Melton Town & Holwell Sports bosses have their say on derby

Rival managers Tom Manship (in foreground), of Melton, and Holwell's Neil Miller keep a close eye on a chaotic derby EMN-191218-091305002
Rival managers Tom Manship (in foreground), of Melton, and Holwell's Neil Miller keep a close eye on a chaotic derby EMN-191218-091305002
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While a wonderful match for the neutral, Tuesday’s derby was one to leave both managers scratching their heads.

For Town player-manager Tom Manship, it was a game of thirds rather than of two halves which his side ultimately had the better of.

“It’s definitely the strangest game I’ve ever been involved in as manager,” said Manship.

“For a game split into three parts, I was pleased with two-thirds.

“I was really pleased with the ability in the first 30 minutes, not so pleased with the next 30 minutes, and pleased with our character in the final half-hour.

“We played some great stuff from the start and stuck to our philosophy.

“We got on the ball and kept possession really well and raced into a 4-0 lead by doing what we practice.”

Manship believes complacency then set in as the meanest defence in Division One conceded four times in less than 20 minutes, having let in just eight goals in their previous 13 league matches.

“I can’t really explain the next 30 minutes,” he added.

“I told the team before the game about Holwell’s strength set-pieces, but they went and scored three times from set-pieces.

“We deviated from our philosophy and became more player-led than manager-led with some players doing what they wanted.

“But then we found an extra gear and started playing our own game again. Everyone stepped up.

“When you start thinking it’s easy, football will come back and bite you, so we just need to get back to being solid.”

There was equal bafflement in the opposite dugout where Miller was left to rue his strategy.

“I’m big enough and ugly enough to admit when I’m wrong,” he said.

“I set up to contain and try to shift Melton left to right and stop their full-backs getting forward, but they were too good for us in the middle and we weren’t good enough to contain them.

“We looked like a rabbit in the headlights for the first 35 minutes, and I take responsibility for that, but the lads also had to take some responsibility, too.

“At 35 minutes I thought we can either play for pride or I can try and jump in a car at half-time and hope no-one sees me leave.”

But rather than take the easy way out, Miller opted to let the players revert to their tried and trusted approach.

“It didn’t work so we went back to what we knew, pressed them and put the squeeze on and it became a different game,” he explained.

“I thought we were the better team in the second half and had two or three chances to go in front.

“Aaron Black, Harry Allcock and Stan Logan made four very accomplished defenders look ordinary – they were superb.”

Miller added: “We have proven that anything’s possible. In those 20 minutes we put four goals past what I still believe to be the best team in that league.

“In the last 55 minutes I saw courage, commitment and pride to wear the badge and I can’t ask for anymore than that.”