HARWICH and Parkeston boss Kieron Shelley hailed the desire and togetherness of his players after watching them secure a hard-earned point against Holland FC.

The Tendring rivals met at the Gwinnell & Sons Royal Oak on Tuesday night and shared the spoils from an entertaining 1-1 draw.

The Shrimpers fought back from behind, thanks to Dan Clark’s close-range goal, and keeper Sam Felgate was crowned man-of-the-match after a series of excellent saves, including a first-half penalty stop from Louie Newland.

“I was really happy with the point,” said Shelley, whose side began their Thurlow Nunn League first division south campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Brightlingsea Regent on Saturday.

“You have to remember that this is effectively a new group of players.

“We’ve brought in fresh faces to strengthen in areas we felt we needed to improve.

“It’s a case of gelling as quickly as possible and that’s why I was over the moon with Tuesday’s performance.

“I was delighted with the players’ togetherness and willingness to run.

“Holland are a very good, well-drilled side and they’re a group of players that have played together for years, be it Sunday football, Saturday football, Border League football or Thurlow Nunn League football.

“They know each other, they know what they’re doing and they know what to expect of each other.

“In contrast, we’re learning every time we step on the pitch but I don’t think there was much difference between us in terms of desire or hunger.

“I wouldn’t say it was a high-quality game.

“It was almost as though both sides cancelled each other out, employing similar systems.

“But it was whole-hearted and a very good advert for our league.”

Both goals came in the second half, with Bailey Barnard’s exquisite finish putting Holland ahead.

Clark then turned home a corner at the near post to make it all-square.

Earlier, Shrimpers keeper Felgate, who went on to make several important saves, dived to keep out a penalty by Newland.

The match was watched by a crowd of 219.

“It felt like the game might be decided by an error or mishap and it boiled down to who wanted it more,” added Shelley.

“I was so pleased we had the character to fight back, after going behind.

“It gave us a mountain to climb, in front of our home crowd, and especially in light of what happened on Saturday (Harwich were two-up before drawing 2-2 with Brightlingsea).

“So for the boys to stick together and not panic or lose their heads or shape, to keep their hunger and desire high, was fantastic.

“If we can keep that going and add the right ingredients and quality, I can see us clicking and doing very well.”

Harwich’s next two matches are both away - against Ilford in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday (3pm) and then against Coggeshall United in the Essex Senior Cup on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm).