Lock hopeful Holyport can kick on after a tough run of fixtures

Holyport’s assistant boss Sam Lock was diagnosed with COVID on Tuesday morning, less than 24-hours after his side succumbed to a 4-0 home defeat to league leaders Hanworth Villa.

Lock expects to shake off the virus in time for Port’s next league fixture at home to Virginia Water on Saturday, January 15, and he’ll have plenty of time in isolation over the coming day to reflect on the side’s defeat to Villa.

The home side didn’t do too much wrong for nearly an hour, but the visitors clinically took their chances in the final 40 minutes to show why they’re unbeaten this season and 12 points clear of their closest challengers North Greenford United.

For Port, this game brought an end to a run of tough fixtures against sides in the top six. They lost all of them, to Abbey Rangers, Egham Town and Hanworth, so remain bottom of the table, but showed enough quality during that run to suggest they can get out of trouble. They’ll now fancy their chances of picking up more points from a more favourable set of fixtures in the early weeks of the new year.

“I was diagnosed with COVID this morning so that’s fun,” said Lock. “I’ve got a bit of a dry cough but nothing too bad.

“We had four out with COVID for Monday’s game, so it’s everywhere at the moment. Ash Hunt who’s been scoring our goals was out, our two centre halves were out and our young lad from Maidenhead, Kickie Dzimba, was out as well. That didn’t help because we’ve had a more settled team in recent weeks and when you start making changes, it changes the shape and the system. It makes it unfamiliar for the boys, but they’re the best side we’ve played so far, and they punished our mistakes.

“I wouldn’t say there was that much between the teams but when we made a mistake, they punished us and were cutthroat. That’s why they’re where they are and Holyport are where they are. But our season won’t be dictated by results against Hanworth Villa, it will be against the teams in and around us.”

The fixture list hasn’t been especially kind to Port either, with Lock saying they’ve played five of the top six both home and away this season. However, in theory that should mean they have an easier run of fixtures – on paper at least – during the second half of the campaign.

“We’ve played five of the top six twice already, that’s 10 of our games and half of our season,” he said.

“The rest of the season is more against teams in and around us so that gives us more of an opportunity to pick up points.

“We’ve played against all these big sides, with big budgets and we’re not expected to beat teams like that. But what we have been is competitive, and up until the hour mark yesterday we were competitive.

“Villa were very good though and I think they’ll win the league by a country mile. They can play, but also do the ugly stuff as well.”

He added: “It’s our own mini league at the bottom. There are five or six teams battling to get out of the bottom four, and then there’s a gap of a few more points to the sides above who we’d like to bring into it as well. Two wins changes everything, the whole mindset. But I know we’re doing well because the feedback rival teams have been getting about us has been positive and we can feel it as a team.”

As a side note, one interested observer at Summerleaze Village on Monday was former Arsenal and England player Paul Merson, there to see his two sons, Ben and Sam, in action for Hanworth.

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