Holleran urges Brakes to keep their feet on the ground

Brakes boss Paul Holleran has sounded a note of caution despite seeing his team open up an eight-point lead at the top of the Southern League Premier Division.

Wins at play-off-chasing Arlesey and Barwell in the space of four days have lifted Leamington well clear of long-time leaders Hemel Hempstead, with Holleran’s side still holding a game in hand on their nearest challengers.

However, any thoughts that the title is already in the bag have been quashed by Holleran who says there is still plenty of work to do if a sixth promotion in 13 years is to be achieved.

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“Any team would want to be in our position, but there are still over 50 points to play for,” said Holleran.

“At whatever level, we’ve seen teams before who haven’t been able to see it through.

“It’s important the players keep their feet on the ground.

“They’ve worked hard to get into this position and we’ve told them they’ll have to work even harder to stay there.”

A tricky run of away fixtures looked set to test Brakes’ title credentials, but nine points from a possible nine have banished memories of the Christmas dip, with Holleran paying tribute to his side’s fighting qualities.

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“They way we’ve performed, to go away and win difficult games at Weymouth, Arlesey and Barwell, it’s been nothing short of fantastic.

“Tuesday night at Barwell epitomised everything about us.

“It was a really tough test.

“We got through the physcial part and then we had that bit of quality about us to go on and win the game.”

After a difficult bedding-in period at the New Windmill, Holleran finally looks to have won over the Brakes faithful, with regular refrains of Viva Holleran coming from the terraces.

However, the former Halesowen and Rushall Olympic boss is aware that goodwill could quickly disappear with a run of defeats and says the next three months will be a true test of his managerial qualities.

“My job is to keep everyone at it.

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“Now we’ve got to 50 points, the aim is to get to 60 as quickly as possible and then set a new target.

“There’s a massive belief we can achieve something, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Leamington’s recent good form and defensive stability has gone hand in hand with the arrival of Laurie Walker from Brackley.

Walker was initially brought in to cover for Niall Cooper’s three-match suspension, but despite his rival’s return to the first-team fold, it was the former Kettering keeper who retained his place between the sticks for the trip to Kirkby Road on Tuesday night.

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Luke Barlone’s goal was the first the on-loan keeper had conceded in more than seven hours of football and Holleran says Cooper has a real battle on his hands to reclaim the number one jersey from the 23-year-old.

“Laurie Walker’s deal is open-ended and the situation suits both us and Brackley,” he said.

“It was originally a short-term loan to get us out of a hole, but he’s enjoying playing here and we’re enjoying having him here.

“We’ve got two capable keepers and we’ve got enough games coming up to keep both happy.”

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Brakes continue their title push on Sunday with a trip to face Kettering at Corby Town’s Steel Park home.

Joe Magunda is unlikely to be risked as he continues his slow progress back from a groin injury, with Holleran rating him as only “85 per cent right”.

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