REDDITCH UNITED 2012-13 (SEASON 1)
END OF SEASON REPORT
THE STORY OF THE SEASON
Going into this challenge, I didn't know quite what to expect, and was surprised at what I found out about the way I play. I got through a season a lot quicker without worrying about transfers, and found myself tinkering tactically a lot more than I would usually. I even looked over the training schedules for probably the first time ever. Hmm- this could be interesting.
Anyway, moving on. A mixed pre-season saw us pick up a couple of wins over non-league teams and an honourable 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest. Then the season started, and the reality set in. After seven games, we had 5 points from 21, and were second-bottom. And quite a lot of the blame lay at the feet of our first-choice keeper, Dean Coleman. It was pretty much that if the opposition could get a shot on target, they'd get a goal.
A drastic re-think saw me scrap my long-favoured 4-1-2-1 diamond, turning to a brutal 5-1-3-1. Out went sexy football, in came "defend, defend, defend"- I figured that if we didn't have the talent, at least we'd have the bodies blocking the goal to try and scratch out a clean sheet. Shockingly, it worked for a short while, and from 12 games through September and October, we picked up five wins, including one in the FA Cup. It was ugly football, kicking our way through matches, and the cards piled up, but slowly the points began to pull us out of the dogfight and towards a more comfortable midtable spot.
But from that point on, consistency went out the window- we had patches of four unbeaten, but also five without a win. In the league, we teetered on the edge of getting sucked into the relegation battle. We dropped out of the FA Cup in the 3rd Qualifying round to non-league Stourbridge, whilst BSP Kidderminster Harriers dumped us out of the FA Trophy 3-2 in a combative First Round replay.
Up front, Gambia international Omar Koroma was fighting a one-man battle to try and keep us afloat, including all four in a 4-0 win over Boston United, but as March rolled around, eyes turned to the youth intake to try and give us that final push over the finish line, to keep us up. On March 13th, we were 19th in the League, six points ahead of Boston in 20th, with a game in hand and marginally better goal difference. Above all else, we desperately needed a keeper to challenge/replace Coleman, with our backup, 16-year-old Graham Swales, only known as a GK because the game says he is. For his stats, he may as well be one of the half-time cheerleaders.
In came the youth intake: not one goalkeeper among them. Oh dear. As we approached the end of March, we were firmly in a slump- our last win was on February 2nd, with no wins in eight, and a run of three heavy defeats against Histon, Alfreton and Southport. In just those three games, we'd scored one, and conceded twelve. But still we were hanging onto survival at 19th in the table, despite our goal difference taking a battering- still Boston were not capitalising or closing the gap.
It was time to roll the dice, to try anything to get some points back on the boad and secure our safety. The match was away at fourth-placed Hinckley. In came a previously untested 3-4-3, along with debuts for four fresh-faced youngsters not yet ground down by the morale-sapping hammerings. At half time, we're 2-0 down, but somehow we claw our way back to record a valuable 2-2 draw. With five games to go, we still sit 19th, with Boston six points below us.
But then, four more losses follow, in which we score two and concede twelve. Somehow, Boston still can't make up all of the ground- with one game to go, they've only managed to cut the gap to three points. The mathematics becomes very simple: one point from the final game, and we're safe. But if we lose, and Boston win, we're down. The odds are in our favour- Boston's final game is against the League Champions, Alfreton Town. However, we've taken just four points out of the last 39 available, and our opponents, Droylsden, sit 7th, needing a win to sneak into the Playoffs...
DROYLSDEN (Red) vs REDDITCH UNITED (White)
Final score: Droylsden (2) 2 - 2 (1) Redditch United
Frankie Williams - My assistant manager doesn't particularly fancy him, and his physicals are certainly nothing to write home about, but for my money he's got the start of a half-decent right winger about him. His physicals are perfectly fine for this level, and if we hadn't found ourselves in such a dogfight, I could see myself tinkering with him to see what he has to offer.
Adam Bartley - This is the guy tipped by my Ass Man, and I am fond of his versatility, I have to admit. That said, outside of his aerial ability, I'm not yet convinced- to my eyes it's a slightly odd combination of strengths and weaknesses. There's development to go, but he's more of a wait and see.
Season League POS FA CUP TROPHY
2012-13 BSN 19th 3Q 1st