Brakes to emerge from the shadows

AFTER an unexpected midweek break, Leamington return to action tomorrow with the carrot of taking over top spot in the Southern League Premier Division.

A power failure in the area forced the postponement of Brakes’ Birmingham Senior Cup tie at home to Banbury on Tuesday night, preventing Holleran from giving a much-needed run out to some of his fringe players.

The call-off was all the more galling following on from an excellent draw at Chesham last Saturday.

A Jacob Blyth goal saw Brakes become the first team to leave The Meadow with any reward and Holleran felt the points haul could have been even greater.

“Chesham are a decent team. They haven’t changed their style over the years and they play a certain way.

“They’ve just brought in a bit more quality and they can get you spun about.

“But as the game went on, we used the ball really well.

“As a neutral, it would have been unfair on either side to lose.

“But if we’d come away with a 2-1 win no one could have complained.”

The point left Brakes fourth in the Southern League Premier Division, four points ahead of Cambridge City who led the table just three weeks ago.

With AFC Totton, Brackley and Oxford City inactive tomorrow, Brakes will take over at the summit with three points against St Albans City.

With positions constantly chopping and changing, Holleran believes any one of the top ten can lay genuine claims for mounting a title push, with the disparity between games played muddying the water even further.

Stourbridge already have four matches to make up on Brakes and, with further FA Trophy and FA Cup games to come, Holleran says the promotion picture will not become clear until February at the earliest.

“We need to stay in and around the top five and when it gets to February it will start opening up.

“A couple of sides have got games in hand, especially Stourbridge, which makes it difficult.

“But Gary [Hackett] knows it’s not a bad price to pay for what they’ve achieved at the moment.

“Without a shadow of doubt, teams like Barwell and Chippenham can string four wins together - the league plays all the way down.

“You only have to see how many teams reached the first round of the FA Cup to see the quality of the league and we’ve got to be on our mettle every week.”

St Albans arrive at the New Windmill tomorrow on the back of a 4-0 midweek thumping at Chippenham.

Fancied by many to make an immediate bid for promotion after dropping down from the Conference South, David Howell’s side find themselves eight points from both the play-offs and the relegation zone.

However, Holleran is refusing to take their challenge lightly, believing a midweek trip Hardenhuish Park to be one of the most feared in the division.

“Chippenham away on a Tuesday night is a good measure of any team in this league,” he said.

“The first good hiding we had was at Chippenham on a Tuesday.

“We won’t read too much into it and we’re expecting a tough game,

“After a big defeat they will be looking to bounce back but we want to keep our run going.”

Holleran should have a full squad to choose from, with Stephan Morley expected to return to training last night after limping off with an ankle problem against Chesham and Lee Downes’ one-match suspension not kicking in until next week.