Holleran demands a reaction after ‘sloppy’ FA Trophy exit

Former Brake Matt Dodd proved the match-winner for Stourbridge last Saturday.
Former Brake Matt Dodd proved the match-winner for Stourbridge last Saturday.

Leamington boss Paul Holleran has issued an ultimatum to his misfiring side after they were dumped out of the FA Trophy by Stourbridge.

Matt Dodd returned to haunt his former club, stooping to head home after Kyle Perry had been picked out at a corner three minutes into the second half.

The 1-0 defeat to the Glassboys followed on from a 2-0 loss at Chorley and Holleran admitted his side failed to showcase their higher-level status against their old foes.

“The first half we knocked on the door a couple of times and we needed to kick on but we didn’t.

“We were lazy, lethargic and sloppy and we conceded another goal from a set play with people not doing their jobs,” said Holleran who had an extra reason to be annoyed having marked out the set-piece in the dressing room following a scouting trip to Stourbridge in the previous round.

“It’s a game where an experienced National League side would go in at half-time 1-0 up and win 2-0.

“We’ve got to evolve to be that team.

“We’re conceding goals at key times and in the last two we haven’t looked a National League side.

“Look at all three goals we have conceded at Chorley and against Stourbridge. I would be disappointed to concede those in the Southern Premier League.

“Teams are not working hard enough to score against us and the question I have asked of the players is ‘what level do you want to play at?’.

“If you want to be in the Conference it’s got to mean everything to you. It’s got to be the biggest thing in your world.”

Brakes will have the perfect opportunity to re-establish their Conference North credentials over the Christmas and New Year period, with four games Holleran has classed as their trickiest run of the campaign.

A trip to Tamworth tomorrow is followed by back-to-back games against second-placed Brackley and a home fixture with Kidderminster.

And with nine teams separated by just five points in the lower reaches of the table, the Brakes boss knows that any points his side can pick up against the promotion-chasers will be priceless.

“This run with Tamworth, Brackley twice and Kiderminster, it won’t get any tougher.

“Tamworth on their 3G pitch, Brackley, who along with Salford are the two best teams in the league and Kiddy who are getting their game back in order and are a proper Conference North side.

“We’re one of the smallest clubs in the league and you’ve got to have a gameplan, something in place which helps you bridge the gap.

“We have to show that over Christmas because if you are sloppy against Kidderminster or Brackley you’ll get taken apart.

“You have to accept that because of the quality of players they have got, if they play well and we play well we’ll get beat and I can accept that.

“What I can’t accept is the last two performances, throwing away three points and a place in the last 32 of the Trophy.”

Holleran has plenty of options available to him if he want to freshen up his side over the festive period, with Ahmed Obeng, Colby Bishop, Callum Gittings, James Mace and Liam Canavan all on the bench against Stourbridge and Rob Thompson-Brown missing out on the 17 altogether.

However, while he would not be drawn on changes, he said he still believes his current squad is good enough to survive in the Conference North.

“I have room to manoeuvre but my message to the 17/18 is that they can all do better and if they want to stop at Leamington they will have to.

“And I want this group to come through it.

“But Christmas will be hard enough without wrapping up goals and putting a big bow on the them.”