It’s going to be tough. I’ve seen the signings they’ve made out of season and they’ve got some very good players there, so they’ll come to us full of confidence, says Hollands & Blair boss Simon Halsey
HOLLANDS & BLAIR manager Simon Halsey says he wants to get through the very first hurdle of the FA Cup tomorrow.
The Gillingham based outfit welcome their Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division rivals Holmesdale to Darland Avenue in the Extra Preliminary Round.
Hollands & Blair began their league campaign with a 3-1 defeat at Erith & Belvedere on the opening day, before bouncing back to come away from Gravesend with a 2-1 win at Punjab United.
Hollands & Blair are in eleventh-place in the league table and Lee Roots’ Holmesdale are in eighth after bouncing back from a 1-0 defeat at K Sports to beat Rusthall 4-2 at Jockey Farm Stadium on Wednesday night.
“We didn’t get going,” Halsey said about their defeat at Erith & Belvedere, who are in second-place on maximum points from their two games.
“We weren’t ourselves, not our normal, physical, horrible selves, not horrible, but we weren’t strong enough, we didn’t gel or do the right things, just a bad day in the office.
“I don’t think I’ve had a league win on the first day in both seasons at Hollands & Blair. We drew 0-0 against Erith Town in the first season and we lost 2-1 away to Balham last season.
“I was disappointed with everyone individually really. We didn’t do the right things, just one of those games we brushed off and go again.”
Halsey revealed that he changed formation at the Elite Venue and was rewarded by getting three points on the board, courtesy of goals from centre-half Calum McGeehan and Harry Kingdon.
“We changed formation a little bit, changed a couple of personnel and we done very well,” Halsey said of their win over Chipie Sian’s Punjab side.
“They’re not a bad side, they had an opening day win and I knew it was going to be tough, as it’s always there and we got to grips with the game very early and could have gone 2-0 up very early.
“It was disappointing to concede just after half-time and we conceded what I class as a soft goal but got ourselves together and one of my players should have got a hat-trick.
“I was pleased with the reaction and we move forward to Saturday.”
Holmesdale impressed during the first 65 minutes against now bottom side Rusthall on Wednesday night, taking a 4-0 lead before Jimmy Anderson’s side threw caution to the wind and pulled a couple of goals back to make it a more respectable scoreline.
Holmesdale, Rusthall and Kennington were all promoted from the First Division and Halsey expects a tough game against the Bromley based outfit.
He said: “It’s going to be tough. I’ve seen the signings they’ve made out of season and they’ve got some very good players there, so they’ll come to us full of confidence.
“They got a good win at Rusthall, they went 4-0 up and then ended up 4-2, so they’re going to be very dynamic going forward, I would imagine.
“I hope the home advantage will help us through. It’s a very hard place for other teams to come to and we know how to play the pitch.”
Hollands & Blair refused to travel to Isthmian League South East Division side Burgess Hill Town in last season’s FA Cup Preliminary Round due to safety reasons.
The Blair will pay tribute to the late Laurence Plummer, their club secretary and stalwart, who sadly passed away after suffering from Covid-19 last November.
“I usually go out in the first round, I don’t think I’ve not got through the first round and that’s over a long time for some reason,” reflected Halsey on his FA Cup record.
“As a club we need the money desperately so the players’ need to put some money back in the bank. The club do everything they can to look after the players with training kits, balls, etc, so it is the time for the players’ to really pay back the club, so I’m hoping they’ll do that on Saturday and get me through the first round, but it’s going to be a tough game.
Reflecting on last year’s situation with the Burgess Hill Town game, Halsey said: “Getting thrown out of it, they were given the game as we refused to travel as their players had Covid. At the time the protocol was if the players have it the game should be called off and it wasn’t until a couple of rounds later when the bigger clubs come in they were cancelling games left, right and centre.
“One of the first people that we met on the Saturday morning was Plum, who said we’re not travelling, the health and safety of the players and supporters come first and we lost Laurence to Covid, which was such a shame.
“It’s our first game at home since we lost Plum so I’m hoping the players put in something and we’ll show our respects towards him and I hope the lads get the result he would have wanted for us.”
Visit Hollands & Blair’s website: www.hollandsandblair.co.uk
Hollands & Blair v Holmesdale
The Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Saturday 7 August 2021
Kick Off 3:00pm
At Star Meadow, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3AN