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Gunner 101

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About Gunner 101

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  1. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF JANUARY UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS The first new signing of January was the arrival of Alex Denny from Everton. The 20 year old defensive midfielder signed from Everton for a fee of £135k and will compete with Lucas Defise and Paul Turnbull. Denny was brought in as I wasn't sold on Defise. As soon as Denny signed Defise's form improved dramatically. Typical. Still, we should be good for that position with these two young lads plus the experienced Paul Turnbull who will probably depart once his contract ends at the end of the season. Denny does have a big height advantage over Defise so will add to the threat at set pieces and the ability to strike the ball from long range will hopefully see him score some goals, especially with the amount of space he could find himself in playing in that deeper role. He's also perfectly suited to playing the half back role which I favour for my current formation. The other deal done in December was the transfer of Abobaker Eisa from Scunthorpe United. Alex Curran has been disappointing and so Eisa comes in to compete with Millen Baars. We could have waited till the end of the season and signed him for free but a fee of £8k was agreed to bring him in now. Unfortunately he picked up a broken toe after we signed him and he's out for another 6 weeks. He offers a good amount of pace down the left flank although his fitness may be a problem. However he's very similar to Baars and so game time can be shared between the two to keep him fresh. Young striker Matty Moss put pen to paper on his first professional contract. The 19 year old was attracting interest from Wales but has instead decided to sign his first contract with the club. I will now look to find a loan move for him in order to gain some first team experience. Having signed a new deal Moss then departed to Vanarama National League side Halifax Town for the remainder of the season, joining former Stockport player Ian Ormson at the club. Plenty of new contracts were signed by staff with Simon Wilson (Director of Football), Chris Li (Scout), Michael Collins (U18 Assistant Manager), Ivan Torres (Fitness Coach), Chris Llewellyn (Assistant Manager), Craig Reynolds (Head Physio), Joe Taylor (Chief Scout)and Matt Jansen (U18 Manager) all extending their stays at the club. RESULTS Our first game of 2021 was a trip to face Championship outfit QPR in the FA Cup Third Round. Luca Hoole was recovering from a bruised knee and so Sam Minihan deputised whilst Alex Denny came in for his debut. We was under pressure straight from the kick off and after 13 minutes Alex Carbonell scored from long range to make 1-0 to the hosts. We found equaliser just before the half hour mark as Jason Lokilo ran the length of the pitch before slotting the ball into the far corner. 1-1. Alex Denny then suffered an injury which saw him be replaced by Lucas Defise. Louis Gray then denied Michael Obafemi one on one to deny QPR and stop them from retaking the lead. QPR did retake the lead on 55 minutes as Ebere Eze headed in from close range. A 2-1 defeat means we exit the FA Cup at the Third Round stage. Alex Denny and Connor Dimaio both picked up slight knocks but thankfully both will only be out for a couple of days. A couple of days rest and we was back to league action with an important home match against AFC Wimbledon. It was 4th vs 5th but a win would be vital as AFC Wimbledon have two games in hand over us. Players were suffering with the heavy schedule and so a few changes were necessary. A poor start saw AFC Wimbledon take a lead after just 4 minutes. A disappointing first half led to an assertive team talk and Liam Hogan replacing Aaron Ekumah. It didn't work as on the hour mark Maxime Biamou doubled the lead. A poor performance and a damaging result for our automatic promotion chances. Our third game in a week was an away trip to Swindon Town. Despite The Robins being down in 20th place they're currently on a 3 match unbeaten run. Fitness wise the team seem to be much better off than the last match so I'm hoping for a much improved performance. We had the perfect chance to take the lead on 70 minutes as Liam Hogan was fouled in the area but Connor Dimaio hit the post with his spot kick. 5 minutes later Swindon scored as they seized on a loose pass by Luca Hoole and finished passed Louis Gray. A disappointing defeat especially with the amount of chances we created. Another quick turnaround saw us in action in the Leasing.com Trophy Northern Section Third Round and Man City Under 23's were the visitors. We had a pretty much full strength side out for the game. Aaron Ekumah came in for Liam Hogan whilst Lucas Defise took up the defensive midfielder role as Alex Denny was cup tied. We took the lead after 17 minutes as a long ball forward from Luca Hoole was met on the volley by Jordan Greenidge for his 15th goal of the season. It was 2-0 after 37 minutes as Millen Baars cushioned an header to the edge of the area and Josh Rees smashed home. Youngster Matty Moss came on late in the second half for his Stockport debut as we progressed to the next round. Looking to get our first league win of 2021 we came up against an in form Cambridge United side that were undefeated in 6 games. The fitness curse struck again and so the squad was rotated. Thankfully we have a week break after this fixture. An even game ended all square for the second time this season. After a weeks rest we faced a trip to 9th place Crawley Town. Crawley were the overwhelming favourites having beat both Bolton and AFC Wimbledon in their last 3 games. We almost took the lead after 40 minutes as Alex Denny struck from range and saw his shot cannon off the crossbar. We finally did take the lead after 86 minutes as Luca Hoole found space and crossed perfectly for Jordan Greenidge to head home. That was Greenidge's 25th career league goal, all 25 coming for Stockport. Next up was supposed to be a midweek home match against top of the table Bolton Wanderers however a waterlogged pitch at Edgeley Park saw the match postponed. Due to the postponement we had another weeks break before we faced mid table Carlisle United. This would be our third match this season against the Cumbrians after facing them in the league (draw) and the Leasing.com Trophy (win). Carlisle opened the scoring after 10 minutes however 5 minutes later we was back on level terms with Connor Dimaio meeting a Jason Lokilo free kick. Jason Lokilo added to his assist with a goal, finishing from Jordan Greenidge's knock down after 38 minutes to give us the lead. Three minutes later it was 3-1 as Connor Dimaio reacted quickest to Rod McDonald's header come back off the crossbar to get his second of the match and 10th for the season. Jordan Greenidge made it 4-1 after 55 minutes, heading home from a Jason Lokilo corner. Carlisle United were down to 10 men after 75 minutes due to using all their subs and Stefan Scougall picking up an injury. It should have been 5 but Greenidge's header hit the post late on. Eventually it was 5 though as Luca Hoole scored his first goal for Stockport in stoppage time. With 4 minutes added on we had time to add another with Max Watters adding a 6th from distance for his first goal for the club. What a performance! OTHER NEWS ROUND UP A tough start to the year saw our worse run of form since taking control of the club however we seem to have got through that and the second half of the month was much better. We seem to have a decent squad now with Denny and Eisa making us stronger overall. I'm hopeful that we can at least maintain our playoff position for the rest of the season but it's going to be tough with plenty of sides still in the mix.
  2. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF DECEMBER UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS 20 year old central defender Aaron Ekumah had his contract extension triggered meaning he's now contracted to the club until June 2022. He's been a decent enough back up to Liam Hogan this season and has the potential to develop further. Another 20 year old central defender in Festus Arthur signed a new deal to also tie him to the club until June 2022. Arthur is currently out on a season long to Vanarama North side AFC Telford where he's played 24 games, scored twice and achieved an average rating of 7.00. An impressive season so far as he's helped Telford to topping the league table. RESULTS The first game of December was another cup tie with a trip to Grimsby Town in the Leasing.com Trophy Second Round. Our previous meeting in the league this season ended in a draw. With only a couple of days rest after this game before our next league match a few changes were made with Minihan, Garratt, Turnbull and Watters in for Hoole, Clarke, Defise and Lokilo. A single own goal by Grimsby striker Harry Caldwell was enough to see us through to the Leasing.com Northern Section Round Three. A quick turnaround saw us take on a Scunthorpe United side way down in 22nd place and on a poor run of form. We was also able to field a full strength 11 with Josh Rees getting the nod over Elliot Osborne. Millen Baars opened the scoring with a beautiful curling effort from 25 yards after 23 minutes. However Scunthorpe equalised with their first shot on target on the half hour mark. Lucas Defise restored the lead with a thumping effort 5 minutes later before Josh Rees completed the scoring with a powerful effort on 53 minutes. After a full weeks rest we faced a trip to Bradford City. Although predicted to finish 2nd, The Bantams were down in 15th place with just 1 win in their last 5 games. Having had a week to recover the same 11 that started the previous match took to the field once again. Eddie Clarke got us off to a great start with a strike after just 26 seconds. Instead of building on that great start Bradford levelled on 8 minutes and then James Vaughan put them in front after 26. Connor Dimaio equalised just 5 minutes later and despite trying our best we couldn't find a third to secure the three points. After yet another full weeks rest we was back at Edgeley Park to face a Mansfield Town side that were currently in the playoff positions and had just beaten Bolton. It was the third game in a row we had an unchanged 11. Things started poorly with a Millen Baars error letting CJ Hamilton score after just 4 minutes. Danny Rose then doubled the advantage before half time. Jordan Greenidge managed to pull one back after an half time telling off but Rose added his second to ensure Mansfield took home the 3 points. This was possibly our worse performance for a while and CJ Hamilton and Danny Rose were just too good for us unfortunately. Boxing Day was here and a trip to the seaside to face bottom club Morecambe. The meeting earlier on in the season ended 2-0 to us with Dimaio and Greenidge on the scoresheet. Jordan Greenidge was on the scoresheet again, taking just 5 minutes to nod in from close range. Josh Rees added a second goal on 20 minutes with a powerful effort that flew into the net. Connor Dimaio also got on the scoresheet with a half volley just after the break to seal the 3 points. With just 1 day rest we was back in action with a trip to Plymouth Argyle. Since our last meeting just 5 games ago Plymouth have won just once out of 4. Due to the quick turnaround some rotation was necessary with Garratt, Turnbull and Watters in for Clarke, Defise and Lokilo. We took the lead inside the first minute as Jordan Greenidge reacted first to Millen Baars shot rebounding off the post. We repeated the trick at the start of the second half as Connor Dimaio reacted quickest to Max Watters header being saved to tap home. A quick counter saw Dimaio turn provider as he slotted through for Greenidge to add his second and our third. Another good month results wise with the odd defeat against Mansfield Town where we just couldn't cope with CJ Hamilton and Danny Rose although I was pleased with the response and the back to back 3-0 victories against Morecambe and Plymouth. All this means we sit in the automatic places for the first time this season however we have played two games more than 4th placed AFC Wimbledon, whom we play next. We have a busy month in January with the FA Cup Third Round and the Leasing.com Trophy Northern Section Third Round plus 6 league games. We do have two new signings joining on the 1st January, both were wrapped up at the beginning of December with one possibly being a real coup for the club. We do have a couple of unhappy players in Anthony Gerrard and Frank Mulhern however I'm not in a position to loan either out and so unfortunately they're just going to have to deal with it. I was happy to tie down both Ekumah and Arthur to new deals and further contract talks are ongoing for players and staff to resolve futures early and to avoid any potential departures. I'd possibly like to sign a new keeper and a back up to Connor Dimaio however budgets have been limited by the other two signings already and so loan moves might be the only option if I don't move other players out first. Right now automatic promotion doesn't seem likely and we may have to settle for the playoffs but I'd be more than happy with that. We still have 21 games to play and anything can happen. In the monthly awards Connor Dimaio came runner up in the League Two Player of the Month award. The midfielder scored three goals and had an average rating of 7.96 during the month of December. Whilst Jordan Greenidge picked up the Young Player of the Month award following 4 goals in 5 appearances. Fellow County player Lucas Defise finished 3rd in the same award.
  3. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF NOVEMBER UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS Nyal Bell decided he wanted to leave the club on loan and so a move to National League side Solihull Moors was arranged. Both Bell and Frank Mulhern have been complaining about a lack of first team football but I could only afford to send out one on loan. Mulhern is currently unhappy and sulking to the press despite playing his agreed playing time.. In terms of my own contract I put pen to paper on a new two year deal. RESULTS The first game of November was the visit of Jim Gannon's AFC Fylde in the First Round of the FA Cup. Millen Baars gave us the lead just after the half hour mark. Baars tapping home after Jason Lokilo's shot was saved. Baars was then taking off injured and the score remained 1-0 to see us safely through to Round 2 of the FA Cup. Next up was another cup match as we faced a trip to League One Rotherham United in the final game of our Leasing.com Trophy group stage. Both teams have already qualified having won the two previous games. A much changed side took to the field with only Louis Gray and Josh Rees the usual starters in the 11. Despite conceding 4 goals we could feel a little bit hard done by. We came up against a clinical Rotherham side that took their chances. Just hope that the defeat doesn't impact on morale too much. In the grand scheme of things we was already through and the schedule made it that I had to prioritise resting my main players for the more important fixtures. Back to league action and Leyton Orient were the visitors. We had won our last 5 home games whilst a defeat for Orient could see them enter the relegation zone. Luca Hoole was away with Wales U19's so Sam Minihan filled in at right back whilst Millen Baars was struggling for fitness so Max Watters started instead. We started well and Rod McDonald headed in from a Jason Lokilo free kick after 15 minutes. Lokilo then doubled the lead with a header of his own 10 minutes later. Connor Dimaio sealed the win from the penalty spot after Lokilo was brought down. A strong performance which justified the Rotherham result and team selection. Next up was a tough trip to a Newport County side that had won their last 3 matches and sat a place and 1 point below us in the table. They also had the leagues top scorer in their ranks in Mason Jones-Thomas. Luca Hoole was once again rested having arrived back from duty with Wales U19's tired. Sam Minihan continuing to deputise. We didn't have the best start as Josh Rees had to replaced after 10 minutes with a gashed leg and will now miss 2-3 weeks. Millen Baars then conceded a penalty after half hour before they added a second just before half time. Baars pulled one back the other side of half time with a beautiful run and shot but as we pushed for an equaliser Newport hit us on the break to seal the 3 points. A disappointing result in what was a big game for our season. After just a couple of days rest we was back in action with the previously postponed home match against Plymouth Argyle. Another tough game as it was 5th vs 6th and Argyle had won their last 5 on the bounce. Luca Hoole was back fit and replaced Sam Minihan whilst Elliot Osborne returned from a 4 month lay off to replace the injured Josh Rees. It was that man who gave us the lead 14 minutes in as he placed a shot into the net from 25 yards. Delighted to see Osborne back and amongst the goals straight away. Plymouth were level 15 minutes later as Eddie Clarke missed a header and it left Will Aimson the simple task of tapping home. It stayed that way until the 89th minute when Jordan Greenidge stabbed home from close range. A massive result against a close rival, especially after losing the last game against Newport. Our third match in 7 days was a trip to League One side Hull City in the FA Cup Second Round. Hull have won their previous 4 matches and so it could be a tough ask to do anything against the higher division side here. We should have had a great start as Jordan Greenidge failed to score twice when clean through but it was third time lucky as he headed home at the far post from a corner after 20 minutes. A counter attack saw Millen Baars tap home from close range less than 10 minutes later. Hull pulled a goal back before half time however we defended well and managed to see it through to progress to the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. ROUND UP Overall another good month, especially in the FA Cup with the victory over League One side Hull City. League wise the Newport County result was hard to take but I'm glad we bounced back so well against Plymouth. We've still only lost 3 league games this season and they have come against the sides currently 1st, 2nd and 5th so nothing to be ashamed of at all. The return of Elliot Osborne was nice and a goal and a man of the match performance on his first game back for 4 months was brilliant. It certainly will make things interesting once Rees is back fit; who do I play out of the two!? Jordan Greenidge is in to double figures for the season (in all competitions) which is only 4 behind what he achieved last season and Jason Lokilo is only two behind the team high assists of 10 from last season (set by Danny Lloyd). Connor Dimaio is once again the top performer, Mr Consistent in the middle of the park. Millen Baars managed to pick up the League Two Goal of the Month award for his effort in the defeat to Newport County.
  4. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF OCTOBER UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - RESULTS The first match of October was at home against bottom side Morecambe. After a first half where it was attack against defence we finally broke the deadlock just after the break. Connor Dimaio heading home from a Jason Lokilo free kick. Jordan Greenidge added a second less than 10 minutes later, tapping home Millen Baars low cross. A comfortable 2-0 victory. We was back in action away to fellow League Two side Carlisle United in the Leasing.com Trophy. Our previous meeting in the league ended in a 2-2 draw. A heavily rotated squad took to the field with only Louis Gray and Josh Rees usual starters in the side. Carlisle took the lead just before the half hour mark as we allowed too much space for a cross to come in and they punished us. We was back level just 3 minutes later though as a teasing cross from Tyler Garratt was stabbed home by Frank Mulhern. Substitute Connor Dimaio gave us the lead with 17 minutes to go, firing in after a scramble in the box. A late lapse in concentration from Garratt almost allowed Carlisle back in but we held out for a well deserved victory. That result, coupled with the win over Huddersfield Under 23's means we're through to the Northern Section Second Round with a game to spare. Having had the chance to rest the majority of the squad we was back in league action and it was 4th v 5th as we faced recently relegated AFC Wimbledon. Unfortunately Rod McDonald picked up a knock in training and Luca Hoole was away on international duty with Wales U19's. Sam Minihan and Anthony Gerrard coming in to the side. After a positive first half where it remained 0-0 we broke the deadlock a couple of minutes into the second half. Liam Hogan with a free header from a Connor Dimaio free kick. We had a second less than 5 minutes later as Lucas Defise got on the end of a corner from Jason Lokilo to score his first goal for Stockport. Joe Pigott pulled a goal back for Wimbledon with 5 minutes left to go but we managed to hold on and claim a vital three points. Our third away match in a row was a trip to 16th placed Cambridge United. Luca Hoole came back from international duty shattered so Sam Minihan continued to deputise. Rod McDonald was back fit again following a knock and replaced Anthony Gerrard. A game we really deserved to win with the amount of chances we created but in the end we had to make do with a draw. A quick turnaround from the Cambridge game was supposed to see us play Plymouth Argyle however this match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Edgeley Park. Due to that postponement it meant we had a full week to recover before a trip to a mid table Northampton Town. Due to this we was able to put out a full strength 11 for the first time since the start of the month. A positive start saw us take the lead within 10 minutes via an own goal as Jordan Greenidge's header took a deflection on it's way passed the keeper. Despite not finding the net again we ran out comfortable winners. The final game of the month was a local derby against Oldham Athletic and with just 4 points separating the two sides we could be in for quite the game. Jason Lokilo got us off to a flyer, nipping in to win the ball and run clean through on goal to slot in the opener. Jordan Greenidge sealed the victory with a good header from close range following good play by Eddie Clarke down the left flank. 64% possession ensured we controlled the game and came away with a deserved victory. ROUND UP Another very good month in terms of results and performances. Walsall and Bolton seem to be very dominant and so it might be difficult to break into that top two but luckily three go up automatically and so currently that is not out of reach. We have started to ensure we turn draws into wins and it's been 11 games since we tasted defeat in the league. This has translated to being the second best form side in the division behind only league leaders Walsall. We also have a game in hand against Plymouth and although it won't be easy if we win that then we could be within a win of over taking AFC Wimbledon and that final automatic promotion place. I guess the big disappointment this month was the 0-0 with Cambridge. We had so many shots but never got any clear chances in the game and it's a couple of points dropped I feel.
  5. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF SEPTEMBER UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS Midfielder Connor Dimaio put pen to paper on a new two year deal with the club having enjoyed a fine start to life in League Two. Dimaio was one of the top performers last season and continues to be at the higher level so I thought it was right to tie him down early and avoid any chance of him leaving for free come the end of the season. Dimaio has 11 goals and 6 assists from 50 appearances since I took over the club. RESULTS Our first match of September was a home tie against Huddersfield Under 23's in our first match of our Leasing.com Trophy campaign. The starting 11 was sort of thrown together in order to try and rest certain individuals. Rod McDonald coming in for his debut. Louis Gray and Lucas Defise the two other usual starters in the 11. Despite having less of the ball we had a fair few shots on goal and Frank Mulhern found the target with one after 42 minutes to put us 1-0 up and that's the way it would stay. Back to league action and recently relegated Southend United were the visitors. We took the lead after 14 minutes as Jordan Greenidge won a flick on and Jason Lokilo got on the end of it ahead of the keeper and slotted home. Connor Dimaio got the second after 37 minutes, passing into an empty net after Millen Baars shot was blocked. It was 3-0 just before the break as a delightful cross by Eddie Clarke was tapped in from Greenidge. We managed the game well in the second half and ended up running out comfortable 3-0 winners. Our third home match in a row was against an Exeter side undefeated in 4 games and currently in the playoff positions. A quick start from Exeter saw them go 1-0 up through a thunderbolt of a strike by Nicky Law after 4 minutes. We grabbed an equaliser on 13 minutes with Rod McDonald getting his first for the club, heading in from a Jason Lokilo free kick. We took the lead after 61 minutes with Jason Lokilo having two bites of the cherry to turn home Millen Baars cross. We settled any nerves on the 86th minute as a nice bit of play between Watters and Dimaio saw the former slot home. The perfect way to celebrate the new contract for Dimaio. After three home games on the spin we faced an away trip to Grimsby Town. Grimsby, like ourselves, had strung together a sequence of 4 wins in a row and sat 5th in the table, 4 places and 2 points above us. Despite plenty of opportunities for both sides, the defences came out on top in a 0-0 draw. Our third game in 7 days was a home match against a troubled Swindon Town side. The Robins were currently 20th despite being touted as playoff contenders. Despite a dominant display it took a mistake from Swindon for us to take the lead. Jordan Greenidge picked up a loose ball and ran away from the defenders to slot home for his 5th goal of the season. The one goal was enough to earn all three points. Unfortunately Jason Lokilo picked up a knock and will miss 8 - 11 days. The final match of September was an away trip to Notts County. The Magpies also came up this season. We managed to win both games against them last season. The game came too soon for Lokilo and so Max Watters came in. Jordan Greenidge powered a header home to give us the lead after 24 minutes. Despite controlling the game a 1-0 scoreline is always vulnerable and Jim O'Brien equalised with 10 minutes and we had to make do with 1 point instead of 3. ROUND UP A really positive month. Going undefeated as seen us rise from 16th to the playoff positions. Squad wise I'm happy. The new signings have done well and we are much better placed to achieve our goal now. It probably looks silly to say I'm still just aiming to survive this season but things can change quickly in football and so I don't want to get ahead of myself. Connor Dimaio came in third place in the League Two Player of the Month award. Dimaio averaged 7.6 in the month of September whilst scoring twice and he's definitely justified the new contract. Whilst I picked up third in the Manager of the Month award. Connor Dimaio signing a new deal is positive news and it's all part of the planning to continue to improve the squad by keeping the best players and tagging on improvements when given the opportunity.
  6. Nice one @Tjeerd! I had feared you had given up on your save so glad to see you’re back! 9th place is a great finish, especially after the run of promotions. Even Menard looks quite the player already. Looking forward to seeing how he develops going forwards for you. Was your transfer budget negatively impacted by the upgrades? Or do you have quite the kitty just incase you want to use it? Best of luck for the new season!
  7. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF AUGUST UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - EXPECTATIONS As far as the board are concerned there's very little pressure with the main goal just trying to avoid relegation. This is aided by zero expectations of any sort of cup run and so the sole aim will be to survive being back in the EFL. If we go on and do better than that then so be it. TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS Jason Lokilo joined the club having been released from Crystal Palace. The right winger was loan and playing in League One with Doncaster Rovers last season. The Belgian born winger becomes easily the clubs highest paid player but will hopefully be a creative spark in the final third. The 21 year old has signed a three year contract at the club. A guess we would probably greater vision and composure but hopefully they can improve as he gets older but other than that I think he looks a good fit for the role. Josh Rees was signed on a free transfer having left Vanarama National side Bromley at the end of the season. He will come in and take over from the injured Elliot Osborne in the box to box role. The 26 year old has signed a two year contract at the club. He's a good team player with good stats in teamwork and work rate which should see him work well in that role and getting up and down the pitch. And he's an Arsenal fan, like me, so automatically manager favourite. Young right back Luca Hoole was transfer listed at League One side Bristol Rovers and we managed to snap him up for free. The youngster joins on a 2 year deal and will compete with Sam Minihan for a starting berth. Luca offers decent pace and crossing so I'm hopeful we will be a good signing for now and for the future. Despite his stats not looking great right now I'm hoping the increase in first team football will see him develop into a decent player. He had plenty of suitors including Championship sides Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough. Central defender Rod McDonald joined the club on a free transfer after being released from AFC Wimbledon. Last season he played 11 games for the League One side. The 28 year old has signed a three year contract and I think will look to partner Liam Hogan in defence with the ageing Anthony Gerrard being back up. He looks to be a nice big, strong central defender that will hopefully be good at the back and a threat going forwards for set pieces. RESULTS The season opener could have been kinder as we start the season with a trip to league favourites Bolton Wanderers. Unfortunately Sam Minihan picked up a knock on the eve of the game meaning Liam Hogan was going to have to cover and play out of position. A poor start saw us a goal down after just 5 minutes. Despite battling back and playing quite well, Bolton grabbed a second as we pushed for an equaliser late on. A 2-0 defeat to start the season. Our first home game back in the football league was against Crawley Town. Both ourselves and Crawley lost our first games of the season. New signing Jason Lokilo was carrying over a suspension from last season and so will have to wait to make his debut. A missed header from Sam Minihan gave Crawley an easy chance to open the scoring after 11 minutes. We had an equaliser on 53 minutes after a long ball sent Jordan Greenidge through and he finished with the help of the post. Our first goal back in the EFL. Greenidge had his and our second just after the hour mark as we came from behind to take the lead. However it was heart break for us as Crawley equalised with 30 seconds left in stoppage time and we had to make do with a 2-2 draw. The games were coming thick and fast and a trip to Carlisle United was our third in 7 days. The game came too soon to find a replacement for Elliot Osborne so Lucas Defise stepped forward with Paul Turnbull filling in at the defensive midfielder spot. After a rather uneventful game we grabbed the lead after 71 minutes with debutant Jason Lokilo sliding home for a debut goal after a mad scramble in the box. However we immediately conceded at the other end and it was level again. Substitute Lois Maynard then scored a beautiful curling goal to put us back in front with 8 minutes to play. However just like the last game, we ended up conceding in stoppage time. Another 2-2 draw and another victory taken away from us at the death. Taking a break from league action we had a First Round Carabao Cup tie away at League One Doncaster Rovers up next. Doncaster took the lead after 15 minutes, Devante Cole scoring from close range after Eddie Clarke was dribbled passed too easily. It was two 3 minutes later with Cole scoring his second. Doncaster made it 3-0 after 37 minutes as a poor clearance gave Jacob Maddox a tap in. We thought we pulled one straight back but Paul Turnbull was flagged offside. A good start to the second half saw Jordan Greenidge connect with a Sam Minihan cross. 3-1. Comeback on? Nope. The match ended 3-1 and we exit the Carabao Cup at the First Round. Despite the defeat the second half was much better and we did well to create a fair few chances. Back to the league and a home match against early leaders Stevenage who have won all 3 games so far including two 4-0 victories. Paul Turnbull gave us the lead from the penalty spot after 21 minutes and that was enough to see us earn our first victory of the new season. We played really well and we should have scored more than once but I'm just relieved we managed to get the first win under our belts and hopefully we can build from here. Next up was another home match and the visit of Salford. Our 6th match in 17 days to open the new season. Thankfully the schedule eases off a little after this one. Unfortunately Connor Dimaio picked up a slight knock and so he misses out. New signing Josh Rees comes in to take his place. Despite having our backs to the walls for the first 45 minutes we managed to get through to half time level. Mainly thanks to some good goalkeeping by Louis Gray and great defending by Liam Hogan. We seemed to grow in confidence in the second half and just after 90 minutes Tyler Garratt, on for Eddie Clarke rifled a beauty into the top corner from the left side of the box. However we are Stockport County, kings of conceding late goals and Salford equalised through Adam Rooney. For the third game this season we have conceded in stoppage time and ended up drawing instead of winning. Back on the road and a trip to second placed Walsall. With a slighter longer gap we had a pretty much full strength 11 out for this match, however fitness levels are still a concern and we're having to manage various players carefully. Walsall took an early lead. 1-0 after 3 minutes. A Walsall break saw them double their lead on the 38th minute. Walsall added a third with a counter attack straight after the restart. Despite having more of the ball and more shots we come away on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline. The final match of August was a trip to a Cheltenham Town side undefeated in their last 4 games. Luca Hoole coming in for his debut. After a really positive first half we went in at the break level at 0-0. However straight after the restart we finally got the goal our performance had deserved with Liam Hogan heading in Jason Lokilo's delivery from a free kick. Scoring seemed to wake Cheltenham up and just after the hour mark they equalised. 5 minutes later and they took the lead. Jason Lokilo had his second assist of the game as Millen Baars headed in from a corner to make it 2-2 with 15 minutes left. Josh Rees managed to score his first goal for the club from outside the area to make it 3-2 with 7 minutes left. And this time we saw it through to come away with 3 points. Massive relief. TABLE PLAYERS ROUND UP Well we're back in the EFL and after a decent start we're well placed to succeed in our goals of staying within the division. The games against Crawley, Carlisle and Salford were really annoying. To be so close to winning three times and to have that snatched away was brutal and we really didn't deserve it. It's been a busy month and the squad is finally pretty much there. Elliot Osborne getting a long term injury was a massive blow however Josh Rees has come in and done well in his first three games for the club. We struggled to sign targets and we was even rejected for clubs in the league below at times but overall I'm really happy with the signings we have made now we are at the end of the window. Clarke, Defise, Lokilo and Hoole are good investments I feel. They're all first team players and should hopefully develop nicely given the game time they're going to get. Rees and McDonald are good ages and good players for this level. Rees as already started to prove that and I'm hopeful once McDonald makes his debut then he will too. I'm excited to see where we can go with this group of players and I'm hopeful we can build on what we have started. Ideally there would have been more wins but as I mentioned those three games we drew could easily have been three wins. Bolton and Walsall are both flying high in 2nd and 3rd so no shame in losing to those I don't think. In fact the only team below us in the league that we have faced is Salford so we probably haven't had the easiest of schedules to begin with. Couple that with not having a settled side due to injuries and a lack of numbers I'm quite happy we have at least amassed some points.
  8. Of course you did. My bad. I'm awful at keeping track of things. Works hectic and I'm all over the place. Fingers crossed. I'd really like to see him come good, especially as he's playing in the Championship IRL!
  9. Nice start. Shame about your Brazilian striker misfiring but it’s early and I’m sure he will come good.
  10. I probably should have kept Arthur around to be fair but wanted him to be guaranteed game time and with Hogan and Ekumah I wasn’t sure that would be the case. He’s started the season well at AFC Telford though which I’m glad about and I do feel he could have a future here. Yeah I’m trying to not do too much and approach it by progressively building things up. My sole aim is to just stay up this season and will be happy to do just that. It’s been a frustrating start with some really bad news for a certain player but will update properly at the end of August. Nice work @Tjeerd!! Where’s Rob Brown popped up from? Done really well and a season of consolidation will be good for the club I feel. Hopefully it increases your reputation and makes signing players a little easier too.
  11. Aye I was too late to the market but also don’t take enough risks on players. I’m hopeful we can get one or two more through the door before the transfer windows shuts though. Yeah I kept Mulhern after he did so well for Boston United last year. He’s different to Jordan Greenidge so gives us another option. Nyal Bell too. Was a non risk with having the option in his contract and I feel he could help out this season. Bell is useful too with being able to play on the left and with numbers not being where I want them to be currently, having versatile players will help.
  12. SEASON 2020/2021 - END OF PRE-SEASON UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - RESULTS Pre-season opened up with the usual friendly against Stockport Town. Jordan Greenidge got the first goal of pre-season, heading home from an Eddie Clarke cross after half an hour. Greenidge doubled the lead after 52 minutes by getting on the end of a corner from Elliot Osborne. Central defender Aaron Ekumah headed home a third to make it an hat-trick of headed goals. Paul Turnbull scored a 4th direct from a free kick. A comfortable 4-0 win to start pre season however we did unfortunately lose Tyler Garratt for 4 weeks due to a twisted ankle. Next up was an away trip to Vanarama South side Wealdstone. Elliot Osborne got things off to a quick start, bending the ball into the back of the net from 25 yards after just 2 minutes. Elliot Osborne was then the provider for the second as he crossed for Millen Baars to head in at the far post after 35 minutes. Millen Baars then played through Jordan Greenidge for a third just 3 minutes later. Frank Mulhern added a fourth goal straight after half time. Mulhern had his second after 74 minutes and a hat-trick of assists for Osborne. Another comfortable win however Eddie Clarke suffered a pulled groin meaning both of our first team left backs are injured. Thankfully Clarke should be back in just over a week and Garratt is a further three weeks away. Stepping up the level of competition saw us take on Vanarama National side Gateshead. A long ball over the top from Millen Baars put Frank Mulhern through and he made no mistake with the one on one chance. 1-0 after 25 minutes. Paul Turnbull made things much more secure slotting home from the edge of the area with less than 10 minutes to go. The match finished 2-0 and another victory and clean sheet was in the bag. Next was the first home friendly of pre-season and League One side Fleetwood Town were the visitors. We started well and a lovely passing move ended with former Fleetwood Town player Elliot Osborne smashing home from the edge of the area. Less than a minute later it was 2-0. Connor Dimaio heading in from a Max Watters free-kick. Fleetwood pulled a goal back through Paddy Madden just after the restart. However victory was sealed when substitute Millen Baars rifled home from the edge of the area after a mazy run down the right flank. Another step up in opposition came with a trip to face Championship outfit Burton Albion. We took the lead after 37 minutes with Connor Dimaio scoring from the edge of the area via the post. We ended the first half on a high as Nyal Bell headed in to make it 2-0. Oliver Sarkic pulled a goal back for Burton with less than 10 minutes to go. However we managed to remain solid and came away with a 2-1 victory. The final pre season match was a trip to non league side Tamworth. 9 minutes on the clock and Elliot Osborne had time and space to pick his spot from 25 yards and give us the early lead. Just over 10 minutes later it was 2. Frank Mulhern played in by Lois Maynard and he made no mistake with the one on one chance. Osborne had his second just after the half hour mark with a header from a Max Watters free kick. Tamworth pulled a goal back after 73 minutes after a scramble in the box following a free kick. 5 minutes later it was 3-2 and we had work to do to ensure we didn't throw this away. A lovely counter attack though saw Max Watters put in by Paul Turnbull and he made no mistake. 4-2 and a clean sweep of pre season victories! TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS Players released at the end of the season were Jordan Downing, Szymon Czubik, Ben Hinchliffe, Liam McAlinden, Adam Thomas, Jordan Keane, Dan Cowan, Ashley Palmer, Darren Stephenson, Ian Ormson and Sam Walker. I guess the two biggest departures out of those would be Ashley Palmer and Liam McAlinden with both players playing in more than 25 games last season. I let Palmer go as I feel I needed to add a left sided central defender so he would have been third choice and McAlinden refused a new deal due to a lack of playing time. At the time of this update none have yet signed for a new club however McAlinden seems to be set for a move to Derry City. Frank Mulhern, back from a good loan spell at Vanarama North side Boston Utd where he scored 17 goals in 41 games signed a new two year contract with the club. With Liam McAlinden departing Mulhern will compete with Jordan Greenidge and Nyal Bell. Millen Baars also signed a new two year deal having done well in his first season at the club. Jordan Greenidge followed in agreeing a new contract. The young striker put pen to paper on a new three year contract. Youth prospect Edward Sartorius penned his first professional contract. Our first piece of business was to bring Eddie Clarke in on a permanent deal following last seasons loan spell from Fleetwood Town. The left back joins for a fee of £27.5k and has signed a two year deal. Clarke was a regular starter last season and developed a good relationship with Millen Baars down the left. Max Watters agreed to extend his stay for the season on loan from Doncaster Rovers. This probably wasn't a signing I was going to make but losing Danny Lloyd and having no chance of getting him back forced my hand as I didn't want to lose two right wingers and struggle to replace them. He played 6 games and provided 2 assists after joining us late last season. I guess the first actual new signing to the club was Belgian midfielder Lucas Defise who joins the club on a three year contract having been released by Southampton. He offers versatility in being able to play both defensive midfielder and central midfielder although he will likely be a starter in place of Paul Turnbull in the defensive midfield role. We brought him in on trial for two weeks and he played in the first three pre-season games with an average rating of 7.9 whilst providing one assist. The only other outgoing (apart from the released players) was young central defender Festus Arthur departed the club on loan for the season to Vanarama North side AFC Telford. I have high hopes for Arthur so hopefully this loan move will do him the world of good. STAFF Following promotion I set about trying to improve the club where I could and Max Wragg was brought in as a coach. Previously a coach at both Sheffield Wednesday and Oldham Athletic he provides some good defending, tactical and technical coaching skills. Also being added was former St Mirren employee Alistair Taylor as Head of Sports Science and Sports Scientist Anna Gard. Club icon Alan Lord decided to retire and vacate his Head of Youth Development role and so he was replaced with former Watford Head of Youth Development Chris McGuane. Joe Taylor (previously of Bournemouth and Bristol City) was brought in as a replacement for James Bartlett in the Chief Scout role. Also leaving the club was Brad Peacock (Scout) to be replaced with Chris Li, Luke Smith (Physio) who was replaced with Julie Fegan, Barry Conlon (Assistant Manager) who was replaced with former Welsh international Chris Llewellyn, Nick Donnelly (Fitness Coach) who was replaced with Ivan Torres and finally Karlos Leneghan (Goalkeeping Coach) was replaced with Lee Kelsey. Former Blackburn striker Matt Jansen agreed a new one year contract to carry on managing the under 18's. ROUND UP I guess it's not been the ideal off season. We have struggled to attract players and often been rejected by potential signings which has really put us back in our preparations for the new season. Results wise we have done really well. Beating both Fleetwood and Burton were good results and the team looks good. Signing Eddie Clarke on a permanent deal was a good piece of business I feel and it provides a feeling of continuity down the left with Clarke and Millen Baars building a good relationship. The middle two of Osborne and Dimaio have been good again together during pre-season and with Lucas Defise behind them I'm hoping those three string up a good relationship. My only concern is if one of those two were to get injured we don't have backup really and it's something I'm still looking to solve with a new signing or two. Overall I think we are just lacking numbers and a bit of strengthening in certain positions and that's what I'm working towards fixing, just might have to lower expectations and look for players who aren't wanted by anyone else has we never seem to be a first choice.
  13. @Tjeerd! Unfortunate run of results there but you’re still in a good position. Maybe the break has come at a good time for you? Regroup and refocus like you said. Any of your players off to the World Cup at all? Cheers mate. I’ll update at the end of pre-season.
  14. SEASON 2019/2020 - END OF SEASON UPDATE - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - RESULTS Our first game as champions was an away trip against Harrogate and would be our 5th game in two weeks. We got off to a good start with Connor Dimaio pouncing on a loose ball in the box and hitting it high into the roof of the net after 6 minutes. A lovely move saw us double the lead with Max Watters crossing for Jordan Greenidge to tap home from inside the six yard box after 18 minutes. Just before half time we had our third, Jordan Greenidge getting his second from inside the box. Connor Dimaio also got his second of the game, striking home from the edge of the area with 80 minutes on the clock. Clearly no hangover from winning the league as we run out 4-0 winners. Mid table Dagenham & Redbridge were the first visitors to Edgeley Park since we was crowned champions. Dagenham & Redbridge took the lead with a free kick from the edge of the box with only 6 minutes to go. Overall a poor performance which ended in defeat. The Easter Monday fixture saw us away to a Dover side in good form and still hoping to clinch a playoff place. The team hadn't fully recovered from the Friday and show a rotated squad took to the field. Following a poor first half we finally broke the deadlock on the hour mark after Liam Hogan flicked on a corner and Liam McAlinden was there to head home from close range. A 5th goal of the season for McAlinden. Not one of our better performances but another victory was in the bag and with it the record for the most wins in a Vanarama National League season (32) beating the previous record of 31. The final home game of the season was the visit of 18th placed Ebbsfleet. Looking to finish off the home campaign in style we started well and Millen Baars headed in from a corner after 6 minutes. We had our second 5 minutes later. Baars crossing this time for Jordan Greenidge to head home. It was 3-0 just a couple of minutes later as Max Watters laid the ball back to Sam Minihan who rifled a strike into the top corner from the edge of the box. Ebbsfleet were down to 10 men for a straight red after 55 minutes. A deflected free kick saw the 10 men pull a goal back but the game was won and we end our home campaign on a high note. The final game of the season was an away trip to an in form Hartlepool. Hartlepool scored after a minute as the referee seemed to miss a definite foul on Millen Baars in the build up. A 10th goal of the season for Connor Dimaio pulled us level just before half time. We thought we had won it as Jordan Greenidge headed home but it was ruled out for an offside and we had to settle for a draw in our final game. That point however was enough to claim the record for the highest points total in a season (106) beating the previous Vanarama National League record of 105. TABLE Such a lovely sight. It's been a great season. Record points and wins! Some good victories and unbeaten runs along the way. The great defensive record during the first half of the season. Definitely didn't expect to win the league and definitely not by 20 points but we've done it and now the planning begins for next season back in the football league. PLAYERS PERFORMANCES Jordan Greenidge, Danny Lloyd, Elliot Osborne and Connor Dimaio have been the stand out performers for me. The two lads in central midfielder have scored 18 goals between them and set up a further 12. Danny Lloyd really was quality and provided 10 goals and 10 assists before his season ending injury and Greenidge is young and unproven but came in and did a job with 14 goals and 5 assists. Other notable shouts go to Liam Hogan and Eddie Clarke from the back 4. Clarke ended up in double figures for assists from left back. New signing Millen Baars as well produced the goods with 9 goals and 7 assists. I'd love to sign Eddie Clarke and Danny Lloyd permanently but I'm not sure if we will get either but I'll see. In the end of season awards for the Vanarama National Elliot Osborne's goal against Harrogate Town picked up third place. TRANSFERS/CONTRACTS Left back Tyler Garratt signed a new one year deal with the club having an option for a further year. Garratt has played in 18 games this season, mostly from the bench but provides a steady back up option in the left full back position. Experienced midfielder Paul Turnbull also penned a new one year deal. The 31 year old has been a regular starter in the defensive midfield role and provides leadership on and off the pitch. Whilst striker Nyal Bell had his contract extension triggered. This was mainly due to the fact that it was unlikely Liam McAlinden would be staying as he was unhappy with a lack of playing time and I didn't want to be lacking numbers come the start of next season. OTHER NEWS Numerous youngsters joined the club following a new youth intake. Young Welsh striker Matty Moss seems to have decent potential but other than that I don't have much hope for the rest of them. The clubs end of season awards highlighted the importance of the midfield duo of Connor Dimaio (also Young Player of the Season) and Elliot Osborne as they came 1st and 2nd. Danny Lloyd rounding out the top three. Elliot Osborne also claimed the Goal of the Season with a beautiful run and finish against Harrogate back in September. Jordan Greenidge picked up the signing of the season and it's hard to argue with that. He's done a lot better than I expected with 14 goals in 35 appearances. Due to the promotion to League Two the club has now moved from being a semi professional outfit to a professional outfit. This will see us have more time available for training and an increase in the number of backroom team members. The scouting team will also have an increased range of the UK & Ireland instead of just being restricted to England. And finally after leading the club to the Vanarama National League title I won the Manager of the Year award!
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