St Albans sickener but postponement helps Brakes feel better

Brakes boss Paul Holleran refused to be downhearted despite seeing his side’s 26-match unbeaten league run come to an end at St Albans City last Saturday.

With Hemel Hempstead losing at Bideford, Leamington’s first Southern Premier League defeat since February 25 cost them the chance to overhaul the long-time leaders at the summit.

And Brakes were denied a further chance to join Hemel on 39 points when Tuesday night’s trip to Chesham fell foul of the icy conditions.

However, Holleran said that while he would usually be keen to get back into action as quickly as possible following a defeat, the call-off might actually have been a blessing.

“A couple of players didn’t travel to St Albans and we had Stephan Morley, Ricky Johnson and Craig Owen who weren’t feeling quite 100 per cent,” said Holleran.

“All had a go but the postponement might allow the flu bug that has been affecting us to blow over.”

Brakes had conceded just ten goals in 14 league games prior to the 3-0 reverse at Clarence Park and, while critical of his defence, Holleran felt it was in the opposition box where the match was lost.

“We conceded a couple of goals that were poor by our standards.

“But if we’d taken half our chances - even the good chances - then we would have put the game to bed.

“If we’d still been there now we wouldn’t have scored, though.

“When I saw the way St Albans were set up, 4-3-3 with another striker in the middle, I knew there’d be goals in it.

“When you analyse the game, it came back to chances, they took theirs and we didn’t take ours.”

With three home games in the run up to Christmas, starting with the visit of Bideford tomorrow, Leamington have the perfect opportunity to embark on a fresh unbeaten sequence.

And, having seen his side build their promotion push around their home form - Brakes have lost just one league game at the New Windmill this year - Holleran is backing his side to quickly re-establish their title credentials.

“The players have done well and it’s how they react that’s they key.

“It’s important we get back to the levels we were at.

“We’ve got a run of home games now and the players respond well to playing at home.

“Hopefully we can finish off with a good run before Christmas.”

Holleran will be forced to reshuffle his attacking options tomorrow after Ricky Johnson suffered ankle ligament damage at St Albans following an accidental collision with James Mace.

The usual prognosis is a spell of three to six weeks on the sidelines, but the Brakes boss believes Johnson’s excellent physical condition will see him at the lower end of that scale.

“It’s a similar injury to the ones Jacob Blyth and Ben Mackey suffered and Jacob was back playing again in three weeks.

“If it’s treated well, which it will be, he won’t be a million miles away by Christmas.”