Tough league opener for Brakes as full-timers Gateshead visit

Familiar feel to squad with a few new faces ready for National League North campaign

Manager Paul Holleran
Manager Paul Holleran

Leamington Brakes are preparing for a tough start to the new season when full-timers Gateshead visit for tomorrow’s (Saturday 3pm) opening National League North game.

“Pre-season has been good with plenty of games,” said manager Paul Holleran.

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“Performances have been up and down, but now we have to put it all together.

“Last year we did a lot of work revamping the squad and then they only had 14 or 15 league games. It meant this year we didn’t have so much to do, but we have still added a few.”

Holleran has been very pleased to sign former Aston Villa striker Kelsey Mooney, along with ex Coventry City midfielder Devon Kelly-Evans, who joins from Nuneaton Borough - full of energy, quick and dynamic.

And he welcomes the return of Joe Parker, who took a break from football but is back now looking fit and strong.

Dan Turner, who signed last year just before covid hit, and Kieran Cook are also exciting, young attacking players hoping to do well.

“The squad has a familiar feel but there are plenty of new faces too, with youth and energy,” said the Brakes boss, in his 12th year with the club.

“They’ll hopefully settle in and give a good account of themselves.

“Gateshead are one of the seven or eight full-time clubs in our league, which particularly this year is an advantage for them when it’s been more difficult for the part time clubs getting together.

“They are one of the clubs people will be looking at to see if they can go up this year.

“We’ve prepared the best we can. Fitness levels are hopefully where we need to be and the squad haven’t suffered too many injuries in pre-season.

“It will be a tough game and we know we’ll spend a lot of time without the ball but we’ll have a plan for them. We are looking forward to it.”

Last season Brakes had some great results before covid curtailed the fixture list and were nicely positioned, so Holleran is hoping for more of the same this time round.

“But we’ll take it step by step,” he said. “After another long break we need to get up and running again, which took us a while last year.

“It’s going to be hard work. It’s a tough league, but we know that. There’s some tough early games, but we’re looking to be competitive and get some points on the board early.

“It’s a great league to play in, which always asks a lot of questions of you, so there will be some tough days and some good days.”