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Sweetman: Holyport players have the right mindset to challenge once again for promotion

Photo: Andrew Batt/Football in Berkshire

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Derek Sweetman says his Holyport players are in a state of mind to fight for every result at the moment, and he says they’ll need to be with the Hellenic League Division 1 East looking more competitive than ever before.

On Friday night Holyport won 2-0 away at Langley FC, Adam Sharp and Josh Lowther scoring the goals which settled a hard-fought but deserved win for the visitors.

The result lifted Sweetman’s side up to second in the table and they once again look a decent bet for promotion to a new Thames Valley league that’s going to be created at step five. But Sweetman believes at least six, possibly eight, clubs could challenge them for one of the four promotion berths.

“It was a good game to be fair,” said Sweetman. “I felt we deserved the win, but we had to work a little bit hard for it. The boys are in a state of mind where they’re quite willing to fight for all the causes and, at the moment, it’s going quite well.

“It was an even start but we dominated most of the first half. They had a shot which hit the post early in the game, but we took over in the next 15 minutes and after that it was just a case of waiting for us to finish the game off. Adam scored with a good header and then we finished it off in the second half with a goal from Josh Lowther.

“We’ve played more games than most in this league, one or two more than some of the teams around us. It’s turning out to be a very challenging league this year. You can’t really afford to lose too many games because if you do, you’ll be out of it quite early.”

He added: “I’m quite pleased with our start. We’ve lost one game out of the eight that we’ve played and, if we carry on doing that, we should be in amongst the top four to go up at the end of the season.”

The club’s focus remains unchanged from last season but Sweetman believes it will be harder for the side to finish in the top four, and insists they can’t afford to lose focus, even for three or four matches, as that might be enough to leave them out of the running.

“We’re trying to reach the top four, but this year there’s more teams that could be challenging for it so it’s going to be harder to achieve,” he said. “You’ve got to get the points on the board when you can, and I think the boys understand that. I think there are at least six teams who could challenge, possibly eight. If you lose two or three games on the trot then you’d drop down the league and then it becomes, not so much a relegation battle, but a struggle to get back into that top four again. The focus is on trying to get as many points on the board as possible. I’ve been very pleased with the boy’s attitude, hopefully we’re headed in the right direction.”

Next up Port welcome Long Crendon to Summerleaze this Saturday.

“It’ll be a tough game,” said Sweetman. “They’re a good side who’ve been together a long time but have added some players as well. It won’t be an easy game for sure but, as I’ve said, I don’t think there will be any easy games this season.”

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