Leamington boss Paul Holleran refused to apportion blame after last night’s FA Trophy replay at home to Altrincham was again called off at last minute, writes Paul Okey.
The original replay bit the dust 45 minutes before kick-off due to heavy rain and the affects of a prolonged spell of wet weather were still being felt last night with the referee deeming one corner unsafe and postponing the match at 6.30pm.
This was after the tie had been put back 24 hours to allow Leamington to carry out extra work on the playing surface and followed assertions from the club, both on Twitter and on their website, that the game was not in doubt.
The announcement of the postponement came too late to stop many fans travelling, including another contingent from Altrincham, but Holleran said as far as he was concerned the match could have gone ahead.
He said: “The scenario with the pitch is that there were a couple of wet areas and there was concern about the bottom corner. But when the referee takes 45 minutes to decide whether he plays the game, that tells you what you need to know.
“The referee had another think and obviously made his decision.
“At the end of the day the points Altrincham made were viable and the points we made were viable.
“We’d had dialogue with Altrincham and made them aware there were a couple of soft areas.
“We all thought we were singing from the same hymn sheet.”
A heavily sanded corner at the Harbury Lane End of the ground was the main cause of concern for the referee.
However, Holleran said Brakes had played on far worse surfaces and reserved his sympathy for the away fans and those who had given up their spare time to try and get the game on.
“We’ve played at Bradford Park Avenue in the last few seasons and our pitch was ten times better. I’m not saying it was perfect, but was it enough to call off the game? No.
“I’m bitterly disappointed for the Altrincham fans who travelled down.
“As a football club we looked at the pitch this afternoon and we thought there would be no issue with the game. These were experienced football people. We had a drainage company in and we’ve had umpteen volunteers down.
“I’ll be disappointed if people start pointing the finger at the football club. We’d had dialogue.
“If this pitch wasn’t playable...Bradford Park Avenue, that corner is like their whole pitch.”
Brakes salvaged something from the evening by holding a 90-minute training session on the pitch but Holleran said the knock-on effect of the epic first round tie - the original fixture at Altrincham also fell victim to the weather - will be felt for the remainder of the season.
“It’s cost us nine fixtures with the wind, the rain and now the sand.”
The replay looks set to be rearranged for next Tuesday evening, which will mean the postponement of Wednesday night’s Red Insure Cup clash at Aylesbury.
And, with rain forecast for the remainder of the week and a cold snap expected early next week, the tie again looks in jeopardy.
However, despite his frustrations, Holleran could at least take one crumb of comfort from the long-running saga following a poor run of league form.
“I thought I’d be gone by now,” he laughed. “This bad weather is keeping me in a job.”