After the wholesale changes that I made in the summer, I was unsure at how my squad would react. But it is fair to say that the team has hit the ground running. By the start of November, we sit in fourth place, having lost just 3 games. Lewis Gill has continued where he left off last season with 15 goals from his 20 appearances, and we look well in the promotion contention.
After a steady start, a 0-0 draw with tipped play-off contenders Whitehawk, our new winger James Waite saw off the relegated Torquay. We did lose the following game, but that would prove to be a rare occurrence. A Lewis Gill hat-trick saw off Welling as we scored 11 goals in the next 4 games, taking 3 out of 4 wins. Two mad games followed, a 1-6 defeat to 20th placed Havant & Waterlooville, cancelled out by a 6-1 thumping of Gosport.
Both games were surprisingly equal, with one team being more clinical than the other. As you can see from the Havant game, they had 6 shots on target and scored 6 goals – good work Emmanuel Idem! Interestingly our goal came through an own goal from centre back Charlie Gatter – remember that name. Gosport did get a red card, but we were well in control before they went down to 10 men so they can’t use that as an excuse.
After the Gosport game, we went a further 6 games unbeaten, although this did include two FA Cup replays against lowly Frome Town and Merstham. Joe Parker bailed out our rotated team against Frome, scoring a 92nd minute equaliser to take it to a replay. We then let the lead slip twice against Merstham, with a 90th minute own goal from Lewis Tallack taking us to penalties in the replay. As a result of these scares, I played a strong team against Truro, and was rewarded with a 4-1 win, including two from Gill.
Although we are sitting comfortably in fourth, key winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie picked up an injury in the replay against Merstham, and will be out until mid-January.
This season we have settled on a 4-2-4 formation. The four at the back have proved very reliable (apart from the 6-1 demolition by Havant), with James Granger sitting in front of the defence. I like to keep the instructions fairly limited, so as not to over-complicate things for the players. We play fairly narrow, making the defensive unit very compact and hard to break down, whilst when attacking the wingers will tuck in to give support to the strikers, with the full backs providing the width with the ‘look for overlap’ instruction on. I also look to play at a higher tempo and to press more, as we look to win the ball back higher up the pitch to start attacks.
As we look at the player stats, there are very few players that have an average rating higher than a 7. Only the defence, Lewis Gill, and the injured Bell-Baggie have averaged over a 7, which, given our positive results, is a bit concerning. Gill’s 15 goals put him well in the lead as our top scorer, with no-one else getting more than 3. Gill’s 5 assists also puts him top of the assists charts, one ahead of Bell-Baggie.
What’s to come?
Our next game is an FA Cup 1st Round match against League 2 Grimsby, and being at home could see an upset at the Tatnam Ground. We face Canvey Island in the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round, so should progress comfortably there. In the league, we have a favourable run of fixtures until the new year, but face a tough run of promotion contenders in January.
Thanks for sticking with the blog despite this long absence. I’ve not had the time to play much FM with essay deadlines and having a dissertation to write. But the uploads should be a lot more regular from now on. Thanks for reading and hopefully we will see Poole in the Prem very soon!