Apr/May 2016 Frigg 1-2 Nest-Sotra (D2)
We got off to a bad start at home to Nest-Sotra. They took the lead after 10 minutes. Lynum soon equalized, but they were clearly the better and got a second goal early after half-time, and more pushing gave them another disallowed later.
Follo 0-0 Frigg (D2)
We went to Follo and battered them for all of the first-half. Lynum was unlucky to have a goal disallowed later on. We weren’t as good in the second half but really should have got a winner.
Vigor 1-1p Frigg (NC)
We struggled to get much at Vigor in the cup either. They took the lead instead after 60 minutes, but Buljo equalized 5 minutes later. We had a penalty claim denied in extra time, but in the shootout we saved their 4th penalty to send us through.
Frigg 1-1 Kjelsas (D2)
We were lucky not to go behind at half-time at home to Kjelsas. In the second half, it looked like we were turning the tables on them, but midway through the half they snatched the lead they’d been threatening from the start. That seemed to be that, but we roused ourselves enough for Haug to give us a late equalizer.
Lillehammer 1-1 Frigg (D2)
Lillehammer were rather more efficient at taking the lead against us at their place. They quietened down, but we didn’t do much ourselves until a late rally gave us a point from a Lund equalizer.
Skeid 1-4 Frigg (D2)
We were behind in the 4th minute at Skeid. Though they were poor enough that goals from Kristansen and Bye gave us the lead by half-time without really deserving it. We had a stronger spell in the second half, with 2 more Kristansen goals giving us a deceptively good-looking 4-1 win.
Frigg 2-1 Bryne (NC)
However we’d definitely turned a corner for now, and at home to Bryne in the cup, challenging for promotion from the First Division, we had a good start before Ovrebo gave us the lead, they hit back with an equalizer, after having a goal disallowed, but we pushed on to try and get the win, and got it from Lund late on.
Frigg 4-1 Ullern (D2)
Ullern were a walk in the park after that. Kristiansen gave us the lead after 5 minutes, with Bye (having taken the right-wing position back from Jensen this season) getting a second from a penalty after 20 and another later on in the half. They got a goal back, but we were never in much danger, and the Dane Jacobsen (on for Kristansen, who was injured shortly before half-time) wrapped up the win with a 4th.
June/July 2016 Frigg 2-1 Lorenskog (NC)
We played Lorenskog in the next round of the cup, and Bye got another goal to give us the lead after 15 minutes. We were never really superior, so their equalizer after an hour wasn’t a surprise. 10 minutes later however, Bye was tripped, and he played the resulting free-kick onto a Haug header which restored the lead, and we spend the final 20 minutes battering them, and being denied another by poor finishing.
Bodo-Glimt 2-2p (Frigg (NC)
In the next round we were at Premier Division club Bodo-Glimt, and weren’t afraid to go for them. We didn’t have the quality to break them, but Sildnes (who despite keeping the ‘liability’ nickname, hadn’t made any silly errors since his first season) managed to pull off some saves to stop us being penalised. Jonassen gave us the lead in the second half, but they managed to put the ball past Sildnes to equalize in the 77th minute. It all seemed to be over in extra time as they scored in the first minute, and had another disallowed in the 5th, but with 8 minutes left, Haug stepped in to head an equalizer from a corner, as we were still trying to get something. Sildnes cemented his place as the hero of the match by saving their 4th penalty, and Ovrebo scored our 5th to send us through to the quarter-finals, the only Second Division side left (with Tromsdalen as the other non-Premier side meaning we couldn’t claim that accolade).
Notodden 2-1 Frigg (D2)
It was back to league disappointment at Notodden. They pushed us hard early on, and having survived that, and mounting a charge of our own, the defence fell in to give them 2 goals before half-time. We had a bit of life left and got a late consolation from Lund, but a point was long beyond us. After we went behind at Lorenskog, we quickly fought back, and after a few chances we equalized through Bye. Both sides threatened to grab a winner, and right at the end it was Lund who secured it for us.
Frigg 3-1 Strommen (D2)
We were behind early again (for about the 50th time) at home to Strommen, Haug heading us level but otherwise we were lucky not to go behind again before half-time. We took control of the match in the second half. Hakon giving us the lead early after the break, and Haug’s late second put it beyond them.
Aug 2016 Frigg 1-3 Raufoss (D2)
It happened again! Raufoss were ahead at our ground after 15 minutes, and soon had a second. Lund quickly pulled one back, but in the second half they got a third to ensure that there would be no comeback this time, with an injury time own-goal in our favour making the score look close.
Asker 2-3 Frigg (D2)
The tradition continued after 12 minutes at Asker. Hakon equalized, and with both sides showing considerable defensive weakness, it was Hakon who managed to power the ball into the net on the stroke half-time. We took control in the second half, Lund giving us another goal before they got a last-minute consolation.
Sogndal 2-1 (aet) Frigg (NC)
We went to holders Sogndal in the cup quarter-final, and as they were in a relegation battle I thought we were in with a chance. It was also my 100th Frigg game, and even if we lost I’d enjoy the experience. We both came close to the lead early on, Sildnes saving a penalty after a few minutes. They took the lead (the 6th game in a row that we had conceded first) midway through the first-half, but Schroder levelled it 10 minutes from the break. Midway through the second half we ran out of steam and they hit us with chance after chance, Sildnes managing to keep them out until midway through the second half when he was beaten with a header from a corner, and a late spark of life from us came to nothing, however we couldn’t be too downhearted.
Frigg 4-1 Drobak-Frogn (D2)
We recovered at home to a Drobak-Frogn side who were bottom with just 1 point. We broke the run of going behind with Schroder giving us the lead. They equalized, but an own-goal quickly restored the advantage, which was extended by Hakon before the break. Jonassen wrapped it up with a 4th midway through the second half.
Valerenga 2 1-1 Frigg (D2)
I never looked forward to facing Valerenga 2, especially away, and with the senior side racing to a second title in a row, the reserves benefited with better fringe players. They took the lead, and we were lacklustre, just about avoiding conceding more, and snatching a late point from an own-goal.
Just seven points off the top despite some inconsistent form - thats not bad at all!
At first glance, but when you take into account the shorter seasons it's worth the same as a far bigger gap. We're talking over half a point per game worse off and a 10 point gap (the PL equivalent for the halfway point, or 13.5 for the same number of games left in a season) wouldn't look so good I imagine. Still having made the calculations it's not quite as bad as I thought it would be, but still some distance.
Sept 2016 Nest-Sotra 3-1 Frigg (D2)
Going to Nest-Sotra, top of the league, was never going to be comfortable. They took the usual early lead, and aided by a poor defence, got 2 more in the second half. We had been probing them for a lot of the match, and had a burst of pressure for the last phase of the game, Lynum giving us a goal, and we could have had another or even an equalizer with a bit more luck.
Kjelsas 1-2 Frigg (D2)
Early on at Kjelsas we faced much the same problems, and they also took the lead, but in the second half we managed to stop the flow, and Lund equalized. We took control with limited success, however it was enough to snatch a lucky win with another Lund goal.
Frigg 3-0 Lillehammer (D2)
We were inspired enough to step up a few gears at home to Lillehammer. Hakon gave us the lead in the first half, and he got a second after Oftedal doubled our lead in a quietly comfortable win.
Frigg 2-1 Follo (D2)
We rode our luck a bit at home to Follo, the first half was an even affair, but we twice got corners that led to own goals to give us a 2-0 lead. They hit back in the second-half, getting a goal and should have at least snatched a point.
Oct 2016 Frigg 0-1 Skeid (D12
We had a good early burst at home to Skeid, but that soon faded and soon they were on to us, but without a lot of competence either. Neither side looked like getting anything until the final few minutes when they broke us by heading in a corner, and we had a couple of late chances to equalize.
Ullern 0-3 Frigg (D2)
A trip to Ullern was never going to be tricky, and first-half chances were plentiful, but it was a brace of penalties from Bye that gave us a 2-0 lead. Hakon gave us a goal from open play early in the second half, and while we deserved more, the closest we got was a Lund effort ruled out.
Notodden 2-1 Frigg (D2)
We came very close to getting something at home to Notodden. They took the lead after almost 15 minutes, but Hakon managed to head an equalizer shortly after half-time. We looked good value for a point, but they headed in a tough winner with 5 minutes left.
Strommen 1-1 Frigg (D2)
We were expected to lose at Strommen, but came out fighting, and took the lead through Lund, stopping them from mounting too much of a fightback in the first half even though we weren’t likely to get more. We were rather less successful in a one-sided second half, but while we conceded an equalizer (and were lucky that they had a penalty shout turned down) we were able to hold out for a draw.
Frigg 3-1 Lorenskog (D2)
Little was expected at home to Lorenskog either, especially when they went ahead after 7 minutes. However we were able to come out stronger, Lund equalizing in the middle of the first-half, followed by Jacobsen 10 minutes later. Again we faced plenty of second half pressure, but as well as holding on, Jacobsen secured a 3-1 win.
Nov 2016 Frigg 2-0 Asker (D2)
The first half at home at Asker didn’t look like it was going anywhere. In the second half, we upped the ante and a quick double from Hakon and Lund, 10 minutes after half-time, was the only really eventful part of what turned into a 2-0 win.
Drobak-Frogn 0-5 Frigg (D2)
We struggled at no-hopers Drobak-Frogn in a goal-less and even first half, but the second half was something else entirely. In the second half, Lund ran rampant with a hat-trick, getting a late 4th after Bye got a goal of his own with 15 minutes left.
Raufoss 2-1 Frigg (D2)
A trip to Raufoss was a rather tougher game, yet we would have managed with a better defence, which eventually let them in shortly before half-time. They got another early in the second half, which made the difference given we got a late goal from Oftedal.
Frigg 3-1 Valerenga 2 (D2)
The last game was at home to Valerenga 2, a side I wouldn’t miss, though this time they were rather generous. Hakon gave us the lead in the first half, while Bye had another ruled out. He got his goal with a penalty a few minutes into the second half, then scored another after they got a goal back, making it a Bye-Bye to say Bye-bye with, both for me and the player.
I had settled in leaving before the stronger second half of the season, which actually made it less clear cut, however it wasn’t simply a lack of progress, especially after a promising second season, but the recent patterns of complete inconsistency and that we seemed to look a lot closer than we were late in the season because of a ‘too little, too late’ form surge combined with faltering form from the top sides, indeed this time we weren’t even throwing away silly points that would have given us a real shot. Plus even if we could snatch top spot (an improvement which with the team being a lot more gelled and maturing, was far less likely to happen now), the sides that had been promoted from our league often struggled (not helped by 4 relegation spots) in the First Division, so didn’t rate our chances of progression if I stayed, and in a way the cup run was something I saw as a minor high to go out on. On top of all that, I hadn’t bonded with the side the way I often would, so while I liked the stability after Slovenia and Sweden, I felt that if I was going to get anywhere here, I’d have looked a lot more like doing so by now. Reaching a club record high position of 4th at the end made the decision to not renew my contract much tougher, but I also knew that didn’t promise much more for the future, and the final point was that we rode our luck rather a lot more than we were unlucky, with late goals, snatching something in even games, and resisting a lot of pressure, which made a big difference in how our season looked a league like this, meaning I was taking this season with an even greater pinch of salt.
Star player: Bye
The winger was on slightly above 10% of the wage budget, a maximum guideline that I was turning into a sort of rule, so after a good year (admitedly boosted a lot by a late run, and a handful of penalties) he'd be off as well.
Think you've done the right call on leaving there, you gave a proper go at Frigg, being there for 3 years, and at least you did improve them a bit but there doesn't seem to be much future.
Have you signed for a new club, or at least been linked to any? I personally would be a bit wary of moving away from *any* club (even frigging Frigg) if I hadn't been linked anywhere, had a few bad experiences on moving too early in FM11..
Think you've done the right call on leaving there, you gave a proper go at Frigg, being there for 3 years, and at least you did improve them a bit but there doesn't seem to be much future.
Have you signed for a new club, or at least been linked to any? I personally would be a bit wary of moving away from *any* club (even frigging Frigg) if I hadn't been linked anywhere, had a few bad experiences on moving too early in FM11..
4 years, and I have the same feeling as when I was doing a long trial run for the last save, I left St Albans too quickly after a few BSP near misses, ended up spending a very short time in Sweden that ended in relegation. There as speculation with BSP clubs (and I think maybe L2) as well while I was in Norway, though not as one of the favourites for any job. There was an improvement in the jobs I was able to be offered, from before Frigg though not by that much, so I was able to reject the first few offers from clubs, not just those newly promoted or in big relegation trouble, which was mostly all I had before, so I knew there'd be something I'd settle for, before deciding on somewhere (will update shortly on details) though in the short term it doesn't look promising.
I can understand your reasonings behind leaving Frigg but wasn't you tempted to stay considering the slight improvements you were making? I guess sometimes you just know when to call it a day. It is somewhat fitting that Bye was saying bye in the last game .
Since we finished the season far stronger than I thought we would, I must admit that having mulled it over for ages before settling on going, I was suddenly wondering whether to stay after all, especially when they tried again to offer me a new deal with a month and then a week to go so it was far from clear-cut, and I knew I was rolling the dice a bit, but I decided to stick to leaving. Jury definitely will be still out for a while over whether that was a good move.
There was only a slight increase in the quality and quantity of available jobs, the best perhaps being Forest Green (rejected due to being a bit over what I thought was an excessive 7kpw budget anyway) and a Portuguese side sitting above relegation (which would have been accepted, but having been frustrated about the lack of opportunities to progress in Norway, Portugal would be even tougher). In the spring I got an offer from Sportist Svoge, who were then sitting comfortably above relegation in the Bulgarian ‘B’ division, but having decided to take it at the end of the season, they survived but with much more difficulty than before. I actually took charge right before the last game, a promising 3-0 win at home to a mid-table side.
The situation did not look too good. They were a bit in the red, a bit over wage budget (with just a couple of high earners on expiring contracts, not giving much room to maneuver), with a core of quality players (the high earners, making it just as well that I couldn’t let more than a couple go for wage budget reasons) but the rest being rather rubbish. Even with maxed out wage budgets I had less than 200pw spare, without really being able to afford letting anyone else go for either quantity (only having 14 first teamers) or quality (I’d love to offload a few more in any other circumstances, which wouldn’t yield much extra). Releasing every reserve and youth player actually more than doubled the amount I could play with, which could give me room a few good free agents, if I found any, and the field was sparse to say the least, with rejections and long term injuries limiting things even further, and in the end the 2 players I got were of little interest other than shoring things up for now.
On balance I was focussing on the short term. The board for some reason were expecting relegation, despite being consistently mid-table in recent seasons. I was determined to just so what I can and survive for now, sort out a load of frees for next year in January, maybe have a better wage situation, and maybe if I can get a better set of players, I’d probably have to wait for some gelling to see progress. The positives were that if injuries didn’t mess us around much, we’d probably have a decent season, and the low expectations meant I could bide my time.
Well, when I arrived I felt the jury was still out about the wisdom of leaving Frigg, now I have the verdict.
Aug 2017 Sportist 3-0 Vihren (B)
A small squad had a couple of injuries for the first league game at home to Vihren, giving us just 3 subs. However the core of the side that looked good for my first game at the end of last season remained, so this season could genuinely go almost anyway. Thankfully we continued to look promising on the pitch. Either side could have made the breakthrough, but it was forward Lambev that did so for us after 15 minutes, and while Vihren still threatened, the other forward, Petrov, extended the lead almost 20 minutes later, which made the game comfortable in terms of the flow of the game as well as scoreline as we were clearly on top after that. Lambev headed in another with 8 minutes left. This against a side predicted 5th and worth over 3 times as much as us, so while it was just one game out of 38, it was a good sign that we could manage alright.
Balkan 1-2 Sportist (B)
With a full squad (though the two returning players were unfit) we were also comfortable at Balkan, expected to struggle. Lambev scored after 5 minutes, and though we pushed, more goals weren’t forthcoming. They had a chance in the second half that acted as a warning, and it was probably no coincidence that right after that, left winger Gaydarski extended the lead, and good thing too as they started getting a few chances and got a consolation. It was another good win, in a game where it was important that we did so.
Sportist 2-1 Malesh (B)
Malesh at home was a replay of my first game in charge, at the end of last season. The players were definitely up for a repeat, pushing them hard before Nigerian midfielder Ikhide gave us the lead. They looked a bit threatening, so Petrov extending the lead was a relief, but it wasn’t until the second half that they broke our superiority and really pushed back, getting a goal, and causing a few last-minute scares, but we still got a deserved 3rd win out of 3 (making it 4 from 4 in my reign).
Chavdar Etropole 3-1 Sportist (B)
We next went to Chavdar Etropole, who had a bad start but were expected to do well, and they were rather harder to break, though still weren’t that big a great as we went in at half-time with the score goalless. They broke us with early in the second half , and as defensive performance dropped, they got a couple more. We pushed hard late on, Petrov having a goal disallowed just before Georgiev got a consolation, but I wasn’t too downhearted.
Sept 2017 Sportist 1-2 Ludogorets (B)
A home game with Ludogorets was one of those games where things don’t go your way. A defensive blunder gave them an early lead, and while we pushed hard, a straight red for Ikhide not helping. Sub winger Kadivchin equalized and we could comfortably have had a winner, but with 15 minutes left they headed in one of their own.
Bansko 1-2 Sportist (B)
We returned to winning ways at Bansko, though despite a lot of chances, it took an own-goal midway through the first-half to give us the lead. Playmaker Vasilev made it safer around the 70th minute, and good job too as they had a goal back with a few minutes left.
Sportist 5-0 Neftohimik (B)
Struggling Neftohimik were easy prey at home. Nikoliv gave us the lead after 17 minutes, and 12 minutes later it was 3-0 thanks to Kadivchin and Vasilev. Manolov made it 4 on the stroke of half-time, and after they went down to 10 men in the second half, Tsvetkov gave is a 5th.
Chenomorets Pomorie 0-1 Sportist (B)
Things would get trickier with our first game against a side high up the table, Chermomorets Pomorie. We just about had the better of things, though both sides pushed without being able to make a breakthrough, at least until last-choice forward Grancharski gave us a goal in the 68th minute, and we even missed a late penalty.
Sportist 2-0 Beroe (B)
Beroe were another underachieving side, but we managed to get an early break from Taushanov. We failed to build on it much, but Ikhide (on his return from suspension) made it safe in the second half, though had they tried a bit harder the outcome would have been different.
Oct 2017 Hebar 3-0 Sportist (B)
We surprisingly struggled against a Hebar side that had only one point thus far. They got an early goal, as did Ludogorets before them, and like in the aforementioned game we put up little defensive resistance as for all our efforts to come back (and we outshot them) we lost 3-0.
Sportist 2-0 Benkovski (B)
Benkovski were another struggling side, and one that for all the pressure we had, proved very hard to break down. Ikhide gave us a goal with 12 minutes left, and in stoppage time Kadivchin made it look more comfortable than it and the shot stats suggested it was.
Chavday Byala Slatina 1-0 Sportist (B)
We weren’t at our best at Chavdar Byala Slatina, going behind early, and wasting a number of chances that should really have given us something. We thought we made a breakthrough from Taushanov with 10 minutes left, but it was disallowed, adding more disappointment to this defeat.
Sportist 2-0 Chernomorets Balchik (B)
We were finding things tougher now, and at home to Chernomorets Balchik it took many chances before Georgiev gave us the lead early in the second half. They still remained a threat, and like against Benkovski, a late second goal (from Lambev) made it look easy.
Even given I felt the boards initial expectations of 'fight bravely against relegation' was rather pesimistic, I was only thinking of 'avoid trouble' (and the team's recent record was merely 'mid-table), so never expected things to be as good as this, and even if we end up some way from promotion it's looking like a great first season. I guess the small squad and lack of reinforcements is giving us a strong 'squad togetherness' benefit, as well as reasonable luck with injuries and suspensions (though we've had a few) so far.
Nov/Dec 2017 Malesh 2-3 Sportist (Cup)
We went to Malesh in the cup, and took a quick 2-0 lead (inside the first 10 minutes) from Taushanov and Georgiev. However they fought back, they got a goal before half-time then pushed very hard in the second half, getting a near-inevitable equalizer in the 78th minute, but 10 minutes later another Taushanov goal took us through, which was good as I felt another Frigg-style cup run (where we got almost 250k after our Sogndal defeat) was the best chance of helping the finances.
Kaliakra 0-2 Sportist (B)
Kaliakra were fellow challengers, but when we went to their place we battered them from the start, Ikhide finally giving us a breakthrough before half time, with an own-goal making it safe 10 minutes from time.
Sportist 1-1 Nesebar (B)
We faced at tough test at home to Nesebar, who were top of the table. We had a few early chances but an Ikhide own goal gave them an advantage that proved very tricky to overcome. We kept pushing enough to earn a point, and an 82nd minute Gaydarski goal meant that we managed to get one.
Rodopa 0-2 Sportist (B)
The left-winger was suspended for the trip to Rodopa, which was a problem as we couldn’t quite cover everything in the 16-man squad. However a double from Manolev and Lambev after 20 minutes gave us a win, though they had plenty of second half pressure and perhaps should have got a consolation at least.
Sportist p1-1 Chavdar Etropole (Cup)
In the cup we faced Chavdar Etropole at home, and after putting them under a lot of pressure, a penalty gave us the lead on the stroke of half-time. They equalized around the hour mark, but we kept pushing, even though a lack of subs meant that we had to use our last change putting the reserve keeper up front for an injured Grancharski (with both forwards from the last game suspended), who scored the penalty, we kept pushing, and came through on penalties after they missed 3 of their 5 penalties.
Sportist 0-2 Sliven 2000 (B)
Sliven 2000 were one of our toughest opponents, both on paper and on the pitch. We couldn’t stand up to their pressure and they got a goal in each half to win a rare game where we were clearly outplayed.
Spartak Varna 3-0 Sportist (B)
We were facing a tricky end to the first half of the season, of which we had 2 games left, the first being at Spartak Varna. We were able to hold out against them, as they pushed better from the start, but very deep in first half stoppage time (the 5th minute of an initial 3) Topuzov walked for a professional foul, having already seen Vasilev go off injured. We actually had a bright start to the second half for a while, but Spartak soon regained control, making a long-awaited breakthrough with 10 minutes left, adding a fully deserved second in the last minute, though an injury time 3rd was a bit steep.
Akademik Sofia 3-2 Sportist (B)
We faced a selection problem for the first time at Akademik Sofia, only being able to play a wide back 3, reduced to 2 after a very early red card. I was expecting a heavy defeat, especially after a poor showing from what defence we had left. Gaydarski actually gave us an 18th minute lead, but they came back to lead 2-1 at the break. We still threatened in the second half, and Ikhide scored the goal that might have given us a rather unlikely point, but a late winner from them denied us.
Loko Sofia 3-1 Sportist (Cup)
Before we went into the winter break, we went to Loko Sofia in the cup. Nothing was expected of us, even though we thankfully had a back four again. Even with the aforementioned defence being weak, we held out, with a few counter attacks, until Awalou in goal was finally beaten after half an hour. A penalty extended their lead just after half-time, and they got a late 3rd which was exactly what was expected of them, Lambev getting a consolation with a few minutes to go.
Feb 2018 Vihren 0-0 Sportist (B)
Having ended 2017 badly, we had to survive a lot of pressure at Vihren (which annoyingly was a win before a laptop crash which occasionally pops up when playing 11, though is far less problematic than the FM12 errors), to avoid another defeat, while having enough chances that we could have snatched a win ourselves.
Sportist 6-0 Balkan (B)
We had a far better time at home to Balkan, who admittedly only had 3 points. The 10 minutes from the 7th to the 17th saw us go 3-0 up with 2 Petrov goals and one from Lambev. Petrov got another couple before half-time and Lambev got another in the second half for a 6-0 win that could have been even more.
Malesh 1-1 Sportist (B)
Malesh weren’t quite as easy when we went to their place, though in the first half it looked that way, with plenty of pressure giving us a deserved first-half lead from Lambev. They snatched an equalizer after the break, and we couldn’t put away some good chances to win.
Sportist 5-1 Chavdar Etropole (B)
We were more efficient at home to Chavdar Etropole. Gaydarski gave us the lead, then Petrov made it safe with a goal either side of half-time. Lambev got a 4th midway through the second half, and after a penalty gave them a goal back, Petrov rounded off his hat-trick.
Mar 2018 Ludogorets 3-2 Sportist (B)
We were very much on the receiving end at Ludogorets, who were 3-0 up at half-time with no resistance whatsoever. An own goal in the middle of the second half got us fighting back, but though we had a late second through Manolov, I knew there wouldn’t be an equalizer.
Sportist 2-2 Bansko (B)
We were comfortably a goal up at home to Bansko when Taushanov got sent off just before half time. They managed to turn things around and take a 2-1 lead early in the second half, and our game seemed to be over when Petrov also got sent off for a second yellow near the end, but Manolov surprisingly gave us a point.
Neftohimik 0-1 Sportist (B)
Neftohimik were in the relegation zone, but at home were strong enough to resist what little pressure we were able to muster up, as the suspensions from the last game weakened our attacking threat. Gaydarski managed to give us a barely deserved win with a late goal that came as a great relief to everyone sitting through an event-less game.
Sportist 2-3 Chernomorets Pomorie (B)
We surprised ourselves at home to Chernomorets Pomorie, who were top of the table at the head of a pretty distant top 2. Kadivchin gave us the lead after a minute, and Petrov restored it shortly after they levelled the score. Things got worse in the second half, with no available defensive backup Stefanov got sent off just after half-time, and we were reduced to a 2 man defensive line with 20 minutes left with an injury to Topulov. Having resisted a lot of pressure since we went down to 10 men, we managed to keep the pressure off for a while, but a rather astonishing result was averted when they grabbed the 2 goals they needed to win in the final few minutes.
Beroe 1-0 Sportist (B)
We had to play a makeshift defence-light formation (and the reserve keeper) against at Beroe, but far from having lost it before we even kicked off, better finishing could have seen us taking the lead a few times in the first half. They upped the pressure in the second half, and eventually got a winner but only from a penalty.
Looking steady so far. Still possible to grab one of those promotion places.
Originally Posted by JackJCFC
Need a good end of season run to make it to the top 3.
Originally Posted by Persiani
I tihnk you will grab a promotion place by the looks of it
Right for the wrong reasons ;)
Apr 2018 Sportist 1-0 Hebar (B)
A normal line-up was restored at home to Hebar. They were no threat so we were free to go at them, perhaps a bit too casually, but a Vasilev penalty gave us the win.
Benkovski 0-1 Sportist (B)
Manolov had saved us a couple of times this year, and he did it again at second-bottom Benkovski, as we’re been pushing well but not been able to get too close to scoring until he struck in the second half, which opened the floodgates in terms of chances, but no more goals, making it even more important.
Sportist 1-1 Chavdar Byala Slatina (B)
At home to Chavdar Byala Slatina, Georgiev gave us the lead in the first half, but while we were on top for a lot of the game, we were penalized with an equalizer.
Chernomorets Balckik 1-2 Sportist (B)
At Chernomorets Balchik, each side had plenty of chances to take the lead, perhaps we could have been the ones to do it in the first-half, but they snatched it instead just after half-time. We were eventually rewarded with a Grancharski equalizer, and got an unexpected bonus with a last minute own-goal winner.
Sportist 1-0 Kaliakra (B)
We were starting to quietly but efficiently cruise to the end of the season. We kept Kaliakra quiet in the first half at home, then assumed a quiet superiority in the second half, Manolov getting the game’s only goal, though he had another disallowed later.
May/June 2018 (B) Nesebar 1-2 Sportist (B)
Nikolov gave us a slightly surprise lead at Nesebar. Though they equalized we started pushing a lot more, Petrov giving us a deserved winner mid-way through the second half, though having been quiet, they came close a few times right at the end so it wasn’t that comfortable.
Sportist 2-0 Rodopa (B)
We were back to ‘2 defender’ mode at home to Rodopa, but they were so obligingly quiet that we didn’t even need them. Vasilev gave us the lead from a penalty after a few minutes, and we could have had another, from Grancharski, in the first 10 minutes, and he grabbed his goal after half an hour anyway, making it safe.
Sliven 4-3 Sportist (B)
We had suddenly closed from 9 points off the top 3 to 4 with 3 games to go, but a surprise challenge looked unlikely with a trip to Sliven, who were top and already secured promotion. 2 defenders became 3, which I knew wasn’t enough so we took the game to them which only worked early on before they had the pressure, and eventually got a pair of goals before half-time. Taushanov gave us hope with a goal midway through the second half, but they got a 3rd immediately after. Manolov and Lambev still managed to get the goals needed to level it, but a late winner for them confirmed what we already knew (with Ludogorets winning), that a promotion miracle wasn’t happening.
Sportist 3-0 Spartak Varna (B)
3 defenders was reduced to 2 during the home game with Spartak Varna, but we were already a goal up from Grancharski. They were no more a threat than Rodopa were, and an own-goal at the hour mark made it comfortable, with Petrov getting off the bench to get a third, and having another disallowed.
Sportist 1-1 Akademok Sofia (B)
The final game was against Akademik Sofia. Despite being mediocre, good form and near-necessity meant I finally decided to give Grancharski a new contract, and he scored early on. We couldn’t build on it and deserved to concede the equalizer we did. In the second half neither side wanted anything, nor got it as the game petered out into a 1-1 draw. That was enough go get 4th, but I didn’t expect what happened next.
I’ll never know why, as they’re not a reserve team, but for some reason Chernomorets Pomorie can’t go up (which I also saw happening last season), so pipping Beroe to 4th on head-to-head results (they had a slightly better GD) meant that we were the ones that got promoted instead! Plus the win at Nesebar late in the season proved vital in hindsight as we were just 1 point ahead of them.
I’ll never have a more surprising promotion if I play FM for 100 years, not just because were were predicted 17th, and relegation, so even without promotion, 4th or even anywhere near that was fantastic, but the fact that it wasn’t expected to be a promotion place, and how narrow it was in the end. No doubts now about the wisdom of leaving Frigg. I am nothing less than staggered! The Pre-season post was not one written by anyone who even expected to be in the top half.
However even had I stayed down, I’d have had a challenge on my hands. In January I decided to be letting one high-earner go at the end of the season, in return for a few players taking up the same wage bill space, but that advantage was lost when agreeing to sell 2 of our best players in the summer for 65k total, not life-saving but enough to be useful (equivalent to about 1/5th of last year’s turnover and 2/3rds of the losses to put it into financial context) even for me, normally nearly totally resistant to selling good players, so the only advantage I’d have had in the summer was things not being so bad financially, but maybe not enough to be of any use. Oh, and I wasn’t allowed to renew the keeper’s contract as he was non-EU (which rather devalues the point of having an allowance of up to 5 in the first place I think).
Given all of that, while finances and player attraction would go up considerably with promotion (partly solving all the problems), the odds against us would have a far greater increase. Survival will be even more an achievement than promotion I feel, but whatever happened, I’d be proud of this.
Congrats on promotion! Just been trying to find out why Chernomorets Pomorie weren't promoted but can't seem to find why they wouldn't be. It says they're a satellite team for Chernomorets Burgas, maybe that's why?
Congrats on promotion! Just been trying to find out why Chernomorets Pomorie weren't promoted but can't seem to find why they wouldn't be. It says they're a satellite team for Chernomorets Burgas, maybe that's why?
Probably, the game shows it as a long term parent/feeder partnership, and there's also a similarity in colours as well as name. Still, not complaining ;)
Originally Posted by TH3LB
Well done on getting promoted mate!
Originally Posted by JackJCFC
Very very close but congrats on the promotion. Hope you can stay up next year.
Originally Posted by cragswfc
Well done on getting promoted . Shame Gaydarski going. good luck next season
Thanks guys, good to be making progress, and I was utterly stunned when I saw the messages in the inbox about promotion, it was genuinely a surprise, which was why I left the diary entries about the presumed ending of the promotion challenge as they were, to reflect the fact that it was completely unexpected. The top division will be tough going to be sure.
I’ve had more optimistic preseasons. Having to lose a few of our best players from last year wasn’t a great start to any survival campaign, and while normally there wouldn’t be too big a step up to a league such as this, in our case there definitely was, reflected in title odds of 5000-1, which normally you only ever get with the weakest teams in the Premier League! That there were 3 relegation spots out of a 16-team division wasn’t great either. There were positives, thanks to a good free agent, a player I was offered, and a promising player from the youth intake, we had 19 players before I started bringing more people, 3 more than I had to go on last season. There was a bit of money in the bank (30k or so), and over double last season’s wage budget which was useful, especially as I knew I had to go beyond the balance with whatever I could spend to give us much chance, and halving the spare wage budget gave me 150k for transfers, so if I could find good players, price wouldn’t be much of an issue.
In the end, aside from African imports, things devolved into a bit of a scramble for the decent free agents for the most part, an activity where a bit of planning has to be sacrificed for getting in there, but at least I had the players in to make a good-sized squad this time, and I could sort out who plays (and eventually, who stays) later, at least I had the options, and relatively little was added to the wage bill as well. It was a strong step in the right direction, but as to whether it would be enough, your guess is as good as mine.
Owning up time, having considered, then dismissed a ‘1 overage player a year’ quota, having been offered a couple of excellent 21yr old Africans, and decided to use the first as the ‘overage’ player, I broke even that when offered the second, however I hope you’ll excuse these 2 minor exceptions under the circumstances. There’s another player who looks like he was, but I actually got in there with the offer (which is what counts, an important standard of consistency in ‘expiring contract’ situations like this, though the deal was finalized before then anyway, just his arrival was after he turned 21) in January just 11 days before his 21st birthday so he’s legit.
Aug 2018 Brestnik 0-2 Sportist (A)
The first game was at Brestnik, one of the weaker sides, making for an interesting test especially as we looked roughly even on paper. We had just 3 players from last year in the starting lineup, Nikolov in defence, Vasilev in midfield (it would be Ikhide but he was suspended) and Lambev up front. We attacked from the start, and new target man Iliev fired us ahead after 15 minutes. We deserved another before half-time, though the second half was more even, making for some nervous times, but Iliev struck late on to put it beyond them. Unfortunately he was injured for 3-4 weeks afterwards, but an away win was a great way to start life in the new division.
Sportist 0-0 Loko Plovdiv (A)
We showed similar ambition in the first home game against Lokomotiv Plovdiv, in fact we knocked on their door all match, but couldn’t quite find a way in, while they were limited to a couple of second half chances which would have made for a very unlucky defeat for us.
Slavia Sofia 0-0 Sportist (A)
A trip to Slavia Sofia was my 200th career game, and this time we were rather quieter to start off with, and very inaccurate when we did get up some steam. We were better in the second half, and were unlucky to have a Lambev goal disallowed, and for the second game in a row were unlucky not to win.
Sportist 1-4 Litex (A)
League champions Litex, who we played next, were the first team who looked that much better (which given how much more than us the other sides were on, doesn’t way much for their value for money). We just couldn’t repel firepower of that magnitude. They scored early, finished off the game as a contest with a quick double midway through the first half, and got a 4th before half-time. They eased off after the break. Okoduwa had a goal disallowed before Bamba finally gave us one, but that was all we were ever likely to do.
Sept 2018 Sliven 2-0 Sportist (A)
We were also up against it at Sliven, in the first half we both attacked a bit but wastefulness was already an issue this season, and they took the lead., taking more control in the second half and getting another goal.
Minyor 1-2 Sportist (A)
What had looked like a good start (a win followed by 2 draws that should have been wins) was turning into a bit of a winless run, and that wasn’t likely to change at Minyor, flying high and with a dangerous young talent on loan from Santos. We had to resist a lot of first half pressure, then had a little burst before the break. However 10 minutes into the second half, they got the goal they’d been threatening since the start. There didn’t seem to be much life from us until a late flurry of chances that saw Okoduwa equalize, and Lambev give us a winner shortly afterwards, with some long awaited attacking efficiency.
Sportist 4-1 Ludogorets (A)
We had a good chance to add another at home to Ludogorets, who had lost all 6 games so far, especially as we owed them for doing a double over us last season. We started alright, then seemed to fade a bit. Then the central defenders came out to play. Katsimerski gave us the lead in the 39th minute, with Coulibaly joining in just afterwards. There was stil time for Katsimerski to get another before half-time. Not to be outdone, Coulibaly got his own second goal just after the break, the whole thing having a rather playful air to it that made it more fun. We casually kept attacking, and they got a consolation a few minutes from time that didn’t really matter.
Cherno more 4-1 Sportist (A)
A trip to Cherno more was a return to tricker games, especially with Coulibaly and Okoduwa away. We still managed to make a good start, Lambev soon firing us into the lead. However they had a strong finish to the first half, and deservedly equalized shortly before the break. Unfortunately our defensive resistance collapsed, as they took the lead early in the second half, and from that point on the game was only going one way, towards our goal. When they got a pair of goals in the last 10 minutes to win 4-1, it seemed long overdue.
Still what mattered was that we were out of the relegation zone, and while there was still a long way to go, we were managing fine in that regard, especially given that Ludogorets aside, no one was having that poor a season, keeping the margins narrower.
Your team reminds me of someone who refuses to watch anything to do with sport.
I had to think for about a minute before I got that.
Originally Posted by AK22
Congrats on the unexpected promotion! What a nice surprise!
Looks like you're holding your own in the top flight too.
Originally Posted by B.W.G
Solid start to life in the top flight .
Indeed it is, just as well we have the excitement of looking like surviving as it's not been an interesting season otherwise.
Originally Posted by withnail316
Sorry man, late to this, congrats on the promotion. Looks like you owe a drink or two to the owner of Chernomorets Burgas for his feeder club deal!
That kind of thing is quite commonplace in Europe, but I can imagine the shock with that promotion... still, who cares how you go up as long as you're up, right?
I owe him an entire pub, especially as it looks like we're making the most of it. It actually took a couple of hours for the shock to fade, but such is the joy of FM that it gives you those experiences.
Oct 2018 Sportist 1-0 Etar 1924 (A)
A home game with Etar 1924, occupying the last (top) relegation place was very important, and was about as tight as you’d expect, though we were just about the better and got a deserved win from Lambev early in the second half, doubling our safety margin (with the team they were level with, Montana, also losing) at a stroke.
Montana 1-0 Sportist (A)
We had another opportunity when we went to Montana next. Again we struggled to make a breakthrough, however a point as looking like a very good result as far as the table went, but we didn’t even get that as they made a late and scrappy burst and sneaked a win, though given there were many teams between us, a defeat didn’t cost us anywhere near as much as a win would have benefited us.
Sportist 1-3 Levski (A)
We next welcomed Levski, the country’s biggest side, and they had little trouble with our defence, going 2-0 up. Iliev (back from his second injury of the season) got one back before the break but the outcome was never in doubt and they got a late 3rd to show it.
Nov 2018 Pirin 0-3 Sportist (A)
Bamba gave us the lead at Pirin after just 18 seconds, which very much set the tone for the match, as we were comfortably on top, with Lambev getting a long awaited second goal 6 minutes before half-time. The same amount of time after the break saw Iliev grab the third.
Sportist 0-0 Loko Sofia (A)
An interesting test would be Loko Sofia, as they were the same side who comfortably beat us in the cup last year. This time we were comfortably on top, but not for the first time, we missed a load of chances to win and had to settle for 0-0.
Bansko 1-0 Sportist (BC)
We went to Bansko in the cup, and failed to do anything in the first half. They broke free and got a goal early in the second half, and only later on did we have a proper push at coming back, though we couldn’t avoid a shock exit that we didn’t really mind.
CSKA Sofia 3-1 Sportist (A)
We didn’t appear to have much chance at a CSKA Sofia side that were running away with the league, and they appeared to prove that point with a goal in the first 10 minutes. Iliev gave us an equalizer that surprised even himself midway through the first half, but later in the game our resistance crumbled. They retook the lead in the 70th minute, and while we had a few chances to snatch something, they got an injury time 3rd for good measure.
Sportist 0-3 Chernomorets Burgas (A)
Chernomorets Burgas were another side who were far too strong for us, though it took until late in the first half for them to take the lead, and it was midway through the second half until they got another, but they soon followed that up with a 3rd that very much reflected the one-sided nature of the match, still since if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be here... It was a big disappointment for a record crowd of 3,286, nevertheless we still looked pretty comfortable at the half-way stage.
Feb 2019 Sportist 2-0 Brestnik (A)
We hosted Brestnik with rather more confidence than when we played them on the first day, and after being on top from the start, Iliev gave us a deserved lead after 20 minutes, with Coulibaly adding another 11 minutes later. We had many chances in the second half that could have given us more.
Loko Plovdiv 1-5 Sportist (A)
Having wasted so many chances to beat Loko Plovdiv in August we made up for it when we went there now. Okoduwa and Katsimerski gave us a good lead within the first half an hour, a Manolov brace effectively ending the game by half-time. An even second half saw them get one back near the end but Iliev gave us the last word.
Sportist 0-1 Slavia Sofia (A)
We hoped to do the same at home to Slavia Sofia, but instead they got an early lead, and kept coming at us while we were restricted to a late push.
Mar 2019 Litex 3-0 Sportist (A)
We were behind again at powerhouses Litex, though they were already without hope of retaining the title. We withstood plenty more pressure for a while, including a disallowed goal, and missed a penalty which could have levelled it, but a second half brace secured an inevitable result.
Sportist 1-3 Sliven 2000 (A)
Stoyanov gave us the lead at home to Sliven in the middle of the first-half, however they struck back with an equalizer on the counter, and in the second half we just dropped off and they got an easy pair of goals to win.
Sportist 1-0 Minyor (A)
Having lost 3 league games in a row for the first time, we needed to avoid a 4th, though that would be tough against Minyor. Back from an injury, Bamba gave us a goal in the 34th minute. They occasionally threatened to equalize but we were just about on top so were reasonably comfortable in the win.
Ludogorets 1-1 Sportist (A)
Ludogorets had scraped together 5 points when we went to theirs. It wasn’t comfortable, and it took a while for Iliev to give us a rather uneasy lead. It looked like we had done enough but in the last minutes they grabbed a share of the points.
Apr 2019 Sportist 2-1 Cherno more (A)
We stepped up in a tougher game against Cherno more. We couldn’t break them in the first-half despite a lot of consistent pressure, and went in behind at the break. Katsimerski headed in an equalizer early in the second half but after that it didn’t seem like we’d have any more luck scoring than we did in the first half, but with seconds to go in regular time, an otherwise hopeless Iliev gave us a winner.
Etar 1926 1-3 Sportist (A)
12 points (and almost half the league) ahead of the bottom 3, we were creeping closer to confirmed survival, and at Etar 1926, again in the highest relegation place, we had the chance to take a massive single step. A scrappy own goal gave us the lead just after 10 minutes, but Iliev’s 10th goal of the season soon extended it. We very much took the feet off the pedals in the second half. They got one back, had an equalizer disallowed just afterwards, and plenty of pressure following on from that. With 2 minutes left, Iliev finished off a win which I was the first to admit was rather harsh on them, but we were all but mathematically safe now, plus with a 4 point cushion in the top half.
Sportist 0-0 Montana (A)
We hoped to follow that up against Montana, which we failed to do in the autumn. In the first half we definitely pushed hard enough, and had an Iliev goal disallowed 5 minutes before the break. The second half was a very difference story, as they had the upper hand and Seliminski in goal needed to make a few good saves to keep the score goalless.
Levski 2-0 Sportist (A)
It was just as well we were comfortable as we weren’t likely to have much joy at Levski the first game against all of the top 4 we had in the last 5 games, especially with a suspension to the ever-present star left-back Borrouhou. Sure enough they scored after 10 minutes, and again after 20. We came out of our shell late in the first half without much expectation, and in the second half they regained control though didn’t get any more despite Katsimerski getting sent off with 15 minutes left. That was the beginning of the end of the season for us, as the tough opposition we had left meant we had got pretty much all we were going to, and probably wouldn’t hold on and sneak a top half place, but that was minimal compared to the success of our survival.
May/June 2019 Sportist 1-2 Pirin (A)
Pirin at home was the one winnable game left, however the knowledge that we were now safe, and that we weren’t likely to get anything else, meant that we switched off, and attacked with intent but no focus. In the second half they woke us up by taking the lead, with Marinov grabbing a quick equalizer, but it was too late and they soon got a comfortable winner.
Loko Sofia 0-0 Sportist (A)
We put up reasonably good resistance at Loko Sofia, though our own ambitions were limited, and while it was a 0-0 draw like when we played in November, it was a far quieter game. At least it broke up what was looking like a run of defeats to end the season.
Sportist 1-1 CSKA Sofia (A)
The last home game was against CSKA Sofia, the champions-elect. Like against Loko Sofia, we managed to keep it even, and Marinov even gave us the lead just inside half an hour. After probing throughout the second half, they got given a penalty in the 74th minute which they equalized from, and while they had most of the chances, we could have snatched a winner, especially with a penalty claim turned down.
Chernomorets Burgas 5-1 Sportist (A)
We finished at Chernomorets Burgas. Marinov struck again in the first minute, but while we kept them at bay for a while, they were incredibly efficient when they did come out and play, getting 3 goals before the break. A quick pair of goals around the hour mark finished the game off, completing a double of big defeats against them.
The miracle team does it again. AK22 was quite right when he said that Bulgaria seemed to like me. This time last season we were facing a few problems while suddenly getting promoted and pre-season consisted of ‘do what I can and hope it’s enough’ so such an easy survival was far beyond how I thought we’d do. While the Bulgarian league certainly isn’t the strongest or toughest (though the top sides were still numerous times stronger), we still managed to go into it as very clear underdogs. The clubs only previous season in the top flight (almost 10 years ago, in that strange world known as ‘real life’ ended badly so it was good to improve on that. Certainly when I arrived 2 years ago I’d have been amazed if anyone had said that in 2 seasons time we’d only just be off the top half in the A group. That aside there was little of note, results came in 1’s and 2’s, even goals for and against weren’t very noteworthy, unusual for a deltablue side. The only things that could be said was that we were a little wasteful and could have done better in a few of the more manageable games.
There was potentially more to come as well. While I didn’t expect us to be challenging any time soon, there was the fact that next season would see a far more settled (and rationalized) squad (especially as a lack of money meant that without a big sale, there wouldn’t be much in the way of new players), plus improvements from a rock-bottom rep would open up far better players when we could buy in the future. I’m not sure what I could do here, but there as very little I could rule out.
Star player: Iliev
A free-agent, Iliev made his mark with both goals in the opening game, and though a couple of injuries in the first half of the season limited his chances, he managed a pretty strong first season.
That's actually quite a respectable finish in the league, shame you didn't win any of the last 6 games though but wouldn't have made a difference. Iliev's stats don't actually look that amazing, he looks more like a Blue Square Premier player, but promising to see he can make an impact at that level.
This would likely be a season of consolidation instead of progress, a lot of players were shipped out, and I was surprised to be able to get a bit of money for a lot of them giving me a bit of money to play around with after all. In fact our purchasing power, not just the relatively small amount of money we had but also ‘relegation zone’ rep meant that there wasn’t anyone I felt we could get that it was worth buying, though there had been a free agent keeper in the close season, and eventually a young African tempted me, but only because I needed another full-back, otherwise I was happy to leave a bit of money (almost 100k) to be eaten into over the course of the season, which might mean we’d be in a better position to spend down the line, we had a squad that was proven to manage alright in the league, now gelled, and that was enough that I wasn’t in a great hurry. I was still just looking to be out of trouble.
Johnson looks like a he will be a good player, plenty of pace which is useful at fullback.
Yep, though he's not as good as the current guy, which is why I didn't got for him as soon as I saw him.
Aug 2019 Cherno more 5-1 Sportist (A)
A trip to Cherno more as a tough start. They scored after 5 minutes, but we had a bit of a rally. Bamba equalized after 10 minutes, a few minutes after Okoduwa had one disallowed. However the defence collapsed after that. They retook the lead before the break, and an injury to defender Seliminski (as opposed to his namesake who was our keeper last season) early in the second half busted it wide open. They didn’t need much more invitation to add 3 more, with another disallowed.
Sportist 0-0 Litex (A)
Litex weren’t a comfortably first home game either. They scored in the 7th minute, but didn’t do much to follow that up, and having been on the ropes for most of the first half, we penalized them with Borrouhou getting an equalizer a few minutes before half-time. The second half was unremarkable, with both sides having poorly-executed patches of pressure, but on balance we were happy to grab the point.
However before the trip to Minyor, the chairman accepted a 300k offer for Coulibaly. Admitedly I had been hoping for a big bid for him in the summer, so wasn’t too unhappy at him leaving for that amount, but the fact that it was the day before the close of the transfer window was something that annoyed me, plus we were short on defenders. Thankfully I remembered being offered one who I got for 65k the same day.
Minyor 1-1 Sportist (A)
In the game itself, they just about were better in the first half, but Bamba had a 25th minute goal disallowed. We had a better second half, and Okoduwa gave us the lead in the 72nd minute, but they soon equalized and the points were rightly shared.
Loko Plovdiv 3-6 Sportist (A)
We went down after 5 minutes at Loko Plovdiv, and I thought ‘here we go again’. However we fought back hard, and within 20 minutes, Stoyanov and Bamba had given us the lead. Okoduwa got an immediate 3rd, and Vasilev made it 4-1 before half-time. They attacked hard in the second half, but only got a pair of goals after Iliev made it 5 midway through the half, and he got his second to wrap up a 6-3 win. It was our first league win in 9 games, but we got in it style.
Sportist 0-1 Chernomorets (A)
However next we had to face a Chernomorets Burgas side who had a 100% record. They took the lead after 20 minutes, but went down to 10 men a few minutes later. That spared us a repeat of the 2 heavy defeats last year, but we couldn’t quite do enough to get something before half-time, and never got anywhere near doing so in the second half. In the last minute, Stoyanov got sent off, putting a bit of a cloud over a month that otherwise saw him get young player of the month.
Sept 2019 Slavia Sofia 0-0 Sportist (A)
Going to Slavia Sofia, neither of us did enough to warrant getting anything in the first half. After the break, Valchev got sent off, but we matched their increase in attacking intensity and it remained honours even.
Sportist 0-1 Brestnik (A)
Things were even quieter at home to Brestnik. In the second half they came out of their shell and we had a lot of holding on to do, and we would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that meddling kid Stoyanov, who got sent off for a second yellow (on his return from suspension) in stoppage time, conceding a penalty that gave them a winner.
Botev 2-3 Sportist (A)
Promoted Botev were off to a great start, but when we went to them, Okoduwa gave us the lead after 3 minutes. However our former forward Marinov equalized 10 minutes later, and as our performance just dropped off they easily took the lead. We roused ourselves late on, with Iliev and Stefanov getting a rather surprising win, however we still faced a struggle this season.
On an unrelated note, finally got round to looking the place up (having looked the club up last week), which I'll probably start doing more often with new clubs, and it looks like a nice little place among a river gorge (with 2 rivers), lots of popular climbing spots close by. Here's nice view which includes part of our ground at the bottom.
Oct 2019 Sportist 1-0 Sliven 2000 (A)
We hadn’t got a single point in 4 games against Sliven, but we had a good go at changing that at home, and really should have taken our chances to take the lead in a first half where we had all the chances. A brief threat from them early in the second half didn’t turn into the punishment turning of the tide that I feared it would be, and it petered out into a dull game which should have been a 0-0, but Iliev got us a winner long after we stopped deserving one. With so much of the table still very tight (a draw would have meant most of the bottom half, going down to the top relegation place, would be level on points, with another pair just one ahead) that leapt us up into a temporary 5th, having been either in or just a bit above the bottom 3 until now! It was that sort of season so far.
Loko Sofia 3-0 Sportist (A)
We didn’t stand a chance at Loko Sofia. They were very heavy favourites, and played like it from the start, though it was a Katsimerski own goal in the 13th minute that actually opened the door for them, not that they needed it, going on to get 2 more goals before half-time. In the second half we couldn’t do much more than avoid it getting even worse, and back down the table to 10th we went.
Sportist 2-1 Pirin (A)
At home to Pirin (who I would say were relegation rivals if that wasn’t such a wide field), we missed a penalty after 20 minutes, but made amends when Lambev gave us the lead before the break. Valchev extended the lead a minute into the second half, but they got a goal back 10 minutes later, and a late bit of pressure was enough to cause a lot of nerves, though we held on to win and looked more comfortable.
Nov 2019 CSKA Sofia 5-1 Sportist (A)
We didn’t stand much more chance at CSKA than we did on our last Sofia trip. Without needing any own-goals, they had a brace in the teen minutes to take control, and were also 3-0 up at the break. There were more goals in the second half, first Borrouhou getting one back 5 minutes in, but they decided to get more, winning 5-1, the latest painful reminder how much smaller and weaker we were compared to some teams.
Sportist 3-3 Levski (A)
Okoduwa gave us a surprise lead against Levski after 5 minutes, it only lasted a few minutes but the Nigerian soon restored it from a penalty. They hit back hard enough to have a comfortable 3-2 lead at the break. Bamba had an equalizer disallowed just a few minutes into the second half, but a penalty around the hour mark meant he was able to level it anyway. We looked more confident but a draw was fair.
Sportist 2-3 Litex (Cup)
The cup brought a home game with Litex. We looked good in the first half, but went down just before the break. Bamba equalized in the second half, but they retook the lead. Okoduwa scored on the stroke of 90 minutes, but there as still time for them to get a stoppage time winner, as we went out of the cup at the first attempt for the second year in a row.
Septemviri 1-2 Sportist (A)
We hoped to make amends at struggling Septemviri, but a promising start was wasted by a defensive failure and they took the lead. They greatly helped us out with an own-goal early in the second half, and afterwards we wasted chance after chance to get a winner, though with 7 minutes left Okoduwa finally got one.
Sportist 4-1 Svetkavitsa (A)
Svetkavitsa at home was the last game of the first half of the season. Okoduwa kept up his recent form by giving us the lead after 20 minutes, the only real event of the first half. Early in the second, Borrouhou and Todorov set us on our way to a big win. Iliev had a 4th disallowed with 15 minutes left but Okoduwa converted a free-kick 5 minutes later, and they finished things off with a consolation.
Thanks. I do get the feeling that our recent good position is off the back of some easier games, which is probably why it doesn't feel as good as it looks, but still at the stage when I'm happy to be surviving comfortably.
Feb 2020 Sportist 0-3 Cherno more (A)
We were at home to Cherno more after the winter break, and an early goal for them brought back memories of the opening day hammering. A quick double midway through the first half reinforced that, and given the lack of resistance, it was a wonder that there weren’t more goals in the second half.
Litex 2-2 Sportist (A)
At Litex, they were aiming for a repeat, scoring an early goal, and we were lucky that they had a second goal disallowed after 10 minutes. They seemed to change the game. Okoduwa equalized, then after we pushed hard in the second half, he gave us the lead. They caught us off guard with an equalizer 5 minutes later, but a draw was probably a fairer result.
Sportist 3-1 Minyor (A)
Minyor were flying high in 4th, but we now had a fantastic new player (one of two, with Johnson going out the door for a much needed spread out 100k), Boateng, giving us more steel and quality. Okoduwa gave us the lead in the first half, as we suddenly looked tougher. Boateng missed a penalty at the beginning of the second half, but we still got another in the 71st minute with Katsimerski heading in a corner. They got one back just after but Boateng got his debut penalty goal at the end, providing a stark contrast to a lot of our other games against the strong sides.
Sportist 1-0 Loko Plovdiv (A)
By a twist of fate, we next played Johnson’s new side, Loko Plovdiv, though he wasn’t in their squad. Again we were suddenly able to keep the opposition quiet, Katsimerski taking most of the plaudits for his defensive work, as well as a well-taken first half goal that turned out to be the only one of the game, though we deserved at least one more.
Mar 2020 Chernomorets Burgas 1-2 Sportist (A)
A trip to Chernomorets Burgas, in 2nd, would be a far tougher test. They were by far the better side in the first half. They had a goal disallowed in the 5th minute, took a deserved lead soon after anyway, and while Boateng’s penalty gave us an equalizer in the 25th minute, we were lucky to be level at the break. The second half was rather different as we chased a win, with Katsimerski giving us the lead, and while they had a bit of a late push, it wasn’t enough to deny us a win that had been considered ‘impossible’ beforehand. While the impact on the rest of this season was probably limited, if we could get a result like this, who knows what we could do next year.
Sportist 0-1 Slavia Sofia (A)
Against Slavia Sofia, we pushed hard in the first half, but wasted all chances to take the lead, and were punished with Slavia getting a goal early in the second half. We failed to really rouse ourselves after that so went down to defeat.
Brestnik 2-1 Sportist (A)
Lambev gave us the lead after 18 minutes at Brestnik, but that was as good as it got. They weren’t much of a threat until the second half when they got an early equalizer, then a surprise late winner, and suddenly we didn’t look so strong any more.
Sportist 2-0 Botev (A)
Botev at home would be an embarrassing 3rd defeat in a row from a side that looked like having turned a strong corner, thankfully Okoduwa stepped up with a pair of a first half goals. He got sent off at the beginning of the second half but we were comfortable enough to not be in much trouble.
Apr 2020 Sliven 2000 2-2 Sportist (A)
A trip to Sliven was our 3rd game against the side who were 13th beforehand. Unlucky for us against Brestnik, and for Botev against us, so this was the tiebreaker. The game took a while to get going. Bamba had a goal disallowed late in the first half, and they took the lead again. They had another disallowed in the first minute of the second half, and Iliev got a quick equalizer, but they regained control and the lead. Todorov’s last minute goal gave us a share of the points.
Sportist 0-2 Loko Sofia (A)
With a much weakened defence, we returned to big games, at home to Loko Sofia, and unsurprisingly that didn’t go that well, as they took an early lead. We had a few second half chances but with 12 minutes left they got another to finish us off.
Pirin 0-1 Sportist (A)
Pirin away would be my 100th match at the club. Katsimerski gave us the advantage in the 20th minute after an even start. Bamba had another disallowed just over 10 minutes later, and after they had a few chances late in the half, the game quietened down with the exception of a few brief chances for each side, and the win meant we would beat last season’s points tally.
Sportist 0-2 CSKA (A)
We went behind early again at home to a CSKA side who were romping to the title (indeed they clinched the title with this game), and they added another before the break. We weren’t likely to come back but did managed to stem the tide of their attacks in the second half.
May 2020 Levski 3-1 Sportist (A)
At a surprisingly struggling Levski (still with players a few times better than most of ours), Borrouhou (our best player of the past couple of years) gave us the lead in the 12th minute. They got back into the game very well, equalizing 5 minutes before the break. We took it in turns to try and get a second half advantage, but with 12 minutes left, having been poor up front, Borisov in goal went figuratively missing, and they took the lead, getting a 3rd in stoppage time.
Sportist 3-1 Septemviri (A)
We finished off against the bottom 2 sides, already relegated. First was Septemviri at home. They went down to 10 men early on, but we were slow to take advantage. Boateng gave us the lead 10 minutes before half-time with his first goal from open play for the club. They equalized a few minutes later but Iliev restored the lead before the half was over. Manolov gave us a third early in the second half to give us the win.
Svetkavitsa 1-1 Sportist (A)
At Svetkavitsa in the last game, we wasted chances and were punished by going in behind at the break. Okoduwa equalized 12 minutes into the second half, and we really should have got a winner, but it didn’t make much difference.
After a poor start, there didn’t seem to be much more to write home about than last year as we zigzagged, still cannon-fodder for the big sides but doing enough to not have to worry about being much worse than mid-table. The Boateng effect didn’t last long in terms of results, and didn’t really change our position, but it did give us a comfortable points margin into the top half (which looked like another brief visit), and allowed us to get much closer to a lot of the sides above us, even with our chances of passing them being unlikely.
There was some promise for the future. Unlike last year, there were a couple of players available in January for the end of their contracts, though only one agreed to come, so gradually as our stock gradually caught up with our positions, we’d have players who would be good enough to improve the squad, though I still decided to keep on a few players I’d otherwise have let go at the end of their contracts just in case either money or good available players (probably both) were in short supply. I wasn’t expecting to be able to improve too much for now, needing more rep and money (a cup run being ideal), but we were taking good steps, especially if we could avoid being an easy win for at least some of the clubs that we were before. Aside from Okoduwa, we had a few players as young player of the month, so possessed individuals who could perform reasonably well, and the previously impossible was now at least slightly possible.
I felt that would gain little by leaving anytime soon, my stock would only have risen by so much since I was last job-hunting so would be unlikely to really step up (or even sideways) in terms of club standing (though admittedly size and wealth would be another matter). In the autumn I made a speculative application to Ipswich, struggling in League 1, and didn’t get anywhere, which even given potential compensation would have hindered my chances, wasn’t promising. If a cup run would really help the club, a win was worth working towards (and general improvement worth waiting for) as a more solid stepping stone for the future.
Star player: Okoduwa
Yes, I know he has poor finishing, which was why I left it until late a couple of summers ago before deciding to go for him (and in fact it wasn't much worse than a couple of forwards I had after promotion, with the bonus that he as pretty good at a lot of other things) but strong scoring season is a strong scoring season.
Thats a loooong way off of CSKA! Still, I do believe you should stick it out and try to improve the team before moving on.
Originally Posted by B.W.G
Got yourself a top half finish which is good going and Okoduwa had a good season as well.May be worth doing another season with them as you were only 16 points behind 2nd.
Definitely, the Ipswich application was just a curiosity, and I added the last bit about the future simply to confirm that staying was on my mind, however it is frustrating not being able to do much reinforcement each year, even with a bit of money the available quality just isn't there, and as much as CSKA and other clubs are so far ahead, they probably have budgets 10-20 times ours (and if this was FM12 I'd be interested being able to see a wage bill ranking). The fact that simply surviving was uncharted territory for the club (and every improvement in league positions keeps setting a new record) keeps expectations and impatience down. Next season and summer will be important as if I still can't make much improvements I might think of risking a downward or sideways move in the next year or 2 in exchange for being able to make more progress.
Originally Posted by HotChocolate
That Daniel Okoduwa seems decent for a 21 year old.
Therein lies a problem, as I've seen very little improvement attribute-wise from anyone so far in the career, probably because of the low level and facilities, so 'for an x year old' seems to be it for now.
The summer started with good news, as for the first time we had a 6-figure balance, having rarely gone beyond 20-30k in the past. Plus even using up a large (relatively speaking) wage budget surplus to add to the transfer kitty, transfers would only eat up 2/3rds of it at most, even though other things may mean there would be less left. However beyond that, another minor rep increase meant the ability to attract players just wasn’t there, plus with 6 non-eu players (and only 5 allowed in a match squad at a time, one of the reasons I sold Johnson, so that Boateng wouldn’t make it 7 having just signed a player who was sidelined for most of the time so far) I couldn’t rely on them as much. Generally the signings were ‘make do’ and to ensure we had the numbers to be able to release people in future. I later gambled on a 7th non EU player just to get some improvement. On the plus side, a lot more interest for quite a few players indicated a continuation of last season’s signs that a lot of the side was coming of age.
Two words spring to mind... consistently inconsistent. Great win over CSKA though
Whoops, reversed the score on that one, a couple of good wins but that wasn't one of them. Just fixed. And yes, it's been consistently inconsistent quite consistently (!!!) both here and at Frigg, and this season's been much the same so far.
Aug 2020 Sportist 2-1 Chavdar Etropole (A)
Chavdar Etropole was a relatively easy first game, even with a few players missing. Having finally got the chance to play, January signing Victoriano scored after 5 minutes, the first goal of the entire league season. Pity we couldn’t finish now and be crowned champions. Stoyanov’s penalty in the 13th minute gave the season it’s 2nd goal. It took half an hour before someone else scored. A game we dominated had a bit of shine taken off by an injury time consolation.
Loko Sofia 1-0 Sportist (A)
Loko Sofia was a far tougher trip. Even avoiding a big defeat would be an improvement on the norm, but we were aiming higher, and matched them attack for attack in the first half, without there being a breakthrough. They grabbed a goal after an hour, and while we were close to equalizing on a few occasions, it was no cigar, or even a coconut.
Sportist 1-0 Spartak Plovdiv (A)
We made it awkward going at home to Spartak Plovdiv. Boateng scored a penalty at the end of the first half but otherwise we did little to earn the win, and could have slipped an equalizer, plus we already had used up 2 home games against promoted sides.
Sportist 0-1 Litex (A)
We had a 3rd consecutive 1-0 at home to Litex, as they struck before we had the chance to get going, and our chances to level it were outnumbered by their attempts to get another.
Sliven 2000 0-3 Sportist (A)
After a slow start (well we had mudded to wins in easier games and proved lacking in tougher ones), Iliev set us on our way at Sliven after half an hour. They were so stunned that Okoduwa followed up with another a few minutes later. They threatened occasionally in the second half but another Iliev goal sealed it.
Sept 2020 Sportist 1-2 Cherno more (A)
Cherno more were early pace setters, so would be tough visitors. We kept things even to start with and Katsimerski headed us into the lead midway through the first half, but they soon equaliser. With a bit more luck we could have had the lead before half-time, and we kept trying in the second half but they had by far more pressure, and after holding out for ages, we finally broke when they got a winner with 10 minutes left, so close to a good result.
Brestnik 0-0 Sportist (A)
We tried to bounce back at Brestnik, but as much as we were able to push throughout the game, we couldn’t do anything with it and had to settle for 0-0.
Sportist 2-2 Minyor (A)
While they hadn’t started that strongly, Minyor were the sort of top half side we wanted to be beating regularly, but not for the first time, inefficiencies up front caused problems, and they took the lead after 17 minutes. Okoduwa equalized but the scores were only level for a short time before they retook the lead, and we relied on a Boateng penalty to level it again, just before the break. The second half continued in much the same way, we had the quantity, they had the quality but there were no more goals, meaning an admittedly short month was winless.
Oct 2020 Chernomorets Burgas 3-2 Sportist (A)
Chernomorets Burgas were top, having dropped points only once so far, and I didn’t hold out much hope that we’d give them a second when we went to theirs, especially as they had a defeat to avenge from early March. They were surprisingly quiet for a lot of the first half, and Okoduwa managed to give us the lead after we’d been pushing them for a while. It didn’t last unsurprisingly, but going behind on the stroke of half time was rather harsh. Okoduwa levelled it again in the 52nd minute, but they soon retook the lead and were clearly (though far from completely as we always had an occasional chance) on top for the rest of the match, putting a point beyond us.
Sportist 0-3 CSKA Sofia (A)
From that we had to face CSKA. Armed with their latest ‘on-loan Brazilian who was far better than just about anyone else in the league’ they took the lead in the first half. We kept it down to that until we gave up and a late double finished off an easy win for them.
Pirin 0-2 Sportist (A)
After a long run without a win, we got reacquainted with one at Pirin, though the entire midfield switching off for most of the match didn’t make it easy. Iliev once again was the star man, defying his critic, scoring just under half an hour in, then again around the hour mark as we were free to cruise to the win, our first in 6.
Sportist 3-1 Loko Plovdiv (A)
We added to it against Loko Plovdiv. Okoduwa gave us the lead in the 3rd minute, followed by more good form from Aleksander Iliev (celebrating his new website, comparethemarker.com), getting a second. Boateng was injured so it was Bamba who scored the penalty to make it 3-0 10 minutes into the second half. They got a goal back, and came very close to another in the final few minutes, but another win put us back roughly where we were early on, so you'd hardly know we had such a slump.
I don't think my players can even spell consistency.
Nov/Dec 2020 Levski 1-2 Sportist (A)
We were expecting to be schooled at Levski, but made a good start, with Okoduwa giving us the lead after 18 minutes. They equalized 5 minutes later, and we were much quieter as they pushed strongly, and had another disallowed. Okoduwa restored the lead in the 52nd minute, but they gave us a lot of pressure that we held out against to claim a great (if a little lucky) win.
Akademik Svishtov 1-6 Sportist (Cup)
With the cup being something I wanted to make progress in, I was happy with a comfortable draw at non-league Akademik Svishtov. It was an easy romp. Okoduwa scored after 15 minutes, got another, and Bamba made it 3, five minutes before the break. They got a goal back early in the second half, but Iliev joined in the fun in the 69th minute. Okoduwa finished off his hat-trick with 6 minutes to goal, and got his 10th goal of the season with a stoppage time penalty.
Sportist 7-2 Slavia Sofia (A)
We looked to build on that against struggling Slavia Sofia. Things started slowly, but a Bamba penalty set things going after 15 minutes. Katsimerski headed in a corner 10 minutes later, followed by a second Bamba goal. They got one back but just after that got an own goal to restore our 3 goal advantage. Valchev got sent off for a second yellow before half-time but by then we were completely in control. Bamba got another pair of goals in the 53rd and 65th minutes, and with 6 minutes left, Okoduwa knocked the ball down to Iliev who made it 7-1. In added time, Borisov spilled a shot and they took advantage to get a second but we had long been romping to a big win.
Ludogorets 1-3 Sportist (A)
We were next at Ludogorets, who were having a rather better time than last time (when they went up with us), when they were useless no-hopers. Okoduwa scored after just 27 seconds, soon followed by up Iliev. They converted a penalty, which I knew would be the start of a hard push for an equalizer, but Bamba made it safer before half-time. They kept trying hard in the second half, having a goal disallowed (and a player sent off for dissent) with 10 minutes left, but what mattered was that after an awful early autumn, we now had 5 league wins in a row (which adding the cup, made for a new club record of 6). Like with our good run early in the year, no change in league position, but far better relative to the teams around us pointswise.
Sportist 2-2p Minyor (Cup)
It was a couple of weeks before we played Minyor in the cup. Bamba was returning from injury, and had to go odd again after 15 minutes, but Iliev (who soon would be our only first-choice forward when Okoduwa went off as well) gave us the lead a few minutes later. They mainly had the pressure from that point, getting a goal disallowed before getting an equalizer in the last minute. Iliev restored the lead a few minutes into extra-time, but they equalized again with 10 minutes left, and in the shootout, Katsimerski was the only player to miss, with the last penalty, to send us out. Feb 2021
The future did not look too great when February rolled around. Victoriano had gone as with a lack of injuries, 7 non-eu players into 5 in a match squad wasn’t workable. Katsimerski was a little impatient about contract renewals (throwing a hissy fit while considering a new one made it seem a bit silly), and Boateng was about to leave to Sliven on a deal the chairman accepted. At least the Boateng transfer allowed us (both with money, though we only could use a small amount of transfer revenue, and with non-eu places as one surplus was alright) to finally get a strong player for our very weak right-back spot (and as a replacement in the centre for Katsimerski), even though he’d be injured for a bit
Chavdar Etropole 3-3 Sportist (A)
A trip to Chavdar Etropole went better, at first. Bamba and Iliev each scored between the 15th and 20th minutes. They got a goal back, but Zhivkov gave us a third. Another goal back before half-time gave them the encouragement to push in the second half, and they grabbed an equalizer, followed by both sides looking trying to win.
Sportist 0-1 Loko Sofia (A)
As expected, we conceded early against Loko Sofia, but they didn’t seem too bothered about trying to get more. We were able to have a bit of a go in the second half but rarely threatened with our chances, which is probably why Loko felt like they didn’t need to do any more.
Spartak Plovdiv 2-1 Sportist (A)
Todorov gave us the lead in the 7th minute at Spartak Plovdiv but again we failed to capitalize, a clueless defence (Katsimerski didn’t seem to care anymore) shipping a pair of goals to leave us behind at the break. We hurled ourselves at them for most of the second half but couldn’t get anything.
Litex 3-2 Sportist (A)
As we couldn’t manage that, we certainly couldn’t manage at a Litex side that got 3 goals in the first 15 minutes. Iliev suddenly seemed to be on a one-man mission to get us back into the game, getting a goal and coming close a few times to another before the break. Zhivkov eventually gave us a second with 15 minutes left but we couldn’t quite get a third.
Mar 2021 Sportist 0-0 Sliven 2000 (A)
Very little happened in the first half against Sliven. We had a bit of unsuccessful attacking life in the second half but otherwise it was the dullest of 0-0’s. Even I wanted my money back and I didn't even have to pay for a ticket.
Cherno more 3-2 Sportist (A)
We had easily beaten Cherno more at home in a winter break friendly, but were unlikely to repeat than at theirs in the league. Sure enough, they took the lead in the 6th minute, but we were able to stop them taking control in the first half. They got another early in the second half, but we fought back. Stefanov headed in a goal for us, and after they scored a penalty, Bamba made it 3-2 with 8 minutes to go, but once again we couldn’t quite do enough.
Sportist 0-1 Brestnik (A)
The first half against Brestnik was much like Sliven, we attacked a bit more, but they had a penalty turned down. Things were slightly more interesting after the break, we started getting closer, but they got the only goal with 12 minutes left.
Minyor 1-2 Sportist (A)
When we went behind early at Minyor, we were looking like heading for another poor day. However we kept firm enough for Iliev to grab an equalizer in the 28th minute, and midway through the second half we started really pushing, with Iliev getting another, giving us our first win in a quarter of a season, and avenging the cup exit.
Apr 2021 Sportist 1-2 Chermomorets Burgas (A)
We seemed to be turning a corner, as while we had table-topping Chernomorets Burgas next, Bamba scored after 14 minutes, however it was a false dawn as they equalized right before halftime, and comfortably got a winner midway through the second half.
CSKA 3-1 Sportist (A)
Not expecting anything at CSKA, we conceded twice in the first 10 minutes, then they sat back. We put up enough of a fight for Zhivkov to pull one back in the second half but their stars conjured up a third soon after to make it safe.
Sportist 0-1 Pirin (A)
We went behind again against Pirin, but rallied to really push in the second half, but our play in some matches this season have been somewhat ‘busy fool’ like and this was one of the worst offenders as we should have turned it around to win but didn’t even get a point.
May 2021 Loko Plovdiv 1-2 Sportist (A)
We had to weather a severe first half storm at Loko Plovdiv. We got a break in the 66th minute when Katsimerski remembered he was still a Sportist player and headed us into the lead. They equalized 5 minutes later but we weren’t to be denied and Zhivkov gave us a winner with a few minutes left.
Sportist 2-1 Levski (A)
We continued against Levski, a team who despite being very strong, we appeared to enjoy playing this season. Okoduwa (his first goal since returning a long injury) scoring in the 7th minute. They equalized, but we retook the lead in the second half from the most unlikely outfielder, the sub right-back Doychev, who was bought only because I was that desperate for one that wasn’t completely awful. They pushed pretty hard but unusually, we held firm, and Iliev even had a goal disallowed that could have been another.
Slavia Sofia 1-1 Sportist
However we weren’t going to make it 3 wins in a row at Slavia Sofia, Sofia in general being a problem place in my reign as our trips to Slavia had yielded 2 0-0 draws, CSKA 3 defeats, and Lokomotiv a 0-0 and 3 defeats (counting the cup in my first season), the win at Levski earlier this season was the only exception, and they had beaten us the other 2 times. Indeed this time they scored in the 4th minute, but we put up a good fight, and in the 70th minute, Iliev levelled it, and we could even have got a winner.
Sportist 2-0 Ludogorets (A)
Ludogorets at home wasn’t a tough finish. While they’d beaten us both times in the promotion season, we’d won 3 out of 3 in the top flight. We kept up the tradition with Iliev giving us the lead (and getting a record-breaking 16th goal of the season) after 20 minutes, and a Stoyanov penalty extending it 7 minutes later. They played well enough that they could have had a goal back, but going a man down after 70 minutes ended their chances, and from that point we pushed hard enough that we really should have got a 3rd out of that.
The season had been patchy to say the least, with quite a nosedive for a lot of the second half of the season. There were a few potential reasons, the loss of Boateng, Katsimerski being demob unhappy, Okoduwa being injured for the first few months of 2021 and having a slow return (which would be my pick)... who knows? Still, we just about picked up enough to set a new ‘highest league position’ for the 3rd year running, even if the improvement had just been by one place in the past 2 years, still makes for doing a good job by my reckoning. Not so impressed with just one cup tie won in the past 3 years though.
At the beginning of the season I’d decided that I’d give it a couple of years and see what happens, which soon turned into ‘almost certainly’ leave after that, and the way things were at times didn’t make it too easy to decide to give it that long, but after a lot of thought going all over the place, I’d stick with the original plan, with next year likely being the last at the club.
Despite a bad injury in the middle of the season (in fact I think there's definitely a link between our poor Feb-April form and his injury and struggling return), proved to be by far and away our main man, and far more than he was last season.
Good top half finish,also closer gap to first place
Originally Posted by AK22
Wow, your side certainly likes mid-table obscurity! Let's hope your commitment is rewarded next season!
It's better so far, but we have not so much an uphill struggle to get among the top sides as up a massive cliff, very unlikely and slow at best, which is why I'm thinking of leaving, I've done a good job as it is, but there's only so far we can likely go.
We weren’t in a bad position in preseason. Our right-back weakspot had been solved in January, the lack of depth at full back in general was helped by a good young free agent for the left. Financially we had 330k in the bank (three times last year, which was something I was very pleased about then), and with using only 4kpw of an initial 7kpw budget, I was able to use that to get a 6 figure transfer budget, though again that was if we could attract anyone I could pay for, though at least the minimum expectations were now ‘avoid relegation’ instead of ‘fight bravely’. In the end the ‘lack of anyone to improve the side’ problem wasn’t quite as bad as in the past couple of years so there was a little improvement, marred by Hachilensa being snatched by a Turkish club, the latest in the Eastern European cycle of being able to snatch up a bunch of excellent young Africans, then losing them for much larger sums a little bit down the line, which was mildly annoying but due to the massive financial boost and the availability of others, perfectly acceptable, even for me, who normally has complete resistance to selling first-teamers. There was still easily enough time to get a replacement, which helped.
Aug 2021 CSKA 2-1 Sportist (A)
We couldn’t have had a tougher start than with a trip to CSKA, who were back to back champions as well as having done the double last season. They didn’t have an excellent Brazilian loanee this time, but that didn’t explain why they were quiet in the first half, allowing us to come at them and take the lead through new signing Mihaylov. They woke up a bit in the second half, especially later on. A equalizer with 15 minutes left was fair dos, but an injury time winner was a bit harsh on us.
Sportist 5-0 Botev (A)
Promoted Botev at home was right at the opposite end of the scale. Hachilensa looked like he was about to leave, but he still brilliantly set Okoduwa up after 10 minutes. Valchev extended it 25 minutes later, and Iliev made it 3 just after that. 10 minutes after half-time, Mihaylov made it 2 in 2 for us (and he’s a defender), with James (whose parents get the prize for least original naming as that’s his first name as well) soon wrapping things up with a 5th.
Brestnik 1-1 Sportist (A)
Brestnik away was roughly in the middle of the scale. Iliev gave us the lead in the 8th minute, but they started putting up a bit of a fight, equalizing shortly before half-time. The second half started off as if it could go each way, but the game was too even, and it quietened down later on as the futility of pushing against an equal force from the other side became apparent.
Sportist 4-1 Beroe (A)
Okoduwa gave us the lead after 8 minutes against Beroe, another promoted side. They equalized 6 minutes later, but we were determined to retake control, Iliev and James managing to give us a comfortable half-time lead. We had no trouble from them in the second half, Ekwueme getting his first goal to finish the game off. Unfortunately we’d be without his compatriot, Okoduwa, for 6-7 months following a broken leg, which if last season was anything to go by, was not a good sign. Iliev in particular seemed to play pretty poorly a lot of the time without him.
Loko Sofia 2-0 Sportist (A)
We already faced our second Sofia trip to play Lokomotiv. We were reasonably spirited in the first half, but as I expected, Iliev was having a hard time. They easily took control with a pair of goals early in the second half to give them a comfortable win.
Sept 2021 Sportist 1-0 Loko Plovdiv
We seemed to like the number ‘8’, as it was in the 8th minute that Bamba (who brilliantly was now a Bulgarian, and EU, citizen) gave us the lead. It was comfortable but unimpressive, Iliev having a 56th minute effort ruled out, which he definitely could have done with to help his post-Okoduwa depression.
Ludogorets 0-2 Sportist (A)
At Ludogorets, the 13th minute was unlucky for them as that was when Iliev gave us the lead. They put up a stiff threat for a lot of the game, and had our former forward Lambev (a promotion hero, let go in the summer) but after 72 minutes Iliev got another for us to seal it. That Grant Holt was sacked by Cambridge afterwards made it an even better day.
Chernomorets Burgas 0-1 Sportist (A)
I was dreading a trip to Chernomorets Burgas, but we were surprisingly on top for a lot of the game, though it looked like they could have punished us with a goal. For once that didn’t happen, and in the 80th minute, Iliev gave us a surprise win, making it 3 from 3 this month.
Oct 2021 Sportist 5-0 Svetkavitsa (A)
Svetkavitsa held us to a draw just before they went down a couple of seasons ago, and being my 300th career match, I hope to fix that. On the magical 8th minute Bamba gave us the lead, but things were pretty quiet until the second half. Around the hour mark, Ekwueme (who had just 1 goal in 7 so far) made it 2, followed by a Stoyanov penalty, and a double from Ekwueme in the last few minutes wrapped up a 5-0 win.
Cherno more 3-0 Sportist (A)
After 4 wins in a row, Cherno more were far too strong. For once we conceded instead of scored after 8 minutes, and again in the 12th. They went down to 10 men just after half-time, but the period of pressure that gave us didn’t last. That they got a late 3rd was bad enough, but it was Katsimerski, now on their side, who gave it to them!
Sportist 3-2 Slavia Sofia (A)
We bounced back against Slavia Sofia. They took an early lead, but we pushed back hard for a lot of the first half, and Bamba finally levelled the scores 5 minutes before half-time. He gave us the lead a couple of minutes into the second half, and Stefanov got another just afterwards. They were still a lot of trouble, getting a goal back in the 72nd minute, and we had to work very hard to avoid an equalizer.
Litex 3-2 Sportist (A)
Litex were challenging at the top, and were far too good. They took an early lead, and we pushed well to try and come back, but in the second half they easily took a 3-0 lead. Stoyanov quickly got a goal back, and at the end, Ekwueme got a second but it wasn’t enough.
Nov/Dec 2021 Sportist 3-1 Levski (A)
We were a little unlucky to go behind in an even first-half against Levski. In the 40th minute, Stefanov equalized, and Bamba had a goal disallowed. We managed to take the lead in the second half from Ekwueme, Zhivkov following on behind almost instantly, giving us enough of a safely margin.
Preslav 0-6 Sportist (Cup)
B group Preslav, away, were a fairly easy first tie in the cup. It took a while to get going but in the 27th minute, Ekwueme gave us the lead, Bamba following on a few minutes later, and getting another on the stroke of half-time. Ekwueme made it 4, just after the break, and on the dot of the hour (sort of), Bamba finished off his hat-trick, the Ivorian rounding off a great game by setting Ekwueme up for his own hat-trick, the latest bit of proof that we could manage alright without Okoduwa this time.
Pirin 0-2 Sportist (A)
By contrast, the first half at Pirin brought out calls of ‘there used to be a gladiator arena here’. However at the start of the second half, Bamba scored to give us control, Iliev following on after an hour.
Sportist 0-1 Minyor (A)
We went behind against Minyor, and struggled to get back in. We were a bit improved in the second half, but it was never going to be anywhere near enough, but it was to remain in the top 5 going into the winter break.
Sportist 2-1 Loko Sofia (aet) (Cup)
Not for the first time, Loko Sofia were in our way in the cup. This time we just about had the upper hand, with a penalty claim turned down in the 22nd minute. In the 72nd, we got one which Stoyanov, the captain, converted. They equalized just afterwards, and there was more controversy at the beginning of extra time when Bamba had a goal ruled out in the second minute, but just before the halfway point, Iliev’s goal sent us through to the quarter-finals for the first time.
Feb 2022 Sportist 1-3 CSKA (A)
Before facing CSKA again, we had the great news that Okoduwa was fully fit a couple of months earlier than I expected, as were a few other players, like James, who had been out for a lot of the Autumn. Unfortunately he couldn’t make much difference against the champions, who were easily the better side from the start, taking a 17th minute lead and getting another before the break. We struggled to get back into it in the second half, and a long-awaited third came in stoppage time, though Okoduwa at least managed to mark his return with a consolation right at the end.
Botev 1-3 Sportist (A)
We struggled to bounce back at Botev. They took the lead after a minute, and it took a while for us to really start coming into the game. We had the momentum in our favour in the second half, Iliev equalizing in the 59th minute, and after a lot of pushing, we got the deserved win from a double in the last 10 minutes, from Zhivkov, and Iliev again.
Sportist 3-0 Brestnik (A)
Brestnik were far more comfortable opponents. Stefanov headed us into the lead in the 5th minute. Iliev extended the lead 5 minutes after the break. Okoduwa had a goal disallowed shortly after, but Mihaylov gave us a third goal later on.
Beroe 1-2 Sportist (A)
Going to bottom club Beroe was like taking a step back in time to when we were more wasteful, and we were punished by being behind at the break. We kept pushing unsuccessfully in the second half, but we got away with it this time. A penalty from Morais in the 73rd minute, and an Okoduwa goal with a few minutes left gave us the win.
Mar 2022 Sportist 2-0 Loko Sofia (A)
Loko Sofia were surprisingly quiet in the next game. Iliev had a goal disallowed in each half, but after being on top we got the deserved comfortable win from a second half own goal, and Okoduwa giving us a late second.
Loko Plovdiv 1-0 Sportist (A)
At Loko Plovdiv, they were no more ambitious than their namesakes in the capital, but they were tougher to break down. We were worn out in the second half, and in the 72nd minute they roused themselves to grab a winner.
Sportist 0-0 Ludogorets (A)
Our 100% A group record against Ludogorets was seriously under threat from the start in the next game, as we both threatened hard in the first half. Things were quieter in the second half, though on balance we did more to try and get a win, especially later on, but not by enough to make much difference.
Sportist 0-2 Chernomorets Burgas (A)
We faced Chernomorets Burgas without Borisov, who was ill, and his young backup, Ozkaya, made an awkward start, not helped by inadequate defensive protection that gave them an easy early lead. Things improved a bit, but our efforts to level it were patchy, and their upper hand saw them get a deserved second with a couple of minutes left.
Apr 2022 Svetkavitsa 0-2 Sportist (A)
After a few games without a win, we were back on form at Svetkavitsa, who admittedly were bottom. Bamba gave us the lead after a few minutes, followed by Okoduwa in the 20th minute, and we definitely did enough to earn more, though we didn’t get.
Sportist 4-0 Cherno more (Cup QF)
It was good preparation for the cup game with Cherno more, the first of 2 back to back home games with them. They were normally one of our problem sides, along with the Sofia clubs, but this time we took the game to them from the start. It took until the stroke of half-time for Bamba to give us a breakthrough. The floodgates opened and he gave us a second shortly after the break. Iliev came on at half-time (he was injured for Svetkavitsa) and made it 3, and Stefanov wrapped up a great 4-0 win to send us confidently through to the semis.
Sportist 4-0 Cherno more (A)
They were just as easy in the league game. A pair of goals from Okoduwa midway through the first half set us on our way. Bamba getting another in the second half before a penalty wrapped up Okoduwa’s hat-trick and our win in the 69th minute.
Slavia Sofia 0-2 Sportist (A)
The first half at Slavia Sofia was end to end stuff, but we made a breakthrough from Stefanov after almost half an hour. From that point things almost entirely went our way, and Iliev got a second goal in the 74th minute, an oddly comfortably result for what was only my second win in Sofia. The game with Litex was a pretty dull an even affair, but that changed in the second half when Todorov got sent off, with a straight red. They pushed hard to take advantage after that, but we managed to hold out.
May 2022 Levski 4-1 Sportist (A)
Levski were just ahead of us in 4th, making it a bigger game than usual, as tough as our Sofia trips were. However this was a prime example of why I felt we were too far away from the big sides to ever really be able to compete. They scored in the first few minutes, then got another pair of goals before half-time. Iliev got a goal back after 70 minutes but they finished things off with a 4th just afterwards. That put them 4 points ahead with 2 games left and made European qualification (at least in the league), which would get me to stay, highly improbable.
Sportist 1-2 Slavia Sofia (Cup SF)
That left the cup, where we were at home to Slavia Sofia in the semis. Like against Cherno more, we sensed an opportunity, and attacked from the off. Bamba gave us the lead exactly halfway through the first half, though they woke up and equalized 5 minutes later. An even and open game was decided after an hour when they converted a free-kick, though we could easily have levelled it at least.
Sportist 4-2 Pirin (A)
We hit back at home to Pirin. A brace from Okoduwa around the half-hour mark gave us a 2-0 lead. They hit back a few minutes after the break, then equalized with a controversial penalty in the 67th minute. Justice was done as with 10 minutes left, Okoduwa’s shot was deflected by a defender into the Pirin net to restore our lead, and James converted a free-kick in injury time to give us a 4-2 win.
Minyor 1-2 Sportist (A)
The last game was at Minyor. I’d often found them tricky, indeed they’d beaten us at home in November, but this time Okoduwa gave us the lead just over 10 minutes in. They were up to their old tricks in the second half, quickly equalizing, and putting a lot of pressure on our goal that required a Herculean effort from Borisov to keep out, but we were rewarded with Bamba giving us a winner. I finished off as ‘players manager of the season’ as well.
It was so nearly goodbye, but it wouldn’t be yet. I felt we couldn’t beat this season, given we were so consistently beaten by, and were far behind, the big sides, but especially as better rep and finances greatly increased my reinforcement opportunities now, I felt we could have good go at it, and my heart screamed ‘stay’ far too loudly for me to ignore. I already know full well that you can never say never in this game. It would help that Bamba, Okoduwa, and Borrouhou were now EU citizens, giving me scope to get another strong African or 2 in. It was great to have a really strong cup run at last, and relative consistency, with few surprise results, either positive or negative. Plus easily managed a 4th ‘record high’ in a row.
The chairman decided to interfere as early as June, accepting a 300k bid from Auxerre for Ekwueme, which was a good markup from 45k after just 1 year where he only played for parts of the season, but I was less pleased about Stoyanov going to Sportul for 220k. Still I couldn’t argue with the boost to an already excellent financial situation (800k, plus yet more monthly fees coming in). I must admit there was a bit of ‘wish I’d gone now’ but knew that I was probably going to do so at the end of the season, though obviously that was far from certain given I only changed my mind after last season had finished. The upshot was that I had up to 11kpw wage budget (massive by our standards, which in itself tells its own story, especially about why I want to move on soon),or almost 400k transfer kitty (ditto, though not that small as wage budget seems). I already had 3 players who I liked in January coming in, though those players rarely became that important. There weren’t really the players out there I’d stayed hoping to see (though the free agents sprung surprises), but that was more than made up by my big signing of the summer, I mean, just look at him, at least technically, the sort of player I’d been envious of the big sides having for years.
After that, the chairman decided to have a laugh and accept a bid for full-back Morais for good measure. Normally they’re supposed to wait for me to leave before flogging off most of my squad. Normally this doesn’t bug me, especially with the important financial gains, but this summer it is, maybe because of the ‘small club’ factor it’s demonstrating after I’ve felt like leaving for those reasons. Still I didn’t decide to stay on just to leave earlier because of this.
In terms of expectations, the board (and by extention, our rep) were still stuck in ‘avoid relegation' mode, I wasn’t expecting to improve on last season (if I was I wouldn’t have almost left), so just being close would do. One small perk of staying was that near the end of the season I’d make it to 200 games at the club, which given I’d wanted a bit more longevity at clubs, and after the 4 years at Frigg, would make a good run of just 2 clubs in 10 years.
Definitely worth hanging around for another season, considering the improvement made.
Alexandre should turn out to be amazing if you can get his physical stats up a bit.
Definitely, even if in this case events are so far confirming what I knew, that it was as good as things would get, but I just couldn't be sure, and it was that uncertainty that caused my change of heart regarding leaving, but that was always going to be coming, almost certainly this season, as certain as I was last time.
Aug 2022 Botev 0-1 Sportist (A)
Botev away were first, and for a side that had only been promoted a year ago, they were rather troublesome at first, we could only break them with a penalty right before halftime, from Petkov (a freebee last year who rarely played). In the second half, despite the fact that they were dirty enough to have 7 players booked, we were far more in control of the game, but didn’t get another goal.
Sportist 2-1 Chavdar Etropole (A)
From a team promoted last year, to a team re-promoted this, Chavdar Etropole. Unsurprisingly, this was simpler. Bulgaria’s favourite Nigerian set Iliev up in the 28th minute. This was followed in the 58th minute with another Petkov penalty. They headed in a corner to get a goal back with 7 minutes left but never threatened to equalize.
Chernomorets Burgas 3-0 Sportist (A)
Chernomorets Burgas was our first big trip, and it went exactly as expected. Borisov, clear man of the match from the start, was called into action from the start, and couldn’t stop them scoring in the 6th and 18th minutes as they attacked relentlessly. The second half wasn’t much better, and they got a third in the 69th minute. We did have a little flurry of activity near the end. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the big boys are just too far ahead.
Sportist 3-2 Minyor (A)
Having lost at home to Minyor last season, we were determined not to have a repeat. For the most part the game was comfortably ours. Okoduwa opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, then in first half-stoppage time, he delivered a corner which a Minyor player knocked into his own net. In the second half, Iliev made it 3-0 in the 66th minute, but then they mounted a comeback, getting 2 goals (and giving James, Zhivkov and Okoduwa knocks that would rule them out for about a month each) in the last 15 minutes, but thankfully we managed to keep out any potential equalizer.
Sept 2022 Sportist 2-0 Dunav (A)
We had a gap of a few weeks before playing promoted Dunav at home. It wasn’t impressive but it was comfortable, given the players injured against Minyor were alright but still unfit. Midway through the first half, an Okoduwa shot led to an own goal, and the other goal came from Stefanov heading in a corner just before half-time.
Pirin 0-2 Sportist (A)
Going to Pirin would be a little trickier, and interestingly we’d be up against our former keeper Seliminski (who was first choice for the season after promotion). It was the first game where Alexandre made an individual impact, scoring a penalty after 10 minutes, and setting up Okoduwa for a disallowed second after half an hour. We looked shaky while we were just 1 goal ahead, and they had many chances to equalize, but deep in the second half, Bamba gave us a very welcome goal, Iliev having another disallowed a few minutes before the end.
CSKA 2-0 Sportist (A)
We were flying high in second, but I always knew that going to CSKA (with a 100% record, plus with 3 titles on the trot now) would be a massive reality check. It didn’t take long for them to take the lead. Surprisingly enough, though they soon got a second goal, we managed to keep it at that, with some bright spells in the second half, however it was the latest of many Sofia defeats.
Sportist 0-0 Loko Plovdiv (A)
After that it took time to get going in a more manageable game with Loko Plovdiv, and when we did, they were able to take whatever we threw at them. We lost a lot of momentum in the second half, and they were able to threaten but on balance we still should have got a winning goal.
Having played a lot in the past few days, and posted more in one go (which has probably made things a little harder to follow), I broke the updates up better today, so I already knew that CSKA was the start of a bit of a slump, so probably won't have even the slightest dilemma about leaving this time.
Originally Posted by emgergo
Nice progress this season, and Alexandre looks like a destroyer - though there's a chance that by the time he gets settled in the side he'll be snatched!
Maybe not, a few of my first African (who it happens to) signings after promotion are still around compared to later players getting snatched after a year or so, plus as he cost a fair bit in the first place it would take a far larger bid to be accepted, I'll be gone by then anyway.
Oct 2022 Loko Sofia 2-1 Sportist (A)
Loko was expected to be another hard Sofia trip, however Okoduwa gave us an 11th minute lead. It didn’t last but after they equalized they never really took control of the game. What they did get, however, was a winner at the beginning of the second half.
Sportist 0-1 Cherno more (A)
Cherno more were usually trouble, the pair of 4-0 wins in April aside, and this time at home was no different. They scored after a few minutes, and while we soon got our act together, especially in the second half, and equalizer just didn’t come.
Litex 4-1 Sportist (A)
Litex was expected to be yet another tough trip, and so it was, though not before Stefanov gave us the lead after a few minutes. Things remained steady after their 21st minute equalizer, but they ran rampant with 3 goals in 10 minutes midway through the second half.
Sportist 3-0 Beroe (A)
In the first half at home to struggling Beroe, we pushed hard but didn’t get anywhere. Okoduwa finally gave us a breakthrough in the 53rd minute, followed by an own-goal 15 minutes later, and an 84th minute Okoduwa goal wrapped up our first win in a while.
Nov/Dec 2022 Slavia Sofia 1-1 Sportost (A)
Going to Sofia rarely meant winning, and mostly losing (in case you hadn’t figured that out by now, or that I was fed up with it), even against next opponents Slavia, not as big as the others. They took the first half lead, but inspired by Alexandre, we came back hard, and Okoduwa’s goal meant that we’d at least snatch a point.
Balkan 1-6 Sportist (Cup)
We went to non-league Balkan in the cup. Sokolov scored in the second minute, Alexandre giving us a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes. They got one back but Okoduwa’s inevitable goal came 5 minutes before the break, followed by Bamba a few minutes later. After 80 minutes, Bamba finally got a 5th, Stefanov wrapping things up 5 minutes later.
Sportist 0-3 Spartak Plovdiv (A)
Spartak Plovdiv were expected to be easy, but they hit us with a pair of goals midway through the first half. An attempt at coming back was stalled when they got a third in the 59th minute. When we returned to strongly attack we couldn’t get a consolation anyway.
Levski 3-2 Sportist (A)
We got all the Sofia games (and the just as tricky Litex and Chernomorets Burgas visits as well come to think of it) out the way when we went to Levski in the last league game before the break, so while those sides wouldn’t be easy, it would be uphill from that point. 2 quick goals conceded in the first 10 minutes was business as usual as far as these games went. An own-goal midway through the half put us back in the game, and we had a good go at equalizing until they retook control in the second half, getting a 3rd goal with a few minutes left, with time remaining for Iliev to give us a second goal.
CSKA 4-0 Sportist (Cup)
I slightly spoke too soon about ‘last trip to Sofia’ as in the cup we went to CSKA. They took the lead before we really got going, getting a second goal in the 9th minute, and a 3rd 10 minutes before half-time. They didn’t get a 4th until the end, but yet again we’d been well and truely taken apart.
Cheers Cerud. Anyway, farewell Bulgaria, you've been great.
Feb 2023 Sportist 2-0 Botev (A)
January was a busy month for transfers, mainly expiring contract players for my successor in the summer, but also a Brazilian free agent, and a couple more Africans. Returning at home to Botev, we struggled to make much progress despite a lot of attacking effort, but we really managed to turn the heat up in the second half, Bamba (a half-time sub) giving us the lead in the 59th minute, and Iliev making it safe just afterwards.
Chavdar Etropole 2-1 Sportist (A)
We also pushed at Chavdar Etropole, but it didn’t come to anything, and we were behind at the break. We were finally rewarded with Iliev equalizing in the 60th minute. After Bamba joined Alexandre in going off injured, they retook the lead, and a second Iliev equalizer was disallowed.
Sportist 2-1 Chernomorets Burgas (A)
As usual, we didn’t really turn up against Chernomorets Burgas, being sitting ducks when going 2-0 behind. Mihaylov was sent off early in the second half, but instead of shipping more, we at least managed an Okoduwa consolation. Sportist 3-2 Minyor (A)
In contrast to Chavdar, we faced a lot of pressure early on, but Dimitrov gave us the lead. They soon equalized but an admittedly dodgy 67th minute penalty from Alexandre gave us a lead that lasted just 2 minutes. By this point we were definitely going for it, and Stefanov’s header gave us a late win.
Mar 2023 Sportist 2-1 CSKA (A)
We conceded early on at home to CSKA, and I thought ‘here we go again’. However Okoduwa equalized and we took control. After dominating the first half, Okoduwa had a goal disallowed in the last minute before the break, and while I knew we’d be more subdued in the second half, they didn’t really do anything and with a couple of minutes left, Iliev gave us a winner.
Dunav 0-0 Sportist (A)
We had a good go to get another win at Dunav, and while we were consistently on top, we weren’t efficient so had to settle a 0-0.
Sportist 4-0 Pirin (A)
We made amends at home to Pirin. We were as dominant as we had done for a while, and Alexandre gave us the lead in the 20th minute. We didn’t get more until well in the second half, from Okodowa in the 62nd minute. Dimitrov followed that up 8 minutes later, and Bamba joined in the fun to finish things off in the last minute.
Apr 2023 Loko Plovdiv 4-1 Sportist (A)
We were back to being on the back foot at Loko Plovdiv. They took the lead in the second minute and while Dimitrov equalized midway through the half, they quickly retook the lead, and took us apart with another pair of goals in the second half.
Sportist 2-1 Loko Sofia (A)
After all those Sofia defeats, we were getting partial revenge at home in Svoge. Okoduwa got his 10th goal of the season to get us on our way, followed 10 minutes into the second half by the new Brazilian, Andre Luiz, though they got a consolation just afterwards.
Cherno more 1-1 Sportist (A)
Bamba gave us the lead at Cherno more, and though they equalized, we were strongly on top for most of the second half, but not for the first time (hopefully one of the last) that didn’t give us the goals we’d been striving for and had to settle for a draw, keeping our opponents above us.
Sportist 1-2 Litex (A)
For the first half an hour at home to Litex, it looked like they’d be the latest home scalp, however they hit us with a couple of goals to change that. We pushed forward in the second half, Okoduwa getting a goal back, followed by plenty of chances, and a rejected penalty claim, that could have given us a point.
Beroe 1-1 Sportist (A)
The first half at Beroe consisted of each side having good chances to take the advantage. In the second, we started to dominate, but couldn’t really get anywhere. They had a late push, but in the end we came closest with a late Dimitrov goal disallowed.
May 2023 Sportist 0-0 Slavia Sofia (A)
A home game with Slavia Sofia was my 200th match at Sportist, and the third-last. We threw all we got at them, but had to settle for just a point.
Spartak Plovdiv 0-4 Sportist (A)
We had a lot of refreshing accuracy at Spartak Plovdiv. Bamba gave us a pair in the first 25 minutes, completed a hat-trick in the 67th minute, and even managed a late 4th, while they had almost as many chances that were never a threat.
Sportist 0-1 Levski (A)
The last game was at home to Levski. They had a goal very early on, but we were able to push for a most of the rest, and should have earned something. Defeated but not outclassed.
The moment that had been coming for 3 years finally arrived, as thought, last season’s 5th was the peak of our ambitions, and after a great start things dipped (with mild improvements in the spring), and having changed my mind last year, this time it was never in doubt. I could be very happy with what I had done. That amazing first season promotion (in fact there was even a strong win in my first game, at the end of the previous year), plus setting a new highest position record for each of the first 4 years in the top flight, despite being so small and strong relegation candidates on paper for quite a while. Plus financially, from struggling to get into the black (there was even a loan in the first season, and the sales of a couple of our best players) to the best part of a million now.
At the end of the day we were far too small, and that was changing far too slowly, and we were already doing very well as things were, more would always be very improbable, I wasn't sure what sort of things I'd get, but even a short-term step down should give me somewhere with more potential for advancement. However options are wide ranging, top div jobs will be in small nations if that, any of the bigger nations will be pretty low down, and the middle option (second level in the middling nations) has neither the attraction or the problems of the ends of the scale, it's that sort of steep 'trade off between one or the other' situation, so I'd appreciate input. Currently erring on the side of aiming high a biding my time, and the game will be processing weeks at a time so there won't be an immediate decision.
Shame you couldn't improve on the previous season and go out on a high.
You may need to wait until Oct/Nov when the 'sacking season' starts, but I could certainly see you getting a job with a mid-to-lower-table club in the top tier of a lesser nation. As a guideline, you may have to declare your interest and see if it gets laughed off or not.
There have been a number of vacancies early on, went for top division clubs at good-to middling nations as a sort of optimistic rangefinder, though aside from the 'summer season' nations things are quieter for the summer. Having decided to avoid the middle ground I might gravitate towards it.
I much prefer taking over a team just at the end of the season.
I agree, or at the beginning. In fact when I was offered the Sportist job I set it so I'd arrive at the end of the season (though it was right before the last match) instead of a couple of months before.
Originally Posted by B.W.G
Shame you couldn't finish on a high,good luck wherever you land next.
Cheers while nowhere near getting anywhere yet (thanks to the game doing large chunks at a time, took just a few continues to go from late May to Oct 1, as well as erring on the sie of aiming high), I have at least decided to settle for lower leagues in most nations if it comes to that, but just as I left Norway and chose Bulgaria for promotion potential, this time I'll look for club potential, as that was the issue with Sportist, not that I expected to do well enough there for that to come up.
After pondering my first offer, from Swindon, I saw that the BATE job was now available, such relatively big club in their nation was for me a dream at this stage, and while I didn’t expect to be offered it, I was and snapped it up. Founded in the mid-90’s they had become the dominant force in the country in the past few years in real life, with some European progress, however they hadn’t challenged for a while, without a title in 6 years (their only one in the past decade) or a top 3 finish in 4, and were actually sitting just above the bottom 2, so there was plenty to do. And before I could do it, I had to secure survival in the last 5 games. Poor Sportist were at the bottom of the league with just 4 points. I had prior experience in Belarus last year, with Slavia Mozyr going roughly as Sportist just has, except with being able to built a stronger squad from the start, slightly consistently better positions in the Highest League (interestingly enough, with BATE stuck in the First League throughout), and a cup (which runs on a different schedule from the league, going autumn-spring) win which aided a departure. Here at BATE I was hoping for another ‘MTK’, eventually (I expected it to take a couple of years) being able to grab a few domestic trophies as a good springboard to something far better.
Oct/Nov 2023 Vitebsk 1-0 BATE (HL)
We started at 4th placed Vitebsk, and showed ambition from the start. We shipped the first goal, but kept on and had a goal disallowed in the 40th minute. We continued in similar fashion in the second half, except that they threatened more, and were unlucky not to get something from what turned out to be the side’s 4th defeat in a row.
BATE 3-1 Belshina (HL)
We did better at home to Belshina, it helped that we took control early on with Libyan defender Dalla heading us into the lead in the 10th minute. After some solid pushing, we extended the lead in the 39th minute. They mounted a bit of a comeback, getting a goal back just after an hour, but we quickly got a 3rd to make it safe.
Partizan Minsk 1-0 BATE (HL)
We were on the back-foot at Partizan Minsk, but we managed to hold out enough to start getting chances in the second half. But just as it looked like we would both have to settle for a point, they got a late winner.
BATE 1-2 Dnepr Mogilev (HL)
A home game against 2nd placed Dnepr Mogilev was similarly a struggle, this time we did conceded early. Veteran Ukrainian Shakhov equalized but not only did they regain the lead, but a straight red gave us a defensive hole, which thankfully didn’t lead to shipping more goals, and despite the defeat, we were now mathematically safe.
Veras 1-2 BATE (HL)
By comparision, our last opponents, Veras, were well adrift at the bottom even when we arrived, and we hoped to finish off with an away win. That we did with a pair of goals in the first 11 minutes, though we didn’t really dominate that much afterwards, even conceding in the second half, but it was pretty comfortable.
There wasn’t much to say so far, was just getting the rest of this season out of the way, ensuring survival, and waiting to be able to start properly next season, see how far up the league we can get as an initial step.
Good move to Borisov, looking forward to seeing how this pans out.
So am I, unusually, BATE were a very specific example of where I wanted to go anyway.
Originally Posted by Jolanthustrel
Only 10 points from 4th. You get a couple of good signings and start well next season could see you challenge for Europa spot. Good luck!
Funny you should say that...
I was slightly surprised when seeing that the board expected European qualification, as that was higher than they were predicted last year. The fact that the latter stages of the cup was in the following Spring added extra uncertainty over whether I could settle for 4th, so that meant top 3, though I felt I could survive falling a bit short this time, the first time in ages that job security has been in doubt. However I had the resources, with 3.8M transfer budget (though we had a bit less in the bank), and 20kpw for wages (admittedly much lower than could have got elsewhere, even Swindon were offering 3 times more), with just over 8kpw being used. The squad wasn’t too bad either, so there was no need to spread the money around on a number of players. However only being able to register 5 foreigners at a time definitely restricted improvements, especially with very limited local talent, clustered around a few forwards and central defenders, but managed to ‘swap’ a couple of foreigners to help improve things.
I'm really surprised by your transfer budget, though, as I can't imagine Belarus is awash with that much cash.
I imagine it isn't any more than every top club have hundreds of millions to spend. However the other time I was there, much further in the game admitely, I had just under 2M in the First League!
Originally Posted by cragswfc
Hulk looks like a beast
Pity he was injured early on.
Originally Posted by JackJCFC
Looks like you've picked up some great players there, good luck next season.
Thanks, sadly it's not gone well.
Apr 2024 BATE 0-5 Dinamo Brest (HL)
We got off to a poor start at home to Dinamo Brest, conceding in the 3rd minute, then again from a controversial penalty just under half an hour in. Another one in the 50th minute made it 3-0. We were completely useless, in the 65th minute conceding yet another, and a 5th in the penultimate minute.
Gomel 2-1 BATE (HL)
Things weren’t likely to get better at champions Gomel, however we managed to keep things dull in the first half. We conceded as soon as the second half started, but were able to put up a fight, target man Tret’yak equalizing midway through the half. Both sides really pushed for a winner, and with 12 minutes left, they got it.
BATE 3-2 Torpedo Zhodino (HL)
Thankfully Torpedo Zhodino had started even worse, and we were at home to them next. Conceding in the 7th minute suggested that this season would not be comfortable, thankfully after a bit of a scramble, Hulk equalized in the 12th minute. We kept pushing and later in the half, Dalla headed us into the lead. However they were a continuous threat, and equalized early in the second half, but we had too much for them and Tret’yak gave us one of the most relieving wins I’d had in a long time.
May 2024 Dinamo Minsk 3-0 BATE (HL)
A trip to Dinamo Minsk was going to be much tougher, but we started well enough, and should have taken the lead before they hit us with a goal after half an hour. They pushed on and took us to the cleaners with 2 goals before half-time. We managed to limit the damage in the second half, and had a strong late push, but we had no more luck than early on.
BATE 1-2 Partizan Minsk (HL)
We conceded again at home to Partizan Minsk in just the 3rd minute, and again before we were 20 minutes in. We were able to get one back from left-back Ruslan Molchanov (playing alongside another full back of the same surname, and they’re both dual-sided as well which either makes things more confusing or avoid problems), and had periods of second half threatening but couldn’t get anything, and I was starting to get the feeling that I wouldn’t be here for long.
Naftan 1-2 BATE (HL)
After 4 defeats in the first 5 games, we hoped to avoid a 5th at Naftan, who only survived in the playoff last year. When they took the lead after half an hour, with the game being finely balanced, I had a sinking feeling. However having made a few changes, defender Polyakov (one of the changes) headed an equalizer, and just before half-time, a free-kick led to an own-goal which gave us the lead. As the second half wore on, they started pushing hard, but we managed to get another win.
BATE 0-1 Belshina (HL)
A home game with Belshina, who were below us, was a great opportunity to grab another. We were by far the stronger, after a slow start, but the game was decided in their favour by a 40th minute penalty, while their keeper was doing a great job. In contrast we lost ours, Paulo Roberto, for a month following a late collision.
Neman Grodno 4-2 BATE (HL)
Internationals added to injuries for a trip to Neman Grodno, though at least Siby was able to play having been injured just before the start of the season. His fellow playmaker Lukashevich gave us the lead in the 12th minute, even though it was a return to tougher games. Penalties struck again midway through the half when they equalized, but Dubovik restored the lead 5 minutes later. The match turned in the first minute after half-time, when veteran keeper Scherbakov scored an own-goal to level the scores, followed by another (though not from him) to give That pretty much ended our challenge, and they simply came forward, and yet another penalty at the end wrapped it up for them.
Minsk 2-1 BATE (HL)
We peaked too early in another tricky trip to Minsk, with Radzkov (easily the best local I found in pre-season) heading us into the lead, only for them to easily take control, having a 2-1 lead by half-time, and not letting go after the break, even though there were no more goals.
BATE 0-2 Vitebsk (HL)
The last game before a long break was at home to Vitebsk, however by this point we were conceding the lead as if it was the most routine thing in the world, and did so again this time. We woke up in the second half, and had a good go, but it was for nothing as they finished us off with another in the 77th minute.
Unlucky on those results, lets hope you can pick things up! I have faith
Some of them definitely, but in the rest we've been so hopeless so definitely falling well short even my expectations (top-half), let along the boards rather demanding ones. Keeping going as we can definitely do a lot better, providing hope beyond the short term, so no premature resignations this time (but probably will be sacked soon anyway), but things not improving one bit. Probably the only manager singing 'you're getting fired in the morning' at himself Thankfully this sort of failure doesn't come too often these days so will probably do better in the future.