We have points in hand so the pressure is arguably on Croydon more so than us, we’re at home and psychologically a nine point gap would feel even greater at this stage of the season, says Hollands & Blair boss Darren Blackburn

Friday 01st February 2019

HOLLANDS & BLAIR manager Darren Blackburn says he wants his luck to turn in a must-win clash against fellow strugglers Croydon tomorrow.

The Blair remain third-from-bottom in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division with 12 points from 22 games.

The two sides that are rooted in the relegation zone are Croydon and Rusthall, who have both collected six points apiece.

Hollands & Blair went down to a 4-0 defeat to league leaders Corinthian last weekend and Blackburn said: “Last week was a typical game between two teams at different ends of the league table. When you’re at the top things go for you and vice-verse at the bottom!

“The goals we conceded were simply awful and yet completely avoidable.

"According to many of our fans who were closer than I, the first was a slightly dubious penalty in their eyes, from where I was it looked like a clip, so I don’t blame the referee for giving it.

“When you’re at the top and your lucks in you get them, when you’re at the other end like us for some reason you don’t and we’ve had several incidents of a similar nature waved away this season.

“Those decisions will even themselves out I’m sure by the end of the campaign. It would be nice if at some point we could win a penalty in a game, I’d take a dubious one or any one before the season ends, hopefully!

“Our keeper, Shannon Harris, who’s been great, following a mix up with Jack Simon has thrown one straight to the best player on the pitch in Corinthian’s Sam Bewick who gratefully lobbed it into our net and that one just deflated the team.

“I could see the stuffing knocked out of them as for the first 30 minutes we were in the game.

“I had a stern word or two at half time and to be honest the guys came out and reacted well for 15 minutes or so and we caused them a few more problems and asked a few questions, but we didn’t score and you have to when you’re on top for a spell.

“The third goal was an out-swinging corner that somehow floated its way directly into our top left hand corner, in thirty years of football I’ve never seen that happen and the fourth was simply poor defending from a set-piece.”

Hollands & Blair host Croydon in what has been described as a must-win for both clubs.

Blackburn said: “Despite this result form and moral has been great in recent weeks and all of the players we’ve brought in are having an impact to make us an all-round better squad which is pleasing, we just need to turn performances into more points in the second half of the season which I’m sure we will do.

“We have no injury concerns and the squad is looking fit and strong. We may try and bring in one or two more where I think we need them but they will only be players who I know will definitely have an impact on our squad, but we’ll have to see what happens.

“We are solely focused on Saturday and getting three points at home, the fact it’s Croydon who are down there with us makes no difference to us at all, we respect all the teams in this league as there are no easy games for sure.

“We’ve prepared the same as we do for every game and won’t approach this game any differently.

“We have points in hand so the pressure is arguably on Croydon more so than us, we’re at home and psychologically a nine point gap would feel even greater at this stage of the season.

“We’ll have great support as well as we always do, I’ll keep the guys relaxed and we’ll do our best to go out and get three points on the board.”

Visit Hollands & Blair’s website:  www.hollandsandblair.co.uk

Hollands & Blair  v  Croydon
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Saturday 2 February 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Star Meadow, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3AN