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[FM21] BackTheBulls - Jersey Bulls: a charge into the football league


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January - March 2024

I'm finding game time hard to come by at the moment, so progress has slowed to a crawl. The beauty of instant result is that when I do get time, I can bash out a third of a season in a session.

We didn't have a very good January, drawing two and losing one despite being on top in all the meaningful stats.

This was the worst game.

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We're so on top here, especially when you consider Plymouth Parkway got one of their goals through a penalty. We're not finishing the chances we should and we're extremely leaky at the back. In my experience of football, that's a terrible combination to have!

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Our form since mid-February has been pretty solid. The home loss to Totton and draw against Christchurch were disappointing, but otherwise we've done well and only conceded 6 in 9 games since the 5-3 loss. I haven't really changed much, but I did change personnel.

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Tamplin has been dropped at CB, with Hudson and Headley picking up more games and doing well. You'll also notice the addition of a number of new Jersey born players... more about those later, but it probably won't surprise you that they've made an instant impact (I mean, look at those star ratings!). 

So where does this improvement in form leave us.

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Right on the verge of the play-offs! 4 games to go and we've kept it exciting, which is what I wanted at the start of the season. Four games left, two relatively easy and then two against teams in the play-off spots. It could go either way really!

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March 2024 club updates

Let's talk youth intake.

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Now that's an intake that we can get excited by!! 7 players who by CA could be part of the first team squad immediately. The only problem is 5 are wingers, one is a striker and one potentially a CM, so they won't all be playing straight away. 

Once I had a look through and added names I realised 11 of these players are Jersey born, including the top 4 by current ability. This is huge for our aim to keep a core of JB players.

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I did a little bit of attribute analysis to find the players best positions and also check that the CA ratings were reasonable. 

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Burgess is likely to be instantly our best DLF. Gill-McCoy is up there as a DLP. Dawkins is similarly blessed at AML. These three are likely to go straight into the squad. Dawkins may end up playing as a poacher with his finishing, but for now he'll make a great AML.

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Immediate impact:

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I'm really hoping this intake allows me to kick on with this side. We are still short in defense and need to hope for a better intake in this area next year. This really shows the benefit of investing in the youth recruitment and junior coaching if you can.

Speaking of which, the finances did take a big, and random hit.

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I'm hoping this is a one-off, as it would curtail any further investment.

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March 2024 released players

Due to the intake we've let a few players go, as they're not going to make the grade.

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Mattingsdal was class last year, and solid this year, but he wanted £9k a year to renew and without a work permit he can't play on his £250 a year month-by-month contract. Dawkins deserves time here as backup to Mudimu who has taken over from Mattingsdal anyway.

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Quinn was a good servant, but surplus to requirements.

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Similar story here.

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No game time this year for this first-season stalwart. 

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Potentially I'm at the highest amount of wages I can afford to pay per year in this league.

Despite this I moaned and moaned about a refusal to improve youth coaching and this was the result:

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If we get intakes like this year as a result, it won't be long until we're moving back up the leagues again. 

 

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April 2024 Part 1

Game 1 

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We move into the play-off positions courtesy of another record-breaking goal. He's the youngest ever player and goal-scorer.

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Things are very tight! We could feasibly finish from 3rd to 6th.

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April 2024 Part 2

Dawkins gets his 2nd in 2 games, but goes off injured for 2-3 weeks which is a shame. However, this is a massive result.

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Bideford draw, and we look pretty set for the play-offs.

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April 2024 Part 3

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A win and a draw confirms our play-off place, but we could have finished 3rd which may have boosted our chances in the play-offs, but probably not by much.

We also broke our attendance record. While this isn't a massive increase, it shows our growing stature and can only be good news.

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So, we finish 4th again, and have another play-off campaign to contend. 

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Despite finishing 4th again, we have made progress, with more points and a better goal difference than last season. We've got to be pleased with that!

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We also say goodbye to another player who has been with us since the start as he's unhappy not playing. We've now got quite a few options at RW so this won't affect us at all.

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May 2024 - Play-offs

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We were drawn against Kidsgrove, who I knew nothing about. 

We saw them off with a convincing performance. I was starting to believe we could go one better this year and win promotion!

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However, we've been drawn against Totton, which is tough. They finished second in our league and while their form was really poor at the end of the season, we failed to beat them in both games. 

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We lost 2-0 in our home game and drew away playing our more conservative 4-4-2. I decided to go with that rather than the attacking 4-2-4 and it resulted in a really close game.

Unfortunately for us, they edged it in the penalty shoot-out.

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End of season 2023/24 season review - team review

Another play-off defeat, this time a round earlier, but it was extremely close. Our end of season form was encouraging and our youth intake was superb, so I'm hopeful we can push on again next year and either finish higher than 4th, or win promotion. I think we should start to be disappointed if we don't win promotion in 2025/26 at the latest, giving me two seasons to do that. 

Attacking performances

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Defensive performances

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Although there were a few more players who picked up the odd appearance this year, I've excluded them if they've not been in the first team for a while. 

Jersey-born performances

While Harrison is now rated less highly by the Ass-man due to the quality of the youth intake, he's had a solid season offensively, including 2 free kick goals, and he's also had a good season by his previous standards in goal, with a decent average rating and fewer goals conceded. I do think that a better goalkeeper would improve our chances as we still concede many more than the xG suggests we should.

Wiltshire is our best CB ability wise. Hudson has taken the second slot as the season has gone on, so we have a Jersey born back 2. Their tackle ratios and interceptions are the best by minutes played so I'm really happy with them. Again, it's probably a position that could be improved on, but Hudson's growth has been superb this year as seen below by his dark green attribute growth. For me, he's our best defender despite being rated lower than Wiltshire by the Assman. I want to give him more time to grow before we bring in someone. Remember we can only bring in one per season (we didn't bring in anyone this year, but we will still stick to just one allowed in), so I don't want someone to push him out of the team.

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Colbran is our best RB or LB. His contributions going forward and in defense are really solid, so I'm surprised his average rating is so average. 

Hitchman and Abege played most of the games in CM this year. Hitchman has become one of the first names on the team sheet when he isn't suspended for yellow cards. Again, his attribute growth has been excellent.

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Abege has a problem due to his personality. His key passes remain the highest at the club, and he chipped in 7 assists playing as the DLP this year. However, new boy Roscoe Gill-McCoy came in and played 8 games at the end, adding 2 assists and 15 key passes. Again, he doesn't have a great personality. I'll probably split game-time between them and see who improves more. Abege did improve, but only slightly this year. If he's hit his limit he might lose his place next year. 

Mudimu had a great season. With 95 interceptions, he breaks up play with his pressing, and his 9 goals puts him 4th in our top scorer list. I really like this guy. Dawkins can play AML or ST, and will be playing more next season as a backup.

Burgess came in from intake day as my DLF, but I think he may be better as a DLP. We'll try him out in both. He only got 1 goal in 8 games, whereas Lilley got 15 from the same role in 41 games. 

Jersey-raised performances

Headley and Bradley played bit-part roles at CB and LB respectively. Both will get further opportunities next season as they were solid when I needed them and had good attribute growth over the season.

MacDonald actually declined attribute wise this season. 

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Looking at this, I wonder why I've not given James Lawrence more of a chance. He's 20 now, but surely deserves it more than Ewan as my backup BWM. Lawrence grew without any game time. Let's give him a chance next season!

Best of the rest

Tamplin is on his way out I think. He can't tackle and while he is a physical beast, I'm not convinced. His average rating is high, but when I watch highlights, he makes me think he's behind a lot of our problems.

Derbali was slightly less effective this season, but will be retained with perhaps a youth player promoted to contend with him for the starting spot. Derbali has been pretty reliable to be fair.

Bailey was sensational this season with 10 goals and 13 assists. An excellent return from our welsh wizard, and his attribute growth continues to be impressive.

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Lilley and Parsons both had solid seasons. It'll be interesting to see if either Dawkins or Burgess push them out of their roles, or whether those two play further back next year. Having both strikers with around a 1 goal in 2 games ratio is good, but we may need to push this further if we are to win promotion. I don't really want to replace either of them though. 

Team of the year

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A huge success here as we're up to 6 Jersey-born in the TOTY! The only player I'd move out would be Tamplin, as Hudson played the games where we picked up the most points. 

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Now, this makes for interesting reading. Do bear in mind my analysts are awful, but they suggest we should be finishing top. This probably means that 3 other teams hugely exceeded their expected points. We need to be more clinical up front, and a little better at the back. I'm going to see what players are on offer for free, suggested by my scouts and we'll go from there as to which area we improve this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

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2023/24 end of season review - club performance

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Despite two years in the Southern League Division One South, we're still growing as a club as our facilities continue to grow. Junior coaching in particular is now having an impact as our intake this year was sensational compared to the level of player we have at the club. 

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Although this should have been in the team performances review, I put it here for the ToTY stat. It's one of the aims of this save to retain some Jersey-born players to pay tribute to the current setup of the club, whereby their team is made up of players on dual contracts with Jersey Bulls and other teams who play in the Jersey league which is outside of the English Pyramid. I was worried this would dwindle as our youth recruitment improved, but this year our most gifted players were mostly born in Jersey so I'm hopeful we can continue to work with this aim as we move up the leagues (hopefully!). 

As I said in the previous post, I think the club needs a promotion in the next couple of years to keep the momentum in our favour. There's going to be quite a few more outgoings this summer, as many of our previous youth intake are up for contract renewal and on £1k a year. I'd like to keep the overall wage budget to £60k a year as this seems to be an affordable level (we're currently just over this and finances have stagnated in recent months). Releasing a few of these who are unlikely to ever make it will make way for new contracts for those now in the first team and performing really well.

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June 2024

Working out who to retain

I've been using my attribute analysis to work out whether to keep players. One example is in the winger positions, where we have a lot of players in the squad, most rated around 1.5-2 star current and 5 star potential ability.

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Yellow players indicate no progression, although it's worth saying any of the 24 youth intake have only been here a month or so. Dark green = +0.5, whereas light green = >0 but <0.5 improvement in score. Mudimu and Bailey are first choice here clearly. Then it gets less clear. Most of the yellows are new players so I don't need to worry about getting rid of any of those. Then we have the 23 intake, Downing, Bromley, Boddy, Howells, Webb, Johansen, Ahola and Thomas. Growth rate is important, but so is initial starting attributes. I'm not 100% sure who I will and won't be giving new contracts, but this helps me along with looking at personality and other attributes that may distort their key attributes (physical attributes take up a lot of CA). What's for sure is that we don't need 16 players capable of playing at AML or AMR :lol:

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July 2024

I've started the clear out.

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Boddy, Downing and Howells were wing options, and were probably not going to make it and were costing me £1000 a year. Burrell leaves on a free transfer but that's great as he was costing me £3.6k a year. 

Spending on wages is now down to £56k a year. I imagine I can get rid of a few more over the next 12 months.

We are having some bids come in for one player in particular.

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Not sure if they just want to stock up on U18s, or whether he has high potential. I'll be keeping him as he's our second choice goalkeeper now and they won't accept £0 + a friendly.

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Pre season 2024/25 

The transfer offers keep coming in, so clearly our youth intake of 2024 was a good'un if we didn't know that already!

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I'll keep rejecting these as £0 isn't a very tempting offer!

We've only sold 2 more season tickets this season, which is disappointing. Perhaps we need another promotion to grow further.

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The boards expectations have grown this season.

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This is reflected in our odds having improved quite significantly on last season. I'd be satisfied with another play-off finish, although if we can get closer to the top that would be brilliant. It is hard when only one team goes up automatically.

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This is the squad to start the season.

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Salter is a new addition from the youth intake and will hopefully be our new RB once he's retrained. He's not particularly brilliant as a RB, but he's never going to get in above Bailey and Camara at AMR as they have much greater pace and with his natural position being a defensive winger, retraining makes sense.

Camara, Windsor and Mikkonen are the other three who are promoted. Camara has made substantial attribute gain over pre-season so deserves a chance, while Windsor and Mikkonen will play the cup games. Lawrence has also been re-promoted and I'll keep an eye on his growth over the first 6 months of the season. If he improves, we'll keep him and offer a contract, if he doesn't we'll ditch him and use Mikkonen as backup BWM.

Our U23s and U18s have been trimmed to have mainly one player per position once I make some of the first team available for the U23s.

U23s

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U18s

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There's a few out of contract here who aren't really good enough for first team football, but again we will see how they progress before making a decision on their futures. I've also kept players like Tamplin and Uzoma (who rejected a loan) around for depth.

If we look at the squad and the depth, CB is the big area of weakness. Hitchman can play there, but I prefer him at BWM. I did try to sign a player, but the two I got in on trial wanted £13k a year, so I'd rather work with what we've got. We'll have to see how this one plays out. From my experience, having a weakness in central defense is usually enough to scupper promotion/ title bids. £13k for a slight increase in ability isn't something I'm prepared to sanction at this point. 

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August 2024

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We end pre-season with some more money-earning home friendlies, including an impressive 2-0 win over Vanarama South side Eastleigh which bodes well for the season.

The first game suggests we've got a problem in defense (who would have predicted that?!). We were 3-1 up and 4-3 up and contrived to draw. The rest of the month is much better. Parsons has 6 goals in 4 starts as a poacher, while Gill-McCoy has 4 assists and 14 key passes in 4 games from DLP. Harrison has 3 penalties from 4 games as well, so a great start for my goal-scoring keeper! 

A little early for league tables, but here it is:

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12 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

£13k for a slight increase in ability isn't something I'm prepared to sanction at this point.

I’d go with this.

12 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

I'll keep rejecting these as £0 isn't a very tempting offer!

 

Those bids are ridiculous!

12 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

If we look at the squad and the depth, CB is the big area of weakness. 

Still looking for that DC I see :herman:

Though, if all you can find is the ones I agree with not signing in my first quote, not then surprised that the search continues.

Having said all this, you started the new season in good form :thup:

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12 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

I’d go with this.

Those bids are ridiculous!

Still looking for that DC I see :herman:

Though, if all you can find is the ones I agree with not signing in my first quote, not then surprised that the search continues.

Having said all this, you started the new season in good form :thup:

Yeah the CB issue isn't going away,  but the two I found who looked a little better did want the £13k a year. I think I'd rather miss out on promotion due to poor defending than increase our wages as it would mean all our other players demand more money and suddenly that £13k increase is actually £30k+. We currently have just one player on £6k a year (Lilley) and the rest on under £4k a year. Parsons is on an amateur contract still! There's also the chance that we'll get a solid CB through in the youth intake,  bearing in mind that 5 of the last intake were 3* rated on current ability.  

I'm happy to see how we go for now...

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2 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

There's also the chance that we'll get a solid CB through in the youth intake,  bearing in mind that 5 of the last intake were 3* rated on current ability.

Oh, good thought!

Yes, I feel that way about wages too when playing. Has to be one worth it. Fingers crossed then for one in the youth intake.

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September 2024

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Ergh, thought I'd play some FM before the England game tonight, and now regret it. We're back to conceding quite a few goals and just 1 win in 4 in the league leave us a bit off the pace at the top. We're still 5th, so it's not the end of the world, but I thought we'd put these issues behind us. I think my insistence on playing Salter at RB might be holding us back as he adapts to the position, as the assistant keeps taking him off after 45 minutes and playing all sorts of players at RB instead of him. Despite Salter doing well (stat wise if not average rating) and adapting slowly (he's now awkward) we have conceded most of our goals in the second half of games. 

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The good news this month is that we have made a profit which hasn't been the case in recent months. If we're not going to get promoted from this level we definitely don't want to be losing money. It's a shame we're out of the FA Cup, but hopefully we can get a few home ties in the FA Trophy and Southern League Cup to boost the finances.

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I think that unless things improve we need a better RB, or an improvement at CB, or maybe even GK. We're scoring lots of goals but if we keep conceding multiple times per game we're not going to pick up the points to improve on last season.

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October 2024

We begin October by making our first signing for two years.

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I'm not convinced Salter at RB is going to work in the short term and a 16 year old playing out of position means he gets subbed every game for players even less suited to the position. I'll keep retraining Salter and giving him some time in the position in home games to improve his familiarity. 

For this level, Bradshaw is physically impressive without compromising his defensive capabilities too much.

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We made the signing following the loss to Highworth, and Bradshaw has had a very positive first few games, chipping in a few assists. The most impressive result was undoubtedly the 4-1 home win over top-at-the-time Willand. We absolutely spanked them.

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The more observant will notice we do have a problem away from home and this is something I'm going to have to address, as our tactics don't seem to be working at all. Despite that, due to the number of home games this month we've moved up a place in the standings.

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Along with our away form, our defending is definitely still an area of concern. We've conceded enough goals to be mid-table.

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More concerning is the 'quiet, leaky' tag. This would suggest we don't give up too many chances, but when we do we concede from them. I'll keep an eye on this, but I'm loath to make wholesale changes as with 'instant result' it's much harder to tell what works and what doesn't. I hope the addition of Bradshaw will help us.

We've made a profit this month which is encouraging and suggests we are still sustainable at this level with this wage packet (we'd had a few months of making losses).

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November 2024

Well this week I've finished work for the summer, got married and then been to another wedding the day after my own, so game time has been somewhat limited. Now with 6 weeks ahead I'm hoping to steam through some seasons and make some progress with the Bulls.

We've attempted to tighten up in away matches this month, switching to our 4-4-2 but adopting a balanced mentality after the 2-0 loss to Bemerton Heath. It's kept the goals out, but we also dropped points at home to Frome, so we only take 6 points from 5 league games, so a disappointing month. 

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I dug into our defending expected goals conceded stats. We've conceded 10 more than expected, but then again that's the same as most other teams on this end of the list. I think we just need better defenders to pull off what we're attempting tactically, especially away from home.

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The results don't see us drop down the table, but in fact move up a place. Without those 7 draws though, we'd probably be top. 

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December 2024

This is great news.

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Burgess only had 2 goals from DLF up to this point, but he's a super talent for our level, so we've now got him for 2 and a half more season.

In his very next game he rewarded us with his first hat-trick, and our first away win in a while.

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It was a close run thing though, they got two very late goals back. 

This ended the month perfectly. Losing to Scarborough is totally expected, so only dropping two points this month is the improvement we were looking for.

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We stay in 3rd, but we're more comfortably in the play-off places now. We're obviously some way off the top still.

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7 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

November 2024

Well this week I've finished work for the summer, got married and then been to another wedding the day after my own, so game time has been somewhat limited. Now with 6 weeks ahead I'm hoping to steam through some seasons and make some progress with the Bulls.

Busy!

First important stuff, congrats on getting married :)

Going to a  wedding the day after would have been an interesting experience!

I guess we were lucky to get any updates recently :cool:

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6 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

December 2024

This is great news.

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Burgess only had 2 goals from DLF up to this point, but he's a super talent for our level, so we've now got him for 2 and a half more season.

In his very next game he rewarded us with his first hat-trick, and our first away win in a while.

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It was a close run thing though, they got two very late goals back. 

This ended the month perfectly. Losing to Scarborough is totally expected, so only dropping two points this month is the improvement we were looking for.

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We stay in 3rd, but we're more comfortably in the play-off places now. We're obviously some way off the top still.

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Nice work, and you made up a point on the league leaders. Your defence definitely isn’t helping with this and looks like a work in progress.

Signing down Burgess helps a lot. It’s great when you see that sort of impact afterwards. Hopefully it’s sustained.

Fingers crossed for straight promotion, but looking good to make the playoffs :thup:

Edited by Sonic Youth
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5 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Nice work, and you made up a point on the league leaders. Your defence definitely isn’t helping with this and looks like a work in progress.

Signing down Burgess helps a lot. It’s great when you see that sort of impact afterwards. Hopefully it’s sustained.

Fingers crossed for straight promotion, but looking good to make the playoffs :thup:

Agreed, he's thrown in another hattrick as well since then, so definitely seems to be paying us back! 

The form has continued, I'm just trying to get to the end of March and then I'll do a few updates at once. A lot rests on the last few games,  it could go either way!

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Mid-season 2024/25 analysis

I'm going to go by position, rather than start with Jersey-born and Jersey-raised as a large proportion of our squad now fit into these categories.

Goalkeepers

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Harrison had done well last season, but I took a look at his stats after 10 games or so and he was saving very few shots. Windsor, the subject of the bids from Bolton and various other clubs, has come in and at least looks like he's staying busy! I'm going to stick with him for now. Both are Jersey-born players, so giving either game time is a positive.

Defenders

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At centre back, Hitchman has dropped back as I wanted to try something different to try and shore us up. His ability in the air is clear, his number of headers and key headers combined are the highest, with only Hudson beating him for key headers. Hitchman's tackle success rate is lower than Hudson's, but he did play a third of the season as a BWM so I'm not sure I can judge him too much here. Wiltshere is now our backup, but he gets good game time from Hudson being subbed by our Assman on a regular basis. 

At RB, Salter's stats actually don't look too bad. I'm going to keep giving him some game time to try and build familiarity at RB (he's awkward now), but Bradshaw has certainly added some offensive ability at RB, chipping in assists and key passes almost at the rate of LB Colbran. He's still by far our best performer in the defense despite his terrible average rating. Mikkonen I included here, but he's now playing at BWM. He's tackling well, making interceptions and has also chipped in more key passes than Hitchman has done in the role. 

We now only have one defender here not Jersey-born or Jersey-raised, which is very impressive and a testament to our recent youth production.

Midfielders

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Gill-McCoy has taken over from Abege at DLP. He may not contribute as many key passes, but he's chipped in a greater number of assists and has created about the same number of chances per 90 minutes. Lawrence hasn't seen any game time, and will probably be released when the youth intake comes in if there are any better backup BWMs. Lilley hasn't seen many games up front, but has filled in the midfield on occasion. Again, he's likely to be released at the end of the season as he no longer justifies being the highest paid player at the club.

On the wings, Bailey and Dawkins are our first choice. Both contribute from the front with their tackles and interceptions, while they've chipped in more goals and assists as the season has gone on. Camara and Mudimu, who played brilliantly last season, have found minutes limited and haven't really contributed which is why the former two start every game if possible. 

With Lilley likely to leave, we're again in a situation where only one of our players will not be Jersey-born or raised.

Forwards

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I've included Lilley and Dawkins here as they've played the odd game. However, really it's been all about Parsons once again, with recent back up in terms of goals from Burgess. Where would we be with Parsons? He's got 117 league goals for us in his 5 seasons with us. 

 

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January 2025

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Our form continues, with 3 wins and a draw in the league this month. Yes, we're out of the cup, but it was expected. 

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We're in the hunt now for top and automatic promotion. Our form won't continue for ever, so we will need Bideford to drop a few more points I'm sure. Either way we've improved on our early season ups and downs and it looks like we'll improve on last year as well.

Burgess has continued to improve his goal return for us. His attribute growth is also very strong, considering the level of football he is playing. 

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I'm also pretty pleased with Dawkins. I'll be trying to tie him down to a longer contract as soon as he is 17. 

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Posted (edited)

February 2025

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A tougher month, with two losses away from home, including against the league leaders.

We're now 6 points behind Bideford. It looks like it'll be the play-offs for us unless we can do something incredible in our last 9 games.

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This was the game that's most irritating:

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If we had put away our chances we'd still be 3 points behind.

Edited by Jtomsett11
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Posted (edited)

March 2025 club updates

The youth intake came through, and again it's great news for the club.

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I've altered my approach to attribute tracking, using @shaunvamos's approach from his thread (with his permission). This has allowed me to combine the scores I had for key and preferred attributes to help me decide whether to keep the new guys. 

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My previous highest rated player was 58 (Burgess) and that's not taking into account a number of these players who rate lower, but are the best in their positions. The ones who will go straight into the first team squad are below.

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We've also seen some record breaking attendances:

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And potentially a takeover.

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Edited by Jtomsett11
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March 2025

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Along with our youth intake, it's been a great month. We're scoring more and conceding less. We've seen some goal-scoring debuts in this time as our new youth intake make their mark.

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However, despite this excellent form, it's not been enough to close the gap. I can taste the play-offs again...

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We've let go of quite a few players in light of our new intake.

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Abege was on £2.6k a year, and despite his ability to produce key passes, he isn't going to get game time.

Derbali also leaves. A key player early on, but again he isn't going to get game time now.

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I've also been offered a new contract.

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April 2025

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Four games to go, with either a play-off place or automatic promotion up for grabs.

We win our first game, but it's the second one where things start to get interesting.

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Bideford lose to leave the gap at 2 points.

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We go into our next game, away at Exmouth knowing we must win.

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It was never in doubt! How did Bideford do?

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A loss! We're top, going into the last game!!

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We just have to win our last game of the season to go up automatically.

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Heartbreak. 2-0 up and youth player Stow-Tricker gets sent off. We go on to lose 3-2 and lose out on automatic promotion. 

Even worse, we go on to lose in the play-off semis.

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This feels hard to take, so it's important I take time to process the season. Without doubt, our second half of the season was really successful and we're getting better as a team, with youth intakes that will see us promoted sooner or later. However, it's hard to come so close and yet fall at the last hurdle.

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Nooo!

Reminds me of Brentford trying to get out of the Championship :(

The youth intake was right when you needed it. Hopefully this will mean storming the league next season.

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7 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Nooo!

Reminds me of Brentford trying to get out of the Championship :(

The youth intake was right when you needed it. Hopefully this will mean storming the league next season.

It's a nightmare! The board want us to win promotion next season, so it looks like we've now got the squad to push for it. I'm not convinced by my back line still, but it has slowly improved at least!

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Posted (edited)

2024/25 season review part 1

Ah so close, and yet so far. We're in the Southern League Division One South for at least another season. Hopefully, it'll be the last season there.

Player performances

Goalkeeper wise, we had two play this season, with Harrison starting and Windsor taking over. He performed a lot better in terms of saves made, but Harrison did get 5 goals from the penalty spot whereas Windsor missed both of his opportunities. 

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In defense, we used very few players in the end. Hitchman and Hudson are our back two and both performed well over the season. Hudson also chipped in 7 goals, helping him to win 5 POM awards which is pretty solid from a CB. I don't see Wiltshire getting many games next season to be honest as although his stats aren't bad, we performed worse with him playing.

Bradshaw performs a lot better going forward than Salter, but I'm not sure if I will renew his contract with our new youth intake. Salter is now competent at RB as well, so again will get some game time here going forward. 

Colbran hit the 100 mark for key passes, the first time that has happened in this save for any player. 10 assists plus high tackling ratios, interceptions, key headers etc. you name it, he's done really well at it. The first name on the team sheet currently.

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In midfield, Gill-McCoy had a decent season at DLP, but he now has competition from Robbins. McCoy's 11 assists is enough to see him joint top of the charts this season though, which is excellent. Mikkonen played well at BWM with a strong tackle ration and interceptions. Knill came in and had 3 games when Mikkonen was banned, so he may get some game time there next season.

On the wing, Dawkins and Bailey are clear first choice with their excellent contributions. Camara was injured a lot, but has improved this season so I'm hopeful he can contribute next season. Mudimu had a poor season and is going to struggle to get himself back in contention considering the quality of players who've been coming through.

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In attack, Parsons had another really good season, with Burgess growing into his game to end up with a superb contribution of 25 goal involvements. Lilley will be on his way out now as he just isn't good enough. I've included Geddes, Stow-Tricker and Dawkins here as it's likely they'll either play a role in the forward positions, or at AML or AMR next season. Dawkins played quite a few games at poacher, and I anticipate him tacking over from Parsons which would free up AML for Stow-Tricker. It's nice to have some options!

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Team of the Year and best players of the year

I don't know how Abege got in, but otherwise this is pretty accurate, and sees no less than 8 Jersey-born players in our Team of the Year! Huge success for our production line at this point in the save.

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I'm super chuffed with Colbran hitting 100 key passes!

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Data analysis

While we have room to improve, our stats aren't as bad as they were early on the season defensively, so we need to take this forward to improve next year. 

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Edited by Jtomsett11
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End of season 2024/25 review part 2

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It's important to consider the long term growth of the club in light of the disappointment of missing out on the last day of the season.

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Each season in this division, we've improved our wins, goal difference, goals scored and points totals. If we continue this next year we will be promoted (I really, really hope). 

As a club, we have stalled a little this year with slightly reduced average attendances, although I think this is due to our poor performance in the FA Cup, where last year we attracted some crowds of 2000+. This has had a knock-on affect on finances, which are now down at £250k. Knowing this may continue to decline, I decided to ask for one last investment in youth recruitment.

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This should help us to continue to develop our squad.

One extra bit of pressure for next year is this:

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The board want us to win the league. I have just signed a new contract, so hopefully they'll give me some leeway if I don't make it. However, let's have some hope. I need to evaluate our options in all positions using attribute analysis and season performances to see who needs to go and who deserves a new contract. I am aware that part of our sluggish starts to the season may be my chopping and changing of a part-time team, but I do also need to keep pushing the youth players into the team to improve us. 

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16 hours ago, Jtomsett11 said:

 

End of season 2024/25 review part 2

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It's important to consider the long term growth of the club in light of the disappointment of missing out on the last day of the season

 

I would go as far as saying that the youth intake, given the way you’re playing here, was more important than the league position. 

Really great, in depth updates (something I’ve always skimmed over at the level you’re at). Also, congratulations on the wedding and enjoy your time off - are you a teacher by any chance?

Edited by _Ben_
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4 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I would go as far as saying that the youth intake, given the way you’re playing here, was more important than the league position. 

Really great, in depth updates (something I’ve always skimmed over at the level you’re at). Also, congratulations on the wedding and enjoy your time off - are you a teacher by any chance?

Thanks! I've added more detail as I've gone on as I've really got into the save. I'm enjoying the challenge of playing at such a low level, and it's nice for once to not have promotion after promotion which I often find at the lower levels.

I am indeed a teacher, so it's a well deserved break this year!

11 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Play like the second half of last season and I think you’ll be fine :thup:

Let's hope it starts this way!

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Pre-season attribute analysis

I mentioned that I was using @shaunvamos's method of calculating ratings using player attributes as this would simplify my calculations. 

It's helped me to determine who I'm keeping and who I'm getting rid of this summer. I won't go through every position, but for example, at CB, it has helped to determine whether to change up my starting line up.

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Hudson is clearly our best centre back according to this rating. Hitchman has been my other starter, and I'm inclined to go with him as Lyon's pace lets him down for me. Nastoulis looks like a good prospect if he can improve in training this year. You can also see here the development of some of the players. Sampson has done really well, but he's unlikely to get game time and is now 18 and wants £2k a year to stay. Similarly Headley is unlikely to get further game time so despite his pretty good growth, he's likely to leave. 

Another position of interest is at AML and AMR.

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Dawkins did really well there this season, but I started to push him further forward as I believe he can be really effective in taking over from Parsons as a poacher and hopefully utilising an advanced forward role as we develop further. That would leave Slow-Tricker and Mudimu to fight it out for the starting role. Considering the latter's poor season, I'm tempted to start the former. 

At AMR, despite his low rating here, Bailey will remain first choice unless the goals and assists dry up. Camara will get more game time if he can keep fit as he's made 4 points progress in one year of only 6 games and 4 months out injured in total. That leaves us with a few players, such as Bromley, Shimell and potentially Mike Thomas surplus to requirements as they reach 18 years of age. Thomas has made the most growth, so is the most likely to be retained. 

Going into next season, our line up is likely to look like this:

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I'm trying out some colour coding, but I'm not completely happy with it yet.

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Posted (edited)
On 27/07/2021 at 13:14, shaunvamos said:

That keeper rating looks strangely low 🤔

Please see my calculations below - I may have got them wrong as I found I had to add extra brackets to my formula. There's definitely 17 attributes either key or preferable for a sweeper keeper though, and these guys are just really poor!

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Edited by Jtomsett11
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5 years down, what else has happened?

Just before I update on pre-season and the start of 2025/26, I thought I'd do something I rarely do and take a look at what has happened in the world of football in the 5 years I've been playing in non-league. I've adjusted my league set-up to only have English leagues loaded currently, and will adjust this when I'm in League One or the Championship to increase competition for the English sides. Therefore, the English success below must be taken with a pinch of salt as they're they only active league!

Club football

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The English dominance due to my league set-up is pretty clear to see here. 

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Very little change from real life situations here, although the end of sheer dominance by Bayern in Germany is interesting.

World football

I've just focused on Europe here at the moment.

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No 2022 win in Qatar for England :( However...

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Unsurprising given my league set-up again! Let's see in another 5 years if the expected dominance continues domestically and internationally.

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Pre-season 2025/26 part 2

We've made a change to our assistant manager as our current one left before the last game of the season to manage Dagenham and Redbridge (coincidence that we then lost that game?!) This is really big news as I use instant result meaning this guy is making most of the decisions once I set the tactics and line-up. I'm pleased with Danny Harris, who matches our style of play and has decent managerial attributes for this level. We actually paid to get him, but for £3k I believe he's worth it. Time will tell!

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In other news, I don't think Dawkins is going to be around longer than this season. He's already rated as a Vanarama National South player, two divisions above us. Every player keeps getting rated worse and worse as he continues to become better and better (and more 5 star rated). I'll try and get some money for him if possible, but also he may get us promoted which would be worth keeping him around even if he then goes for free.

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We're favourites for the league.

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I'm hoping this means the new youth intake have increased our ability enough for promotion.

Thirteen players were released overall at the end of June.

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The two staff members were newgen scouts with outrageous attributes for this level. I managed to get two more similar staff members in. 

We have added one player to our squad. Wages were freed up by the above players leaving, so I decided to splash out trying to upgrade on Parsons.

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Griffiths is a player I had at Farnborough on FM19 when I won 5 premier league titles in a row with them in a 15 year Dafuge Challenge which I did not complete before buying FM21. He was sensational then, so I'm hoping he'll add the goals that propel us to the title. If not, yes it's £9k, but it's only a one-year deal. 

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1 extra season ticket this year. We really need to win promotion to push this on.

 

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August 2025

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Now that's what I like to see! We've kept on going from last season with some great results.

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Firstly, that's three away games in a row we've won. That's a massive improvement on last season and I'm more confident on my tactics when going away from home. Secondly, we've beaten second favourites Totton and relegated Moneyfields already, so it's not been an easy opening month and yet we've still won all four games. I'm really pleased with this.

Dawkins has had a great month, getting 4 goals in 3 games on the left wing.

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That's good because Griffiths and Parsons have 0 goals so far. Still, can't complain with the start to the season!

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September 2025

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The good form has continued as we make it 7/7 in the league. We're looking pretty good, but obviously need to keep this up!

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We've also been successful so far in the cups, which means we could end up with 10 games next month, if we continue to win all our cup games. That's going to be really challenging for my squad; really we have a squad of 18 with a few who only really play in the U23s. All of them are also really young, so shouldn't be playing every single game.

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In terms of stand out performances, it's not Griffiths or Parsons doing the business up front. We chucked in Geddes after the third game of the season with him having scored once in a sub appearance, and he's not looked back since. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he does.

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One worrying development this month was this news:

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These messages have been popping up quite frequently, but this is the first one that said 'they will name a new manager'. 

Fortunately, this all fell apart 2 days later. I get to breathe a sigh of relief!!

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October 2025

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This happened just before our first game of October, and while Camara hasn't been playing, he's my second choice AMR and we're heading into a busy schedule so this isn't good timing. 

What was good news was Burgess agreeing a contract extension.

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Burgess is a good enough player to be playing the league above with potential for much higher, so even in 3 years he should still be relevant to us. I'm aware we may lose quite a few of our better players as they rapidly progress, so tying the ones I can tie down is really important.

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October started really well, but we eventually ran out of steam due to the fixture congestion.

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The two extra time appearances did not help one bit, although we were so close to earning ourselves two extra money-earning appearances in the FA Cup and FA Trophy. 

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Boreham Wood are a level above us, so to play so well and manage to come back from 2-0 down is superb.

The loss to Bristol in the league is understandable, and for the first time this season we didn't hit the net apart from 3 disallowed goals. Again, it's the tiredness and having to rest our best players that meant a loss was inevitable.

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We are still sitting pretty in the league overall. A 9 point margin at this point is still superb. I do think we may lose a couple more before we get back to winning ways as the team as exhausted across the squad. However, we're now into weekly games, so we should soon be back to winning ways I feel.

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November 2025

Last month was huge financially, as the income from the home FA Cup game has boosted us considerably. We probably need to qualify for the FA Cup first round proper at some point with a home fixture to earn us more money, as other than this we're losing money monthly now due to the youth setup and wage costs.

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November started as I predicted, with us losing our first game. We had a number of players who I wouldn't select for the first team by choice, plus 4 or 5 players who weren't at full condition. Again, the xG suggests we should have won.

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We won the next couple of games handsomely before playing second in the league, Melksham. At the time the gap was down to 9 points, so a loss here would potentially leave us a bit closer than I would want to be.

I should never have worried.

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Our new super striker Geddes got the hattrick as we blew them apart by half time.

That's 15 goals in 14 league games now. His attribute growth has been phenomenal too. Probably another one who will only be here for 2 years!

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We did draw the last game of the month, but again, our xG was much higher than theirs and you can't win everything!

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Without getting too ahead too early, I think it's going to take a drastic turn of form or some big injuries for us not to win the league.

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We are back to our normal sort of losses. We can sustain these losses for a couple of seasons before going into debt, but obviously a promotion should see incomes from gate receipts rise, but it may also see wage costs rise too. 

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13 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Nice. Been enjoying Jersey’s form :thup:

Geddes hits the signed contract boost :lock:

I am also enjoying our form! I feel like three years of hard work in this league are now paying off! Geddes has the two years on his deal, but is already saying we're too weak for him to sign another deal :(

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December 2025

It's been a pretty perfect December. We've conceded a few more goals this month, but the key thing is 4 more wins.

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As you can see from the table below (there's not much point showing more than the top 5!), we are sitting pretty. Even if Methyr win their game in hand, we'd be 16 points clear with just 16 games to go. I'm delighted with how our tactics are playing out home and away, while our strike force is performing superbly and keeping the pressure off what is still a weaker back line.

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Player performances

Goalkeepers

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Dolan has played all 29 games this season. He's got 6 goals from the spot, and apparently has saved 6 out of 2 penalties faced?!! How does that work!? He's my first goalkeeper in 6 seasons to have an average rating over 7, but that's probably due to our overall team performances. I'll be honest, I did nearly break my rule of only signing one player per season below a living wage, but the goalkeeper in question signed for Truro instead and Dolan has done really well.

Defenders

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Hitchman and Hudson are again our main men at CB, and you can see they've only missed 3 games between them. This says a lot about our lack of depth in this position as I just don't trust the ability of Lyon and WiltshireHowell has played the odd game at centre back so is third choice now. The significant improvement of our team is represented by the reducing in tackles being won by our centre backs, while both have already exceeded the number of headers they made in the whole of last season. Teams are lumping it up under pressure from our front 4 pressing. 

At RB, Fitton has done really well with excellent support from Salter who is now accomplished at RB and is chipping in with goals and assists . Fitton is the key pass master though, with an average of 3.57 per game a superb total for a RB in my experience. Colbran has his highest rating yet, but still doesn't average above 7 which I feel is unfair. He's started all but two games, with Fitton filling in at LB in his absence. 

There's no doubt I'm overusing my young players, and there's also no doubt that the youth intakes are giving us lots of talent up front, but little in the way of defenders, particularly CBs. It would be nice to have another LB and a CB and maybe even a GK to offer us greater security next season.

Midfielders

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You can immediately see that CMs and wingers get a bit more of a rest than my defenders; nobody has more appearances than Bailey who has 21 starts. 

Robbins (BWM) and Gill-McCoy (DLP) have been my go-to starters this season in the centre of midfield. Robbins only just pipped Mikkonen to the starting spot and their stats are fairly similar apart from Robbins is a bit more effective (in terms of numbers made) in the tackle and in the air. Knill is better on paper than Gill-McCoy, but lacks any real passing ability and if you compare key passes and assists, Gill-McCoy is streets ahead. 

Bailey is out of contract as he wants £7k a year to sign, but on his performances at AMR this season I think I might give it to him if anyone shows any interest. He's been phenomenal again, and while it's mostly injury (yet again!) that's held Camara back, whenever he recovers he has to fight hard to get minutes with Bailey's form. At AML, it's Dawkins territory and he's performing really well, with 16 goal involvements in 17 starts. However, Stow-Tricker is primed to take over from Dawkins if he doesn't sign a new contract. He has similar stats to Dawkins this time last year, so although he isn't making as many contributions I'm pleased overall. Mudimu plays when injuries strike (Dawkins was out for the last two games of the year). He's another out of contract, but I'm keeping him around in case Dawkins leaves.

Strikers

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I'm not sure I need to say much more here about who is the star of the show. 26 goals in 24 for Geddes, including breaking our records.

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Burgess has 18 goal involvements and 57 key passes from DLF: his 'tries killer balls often' PPM has helped this season. Griffiths and Parsons have been bystanders this season, and Griffiths isn't very happy about it.

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I've said he can leave but nobody wants him who can afford his wages, so it's likely he'll continue playing the odd game until the end of the season and then will be released.

Other news

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An attacking midfielder, central midfielder and a winger. No sign of a CB, GK or LB though :( Still, any good players coming though at this point are vital to our continued growth.

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January and February 2026

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I went through two months quite quickly and delayed an update for good reason. We secured a play-off place after just 26 games by beating Merthyr.

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Geddes again doing the business late on. That gave us a ridiculously commanding lead in the league, and we needed just another 4 wins in February to seal the title.

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This may be the earliest I've ever won a league title.

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Geddes has 29 in 29 games and is just lethal at this level. At 16 he surely will go on to have a football league career.

It's our third promotion in 6 years here. I'm really pleased with the progress we're making and the quality of youth coming through hopefully means we can sustain this success and continue on our journey into the football league. I'll spend the last 8 games giving a few extra players some game time, mindful of the likelihood of our best players leaving at the end of their contracts.

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