbourne off his goal line, and brilliantly lobbed over the Town keeper and in.
Newport tried to get back in the game from there, but a free kick on the corner of the box typified their afternoon when Greg Ling curled the ball into the danger area but a couple of bounces saw the ball disappear off for a goal kick.
Whilst the home side tried to get a foot back in the game they were always susceptible to the counter, and almost conceded a third on seventy-two minutes when a cross from Zuerner found Leckie who headed back across Osbourne who had to fall away to his left to save.
Newport substitute Jordan Spruce then saw his cross met by the head of Winters in front of goal, but United keeper Ricky Drury was behind it all the way, and another deep cross moments later found Emery at the back post whose shot was brilliantly blocked by Spencer Tinkler earning him plenty of slaps on the back from his team mates.
The corner was met on the twelve yard spot by Herbert who blazed high over the crossbar, and there was just time for another Holbeach counter when Harry Beckley got away down the right and crossed into Leckie who would have had the whole goal to aim at, but covering back Adam Pryke got enough on the ball to turn it away.
At the end of play Newport’s lead at the top of the table had been cut to six points, with teams below them having up to three games in hand over them; with their next three games all away inside the next couple of weeks, Newport still have their destiny in their own hands.