'Competitive' Port are not picking up the points, says Derek Sweetman

Holyport are bottom of the Combined Counties Premier Division North with only five points to their name so far.

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Holyport are an increasingly competitive outfit in the Combined Counties Premier Division North, but unfortunately for manager Derek Sweetman and his assistant Sam Lock, that's not translating into more points.

Port find themselves rock bottom of the division with only five points banked from their opening 15 matches, and there's now a little gap opening to the sides just above them in the table.

Earlier this season Lock said if they could keep Port up this season, it would be a greater achievement than when Maidenhead United lifted the National League South title, when he was there as assistant to Alan Devonshire, and that doesn't look like that's a foolhardy suggestion.

Holyport were promoted into step five off the back of their results and performances in their two previous - truncated - seasons in Hellenic League Division 1 East, but the step up in quality has been marked, even if Sweetman does now feel they're starting to get to grips with this level.

On Saturday they lost again, 3-0 at relegation rivals Tadley Calleva in a game that was much closer than the score line suggests according to Sweetman.

“It was a competitive game, and it was a close one to start with,” he said. “Again, we had a few changes in the side, trying to blood the youngsters and give them experience. It's a difficult juggling act trying to give everyone minutes but also improving the youngsters.

“There were lots of positives. For the first 20 minutes I felt we were well in the game, and then we had a bit of bad luck where we conceded a sloppy goal, which deflected past our keeper. It was one of only two chances they had in the first half. We regrouped and for the next 10-15 minutes it was all us, we hit the crossbar through Dan Rapley.

“We were well in the game, but we were matching them toe-to-toe, but then we got done with a sucker punch.

“We bunged a few players forward in the last 5-10 minutes and got picked off for their second and the third.”

Everything seems to be going against Holyport right now. They've lost nine of their last 10 games in all competitions and can't seem to take the chances which come their way while they haven't been solid in defence. Against Burnham they struck the bar on three occasions in a 3-0 defeat and luck appeared to desert them again at Tadley on Saturday. Sweetman will be hoping the rub of the green goes their way at Wokingham & Emmbrook on Saturday.

“I can't complain, the boys have tried really hard and the system we're using at the moment is working well for us,” he said. “We're just not getting that rub of the green, and I know you make your own luck.

“Every mistake seems to be punished and I feel for the boys because they don't deserve to be on this long losing streak. But they also feel they're close and that it's all going to turn very soon. From our point of view, we also believe it will turn. But there's a gulf and we can't match most of the sides in this division financially.”

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