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9th Dec, 2021

Rotation key for Holleran as in-form Brakes seek to march on

Ben Tyler 24th Nov, 2020

PAUL Holleran says it is imperative to keep his squad fresh for tonight’s home encounter with promotion-chasing AFC Fylde, days after dispatching of Curzon Ashton in an impressive 3-0 away display.

The Brakes made it four games unbeaten and picked up a second consecutive win for the first time this term in the National League North at Tameside Stadium on Saturday, after Sam Osborne and Jack Lane struck either side of a Douglas Tharme own goal.

It was a result that was enough to lift Leamington into 16th place, keeping the feel-good factor at the club going in what is shaping up to be a highly impressive November for the Brakes – considering the early-season teething problems that were encountered.

And while another big challenge awaits at the Community Stadium against a Fylde side that have only suffered defeat once this term – incidentally against Curzon Ashton in a 2-0 reverse – Holleran says spirits in the Leamington camp are high.

“We started with more conviction, and the momentum from Tuesday [a 4-3 comeback win against Alfreton Town] was massive,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter what you do on the training ground or what you say – when you have belief and the players are on their own highs, it can make a huge difference.

“There were some great individual performances. Any away win is tough in this league, but all of a sudden we have strung four or five good performances together.

“The only thing that will catch up with us is the amount of games and having a small squad but we’ll just try and keep freshening it up and just keep doing what we’re doing – and see how far it takes us.”

While the Brakes were on form as a unit in Greater Manchester, the Brakes boss felt a few particular star showings made all the difference against The Nash.

“People talk about Sam Osborne and rightly so, but you look at Kyle Morrison and Josh Martin at the back, you look at Danny Waldron – Dan Meredith coming on,” Holleran added.

“They’re all young lads who are acquitting themselves well.

“On top of that you’ve got the old guard if you like, who are doing great as well.”

Just one change to the team that started last week’s frenetic win over Alfreton was made by Holleran with Martin stepping in for Junior English – as the visiting Brakes set out their stall early to go on the offensive.

That approach paid dividends with a host of early chances falling for Lance Smith – who planted a header just past Curzon’s crossbar – and Waldron with a low stab at goal that just inched past the post.

Jack Edwards was unlucky not to add to his match-winning heroics from days earlier when thumping a first-time hit goalwards that required a stop from Ashton’s Cameron Mason, though Leamington did not have to wait long for the inevitable breakthrough.

Osborne was the man to provide it on 14 minutes, latching onto Martin’s defence-splitting pass from deep to bear down on goal and then find the finish with a shot that was lifted over the hosts’ powerless goalkeeper.

The afternoon got even better for the away side when Tharme got the final touch on an Osborne attempt that creeped into the far corner and doubled Leamington’s advantage four minutes later.

Curzon defender Tharme was unfortunate not to make amends for his misfortunate moment when directing a header just off target down the other end, though a corner down the other end and the resulting header from Lane almost put the Brakes out of sight when the ball clashed against the woodwork.

But with just five minutes of the restart gone, the away side were effectively out of sight when Lane picked up a clearance and cracked an unstoppable left-footed hit into the top corner from 25 yards out.

With the game effectively over as a contest, Holleran’s troops still had to plug away to avoid a reversal of their Alfreton revival – Jake Weaver’s flying save to deny Sam Walker the pick of Curzon’s best opportunities.

And before the game was out there was still time for more drama when a second yellow card for Darren Stephenson led to his dismissal for the hosts late on.

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