Winless streak is never too far from Holleran’s mind

Brakes celebrate after Lee Chilton put them 3-0 up at home to St Neots last Saturday. Picture Morris Troughton MHLC-17-11-12 Brakes St Neots Nov66
Brakes celebrate after Lee Chilton put them 3-0 up at home to St Neots last Saturday. Picture Morris Troughton MHLC-17-11-12 Brakes St Neots Nov66

The memories of Brakes’ bleak mid-winter are laying the foundations for this season’s title charge.

An 11-game winless sequence through January and February ultimately sunk Leamington’s play-off push last season, with Paul Holleran’s side finishing three points adrift of the top five.

And despite Brakes currently being in the midst of a 25-match unbeaten league run, Holleran says that spell is a constant reminder of what could happen should standards fall.

“Last season was a big learning curve for us,” said Holleran.

“It happened at Leamington and I’ve experienced it before at Halesowen. We were top of the Southern League and in the first round of the FA Cup and by the end of the season we hadn’t even made the play-offs.

“At the moment we’ve got the momentum and feel-good factor but there is so little between the sides in this league that that can soon change.

“The big thing is that while we are on the run we’ve got to keep it going and get as many points as we can.”

Brakes extended their advantage over third-placed St Neots to five points with a comprehensive 3-0 win over their Cambridgeshire visitors last Saturday, bringing up their seventh clean sheet of the campaign in the process.

And having conceded just nine goals from their opening 13 league games, Holleran was keen to praise the contribution of Liam Daly who has been a tower of strength since his return from Barwell.

“We emphasise a lot with the players the importance of focus and concentration,” said Holleran.

“For instance, Liam Daly’s performances - the biggest difference is his concentration and focus.

“He’s not got involved in things when he’s not needed to and when he does that he’s the best centre-half in non-league football. He’s been a revelation.”

Holleran was also delighted to be able to give some of his fringe players a run out in Tuesday’s night’s Red Insure Cup win at Stourbridge and rather than seeing it as a distraction, welcomed the chance to make progress in the oft-maligned competition.

“We deserved to win on balance and we’re using the cup competition to keep players involved.

“Lee Moore did very well and got 90 minutes under his belt and it was good to progress.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a home draw in the next round.”

Brakes visit Weymouth tomorrow with slight doubts hanging over the fitness of Stephan Morley, Lee Chilton and Liam Daly.

Craig Owen is definitely out, while Dean Perrow is expected to move out on a dual registration deal as he embarks on the next stage of his comeback from injury.

 Holleran has strengthened his goalkeeping options by signing Brackley Town’s Laurie Walker on a dual registration.

Walker made his debut at Stourbridge on Tuesday evening.

“It was on my mind to get another really good goalie on the books,” said Holleran.

“Jon Brady is fortunate to have two good keepers at that level and while Laurie is number two to Billy Turley, if we need him we can have him.

“It’s a good bit of business.”