With just 11 games left of the season, we’re still very much in contention for a play-off position. After our failings in previous seasons over the winter period, this year we managed to glide through with relatively no issues. We sit third in the table, two points behind Maidstone with a game in hand, and six points off top. Joe Parker still leads the club’s scoring charts, with an impressive 17 goals in 33 games. Strike partners Lewis Gill and Harvey Knibbs have also broken double figures, meaning that our goal difference is the second best in the league.
We opened up November with a feisty affair with lowly Basingstoke. The hosts opened the scoring early on, but then gave away a penalty just minutes later. Top goalscorer Joe Parker stepped up, but blasted the ball straight at the keeper. Things went from bad to worse just after half time, as Charlie Owens ignored my pleas for him to calm down and picked up his second booking three minutes after the break. Even a late red card for Basingstoke was not enough to let us back in to the game.
What followed was a perfectly inconsistent run of games, winning one, losing the next. But we managed to resurrect our form after a 0-1 loss to leaders Dulwich Hamlet. That result had seen us drop to sixth, but we went on a run of nine games unbeaten. This included a 6-2 win against Bath, where James Daly netted 4 goals and provided an assist. This was part of a four game run where he netted 7 of the 8 goals that he has scored this year.
But the 6-2 against Bath wasn’t the highest scoring game of the Vanarama South this season. Fellow play-off contenders Torquay travelled to top half Dorchester (it wasn’t even one of the whipping boys!) and hit them for 10. 10-1! TEN – ONE! Jake Beesley got four and Nathan Blissett got a hat-trick. They only had 15 shots too! Why can’t my strikers do that?
Our run in the FA Trophy was ended by Vanarama North side Altrincham in the fourth round, which was disappointing after we had fairly comfortably seen off Eastbourne, Dover, and Dulwich Hamlet after a replay.
Joe Parker’s goals have started to dry up, he has only netted 5 times in the 17 games that he has featured in over the winter. The real star has been new signing Daniel Ballard, who we signed at the beginning of December from league rivals Dulwich. Since his arrival, Ballard has played 16 games and has an average rating of 7.26.
We have also had our regen day, where there is only one potential star. Centre back Nathan Crawford potentially has 3 1/2 star potential, and already has 9 Marking, 8 Tackling and 7 Positioning. With 11 leadership and 13 decisions, he looks like he will make a very good centre back, maybe even a captain, at Conference level.
What’s To Come?
We start our run-in against the free scoring Torquay, but then face quite a kind last few games. We only face 4 top half teams in our last 11 games, including a mouthwatering trip to second placed Maidstone on the penultimate matchday.
Should we finish in the play-offs, I will do an end of season update before playing through the play-offs in a bonus update. If we go up automatically, it will just be a normal end of year update, and if I don’t even reach the play-offs, I think I’ll just give up Football Manager!
Sorry for the lack of updates over the past month. It has been down to actually realising that I actually have to do some work in the final year of uni! I did also go through a spell of just not enjoying FM (you’ll find out why in a future update). I have now played on a bit and there is lots of exciting content to come! I will now be able to go back to two updates a week (Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm in the UK).