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[FM13] Alice in FM-land


deltablue
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13 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Oops! Misread your post (mushy brain!). Saw “wanted to end the season” and decided that this was a end of season post and (I guess) disregarded the rest. Maybe got too excited? 
Speaking of studies, maybe I need to go back to work on my reading comprehension now…

Wow, yup, reread your post and I realized I’m just a total idiot.

Yep, I just meant 'by the end of the week', which probably means finishing it off today if I can bare to tear myself away from the fascinating subject of digital record collection/archiving models :D

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Apr 2020

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We did it! I genuinely had my doubts after defeat against Longwell Green Sports left us with just a single win in 6 games and we led a 3-way tie at the top. A home game against doomed Cribbs Friends Life helped get us back to speed though a tense draw at Bristol Manor Farm dropped us to 2nd. With things level at Westbury it looked like we might drop as low as 5th before Grimshaw gave us the win. Willand Rovers seemed like a tricky game to start off April but a Kinder brace gave us a win that also saw us 4 points ahead of 3rd. I was worried we were losing it ahead of 2 final away games after a terrible display against Corsham and it looked like we'd head into the key final day against Shepton Mallet with only a narrow advantage when a direct Easter free-kick (for once scoring instead of conceeding one) gave us the win, and I must admit I properly cheered that one.

We weren't quite up yet. We were 3 points ahead of Shepton Mallet but they could still finish ahead of us with a win and if Rockleaze got a result as well they would push us into 3rd and staying down another year. They also seemed to be the form team of the last half-season. As it turned out there was no need to worry as Abiodoun fired an incredibly powerful shot in off the goalkeeper, which must have hurt. Collins then gave us another and we seemed safe, despite them later getting a goal back. Since Rockleaze ended up losing it turned out that we would be fine even if we threw the match away, even that meant that it felt a little anticlimactic in the end.

So up to Level 9 we go, after 6 years at two different teams since the first promotion of the save. The Western League Premier Division has just a single promotion spot but that's a bridge we'll cross when we come to it. One more promotion to Level 8 and we'll have multiple promotion spots (and playoff places) all the way. I'll probably give it a couple of years to see whether it's worth pursuing or whether I might want to move. With promotion came a doubling of the wage budget and I've already gotten to work improving the team with a few players who were a much higher standards than I expected to get, courtesy of my former UofE forward Kean (newly signed as a scout). We'll see how more more I can strengthen the team this summer.

Oh and this caught my eye...

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Lincoln started in the Conference National so it's not quite as far a fall as you'd expect, but it's still remarkable this early in the save. They actually caught my eye when offering me the job last year but as they were set for relegation from the Conference North and in a financial mess I wouldn't have taken it even if I didn't have a rule preventing me from skipping promotions like that. Now they face a second relegation in a row to the regional First Divisions, just one level above is now! It'll be interesting to see how quickly they bounce back, if they do.

Star Player: Kinder almost got it again, despite missing the start of the season through injury, struggling to get back into it afterwards and having a couple of shorter injuries later this season, since he did still get double figures for both goals and assists (which is always decent). However it was the new boy Collins who repaid my determination to get yet another forward last summer, not just as top scorer but someone who generally linked up well with both Kinder and Abiodoun as the situation required.

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Squad Stats

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Ok, so it turns out I wasn’t misreading, I was just seeing into the future! So let’s try this again…

PROMOTION + the title!!! And to have it all come down to the last day makes it especially exciting!!!

(remind me not to read/comment after crushing 12 hour days…)

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12 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Congrats on the promotion! 

Thank you. I'm glad you didn't jinx it this time ;)

5 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Ok, so it turns out I wasn’t misreading, I was just seeing into the future! So let’s try this again…

PROMOTION + the title!!! And to have it all come down to the last day makes it especially exciting!!!

(remind me not to read/comment after crushing 12 hour days…)

I was thinking the same thing about how you were psychic :D

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Summer 2020 Part 1

I couldn't resist showing off a few early signings, especially if I'm not sure if they'll show in the transfer history screen after the reset date. I'm also that excited about them, which is why I'm also showing screenshots compared to the players they're effectively replacing. After promotion was secured I was able to expand the backroom staff with a fitness coach, a regular coach and two more scouts. One of those new scouts was my former University of Exeter forward Daniel Keen (it's always nice when you have a former player as a staff member) who arrived with nice shortlist of players, and a few of those were even available for wages consistent with our existing wage range (even if they were mostly near the top end.

I could have grabbed one of them even before the new budgets came through but I had just a very short wait until it was almost doubled to 2.2kpw, not that I intend to go anywhere near that (as I was still keeping it under 1kpw) but it was still nice to have that wiggle room. I immediately made a move for all three players I had my eye on from Keen's shortlist and got them all. It's still early June and I've made one more deal already but I'll talk about that in the proper pre-season update. It's a good thing i'm upgrading as well. I thought the existing squad would still be decent for the new league but looking at the top teams (the 'bottom half' teams hopefully being more managable opponents) they have a few star players who are at least as good as tne new guys, as exceptional as they otherwise appear for this level. Plus some of them are on £300-400 a week, whereas I'm trying not to break the £100 a week barrier!

Edwards

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Giles

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Wood

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OK, I've (probably) completed the transfer activity for the summer and I'll post in detail about them tomorrow, though no signings ended up being quite as exciting as the ones I already showed. One thing of note is the league we're in. It turns out that we're not going into the Western League Premier Division after all, but the Hellenic League (which does actually reach as far as the nearby area) with Kentish Town as our first opponents. That gives us a 46-game league season instead of the shorter 32-game season I was looking forward to. Plus every single league at this level has a single promotion place. We're going nowhere fast.

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Summer 2020

So my summer transfer activity is (probably over), with 10 new signings in the end covering a range of positions. They're not massive upgrades for the most part but most of them will play the first game as part of a new-look (and hopefully much-improved) team that should ideally help us stay clear of any serious relegation battle. Farrimond (the other deal I had made at the time of the previous update) helps sum up the sort of slight improvement across the board that this summer ended up being, being at least a little bit better than Salt on a vast majority of technical and mental attributes to provide a modest all-round upgrade. Perhaps the exception (aside from the players already featured) was Vaughan who I thought was worth by far the biggest contract I had given a player so far (Frost already breaking the £100pw barrier was the DoF's doing) as the first defender I've had with double-figure attributes for tackling, heading (along with perhaps the best jumping attribute I've seen so far) and marking attributes as well as otherwise looking decent in general.

There wasn't really any particular focus on specific positions this time around, probably because we looked like a decent all-round squad already (though clearly with a lot of potential for improvement). I've generally considered central midfield to be our weakest area (especially with depth) and I was particularly eager to get one with at least a bit of creativity. It was a tough search but the DoF pulled through. As far as the defence is concerned, aside from the aforementioned Farrimond and Vaughan my signings in that area were more about depth then improving our best side though we're still talking about clear upgrades on players who featured regularly last year and they will probably pretty much all be starters anyway. Hughes is the only summer signing who definitely won't be but even then he's around Collins' level and already a clearly superior option to Abiodoun.

The focus after promotion is always going to be try and avoid relegation, though I like to think we're easily good enough not to worry about that. One advantage of being in this specific league is that it's just 2 relegation spots out of 24 rather than 3 out of 17. If the top teams are anything like the ones I checked out the Western League they we won't get anywhere near them in the short-term (especially with just a single promotion spot on offer) but being roughly in the middle of the table for a couple of years sounds like about our level. Things will likely progress slowly for a while with the long seasons, shorter playing sessions, and how tough it'll be go to go up. Still, it'll be nice to have a change of scenery and see what this upgraded team is capable of.

Burke

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Farrimond

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Frost

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Harrington

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Hughes

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Reid

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Vaughan

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54 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

10 new signings! Busy summer! The clubs are used to high turnover at this level though, and you’ll probably need them all with a 46 game season…

Yes, well after promotion it's a good idea to strenghen (I've sometimes bought pretty much an entire new First XI on promotion to the Premier League in the past) and I'm very happy with what I've done this summer with improving the squad in every area while making sure that every signing has a purpose, even if it's just providing much better 'rotation' options who should still see a lot of game time. It will be a long season, especially with three cups and perhaps greater expectation to get past at least a few rounds across them all. That could easily make it over 50 matches at least. Having last year's first choice players as backups is hardly the worst situation to be in, even after promotion.

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Surely the title had to be: Alice in Wonder(kid) Land.

Unless you're deliberately avoiding wonderkids?

Other than that small observation, nice career you've got yourself there.

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21 hours ago, rich10 said:

Surely the title had to be: Alice in Wonder(kid) Land.

Unless you're deliberately avoiding wonderkids?

Other than that small observation, nice career you've got yourself there.

Thank you.

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August 2020

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Today was a very productive day in more ways then one, though I'm still having to take things one month at a time on FM. The first few games were very promising, the rest not so much. Kentish Town had finished 3rd last season so beating them (and genuinely looking the better team in the process was a very good start). After the Cricklade win it seems like we had found out feet already and since we played Kingswood before a lot of the other teams played their 3rd game the point briefly took us top. Unfortunately having been the only remaining team who hadn't conceeded a goal we were a complete mess against North Leigh and we haven't really recovered since, not helped by the constant chopping and changing required due to the hectic schedule. That said we were ok against Winterbourne and just lost to a freak goal. If things don't pick up soon we could be in for a very difficult season after all, especially as I wasn't sure why I previously thought it was just 2 relegaton spots instead of 4.

Oh and we also got in a new right-back thanks to the DoF. I already signed one myself this summer but now it means we have two new options superior to the two regulars from last season so I confirmed the deal.

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Sept 2020

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Yay, update time! I must admit that I played on after the last update with a sense of dread. We got some nice points in our first few games in this league but after that it looked like we were dropping like a stone and the insurance provided by our early points was already about to run out and leave us deep in the relegation zone if we were not careful. It was nice to buy a bit of breathing space when beatin Mansfield Road with Hughes robbing the ball off a defender before giving us the lead. Abiodoun came on for him and gave us a second goal for the first (and until the last match, only) time this season. The Beninese forward was making the most of returning to the spotlight and also gave us the lead against Tilbury in the FA Vase. We conceded an equaliser in stoppage time (a penalty scored on the rebound) though saw them off on sudden death penalties in the end anyway.

The extended FA Vase game took its toll with most players needing a rest against Cheltenham Saracens (which is a great name). Another narrow defeat against Slough Sabha Singh made it seem like Mansfield Road was the exception in what looked like a disappointing season but we bounced back against DRG Frenchay with a goal from a relatively unlikely source. I got Woolley during least season as part of leaving no stone unturned to find a consistent forward. He barely got any playing time but now we had Wood (theoretically now the first choice poacher) injured for weeks (followed by Abiodoun), Kinder unfortunately being about as much threat as a kitten so far this season and the other forwards being specifically suited to the Target Man role. That left Woolley to try in that role and he continued to repay the faith when he helped us bounce back from 2-0 down at Thame United. A penalty ended up giving us a draw after they retook the lead, which was a good result away to the team who started the day in 3rd. As we had both the fewest goals scored and conceded in the league (and we still have the former 'honour') it also made a nice change to have a high-scoring game.

So far this season has been ok, now we're over a quarter of the way in. We may look relatively comfortable in mid-table but I keep looking down and knowing it wouldn't take much get uncomfortably close to the bottom four. There are certainly worse positions to be in (as I feared we would be) and we're doing enough to stay up but only just, judging by our results and how we're doing in terms of points per game. Chances are the whole season is going to be like this, looking down and being closer to the relegation zone than I'd like, though if we do manage to keep our heads above the water then I'll take it.

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Oct 2020

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For the second month in a row things went better than expected, despite the fact that we're already played 21 matches in all competitions, just 3 months into the season. We won 7 matches out of 8 this month, including progressing in all three cups. We're not in the FA Cup this year (for some reason) but instead we're in 2 league cups, the second of those being just for the 24 teams in this division. We opened the month with two uncharactarisically convincing 3-0 wins before playing cup matches in 3 games out of the next 4. We lost the intervening league game to Chippenham Park (old rivals from the Western League) but finished the month with two more scrappy wins (thanks to 2 goalmouth scrambles and a penalty) to put ourselves in a much more comfortable position. We're now past the busiest period in the league even if cup games mean we'll still be up to our eyeballs in matches for now.

As for the cups, given we got initial byes in the FA Vase (the only one we'd already played in this season) and the Challenge Cup as a higher division team so we've still only played 4 matches across all three so far. Kent team Corinthian (not to be confused with the famous amateur team) were beaten in the FA Vase, but it's the two league cups that are more interesting at this point, We're already technically in the last 16 of both after a single match, due to our bye in the Challenge Cup and the limited scope of the Floodlit cup (in fact a 3rd of teams get a bye straight to this stage). It was a close run thing in the case of the Challenge cup as we faced Binfield (in the division below) and went behind, only going through on penalties (our second shootout win of the season already). We have home games in both, including another lower division team in the Challenge Cup, so while it's still early days in the FA Vase, we could easily find ourselves in either one or two quarter-finals after next month.

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Seems like you’re in very good form after an up and down start and an insanely packed fixture list. One red dot among all that sea of green is a nice look. If you can keep even close to that level of form, you’ll be climbing higher for sure.

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12 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Seems like you’re in very good form after an up and down start and an insanely packed fixture list. One red dot among all that sea of green is a nice look. If you can keep even close to that level of form, you’ll be climbing higher for sure.

Thank you. The games in hand might belp with being able to get a little higher but otherwise it we just grab a top-half finish that will be considered a very good season.

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Nov 2020

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I was going to try and do both November and December yesterday, anticipating that the latter would be a much easier month. Instead we have 9 matches (only one of which is in a cup) compared to 7 so I decided to leave it for now. As for this month, we opened well enough with a draw away to Old Farnbronians (who were 2nd). That led into another period of cup matches, which started off badly with defeat against Cirencester in a woefully dull game, then again the Floodlit Cup (the one for teams in this division only) is probably the least important of the three we were in this season and therefore the one I didn't mind going out of so much.

Things went better in the other cup matches, with a win over Ascot inbetween. We looked like sailing through when we took a 2-0 lead against Sutton Coldfield, only to get pegged back to 2-2. If you have a cup tie go to extra-time (especially during a busy spell) then you might as weill win it to make it worth it, and for the 3rd time this season (twice in the FA Vase) we went through on penalties. Since pretty much every penalty goes in at this level (though I have started to see a couple saved) that's helped us maintain a 100% record in those shootouts. The Challenge Cup against Kennington nearly went the same way after they equalised in the last minute of the regular 90. This time Woolley scored to save us from yet another penalty shootout. We face Didcot Reserves (struggling in the division below) in the quarter-finals and if we don't win that I'll be very disappointed.

We finished off back in the league with wins against Abingdon and Kentish Town. I don't think we have to worry too much about relegation at this stage, and given how much I thought that making so many summer signings would hold us back this season, I'm looking forward to next season already and hopefully still getting a boost from a more gelled team (depending on next year's transfer activity of course). I have been wondering how long to stay, as while there's only a single promotion spot in every division at this level there are far shorter and less grueling seasons to be had. However I'm definitely giving it at least one more full year and depending on how that goes it might be worth trying to push for another promotion here for the time being. Or we could find ourselves back in the Western League (since we're sort of on the border between the two leagues) and get that shorter season without having to go anywhere.

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Nice update. Feels like with a gelled team you might be able to make a push for promotion next season. Or this, because win your games in hand and your in the mix. There’s also 10m games in the season so it seems like anything could happen!

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16 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Nice update. Feels like with a gelled team you might be able to make a push for promotion next season. Or this, because win your games in hand and your in the mix. There’s also 10m games in the season so it seems like anything could happen!

I'm really not thinking of promotion right now, in fact I've only just stopped worrying about a potential relegation battle. It's still a 12-point gap (and a lot of league places) to the top which seems like a lot even with 3 games in hand. I'm amazed that we're still doing well in the league as we are and we'd probably need to keep it up for a lot longer to even get close to the top. Next year is the earliest I think we can consider the possibility of a promotion challenge, and even that depends on how this season goes (and then the summer transfer activity). Oh and one thing I forgot to mention is that I've just reached 200 matches at the club.

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6 hours ago, deltablue said:

I'm really not thinking of promotion right now, in fact I've only just stopped worrying about a potential relegation battle. It's still a 12-point gap (and a lot of league places) to the top which seems like a lot even with 3 games in hand. I'm amazed that we're still doing well in the league as we are and we'd probably need to keep it up for a lot longer to even get close to the top. Next year is the earliest I think we can consider the possibility of a promotion challenge, and even that depends on how this season goes (and then the summer transfer activity). Oh and one thing I forgot to mention is that I've just reached 200 matches at the club.

Of course! It’s one of those seasons that are fun because there’s no pressure, but sometimes things just click. A lot has to go right to get that one promotion spot, and you can mostly just enjoy not getting relegated. Just saying you never know!

Really though I should say congratulations on promotion and make it it happen magically the way I did in your last season…

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2 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Of course! It’s one of those seasons that are fun because there’s no pressure, but sometimes things just click. A lot has to go right to get that one promotion spot, and you can mostly just enjoy not getting relegated. Just saying you never know!

Really though I should say congratulations on promotion and make it it happen magically the way I did in your last season…

I think this'll be the toughest level to get out of because every league has just a single promotion spot. However afterwards we'll have multiple promotion spots and playoffs to potentially help out. I have been wondering if it might be easier in a league with fewer teams but the way things are going already it might be worth staying and keeping at it, much like in the league below I decided that sticking with my current team gave me a better shot than if I moved elsewhere. It is otherwise nice to not have any pressure, as you say. It makes a nice change from feeling the need to chase promotion.

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Dec 2020

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Erm, so somehow we're in 2nd despite the fact that this hasn't been the best month, nor have we looked like a team that belongs this high for the most part.

For a while it seemed like the party was well and truly over, which was less of a surprise then the fact that it went on for as long as it did. We kicked off the month with a win over Highworth Town but that was a case of third time lucky in stoppage time after thet equalised twice in a very even game. Then came an FA Vase tie where we took the lead, went 2-1 behind and equalised. That led us to our 3rd shootout of the season in this competition alone (and the 4th in total this year) but our luck ran out. Giles became the first Cadbury Heath player to miss a penalty in a shootout and like with our previous penalties, a single miss was enough to make the difference.

For a while it seemed like the spell had been broken and our luck ran out, not helped by being exhausted from all the cup matches going into extra-time and how I had to make at least a few changes every time to replace exhausted players. We lost our next two games at home to teams in the relegation zone, and while we bounced back to beat Launton Sports we then face another defeat against Lambourn Sports. That would have been the story if we hadn't hit form again, with three wins (all with clean sheets) taking us back up the table, helped by the fact that we were using our games in hand as well. So here we are, way up in 2nd and 5 points off top. Plus the worst of the fixture congestion is over and it's now one match a week all the way, aside from one moved to midweek due to the Challenge Cup quarter-final next month. Perhaps challenging for promotion isn't out of the question after all, maybe?

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Congratulations on promotion!!!

Ok, you’re still four behind the leaders, and pretty tight there at the top, but when you ride through a run of bad form like that, come out the other side and still sit 2nd…

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17 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Congratulations on promotion!!!

Ok, you’re still four behind the leaders, and pretty tight there at the top, but when you ride through a run of bad form like that, come out the other side and still sit 2nd…

Well I have no idea how we're managing to be up in 2nd but it helped that we were using up our games in hand which bought us some breathing room to drop a few points and not have it cost us too much. Other than that our form since August has very much been good enough to go up if we keep it going, even with a 5-point gap. Whatever happens now this should be seen as a very good season and our time will come.

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Wow, it looks like we have an amazing finish to the season for sure, even if I feel like I need to remind 13th Man that it's not actually over yet ;) Having a lighter fixture schedule meant being able to make more progress and having intended to to a February update I was able to keep on going through March as well. You can see how insanely tight it is, being level on points with Cheltenham Saracens (who admittedly probably deserve to go up based on the name alone). There's not much between us on the tiebreakers either, since we have +3 goal difference over them and they've scored 4 goals more. There are just 4 matches left. We face Old Farnboronians at home, then Ascot United away and finally two home games against Holyport and Highworth Town.

We started January poorly with defeat against Winterbourne United, however we bounced back with two wins by multiple goals to set up a key couple of clashes with Cheltenham Saracens and Singh Sabha Slough (just behind us in 3rd at the time). Although we took the lead in the first of those games (from a particularly brilliant example of one of those fluke goals from out wide) I still didn't mind a draw in the end, though it kept them 5 points ahead. We managed to reel them in a little after we beat Singh Sabha Slough but otherwise they were proving very had to catch due to their consistency. However we were building up a big gap to the teams behind us. First it looked like a group of 5 teams was emerging, then we were set for a top 3 finish at least while already looking like it was a straight shootout between ourselves and Cheltenham Saracens for 1st.

We racked up 5 more league wins in a row which took us top on goal difference, however aside from the big Yateley Green win (which is what put us 1st as we finished February) it did look like we were living dangerously. It almost seemed a relief to end the unbeaten run against Barton Rovers and potentially sake off the pressure and complacency, especially as Cheltenham Saracens lost as well so we didn't lose any ground. We bounced back with a big win (potentially vital for goal difference/scored) at Abingdon to take a 2-point lead before we had a frustrating time at Slimbridge. We had 2 goals disallowed after taking the lead and even though we got a 2nd anyway, they were able to peg us back to draw. Goodbye 2-point lead. I hope it's not a sign of a late-season wobble as we probably still need to finish the season strongly to hang on to 1st and promotion.

Our exploits in the cups are also worth mentioning. I hadn't reached the semi-finals of any cup so far in this career and Didcot Town reserves was as favourable a draw as we could have gotten in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup. However after being postponed for a couple of days we struggled to get firing in the first half and while we improved considerably after that, we couldn't land a killer blow leading to extra time for the 6th time this season and penalties for the 5th. In our past shootouts a single miss was enough to decide it either way but this time after scoring their 1st, Didcot time kept missing as we continued our shootout record of having scores every penalty but one this season.

Kentish Town were actually the last Premier Division team left so it was inevitable that we'd draw them in the semis. We just managed to avoid extra-time again after a lightly more competitive (though still otherwise dull) match with a late Woolley goal. At first I wondered if it was offside and while replays showed it clearly wasn't, I still prefer to think of it as an act of mercy on the part of the referee to spare everyone from having to endure any more. That puts us into what I think is the first cup final in the club's history above county level and it gives us a shot at a Hellenic League double as we face Brimscombe & Thrupp (which is a heck of a name), 4th in the Division One West. So what'll it be, the league, the cup, both, or will we end up empty-handed after all that? Tune in tomorrow (hopefully) to find out.

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May 2021

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So here is how we did, bit was it enough?

The run-in got off to a bad start against Old Farnboronians as we went behind. Our attempts to revive a flat attack went out the window when Collins went off injured just two minutes  to add to the feeling of 'just one of those days'. Thankfully Cheltenham Saracens lost as well. It was frustrating to go behind again at Ascot though it looked like we quickly turned it around to lead 3-1. Unfortunately two very soft late goals cost us the win and allowed Cheltenham Saracens to go 2 points ahead. I was furious to say the least. Thankfully we had two more managable home games remaining, and I smiled as I saw Cheltenham Saracens were facing Thame United away, and even more so when I checked the scores early in the second half to see they were losig 3-0 (4-0 in the end), meaning that since we were beating Holyport comfortably there was no risk of them mounting a comeback.

We went into the final day leading the table by a point, and with what I thought was a good enough GD advantage that Cheltenham Saracens (playing 4th placed Singh Sabha Slough at home) needed to win to beat us to top spot, and even then only if we didn't win ourselves. I was very nervous and hoping we wouldn't screw it up, and we very nearly did. We went behind twice and fought back to equalise. That in itself didn't matter much though, compared to the questions of if we were winning and if not, were Cheltenham Saracens winning. It was a relief to see them go behind mid-way through the second half though a late equaliser opened up the possibility that they could snatch it at the end with a winner that thankfuly didn't come.

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I have to admit that we did rather stumble over the line with just a single win in the last 5 league matches, with Cheltenham Saracens stumbling just a little bit more. That was always going to lead to the feeling among the losers of our battle that we threw it away so I'm glad it wasn't us. The defence were particularly (and unusually) poor so I feel less excited at getting promotion than relieved that we got away with it. Still, this is only the third time I've ever won back to back promotions on FM, after what could be described as a season and half, especially compared to a lot of leagues. Reaching Level 8 and the Regional First Divisions also feels like a bit of a milestone having escaped then numerous smaller leagues. So what happened in the cup?

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Unfortunately our poor defence struck again as we went behind, then conceded a late equaliser after going 2-1 up. However it seemed fitting that our season would finally end with our 6th penalty shootout. Again we scored each one while they missed their 2nd and 4th penalties to hand us the first cup win of the career, even if it was not exactly an impressive win. Having not reached a cup semi-final before in this career, that technically gives us a double though! I look forward to strengthening considerably once more as we prepare for (presumably) the Southern League.

Star Player: This was always going to be a tough one with it being more of a team effort than having anyone particularly excelling. For a while it looked like I might even go for a defender. In the end I couldn't over look Woolley, originally the forgotten man of our forwards who actually just managed to set a new club record for goals in a season and was the only player to average over 7.30.

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Squad Stats

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On 28/09/2021 at 06:10, 13th Man said:

I'm just going to leave this here....

If you could predict a couple more promotions that would be great ;)

On 28/09/2021 at 11:00, Deisler26 said:

CAMPIONES!

Yep, just 7 promotions to go :D

12 minutes ago, Northernpilgrim said:

:applause:

Thank you good sir *curtseys*

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Summer 2021

It feels like we're starting to enter a different and more familiar world, with the likes of Basingstoke and Truro being at least recognisable names often found in playable leagues. We still face multiple opponents from my Exeter days though and I've seen one or two teams that started in Level 11 climb even higher already. After taking my pick from the players on expiring contracts I found that a lot more players required fees, though I didn't spend any money this time around. Even the 5k compensation fees I've had to pay a few times in the past seemed to be a lot more common if I wanted players this time. Last season I already had my first players wanting better contracts and youth players are no longer all 5* potential (meaning senior players all rated so low in comparision).

It was inevitable that a lot of players would be out the door. I still don't think I can give players away for the most part so players being replaced essentially get released at the end of the season (though a couple were sold before the end of last season). It helps with squad depth anyway. That leaves us with just a few survivors from our previous promotion who aren't likely to get much playing time after this season's new arrivals. The main priority was the midfield, traditionally our weakest area, and last season I only got a more creative midfielder (which we were sorely lacking). I even factored that in to my decisions on whose contracts would be allowed to expire. That made McGowan the first player I made a deal for (even if his wage demands meant we'd be playing a lot more per player from now on), followed by Kerr as a new first choice left-back (with much more pace than last year's upgrade), Wallace up front and Baum in central defence.

After that finding players was tricker. We already seemed to have a team that was mostly as strong as it could be at this stage, with the earlier signings standing out as exceptions. Church seemed like a decent defensive squad depth option (and on what was now a relatively low wage) and I otherwise seemed to let the DoF find anyone else. However I decided to take a peek at what remained of the shortlist later in July and it paid dividends. Webb provided a slight upgrade on the left side of central defence, George was another valuable midfield addition and finally Bragoli provided the potential Target Man upgrade I had failed to find earlier in the summer. It seems like anoyher good summer of upgrades, and about as strong as we could be right now (aside from a couple of others whose fees or potential wages seemed a bit steep).

We do have a shorter season this time, with a league that seems to vary between 20 and 22 teams, 21 for this season. We probably won't have as much cup action either. There are also just 2 relegation spots, though the board want a little more than just survival, instead hoping for a top-half finish. That seems managable the way we've been going recently, and in fact I even wonder if we can snatch a playoff place. Still, a top-half finish will do fine for what I think might be the club's first ever season at this level.

Baum

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Bragoli

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Church

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George

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Kerr

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McGowan

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Wallace

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Webb

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Once again we started the season in a new league well before dropping off, hopefully not for long though. A 2-0 win over United Services Portsmouth was a good start, especially as they only just missed out on the playoffs last season and are still doing well this season. It was a shame we couldn't hold on to a similar 2-0 lead at Melksham but a win over Gloucester showed that we meant business. Unfortunately things slipped a bit with two disappointing 1-0 defeats (seperated by 5 cup matches) where we should have done better. I hope this isn't the start of a trend, though we'll have to see when we're actually playing regular league matches again ;)

The cups dominated early on, and we haven't even started in one of the 4 cups we're in this year.. We needed a replay to get past Beeston (my god!) in the FA Cup, a poor home match where we barely snatched an equaliser being followed by a goal-glut in the replay. Whitley Bay were in the Northern League Second Division (two levels beneath us) and having our only week's break of the season so far helped make it as comfortable as it looked on paper. It took us two goes to get past Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Trophy, then beat Hampton and Richmond Borough in penalties and I was amused by the 'Penalty Practice Saves Cadbury Heath's Bacon' news item afterwards. Yep, that would be the penalty practice consisting of the 6 shootouts we had last season :D

VCD Athetic inflicted our first cup defeat of the season (which you might argue was about time) to dump us out of the FA Trophy, though that was probably one of my lowest priorities. That was after we beat Southern League Premier team Hinckley (the highest ranked team I've faced in the save so far), and this is where I finally need to cover something. That win technically puts us through to the '1st round', however the FA Cup rounds are slightly mis-named in this database and the '1st round' is two rounds earlier than it should be in real life. Therefore when we reach the actual 1st round it'll be called the '3rd round', with the actual 3rd round being the '5th round'. I'll probably keep using the in-game round names for the sake of simplicity but I hope it's not confusing for those used to the real round numbering.

We also signed another player, a central midfielder. He's only a squad player but he's slightly better than our two surviving 'veterans' Nodwell and Gibbons and around the same level as summer signing McGowan, as well as being a decent all-rounder. We've already put him to good use in a season where due to the schedule, performances and a few injuries it didn't take long before everyone in what's now a 27-man squad made at least one start. We might need to get a new winger as Bowman was injured for 3-4 months during the VCD Athletic game and that's a long time to have Giles as our only option, though Wallace or Bragoli can fit in (at least on the left) if needed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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I finally got through October, and we've caught up with the real life date! We started poorly, with an FA Cup exit at the hands of Lingfield making it 3 defeats in a row in all competitions without scoring a goal. I thought that a game against Mangotsfield (bottom at the time) was a good opportunity to get back up to speed and so it proved, as it was the first of 3 wins out fo 4, admittedly all against struggling teams.  The draw at Winchester in between wasn't so bad either. I expected that things would go a lot worse away to Truro, but I didn't expect as poor a performance as theu easily brushed us aside at 102.3mph. We beat Mangotsfield on penalties in the Southern League First Division cup with a draw at home to Buckland rounding off a reasonable but unexceptional month.

I'm not thinking too much about whether we could be in a playoff race or not, even if our position suggest we could definitely mount a challenge. We just haven't been that exciting or convincing so far and our recent wins have come against the easier teams. It's still nice to have a comfortable season so far after promotion (two consecutive promotions) but at the moment it doesn't seem like there's much more to get excited about. We'll see if later on there's cause to look up to 5th, or down to 6th and monitor the developing gap.

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Nov 2021

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November was a very positive month for the most part. We started off with an away win against Bashley (in the playoff places then, and top of the table now), followed by beating Oldland Abbotonians and Ringwood in the League Cup. We stumbled a but with defeat against Larkhall (despite going ahead) and United Services Portsmouth a few matches later, however we also beat Swindon Supermarine and Westfields, along with a decent draw in a tough game against Studley and beating Knaphill in the Southern League First Division cup. I'm not sure why that competition needs to exist (as opposed to the general Southern League cup that already does) to make it 4 we're in this season, but it does put us in a cup quarter-final with Brockenhurst not being the most challenging of opponents, and it's nice to be in a cup we might have a realistic chance of winning having broken our cup duck last season.

In the league, we may still not be in the playoff places but if you consider our mostly good form and the games in hand we still have, I'd say we're well poised as we approach the half-way point in the season. Sure, the team in 5th are genuinely ahead with the same number of games played (albeit just by a point), but we're in a position to ovetake at least a couple of the others. I still don't imagine challenging for top (though the games in hand mean that that gap is potentially much smaller than it looks), so the focus is just on the playoff race for now. That'll make for a very good season whether we make it a hat-trick of promotions or not. We're also still in both Southern League Cups. I already mentioned the 'First Division' cup with a very winnable quarter-final tie, and I think we're now in the last-16 of the main Southern League Cup as well, as trickier as that one is with higher division teams.

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12 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Playoffs the aim this season?

Ideally yes, but after back-to-back promotions it's not the end of the world if we fall a bit short this year.

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6 hours ago, deltablue said:

Ideally yes, but after back-to-back promotions it's not the end of the world if we fall a bit short this year.

You’re creeping up towards those spots…with those games in hand and that steady, consistent form it seems like you’re in with a (good) chance.

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On 19/10/2021 at 17:25, 13th Man said:

You’re creeping up towards those spots…with those games in hand and that steady, consistent form it seems like you’re in with a (good) chance.

I agree, we should get into that top 5 before too long.

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Dec 2021

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The schedule is easing off, though we still had 2 games a week before Christmas. December started off remarkably well with 4 goals from Collins giving us wins over Melksham and Ringwood, then we hammered Swindon Supermarine 6-0. That result took us up to 2nd and it seemed like we were building a good margin in the playoff places. It was a little disappointing to then fail to make a breakthrough at Basingstoke, then to finally lose again at Gloucester, a match that was very much a case of complacency catching up with us and hopefully a much-needed kick up the backside. It didn't help that I accidentally put the 3rd choice winger in central midfield, as I only spotted half-way through the next match. While Odd Down made it 3 games without a win, it was also the debut of our youth keeper (the first choice Edwards is out with a virus for a couple of weeks) so a clean sheet was at least a positive.

Despite our recent stumble, we're still very much where we want to be with 4-point advantage over 6th. It's a shame the poor form over the past few games is pitting 1st out of reach but I hope we can soon bounce back and hopefully seal a playoff place without too many problems. It may feel like a long shot but as long as we're in it, there's no reason why we can't look to go up again.

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Feb 2022

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I do have FM22 career plans but I'm in no rush to put this on the back burner just yet, and I certainly wasn't going to do so mid-season. I think I need time for a private save anyway to get to grips with all the things introduced in recent years. Maybe when I decide to leave Cadbury Heath it'll be a good time, and while I don't know when that'll be, I anticipate that if we get promoted to the Southern League it might well be my last with the club before I move on (unless we're almost-immediate promotion challengers yet again).

We seemed to be stumbling heading into the new year so a win against Mangotsfield was a relief. Unfortunately I then forgot to put the fit-again Edwards back in goal and we ended up losing to a free-kick. However that was the goal that the backup keeper conceded in 3 matches in goal. That left us with just 1 win from 5 games but Brockenhurst came to the rescue and helped us kick off a run of 7 wins in a row in all competitions, 5 in the league. They were mostly only narrow wins but the win over Bashley (top at the time) still stands out. We had our main winger Giles injured for most of February (thankfully being back for the next match) and we finished the month with consecutive games where one goal (and at least one close chance in each to get another) unfortunately wasn't enough, denying us the chance to go top. However Studley have been stumbling themselves of late so we remain right on their tail.

December remains the only month so far this season without any cup matches. We faced Paulton Rovers (in the league above) in the Southern League Cup and I was amazed at how easily we swiped them aside, especially as it was a club record high-scoring game I think. Next was Brockenhurst in the First Division Cup and they proved to be as comfortable (for the most part) as I expected them to be, taking us into a cup semi-final. However, our next opponents are top of the other First Division. We missed the chance to make it 2 semi-finals this season when we narrowly (though deservedly) lost against United Services Portsmouth in the League Cup.

This season is going well, even if I'm worried that we're throwing away a good chance to take the advantage in the battle for top spot. It doesn't help that we have 3 of the other top 5 teams left to play. However it does look like we're going to achieve what I set out to, which is to reach the playoffs at least, and pretty comfortably as well. There's still the battle for top spot to look forward to, even if I doubt we can make it 3 promotions in a row. We also signed another player in January, he's a defender/midfielder from United Services Portsmouth whose original signing by the DoF had to be vetoed on grounds of his wages, but having a go myself (and throwing the bonus kitchen sink at him as usual) allowed be to get him for an acceptable wage.

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4 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Congratulations on promotion again!!!

(Does magic happen in 3s? Or does it turn into a curse? We’ll find out I guess)

I was wondering when you'd next post that ;) I'll play through the rest of the season in one go, hopefully today, and we'll see.

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