Hollands & Blair P-P Glebe - We'll have a lot of football, it's not going to be easy, says Glebe boss Gary Alexander
Hollands & Blair – Glebe
|Location||Star Meadow, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3AN|
HOLLANDS & BLAIR P-P GLEBE
Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 4 March 2020
Stephen McCartney reports from Darland Avenue
GLEBE manager Gary Alexander says his side’s fixture backlog is not going to be easy.
Tonight’s Sea Pioneer Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division game between Hollands & Blair and Glebe was postponed 65 minutes before kick-off after match referee Piotr Zacheieja (assisted by Michael Donnelly and Myles Hewson) deemed the pitch waterlogged, having inspected the pitch in the rain upon their arrival at half-past-six.
Glebe have still got 17 league games to play between Saturday and the final day of the season, which will be Saturday 25 April and they have got a two-legged Challenge Cup Semi-Final against Tunbridge Wells scheduled for 24 March and 31 March.
“We’ve got plenty of games, we’ve got 17 games to go, a two-legged Semi-Final, so they’ve got to be fitted in somewhere so the boys will have a lot of football, it’s not going to be easy,” said Alexander.
Both manager’s however, agreed that the referee was correct to call the game off – despite the ball rolling across the pitch during the pitch inspection.
“Right decision. At four o’clock, three o’clock the pitch was fine,” said Hollands & Blair manager Simon Halsey.
“With that rain coming in, we want to play to play a decent game of football, so does Gary.
“The far side with everyone sliding in, the referee’s probably got decisions to make that he might not have in a normal game that could affect our rest of the season with suspensions so along with Gary it was the right call at the end of the day.
“It’s disappointing because we want to play a game, after Saturday’s game at Canterbury City being called off as well but we push on and get ready for Saturday.
“We’ve got a grass pitch so we have to deal with it, same as a lot of teams do. Places like Chatham and K Sports are fortunate enough to have a 3G pitch and they can continue to play their games but it’s something that we have to suffer with.
“But it has been a bad February, it’s been the worst February in UK history for weather so we’ve only lost Glebe before Christmas here, Canterbury away and Glebe tonight.
“We’ll cope with it, we’ve played quite a few more games than everybody else so hopefully it won’t affect us too much.”
Alexander added: “I got to the ground pretty early. I had a walk on the pitch myself. I had a feeling, there’s standing water and there’s nothing you can do. It’s the best decision.
"We wanted a game of football and we all want to play football and we’re all hurting that we’re not playing football at the moment but safety comes into the fold.”
Hollands & Blair meanwhile are scheduled to travel to Crowborough Athletic on Saturday.
Sean Muggeridge’s side are second-from-bottom in the table with 19 points on the board from their 26 games and are level on points with Erith & Belvedere, who were thrashed 10-0 at title-chasing Corinthian last night in Del Oldfield's first game in charge.
“There’s nothing worse going to a team like that who are fighting for everything like they have been all season, fully committed giving 100% to their management and they’ll do exactly the same on Saturday,” warned Halsey.
“We’ve got to go down there mentally right to make sure we go down there with no illusions that they’re bottom of the league and it’s going to be an easy ride which myself and my team won’t let happen. We’ll be mentally ready for it and focused on the game.”
Beckenham Town produced a focused attitude during their 4-0 win over AFC Croydon Athletic at Eden Park Avenue last night and have banked 54 points from 25 games out of 36 games) while Corinthian sit in second-place with 52 points from 24 games.
Chatham Town are in third-place with 50 points from 25 games, Sheppey United are next on 48 points from 24 games, Tunbridge Wells are in fifth-place with 43 points from 22 games, while Hollands & Blair are next with 42 points from 26 games.
“We’ve shot ourselves in the foot really with a few draws that we had here against Punjab and K Sports, we drew with them twice in a matter of a month and that has really put a shock to us getting in the top two,” admitted Halsey.
“We just have got to try to look at that top three now and finish the season off on a high, it’s disappointing.
“I think if you finish in the top four, it’s a carrot for Hollands & Blair if I’m honest.
“I think the last month has cost us getting in that top two. We’ve just got to make sure we finish off strongly and don’t let all the good work that the players’ have out in, they’ve put some great work in.
“I’m getting a few injuries at the moment just for the effort and the energy they’ve put into the season to get us where we are, just having a little effect on a small squad with a small budget but it’s been most enjoyable though.”
Chislehurst based Glebe welcome K Sports to Foxbury Avenue on Saturday sitting in a disappointing position in the bottom five with 25 points from 19 games.
K Sports sit immediately above them in the league table but Alexander’s side have 10 games in hand on their opponents.
“I’m expecting a difficult game. K Sports have given some teams some good games and made it difficult for teams,” said Alexander.
“We’ve played them a couple of times this season but I expect nothing different than a tough game.
“They’ll be looking at the league table knowing we’ve got 10 games in hand and they want to finish as high as possible so I’m sure we’re in for a tough game.
“We’ll turn up to train tomorrow and prepare for K Sports on Saturday.”
Now, the Southern Counties East Football League must follow in the example of the Isthmian League by re-arranging postponed fixtures within six weeks to prevent sides that have cup runs suffering from fixture back-logs during the final couple of months in the season.
Also, playing more midweek games during the months of August, September and October to ensure every club has reached at least halfway before Christmas will also solve the long-term issue of fixture backlogs – as well as saving the County Cups and Challenge Cups after Christmas and playing those fixtures in midweek.
The League must also copy the Isthmian League by putting pitch inspection times and outcomes on their League website and tell its member clubs to do the same on their Twitter accounts.
Hollands & Blair were contacted twice during the day to ask if there was a pitch inspection at Darland Avenue and no pitch inspection was arranged before the match referees arrival.
In an ideal world all pitch inspections should be completed by 11 o’clock on a Saturday morning and by four o’clock in the afternoon for midweek games to prevent wasted journeys for everybody.
Alexander revealed he was going to blood some of the club’s home-grown talent in tonight’s fixture and for the remainder of the season.
“We’re going through a period at the club where we’ve got a lot of youngsters in the building at the moment,” revealed Alexander.
“We had three in the side tonight from the under 18s, which is great for Glebe and we’re just taking a little bit of a different route, which is good for the club and we’ll see if we can unearth a few hidden gems between now and the end of the season, so hopefully that will be the case but we’ve got plenty of football for them to prove themselves.”
Reflecting on their league position, Alexander replied: “Look, we’ve not achieved what we wanted to achieve. It’s been a difficult season coming in and changing a team and then changing it again and the situation with Greenwich, where we lost six points probably put us out of the race, put us out of any involvement in the top two.”
Meanwhile, no team sheets were exchanged as the game was called off at around 18:40, which is 20 minutes before the team sheets go into the match referee.
Hollands & Blair:
Referee: Mr Piotr Zacheieja
Assistants: Mr Michael Donnelly & Mr Myles Hewson