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No, You Can't Call Your Hornchurch Youth Only Save 'Horny for Kids'...


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Hello. I am back. With a youther save but I am eschewing the far north of Scotland this year to return to my one true love and actual team.

Hornchurch: The Urchins. The mighty boys in red and white. It's been quite a ride for them in the modern era what with becoming the 'Chelsea' of non-league and then having it go very predictably tits up and having to start again in the Essex Senior. The last fifteen years have seen promotions, relegations, cup runs and even a brief flirtation with the Conference South. We are, however, back in the Isthmian Premier and now is the time for me to set the youth of Honrchurch, Romford and Upminster a new challenge. Play for me and don't be ****. Can they write their names into the history books and become the most famous people to come out of Havering since Russell Tovey, Billy Ocean and Richard Madley?

Maybe... Maybe...

Probably not.

But we'll have fun trying.

Am using a L10 database down to L8 so I can have a proper Romford rivalry and have removed some of the players for the team to make the team bang average for the division coz it's my career and **** you I don't want to be fired.

So let Terry Edwards (who apparently, after a quick Google search is from the place) Hornchurch's greatest jazz musician play us in.

 

We go again! This absolutely slips.

 

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Pre-Season Update 2020

Right then. Pre-season. A time for boundless optimism and a chance to really stamp a style of play on the team. Some tough sides to battle and some poor sides to put to the sword. Right?

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Hmmmmm. I'm very not sure if I'm honest. We gave a decent account of ourselves away to Dulwich but followed it up with a fairly uninspiring performance against Thamesmead where Chris Dickson started his journey to be get fifty offsides in pre-season. We managed to look pretty decent against Croydon with the team doing what I wanted but my defence can't deal with the high ball over and Clacton suckered us. On the plus side I did get two young 'uns scoring goals and have a new chant for Kofi Oseni to the tune of Coffee and TV, so that was something. The less said about Hearts the better. Set up to park the bus but my defenders are too **** for that so we won't be doing that again. We were more adventurous against Dagenham and gave a decent account of ourselves against National League opposition; still lost though. The final two games were supposed to be our gimmes but we sucked arse against Peacehaven and had George to thank for sparing some of our blushes and laboured to a 2-0 win against Sheppey in the final pre-season friendly. 

My tactics so far are not really offering what they have in previous FMs especially on the attacking side although I'm starting to get a handle on it. All in all an educational, if not slightly worrying, pre-season set of results.

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As you can see I've gone for my classic DM 4-2-3-1 against teams I think we can beat but I'm just not getting enough out of the Treq role going forward, might have to turn it back into a SS. As you can see from our neagtives we can't head, we're slow, unagile and cowardly. We can pass and cross though so... Reckon I'm gonna have to try and be possession heavy and avoid having to be pacey. We'll see how it works out. Pre-season suggests we might well struggle with the current first team being old and lacking some quality.

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We lack cohesion as well which will make the early season games tough. Let's hope Ricky Hayles shows what a Team Leader is really about.

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One bonus is that my U18s had some excellent looking bairns in there with Wabo, Matovu and Walker looking very tasty indeed. They'll get their chance sharpish I think as we try and push our way into midtable.

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We're predicted 11th so bang in the middle of the table. I think that's probably about right and with the board just expecting midtable for the next five years as long as I can keep the team in and around there I should have the time to develop my legacy.

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Season starts ominously on the road with only Potters Bar coming to The Bridge. We have a pretty tough start in Bognor but if we can squeeze past them we should be able to pick up some points against Bowers and Brightlngsea before taking on a second promoted side in Horsham at the end of the month.

What state will we be in by the end of September? A state definitely. Off we go...

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September 2020 Update

Well... ****.

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A bit of early frustration turned to despair turned to a bit of belief as this rollercoaster of a month went on. We started at Bognor and actually dominated the first half but as soon as they got a lucky goal in the second half we fell apart and that was the end of that. We didn't really deserve to lose that game let alone 3-0 so we weren't in the best of minds taking on Potters Bar and subsequently laboured to a 0-0 draw. We then lost out to an early Bowers goal as Chris Dickson continued his quest to be offside at every ****ing opportunity before actually looking pretty decent against Brightlingsea. We of course conceded an 86th minute equaliser like the losers we are but a point is a point. The final game against Horsham looked to be our doom. We were 2-0 down at half-time having conceded an early long range screamer and I was already considering smashing my laptop but Chris Dickson suddenly remembered the offside rule in the second half and scored two goals to grab us a point. He actually scored a third as well but... well, I don't need to tell you what happened. A chastening start to the season that was hard but could've been a lot worse.

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We sit 20th in the nascent table and our problem is clear. We need to take our chances and score some bloody goals boys.

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A few more home games in October with us playing Cray twice in a row on the same day (hello bug). Worthing are a team we need to get at especially as Cray and Folkestone are good and could well cause us some real issues. Carshalton have started alright as well so it's not going to get any easier especially as we have National League South opposition in the FA Trophy. Thanks FM Gods for this really nice start with a team that has no cohesion whatsoever. This already feels like a getting fired and burning the squad to the ground save a la Wick FM18...

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Oh thanks Jimmy. Bit early no?

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October 2020 Update

Pressure on then as Jimmy McFarlane expected a reaction against Worthing. We were ready, we were set, we were

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Oh. Worthing battered us and 2 flattered us. We sucked. Big. I was already preparing my eulogy for my management career which included punching Chris Dickson for every time he was offside as I was dragged out but then... BUT THEN! I replaced him with Ellis Brown and we battered Folkestone. Properly. With three goals. That didn't stop the last five minutes of highlights being Folkestone trying desperately to steal away my sexy clean sheet but we held out and then put in an absolutely brilliant backs to the walls performance in Carshalton. Ellis scored again early and we were doing fine before Joe Christou did his best Fred impression from the PSG game and got himself two yellows in the five minutes before half-time. We put in a marvellous rearguard in the second half and I honestly thought we'd turned a corner. Then we played 8th tier Thame in the FA Cup and went 3-0 down in half an hour as we continued our Manchester United under Solskjaer tribute act and couldn't quite bring it back in the second half. We are a frustrating mess but that didn't stop me playing the kids in the Velocity, a fair few of whom acquitted themselves quite well despite the fact it took two last minute goals to get to pelanties. We won the pelanties though and went into the Welling game with optimistic trepidation. We played well and looked okay until Stimson got himself sent off, again, just before half-time. We couldn't quite keep the National League South side at bay so we drop out of the FA trophy too. What a curates egg of a month.

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The league makes slightly better reading now with those two wins and our defence is actually keeping pace with the better teams in the league. We need goals though but hopefully Ellis Brown understanding the offside rule could see our woes in front of goal change.

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November is pretty busy with three home fixtures before we hit the road again. Cray and Lewes should be games we take four points from and the kids will have a decent chance against lower division Cheshunt in the Velocity but the away fixtures look pretty sticky. We're unpredictable though and honestly that might be the most dangerous thing of all.

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And my first run out for the Kofi Oseni song so I guess the FA cup game wasn't all bad.

 

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November 2020 Update

After last months unpredictability I just wanted a bit more consistency and for my tactical plans to start working rather than panicked changing of things after every ten minutes. Just a bit more of a chill time really...

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What a month, kids in the Velocity aside, this was. It started against Cray and we did what we did against Folkestone with the exception of not keeping a clean sheet with George Purcell the star which we love to see. Tony Matovu got his first goal for the club on as a sub and put us 1-0 up in the Velocity before ex Urchin Cunnington schooled us. Wasn't so worried about that as Lewes were next at home and with the way we were playing I was expecting another professional home performance but this is Hornchurch and we clearly don't do that. We went 2-0 up and seemed to be cruising at the hour mark but then we fell apart as Lewes grabbed two quick goals to come roaring back. Charlie Ruff put us 3-2 up with an exquisite chip but when the Hatzimouratis scored again for Lewes I'd thought we'd blown it. Step up Jed Hudson as the youngster got his first ever Hornchurch goal in the dying seconds of the match to snatch us the win. We got away with one there. Our next assignment was away to Kingstonian and I expected a tough game but our new away defensive possession system worked like a charm as we went in 1-1 at half-time and then Alex Osborn hit two wonderful goals from the right in the second half. He was at it again against Merstham in a game we probably shaded. They went down to ten early in the second and it looked like our huffing and puffing would all be for naught but a foul in the dying embers of the game allowed Osborn to slot home the winner. A flawless month in the league and SIX wins on the bounce. What a turnaround.

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Up to fifth somehow. I don't think it'll last as both my fullbacks are flaky and don't take too kindly to harsh words so that could be a cause for concern but after no win in six I will take this.

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Hardly any Saturday games until the end of the month in December as we visit Enfield for a rearranged game and then host Leatherhead. Haringey are better than their current league position so I expect a tough game at The Bridge before we head to Cheshunt for a revenge match against Cunnington and co. We round out the year with a home game against a struggling East Thurrock side that has Christmas upset written all over it.

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Matovu broke Kofi's record. Good for him.

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And ole Jimmy's changed his tune as well. Everything is looking a bit rosier...

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December 2020 Update

Could we continue our good form to the end of this cursed year or would we revert to earlier type?

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Overall you can't complain. Enfield caught us cold and went 2-0 up and we rallied a bit too late despite Osborn's 65th minute goal which could've spelt alarm bells but two professional 2-0 victories at home against Leatherhead and Haringey eased any concerns we had heading towards Christmas week. Our trip to Cheshunt was next and we performed excellently and to the tactical plan to get a 1-0 win and revenge for the Velocity thumping. You step to the Hornchurch Kids then you best be ready for the parents. We ended the month by boxing East Thurrock on Boxing day winning the game at half time and avoiding a traditional FM banana skin against the bottom team who hadn't won since pre-Covid. All in all a very satisfactory month...

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We kept him quiet and got a headline. LOL

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We soar to 3rd and are beginning to look dangerously like a side that know what they are doing. Bognor have had a wee wobble but still sit six points clear and are the team to beat. Poor East Thurrock look like they're  dropping into the 8th tier already...

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December is Intake Preview time. Not that this means anything judging by anyone else's games but my eyes were very much drawn to the Spanish DM. GIVE HIM UNTO ME!!!

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2021 begins with a trip to North London to take on Wingate before we welcome a difficult looking Margate team to The Bridge. We go away to the casuals before rounding off the month with two big home games against Bishop's Stortford and top of the table Bognor. If we are really a promotion shot those home games will go a long way to proving it. A key month.

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Never thought I would get this headline after September but I'll take it. Reckon I'm safe for now.

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January 2021 Update

A new year dawns and a big month as well as we take on some big teams in our bid to be taken seriously in the promotion conversation.

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A dull start against Wingate as we struggled to break them down could have been a harbinger of bad tidings but we then went on a very good run. We went 1-0 down at home to Margate but a quick pre half-time blitzkrieg  from Stimmo and Ellis put us 2-1 up and Margate were done. We then absolutely saw off the Casuals with Muldoon and Osborn combing beautifully for three goals before Hayles added a fourth and then we dealt easily with Bishops Stortford at home as well going 3-0 up before half-time and never looking like we were going to lose. The home against Bognor came next and we matched them but a howitzer early in the second half and a late second when we were chasing the game were enough for the leaders to put us in our place. A much better performance than our first outing against them though.

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We sit third and safely in the play-offs art the moment which is great but also worrying for me as it is faaaar too early for us to be thinking about promotion but winning is a good habit to have so if we have to be good and a promotion candidate then so be it. It's a far cry from September anyway...

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February starts and ends with winnable games but they are the bread on the dangerous looking filling of Bowers and Worthing  in our play-off hunting sandwich. Eight points would be more than welcome.

 

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February 2021 Update

Confidence high and a team playing some beautiful football. It was always going to end horribly...

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The month started poorly with a 3-0 hosing at Potters Bar and didn't really get any better. We had the better of the Bowers game but could only draw and Worthing never really looked like losing to us but bottom of the table Bowers was the worst of all. We went 2-0 down to them, got it back to 2-2 and then threw it away. Sickening behaviour from this lot. It feels like September all over again. 

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Our run of no win in 5 sees us drop out of the play-off places which is fine really coz I'm not too fussed on promotion but I want to turn around our form quickly.

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Mid-table teams galore in March. We need a good six points here to keep me from starting to lose my mind.

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March 2021 Update

We needed a reaction after last month's poor form so I team-meetinged and made a few tweaks to the first team...

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Well we got the six points I wanted from the two home games before our defence decided to take some time off for our trips to Kent. Charlie Ruff put in a great display as we dealt with Horsham in a very professional manner before struggling a bit more against Carshalton. Ellis managed to get the only goal of the game sixteen minutes before the end to help us travel to Folkestone with confidence. We went 1-0 up and everything but then it happened and Folkestone took us to the cleaners before Tony hit back with another consolation that's good for his development at least. The game against Cray was Cray as their goalkeeper had an absolute stormer. No lie this should have ended 7-5 to us but my slow-ass backline meandered too much and we were punished while 13e2d8aaca3408c0974446b61274b0f0.png this happened the other end. Le sigh. Still, I stopped the rot and got the points I'd earmarked so not a bad month especially as...

 

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Do you see him? The pretty looking Spanish DM who just fluttered his eyes at me and I was smitten?

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Look at him. Look at the moustache. He's only 15 and he already has the best moustache ever. I think I'm in love...

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We'll gloss over the performance in the YC match but was nice to see a youngster who has been developing well in my U18s Brian Flanagan get MotM and the goalie had a decent run out which is good because my reserve goalkeeper Harvey Wright went a month ago so I needed a bit more cover there. We'll see more by the end of the season but this intake looks decent. Lacking any good striking options this year though... Still, Daniel Gil, amarite?

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Back at the table and we're still hanging onto a play-off place which I honestly think will be a bit beyond us especially with the way the defence has decided to suddenly ship 4.5 goals a game, still...

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April kicks off with a difficult looking home game against Kingstonian and then a trip to Lewes to try and work out why we're so **** away from home. Enfield at home should be winnable... in theory... and then a difficult Leatherhead challenge at the end of the month. Another six points would be nice...

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Meanwhile, I have signed a new contract so that's pretty good...

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And then end of the Velocity Trophy saw us take home the best match so suck it haterz. Hornchurch are the great entertainers.

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3 hours ago, abulezz said:

What are your plans for Gill? First team immediately? 

He'll go on the bench as a replacement for Jed Hudson whose development has stalled a bit and we'll move from there. Once I'm sure we're not going to qualify for the play-offs I'm going to give as many kids a run out as possible as the season ends...

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April 2021 Update

The play-off charge needed some good results to be kept alive...

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Good news everyone, we can't defend. At all. We went 2-0 up against Kingstonian only to concede a 86th minute equaliser, we fought back to 3-2 against Lewes but couldn't find an equaliser and then were 2-1 up in injury time against Enfield and conceded a late equaliser. Some goals for Wabo and Matovu aside this month has been poor compounded by conceding 3 against Leatherhead. Please, if you know how to defend, let me know...

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Plummeting down the table now. Play-offs are gone but I want a top ten finish so we need to buck up our ideas and fast.

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We have a busy May with winnable looking games but the way we've been playing who knows. A clean sheet and seven points are on my wishlist.

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We did give our Moustachioed Spanish DM a run out though so every cloud... 

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May 2021 Update

Could we learn how to defend and at least have a decent end to the season?

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The answer my friends is no. I just don't know what to do. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Merstham did us easily and then we went and played two away games and dropped 4 points in the last minute in each game with the East Thurrock one being an OG. Cunnington then scored another hattrick against us and finally Wingate easily saw us off to round off a supremely depressing month. Nothing is going right here...

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The good news is that we can't finish any lower than 15th which looks likely at the moment. We still have an outside chance at the top 10 but that now looks pretty distant.

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Three games left and I'm not certain we'll get more than a point but I'm going to give the youth their heads and see what happens. They can't do any worse...

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June 2021 Update

Just praying we get to the end of this...

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A hard earned point at Margate followed by two defeats mean we finish the season without having won since March. A terrible run. Solomon Giddens got his first goal for us but we need a complete reshuffle and reboot. The players have no fire and heads drop too easily. That will need to change.

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We finish 12th which is okay. I'd like to taste a win again someday but it won't be this season...

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Hornchurch Season Review 2020/21

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Disappointing after the start we had and then a long run without a win. Some of that is my fault as I'm not really playing a style that suits the many, many flaws in the squad. I'll take 12th though and keeping my job which is what is happening so...

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All the good stuff pretty much happened in the happier pre-Christmas times when we looked like we could pass the ball and the players were doing what I asked them to do. Kieran Wabo's consolation against Lewes was goal of the season. Good for him...

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Team of the season is interesting for a number of reasons. The problem left-side is obvious given Kofi and Onyemah got in there without doing much. A pretty average bunch of ratings all told but a steady season from Wright, Gibbs and Muldoon who along with Hayles will form our spine. Brown and Ruff did most of the heavy goal scoring lifting along with Osborn.

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Charlie Ruff wins both PotY awards and Ellis Brown was our top scorer with 15 goals...

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Passes galore and possession galore which shows that my system is kind of working. I need better attacking outlets though clearly. That will be a pre-season requisite I think.

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Here's the whole team so far. A fair few will be for the door with Parcell, Christou, Onyemah all being phased out. Despite his thirteen goals Alex Osborn might well be dropped as well due to his extreme flakiness. He plays well when we do but can't pull us out of the fire unlike Ollie or Ellis so a real chance for some of the younger players to stake a claim next season.

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All very average with the board apart from the results. If I turn them and the performances around we should be fine. A big pre-season's work ahead.

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And finally the money. Not sure who has been getting Chris Dickson's names on their shirt but whoever they were are clearly well offside.

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The plan. Got the youth system culture thing so that's exciting and just need to get mid-table next year. Doable I reckon.

 

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Around England and Europe 2020/21

What's happening elsewhere out there? Let's take a look...

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We start in the Premier League where Man City pipped Chelsea by three goals to win the title leaving holders Liverpool down in 3rd with just the two domestic cups to their name. Man Utd rounded out thee top four with Spurs, Arsenal and Wolves qualifying for the Europa League. Standard. Burnley got to be best of the rest while Palace, West Brom and Leeds dropped to the Championship. West Ham got pretty lucky.

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Bournemouth romped to the title and an instant return to the top flight while Reading surprised everyone to pick up second going on a powerful late season run. Norwich join the two of them back in the big time as they won the play-off while Wycombe survive impressively. Wednesday and Rotherham make it bad times for South Yorkshire joining Coventry in the third tier.

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Bristol Rovers surprise everyone to take the League one title and resume hostilities with their city rivals in the second tier next season. Charlton joined them automatically winning a very tight battle for second against Blackpool, Sunderland and the MK Dongs with Blackpool being victorious in the play-offs. It was a tight league all round with Wigan and Accrington just doing enough to condemn Oxford and Northampton to League Two along with Rochdale and Plymouth.

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Walsall are the title winners in League Two winning by five points ahead of Cambridge. Oldham join them automatically in League One with Forest Green pipping Bolton and Bradford in the play-offs. Barrow make a return to non-league along with Leyton Orient both being easily as stinky as each other.

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Notts County return to the league and are joined deservedly by Yeovil who managed to navigate the play-offs successfully. Wealdstone will feel hard done by dropping into the National League South by just a point as everyone from Halifax down was involved in a relegation scrap. Weymouth, Boreham Wood and Maidenhead led the way down with the three of them cut well adrift.

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No surprised in France as PSG march to the title. Lyon and Monaco grab the Champions League spots with LIlle and Marseille going into the Europa. Nice get to play in the conference league so good for them. Dijon weren't mustard enough for the top flight and join Lens in the second tier next year.

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No surprised in the Bundesliga either as Bayern do it again. Dortmund aren't as useless as they are in real life so grab second while Hoffenheim surprisingly get third to put them in the Champions League along with fourth place Leipzig. Gladbach and Koln get Europa, Neverkusen the Conference league while Union Berlin stay up by a single goal condemning Stuttgart to join Arminia Bielefeld in the Second Bundesliga.

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The predictability continues in Italy with Juventus winning the title ahead of Inter. Lazio and Napoli qualify for the Champions League while AC Zlatan and Atalanta will be on Europa duty. Torino will be pleased to qualify for Europe while Roma stunk the place out nearly as bad as Hornchurch did. Crotone survive by dint of four goals leaving Parma, Spezia and Genoa to drop into Serie B.

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Well i guess we can say La Liga isn't predictable as Barcelona somehow romped to the title.  Bilbao qualifying for the Champions League alongside the Madrids is probably the biggest surprise (outside of Eibar's 7th place). Sevilla and La Real will be on Europa League duty while Valladolid, Alaves and Cadiz will be on second division duty.

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Just enough time to check out these bad boys and the eagle-eyed amongst you might have already guessed that Arsenal had won the Europa League and indeed they did smacking up Sporting 3-0 while Man Utd somehow won the Champions League beating Real Madrid 1-0 in Istanbul. England = undefeated...

 

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Youth Update Summer 2021

Time for us to look in and see how all the youngsters are doing eh?

Class of 2020

Luther Blair (YP 0.1): A very promising young keeper. He may have only played one game and conceded four goals but he has shown enough promise for me to make him second choice and will be cup keeper + for this coming season...

Tony Matovu (YP 0.2): Not a bad first season for young Tony with four league goals and one cup goal from five starts and fifteen sub appearances. He'll feature a lot more next season with Stimson and Purcell heading out and Ellis maybe moving to RW so I'll be hoping for a steady continuation.

Kieren Wabo (YP 0.3): Expected more from Kieren if I am honest and he didn't pull up any trees in his run towards the end of the season (aside his goal against Lewes) but in his defence it wasn't an easy side to be part of so... expecting more next season and he'll be given a chance to show he can partner Muldoon in midfield.

Reed Aghbaria (YP 0.4): Hornchurch's very own angry Swede had a decent debut season all told. Not sure why he is always so angry in the dressing room but it hasn't led to lots of cards etc so not too worried. An average over 6.7 in the defence of this team across 9 starts and 8 sub appearances cannot be sniffed at. Will be partnering Gibbs in the centre next season to start with. A real opportunity for him.

Kofi Oseni (YP 0.5): A great goal-scoring song but I only got to sing it twice. He's started out as a LW however I have better options in the U18s so I might well try and make him into a Ruff replacement as his performances from LW were a bit disappointing averaging 6.55 from 13 starts and 14 sub appearances in the league. Those aren't winning numbers. He is too versatile to put on the scrap heap just yet though and versatility is always good for the bench.

Solomon Giddens (YP 0.6): Just 4 starts and 7 sub appearances for Solomon as he didn't really pull up trees when he came on and there always felt like better options on the bench. Had a better run of it towards the end of the season and hopefully that goal against Bishops Stortford in the penultimate game of the season will be a harbinger of things to come...

Jed Hudson (YP 0.7): I saw Jed. A DM and instantly wanted to anoint him but ultimately I don't think he'll be good enough. He didn't disgrace himself in his ten league sub appearances and even scored a goal but his weak training attitude and the emergence of other, more Spanish, DMs mean he's back in the U18s just now and has a lot to prove if he wants to make the grade here.

Fabian Walker (YP 0.8): In a season where I really needed a FB who could be good Fabian struggled to make a case for himself although the raw materials are there for a decent fullback made 4 starts in all competitions and 15 sub appearances but an average of 6.61 is not really screaming 'pick me'. He will have the chance next season though to stake a claim and I hope he takes it.

Tim Johnson (YP 0.9): In the latter part of the season when I was desperate I bought Tim up from the U18s where he had been performing well. He didn't do it in the league averaging 6.38 in his four starts. Not going to toss him aside but he'll need to take his opportunity when it presents itself again otherwise...

Class of 2021

Bas Gilligan (YP 1.1): With Harvey Wright leaving a third choice goalie was needed and Bas looked good enough. Doesn't look as good as Luther however there are always opportunities. Will stay in the U18s for now though.

Daniel Gil (YP 1.2):  Big things expected of Daniel. Eased him in with a few sub appearances as I didn't want to ruin him during our terrible run but will get a chance to shine next season and shine he will! Just look at that moustache!

Youth Verdict

I feel I might have a workable spine coming through here. Gil, Blair, Wabo, Aghbaria and Matovu all have enough potential to perhaps form the core of the new Hornchurch but they will need to step up and learn quickly with rumblings of discontent in the squad an Order 67 might not be far away...

 

 

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Now this is extremely bad news. 

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He wouldn't sign a contract coz he was upset even though he was okay with my promise to use young players to fill gaps. Well, we're gonna need to use the young players now!

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Pre-season 2021 Update

After a tumultuous end to last season with no win in 14 there were mutterings and murmurings abound. This made this a very important pre-season as I needed to change us both tactically and alter the attitude. The first step towards this was being ruthless with any who would cause me trouble or cry if I asked them to perform better than a 6...

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On the released list Chris Dickson decided he would be offside no more and retired while Cummings, Spence, Sutton, Clark and Winn weren't good enough to play for me in the first place so left without getting a game. Nathan Cooper was decent for me but he was on far too much money for his ability and wouldn't sign a new contract so had to go. Parcell and Stimson were different. Parcell just didn't perform well enough so with two senior pros at both RB and LB he was shown the door. Charlie Stimson was given a chance during pre-season but after a few games of subpar performances and looking demotivated or sad when he was asked to perform better I was left with no choice. Nothing annoys me more than players getting a sad when you tell them they're **** so Stimmo had to go. Ollie Muldoon was a different tale. I didn't want to lose him but Eastleigh are a National League side and I didn't sign him up to a proper contract quick enough so he was always going to leave. A blow to be sure... but a welcome one?

The next step was to come up with a more coherent tactical plan that could be more robust under pressure and I came up with two.

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The first is to keep the ball and play at home. This is for home games against teams better or similar to us. The idea that we keep the ball and are defensively solid but have an attacking thrust. If we need to go at a team more Gil will become a Regista and we can go more positive as well...

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This is our away tactic. Last year had no real counter attacking thrust and just tried to keep ball whatever which ended up costing us so I've gone for a better counter strategy and two up front to maximise our opportunities. The question now is do these tactics work? Well a friendly schedule that tests us was needed to find out.

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This was a good pre-season. The Horny Chalice was just a fun warm up and the home possession tactic worked really well. We took that tactic to Wembley and suffered a bit defensively but looked more solid against Sheppey before our run of tough games. Hastings are very similar to us so a 2-2 draw was good. The Dartford result was well deserved and all the goals came in the last ten minutes with them hitting straight back but Purcell winning it at the death. Chelmsford at home was another solid run out and then we used the possession tactic to beat National League North Nuneaton who actually signed Charlie Stimson (he stunk the place out obviously). Two games against lower league opposition were won with us holding out against Erith for over an hour with 10 men. The team are playing as I want although we conceded a pelanty in nearly every match we played the away tactic so that's something to keep an eye on...

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This is the first team squad for the start of the season. You'll notice some new players in defence in the shape of Swannie (YP 0.10) and Flanagan (YP 0.11) as well as Callum Stillman (YP 0.12) - Stimson's replacement and John Mott (YP 1.3) coming in as a Chirstou replacement. I've got cover all over now and Daniel Gil has stepped right into Muldoon's shoes as he received a big pre-season boost of ability. I've signed him up on a 2 year pre-contract which is needed as Dartford have already come sniffing round. George Purcell is staying as a scout and a model older pro and Mark Onyemah is given another chance to nail down a place in the side. It's all change then but I feel we have a decent chance of doing something with these boys.

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The bookies do not agree though as we are now predicted 21st. That's fine for me. The board have asked me to avoid relegation so they've altered their expectations but I fancy we can finish mid-table as I don't think the team is any worse than last year. We'll have a couple of derbies as well as Tamplin's Romford have turned up and Canvey have gained promotion too. An interesting season awaits...

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We start with a busy old September and away at Horsham is a tricksy first assignment. Wingate and Leatherhead are home games we need to be taking something from and I'll take solid outings against the better looking Carshalton and Cheshunt. The end of the month derby against Canvey means it's a tasty first set of fixtures. It's not an easy start and with us already on a run of 14 without a win I'm going to need some early positive results. Here we go.

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September 2021 Update

So we begin again but with a fourteen game winless run fresh in the memories. A good pre-season meant nothing if we couldn't finally get a win under our belts...

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And ultimately this month went okay. We were very solid against Horsham on the opening day and Ellis set us on our way against Wingate to help us ease to our first victory since March. We started well against Carshalton and we were a little unlucky to lose all told but Leatherhead put us back in our place. This was a moment where we could've sunk but Ruffers and Callum Stillman's first goal saw us past Cheshunt before we got a creditable derby draw away to Canvey with Tony Matovu starting the season as well as Ellis. Good news. Decent start.

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Early doors but comfortably midtable with a comfortable 8 points. I would take this all season tbf as we would end up with 54 points which is what we got last season. 

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October is busy and cup times but before that we have to take on the two relegated sides before Potters Bar and Lewes. We've drawn National League Altrincham in the FA Trophy which is unfortunate but I'm hoping for a more favourable FA Cup draw as that's where the money is. Am quietly optimistic though so far...

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And this is unsurprising too but only by 12 days.

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October 2021 Update

A decentish start given what had come before but a busy month awaited that could throw a few spanners in the works if we weren't careful...

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A pretty good month all told with Ellis Brown in scintilating form (until he couldn't play anymore but more on that in a minute). It started with a thorough dismantling of Tonbridge with Ellis getting a hattrick (first one I've had on FM21 according tot he achievement that pinged) and he followed it up with a goal in our 2-0 defeat of Eastbourne at home. We struggled to break down Potters Bar and then managed to squeeze a point against Lewes where we had to change it up time and again to get anything from the game. A decent league return with 8 points from 12 and that left us on the road for the cups. We saw of St Margaretsbury easily in the FA Cup with two goals from Ellis but then the dickhead decided to throw an elbow right in one of their defenders' faces so was sent off. Meant he got a three match ban which wasn't an issue for the Velocity as I played the second XI of kids who unfortunately collapsed in extra time. We then took on National League Altrincham and actually kept them out for 75 minutes before three late goals saw them deservedly through. We might have had a better shot if Ellis was in the team but ah well... at least we have FA Cup progression.

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We sit 5th in early season again but I am under no illusions. My FBs are having a bad old time especially Ramsey who can't show any consistent form at all and cried about it when I told him to be better. Still given we were asked to avoid relegation this is a good start, It's how we react to the defeats we've suffered that will now define us...

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November starts with National League North Curzon Ashton in the FA Cup, we're still without Ellis for that so it will be a tough assignment. We've then got some winnable league games but I am not complacent for them and hopefully my team won't be either...

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On the plus side we won't have to play him again next time we face Cheshunt. Thank ****...

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November 2021 Update

November could be a month full of promise or a reversion to the dark times of Spring. But which?

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FA Cup-apalooza abound as we made it all the way to the 4th qualifying round but more on that in a moment. It started with a trip to Curzon Ashton without a suspended Ellis Brown but it didn't matter as Tony Matovu and John Mott blew them a way in the space of twenty minutes in a game we never looked like losing. Tony got a hattrick to send us to the 3rd qualifying round and a tie against Harrow. Next up came two league fixtures we should have won and we did with Charlie Ruff in sublime form. Josh Johnson (YP 0.13) and Lee Waters (YP 1.5) got their first goals for the club against Merstham and Ellis Brown returned to the side against Bowers to ease us to victory there. We then took on Harrow with Ruff being great again and making it to the fourth qualifying round against Weymouth which left me a conundrum. Key players were a bit tired and with Weymouth being in the division above we'd need to be at our sharpest to best them so I took the decision to play a second XI against high flying Enfield and it sort of backfired as they raced into an early 2-0 lead and despite leading on the Xg we were never in it. Would the gamble pay off? Well it very nearly did as we battled hard with Weymouth all the way to pelanties but Ruffles missed the first peno and Weymouth scored all of there's so it was heartbreak. We gave a very good account of ourselves though and should be proud especially as I forgot to sub back in the first choice goalie so Luther Blair (YP 0.1) played in goal and had a stormer.

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We sit in the play-offs still but seasoned watchers of last season will know this means nothing. I honestly believe we're in a better position than last year but I am not going to be counting any chickens because I know how bad it can get...

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The journey continues then with some really tough fixtures. If we're going to suffer a blip it might well be now with a trip to top of the table Cray followed by the first derby against Romford of the season. Casuals at home should be a game we get points from but we finish off the month with a potentially tricky trip to Folkestone on Boxing Day (one of the hardcore fans there). As I said I think we're in a decent position but senior players continue to irk me with Ricky Hayles being poor in every appearance so far this season I've bumped him off the bench and am happy to listen to offers. Louis Ramsey isn't doing much better and may well be dropped permanently as well.

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December 2021 Update

After our FA Cup exploits there could only be one thing that could happen right?

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Well, at least we didn't lose to Romford and tbf Casuals apart we were in every game but have not been helped by Louis Ramsey stinking out the place so much I dropped him and then his replacement getting sent off against the Casuals. Also George Purcell was injured in that game and is now out for five months which probably means he isn't coming back which I am sad about. I am ignoring that feeling of dread from last season for the moment.

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Down to 12th which is much more our level I feel. We need to be careful we don't get sucked into the relegation dogfight. Got a lot of work ahead.

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A tough New Year's Day against Burgess Hill followed by games against Margate and Marlow which we absolutely need to be taking points from. We finish off with another tough away trip to title chasing Worthing before Horsham come to town at the end of the month. I want six points from these five games please.

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And if things weren't dour enough... Still I can make a purse from this...

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January 2022 Update

Bad run of form, could we turn it around in the New Year?

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Errrrr. Kinda? We suffered a defeat at Burgess Hill and Worthing as expected and I outlined the amazing Margate game above. We were unlucky to lose to Marlow and had the better of the game against Horsham but couldn't break through. It's not quite six points but it is four points so I will take it. We need to be beating teams around us though.

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Down to 15th but eight points off the bottom three so not panic stations just yet. This is a callow team though as only Ellis Brown, Joe Wright and Alex Osborn are over 25 in the first XI so we're definitely in a relegation battle. Got some decent distance so far though.

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Some vert big games before a tought Leatherhead assignment. Five points minimum - seven points would be great. I'll probably end up with three though...

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February 2021 Update

I had my hopes and I had my dreams and they were honesty fairly sensible. Five points. That's all I asked for... 

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I somehow got ten... in a crazy turn of events that started at Wingate as we leaked harder than a bad leaky simile. We were 3-1 up at one stage and the 4-3 down but we managed to comeback to get a draw and it was that spirit that saw us through the month with a clinical demolition against Carshalton with John Mott suddenly embracing his Segundo Volante role and scoring two goals along with Ruffles and even sub Swannie getting goals. Alex Osborn got injured so Solomon Giddens (YP 0.6) came into the team and I managed to fire him up to get a close win against bottom of the table Canvey before we somehow stole a win against Leatherhead. The draw would've been a fair result but Big Tone got a 96th minute winner to make it the month of the YPs as he and John Mott both netted 3. A really good month that's gone a long way to keeping our league status for next year.

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We're up to 9th but more importantly 13 points clear of Cheshunt. Given we didn't win a game after mid-March last year I am counting no chickens but, to quote numerous coaches, we're in a good moment.

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A pretty big game away at Cheshunt could see us pretty much safe. Tonbridge are flying high so will be tough guests at The Bridge and Eastbourne are play-off chasing too. I'll take four points and a decent youth intake right now please.

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March 2022 Update

This time last year began the run of doom and we were at least ten points better off so there was no room for any complacency going into this month...

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I said I'd take four points but we managed to snatch seven. It started with a hard-fought win in Cheshunt with Callum Stillman bagging the only goal of the game. Next up were high-flying Tonbridge but they had just been pumped by 5 by the Casuals. It was a difficult game but Alex Osborn returned from injury and the bench to snatch us the draw. We then took on Lewes. First half was very even and we went in 1-1 at half-time with Solomon equalising an early pelanty. Second half though Ruffles and Brown did what they do best and we stretched away wonderfully in the last ten minutes. The final assignment of the month was a trip to play-off chasing Eastbourne and we weren't really in the game although Callum kept up his impressive month by getting a late consolation. All in all a decent return.

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We're best of the rest at the moment. No chasing play-offs but a decent way away from the relegation zone although last season's nightmare run is fresh in the memory. 44 points was enough to survive last season so we should be safe and looking upwards but...

Anyway, I got my points tally but did I get a decent youth intake? It didn't look likely given the preview in December but then...

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Some extremely tasty looking players with another couple of DMs and a possible Ruffles replacement in Pierce.

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And Pierce had an excellent game causing havoc as these young bucks did the U18s 4-1. Not too heartening with two first team CBs in the U18 squad but still...

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At least Luther had a good game for us but Shawn Swannie might not be playing against Potters Bar after that performance. Got a good couple of first team possibles there at least. Things is looking up.

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And I'm safe for another year. Phew.

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A busy April then with five games and some proper mid-table battles against Folkestone and Enfield who both hosed us earlier in the season. I'd take a nice nine points, seven would be fine.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

April 2022 Update

Player ratings are fixed, huzzahs! So we move into April.

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And we don't sore goals anymore apparently. Defensively pretty good until I went for it against Enfield in the last fifteen minutes at 2-2 but only two goals from open play is a bit of a worry. We should've taken more from Potters Bar and Bowers and that's on us but the Merstham and Folkestone results were creditable. Enfield had the better of us even though we were at 2-2 and I always felt we were vulnerable so decided to go for it. Unfortunately we got scammed twice but that's the way it goes. Five points isn't the end of the world given we had a win and last April we didn't even know what that was but it's still a bit of a disappointing month.

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I'd say we're more or less safe now with seven games to go and a gap of eighteen points so it might be the time for some new faces as we look to next season. Only five more points are needed to make last year's total.

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There will be no experimentation till after the derby especially as it's on my birthday and you just know the game will troll me if we lose. After Romford we have three pretty tough games with a title challenging Burgess Hill and play-off chasers Cray and Casuals. Could be a messy month...

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May 2022 Update

This time last season was the darkest timeline and with three of the top five to play and a derby I was expecting another chastening May...

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A strange topsy-turvy month where comebacks were king. Romford went 2-0 up and we managed to get it back to 2-2 to give me a semi-decent birthday present (not that the press agreed). Then Cray came to town and scored in the 1st minute to throw all my plans out of the window and then went 2-0 up before half-time before a rousing comeback (and a missed pelanty) gave us a win with George Purcell returning from injury to give us three great points. He did it again against title chasing Bugess Hill who had gone 2-1 up with six minutes remaining after Tony Matovu had given us an early lead. We then repeated the months theme against the Casuals coming back from 2-0 down with Solomon Giddens coming off the bench to rouse us to a point. I never expected six points this month and certainly not in the fashion we got them. I guess I should be pleased that the team is showing good resilience. I just wish we'd start playing from the first whistle rather than the one after half-time...

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Those six points see us beat last year's points tally with three games to go and leave us just four points off the play-offs. We couldn't could we? Actually no because I plan to integrate more youth players in these last three games because we are about the long term project here and not short-term play-off glory. Despite losing a slew of good players and playing with a mostly young team we're in a much better position than last season and having someone like George to come off the bench is great. As for the rest of the league Tonbridge look play-off assured and Worthing should seal the title in the next game while the final relegation spot looks between Bowers and Merstham. We're also pretty much guaranteed to finish ahead of Romford as well so... happy days.

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Three left then. Hoping Worthing will be taking the foot right off the gas when the come to the Bridge and that Marlow's minds will be elsewhere. I reckon we could pick up some points in Margate though. Either way it's a cruise to the end of this one now.

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June 2020 Update

The end of the season is here and the young 'uns were sent out to see what they were made of...

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The Margate game was as bad as it looked but we rallied for the Worthing and Marlow games and it was late winners in each that cost us. Some disappointing performances but these were not easy games and it's all about the long-term development. Overall it's been a strong season and even if we did finish with three defeats on the bounce it's not 14 without a win like last year.

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Worthing were indeed Champions with Leatherhead securing the final play-off spot (which we would've been a point off if we'd won all our games so...). Bowers do indeed go down and we finish five points ahead of Romford. A decent season.

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Hornchurch Season Review 2021-22

 

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A worse position than last year but one point better (and possibly a chance for more if I hadn't played the real kids in June). No run of 14 games without a win and without a whole host of senior players we had last year. This was a successful season thanks.

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The Carshalton result was a big win (we did it to Lewes as well) and Tony's hattrick against Curzon was definitely a high point. Felt our results against Cray (the 3-2) and Margate (the 5-4) were proper rollercoasters. Ruffles goal against Bowers was good but there weren't any real 'pick 'em outs' this season so will go with the fans here...

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The best XI is exactly as I would've called it despite the two DMS and the FBs being hamstrung by the ratings issue for much of the season. 

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Ruffles cleaned up in the club awards... fair enough.

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The best XI is a little bit weird just now. Expecting Ramsey and Onyemah to be turfed next season and Ruffles will probably replace Kofi and Gil will probably replace him. Am pretty chuffed with Callum though who was definitely the breakout boy this season.

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The squad shows that, weirdly, John Mott was the most played player this season so well done him for doing that and, TBF, despite his shankish rating 5 goals and 7 assists from midfield in his first season is pretty good all told. Gibbs, Wright and Ellis were very key as well as was Raed who was probably, along with Callum the key breakout this season.

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As far as the dynamics are concerned Rickie Hayles is off at the end of June and that will be good as his negativity was stinking the place out. I'd expect to see Gil and maybe Walker in here next season if they develop well.

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The vision is to survive which takes the pressure off. I did think saying mid-table would be good for the squad in the exit interview for the season but they were not fans so we'll continue to play the underdogs and move from there.

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All is well then. The wages are a little bit out of whack at the moment but Ramsey and Hayles are off so we'll be back in the black. All in all an optimistic time down at The Bridge.

 

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Around England and Europe 2021/22

A year of progress and no progress at all for the mighty Urchins but how did the rest of England and indeed the big European sides fare?

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Another close title race in the Premier League saw Liverpool return to the summit after finishing third last season beating defending champions Man City into second. Tottenham and Chelsea round out the top four with Chelsea going somewhat backwards after being denied on goal difference last year. Manchester United also stepped back into sixth and the Europa league while Arsenal are being Arsenal. Last season's 7th placed side Wolves suffered a severe drop off and only just stayed up allowing Villa to claim the best of the rest title. Bournemouth and Norwich stayed up but Reading stunk the place out and were relegated very quickly along with West Ham and Fulham making it a bad season for London (adjacent) teams.

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All who were relegated returned to the Premier League with Leeds absolutely hosing everyone and West Brom pipping plucky Brentford again. Palace managed to get up through the play-offs... who said the Championship was the least predictable league on earth? At the other end last season's League One champions Bristol Rovers stayed up but both Blackpool and Charlton earned an immediate return to League One followed by Wycombe whose luck has finally run out.

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Peterborough claimed the League One title easily from relegated Rotherham who return to the 2nd tier at the first attempt. Coventry also managed to back an instant return to the Championship through the play-offs condemning Sheffield Wednesday to another season in the 3rd tier. Forest Green were the real surprise package having come up to League One through the play-offs and getting very close to back to back promotions. Their fellow promoted clubs didn't do so well with both Walsall and Cambridge earning instant returns to League Two although both Walsall and Accrington will feel quite hard done by as they would've stayed up last season with those point tallies. Oldham survive barely while the former Premier League trio of Hull, Sunderland and Ipswich sat dully in mid-table.

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A close League Two title race saw Tranmere crowned champions ahead of Rochdale who were the only relegated side to challenge. Cheltenham and Newport (via the play-offs) join them in League One next season. Oxford at least challenged for the play-offs and Northampton were a point from them but the worst side relegated from League One was Plymouth who sat 21st, although not in any real danger. The two to drop into non-league were Port Vale and Harrogate allowing last season's promoted teams in Yeovil and Notts County a second season in the league.

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Orient bounced straight back up but only just, winning the title by two goals. Chesterfield at least went up via the play-offs meaning Barrow will spend another season down in the National League. Dulwich were well out of the depth and went back to the National League South but Ebbsfleet survived only just meaning that it wasn't a perfect four who came up that went back down.

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PSG easily seal another title in France with the usual suspects of Monaco, Lille, Lyon and Marseille in the top six. Rennes were the surprise package while Nice, who had a great season last time out really struggled. Promoted Guingamp had a great first season but Auxerre were well out of their depth and Reims weren't much better as they slide into the 2nd teir.

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Not much change in the Bundesliga with Bayern marching to another title and all the usual suspects qualifying for Europe although Schalke crashed instead of Koln who were disappointing in the league this year. Paderborn stayed up but Hannover only just dropped out along with Union Berlin into Bundesliga 2 Electric Boogaloo.

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Italy had the biggest story this year and the most interesting title race outside the Premier League with Lazio pipping Juventus to an 11th straight title. Is this a blip or is the era of the Old Lady over? Inter continue to be good enough for the top four but nothing more while Milan replaced Napoli in the Top 4 to get some of that sweet Champions League action. Roma returned to some kind of form to get Europe but Atalanta and Torino could not follow up on last season's successes. Salernitana and Empoli return to Serie B at the first time of asking in what was a fascinating five way relegation battle. Pordenone survived at Crotone's expense leaving Verona breathing a sigh of relief.

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Barcelona won the league again although Atletico pushed them very hard. Madrid and Bilbao locked out the top four again. Sociedad improved on last season's placing and sealed Europe again and they were joined by an improving Valencia and Vilarreal with Sevilla missing out. The biggest shock was last season's European qualifiers Eibar dropping into the 2nd tier along with Huesca. This meant a great chance for the promotees and Girona managed to pip Leganes to survival. Espanyol did slightly better but it was a pretty tight battle for that last place from Elche down.

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Man City sealed the Champions League to make up for not winning the Premier League to make it two out two for Manchester on this save and ironically it was Madrid's bitter rivals that City dispatched this time as well.

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Meanwhile in the home of the Europa League in Seville Ajax stopped another Premier League clean sweep of Europe by beating Tottenham 2-0. (Arsenal won the Super Cup against Man Utd).

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While the inaugural Conference League was won by Leverkusen shrugging of their Neverkusen tag. Tag that Denmark!

 

 

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Youth Update Summer 2022

 

So we're two intakes in although it is the Class of 2020 that dominates this team at the moment. Some shone while others were shown the door. Let's see who did what.

Class of 2020

 

Luther Blair (YP 0.1): A 6 appearance season for Luther as his slow acclimatisation process to goalkeeping legend continues. Averaged 7.07 with one clean sheet and ten goals conceded although three of them came in the Margate game and he wasn't really to blame for them. If we progress in the cups he'll get more game time but Joe Wright is a hard person to move at the moment. Pleasing progress from him though.

Tony Matovu (YP 0.2):  A breakthrough season for Tony with playing over half our league games and four cup games too. He scored 10 goals in 27 starts which is an okay return including the memorable hattrick in the cup against Curzon Ashton. The staff think he is on the way to being good but I have questions about him leading the line in the 4-2-3-1 and those will need to be answered if he is going to become first choice striker.

Kieren Wabo (YP 0.3): Not a good season for young Kieren all considered with 6 starts, 14 sub appearances and a 6.46 average rating. Didn't impress when he started, stunk out the place when subbed on and generally showed no real reason why he should be persisted with. Next season is a big one for him with the two DMs in the latest intake. If he doesn't buck his ideas up he'll be fifth choice and heading for the door.

Raed Aghbaria (YP 0.4): With no other defensive options this was a big season of development for Raed as he played 35 league games as well as 5 cup games at an average of 6.73 which isn't bad at all for a young CB. He has rage issues which I don't understand, honestly, he is consistently angry in teamtalks and we're pals so it's not because of me. Coaches dig him and I do too. If he continues to develop he will be a key player in the spine of this team going forward.

Kofi Oseni (YP 0.5): Not a great season for Kofi with just 4 starts and 6 sub appearances at an average of 6.53. He's stuck because he doesn't really fit into the midfield of my more cautious 4-4-2 and he is competing with Ruffles in the 4-2-3-1. His versatility is possibly his downfall as he's not really nailing down a position which is criminal considering my hunt for a left-winger all season. Needs to take his chances next season or he might be doorwards. 

Solomon Giddens (YP 0.6): Started slowly and didn't really shine in his cup appearance but an injury and a bit of loss of form for Alex Osborn gave Solomon a run and he took advantage of it showing enough good moves and potential in his 17 league starts to suggest he could replace Osborn full time. 3 goals and 4 assists at 6.72 is decent and I'll want to see him kick on and dominate more next year.

Jed Hudson (YP 0.7): The first player to be shown the door. Didn't play this season and with poor determination and better options than he I had no choice but to let him go. His Hornchurch career reads played 13 with 1 goal and and an average of 6.7. Reckon he could do a job down the pyramid so hope he finds a club.

Fabian Walker (YP 0.8): On the face of it 29 starts with 11 sub appearances and an average of 6.53 isn't good but no fullbacks were good until the fix just now and with good leadership and determination I feel he's worth persisting with, however, I will be expecting a marked improvement next season if he is to keep his place at LB.

Tim Johnson (YP 0.9): 28 starts at 6.45 is even worse but again it is caveated by the fact that fullbacks were crap and the only other RB was Louis Ramsey who hated me. There are more options at RB so Tim will have to start the season well if he wants to maintain his starting place but at the moment he is first choice.

Shawn Swannie (YP 0.10): 6 starts and 14 sub appearances at 6.69 is okay... it's not great and I did see him get turned inside out against the Youth Candidates team but Shawn is battling with Brian to be first reserve at CB and will have an opportunity to stake that claim further next season.

Brian Flanagan (YP 0.11): 6 starts but only 1 sub appearance for Brian as Shawn looked better than him when they both played together although I have a feeling that long term it might be Brian who makes it. Will be battling it out for first reserve next season.

Callum Stillman (YP 0.12): Probably the star of the season. Started very slowly and got dropped to the U23s for Josh Johnson but when he came back he was a different player and got he majority of his goals and assists. Ended up with 30 appearances with 6 goals and 5 assists at 6.8 which given his start was a very good return. He is now first choice at LW but there are others ready to pounce if he loses form again.

Josh Johnson (YP 0.13): Josh will not be one of them though. He was given a good run given Callum's early form but in 12 starts averaged 6.47 with just one goal and with better LW options than him I decided to let him go. Could do a job a step or two below I reckon but we'll have to wait and see.

Class of 2021

Bas Giligan (YP 1.1): 3rd choice at the moment and yet to get a game for us. Feel like I might need to put him in a cup game or two to see if he has it but by the looks of things he'll probably end up being an interim stop-gap until a better young keeper comes through. We're not stacked for keepers though so he does have a chance.

Daniel Gil (YP 1.2): The most talented player we have. His stats shot up and we've already had interest from National League sides but he was mostly hamstrung by the poor ratings at DM issue so his stats of 38 starts, 3 sub appearances and an average of 6.57 are, hopefully, not a true reflection of what he can provide to this side. Grabbed a goal and 4 assists from a deep position so the promise is there but next season is going to be a big one for Old Gil.

John Mott (YP 1.3): Somehow, someway John Mott came outta nowhere to play the most games this season and do you know what? He did alright. Playing as a Segundo in my double DM pivot he grew into the role and ended the season with 5 goals and 7 assists from 43 starts at 6.68. There is competition for his place but I am hoping, with the tweaks to ratings, he'll continue to excel.

Shawn O’Sullivan (YP 1.4): Not a great return from Shawn as the great 'let's sort out the LW' issue continued. An average of 6.48 from 8 starts and 12 sub appearances with just 2 assists to his name does not bode well for the lad. If he doesn't show signs of progress he'll be leaving at the end of next season.

Lee Waters (YP 1.5): Lee is a weird one. He made 3 sub appearances and scored a goal but his mentals worry me. He's got a touch of the Purcells about him and if 1-1 mentoring was still a thing I'd be straight on that. I reckon he should get more of a chance though as you can't train natural finishing technique despite how poor mentality is and at this level...

Romario Weir (YP 1.6): Romario ended up being an Jed Hudson upgrade and did nothing wrong in his 8 sub appearances this season averaging a decent 6.73. Whether he stays the course will depend on the two DMs in the intake below and whether CD becomes an issue if Flanno or Swannie don't step up. He's definitely more of a chance to make it than Jed did.

Class of 2022

Kevin Pierce (YP 2.1): Exploded onto the scene in the Youth Candidates game but didn't cover himself in glory in his 1 start (6.3). Earmarked as a Ruffles replacement he'll get a shot at showing what he can do next season and will probably be battling it with Kofi as first Ruffles reserve.

George McDonald (YP 2.2): Daniel Gil's back-up but played poorly in the last 3 games of the season when given his chance averaging just 6.37. Someway off the first team just yet but might well start putting pressure on Wabo and Weir if he develops.

Joe Fox (YP 2.3): Looks like he could be Lee Waters but with better mentals but didn't show anything in the 4 appearances he made towards the end of the season. Will be battling Lee for that third choice striker spot.

Courtney Dundas (YP 2.4): John Mott's understudy and performed okay in the last 3 games of the season. Has more of a chance than his classmate as there is less competition for Mott's place so will be first choice reserve with a chance to impress.

Yacoub Traore (YP 2.5): Came on twice towards the end of the season and was... underwhelming. Became our youngest ever player beating Gil by 3 days and will definitely have an opportunity to pressure Tim Johnson at RB.

Verdict

An interesting year for the class of 2020 especially. They were helped by the fact that we lost a lot of older first teamers in the Summer which especially helped Gil and Mott establish themselves. The newest intake has potential and I feel we're pretty well covered across the pitch. Next season some quality fullbacks and maybe a good goalkeeper would make me happy but overall a decent year of development.

 

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Pre-Season 2022 Update

With two more senior players in Louis Ramsey and Rickie Hayles leaving we've certainly turned over a fair few players in the last 14 months but we're probably a lot more stable than we were with the youth now staking their claims and having had another season under their belts.

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This is pretty much the first XI at the moment with Mott and Dundas the biggest battle at SV. Mott had a poor pre-season so was dropped for the last few games but he has got goals for the U23s so may well start the first game of the season. Other than that we're pretty settled to start with.

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A pretty wild pre-season in places. We eased to the Horny Chalice and were outclassed away at Dulwich before Callum grabbed all the goals against the teams we should've beaten. The 4-3 against Chelmsford was a good and memorable result and we followed it up with a good win at home against Boston before being outclassed by National League Barnet. We won the last two games fairly comfortably which points, to me, to another steady midtable season. We beat who we should, got a couple of decent underdog results and took a few batterings too. Standard.

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The squad has potential and we have some decent cover in some positions. George Purcell is still here which is great for goal scoring and developmental reasons.

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Predicted 21st due to the quality of the squad which must mean Brightlingsea's team are absolute *****. Kingstonian are favourites to go straight back up. We've been asked to avoid relegation by the board which is fine by me.

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Not the easiest set of opening fixtures. Burgess Hill have caused us trouble and an early derby against Romford isn't particularly welcome. We face play-off fancied St Albans and Tonbridge before a possibly kinder end to the month. Gonna be a hot start and I'd be happy with 10 points quite frankly or maybe even 7. Either way it's time we started again...

 

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I had to double take that someone was doing a Hornchurch save. I shall be following. 

Got a lot of time for people who do this challenge. The patience required is enormous. 

Edited by dino
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September 2022 Update

Said it would be a hot start and boy was I not wrong...

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This month had everything: 2 red cards, falling apart, staying solid and only one game where we were actually professional. Managing this club is severely bad for my health. We started against Burgess Hill in a game we dominated and should've won but got done by a late long ball. The derby came next and we actually turned in a display of supreme professionalism with Harry Gibbs getting his first ever goal for the club and Gorgeous George wrapping it up. Next came St Albans where we lost Fabian Walker to an early red card (the idiot) and battered them on xG... so of course we conceded a 93rd minute which saw a shot blocked in the box fall to their player in the d which saw a shot blocked and fall to a player outside the box who, of course, scored an absolute humdinger. We then went to Tonbridge and went 3-0 up would you believe before nearly throwing it away. We managed to squeeze a win and the game was notable for Courtney Dundas' first goal for the club. Cray had hammered Margate 8-2 in the game before coming to The Bridge and took an early lead but we pegged them back through Ruffles only to see them go 2-1 up just before the break. A red card for them meant we camped the second half and George dispatched a pelanty for a draw which was the least we deserved. The final game of the month took us to Bishops Stortford where Tim Johnson decided to get himself an early red card this time. Courtney Dundas got us an equaliser just before his red and this time we managed to hold out. Phew. What a month.

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Nine points in the nascent table which is around what I expected but I in no way expected us to get them the way we did. Our professional performance against Romford has been put into perspective by their start and Tonbridge have been terrible for a team predicted to fight for the title. As for us Courtney Dundas has settled well at SV but Tim Johnson was on report before his red card so he will now be dropped for a while and other players will be given the opportunity to make RB their own.

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After the madness of all those games crammed into just 17 days October gives us a bit of light relief although the games aren't much easier with a trip to title favourites Kingstonian on the cards. It's cup season as well so a chance for some of the fringier players to get a game or two.

 

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Brilliant read so far, you’re on the right track. It’s just the inconsistencies of youth that will hold you back in the short term.

Must’ve been going potty when that winner went in against Margate. :D

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1 hour ago, 412gt said:

Brilliant read so far, you’re on the right track. It’s just the inconsistencies of youth that will hold you back in the short term.

Must’ve been going potty when that winner went in against Margate. :D

Yeah, I full expect them to get revenge in the next game which is... next.

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October 2022 Update

It's Cup season again so a chance for some young 'uns to make a name for themselves etc...

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It wasn't really a time for young uns as George Purcell is still proving to be a legend. Anyways we started with a clinical dissection of Lewes with Ellis getting his first goal of the season along with Solomon. We then had a ding-dong battle away at Kingstonian where I was happy to claim a point and then did the same against Folkestone but this time the irrepressible George slammed in a late winner. 7 outta 9 in the league was great and now it was time for cup duty. Grantham are steady at level 7 so were never going to be push overs and the game looked for all the world like it was going to head into extra time but an injured Giddens was the best player so I was never gonna take him off and was rewarded with a last minute winner. We then went to Rookery Hill to take on East Thurrock with a Second XI side and were 2-0 down until Ellis came on at RW and nearly got us back into it; Tony got his first of the season. We then finished at home in the FA trophy which saw Daniel get his first goal of the season. We conceded early and were shocking for the first 30 minutes but got steadily better and when George Purcell did what he does: coming on for the second-half of extra-time, winning a free-kick that got the opposition player sent-off and then delivered the ball... Raed was there to head it home and us into the next round. Another rollercoaster of a month.

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The seven points see us in a nice upper/mid position so far. The team is playing pretty well although Alex Osborn's poor performances have seen him dropped so Solomon has a real chance of making that role his own again.

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Thought the previous two months were manic? Hooo boy we're in for it now with Leatherhead and Enfield the stand-out difficult fixtures in a seven game month. We've also got a tricky but winnable cup tie against a resurgent Tonbridge and an absolute bastard of an away game at National League Barrow in the Trophy. We'll know a lot more about some of these boys by the time we open that first door on the 2022 advent calendar.

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