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[FM13] Alice in FM-land


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I'm baaaaack! It has been a while but I've already been back engaging with threads again and I've been pondering a new project as well. A while ago I downloaded FCUnitedWill's Level 11 database and have played around with it a little. It's fascinating given how much lower the quality of play clearly is compared to even the smallest 'out of the box' leagues, as well as other factors related to playing at such a low level. There are also the expected financial and recruitment challenges, and the teams being so similar in reputation (and quality) that at this level a lot leagues basically have teams' expected finish based on alphabetical order. It was enough that I wanted to try a proper long-term career with it, starting right down at the bottom in the amateur level 11 leagues.

From what experience I've already had, I expect this to be a series of small steps up the ladder rather than being able to take a specific team that far, as nice as it would be. I have a self-imposed rule for this that I can't 'skip' promotions, only taking jobs at levels I have already managed in. That'll make it even slower but more rewarding. I was going to start in level 10 (like I did in my experimental save) because I wasn't sure about the volatility of the amateur leagues and potentially losing players at any time (among other reasons) but I thought I'd go for and see what happens.

That left the question of who to start with, having already done so in Kent for my private little save and with there being almost no difference between the teams at this level. I was looking for a league with multiple promotion places and that happened to bring me perfectly to my alma-mater, the University of Exeter. It's about as 'realistic' and appropriate a starting club as I could have. They were predicted to finish bottom but as I said above, that's based on alphabetical order so it just means a lack of pressure rather than a weaker team. As it happens there are a few players that look good based on my limited experience of the standard. The fact that the league has just 16 teams (so we have a shorter) season just adds to the appeal of this particular league.

This is verrrrrry different to anything I've really tried to do before (even if there are plenty of Anglo-centric careers on here) and will no doubt be very frustrating at times but it will also be fun and rewarding as well I hope.

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Spoiler

2012-13, University of Exeter, Southwest Peninsular League Division One East, 4th.
2013-14, University of Exeter, Southwest Peninsular League Division One East, 2nd, promoted!

 

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I am interested mostly because I am scared to use custom databases. I have barely enough knowledge to apply skins and Logo packs. 

But a realistic "journeyman" save with teams a player with a "Sunday League Rep" should actually get jobs at appeals most.

 

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I’m curious to see how this goes. Itll take some patience for sure. I played at a good but still very much amateur level  (still plan to post pandemic) and tactics really aren’t a thing for most players. I’m not sure I have the patience for it but I’m excited to watch someone else do it!

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17 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

I am interested mostly because I am scared to use custom databases. I have barely enough knowledge to apply skins and Logo packs. 

But a realistic "journeyman" save with teams a player with a "Sunday League Rep" should actually get jobs at appeals most.

 

I've never really played with any add-ons at all before, let alone a custom database. From my brief experience on this one it wouldn't take long before I'd get Conference North/South offers but there's no point in doing a save with all these leagues if I'm able to skip them that easily.

11 hours ago, 13th Man said:

I’m curious to see how this goes. Itll take some patience for sure. I played at a good but still very much amateur level  (still plan to post pandemic) and tactics really aren’t a thing for most players. I’m not sure I have the patience for it but I’m excited to watch someone else do it!

Thank you, it will take patience for sure.

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Wow that is a bright green, away kit looks an odd choice, good luck at Uni.

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Summer 2012

I had started out being worried about players being snatched from me, then I realised that I could actually strengthen a lot easier than in higher levels because I didn't have to worry about budgets. There were a few players who seemed decent already but having been presented at the start with a list from the chief scout I saw how much I could improve on almost everyone else. I even added a few more players for depth as well as buying almost an entire first choice side. Just two existing players started our first league match and one of those is just being snatched away at the time of writing, just before the third match, and we could have been stronger but I inevitably missed out on a few players and it was hard to sign alternatives for the midfield in particular, Thankfully the losses haven't been too bad so far, players who might have been first choice if I hadn't signed a bunch of new players but at worst we're just losing a couple of useful squad players who don't weaken us that much.

It's hard to tell how the season will go. We do now have what should be an incredibly strong team for this level (and probably still being good for the next couple of levels) but all the changes (as well as how young most players you start out with seem to be at these levels in this database) mean that we may yet struggle to be anywhere near our best this season. Thankfully there's no pressure and no real expectations this season (being expected to finish bottom of a league with no relegation by virtue of alphabetical order) but I like to think it'll go pretty well even if we don't go up. I won't post all our signings, just enough to show what sort of a team we've now got after all those signings.

Oh and one more thing... when I was recruiting for the single coach I was allowed to have, one of the applicants was former Turkey and Bundesliga star Yildiray Basturk! It's fun seeing recognisable names like that as staff members, especially at such a low level. He didn't get the job by the way :D

Broom

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Harrison

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Kelly

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O'Brien

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Rose-Miles

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Taylor

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Wyatt

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11 minutes ago, Maw74 said:

Wow that is a bright green, away kit looks an odd choice, good luck at Uni.

Thanks Maw, though I didn't choose it ;)

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Oct 2012

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Things haven't been going too badly so far, but they could be better. We started off by beating Galmpton in a match we dominated, then narrowly losing 1-0 in two tight games. Even given the lack of squad (or tactical) familiarity I still felt like making a couple of tactical tweaks, as a lack of goals in that situation can be down to trying to 'overdo' it. Going for simpler settings seemed to work as we started to fire a lot more effectively and won both of our next two matches despite going behind to freak goals. The first was a case of the keeper rushing out to catch the ball but going beyond his area and having to drop it to avoid being penalised, though in this case conceding a free-kick was infinitely preferable to dropping it perfectly for an opposing forward to take and score! There's a commando training camp in the nearby village of Lympstone and I mulled the possibility of sending Harrison there by way of punishment.

We next faced the top two teams at the time and despite the dropped points, two draws still seemed like decent results, especially as we then beat one of them in the Southwest Peninsular League Cup and comfortably saw off Totnes. Just as we were on the verge of getting into the top two we stumbled, with the Plymstock defeat being the sort of defeat against a struggling team that would have a lot of people moaning on the forums. That was followed by just managing to rescue a draw against Sidmouth (though still with time to have a winner disallowed) and an epic match against Crediton where we went 3-1 then 4-3 up before having to settle for a draw. At least we made more progress in the cup by beating Tavistock (in the division above) to get to the last 16, where we face Plymouth Parkway who are also struggling against relegation in the league above so gives us a decent chance of getting to the quarter-finals.

There may not be any board pressure this season but I suspect that if we don't go up (and hopefully go semi-pro to tie our players to actual contracts) then we could lose a lot of players next summer (if not before) and have to start all over, no taking advantage of a settled side. I already had to contend with trying to keep a few players this season though no one too important. However, I suspect that I'm only keeping my first teamers for now on the basis that they've just arrived so wouldn't be interested in moving again already. As you can see it's a tight league and we've still only lost one league match out of 8, taking into account the two early defeats are weighing us down. I like to think we should still be able to do it but we're not far off the half-way point already.

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A long way to go for sure... :)   

how about employing a 2m tall target man upfront and hoofing the ball to him all the time? Just an idea for the lower leagues... thats how my local club used to play ;) 

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15 minutes ago, Carambau said:

A long way to go for sure... :)   

how about employing a 2m tall target man upfront and hoofing the ball to him all the time? Just an idea for the lower leagues... thats how my local club used to play ;) 

As it happens I am using a target man as one of my forwards, though he's still 13cm off 2m ;) It's working well though as he has 7 goals and 5 assists in 11 matches with his partner already being in double-figures for goals.

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1 hour ago, RaySunshine said:

Ex-Exe too! Look forward to seeing how you get on!

Wow, when were you there? I was there 06-10.

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Dec 2012

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We have the best forward partnership in the league, probably at this level even. Rose-Miles and Wyatt sit 1st and 3rd respectively for average rating, with the positions reversed in the stop scorer table and they're joint 3rd for assists as well. The trouble remains the defence. After a 3-3 draw against the Sir Humphreys where we led twice and two of their goals were 'soft' I changed the defensive roles a little and set training to have a focus on 'defence', though the impact was always going to be limited so far at an amateur team in particular. Even then Crediton have is beaten for having both the most goals scored and conceded in the league. We then managed to get our first league in in 5 against Exmouth which still took us to within 3 points off the top 2 and caused me to lament bow much that poor run had cost us. That was followed by a rare 0-0 draw and defeat to Alphington where we had the lead but collapsed after conceding a penalty, not helped by having just lost our best defender to a Level 8 side and the replacement not having arrived yet.

Things seemed to pick up in December, starting with victory in the cup against Plymouth Parkway. our cup win have been scrappy but it means we're through to the quarter-finals of a cup with higher division teams (and having already beaten two of them), which isn't bad. That was followed by a crazy match against Galmpton to start the second half of the season, not least because they have the exact same kit as we do, making the first time we were in our red away kit even trickier to get used to. We were 2-0 down and seemingly heading to defeat before we powered back to lead 3-2, we almost immediately conceded an equaliser before making it 5-3 to put it beyond them. More comfortable victories over Appledore and Newton Abbot Spurs (despite the latter making to 3-2 after we were 3-0 ahead)  gave is 3 league wins in a row for the first time this season and helped us close in on the top 2 once again. That made it frustrating to lose to Axminister as we could have closed to a single point of promotion if we'd won.

 

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Feb 2013

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The start of 2013 was a mixed bag. We beat Stoke Gabriel and drew at Okehampton to stay within 4 points of 2nd but then we had a little blip. Liskeard were a South West Peninsular Premier team too far for us in the cup, not helped by our keeper Harrison missing through injury. Even then we at least managed to hold out until extra-time so it wasn't a bad run. That was followed by a disasterous '6-pointer' hammering by Teignmouth, leaving us a full 9 points adrift of them. However we cruised to victory against both Totnes and Plymstock to make us top scorers in the league (and taking Wyatt to exactly a goal a game in the league), and allowing us to get back to within 4 points of Teignmouth with 6 games to go. I still think we'll miss out but we still seem to be in with a shot at least.

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Youth Intake

There's not an awful not of point in focusing on these at this level as pretty much everyone has 5-star potential but there was one player who caught the eye, especially as we were short on any sort of quality in midfield. There's also the fact that we can only have three subs on the bench (something I may have forgotten to mention before) so having players who can cover multiple positions in useful.

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April 2013

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I hadn't expected to catch up to the top 2 but I had hoped our challenge would realistically last more than a couple more matches. Teignmouth dropped like a stone in the later part of the season, going from 4 points ahead of us with 6 games to go (already starting a bad run) to 6th and a couple of points below us, despite our losing 3 matches in that time. That meant the first defeat didn't lose us any ground but the second one did as Sidmouth were on their way to finish the season as I hoped we could to go up instead. Even when we beat Exmouth we were 3-0 down early on. At least that meant the last couple of matches enabled me to experiment with different full-back roles to try and tighten up at the back and two wins suggests we might be on the right track. 4th was still a good finish, as well as our run in the South West Peninsular League Cup.

Ordinarily I'd be optimistic that a more settled team could confortably gain promotion next season but in this case I don't think that'll happen. Spoilers for the next update, but I knew we'd lose most of our first choice team. That was why I felt like we needed promotion and hopefully gain semi-pro status to tie players down to actual contracts. We'll probably have to rebuild every year at this level until we get promotion. We also need to become a lot more solid and consistent at the back, in fact anywhere other than up front as one central defender who only played a handful of matches was the only non-forward to get over 7.00 average rating, along with how far ahead the regular front two were.

Squad Stats

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Star Player: Wyatt and Rose-Miles tore the division apart together but Wyatt gets the nod not just for his goal tally but getting double figures in assists as well.

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Summer 2013

The start of the transfer window was as brutal as I imagined as we lost most of the first-teamers I signed last year. That included the goalkeeper Harrison as well as our main forwards, even a couple of defenders. A few more followed them out of the door later on in the summer. So much for being able to enjoy a more settled squad. The nature of being able to lose players so easily and at pretty much any time also encourages 'stocking' up a little bit or hedging your bets on players you might not have gone for as a 'Plan B' in case you can't get the players you most want to come. I'd say at least 3 players I signed were unnecessary in hindsight but once you get over 7-8 signings in it's probably a case of 'in for a penny, in for a pound' at this point. Given the quality of our forwards last year, it was disappointing to see so few options available to replace the ones we're losing, let alone good ones.

It wasn't all bad though. For a start, even we don't have the same quality up front we can still do well if more consistent performances from everyone else is the trade-off, and we'll see if the tactical changes I made at the end of last season help with that. Another positive is we did considerably improve our midfield, which was otherwise the weak spot in our team last season. We have Keegan, the youth player I already posed about, with Meecham as a strong partner. That is if we get to keep Keegan. Teignmouth are constantly making bids for him, causing me to constantly offer him new deals to stay, thankfully successfully. Thankfully they're no longer approaching him right after he agrees new deals so I hope as the season starts they'll ease off a bit. Finally, at worst the new players are just on the same level as pretty much the rest of the league and could still do a job, helped by most of them coming from rival teams. The point is we wouldn't necessarily need players of the quality we just lost to go up.

Signings

Bond

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Hogg

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Holland

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Kilford

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Lye

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Meechan

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Turner

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Oct 2013

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Even before the season started I noted with interest that the number of teams in each regional division can change and we were down to just 14 teams. We still had two teams go down to replace the two that went up but two more teams were shuffled to the 'West' division, and the two promoted teams found themselves in different leagues. We were also in a better financial position than last season. One of the positives of being amateur is that we weren't actually losing money, instead we seemed to make a few hundred pounds a month profit and a total profit of 5k last season. This year we were set to have larger attendances as we sold 13 season tickets instead of something like 3-4 last year and already we can see from attendances that we're maxing out our ground at 50, compared to only rarely hitting the 20 mark last year. In fact despite the fewer number of matches we're set to hit last year's matchday income totals by about the half-way point.

It's already been a rollercoaster of a season. It started positively. We drew and lost our matches against the Sir Humphreys' last season so a comfortable 2-0 win away from home on the opening day was a good sign that we could be better, followed by another 2-0 win that made us the only team not to have conceeded after just 2 matches. We did seem to be a lot more solid all over the pitch while new forward Turner was making a good partnership with Rawlins, a forward from last season's youth intake. That didn't last long however. Turner missed a few matches after getting injured against Stoke Gabriel, followed by Rawlins getting poached by a semi-pro team just one match later. Given we already seemed to have a lack of depth I was able to go for two more forwards I either overlooked or failed to get in the summer, one to stand in for Turner while he was out (and to be our forward on the bench otherwise) and the other to replace Rawlins.

Our form nosedived spectacularly while Turner was out and he struggled to find his feet on his immediate return. We got only 2 points from our following 4 matches and one of those was a last gasp equaliser. There would also be no repeat of our cup run as we went out early to a Totnes team with 10 men. By this point we were in the bottom half of the table. However, it seems to be the nature of this league that the tables can quickly turn both ways. We faced Axminster (2nd at the time) and utterly crushed them to close to within 2 points. After beating Crediton, we then faced Ringwood, one of the relegated teams (both of whom remained semi-pro). I was delighted just to get an equaliser to keep pace with them but a winner allowed us to go 2nd ourselves! Last season we barely occupied the top 2, if at all. Instead we were always chasing it with the gap either narrowing or widening, so it will be nice if we can stay in or around it more consistently this time around.

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Oh man, it’s rough having to completely rebuild the roster every year and knowing that you could lose players at any time!  Well done getting your team firing again and even doing better than last year despite the rough middle patch and lost players.

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11 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Oh man, it’s rough having to completely rebuild the roster every year and knowing that you could lose players at any time!  Well done getting your team firing again and even doing better than last year despite the rough middle patch and lost players.

Oh it is a little rough, especially a it means we can't benefit from having a settled side, adding to how hard it is to get a consistent run of form going. I've only just managed three league wins in a row for what I think is the second time in this save so far. It's not just losing players to having to constantly offer new deals to one or two players to avoid losing them, which I can realistically do if it's another amateur side (I can't compete with semi-pro teams offering actual wages). It's not all bad though, as it means we can easily replace those players and we don't have to worry about budgets to we can just go for anyone I want. I compared the table with my October update from last season and we actually have a point more, despite that poor run. It may not sound like much but that's also after just 9 matches instead of 11.

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On 03/05/2021 at 17:12, RaySunshine said:

Pretty similar - started in 04!

Ah yes, so we probably have similar memories of the Ram (though they've smartened it up quite a bit and it's not quite the same), Cardiac Hill and the like. I remember when FM08 was released back when shops would sell it 'early' I saw on these forums that Game was doing so and I went all the way into town and back up to campus for a lecture right at the top of the Amory building (?. I tried to look it up on a map because I couldn't remember the name), which added even more of a climb! Unsurprisingly was exhausted after all that. I played inter-mural 5-a-side in my first year or two there.

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Mar 2014

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First we were brilliant, then we were frustrating. Our winning run continued against Bovey Tracey, a relegated team who are stuck bottom this season. That was followed by a crucial win in a top of the table clash against Alphington which took us top, then Totnes which gave us a 4-point lead at the top and a 6-pont buffer for promotion. Things slipped with defeats in admitedly tricky away matches against Exmouth and Stoke Gabriel but it soon became clear that we were stumbling badly, with inconsistency among our rivals at least ensuring we weren't losing much ground beyond Alphington catching up with us. We had clear issues including at left-back where replacing players didn't help that being a near-consistent weakspot. It's gotten to the point where I'm considering using a player from our recent youth intake because he looks reasonable enough and can't be much worse.

Another issue was the loss of our brilliant young midfielder Keegan who was poached after a managing to fend off a large number of approaches for him all-season. That meant having to use Meechan who was dropped early on after a poor start (though I forgot he was just 16, to be fair to him), leading to what had been a good partnership between Keegan and Hogg. That left us with another position where we were underperforming. I made a couple of tactical changes to try and help him and left-back Lewis to perform and that led to an incredible and vital away 4-0 win over Axminister (4th at the time) but that didn't lead to a wider improvement in form and we're hanging on to the top 2 by a thread. We have a tough end of the season as well (to the point that an opponent's league position means anything), playing Exmouth at home before away games against Alphington and Totnes. It'll be a tight end to the season, for sure!

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Apr 2014

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We did it, though it could so easly have gone differently. We seemed to have one hand on promotion after the Exmouth game, one I felt we needed to win and buy some breathing space. It couldn't have gone better as we snatched a win while gaining a 4-point margin to 3rd and even found ourselves 3 points ahead of Alphington. That probably would have been enough if we hadn't been playing our direct rivals in the final couple of games so 'results elsewhere' couldn't help us. Essentially it had become a zero-sum game between us and them. It didn't help that against Alphington we had an injured right-back and having lost the other guy earlier in the season we now had new youth players in both full-back positions. We went behind, took the lead, then lost 3-2 to put us on the edge, made more frustrating by the fact that we should have had a penalty just before they got their winner.

The situation was simple against Totnes. If we avoided defeat then we'd go up, if we didn't then they'd go up at our expense. It didn't help that while we had our main right-back again, we lost 2 central defenders after the Alphingon game, one injured and the other suspended. We also had one of our forwards take a knock but he was thankfully just about fit to play again. As it turned out it was relatively comforable. We took an early lead before Turner ended a bad run of form (which had seen him dropped to the bench for the final couple of games) before half-time. A quiet second-half was just what we needed even if Alphington snatched a narrow win in their game to deny us top spot on goal difference. We were up, and that's all that mattered. It hadn't been glorious but it didn't need to be. A single strong run of form earlier in the season made all the difference, along with a few wins later on when we really needed them.

We'll have to see where things go from here. I might stay for a season in the division above but we might lose a lot of players before we go semi-pro, if we do. I'm not so sure about trying to compete either with an amateur squad or the limitations of a wage budget in rebuilding the squad again, even if it'll take a lot for me to leave at this point. At the end of the day I achieved what I planned to at the club, getting the first promotion and not expecting to get any higher without moving on to a 'proper' semi-pro club, so I'm unlikely to stay more than one more season anyway. It may help that having maxed out the 50-capacity ground all last year I managed to convince the board to buy the ground for the purpose to trying to expand it, so we'll see how things go with that (the ground purchase still being in progress at the time of writing).

Key Player: We were actually less impressive than last season (even getting fewer points) so it was hard to pinpoint a particular player this year. In the end Foster gets it thanks to how poor his strike partner Turner was near the end of the season. He was actually one of the two signings I felt the need to make after we lost Rawlins so early in the season, which in hindsight worked in our favour. I think I tried to get him in pre-season but he wouldn't come so I'm very glad I got him on the second attempt!

Squad Stats

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Summer 2014

This summer wasn't as chaotic as I feared it would be. As expected we went semi-pro on the league reset date, and before that we managed to avoid the heavy losses of last year. Only Meecham had another club come in for him early on, followed by a successful attempt to avoid losing our first choice keeper Holland. We lost our best defender, Bond (Geoff Bond) just before we went semi-pro but losing two good but replacable first-teamers didn't cause us too much damage before I was able to tie down everyone else to actual contracts. We seemed to have a good team for this level (which probably isn't much stronger than the last) and that worked out perfectly when it came to adding just a handful to signings to strenghen a bit where we needed while hopefully still benefitting from a more settled squad.

Every signing seemed to have a purpose. Hill could potentially solve our left-back issue while otherwise being a good option to cover both full-back positions. Bunn would effectively replace the departing Bond. Morrison was a potential first choice midfielder to both replace Meecham (even if they played different roles) and maybe help Hogg improve again by giving him a different partner and putting him back to the role he had before we lost Keegan. Pepper helped was a versatile player who could fit in well to give us both defensive and midfield depth. Keen provided a minor upgrade on he inconsistent Turner as a poacher. Finally, I felt we really needed to fill a hole on the right and after a bit of searching and waiting Ashton seemed to fit the bill.

Signings

Ashton

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Bunn

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Hill

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Keen

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Morrison

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Pepper

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Sep 2014

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So far the season has been ok, no better or no worse. We've shown some promise but the first match against Launceston was an example of a defensive mess ruining what was otherwise a decent performance after we took the lead. Thankfully after that we weren't so bad at the back for the most part though we were also a bit blunt up front before coming to life against Sidmouth. The board just expect a mid-table finish and while the 4 relegation spots in a league of just 17 seems daunting, so far we we're on course to just about stay clear of serious trouble, and that would probably do for now.

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