Holbeach boss Barnes growing into his role
Holbeach United endured a mixed bag of fortunes this season before the enforced COVID-19 break.
The United Counties League Premier Division outfit started off their campaign – a month later than normal due to COVID-19 – with new manager Phil Barnes in charge of the Carter’s Park-based side.
A 1-0 win against Kirby Muxloe in the Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round was followed up with a poor 4-0 defeat at home to Sheffield in the next round.
Another poor performance saw Holbeach suffer a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Loughborough University, this time in first round qualifying for the Buildbase FA Vase.
But then came a confidence-building run which saw Barnes’ side go six games unbeaten, including a terrific 2-1 revenge win over the Scholars.
Just before lockdown, Holbeach had a chance of Kitman UK League Cup glory, only to be beaten 1-0 by Rothwell Corinthians in a final held over from last season.
Barnes said: “It was a difficult start for us, with the defeats in the FA Cup and Vase, but we got rid of that bad feeling by going on the run we went on.
“I came in at the start of the season and, maybe for me, it was a bit of an adjustment that I needed to get used to in managing at this level.
“I wanted to do well as a manager and it was pleasing for me that even when the results weren’t coming, the players still took everything I was saying on board and they continued to impress me.
“It was something I always wanted to do, it just had to be the right time for me and I think it was.
“In regards to this season, I think discipline-wise we’ve had a couple of chats about it and I’m hoping that will be done now.
“But injuries-wise, it’s just an unfortunate thing and every club will get them this season, so it’s about making the most of our squad and that’s what we’ll do.
“We’ve got quality all throughout the squad, especially now we’ve got the likes of Jonny Lockie and Josh Ford back in the fold, so we’ll be especially strong.
“We’ve also added Fraser Bayliss so it’s looking very good for us going forward.
“We’ll be looking to keep our fitness levels up throughout lockdown, and we’ll give the players training plans as it gets closer to the time of return.”
The Tigers’ first game after lockdown is due to be a home rematch with Corinthinas on Saturday, December 5.