BRAKES HALT TITLE TALK
Leamington wary of promotion rivals
LEAMINGTON boss Paul Holleran believes his side will have to see off at least six challengers to win the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier title.
The Brakes are five points clear at the summit heading into 2017, although nearest rivals Slough Town have two games in hand.
Holleran’s men have lost just once in their last 15 league games and head to Banbury on Monday hoping to get back to winning ways after the Boxing Day draw with neighbours Stratford Town.
Despite their advantage at the top, the Brakes boss – who led the club to the Southern Premier title in 2012-13 – knows all about the ups and downs of the game and says there are seven clubs that could still claim automatic promotion.
“The players have been fantastic so far, we’ve had a lot of away games, but we’ve done the basics really well,” Holleran told The NLP. “We’ve got a slight points advantage, but there are teams below us with games in hand who will fancy their chances. “Even at this stage of the season, you’ve got seven teams who could finish anywhere from one to seven. We’ve got the advantage, but we’ve got to drive it home.
“You want to ensure you’re in the pack going into the New Year and we certainly are.
“The year we won the league we were very fortunate with injuries, but this season has been much more trying which is why I’m so pleased with where we are.”
The Brakes were 26 minutes away from an instant return to National League North last season, but Hungerford Town came back to claim victory in the play-off final.
Experienced Holleran knows what it takes to be successful at Step 3 and agreed to stay on as Leamington boss – a decision that has been vindicated so far this campaign.
Following two seasons that ultimately ended in disap- pointment, the Brakes boss is hopeful 2016-17 will have a much happier conclusion.
“Getting relegated from the Conference North was really tough and it’s difficult to get things together and bounce back,” he added.
“You’ve got to go again and you need the right characters around you. I did step back and think about whether I was going to stay on.
“I’m very fond of the club and I was concerned about it. Was it best for me to walk away? I honestly thought I was the best man to get the club going again. So far, that has proven to be right and I’d love nothing more than to take Leamington back up to Step 2.”
DETERMINED: Leamington manager Paul Holleran, inset, doesn’t want his side to slip up