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[FM22] Wall of Shame to Hall of Fame


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October 2026
 
In a world where Ernesto Valverde's Liverpool side are 19th in the Premier League with 3 points after 6 games, just below Frank Lampard's Sheffield United in 18th, Monster was looking forward to playing in the FA Cup again this month, starting in the 4th Qualifying Round. 
 
03/10/2026 - VNL v Yeovil Town (A)
13th v 1st. Opposition manager Gary McSheffrey had been quoted in the press as saying Monster was overrated. Monster may have had a a little more motivation to win this game as a result. With a lack of rotation starting to play on his mind, Monster gave Steve Flood an opportunity in the shadow striker role with Tydeman still not quite producing consistent performances. Brynn was restored in goal too. Aldershot, once again, made the brighter start. Max Hunt gave them the lead in the 15th minute with his standard near-post header from a corner routine. It was nearly the same outcome in the 28th minute. Hunt met Moses's corner again but Robinson couldn't quite turn it in at the back post. From the rebound he laid it back for Everitt, who made it to the byline, whipped it back across for Hunt who nodded it down for Moses to hook in on his weaker foot. 2-0 at half time, and Yeovil had barely threatened. Monster raised a curious eyebrow at McSheffrey as the whistle blew and they headed for the tunnel. Overrated? Had Yeovil been surprised by the dominant display so far? In the 58th minute, Clayton spread the ball out wide to Moses on the opposite flank. The winger cut inside, as he is asked to do, laid the ball off to Stewart, who made a break for the byline to square it for an unmarked Robinson to tap in from a few yards. Monster released the bench and they added to the scoreline late on. First, Tydeman and Jones combined through the middle for the on-loan forward to break his goalscoring drought with a simple finish from a few yards out, and then Tydeman's raking pass through the middle found Stewart's run, and the pacy forward took advantage of a mix-up between centre back and keeper to be presented with an easy tap in. 5-0 was the final score which didn't flatter Aldershot in the slightest. Hunt was the player of the match, against one of his former clubs, and Aldershot pulled 7 points clear with Notts County drawing at home to Torquay United. 
 
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04/10/2026 - FA Cup Draw
Having been involved in 10 FA Cup draws last season, Monster was excited to see who they would draw this time round. As ever, he wanted a weaker side at home or a stronger side away. With VNL sides being the highest rank involved, he was thrilled to have a home tie, and lower league opposition in Cirencester Town or Salisbury were drawn out, both sides Monster had faced while at Hillingdon. 
 
06/10/2026 - VNL v Scunthorpe United (H)
1st v 5th. Monster was always wary of former Football League sides and with it being midweek, he had to rotate a few players. Continuing with the balanced mentality at home to see if it resulted in a greater goal return, Aldershot were out of the blocks quickly as usual, although they didn't have a breakthrough until the 22nd minute when Robinson volleyed into the roof of the net from Phillips's flick on from a Wilson corner from the right. Robinson was the creator of the second goal, picking the ball up in his own half after a clearance from a corner, he turned and scooped a ball forward for Stewart. The league's top scorer controlled the ball on his chest and motored into the area to tuck the ball home from 14 yards. Stewart had a moment of good fortune in the 36th minute. O'Connell broke into the box with a mazy forward run and unselfishly looked for the pass rather than having a shot at goal. Deflecting off a couple of Scunthorpe players, the ball fell kindly for Stewart whose shot clipped the far post on its way in. Scunthorpe grabbed a goal before half time, Dodoo played through in the right channel by Rowe and he raced through to beat an onrushing Brynn. Little happened in the second half until Monster asked for more from his side, who had been tentative. They produced some of the best football Monster had seen to make it 4-1. Tydeman intercepted the ball inside his own half and broke forward, playing a neat one-two with Robinson before releasing Everitt down the left. Everitt cut back inside and played the ball to Barrows, who tucked it back to Townsend. Keeping the ball moving at all times, the trio played it between themselves before Townsend played a gorgeous lofted pass across the field to Kilner on the edge of the area. The right-back's volleyed pass went across the area to pick out Everitt who had made the run to the byline. His first-time cross was met at the back post by substitute Cian Hayes for a tap in. Monster was out of his seat, applauding the goal. Scunthorpe had been chasing shadows in that move. The game ended 4-1, with Stewart's brace earning him the player of the match accolade.  
 
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10/10/2026 - VNL v South Shields (A)
A long trip up to the north-east saw Aldershot take on the side in 11th to take on Kevin Phillips's side (yes, the former Sunderland and England striker). In a game where the rain lashed down throughout the whole match, Aldershot asserted their dominance over proceedings but only took the lead 5 minutes before half time. Monsterball from the halfway line saw Kilner pushed up in the right-hand channel and he played a through ball for Stewart who was muscled out the way but the pass still found Tydeman, who finished first time into the bottom corner. In the 67th minute, Aldershot doubled their lead with a Stewart tap in at the far post. Hunt won the flick-on at the near post from Harris's corner and Stewart was all on his own and wasn't going to miss from there. Manni Norkett picked up a second yellow card in the 70th minute and South Shields played it safe from there. Monster was more than happy with a 2-0 win and a clean sheet to boot. Dropping Brynn for the match against Newport County seemed to have given him the proverbial kick up the backside and he now had two clean sheets for the month. 
 
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17/10/2026 - FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round v Salisbury (H)
Monster was excited at the prospect of playing in the FA Cup again after the incredible journey of last season. Salisbury were from the SLPDS, two tiers below Aldershot, and hadn't had a great start to the season. Monster rotated the whole side to give some game time to those who needed it. Surely this would be a comfortable win? Monster thought so when Aldershot took the lead from kick off, Jack Wright scoring within 17 seconds. Spencer received the ball in the centre circle, knocked it forward to Jones, who played through Wright. The forward for the day timed his run to perfection to take the ball in his stride and sweep home left-footed. Monster's expression became sour when the referee inexplicably booked Townsend twice within the space of 3 minutes, producing the customary red card in the 14th minute. Monster was up in his technical area demanding an explanation but the referee wasn't going to change his mind. Monster reshuffled the pack, dropping his attacking midfielders back into midfield, hoping the physical size of Spencer would keep midfield ticking over. Salisbury sensed an opportunity and grabbed an equaliser when target forward Arnold climbed above the Aldershot defence to meet Lewis's cross. John got both hands to it but seemed to collide with the crossbar causing him to drop the ball which bounced over the line. Monster was furious with his side. Jones thought he had given Aldershot the lead a couple of minutes later when he volleyed in after the keeper could only parry Phillips's header from a Flood corner but he was adjudged to have been offside. In the 43rd minute, Spencer broke free down the right and played the ball back inside for Hayes to cross. Wright needed two bites of the cherry, his first shot blocked by a defender but with the keeper prone, Wright was able to volley in the rebound to curb Monster's ire. Salisbury had their best spell of the game after half time, equalising again when Pearce nodded home unchallenged from Sagaf's corner from the right. Monster tried his hardest not to react on the bench. He had faith they could still win, particularly with the physical presence of Spencer now playing up front, having swapped him with Wright. On the hour mark, Jones released Flood down the left, the youngster bursting to the byline and whipping in a fantastic cross on to Spencer's head in the 6-yard box, his header kissing the far post on its way in. Monster promptly rang the changes, making a triple substitution to see if Aldershot could see the game out. They did, shutting the game down expertly after that. 3-2 the final score but it didn't tell the story of the game. Monster was relieved to be in the hat for the next round. 
 
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18/10/2026 - FA Cup draw
Grimsby Town away. 20th in League 2. Monster couldn't complain at that and had confidence they would have a realistic shot of reaching the 2nd Round. 
 
24/10/2026 - VNL v Stockport County (A)
An away game against one of the former Football League sides languishing in the relegation battle in 17th place. Monster named a strong line-up, Tydeman missing out to allow Spencer to play in the shadow striker role. The first half was a non-event, a rare stalemate for Monster. Aldershot created a few chances but the closest they came was a Spencer header ruled out for offside. Monster had nothing to say to the team at half time, glaring at them all in silence before ordering them back out to the pitch. Stockport had the best chance of the second half from kick off, fashioning a chance which saw Shepherd break into the box but his effort from 16 yards came back off the face of the post. From that, Aldershot built a move which ended with Robinson putting the ball in the net at the other end but he was ruled to be offside too. Robinson made amends a few minutes later, finding a yard of space in the box to tap home Kilner's cross from wide on the right. Just after the hour mark, Spencer made it 2-0, smashing home from close range after Stewart's effort was blocked. In the 77th minute, Spencer added his second, sweeping home Robinson's pull-back. In the 82nd minute, Harris added a free kick to the scoreline, curling home from left-of-centre via the post. In stoppage time, substitute Jones added a coat of gloss to the score, tapping home Stewart's low cross from the right. It finished 5-0, which didn't flatter Aldershot at all. With Spencer starting to find his feet in the team, there was plenty for Monster to enjoy in an attacking sense but also a third clean sheet of the month, all away from home bizarrely, meant confidence among the defence was growing too. 
 
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27/10/2026 - VNL v Woking (H)
A clash against local rivals Woking was up next. Promoted with Aldershot last season, they had made a decent start in the league, sitting in 10th at the start of the game. Aldershot had won the home fixture last season and drew the final game away at Woking. Having not started brilliantly in the last game, Monster demanded a fast start from the side this time and they duly responded. Brynn's long clearance downfield was missed by James Jones allowing Harvey Jones to run through, using his pace to create an angle to slot past the keeper. His initial effort came back off the post but he was on hand to stick away the rebound. A minute later it was 2-0 as the inverted wingbacks led the charge out from the back, Clayton and Kilner were the furthest forward at one point, Kilner played through by Clayton but could only hit his shot straight at the keeper, who also made a mess of the save, palming it out straight to Stewart who swept home. It became worse for Woking as Aldershot were awarded a penalty in the 23rd minute when Forrester was shoved to the ground as Moses swung a free kick in from the left. Harris stepped up and smashed it high to the keeper's right to make it 3-0. The Shots went into containment mode after that, not needing to use anything higher than second gear, and even though Woking pulled one back in the second half when an unmarked Nicholls nodded home Bass's cross in the 62nd minute, they saw the game out to pick up yet another 3 points and continue Monster's unbeaten league run. 
 
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31/10/2026 - VNL v Boreham Wood (A)
A tricky away game on Halloween and Monster hoped he wouldn't be in for any nasty surprises against a side in good form and 4th in the league. Monster had also been advised that Aldershot were on the verge of breaking the winning run in VNL, with one more win required to break it. Jack Taylor, Boreham Wood's star man, rated the best player in the league and being pursued by many Football League clubs, would be a thorn in their side. Max Hunt was the only regular player to miss out, Giles Phillips replacing him. Aldershot started the brighter of the two teams and made their early pressure count when Kilner played a nice one-two with Moses for him to finish first-time into the far corner from the edge of the area. A second goal came 7 minutes later, Harris beginning the move by spreading the ball out wide to Everitt. The winger's cross flicked off Stewart's heel as he attempted a volley and was volleyed in by Spencer behind him via the base of the post for his 5th goal of the season. Boreham Wood had a spell of pressure before half time but couldn't find a breakthrough. After the break, Aldershot continued to press but didn't add to the score. The game finished 2-0, Everitt being chosen as player of the match for an outstanding performance down the left. Monster was thrilled to see Notts County had slipped up away at Solihull Moors, so a win midweek against bottom side Radcliffe would see Aldershot's lead extend to 10 points. 
 
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October 2026 Review
A perfect month. A new league record for a winning run already. 4 league clean sheets (all in away games, which Monster thought was quirky). A lot to be pleased with going into a crunch November. The Boreham Wood fixture was especially pleasing as it was the first time they had played one of the playoff contenders away and had dealt with them relatively comfortably. The board were pleased with how everything was going too. Stewart was top of the league goalscoring charts with 16. Moses had 6 assists and was joint top of the assists charts, as well as being second in the average rating list. Monster was named manager of the month. 
 
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November 2026
 
In a world where Andrea Pirlo is manager of Championship side Barnsley (Editor Monster: what is going on with managerial appointments in this world?), Monster hoped to continue the lead at the top of the National League as well as maintaining the long unbeaten run. 
 
03/11/2026 - VNL v Radcliffe (H)
1st v 24th. Radcliffe were in rotten form with only 3 points all season. With the FA Cup tie coming up at the weekend, Monster rotated the side. He asked for the usual start to the game, asking them to go out and prove they deserved all the media praise they'd been receiving recently. In the 8th minute, Wright was fouled in the box from a corner and O'Connell stepped up to score his penalty down the middle, even if the keeper may feel that he should have done better. In the 15th minute, Stewart made it 2-0, timing his run to perfection to race on to Tydeman's through ball, and slot home in his usual measured fashion from 12 yards. In the 31st minute, some good work between O'Connell and Hayes on the right allowed the winger to cross to the far post where Wright was on hand to nod it in and make it 3-0. With the game nearing half time, O'Connell was tripped outside the area and Townsend stepped up left-footed to crash his free kick in off the underside of the bar to notch his first goal for the club in wonderful style. 4-0 at half time. Monster asked for more. It took the arrival of the substitutes to add to the scoreline. First Phillips scored from Flood's free kick from the left wing with a back post header, and then substitute Kilner scored a fortuitous goal when the ball rebounded to him off the post, his shot at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper spilled through his hands and dropped into the net at the far post. 6-0 with 6 different scorers. Thoroughly deserved. A clean sheet at home too. 
 
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07/11/2026 - FA Cup 1st Round v Grimsby Town (A)
In some better form since the draw had been made, Aldershot made the journey up to Grimsby. Remembering the adventure from last season, Monster wanted to create more amazing memories to add to the ones he had captured on his wall at home. It was the first-choice side Monster put out against a defensive, men-behind-the-ball tactic. 0-0 at half time. Monster stretched the team wider in the second half, encouraging them to keep playing their normal game. Finally they made the breakthrough in the 55th minute when Robinson's shot from the middle of the box came back off the post and Stewart reacted quickest to turn it in with a suspicion of offside. Max Hunt was named as player of the match but it was a forgettable game. Monster was pleased to be in the next round with a minimum of fuss, Grimsby hardly troubling them defensively. 
 
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08/11/2026 - FA Cup draw
Brackley Town (VNLN) or Burton Albion (L1) at home. Monster was relatively happy with that draw. 
 
14/11/2026 - VNL v Exeter City (A)
Having knocked Exeter out in their FA Trophy victory last season with goals from Robinson and Everitt, Monster hoped for more of the same, away at St James Park. Moses had been called up for the Nigeria U23 squad so Wilson, almost fully recovered from his injury, came in to replace him. Aldershot were off to their usual front-foot start and took the lead with a Robinson effort in the 11th minute. Clayton threaded his through ball through an eye of a needle, finding Robinson unmarked and onside in the box, and he clipped his effort into the bottom-right corner first time. They doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Wilson was released down the right and his drilled cross ran through to Everitt to knock home first-time with his left foot from 14 yards. 2-0 at the break. After half time, Exeter grabbed a goal back with Digby's near post header from a corner which Brynn flapped into his own net. Thankfully, Stewart restored the two-goal advantage with a stroked effort from 8 yards in the 73rd minute. The break came through the middle, Robinson feeding Spencer, who played the perfect ball to the top-scorer. 2 minutes later it was 4-1. Wilson's corner, Hunt's header which came back off the post, and Robinson provided the close-range finish for his second of the game. Griffin grabbed a goal back for Exeter before the end with a header from a Wood cross but the 3 points belonged to Aldershot. Robinson grabbed the player of the match award, Monster pleased to see both him and Everitt on the scoresheet against Exeter again. 
 
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21/11/2026 - VNL v Ebbsfleet United (H)
1st v 17th. Monster named a strong side again, although the next few weeks would be a test of the squad with regular midweek games coming up. Aldershot started brightly once again, although Ebbsfleet did manage a lot of possession in their opponents' half. Aldershot are known for their hustle, and having poached the ball, they promptly made good use of the ball, Tydeman releasing Everitt down the left. The winger cut inside and made a beeline for the far post, shooting low across the keeper to find the net with his left foot. In the 16th minute, Hayes and Kilner worked a good opening on the right, the right back breaking into the box and chipping the ball across for Robinson to head at goal. The ball came back off the crossbar but hit the goalkeeper in the back, trickling over the line to make it 2-0. 7 minutes later it was another own goal, although in completely different circumstances. Tydeman broke forward and fed Everitt in the left channel. As he prepared to shoot, a slide tackle from Jonsson came in and deflected the ball into the roof of the net from close range. Monster couldn't stop giggling. Ebbsfleet had self-destructed. In the 60th minute, Stewart added to the score with a typical passed finish into the net, Hayes playing him through in the right channel. Ebbsfleet did try to grab a consolation goal, but the closest they came was an effort ruled out for offside. 4-0 was the final score and the Ebbsfleet manager was sacked shortly after the final whistle. Everybody in the Aldershot team had played well. Monster was thrilled. The tweak in mentality had seemingly made them stronger at the back and they were also scoring freely at the other end. 
 
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24/11/2026 - VNL v Eastleigh (H)
A second home game in a row and Monster wanted a similar result, although without the opposition scoring the goals for his side. Eastleigh were 22nd in the league, battling against relegation. They hadn't won in their last 5 but Monster was bemused to see it described as unbeaten in their last 3. 3 draws. Another loan signing, George Gitau, a Kenyan international, had arrived on loan from Middlesbrough, having played in League 2 last season, and he started at right back in this match. Jack Wright started up front alongside Stewart with Robinson not being fit enough to play and Jones on his way back from injury. Monster wanted more of the same and they started alight again, opening the scoring after 7 minutes with classic Monsterball. Harris picked the ball up on the halfway line, finding Moses with a forward ball as the winger dropped deep into midfield. He was able to turn and knock a glorious diagonal pass over the top for Everitt to run through and square it to Stewart 3 yards out. He couldn't miss. In the 22nd minute, Harris doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Tydeman was tumbled inside the box. He blasted it down the middle, the keeper seemingly diving out the way. The match then became the Wright Show. In the 30th minute, Tydeman played a teasing ball around the corner for the forward to run through and smash in off the far post to make it 3-0. In the 34th minute, Stewart was released over the top and his low cross was turned in by his strike partner for the day, once again smashing in off the far post first time. A few minutes before half time, Wright made it a hattrick by smacking in the rebound after Moses's free kick came back off the crossbar and was missed by a Eastleigh defender. 5-0 at half time. Monster asked for more of the same. The second half was more even, but Eastleigh rarely threatened. Monster made changes to rest some of the bigger-name players, Wright switching out to the left flank to allow Jones to return up front. In the 87th minute, Elmi played a square ball across the area for Tydeman to have a shot. The ball ballooned up in the air off two Eastleigh defenders, landing on Wright's head, and he was able to cushion a header into the net from 8 yards out for his fourth goal of the game. A 6-0 win. Monster was thrilled with another clean sheet and with the performances from the reserve players. Jack Wright had arrived in the summer from the Manchester City academy at the same time as Moses but hadn't settled as well as the right winger. Monster hoped Wright would compete for a slot up front in the coming weeks, having been the first Aldershot player to score 4 in a competitive match. The FA Cup tie had also been decided and they would face Tier 6 Brackley Town after their triumph over League 1 Burton Albion. 
 
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28/11/2026 - VNL v Chester (A)
The final match in November came away at Chester, 9th in VNL. Before the match, Monster announced the signing of a left back from Tranmere Rovers, Gerwyn Kinsey, who had been tracked by Football League clubs, having been transferred listed. For a small fee of £4.4k, albeit Monster's first ever transfer fee he had paid for a player, Monster was delighted to welcome the player as competition for Regan Clayton's spot in the side. It also gave Monster the option of playing Clayton in the middle if required, which would be useful with Max Hunt picking up an injury in training. Kinsey made his debut in this match with Phillips taking the centre back spot as Hunt's replacement. Something that had been a rare occurrence during Monster's tenure was falling behind, but Aldershot trailed after 7 minutes in this game thanks to a beautiful Sinclair free kick to the left of centre, curled over the wall and into the top corner. Could Aldershot respond? The goal had come out of nothing against the run of play. They were only behind for 10 minutes as it stood, Forrester winning a near-post header from Kinsey's corner to draw Aldershot level with his first goal of the season. 4 minutes later, some excellent work between Kilner and Moses down the right found Tydeman unmarked in the area and his tame effort squeezed in at the near post, with goalkeeper Webb only able to fumble the ball into his net. Robinson and Stewart had both had quiet games and Monster explicitly demanded more from them both in the second half. Chester rarely threatened and it took a triple substitution to inspire some life back into the game. In the 82nd minute, another Kinsey corner from the right was flicked on by Forrester but instead of tucking home Tydeman took the ball away from goal before laying it back to Wright, whose powerful effort deflected in off Stewart's ankle. Possibly the luckiest goal he would score this season but he would claim it. It had looked like a potentially tricky tie but The Shots proved they could be resilient enough to come back from behind and claimed the 3 points here. Forrester was the player of the match after his goal and constant threat from corners and in Kinsey they appeared to have a new set-piece threat. 
 
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November 2026 Review
Another perfect month with 5 league victories and an FA Cup 1st Round win too. More clean sheets than usual was also notable, thanks to Monster's tactical tweak. The side had been strengthened with two new signings, Gitau on loan and Kinsey for a small fee. Stewart was second in the player of the month award, and Tydeman runner-up in the young player of the month. Monster added to his growing collection of monthly manager of the month awards. 
 
(P.S. Please forgive the lack of screenshots at the end of the month - I was on a roll in game and forgot to capture them.) 
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December 2026
 
In a world where Ralf Rangnick is in charge at Tottenham Hotspur as well as Antonio Conte being in charge at Premier League-topping Manchester City, Monster knew a lot was at stake in December. 9 fixtures to play, 7 in the league, and 2 in cup competitions, would prove to stretch the squad to its maximum. It also saw the switch over to playing return fixtures, and having walked over most sides so far, Monster knew several sides would be out for revenge. 
 
01/12/2026 - VNL v Barnet (H)
The first game of the month came against mid-table Barnet, 9th at the start of play. With the FA Cup tie coming up at the weekend, Monster rotated the side to get football into some, give a rest to others. The match seemed to go the same way as most of the others this season, with Aldershot seizing the initiative and taking the game to their opponents. In the 7th minute, Hayes was challenged from behind outside the area and the referee blew for a free kick. Up stepped left back Kinsey, who had been knocking free kicks in for fun in training and despite the angle being against him, he curled a beauty around the wall and into the top corner to give Aldershot the lead. Aldershot continued to dominate the game, Jones wasting a few decent opportunities but they extended their lead on the stroke of half time. Gitau, Wilson, and Jones all combined in the right channel, the striker laying the ball back towards the penalty spot where Kinsey was lurking to lash into the top corner. The job in the second half was to keep their foot on the opposition's neck, which they managed without adding to the score. A comfortable 2-0 win to start the month. Unsurprisingly, two-goal hero Kinsey was the player of the match. Monster was grateful to the scouting team that had spotted his availability. Monster was also pleased with Brynn picking up his 10th clean sheet of the season. 
 
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05/12/2026 - FA Cup 2nd Round v Brackley Town (H)
After Brackley Town's efforts in the last round to knock out Burton Albion, Monster was wary of their Tier 6 opposition's potential to do it two rounds running. A relatively strong side was named, with John coming in as keeper, and Townsend in at deep-lying playmaker. Spencer also returned in the shadow striker. All Monster wanted was the win to take them to the 3rd Round for the possibility of taking on top-flight opposition; Wembley had given him a taste last season and he wanted more. Brackley had the first shot on goal but it was Aldershot who scored with their first chance of the game. Townsend's ball over the top found the run of Kilner, whose cross hit a defender and looped in the air on to Wright's head two yards out and he couldn't miss. In the 16th minute, Hutchinson's poor clearance ran straight to Spencer in the centre circle. He strode forward with the ball and then played Stewart through, who hit it first time into the bottom corner. Everitt hit the post when played clean through but Kinsey showed him how it was done when Wright played him through and the full back lashed home to make it 3 goals in his last two games. Shortly afterwards, Kilner was caught on his heels allowing Collins to run beyond him and clip a finish in at the far post from Barwick's through ball. Brackley were then reduced to 10 men when Aguiar was dismissed for a reckless two-footed lunge on Everitt. 3-1 at half time. Monster made a few tactical tweaks at half time, reducing the tempo and asking the team to be more expressive so as to make their man advantage count. Within 2 minutes of the restart, Moses curled a corker into the top left corner from the right side of the box, a stunning strike that had Monster out of his seat. Apart from a few Kinsey free kicks, Brackley managed to prevent any more goals until the 89th minute when Forrester nodded in Kinsey's corner. The scoring wasn't over, though. Bradley Rolt, scorer in the FA Trophy fixture between these two sides last season, ran through and dinked John to grab a consolation in stoppage time. It finished 5-2 to give Aldershot their comfiest win so far in the FA Cup this season after narrow victories against Grimsby Town and Salisbury. Will Forrester took the plaudits again but Kinsey and Wright also put in decent performances. 
 
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06/12/2026 - FA Cup draw
Liverpool! At home... Monster would take a replay now. Liverpool hadn't been in great form, sacking Ernesto Valverde in the last couple of weeks but had recovered to be 8th in the Premier League as the draw was made. All the players let out a cheer at having one of the biggest clubs in the world in their backyard. Monster's task now would be to keep their feet on the ground for the next month. 
 
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08/12/2026 - VNL v Maidstone United (H)
One of the games they had in hand, Monster's first task would be to prevent any complacency against the side 19th in the table. Monster himself couldn't help but imagine walking out of the tunnel in a few weeks against Liverpool. He could hardly blame the players for imagining it themselves. He was sterner with them before the game than he normally would be as if to enforce the point that there were plenty of games before the Liverpool one. Everitt gave Aldershot the lead in the 20th minute, taking a similar chance to the one that hit the post in the FA Cup. Tydeman played the ball through for the winger, who took a touch and then dispatched into the far corner. The second goal came 3 minutes later and was one of the scrappiest goals of the season. Stewart was released on the right side of the box but his cross was poor, not picking out a teammate. Robson whacked it clear but straight back to Stewart who managed to nod it back into the middle. Rowley came and punched the ball clear under pressure from Everitt. The ball went straight to Tydeman, who gave the ball back to Stewart who could only shoot straight at Rowley, the ball falling for Hayes to tap in from a couple of yards out. Aldershot were in control and added to the lead in the 73rd minute when Tydeman played an excellent one-two with Hayes, running through to score with a finish into the bottom-left corner of the goal. Sheron was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 84th minute after scything Tydeman down as he ran though on goal but Monster had already shut up shop by then. Aldershot were 3-0 winners with Tydeman the star of the show and it stretched their lead to 12 points, now having played each team once. Only the 0-0 draw at Torquay United was the blot on their copybook; they had beaten every other side so far. 
 
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12/12/2026 - VNL v Accrington Stanley (A)
4th v 1st. A tricky tie against a side in good form. Monster knew he would be playing most of the top 6 sides away from home in the next couple of months, Boreham Wood the only exception. Ticking this one off the list would be a good start and if it would be with 3 points it would be even better. Wright continued his impressive goal-scoring form by grabbing the opener after 3 minutes. Moses played a diagonal through ball, shredding the Accrington defence for Wright to run through and finish confidently with his right foot. In the 11th minute, Moses swung in a free kick from the left and Will Forrester scored again. With Max Hunt out with flu after his recent injury, Forrester had really stepped up in his absence. Aldershot made it 3-0 in the 22nd minute with a goalmouth scramble. Stewart applied the finish which deflected in off the goalkeeper and was marked down as an own goal. Monster was proud of the team at half time but warned them that Accrington surely wouldn't be as poor in the second half. 2 minutes into the second half, Monster was proved right as Accrington Stanley made their pressure count. Lindley's crossfield pass from the right found Vazquez with time and space on the edge of the area, and with Gitau slow to react, drilled a shot into the far corner of the net. In the 53rd minute, Monster was out yelling at his players to wake up as Vazquez was afforded too much time and space again, picking out a perfect cross this time for O'Kane to knock in from 6 yards. Thankfully, Aldershot responded when Spencer played Wright through, and the forward, originally signed to be a shadow striker but has taken his opportunities up front this season, tucked home into the bottom-right corner of the net in the 58th minute. As the clock ticked over into the 91st minute, Kinsey added another with a great shot from the edge of the area past an unsighted keeper. From outside the D he whipped in his shot inside the near post to make it 5-2 to continue his remarkable goalscoring form. O'Kane scored his second before the end, a glorious volley from the edge of the box which Monster couldn't help but applaud. The ball out from the back was won by the Accrington defence, and Robertson's ball over the top was right on to O'Kane's right foot, unleashing an unstoppable volley over Brynn. However, it didn't affect the destiny of the 3 points. Monster was pleased. He also had the youth intake preview through from Ross McNeilly who had advised of a good intake, and to look out for a goalkeeper, a winger, and a wingback coming through. 
 
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15/12/2026 - VNL v Gateshead (H)
The home fixture for the opening game of the season and the repeat of the FA Trophy final from last season. There was the first sign of trouble in the camp with Regan Clayton, vice-captain, asking for a meeting during the week and complaining he hadn't been starting enough games. Internally, Monster was wanting to tell him that Kinsey had come in and performed brilliantly as well as Clayton not being fit enough to start every single game. Clayton claimed he had been treated unprofessionally leaving Monster with a conundrum. Before the start of the game, he offered Clayton out for transfer with Huddersfield Town apparently interested. One to watch. One of the original squad members he had inherited, the Kinsey transfer had proved that the grass was sometimes greener and Clayton wasn't indispensable. Gateshead began the game the stronger, having a couple of early efforts, but it was Aldershot who took the lead; Kinsey with a free kick from the left and Robinson nodded in from the edge of the 6 yard box. Wright, playing on the left wing, scored the second in the 29th minute. Robinson took the ball wide on the right-hand side and whipped over a cross. The keeper flapped at it and fell over, leaving Wright to nod in unimpeded. 2-0 at half time. Gateshead were much improved after the break, managing to keep Aldershot under wraps with the league leaders only managing two shots in the second half. Gateshead were far the better side but found Brynn in outstanding form, the goalkeeper managing 7 saves to take the player of the match award. It was far from comfortable but it was an important 2-0 win. 
 
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19/12/2026 - FA Trophy 3rd Round v Slough Town (H)
The defence of the FA Trophy began against the side bottom of VNLS. Monster decided to rotate and put out the reserves with the busy Christmas period approaching. Kinsey scored in the 3rd minute with a trademark free kick, curling it around the wall and into the near post. A wonderful team passing move created the second goal, eventually finished by Robinson. Kinsey played the through ball, but it was all about the triangles moving up the pitch between Sonko, Hayes, and Townsend. One- and two-touch passing cut the Slough defence to ribbons, and Robinson was allowed to run through and finish into the right-hand corner of the net. Slough actually got a goal back when a long clearance by Chisholm found a goal-hanging Marshall who somehow wasn't offside, and the striker finished into the top corner from at least 20 yards out. Clayton and Phillips had spurned a few chances from corners earlier in the half but Phillips connected properly with one just before the break to make it 3-1, rising highest at the near post and the header crossing the line at the far post. After half time, Robinson had the chance to score from the spot having been pushed in the back but could only hit his spot kick straight at Chisholm. However, in the 81st minute, substitute Barrows played a great through ball for the striker, and he confidently stroked home with the outside of his right foot. Slough couldn't wait to get off the pitch but were hit on the break again when Barrows's cross from the left sailed all the way over to Townsend, now playing on the right wing, who was unmarked and headed home from close range. 5-1 was the final score, as comfortable a game as Monster could have hoped for. Kinsey was player of the match after a goal and an assist. What a great signing he was looking to be. Aldershot then drew Horsham at home in the 4th Round, the side directly above Slough in the VNLS. 
 
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22/12/2026 - VNL v Torquay United (H)
So far the only side to not taste defeat to a rampant Aldershot, Monster wanted to prove a point against Torquay, 19th in the table. After the opportunity to rest a few players, Monster named a strong line-up with Spencer up front and Wright in the shadow striker role after the Millwall manager had complained the striker was being used as anything but an advanced forward. Torquay made a good start to the game, and opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Adedokun broke down the left, driving a low cross across the area for Shorrock to slide in, Kilner at fault in not cutting the cross out. Monster was not impressed but remained in his seat to see how it played out. It took 15 minutes, but Aldershot found a breakthrough with Stewart. Forrester brought the ball out from the back, using Kinsey as a wall to bounce the ball to Wright, who flicked a first-time pass through to the leading scorer, who made no mistake from 12 yards, slotting the ball home in his usual fashion. Back in the dressing room, Monster told them all he expected better. Just because they had drawn back in August didn't mean they had to draw tonight in front of the highest crowd at The Recreation Ground this month. In the 59th minute, a move began with a Kilner throw-in on the right, the ball eventually falling to Wright in the area, who was scythed down from behind by Adedokun. Harris took the spot kick, slamming it high into the net to the keeper's left. Moses, Kinsey, and Spencer were substituted to save legs, or because they had been ineffective. Townsend, O'Connell, and Robinson came on, and Townsend and Robinson combined to create a goal in stoppage time as Torquay pressed forward. Townsend snuck in from the right and fed Robinson who produced an outrageous lob from inside the D that looped over the keeper and added a cherry to the result. 3-1 was the final score, with Harris named as player of the match. Monster had now beaten every side in the league. Now for the tricky Christmas period with two games in three days. 
 
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26/12/2026 - VNL v Boston United (A)
12th v 1st. A return to Lincolnshire for Monster too on Boxing Day. In the 10th minute, Kinsey continued his superb start at the club, running on to a Tydeman through ball to tuck home. Boston had their strongest period of the game before half time but couldn't find a breakthrough. After half time, Aldershot tightened their grip on the game when Moses benefitted from a Tydeman pass to cut in and curl into the far corner. Boston grabbed a goal back when Leahy's first time effort deflected past Brynn to set up a nervy finish, but Aldershot clung on to take the 3 points home and affirm their 15 point lead at the top. Tydeman's two assists saw him named as player of the match. Monster was starting to become concerned at the lack of clinical finishing in the side, having 26 shots, 12 on target, but only scoring twice didn't impress him. 
 
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28/12/2026 - VNL v Bromley (H)
Two days later and Monster named a similar strength side against a side in decent form, Bromley 5th in the form standings prior to kick off. Always a struggle playing so soon and with 2nd-placed Notts County to face at the weekend, several rotation players had an outing. Luckily, the formation doesn't take it out of the strikers too much, so Stewart and Spencer continued up front. Aldershot had several early chances but couldn't take any of them, much to Monster's frustration. Spencer eventually forced a breakthrough in the 19th minute, breaking his goalscoring drought, with a powerful finish from inside the area which thundered in off the crossbar. However, Bromley levelled with the next attack of the game when Max Hunt missed Vallese's clearance allowing Sodje to run through and finish past Brynn. Before half time, Bromley took the lead when a nice passing move saw them break into the area with Tansley pulling the ball back for Sodje to add his second. Monster's temper was irked with another demonstration of poor finishing, having hit the woodwork on numerous occasions. Thankfully, Everitt scored with the first attack of the second half, sweeping home from inside the area with a gorgeous first-time finish from Tydeman's defence-splitting pass. Monster was after more, frequently demanding it on the touchline. They had the game by the scruff of the neck now and continued to pepper the Bromley goal. He made changes in an attempt to freshen up the side. It was two starters that combined to score the winner in the 77th minute. Tydeman found Stewart about 30 yards out, and the striker played a diagonal ball into the area to find Everitt's run. The left winger scuffed his shot in at the near post and Monster only felt relief. Bromley didn't offer any form of response and it ended 3-2. Monster patted them all on the back but internally he wasn't happy. However, they had made it through the tricky Christmas period. 
 
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December 2026 Review
Yet another perfect month, and if Aldershot could beat Notts County, they would also break their own winning run of 29 matches. However, that would be easier said than done. Kinsey won young player of the month with Tydeman second, while Monster picked up another manager of the month award. Ivan Hyjek then called Monster into his office and offered him a new 3-year deal on £1,300 p/w. Monster accepted it without a moment's thought. He was enjoying himself at the club and it was a no-brainer to extend his deal. Stewart was still top scorer in the league with 22, although he had struggled for consistent goals in December. Moses and Harris were in the top 3 for average ratings, as well as Moses and Tydeman in the top 3 for assists. It rounded off a memorable year for The Shots, after their FA Cup excursions, as well as being on course for a return to League 2. 
 
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January 2027
 
In a world where Diego Simeone has just been appointed manager of Leeds United, Aldershot faced a key month in their season with a trip to their closest rivals and a huge FA Cup 3rd Round match against Liverpool. 
 
02/01/2027 - VNL v Notts County (A)
2nd v 1st. A grudge match where Notts County could be the first team to beat Aldershot this season or Monster's side could extend their lead over them even further. Notts County have dominated their games with a 4-3-3 control possession tactic, and Monster was wary enough to send his side out with a cautious mentality. One of the only sides to play with attacking wingbacks, Monster set the wingers to mark them to try and nullify the threat. It did the trick in the first half as both sides played out a tepid affair. However, Monster changed it up for the second half, laying into the players at the break and going for the balanced mentality again. Notts County didn't know what had hit them. Forrester nodded in Moses's corner in the 49th minute after a few chances had been wasted. A fine run from Everitt down the left, dancing past his man and then driving into the box to square the ball to Stewart, saw the top scorer add his 23rd league goal of the season. Notts County completed their capitulation with another goal from a corner. Hunt won the flick on and Wright tapped in from a yard out at the back post to make it 3-0. Monster put the brakes on and wanted to see the game out from there. Stewart thought he had a brace in the 83rd minute but he had set off a fraction too soon and the assistant referee raised his flag. Notts County did grab one back before the end. Fellahi, who had been at Woking the previous season, stealing in to bury the ball after some excellent work from Griffiths down the right. However, if Monster had been offered a 3-1 win beforehand, he would have taken it. Lead extended to 18 points. Stewart back among the goals. Decent performance from most of the side. The team coach left Nottingham in excellent spirits. 
 
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05/01/2027 - VNL v King's Lynn Town (H)
A nice warm-up for the weekend against the side 23rd in the table, on a miserable recent run. Monster rotated almost everybody to try to keep the first choice squad fit for Saturday's match against Liverpool. Forgotten right winger, Ben Wilson, opened the scoring in the 11th minute after some excellent work by Hayes down the left. His booming cross was nodded down by Tydeman, and Wilson stole in to find the far corner. 10 minutes later, Harvey Jones made it 2-0. Hayes once again was involved, pulling wide and creating some space for Clayton, in as left back today, who played the ball through for Jones to find the net with a simple finish. King's Lynn were undone by a corner in the 35th minute. Wilson's cross. O'Connell's knock down. Phillips's swivel and finish inside the 6-yard box. It was no less than they deserved; Aldershot had been immense so far. Jones added his second before half time when Wilson produced an excellent run down the right, whipped in a cross and Wilson's header found the top corner, clipping the underside of the bar on its way in. After Miles picked up a second yellow card in the 57th minute for a cynical foul, Wilson's chipped ball into the area found the late run of Tydeman who tapped in from close range. Jones thought he had his hattrick in stoppage time but the assistant denied him with a late flag. Phillips's header was well saved by the keeper and Jones tucked away the rebound but was standing offside as the original header came in. 5-0 was the final score with Wilson taking the plaudits to remind Monster he could still have an impact at this level. News reached the home dressing room of Notts County drawing. The lead at the top now stood at 20 points. 
 
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09/01/2027 - FA Cup 3rd Round v Liverpool (H)
Having done his research for the game, Monster couldn't believe who had taken over at Liverpool. Pep Guardiola. The man he would be competing with at the top of the Hall of Fame. Having won the Nations League and the World Cup with Spain, Pep had resigned from the nation on Christmas Day to take charge of the Merseyside giants. Monster would be shaking hands with someone in the Hall of Fame. Sitting in his armchair at home the night before the match, he was suddenly nervous. His dreams and reality were beginning to collide. Could he mastermind his Shots side to a famous cupset? Top of the VNL against 7th in the Premier League. Surely they would have no chance against a side still in the Champions League and a serial winner such as Guardiola in charge? Surely the best he could hope for would be a draw to then take his side on a trip to Anfield? In front of a raucous Recreation Ground, Monster walked his side out for the evening kick off secretly pleased that it wasn't the first choice Liverpool XI his side would be facing. Liverpool settled on the ball quicker and began to dominate possession. Monster asked the team to lower their tempo, stop rushing so much, and enjoy having the ball. It resulted in a half of few chances, the only major talking point was a Liverpool goal being ruled out for offside before half time. Maddison's strike was chalked off because Sudakov was offside, deemed to be interfering with play, despite not being anywhere near the goal. Monster wasn't complaining. However, he did have some players not pulling their weight, promising he would give them 15 minutes to turn things around. Everitt and Tydeman were the first to make way, Jones and Wright coming on to replace them. At the back, Forrester was having a brilliant game, keeping Brazil U20 international Charles quiet. As the clock ticked towards 80 minutes, Stewart thought he had snatched a winner for Aldershot, Spencer playing him through after some excellent work from Jones on the left wing but Spencer was several yards offside. However, sensing an upset, with Liverpool having offered little threat, Monster asked his players to push towards goal a fraction more. In the 88th minute, some exquisite Monsterball saw them work their way through the middle of the pitch, working the ball towards the left and saw Kinsey play Jones through. Only playing on the left wing because he was left-footed, the Aldershot fans stood up as Jones broke into the box, and the ground erupted as Jones stuck it past Irish international goalkeeper Kelleher in the Liverpool goal into the far corner. Monster reacted by drawing the attacking midfielders back, changing the mentality of most of the players to be more defensive, and asked them to time waste. It ground the game to a halt, the Aldershot players passing the ball between themselves as a bewildered Liverpool side couldn't respond. Maddison wasted Liverpool's best chance, shooting wide when it looked easier to score. Substitute Robinson also had another goal ruled out on the break as he mis-timed his run a fraction but it didn't matter in the end. Monster had prevailed over a Hall of Famer. It may be the only time they would face off against each other but Monster went to bed that night knowing it was one trophy Guardiola wouldn't be winning that season. Forrester earned the plaudits for a dominant display at the back. 
 
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10/01/2027 - FA Cup draw
Hull City. At home. Probably another sold-out home game against a Championship side. Not exactly what Monster was after, but he would take it. 
 
12/01/2027 - VNL v Crawley Town (A)
6th v 1st. Having knocked out Premier League opposition, Monster had no fear of anybody now. It was mostly a rotated side that took the field at The People's Pension Stadium, the ground where Monster had won his first domestic cup trophy. They had been in decent form, and were usually formidable at home. In the 20th minute, Hunt gave Aldershot the lead with a header from Townsend's free kick from wide on the left. It was the only major action of the half, Crawley not testing Brynn until after the goal had gone in. After half time, Gitau made a good break down the right, slipping Hayes in. The Irish winger's run took him too wide to have an effort, instead back-heeling it to an onrushing Tydeman, who finished tidily from close-range. A throw-in on the right found Townsend in the 61st minute, and the playmaker drilled in an excellent cross to the far post where Harvey Jones nodded in to give Aldershot a 3-0 advantage. Crawley pulled a goal back before the end, Cruickshank heading in Moore's cross but they couldn't apply any real pressure and the game meandered to a 3-1 win, Crawley's heaviest defeat of the season so far. Townsend, with two assists, took the player of the match award. Monster also received a notification that they had broken the league goals scored record. In January. It also took them 23 points clear at the top of the league. 
 
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16/01/2027 - FA Trophy 4th Round v Horsham (H)
Horsham, 23rd in VNLS, were the next opponents in the FA Trophy. Monster rotated. It was a goalless first half despite Horsham being under pressure the whole half. Horsham took the lead in the 54th minute, leaving Monster wondering if it wasn't going to be their day. Just right of centre, Syla curled his free kick around the wall and past John in goal. The lead didn't last long. As in the Crawley game, Townsend crossed for Jones to head in at the back post. It came following the breakdown from a corner where the ball came out to Townsend and his ball was in the perfect spot for Jones to connect with it. In the 62nd minute, Aldershot grabbed the lead thanks to a Spencer header. Wilson grabbed himself the assist thanks to a great weaving run and a perfect cross on to the on-loan forward's head. Aldershot continued to push for more goals, and in the 80th minute, Phillips was pushed in the back at a corner and O'Connell stepped up to find the bottom-left corner from the spot. 3-1 the final score although it really should have been more. 
 
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23/01/2027 - VNL v Solihull Moors (H)
With two-thirds of the season gone, Monster was almost in ticking-games-off mode. A 23-point lead meant they had a 7 game lead, as it stood. With some tricky away games coming up, to add to the Crawley and Notts County games already this month, Monster wanted to make sure Aldershot won the winnable games. They did that comfortably here, two early goals doing the damage. Harris opened the scoring from the penalty spot, smashing into the top left corner. Moses then doubled the lead in the 18th minute with a free kick, curling around the wall and just inside the post. That was it in terms of goals. Johnson was sent off for Solihull in the second half when he two-footed Everitt near the halfway line. Aldershot were happy to keep the ball and made it a comfortable 2-0 win with Moses named as player of the match. 
 
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26/01/2027 - VNL v Yeovil Town (H)
Another home game in quick succession, Monster made a few changes to keep things fresh. Spencer, who a lot of hopes had been pinned on at the start of the season, hadn't lived up to the hype so far, but scored within 17 seconds of the kick off. Moses released him through the middle, and Spencer finished from just inside the box into the bottom-left corner of the goal. In the 9th minute, Stewart scored his 24th league goal of the season, running on to a Gitau clearance, his pace took him past the Yeovil defence to finish calmly past Kovacevic. They continued to press but didn't manage another goal until after half time. Jones was played through in the left channel but his shot came back off the far post. Moses was on hand to stick it in and it was 3-0 with more than half an hour to play. Yeovil finished the stronger of the two sides, Rowe scoring a worldie in stoppage time from all of 30 yards which crashed in off the crossbar and then bounced out. It didn't affect the result, though, the game had already been won, and Monster's thoughts were already on to the next match against Newport County. 
 
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30/01/2027 - VNL v Newport County (A)
The first of the tricky games found Aldershot travelling to Wales to take on Newport County. 3rd in the league, and in a decent run of form, Monster was wary of them. Aaron Lewis, their right back, was always in good form. Monster wanted to do the worrying about them and let his team focus on doing what they do best: winning games of football. It was a stalemate of a first half, nothing troubling either keeper. Monster wasn't unhappy with that, but encouraged the team to do better. In the 54th minute, Everitt was fouled by Lewis on the edge of the area. Kinsey territory. The left back stepped up to curl a free kick around the wall and in at the near post, similar to Moses's free kick against Solihull Moors. Two minutes later, it was 2-0. Kinsey's free kick from near the corner flag on the left was missed by a couple of defenders and Max Hunt, leaving Tydeman lurking near the penalty spot to hook in. In the 65th minute, Aldershot found a third goal. Stewart was released on the right side of the box. Rather than shooting, he took it wide, and then hit a cross over to the far post where Wright was on hand to nod it over the keeper and into the net. Newport tried to respond, having their best spell of the game but never found a way past Brynn. Monster was ecstatic with a 3-0 win, Kinsey with another brilliant performance thanks to his set piece wizardry. The early second half flurry did all the damage. Moses had come off injured before the end and was ruled out for the next 3 weeks. With a week to go until the FA Cup tie against Hull, Monster was disappointed to be without two of his first-choice side. However, the reserves had shown themselves to be more than capable of stepping in when called upon. 
 
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January 2027 Review
The good times have never ceased so far. Tricky January had turned into Terrific January. How would Monster ever match knocking Liverpool and top of the Hall of Fame Pep Guardiola out of the FA Cup? Possibly only when he topped the Hall of Fame itself. Moses won young player of the month with Jones third, and Monster picked up the manager of the month award. In deadline day shenanigans, Blackpool tried to take Moses. Monster refused anything below the winger's release clause. Max Hunt was also subject to bids, but Monster turned them down too. In the end, the window closed with nobody leaving. 
 
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February 2027
 
In a world where Jurgen Klopp's RB Leipzig will be taking on Zinedine Zidane's Inter Milan in the Champions League later this month, Monster was looking forward to a month of fewer games, edging closer towards the title, and the FA Cup tie against Hull City. 
 
02/02/2027 - VNL v Scunthorpe United (A)
Now 3rd in the league, Scunthorpe would prove to be tricky opposition again. However, after this, there would only be two other league games this month against 15th-placed South Shields and bottom-of-the-table Radcliffe. With the FA Cup tie against Hull being the priority, Monster rotated the full side to see how they fared. Even with the back-ups on the field, it was yet another dominant performance from Aldershot, being busy with the ball, and putting the opposition's goal under pressure. Hayes missed an early chance, his effort clipping the outside of the post. Scunthorpe offered little apart from two speculative efforts, but it was level going into the break. Monster tried to rally the troops to see if they could have another early blitz. It didn't happen in this match. In the end, he summoned Spencer and Barrows from the bench. A minute later, from a corner on the right, Flood whipped in a cross, Phillips met it with a header, and Burge could only tip it into the net when he should have done better. Thoroughly deserved on the balance of play. Scunthorpe then had their best spell of the game. Spreading the ball about nicely, Dodoo found a route through the middle but the assistant raised his flag. Greengrass also had an effort from distance which clipped the top of the net but that was the closest they came. 1-0 was the final score. Not one for the neutrals but it was a professional performance from The Shots. 3 points and a clean sheet meant Monster was satisfied on the ride home from Scunthorpe on a Tuesday night. 
 
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06/02/2027 - FA Cup 4th Round v Hull City (H)
A home tie against a side 9th in the Championship. The Recreation Ground was abuzz with the prospect of more cup giantkillings and Monster reminded his team to go out and cause an upset. Hull started brighter but it was Aldershot who opened the scoring with a fine volley from Paul Spencer. The on-loan Millwall forward took the opportunity presented by Kinsey's delicate chip over the top, after Phillips had won the aerial duel on the halfway line. Aldershot continued to impress, but couldn't find any further breakthroughs. 1-0 at half time. Monster wanted more from them to try to press home the advantage but the Hull side they faced in the second half were fired up and seized control of the match. Brynn pulled off several fine stops to deny them and as the clock ticked over into the final minute of stoppage time, Monster was relieved to have escaped. Kilner played a ball forward looking for Stewart, but it was intercepted and launched downfield by Bowler looking for the run of Regvar who had pulled O'Connell wide. Suddenly it was three-on-one at the back, and Rathbone was able to slot it through for Honeyman to take a touch and curl into the bottom corner from inside the box in front of the rapturous away end, 8 seconds over the added time. Monster wasn't best pleased. The chance had been there and they had let it slip between their fingers. Either way it was a replay at the MKM Stadium in 10 days. It had been a close game, the VNL side had run a Championship side so close, but the extra fitness of the Hull players had shown. At least they had another chance to cause a cupset. They began to anticipate the draw. 
 
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07/02/2027 - FA Cup 5th Round draw
Manchester United. At home. Hull to beat first, though. Could they grab the opportunity to take on the reigning Champions League winners?  
 
13/02/2027 - FA Trophy 5th Round v Ebbsfleet United (A)
An away tie to whet the appetite for the FA Cup replay and another chance for Monster to rotate the side. He made 11 changes from the Hull game to take on 16th in VNL. Rather than taking their opportunity, they proceeded to play out a 0-0 draw. Aldershot had the better of the opportunities but couldn't find a breakthrough. The match went to penalties. 9 of the first 10 penalties found the net but it was Townsend who missed the final one to send Aldershot crashing out. They would miss out on a trophy. Monster was gutted. Having won the trophy last season and top of the league so far this season, to barely play the Monsterball way was of great disappointment, in a trophy they had had an excellent chance of winning. However, Monster felt it would be somehow worth it, despite it costing him points in his Hall of Fame quest, if Aldershot could knock Hull City out of the FA Cup in midweek. 
 
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16/02/2027 - FA Cup 4th Round Replay v Hull City (A)
Monster kept faith in the system and most of the players from the original tie. In the original game, he had tried to force a second goal to put the tie beyond doubt and Aldershot conceded on the break in the last minute of the game. This time he vowed not to be too adventurous. It would be their mental strength that would win this match, not their mentality. In the 4th minute, Kinsey broke down the left, his attempted through-ball then blocked. In trying to play it out, Diangana then managed to present the ball straight back to Kinsey, who managed to squeeze his through-ball through to Spencer. His delicate touch poked it past Coleman and in at the far post. There was delirium in the Aldershot corner of the ground. Aldershot managed to keep Hull at bay and were looking good for a lead going in at half time. However, from an O'Nien cross from the right, Forrester pushed Bamford too forcefully for the referee's liking, and pointed to the spot. Hector stepped up and slammed the ball to Brynn's right. Monster told the team to keep working; he hadn't seen anything to say Aldershot couldn't win. In the 56th minute, Jones broke down the right and was tripped by Pedersen. Kinsey whipped in the free kick on to Hunt's head, and he managed to get enough on it to flick into the far corner. 2-1! Monster was thrilled - could they hold out? Hull responded, being much more positive in possession, keeping the ball better. A flowing move brought them their equaliser on the hour mark, Brunner scoring from just inside the area with a terrific strike off the underside of the bar; Aldershot hadn't been able to get near them. Three minutes later, Monster thought they had gone behind, Diangana tapping home from a few yards out but Barrington was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up. Having seen their football be effective, Monster changed nothing tactically, instead deciding to change personnel. Forrester, Jones, and Wright made way as the least effective players on the pitch. It strengthened Aldershot's resolve, and they had the better of the remaining stages of the game. In the 89th minute, Hull put together another flowing move, Barrington breaking through down the left and feeding Bamford in the box. The striker converted left-footed despite the attentions of both centre backs. Monster looked to the sky. The dream was over. Until the referee blew his whistle and signalled a free kick. Another offside decision given. It seemed to spur Aldershot on, and they put together a beautiful move of their own when Kinsey was released forward. He gave the ball to Tydeman who poked it through for Hayes, the substitute on the left. Bearing down on goal, he toe poked it into the bottom corner to send the away end jumping up and down again as Hayes ran off to celebrate by the corner flag. Monster instructed everyone to ease off and they managed to see out the remaining few minutes to earn the right to play Manchester United in the 5th Round. Kinsey was the star of the show with two assists. Another scalp to add to the list. Many of the fans were dreaming about what could be, fresh off the back of last season's journey. 
 
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20/02/2027 - VNL v South Shields (H)
1st v 21st. Rather than rotating the whole side, Monster decided to play the fittest team. A combination of reserves and first choice took to the field and produced a dominant display of Monsterball in the first half. Spencer continued his decent spell of goalscoring form when in the 18th minute, Wright's cross from the left deflected into his path, and he finished first-time inside the far post. In the 29th minute, he used his height to his advantage, rising highest at the far post with a bullet header from Moses's free kick out wide on the right. His hattrick came in the 43rd minute in classic Monsterball fashion. Harris picked up the ball off the defence, knocking it forward to a tucked-in Kinsey. His pass found Moses on the right, who nodded it in to Stewart. The striker didn't shoot, but had the nouse to play it square to Spencer, 8 yards out, who couldn't miss, and he found the bottom corner with a first-time left-footed finish. Spencer was then fouled at a corner, and Monster decided to let Wright, who had been in a poor run of form, take the penalty. He slammed it in from the spot into the bottom-right corner to make it 4-0 before half time. South Shields tried to make a game of it in the second half but there was little action, the game meandered by despite Monster demanding more a couple of times. Even the substitutes couldn't have an impact and 4-0 was the final score taking Aldershot to within one win of the title. In February.  
 
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27/02/2027 - VNL v Radcliffe (A)
With the FA Cup tie at home against Manchester United coming up in midweek, Monster was caught in two minds as to the sort of side to name against bottom-of-the-table Radcliffe, having only picked up points in 4 games all season. Monster made 8 changes in the end, keeping the players fresh as well as wanting the best team fit and ready for the FA Cup tie. Aldershot dominated the ball as expected and Monster wanted them to put on a show. Robinson, top scorer last year but not quite up to the same standards this year, took his opportunity to remind Monster of his abilities by scoring two quick goals. The first was good movement on his part in the 31st minute, timing his run perfectly to meet Jones's through ball, stroking the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net. 4 minutes later, the referee pointed to the spot having spotted a hand-ball in a melee and Robinson passed it straight down the middle to make it 2-0. Aldershot always had control of the game and confirmed the title at full time to muted celebrations. They hadn't dazzled but they had got the job done. Robinson was the player of the match after his brace. It was Monster's fourth league title in five seasons and the first time he had wrapped it up with 9 games to go and in the month of February. The board also announced his new budgets, giving him £800k in the transfer budget, and a 50% increase in wages. Monster was secretly hoping to have caught the attention of a higher league club, but was happy to stay with Aldershot if no other jobs were forthcoming. 
 
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February 2027 Review
A mixed month for the first time at Aldershot where not everything went Monster's way. The defeat on penalties in the FA Trophy hurt but on reflection he had taken Ebbsfleet too lightly in that game with the FA Cup tie next. However, he still had some Hall of Fame points from the league title, and the FA Cup 5th Round tie against Manchester United up next. Spencer picked up the young player of the month award after some excellent recent performances. Monster picked up another manager of the month award after winning all three league games without conceding any goals. 
 
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March 2027
 
In a world where Wayne Rooney and Phil Neville are managing in the Championship (Bristol City and Watford respectively) and Eddie Howe is managing Bournemouth at the Eddie Howe Stadium, Monster had another game against Premier League opposition; his third in less than a year. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. National League sides shouldn't be reaching the latter stages of the FA Cup. However, to add to Monster's surprise, he had emerged as the leading candidate in the press for the managerial vacancy at the Premier League's bottom side, Brentford. 
 
03/03/2027 - FA Cup 5th Round v Manchester United (H)
Having entertained Liverpool already, the town was alive with the visit of another Premier League side. Monster made 11 changes from the previous game, the first choice side coming in. Monster asked them to focus on keeping possession, unable to compete with the Premier League side's pressing intensity. It didn't work to begin with, Manchester United running riot over the VNL side in the first 23 minutes, racking up 4 goals in that time. The first was a tap in at the back post by Golovin from a McKennie cross. The second was a Wirtz finish from a Golovin pull back. The third was another tap in for Golovin, this time from Daka's cross. Daka then scored the fourth, tapping in after Tydeman's pass to nowhere. Monster had tried to stem the tide by asking the players to mark specific players tightly and he moved Tydeman out of the attacking midfield into the central midfield role. Spencer did have the ball in the back of the net but he was correctly adjudged to have been offside. At half time, Monster asked the team to cause a few surprises in the second half. He couldn't yell at them. They'd managed to prevent any more goals going in, against a side 2nd in the Premier League, four tiers above them. 4-0 was by no means a disgrace against a side containing several established internationals. Golovin made it 5-0, his hattrick, with another tap in. Then Brynn saved Goncalves shot but could only palm into the path of the onrushing left winger. However, Monster was delighted to see Aldershot begin to play, Tydeman flicking the ball through for Spencer to finish from near the penalty spot only a minute or so later. After making some changes, Aldershot added another in the 80th minute. Townsend lofted the ball forward for Wright to run on to, and he pulled the ball back for Stewart to finish at the near post. 4 minutes later Aldershot made it 5-3, substitute Hayes picking up a loose header from Diveev and running into the box and smashing the ball past Gorter. Monster couldn't believe it. They couldn't from here, surely? As it turned out, they couldn't - the Premier League side wrestling control back again but even for a few moments, Monster had been allowed to dream and send the supporters home feeling like they'd given the Champions League holders a decent game. Aldershot set a new gate receipts record, raking in £190k from the tie. Monster was now hoping to be offered an interview for the Brentford job. 
 
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06/03/2027 - VNL v Woking (A)
And back to the grind, although they'd already won the title. The first match of the swansong was against local rivals Woking. It was a mostly first-choice side that played. Aldershot took hold of the ball, as they often do, but it was Woking who took the lead in the 15th minute with a well-executed counter attack. Shade played through Bass and he finished confidently past Brynn. Monster was more annoyed at the goalkeeper for giving the ball away with a pointless clearance downfield. Try as they might, Aldershot couldn't find a way through, and went in at the break behind. Monster was beginning to wonder if was one of those days, and was even more frustrated when Porter doubled Woking's lead from a corner. Monster hauled off Spencer after a pathetic showing, and sent on Robinson. In the 78th minute, a free kick just inside the Woking half was played by Clayton to Townsend. The deep-lying playmaker played a great ball forward to Robinson, who played a one-two with Jones, and was able to run through and dink the ball over the keeper. 2-1. Hope for The Shots. In the 83rd minute, Robinson was scythed down in the penalty area following the breakdown from a corner. He picked himself up and smashed the penalty into the bottom corner to find a deserved equaliser. Monster encouraged the side to go for the winner but they couldn't find a way through, and Woking came closest to snatching it when Porter's header came back off the crossbar from another corner. The game finished 2-2. Monster wasn't too disappointed, they had pulled it back from 2 goals down. He'd have been more annoyed if they'd capitulated like Woking had. However, his mind was already elsewhere. Would Brentford come looking for him? Could he be managing in the Premier League before the end of the season?
 
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09/03/2027 - VNL v Stockport County (H)
The next game up saw Monster wanting to get back to winning ways, at home to a side struggling to meet their pre-season predictions, wallowing in 17th having been predicted to be 4th. Monster told the side to go out and win. They took that message to heart, doing what Manchester United had done to them by smashing 4 goals in within the first 20-odd minutes. In the second minute, Kinsey's inswinging corner from the right was met by Hunt and Wright tapped in at the far post from a yard out. Two minutes later it was 2-0 when Stewart was played through by his strike partner and found the far corner with a right-footed finish. In the 13th minute, Hunt scored with a looping header from a Kinsey free kick from near the corner flag, scoring from an impossible angle, meeting the ball at the near post and the ball dropping in at the far post. Stewart added a second in the 25th minute with a composed finish from Kilner's perfect through ball from his tucked-in position on the right. Monster wanted his side to keep pushing for goals but none were forthcoming. Stockport made it 4-1 in the 67th minute, Hughes heading in at the back post from a Bailie cross. In the end, Monster took the 3 points and congratulated the team on their performance. They had destroyed Stockport at the start of the game. Now he was sat waiting for Brentford to get in touch. 
 
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13/03/2027 - VNL v Boreham Wood (H)
Another home match and the trickiest game left this season against the side in 4th. Nothing from Brentford, who were on a slight renaissance after sacking their manager, picking up two 1-0 wins to give them some hope of staying in the league. Monster named his fittest side, once again, and Spencer continued his excellent recent form with a great finish in the 14th minute, receiving the ball in the box, swerving one way and then the other, before smashing home from 15 yards. In the 30th minute, Tydeman's run was halted inside the box by a poorly timed tackle, and Kinsey stepped up to finish in the bottom-left corner from the spot. In the second half, Spencer was brought down in the area by a last-ditch tackle from Conor Sproule, who had been at The Recreation Ground last season on loan, but Kinsey couldn't convert the penalty this time, hitting his penalty straight at Patterson, and then hitting the post from the rebound. The game finished 2-0 and Monster could take some solace from the fact the side were seemingly over their FA Cup exit. There was little to play for in the final 6 games of the season. 
 
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15/03/2027 - job interview
Brentford were finally in touch, nearly two weeks after Monster had first applied for the role. A few questions surprised him such as why was he developing a reputation for applying for roles while in employment (are you only supposed to apply for jobs when unemployed?) and what would he bring to a side battling relegation. He answered honestly, desperately hoping he would be given a chance to get stuck in and test himself at the highest level with Monsterball to see if they could stay in the top division with 8 games remaining. The vision they posed for him matched his own footballing philosophy. He was also asked when he wanted to take charge. He decided to say he would take charge immediately. The title had been won. He was chomping at the bit to test himself in the Premier League and if unsuccessful at keeping them up, bringing them straight back up from the Championship next season. If he got the job, of course. 
 
20/03/2027 - VNL v Maidstone United (A) New job
Brentford came in and offered Monster a 2-year deal on £13.5k a week with a 30% relegation wage decrease. Luckily, it was right at the start of the international window so Monster would have some time to try and embed Monsterball into the players for the final 7 games of the season. 10 points from safety meant he would need to win at least 4 of those to stand a chance of surviving. His first test would be against table-topping Manchester City. As part of his move, the board agreed to send him on his next coaching course too. Monster said his goodbyes to the club where dreams had been fulfilled. An FA Cup semi final. Beating Liverpool. A league and cup double. He'd never lost a league game as Aldershot manager. It had been a whirlwind not-quite-two years. And now he was going to have at least 7 games in the Premier League. He couldn't say with any certainty that he could keep Brentford up but he would damn well give it a go. On researching the club's history, Monster was surprised to find they had never reached the semi final of the FA Cup, something he could use in the dressing room to try to convince the players he knew what he was talking about, having reached it with a Tier 6 side. Monster immediately set about shaping things from the club at top to bottom, sorting out who was doing what, and making sure he had full control of all of the aspects he wanted to handle. One of the strangest things was not having a youth academy. Monster knew it was how Brentford had worked but it was still strange not having any youth players at the club to blood into the first team squad. 
 
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March 2027 Review
Not the review he was expecting. His tenure at Aldershot had come to a close and he had begun a new one during an international break. The game against Manchester United would live long in the memory, probably for the wrong reasons, but he had made the jump from non-league to Premier League in a move he certainly hadn't expected. Assistant Manager Tom Tapp had taken the reigns at Aldershot on a caretaker basis and Monster would keep an eye out for them moving forwards. Hillingdon Borough, meanwhile, were on their second consecutive relegation, meaning they would be back in Tier 8 next season. 
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April 2027
 
In a world where a manager who had never managed at a higher tier than Tier 5 was now at the helm of a Tier 1 club, and his first game at that level would be against a side containing both Haaland and Mbappe (I mean, come on... one's bad enough, but both of them?), Monster had a brand new suit to walk out at the Brentford Community Stadium. He was on £13.5k per week. He could have a new wardrobe of suits every week if he wanted. He had never earned that much a month, let alone a week. He now earned more in a week and a half than his annual salary at the brush factory. 
 
03/04/2027 - Premier League (PL) v Manchester City (H)
20th v 1st. Monster wasn't used to being the side lower than the opposition. He hadn't been involved in a relegation battle since his first season in charge, nearly 5 years ago now. In the Saturday evening kick off in the Premier League, Monster was filled with a sense of pride as he sat in the dugout for the first time. He would take a draw in this game. He would love to win to instil some hope, but realistically a draw would be the best he could hope for. When their teamsheet was named, Monster recognised most of the names. Phil Foden. Bernardo Silva. Lautauro Martinez. Kevin De Bruyne. And that was on top of Haaland and Mbappe. Picking his first team sheet was tricky. He hadn't seen the point in playing a friendly during the international break as 10 of the squad had been away on international duty. His biggest issue was choosing a deep-lying playmaker to fill the Jayden Harris and Lukasz Gostomski role. Both had been outstanding ball players but he didn't have one of those in the squad. In the end, he went with captain and best centre back, Kristoffer Ajer, as the man for the role. Walking out of the tunnel in front of 17,250 fans who were intrigued rather than delirious. How would this non-league manager fare against the side top of the table? Monster's message in the dressing room had been about belief. Hard work. Determination. All things he wanted to see. It didn't matter who was on the opposition's team. Play Monsterball. In the 11th minute, Kamara took a throw-in in front of the dugouts. He threw the ball to Semenyo, who gave it back to the throw-in taker. Kamara knocked it forward to Mbeumo, who took a touch and played a ball through to Fabio Silva near the penalty spot who lashed it into the top corner! Ederson got a hand on it but couldn't keep it out, and the young Portuguese striker wheeled away with his hands aloft. Two minutes later, Stevens had the ball on the right hand side near the halfway line. He threw it to Galeno who knocked it off to Silva. He played it inside to Lo Celso, who nearly lost out but recovered and gave it back to the goalscorer. Silva knocked it to Ajer, and he laid it off to Stevens in the tucked in role. The tucked in midfield four of Ajer, Lo Celso, Stevens, and Kamara all exchanged passes, giving it to Semenyo's feet, and his ball through to Fabio Silva was perfect for the striker to take it round Ederson and tuck the ball in. The players ran off celebrating but Monster experienced something he had never seen before. A VAR check. They were looking for an offside. He knew it had been close. Had the left back played Silva on? After an agonising wait, the referee pointed to the centre circle. 2-0! Monster instantly told the team to start focusing on possession. Manchester City would need the ball in order to score goals. The team in blue then proceeded to pepper the Brentford goal. Mbappe had several good chances, his pace a constant menace on the left wing. Travers in goal kept repelling everything. Haaland hit the post from close range at one point too. But Brentford held on and went in at half time 2-0 up. Monster wanted to tell them to hold on but had to let them know how well they had played. They had been resilient so far. Through the walls of the dressing room they could hear Antonio Conte telling his superstars what he thought of them. Monster knew there would be a reaction. But the second half started quietly. Brentford patiently kept the ball, not taking any chances, not doing anything risky. Man City had efforts, but most of them were tame and easily dealt with by Travers. Monster decided to make changes, bringing off the disappointing Lo Celso and Galeno, sending on Hughes and Brooks. A couple of minutes later, Hughes was played through by Semenyo. Surely they couldn't make it 3-0? Hughes's effort looked to be curling past Ederson, but it clipped the post and went wide. Monster couldn't believe it. At the other end, a nice move from Manchester City saw Mbappe played through. Haaland had been substituted for Lautauro Martinez, and the Argentine made a nuisance of himself to create the space for the French forward to run through and finish into the corner. The referee signalled for a VAR check. Had Mbappe been offside? Another agonising wait and the referee raised his arm. To the sky. An indirect free kick had been given. Mbappe had moved too soon. Frimpong was then played through and chipped Travers but Monster was relieved to see the ball sail on to the top of the net. He told the team to waste time. Keep the ball. Don't do anything risky. Man City couldn't get near it. Monster kept checking his watch. The time ticked down. Injury time ran out. The tension in the stands was palpable. Surely they weren't going to beat the league leaders? But they had. 2-0. It was only the fourth time that season they had scored more than a goal in a game, and only the third time in the league. It was Man City's 3rd league defeat of the season. Mark Travers was the player of the match after making 10 saves but all of them had played fairly well. Monster returned to the pitch after his tunnel duties and tried to remember everything that had happened. Could this be the start of a miraculous escape? Could he somehow manufacture more wins between now and the end of the season and pull off the unlikeliest of escapes? He was certainly going to try. The players seemed to believe now too. Monsterball was alive in the Premier League. In terms of safety, Monster had to keep an eye on Brighton & Hove Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Burnley. Wolves lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace, Brighton lost 3-0 away to Liverpool, and Burnley lost 3-1 to Spurs. It brought the gap to safety down to 7 points. Southampton and Aston Villa could also get dragged in. Up next for Brentford were Everton in 9th and Fulham in 10th, both away games. 
 
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07/04/2027 - PL v Everton (A)
9th v 20th. A Wednesday night on Merseyside at the recently built Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium. Brentford were actually in better form than their hosts, having won four of their last five. Monster decided to make some tactical tweaks after realising the physical prowess of the team. The defensive line was raised to be higher. Monster wanted the team to counter attack but he wanted the goalkeeper to slow the distribution down to maintain the possession. He also dropped the tempo. Possession was his aim. They were statistically the worst team in the league; having possession of the ball would be key. Monster chose to play one of his centre backs at left back to counter-act the threat of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, third in the PL goalscorer charts. He also went for putting Zhegrova out to to the right and dropping Galeno, who hadn't been great in the first match. Everton started the match on the front foot, carving a couple of early shots. In the 21st minute, Friedrich cleared the ball out to Mbeumo on the left, who flicked it on to Semenyo. The young striker took a touch before knocking the ball through for Lo Celso and he took a couple of touches before launching a shot from all of 25 yards into the bottom corner with Brentford's first shot of the game. In a game of few chances, Brentford held out to half time. However, Everton came out second half with a new purpose and Luka Romero grabbed the equaliser, beating Travers at his near post after receiving the ball in the box from Lazzari's pass. Monster knew he would see the character of his new side now. Could they hold on? Within 5 minutes, Brentford had retaken the lead. A long ball downfield from Travers was knocked on by Fabio Silva to Semenyo who played the ball through for his strike partner to poke past Martin in the Everton goal, the ball dribbling into the corner. Midway through the second half, Semenyo intercepted a loose ball and played in Mbeumo, whose cross was deflected into the path of Zhegrova, who squeezed the ball in off the left-hand post. 3-1! Monster was ecstatic. There was a real flow to Brentford's play now, and Everton seemed rattled. Fabio Silva put the cherry atop the cake with a fourth goal in stoppage time, a loose clearance from Martin going straight to Brentford and Zhegrova played Silva in for him to slot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. 4-1. Monster couldn't believe it. Everton had been by far the better side but Brentford had been clinical. They could actually pull it off. Looking around the dressing room afterwards, Monster could see it in their eyes. Belief. It pulled Brentford to within 4 points of safety with 5 games to go. 
 
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10/04/2027 - PL v Fulham (A)
A trip to local rivals was up next for the Saturday lunchtime kick off. Monster was forced to rotate to keep players fit. He also asked for his team to play with a high tempo today. It was a key component of Monsterball and he wanted to see some endeavour to get forward and put the opposition's goal under some pressure. Toure, Brooks, and Hughes, were in for Stevens, Ajer, and Lo Celso. In the 20th minute, Brentford kept the ball in the middle of the park, the ball being spread out to Toure who played Galeno through and the right winger was able to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle to give Brentford the lead. 4 minutes later, Kamara picked the ball up in the Fulham half, drove forward, and played a tantalising ball for Fabio Silva who finished first time. Before half time, the high-tempo Monsterball found Semenyo playing through Kamara, and the left back stroked the ball into the bottom-right corner to make it 3-0. Slightly harsh on Fulham but Monster wasn't going to complain. Another clinical display. In the second half, it was a timid start by Brentford but Fulham couldn't find a way through. Brooks had a goal ruled out for offside before Monster made a couple of changes. Lowering the tempo to keep the ball, Monster sent on Lo Celso and Docherty and the latter managed to scramble the ball in following chaos in the box from a Zhegrova corner. Ajer flicked the ball on, Docherty headed against the bar, Ajer flicked the ball back across, Docherty then hit the post with another header, the ball bouncing off the woodwork, hitting him in the face and going in. Fulham were reduced to ten men following an injury and Monster could only watch on in disbelief as his side strolled to the finish. 4-0. Away at one of their local rivals. On their manager's birthday. Kamara picked up the player of the match after a goal and an assist and an accomplished display at left back. Monster was delighted in the tunnel afterwards. 9 points from his first 3 games was far more than he had dreamt of. They were now within 2 points of safety. Brentford had been bottom since 17th October, and now with 4 games to go, they could escape the relegation zone in the most dramatic of circumstances with another win. 
 
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19/04/2027 - PL v Sheffield United (H)
Last time out at home they had shocked the league leaders. Sheffield United weren't quite the same calibre as Manchester City but were in 12th. Monster wanted to see if they could make it 4 wins on the bounce. He had slowly been adding to his staff, bringing in Andy Crosby as assistant manager and filling up the vacant slots in the staff list. He had sorted scouting out for the summer, now being given reports on players who were so much better than he had ever experienced before. He was now going to have to refine his philosophy on key characteristics he wanted in players. However, he knew he had to stay in the Premier League in order to start building for the future due to the finances on offer. Coming up against Frank Lampard's side in the Monday evening kick off, Monster was determined not to be overawed in meeting someone he had once seen miss a penalty for England at Old Trafford in a 2006 World Cup warm up fixture. After the weekend's results, Monster knew a win could pull them clear. Brentford had the better of the first half, and took the lead in the 25th minute when Stevens's cross from the right was allowed to bounce in the area and left back Kamara was able to turn in from an acute angle. Jebbison then missed Sheffield United's best chance when put clean through but saw his effort come back off the post. Monster switched things up and pushed for a second goal but with time running out, Sheffield United grabbed a deserved equaliser, Jebbison making amends for his earlier miss with a close-range header in the 89th minute. Monster was disappointed, they had defended well, but 1-1 was the final score. The front 5 hadn't clicked at all. Monster knew he was working with somebody else's squad, which hadn't been balanced to his tactics, and players were playing out of their preferred position. It had been a good opportunity to climb the league but with games against Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, and Chelsea remaining, this had been the best opportunity to pick up 3 points. 
 
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24/04/2027 - PL v Tottenham Hotspur (A)
Coming up against Ralf Rangnick's Tottenham side pushing for European football in 6th, Monster knew a win could pull them out of the relegation zone. He lowered the tempo to try and focus on keeping the ball, something they had struggled with against Sheffield United. Tottenham took the lead in this game, Son playing a wonderful ball through for Del Palacio Langer to convert into the top corner from inside the area. The lead didn't last long. Travers's booming clearance upfield found Kamara, who nodded it on to Fabio Silva, who knocked it down for Lo Celso to play in Mbeumo, who poked it past Szczesny (yep, even with his Arsenal connections) and into the net. In the 20th minute, Stevens had a throw-in on the right which he gave to Galeno. The right winger took the ball past his marker to the byline and blasted a low cross towards the far post where an unmarked Zhegrova was on hand to convert from close-range. In the 34th minute, Del Palacio Langer made it 2-2, played through by Kane, and he finished confidently into the top corner again. Monster could only shake his head. They had fought back to grab the lead - could they do it again? In the 40th minute, Zhegrova took a corner from the left. Ajer flicked it on, Lo Celso headed it back across goal, and Mbeumo was on hand to tap in to give Brentford the lead going into half time. Monster asked for more of the same in the second half. They had been working on set pieces, having not scored many since his arrival, and Friedrich added to the scoreline in the 58th minute, tucking in from Zhegrova's corner. Zhegrova then added his second of the game with another close-range tap-in. Stevens had done brilliantly to spin his man on the edge of the area but Szczesny could only palm the shot into the Kosovan's path. 5-2. Could Brentford hold on? Monster didn't know if they could, and his doubts became louder when Devine nodded in Konrad's free kick in the 66th minute to make it 5-3. Fabio Silva was then stretchered off in the 73rd minute to add to Monster's concerns. He was their talismanic striker. It could have implications for the rest of the season, even more so if they couldn't win here. A few minutes later, Friedrich's long ball forward found Semenyo's run, and the substitute forward had the composure to touch the ball past the onrushing Szczesny and tuck the ball into the far corner of the empty net from the edge of the area. Spurs did try and reduce the deficit but couldn't make their pressure count. It finished 6-3, in a game that would go down as a classic in PL history. For Monster, it was nothing new. Monsterball had seen plenty of high-scoring games over the years. As the 3pm games finished, Brentford were officially out of the relegation zone. However, the other sides around them still had to play. Monster didn't want to celebrate yet. The final game of the season away at Chelsea would be the decider, he was sure. Fabio Silva was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn thigh muscle, which was a blow. 
 
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April 2027 Review
An unbeaten first month in charge of the side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, Monster's side had notched up 17 goals in April, having only scored 19 goals prior to that. They had gained 13 points, having only picked up 18 when he had arrived. There was a real sense of optimism that Brentford could stay up. Hassane Kamara came third in the PL player of the month award, while Lo Celso's thunderbolt against Everton came second in the goal of the month competition. Monster also came as runner up in the PL manager of the month. Not bad for someone who had been managing in non-league in March. It had been a dream start. Could he now make so many dreams come true by avoiding relegation? 
 
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May 2027
 
In a world where Liverpool will meet Real Madrid at the Stade de France to contest the Champions League Final, (Editor Monster: hang on... No, it's true!) Jonster Monster's Brentford went into the final two games of the season with their destiny in their own hands; unthinkable 5 games ago when he first joined. 
 
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08/05/2027 - PL v West Ham United (H)
The final home game of the season was marred by 4 first team players being ruled out by injury. Fabio Silva, Friedrich, Galeno, and Lo Celso would all miss the rest of the season after picking up knocks in training. In hindsight, Monster maybe shouldn't have arranged physical training in late April but with a week off, he had wanted to make sure the side were physically ready for the games. That had seemingly backfired. West Ham, led by Roberto de Zerbi, had slipped to 16th in the league, 3 points above Brentford. A 6-goal swing would be needed if Brentford wanted to go above them with a win. Tzolis made his first start under Monster having returned from injury but it was more out of necessity with the players missing. The top scorer. The creative force. A great centre back. And a slightly unconvincing right winger. All missing. In the 5th minute, West Ham took the lead when Seoane played Vlasic through in the left channel, and the attacking midfielder slotted it past Travers at his near post. In the 11th minute, Ajer's poor clearance fell straight to Tsimikas. He played it forward to Bowen who was able to drill it across from the byline for Rafa Mir to stab home. 2-0 down and Monster was slumped in his seat. Those injuries were looking tough now. Brentford finally started to create something and Mbeumo was able to grab a goal before half time when Stevens played the forward through and he couldn't miss from near the penalty spot, stroking the ball into the bottom-left corner. Monster wanted more at half time and he got it. In the 53rd minute, Tzolis was in space on the right and he played the perfect ball through to Brooks who slammed into the net left-footed from just inside the area. Brentford couldn't add a third and West Ham turned up the pressure, Travers pulling off some decent stops to keep the match level. In the end, 2-2 was a fair result. It left Brentford in 17th but with Chelsea away on the last day, they had by far the hardest match among the bottom 4 that they had to win to stay up. 
 
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16/05/2027 - PL v Chelsea (A)
Away against rivals Chelsea who were battling to finish 3rd would be the game that would decide Brentford's fate. If they won, they would be safe. Anything else and they needed favours from elsewhere. In many ways, it was ridiculous that they still had a chance of staying up, but Monster knew it would be thin. He looked into the eyes of each of his players. He didn't know how the next couple of hours would play out. He could tell them to go out and play without pressure. He could tell them to go out as the underdog and cause some surprises. In the end, he told them to go out there and prove a point. Prove they deserved to stay in the division. He told them to go and play positively, away from his normal balanced approach; he had done the same when battling Championship sides with Aldershot. Try and surprise them. The positive approach nearly backfired in the first minute when Lukaku was played straight through the middle but Ajer recovered well to make the block. In the 22nd minute, Mbeumo played a brilliant ball in behind for Semenyo but Chalobah recovered well to block the ball out for a corner. In the 35th minute, a long clearance downfield by Martinez was flicked on to Havertz by Lukaku, and the German's cross was nearly turned in a the far post by Broja. Kamara cleared the ball to safety. In the 40th minute, Brentford won a corner. Zhegrova stood over it, raised a hand above his head and whipped it to the near post. Ajer met it, Martinez pulled off a fantastic save but Ajer reacted quickest to turn it over the line to give Brentford the lead in front of the away fans! As it stood, they would be safe. Monster told them all to keep going at half time. They'd not really let Chelsea have a sniff. However, it was inevitable Chelsea would respond. They were pursuing 3rd in the PL after all. In the 49th minute, Porro took a throw-in from the right, Lukaku laid it off to Havertz, and his cross was met by Broja at the back post. But the ball bounced off the crossbar and away to safety. A minute later, Semenyo played through Stevens on a rampaging run from full back and he chipped Martinez from the edge of the box. Monster watched the ball sail over the Chelsea keeper. Was this it? No. The ball bounced off the far post and was cleared by Chalobah. In the 67th minute, a corner from the right was flicked on by Ajer but Brooks was denied at the far post by a brilliant block by Kante. The rebound fell to Mbeumo but James was there with a sliding challenge. As the clock ticked on, the tension increased. Brentford had the lead but news had reached them that Brighton were winning. It meant they had to hold on. In the 80th minute, Stevens took a throw-in near his own area. They kept the ball between them but the right back cleared the ball downfield looking to release the pressure. It was taken down by the Chelsea defence and they quickly switched the ball to Mount. He flicked it through for Lukaku and his pace and power took him clear. He clipped a shot from the edge of the box. Travers got a hand on it but the ball still dribbled in. The equaliser. As it stood, Brentford would be down. Monster tried to rally the troops but they had little left to give. Chelsea came closest to the winner when Anguissa's shot came back off the post in stoppage time, but the game finished 1-1. All eyes were on the Brighton score but they had won 3-1 at home to Aston Villa. Brentford were down, finishing 18th. So close, but not close enough. 
 
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Monster didn't know what the future held. He knew the players he had at the club had bought into Monsterball, but he still hadn't been convinced by some of their attitudes. Losing 4 of their first choice team prior to the penultimate game was a blow and it looked to have ultimately cost them. Could he rebuild the side? He had never suffered relegation before and the history books wouldn't have an asterisk next to it. All he could do would be to develop a side in the Championship in his image, try and earn promotion, and see what he could do with a full pre-season with the players. He realised he still hadn't lost a league game. He had 4 wins and 3 draws in the Premier League so far. But it wasn't the division he would be in next season. 
 
The board gave him the budgets. They were the biggest budgets he had ever had. A transfer budget of £4m. The wage budget was the same as it was now but some players would be on lower wages due to relegation percentage clauses. None of the first-choice players were on short-term contracts. If he wanted to generate any extra funds he would have to sell them. He was tempted to but he knew he would have to bring in new faces to flesh out the squad, particularly with the lack of youth team available. 
 
Monster cancelled the end of season awards. Relegation didn't deserve any awards, as far as he was concerned. It had been a miserable season for Brentford, despite their form in the last three months. He met with the board and they told him the long-term plan. Next season they wanted at least the playoffs in the Championship. Monster felt that was reasonable. It looked to be a summer of turmoil ahead. Relegation release clauses for Fabio Silva, Fin Stevens, Edon Zhegrova, and Christos Tzolis became active. If it generated interest, Monster was fine with cashing in on them. All of them apart from Stevens came to see him and Monster agreed he would let them go if their clauses were met. Kristoffer Ajer also came to see him and Monster agreed he wouldn't stand in his way if a side was interested. A news story flashed up later that evening to say Chelsea were rumoured to be considering an offer. It would be a blow to lose arguably their best player but at the same time, Monster didn't stand for players causing dressing room disruption. He vowed there and then to sell players if they didn't want to buy into the Monsterball project. He knew his scouts would be the staff he would be spending the most time with over the next few weeks to see what options would be available. At the whole club, there were only 29 players to work with including the U23s. He would much rather have a larger pool of players on lower wages. Youth would probably be the best way of developing that. 
 
He then checked on Aldershot. They had remained unbeaten, although had picked up a few draws. Newport County had been promoted through the playoffs meaning Notts County had missed out, despite gaining more than a hundred points. Layton Stewart came third in the end in the goalscoring charts. Monster sent Tom Tapp a message, wishing them all well in League 2. 
 
And that was it. The end of a crazy 2026/2027 season. It had started with Aldershot in the VNL, included a win over Premier League (and Champions League winners) Liverpool in the FA Cup, a win over the manager currently top of the Hall of Fame, but had ended in Premier League relegation despite being unbeaten in his last 7 games which had also included a win over champions Manchester City. A truly bizarre season by all accounts. Now he knew where he would be and what division he would be in next year, Monster set about finding a new home nearer to London, having rented a property in Aldershot. His long-term goal would now be to try and attract the attention of a club that had the best chance of winning the major trophies that would help catapult him up the Hall of Fame. Whether that would be a Premier League club or somewhere else abroad, Monster didn't know. 
 
In terms of the Hall of Fame, Monster was now on 64 points. Pep Guardiola was clear at the top with 5730. However, Monster had won a game against him this season. No points for that, though. Just a moral victory. 
 
Over the course of the next week, Monster had most of the first team knock on his office door and ask if he would consider selling them. Monster promised all of them he would consider any bids that came in for them. The only one to complain was Bakayoko, whom Monster then offered out. It was going to be a long summer. 
 
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Pre-season 2027/2028
 
As predicted, a summer of turmoil. Near enough all of the first choice team came to see Monster asking to leave. He promptly cashed in on them. He had managed them for 7 games and he had inherited all of them; he had no qualms. Ajer and Mbeumo requested surprisingly high asking prices, which as the season was due to start, nobody had matched as yet. If they were to stay, then Monster was fine with that. There had been rumblings of takeovers for most of the summer but nothing had happened yet, which Monster was grateful for, allowing him to bring in players who were interested to be at the club from all over the world (including discovering a Brazilian youngster known as John Lennon). 
 
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Transfers
Having sold £208m and spent £60m (the board had eventually changed his retained transfer revenue to 100% midway through July), Monster had plenty in the bank to spend on the right players. His transfer policy had been to find young talent, whether on loan, or transfer listed from high-ranking clubs, or using the scouting centre to find Premier League potential youngsters. It was an eclectic mix he had brought in, but he was thrilled to have them all. He was optimistic of making profit on the vast majority of them or them turning into superstars. It involved buying a whole new squad to replace the vast majority of the players who had kicked up a fuss at being relegated. 
 
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Squad
Monster had built a squad with depth, including some highly talented youngsters in reserve, which he hadn't had the luxury of in the Premier League. The players he had on loan had all come recommended through wonderkid shortlists. He still had options to bring in another if one became available. It would be the first time he had to abide by a transfer window in his career. 
 
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(And yes, that is Bradley Ihionvien in on trial. He wasn't picked up. But it was good to see him again.) 
 
Staff
The board had trimmed his staffing levels slightly but hardly any of them were on short-term contracts. Monster was over-staffed in some areas but he had to accept he wouldn't recruit new staff until he had vacancies. 
 
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League Season Preview
Monster's Brentford were 3rd in the predictions. The lowest of the relegated sides. Monster figured it would be because of replacing a ton of experience with untried, untested youngsters from all over the world. His two most experienced centre backs were the best players at the club but Monster didn't know if they would survive the transfer window. He had purchased accordingly and identified other targets if needed. 
 
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Pre-season fixtures
A perfect round in pre-season, including handing out some thrashings. While he was trying to introduce the players to the club, a few loanees made appearances, but he had given most of his new players a game. Fitness didn't seem to be a horrendous issue going into the season and they had seemed to take Monsterball to heart and use it to good effect. 
 
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