Progress to the next round would be a huge achievement for us after the start to the season we’ve had, admits Hollands & Blair boss Darren Blackburn

Friday 18th January 2019

HOLLANDS & BLAIR manager Darren Blackburn says he wants to rebuild the faith shown in him by the committee by winning a place in the Kent Senior Trophy Semi-Finals tomorrow.

The Gillingham based club are in the bottom three in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, having collected three wins and three draws from their 21 games.

Blackburn’s side are six points clear of the two sides within the relegation zone, Croydon and Rusthall.

But all attention now turns to their trip to Oakley Road tomorrow to take on Holmesdale, a side that are in sixth-place in the First Division table with 40 points from 21 games.

Joint-managers Andy Constable and Keith Levett have been in charge for a couple of games.  They lost 3-2 at Sutton Athletic before coming away from Lewisham Borough with a 1-0 win last time out.

“Our cup run has been a welcome distraction from our current league position,” said Blackburn, whose side are winless in six games in all competitions.

“The players and staff are looking forward to tomorrow and can’t wait to get going.

“Our squad was assembled very late and originally we lacked a little strength in depth for this level. However, over recent weeks we have continued to add to the squad with the additions of lively Snodland forward Harry Dawes and the experienced goalkeeper Shannon Harris.

“We’ve also employed the services of former player and now qualified physio Alex Armstrong, to ensure we keep playing as fit as possible in the second half of the season.

“Experienced players Ed Morant and Kieran Sharp have returned to fitness over the Christmas period, which will be like two new great signings for us and after a long lay-off Jordan Gallagher is looking sharper every game.

“The signing of Reiss Crimmen from Sittingbourne has been a success for us. He’s another great character to add to our dressing room and compliments the rest of the guys who have been fantastic over recent weeks.

“They’ve worked hard in training and there’s a renewed buzz and confidence about them.  Like myself, they are looking up the table and can’t wait to see what they’re capable off over the rest of the season.”

Despite their poor run of form, Blackburn is confident his side can start climbing the league table and avoid the drop.

“After reviewing the first half of our season over the Christmas period, I’ve made some adjustments off the field with the recent addition of former Tonbridge Angels and Sittingbourne assistant manager Barry Crimmen as first team coach.

“Barry brings a wealth of experience of this level of football and above and his knowledge of the game and enthusiasm I feel will also help us to improve over the rest of the season.

“We’ve played some excellent football away from home over the last couple of weeks. At Beckenham we took a deserved point and we followed that up with another good performance at Sittingbourne last week.

“I’d like to pass on my best wishes to injured Sittingbourne defender Lex Allan a speedy recovery and also wish new manager Chris Lynch all the best for the rest of the season.

“We’re looking fitter, stronger and more confident every weekend and I’m pleased to say we’re playing some football now that doesn’t reflect our league position at all, which is very encouraging.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s Quarter-Final tie, Blackburn said: “We are taking the challenge of Holmesdale in the cup tomorrow very seriously indeed. 

“I won’t allow the players to show any disrespect towards them. However, after the last couple of games the players have earned the right to feel confident going into the game.

“We have prepared this week as we would if we were playing a top team from our league and will need to show the same grit, determination and quality on the ball we have in recent weeks to get a favourable result.

“I’ve spoken to Andy Constable this week. Like myself, he’s working extremely hard to get things in place how he wants them and I’m expecting a tough game but if we do the right things in the right areas I feel we can cause them enough problems to win the game and progress to the next round, which would be a huge achievement for us after the start to the season we’ve had.

“The committee and our supporters and the lads deserve it because they’ve been superb during a tough season so far and I’d like to repay their support with a day out at a Semi-Final.”

Visit Hollands & Blair’s website:

Holmesdale  v  Hollands & Blair
Kent Senior Trophy Quarter-Final
Saturday 19 January 2019
Kick Off 3:00pm
at 68 Oakley Road, Bromley, Kent BR2 8HG