FOOTBALL: Holbeach United looking to stay in title race
Holbeach United boss Seb Hayes is calling for a perfect response to stay in the title race.
The Tigers dropped into third place after a 4-0 defeat at Wisbech Town on Boxing Day.
However, they are still nine points behind Saturday’s opponents Newport Pagnell Town with three games in hand to cut the gap.
Hayes said: “I hate getting beaten – but we haven’t lost anything in terms of games in hand over the top two.
“We can pick up points by putting it right.
“We need to go to Newport Pagnell on Saturday and win. That would keep us in the title race, otherwise we would be looking at the top four or five places.
We need to go to Newport Pagnell on Saturday and win. That would keep us in the title race, otherwise we would be looking at the top four or five places.
“We had a target of seven points over the festive period but we would be happy now to take six having won at home to Deeping Rangers.
“We will see what we are all about on Saturday. We need a response.”
However, Holbeach are unhappy that the kick-off time was brought forward to 2pm as more players will be unavailable due to other commitments.
Hayes added: “I only found out at 8pm on Christmas Eve that it had been changed.
“You don’t expect to get six days’ notice for a top-of-the-table clash.
“We asked to reverse the fixture because we haven’t played them at home.
“But the league told us it would be short notice – even though they think moving it to 2pm is acceptable.
“The extra hour makes a difference for players and staff who are working on Saturday morning or need to look after their children.
“We’ve got lads who travel from Lincoln and Boston so a few of them might struggle to change arrangements.
“This will cause us massive problems and the league are not prepared to help us.
“It should work both ways. This is wrong – it’s not our fault that four bulbs in Newport Pagnell’s floodlights have not been fixed since December 16.
“We want to go there with our best available team and we won’t be able to do that if the kick-off time is earlier.
“We want the best chance to be competitive by playing our strongest side available.”
Charley Sanders, Mitch Griffiths and Dan Dougill are serving suspensions.
Matt Warfield was ruled out of the game at Wisbech due to injury.
Holbeach’s squad and management team held talks immediately after the 4-0 derby defeat.
As the players headed to the dressing room, Tigers boss Hayes reflected on a terrible start to the second half of the season.
He said: “We let ourselves down. The message out there was that we can’t keep playing games with 10 men.
“We needed to start well – but we had lost the game after 15 minutes.
“We didn’t feel it should have been a free-kick before the first goal.
“Those two early goals have really cost us rather than the sending-off and we caused them problems after that.
“Lewis Leckie should have scored just before half-time and he had another chance in the second half.
“At 2-0 up against 10 men, Wisbech didn’t need to do a lot more.
“It was a ridiculous red card for Stacy Cartwright, just like when Sanders was sent off against Rothwell Corinthians.
“We had to keep the score down and at the start of the second half, I thought we looked better going forward.
“There was no way that we could get through all of these games with the same squad so we had to rotate players.
“We came back with a bit of fight and pride to a degree. The third goal looked offside and that killed us off.
“We were open too much when we should have taken a 3-0 defeat.
“If it had stayed at 1-0 with 10 men going into the final half an hour, you have still got a chance.
“But you can’t play for 76 minutes with 10 men at 2-0. We have to give ourselves a chance.
“The first 15 minutes let us down but we had prepared properly knowing Wisbech are on a good run of form as well.
“You could accept losing 2-1 if it was nip and tuck.
“But in three derbies with Wisbech since I took over at Holbeach, we have conceded 14 goals and scored three.”