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160 "Just keep swimming"

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    FM Stories Moderator

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    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne & Cwmbran, South Wales

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    Bristol.R & Newcastle Utd

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  • Currently Managing
    Coleraine (Northern Irish 1st Div - FM09)

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  1. Monday 24th November 2008 And we're right into it. First job after the press conference to announce me as the new Manager at Leeds United is to decide what to do about Club Captain going forward. Frazer Richardson is the current holder of the armband, but with no guarantee of a place in the First Team for the 26 year old career United player, I decide to go in a different direction right now, with the role given to Angolan International centre back and fourth year United player, Rui Marques. The Portuguese passport holder is one of the most popular players at the club, and the decision is unanimously well received, with Danish goalkeeper Casper Ankergren remaining in his role as Vice-Captain. That's a decent start. A decent start is exactly what I'm after tomorrow evening when we travel to face Northampton Town in my opening game in charge. They are currently sat in the relegation zone, and the away form is far from being one of the main problems at Leeds. In fact, to date the club have picked up more points on their travels than they have at Elland Road. Do we have some players who are crumbling under the pressure of playing for a club with such a reputation? If so, they'll soon be weeded out and moved along. With the expected pick up that often comes with a change of Manager at the club, the bookies have us as short price favourites for a three point haul at Sixfields. Tuesday 25th November Coca-Cola League One Sixfields Stadium, Northampton Northampton Town (0) 1 - Adebayo Akinfenwa (88) Leeds United (0) 3 - Jonny Howson (50,70), Tom Elliott (90+1) Attendance :- 3,345 Casper Ankergren; Seamus Coleman, Rui Marques ©, Lubomir Michalik, Emiliano Insúa; Fabian Delph, Jonny Howson; Niall McGinn (Neil Kilkenny 75), Robert Snodgrass (Alan Sheehan 75); Mike Grella (Tom Elliott 75), Jermaine Beckford. Unused Substitutes :- Richard Naylor, Jonathan Douglas. Bookings :- Lubomir Michalik 45 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 8th | | Millwall | | 18 | 9 | 3 | 6 | 23 | 20 | +3 | 30 | | 9th | | Colchester | | 18 | 9 | 3 | 6 | 28 | 30 | -2 | 30 | | 10th | | Oldham | | 18 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 27 | 23 | +4 | 27 | | 11th | | Stockport | | 18 | 8 | 3 | 7 | 19 | 20 | -1 | 27 | | 12th | | Leicester | | 18 | 7 | 5 | 6 | 23 | 19 | +4 | 26 | | 13th | | Leeds | | 18 | 7 | 3 | 8 | 26 | 22 | +4 | 24 | | 14th | | Swindon | | 18 | 6 | 6 | 6 | 22 | 25 | -3 | 24 | | 15th | | Hartlepool | | 18 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 19 | 19 | 0 | 23 | | 16th | | Carlisle | | 18 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 22 | 24 | -2 | 23 | | 17th | | Cheltenham | | 18 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 23 | 29 | -6 | 23 | | 18th | | MK Dons | | 18 | 5 | 7 | 6 | 25 | 25 | 0 | 22 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Seamus Coleman and Emiliano Insúa are selected in the full back roles in the biggest selection dilemma's of the day. An early opportunity fell to new skipper Rui Marques, his header from Niall McGinn's corner caught by Gareth Ormshaw. At the other end, striker Stéphane Calce sent a shot from range inches over the top corner, before both Sean Armstrong and Liam Dolman sent headers from set pieces wide. Armstrong rounded off a fairly mundane first half with a free kick just over the bar, as we struggled to cause too many problems to our lowly hosts. Calce sent a shot on the turn from the edge of the box wide as Northampton continued to create chances. But we soon found the accelerator ourselves, and five minutes after the restart Mike Grella's cross attempt was blocked, but at the second attempt he picked out Jonny Howson on the penalty spot, who got goal side of Luke Guttridge and powered in a header to put us in front. We put our foot to the floor, Lubomir Michalik had a header blocked, Jermaine Beckford took too long to get a shot off, and Robert Snodgrass curled an effort just over the top. But the second was on it's way, Emiliano Insúa's long throw cleared to Seamus Coleman, and he tee'ed up Howson, who walked onto the pass 25 yards out and crashed the ball into the top corner for his second of the evening. Howson passed up a chance to shoot for a potential hatrick before sending one over the bar. I made all my changes, but the game wasn't quite over yet, as with two minutes to play, and right after Rui Marques had sent a header over the bar, sub Liam Davis cut us open with a diagonal through pass that Adebayo Akinfenwa sidefooted home from 8 yards out. No panic from the players though, and in injury time Alan Sheehan whipped in a corner that teenage striker Tom Elliott finished with a bullet header into the top corner in front of the travelling Leeds fans, his first ever Senior goal! That's a win that nudges us up closer to the top half, which is a good start. Wednesday 26th November There isn't much money to spend on new players, but I have identified a player that I'd like to bring in and that we can afford. His club are not going to make it easy for us though, they've decided to stall on our offer that meets his current valuation, waiting to see if any of the other interested parties come in with a better offer. Friday 28th November Tomorrow is FA Cup Second Round day, and we're heading across the Pennines divide and into the Greater Manchester area, where we will face Oldham Athletic, a team three points ahead of us in League One and who we'll meet twice in three weeks with a League date scheduled against them soon as well. They have some recognisable names in their squad too, with 32 year old striker Lee Hughes classed as a veteran, but he's got plenty of years on 39 year old Dean Windass who is on loan for the season from Hull City, but is rolling back the years with three goals so far this campaign. But it's 21 year old Matty Wolfenden who is really catching the eye at Boundary Park, the home town lad is having a career season at the club with nine goals in all competitions so far. They also have Kelvin Etuhu at the club for the season from Manchester City, a current Welsh International in defence with Neal Eardley, and a former Welsh International and another veteran in goal, Mark Crossley. The bookies still have them pegged to be beaten tomorrow though. I've been in this job less than a week, but I'm still getting linked with jobs elsewhere. This time it's Eastern Europe, and Romanian First League new money club FC Arges Pitesti. It's a no from me. They're 100 odd miles away from Bucharest where all the action is, and they're struggling to attract quality players and keep the ones they've got. They could well be relegation cannon fodder this season. Saturday 29th November FA Cup Second Round Boundary Park, Oldham Oldham Athletic (1) 1 - Dean Windass (14) Leeds United (2) 3 - Jermaine Beckford (28,78), Mike Grella (32) Attendance :- 6,038 Casper Ankergren; Frazer Richardson, Rui Marques © (inj - Richard Naylor 59), Lubomir Michalik, Alan Sheehan (Aidan White 81); Fabian Delph, Jonny Howson; Niall McGinn (Andy Robinson 81), Robert Snodgrass; Mike Grella, Jermaine Beckford. Unused Substitutes :- Paul Huntington, Jonathan Douglas, Neil Kilkenny, Tom Elliott. Bookings :- Lubomir Michalik 1, Jermaine Beckford 24 Neither Seamus Coleman or Emiliano Insúa are permitted to play in Cup games under the terms of their loans, and both are unavailable to us today. Deposed skipper Frazer Richardson and Irish left back Alan Sheehan are both called up, while we also bring up 17 year old first year professional left back Aidan White from the Reserves, the Leeds born teenager joined in his promotion by 29 year old utility winger Andy Robinson, the former Swansea City man is in first year at the club but fell out of favour a while before I arrived at Elland Road. The referee would stamp his authority early in the game, booking Lubomir Michalik inside the opening minute, and four players in total in the opening quarter of the game. By that point we were a goal behind, and it could have been more. Matty Wolfenden had already sent a gilt edged chance over the bar by the time Oldham counter attacked us at pace after clearing a free kick and Lewis Alessandria picked out Dean Windass on the edge of the box, the veteran striker sweeping a shot high into the net. They had the ball in the net again shortly after through Stephen Carson, but he was offside, and we were soon back in the game. Niall McGinn's throw in, Jermaine Beckford's flick on, Mike Grella's route to goal blocked, but he put it into Beckford's path and the striker slammed home an equaliser. Moments later, we had turned the game right around, another McGinn throw in, Beckford again flicking the ball on, and this time it ran between the goalkeeper and a defender, Grella left with a tap in. Windass missed a chance to bring Athletic level again, his glanced header from a Richard Clarke cross missing the target. We still led at the break, despite our hosts putting us under some pressure before the break. But we soon lost our new skipper Rui Marques, the centre back injured trying to break up an Oldham attack, and having to be substituted near the hour mark. McGinn missed a great opportunity to put us out of reach, latching onto a Robert Snodgrass cross but sending his shot across goal and wide. But with twelve minutes to go we got the goal that would put us in the Third Round, a long curling through ball by Frazer Richardson would utilise the pace of Beckford as he got between the defenders, into the box, rounding Mark Crossley before slipping the ball inside the near post for his second of the afternoon. We were comfortable enough to bring on the two players brought up into the Squad today, with Aidan White making a Senior Debut at 17 for his home town club, and Andy Robinson allowing Niall McGinn to rest up for the last part of the game. Round Three here we come. That result nets us a modest prize of £30,000 for progressing into Round Three. I say modest, if the club felt inclined to add it to my Transfer Budget it would increase my spending funds by 30%. Sounds unlikely though. Hopefully we can get a plum tie when the draw is made on Monday evening for the Third Round. The Board have set a target of the Fourth Round for this season, though I suspect that I'm not being judged on any of the targets as I've only just got here. There's no doubt about the star of the squad. Jermaine Beckford isn't quite ready to hit his prime years yet at 24, but he showed his class with two great finishes in that game. He's up to eleven goals in all competitions this season, including five in five in Cup ties. The Londoner is rated at almost £1m now, and is said to be frustrated at the clubs underachieving campaign so far. Hopefully a bit of a move up the League One table will convince him that we can match his own personal ambitions.
  2. Tuesday 15th December 2015 Our exit from the World Cup Qualifying process hasn't damaged our FIFA World Ranking too much, as we drop just two places from 108th down to 110th. Friday 1st January 2016 Happy New Year from India. Not 100% sure if it's the day that it's celebrated out there on the sub continent, but the football fans of the second most populous nation on the planet will likely be happy to see the back of a year that promised so much, but ultimately delivered so little. The Best Eleven for India in 2015 has been selected, and with seven games played in the year it made the selection a little more difficult than the previous year. Of those selected, centre back Jose Paul is the pick of the bunch, scoring twice in six caps, and posting an average rating of 7.17 over those half a dozen games. Subrata Pal, Ajay Bailleux, Jose Paul, Gumpe Singh, Paramjit Kumar, Raheem Alibhaï, Amit Singh, Yadwinder Khan, Sanjay Singh, Ranty Martins, Sunil Chetri. Subs :- Arindram Bhattacharya, Adil Kundu, Francisco Reja, Aman Verma, Sabri Gharbi, Reisangmi Vasum, Joseph Pereira. There's an improvement on last year's induction into the nation's Best Ever XI, with seven of this years Best Eleven selected for the Overall Team. That now means that all eleven of those in the Best Ever XI are players that have been capped during my tenure, with another five of my lads named amongst the substitutes. Only two retired players from before my time now remain from outside my selections, with the recently retired Joseph Pereira the only other selection no longer playing. Friday 22nd January Disaster is the wrong word to use, but it's certainly more than just bad news today when we're told that Cyprus are no longer able to fulfil their fixture with us in New Delhi for later this year. That now leaves us with just one fixture in the calendar for this year, a game in Belfast against Northern Ireland. With no ability to add anymore fixtures into the diary at this point, it is now a nervous wait for March to come around and find out if we are to be involved in the Asian Cup Qualifiers this time around ahead of the 2019 Finals of the Tournament, which will this time be held in Australia for the first time. Saturday 30th January A quick look around the National Pool shows there hasn't been too much movement around from players who are regularly involved with the Senior National Team, but it could yet be a summer of Transfer movement for some of my players. We already know that Ashish Morje is the latest to move overseas, with the striker set to ply his trade is Thailand with his new club BEC Tero Sasana when the new campaign gets underway in South East Asia. While they are not a big club in that country, it is still likely to be a step up in level for the highly rated 23 year old striker. The rest of the nations footballers have spent January doing the usual round of pre-summer agreements for moves later in the year. Some are doing it for their pay rise, some are doing it to get more football. As is very much the norm for this country, many are moving from smaller regional clubs up into the Professional ranks, where they will compete with more established players for a squad place. Many who made that very move this time last year are now making the opposite move back after discovering how hard it is to be one of the chosen few for the relatively small amount of clubs in the National Football League. Of all those players, only one looks set to make a potential move away from Indian domestic football. 27 year old attacking midfielder Sabri Gharbi has had a crack at football in Europe before. The Belgian passport holder was only a kid when he tried his luck at both Lierse and FC Brussels, before hopping over the border into Holland spending a season with NEC Nijmegen. With no Senior football in any of those three seasons, he packed his bags, headed back to India, and has carved out a career that has seen him play in the NFL in each season apart from this current one with Bengal Mumbai, see clubs spend over £30,000 in transfer fees to sign him (not a small sum in terms of Indian football), and earn 14 International Caps to add to his 125+ Senior League Appearances. Now Europe could be calling him for another try as he hits the peak of his career. A handful of clubs from Bulgaria's Second Tier have targeted the cultured right footer with excellent passing ability, and with his contract running down, it could be a chance for him to prove himself at a higher level of football, and join the ranks of players who have impressed enough over the last few years for India to earn a shot at playing in a League outside of the domestic game.
  3. Cheers as always Oche. Yeah, a very frustrating Window. I suspect you're right about us having enough to get promoted, but I think this Window may well be a sign of the frustrations we are likely to experience in the Summer as we try and strengthen for the Premier Division with a financial situation that continues to become more precarious, but still seems to be bothering no one at the club.
  4. 2015/16 Northern Irish League First Division Table, Up To & Including Sunday 31st January 2016 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Coleraine | | 16 | 13 | 2 | 1 | 29 | 13 | +16 | 41 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | Distillery | | 16 | 7 | 8 | 1 | 22 | 12 | +10 | 29 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Limavady Utd | | 16 | 7 | 7 | 2 | 33 | 23 | +10 | 28 | | 4th | | Carrick | | 16 | 7 | 7 | 2 | 14 | 7 | +7 | 28 | | 5th | | Wakehurst | | 16 | 7 | 5 | 4 | 21 | 16 | +5 | 26 | | 6th | | Ballymena Utd | | 15 | 5 | 8 | 2 | 23 | 16 | +7 | 23 | | 7th | | Donegal Celtic | | 16 | 6 | 5 | 5 | 18 | 16 | +2 | 23 | | 8th | | Annagh Utd | | 15 | 4 | 9 | 2 | 23 | 18 | +5 | 21 | | 9th | | Ards | | 16 | 5 | 2 | 9 | 14 | 21 | -7 | 17 | | 10th | | Armagh | | 16 | 3 | 4 | 9 | 19 | 27 | -8 | 13 | | 11th | | Bangor | | 16 | 2 | 6 | 8 | 18 | 24 | -6 | 12 | | 12th | | P.S.N.I. | | 16 | 3 | 3 | 10 | 12 | 25 | -13 | 12 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 13th | | Banbridge | | 16 | 2 | 6 | 8 | 10 | 28 | -18 | 12 | | 14th | | Queens University | | 16 | 2 | 4 | 10 | 13 | 23 | -10 | 10 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  5. Thursday 14th January 2016 Our seventh win in a row is a new club record. Friday 15th January An effort to bring in Stockport County defender Mark Heath on loan till the end of the season, and help us out with our defensive injury issues, has failed. 17 year old Heath, who has made a dozen career appearances in Coca-Cola League Two for County, has instead decided to spend the rest of the season with mid table Blue Square North club Alfreton Town. The knock backs continue too, with Free Agent midfielder Nathan Fairhurst rejecting our offer of a deal to join us right away. The former Preston North End, Greenock Morton and Derry City man is instead holding out for an offer from a better club, with Rotherham United said to be interested. This one hurts, it really shows how low our reputation is right now. Sunday 17th January With our Senior Squad starting to get stretched to the limit, we may have no choice but to rely on our young players. Colin Canning issues a timely reminder as to what he can do, the 17 year old right winger putting in a man of the match performance with an assist and the final goal in a 3-0 win away to Donegal Celtic Under-18's, a Group 1 game that was played in a snowstorm, and temperatures that dropped to -5c during the afternoon. Left winger Stuart Wilson and free scoring defender Paul McMaster score the earlier goals for our age group side. Tuesday 19th January We continue to be unable to convince players to move to The Showgrounds. Today we have missed out on long term goalkeeper target Stephen Calder, who has decided to move to Irish League side Athlone Town. Also deciding his future lies south of the border is defender Matthew Lowton, the former Sheffield United youngster opting to reject a deal with us to move instead to Wexford Youths, a deal that has delighted the fans of their club, while dismaying me as we once again miss out on a long term target that would have been able to help us improve our fortunes in the Premier Division should we manage the promotion that we've put ourselves in a great position to achieve. Wednesday 20th January We continue our hunt for options to give us that last push towards promotion. An English defender who has been playing in Ireland is our next target as he is now out of contract. But immediately he receives offers from around 20 other clubs, including Lurgan Celtic, and our expectations of a successful transaction now have a very low percentage. Thursday 21st January Our goalkeeping options have reduced yet further. 19 year old out of contract youngster Trevor Smyth has suffered a sprained ankle in training, and will now be out for up to two months. Friday 22nd January This weekend is game week fifteen for the majority of the Division, and a quirk of fate in the fixture schedule has made it an important one. The top five clubs are all facing clubs that lie in the bottom five, making it a must win fixture for those at the top, and a bit of a bonus opportunity for those at the bottom. For us, it is a home tie with Bangor, who are three matches unbeaten at the moment, but still lie in 13th place going into this match. This fixture was once a regular in the schedule of the Premier Division, but since the save began, Bangor have managed just one win in a dozen attempts against us, and have lost each of the last three matches between the clubs. We're the overwhelming favourites to beat them again this time around, despite our injury worries. Saturday 23rd January Northern Irish First Division The Showgrounds, Coleraine Coleraine v Bangor Attendance :- 239. Weather :- Dry, 7c. Two changes are made from the win in the capital against Queens University last time, both changes forced through injury. The biggest decision is at left back, where the regular Stewart Devine is out, and we don't have a Senior specialist left back to replace him. Deciding against breaking up the centre back partnership, and leaving Declan O'Hara where he is instead of moving him out to left back, there is instead a call up from the Youth side for Lee Mooney, a first year player and local lad, who will get his Senior debut this afternoon. The other change is up front, with Gerry Nixon brought in to replace the injured Stuart Shaw. There is one change amongst the substitutes, with centre back Robert Donaghy brought into the matchday squad. Two early chances came our way, Matty Robson sending in a swinging free kick that just missed the target, before a nice team passing move saw Andy McMillan play a square pass to Gerry Nixon, but the striker sent his shot high and wide. Nixon would then miss the target with a header from a Michael McCartney free kick midway through the half, before finally managing to get a shot on target, a well struck effort from the edge of the box that stung Ryan Brown's hands, but the Bangor keeper managed to keep that one out fairly easily. The visitors would finally show some attacking intent just after the half hour mark, Kyle Ralph was an early substitute when Lee Kelly was injured, but his attempt to hit the top corner was off target. We continued to push for an opening goal, and a set piece remained the most likely route, Robson sending a low free kick into the box that found its way past everyone and right through the box, before being sent back in from the other side by Chris Johnston, the cross finding Andy Dickinson who sidefooted an effort wide. The first half remained goalless. I told my players to remain patient, and that the golden chance would come, but it was Bangor who had the best chance created so far and a chance to go in front in the 52nd minute, Keith Steenson leaving a short pass towards Dickinson too short, and Tony Stewart nipped in to round the centre back, but couldn't get his shot past keeper Gerard Doherty, who made a good save to keep the striker out. Full back Tony Jones tried to catch Brown out at the other end, whipping in a free kick that everyone expected to be sent into the middle, but instead tried to catch out the keeper at his near post, the plan being undone by Jones inability to keep the ball down. Jones was once again involved as the mid point of the second half approached, down his normal right side this time, he managed to get by two Bangor players to get to the byline, before standing a cross up into the middle, Nixon getting his head to it, but his effort came off the top of the bar on its way over. Nixon kept trying, this time played in by a Declan O'Hara header from halfway that was over the visiting back four, but Brown tipped over the Scottish strikers shot. At this point I turned to my bench, Nixon, along with Johnston replaced, as Pat McIlroy and Michael Hassan came on in their place. And within seconds of the changes, we had broken the deadlock. Robson sent over a free kick from the right that swung in towards the near post, and Dickinson timed his jump perfectly to get above the defence and glance a header home from six yards out! That was us in the driving seat, and prompted Bangor to use their two remaining changes, including replacing their earlier change Ralph. Ten minutes later, forward Marvin Hyam drifted in a Bangor corner, and near the penalty spot there was a coming together between Jones and Neil Smart, the referee blaming our Scottish defender for that one, and pointing to the spot. Mark Treanor stepped up, and slammed his penalty kick down the middle as Doherty picked his side, and the game was all square to leave us back where we were. But with Bangor now back in an ultra defensive setup for the remaining minutes, we would not be denied. Jones would make amends for giving away the penalty, sending over a free kick from the left near the corner flag, and picking out the head of O'Hara, the veteran centre back redirecting the ball into the net via the underside of the cross bar with just seconds remaining of the indicated injury time. We'd left it late, but we had got the job done! Coleraine (0) 2 - Andy Dickinson (73), Declan O'Hara (90+2) Bangor (0) 1 - Mark Treanor (84 pen) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney; Keith Steenson ©, Michael McCartney; Chris Johnston (Michael Hassan 72), Matty Robson, Gerry Nixon (Pat McIlroy 72), Andy McMillan. Unused Substitutes :- Robert Donaghy, John Robertson, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 49% - 51%. Man of the Match :- Andy Dickinson (Coleraine). Our prolific nature from set piece situations has once more bailed us out, and it looked all afternoon like it would be from a set piece that we would find a way through. Despite already being eleven points clear, it was a crucial win too. Not just as it got us our eighth consecutive League win, but also because the four other teams in the top five all managed wins today as well. The chasing bunch continue to pursue us, but we are eleven points ahead still, and now there are just eleven games to go. And there is more good news too, as Gavin Whelan is declared fit to return to training next week. The 32 year old attacking midfielder with three goals to his name so far this season in all competitions, has recovered from his foot injury. He is also sitting on a contract offer to extend his stay at The Showgrounds into next season. Monday 25th January Gerard Doherty is of course included in the First Division Team of the Week, joined this time around by the goalscoring centre back pairing that sit in front of him, Andy Dickinson and Declan O'Hara. We're right back into action tomorrow night, with another home game. No visitors from the bottom end of the table this time though, as we will host Wakehurst. They are very much in the running for the Playoff spot, coming into the match in fourth place. And they are hoping a win at The Showgrounds will have them aiming for the top spot. They were unbeaten against us in a pair of games in the last calendar year. But the bookies don't fancy them to repeat that feat this year, as we are pegged as convincing favourites to extend our winning run. Tuesday 26th January Northern Irish First Division The Showgrounds, Coleraine Coleraine v Wakehurst Attendance :- 227. Weather :- Breezy, Downpours 2c. It's a filthy weather evening near the north coast of Northern Ireland, with cold temperatures exasperated by a stiff wind and some very heavy downpours. There is just one change to the side from the late, late win over Bangor here on the weekend, with Pat McIlroy brought into the starting lineup, replacing Gerry Nixon who take his place on the bench. Andy McMillan had the first chance of the game, the striker using his strength with his back to goal, rolling his marker and sending in an effort from the edge of the box that cleared the cross bar. By the time the ball went into the Wakehurst box again in the 5th minute, we had been forced to revert back to the lineup from the weekend, with Pat McIlroy forced off with an injury, Gerry Nixon coming on in his place. It didn't stop us nearly taking the lead though, Tony Jones sending over a free kick from the left that found it's way to Chris Johnston on the far post, the winger striking a controlled volley aimed inside the near post, keeper Josh Pelling turning the shot aside. At the other end of the park, dangerous striker Gary Stockley followed McMillan's lead with a shot on the turn, that one was also over the bar though. Then midway through the half, a loose ball from Dil Chagger saw Keith Steenson pinch possession and pick out Nixon. The striker played a one-two with McMillan before trying a speculative curling effort that ruffled the side netting on it's way wide. Moment later we were ahead, and it came from a familiar route, and an increasingly familiar source, Andy Dickinson getting on the end of a Matty Robson corner delivery and powering a header into the near top corner. Nick Welsh's effort to find a quick leveller at the opposite top corner was just off target, with Lee Mooney doing his best to make things difficult for the Wakehurst forwards. The visitors were much more involved in the game now though, with Junior Wells missing the target from a long way out. Still 1-0 in our favour at the break. It would be the visitors who would be in control early in the second half, Stockley again chancing his arm with no luck when he again missed the target. But he wouldn't miss next time. Michael McCartney left his feet to make a challenge and missed, leaving Welsh able to find overlapping winger David McConnell. His deep cross picked out Chagger, who knocked it down for Stockley, the striker this time picking out the far top corner and knotting this game back back up ten minutes into the second half. But their parity would be brief. A series of mistakes and missed chances to clear from down our right allowed the ball to find Johnston, and our winger angled his low cross diagonally and perfectly between the Wakehurst defence, and picking out the superbly timed run of opposite winger Robson, who added to his earlier assist with a goal, drawing Pelling off his line, before dinking his shot over the keeper and into the net! Once more though, with the lead in our hands, my players were guilty of losing their shape, and dropping back deeper than I would want them too. Mistakes started to come too, Steenson losing the ball in midfield and Ben Gate found Wells, his shot taking a huge deflection off Declan O'Hara, who was relieved to see Gerard Doherty get across goal and push the ball to safety. They were gaining in confidence, and made attacking changes, Welsh denied from ten yards out by an outstanding point blank save by Doherty. Another miss from Wells did nothing to dent their confidence, and with just under twenty minutes to play we were sliced open. Gate and sub Joe Herron did the leg work down the right, before Chagger picked out Stockley in the box. The striker got past Mooney too easily, the young defender couldn't get back goal side and stop the striker blasting a shot inside the near post, Doherty unable to get enough on it to keep it out, and once more the visitors had got themselves level. My big problem now was that my players were unable to regain the shape we had when we started the match, and it was still Wakehurst who were looking the most likely, substitute David North blasting over the best chance they would create with only two minutes remaining. I made another change, a defensive one. McMillan came off, Robert Donaghy came on as we would go to five at the back, and two protecting them as well. There was still a twist to come in this game yet though. Already well into injury time, we won a free kick in an advanced position of the park. Despite being asked now to operate defensively, several players took it upon themselves to arrive late in the box for the Robson delivery from the right, and that caused chaos. The ball was cleared, but only as far as McCartney, who got it right back to Robson. As he sent in an inswinging cross, at least three of my players were stood offside. But one of them was not Nixon, who arrived at the far post with perfect timing and sent a sidefooted shot past a helpless Pelling and high into the roof of the net! There was an agonizing few seconds where everyone seemed to wait for the flag to go up, but it never did. And for the second time in four days, we had fished a win out of dead cert looking draw. Coleraine (1) 3 - Andy Dickinson (25), Matty Robson (58), Gerry Nixon (90+1) Wakehurst (0) 2 - Gary Stockley (55,71) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney; Keith Steenson ©, Michael McCartney; Chris Johnston, Matty Robson; Pat McIlroy (inj - Gerry Nixon 4), Andy McMillan (Robert Donaghy 86). Unused Substitutes :- Michael Hassan, John Robertson, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 49% - 51%. Man of the Match :- Gary Stockley (Wakehurst). Gary Stockley is one of the leading goalscorers in Northern Ireland this season, and visiting Manager today Rodney Crawford may well be rueing his decision to bring off his striker with eight minutes to go and his club looking set for a share of the spoils at least. It's hard to suggest the 19 year old former Arsenal youngster didn't deserve Man of the Match, but with a goal and two assists, surely Matty Robson should've been the rightful recipient this evening? Pat McIlroy was the recipient of a particularly nasty gash on his leg in this game, and the striker joins our injury list, with him likely to be out for around three to four weeks while that wound heals. It's not all bad news though. We have extended our winning run to a new club record of nine wins, and with Limavady United held to a draw away to Bangor, it is now Distillery who take up the mantle as our nearest challengers, with our lead extended out to twelve points with thirty left to play for, and Cup football about to move back into our main focus. 32 year old midfielder Gavin Whelan has signed a contract extension that will take the Irish playmaker through to the end of last season, agreeing to a small pay drop from £180 a week down to £150 per week as well. It's all relative of course, a lot of these players who have agreed to take drops in salary will be clawing that money back should we get promoted, with contracts that entitle them to a 25% increase should we move up into the Premier Division. One such player who won't have to worry about that is Derby County goalkeeper Nicholas Furlong, the nineteen year old has refused to accept a loan offer that was agreed to by his employers for him to move over to us for the remainder of the season. Friday 29th January It was on the cards when it was clear we were not the only club interested in Steve Robinson, but today confirmation arrived. The 21 year old 6'4 Cleethorpes born centre back is indeed moving to Northern Ireland, but has rejected offers from both ourselves and my former employers Lurgan Celtic amongst others, and will instead sign for Crusaders, making it a distinct possibility that we could come up against him next season. We'll worry abut that when the time comes. For now we have Cup football matters to attend to. Our final game of January will see us travel into Belfast to face Police Service of Northern Ireland in the Fourth Round of the Northern Irish Intermediate Cup, the Cup for clubs outside the top tier. And we're involved in the only all First Division tie, not that the bookies believe this will be much of a contest. PSNI are on a terrible run of form, and haven't won in the First Division since mid-September, with their only success' coming in their three matches in this competition, and one of them came via a penalty shoot-out. Neither the bookies or anyone else in the media fancy their chances tomorrow afternoon. Saturday 30th January The final matchday of January, and it's a double header day of action. The opening part of that takes place in Belfast as well, with our Under-18's hopefully setting the tone at the Grove Park Stadium as Crusaders Under-18's are swept aside 3-0. Young striker Martin Friars opened the scoring inside quarter of an hour, and then added a second right from the restart after half time. The scoring was rounded off in the 73rd minute when free scoring defender Paul McMaster found the net once again, this time from the penalty spot. Our lads are 4th in Group 1. Northern Irish Intermediate Cup, Fourth Round Newforge Lane, Belfast Police Service of Northern Ireland v Coleraine Attendance :- 159. Weather :- Dry, 1c. With Pat McIlroy joining the injured list, Gerry Nixon comes back into the side after getting the winner in midweek. That leaves us short on strikers though, and this time I decide not to bring in someone from the Reserve or Youth pool, instead bringing fit again and newly contracted Gavin Whelan into the matchday squad on the substitutes bench. With him able to cover the right wing, it allows me to effectively make winger Chris Johnston our back up striker. Clearly PSNI were set up to counter attack when the chance arose, but outside that they were only interested in defending and keeping us out. That counter attack mentality almost got them going inside ten minutes, Michael McCartney dispossessed deep inside their half by John Paul Gallagher, and some quick passing play allowed Murray Gamble to take a shot from a long way out, his effort clipping the cross bar on it's way over. Tony Jones was a lot closer in when he took a 15th minute free kick, the Scottish full back curling his shot over the wall, only to see it crash flush against the cross bar. Midway through the half we created our best chance so far, Matty Robson making ground down the left, and then pulling the ball back to McCartney. The midfielder couldn't find room for a shot, but did find Gerry Nixon, the striker aiming a low shot inside the near post, but was foiled by keeper Gordon O'Brien making a smart stop. The left flank was proving to be our most popular route, with even teenage full back Lee Mooney having some joy there and sending over a few nice crosses that PSNI defenders had to deal with. Ten minutes before the break, PSNI got behind our defence, Gamble taking a free kick quickly and playing in Gallagher down the left channel, but he fluffed his lines, torn between crossing and shooting, and eventually blazing a shot well over the cross bar. And they would be punished for missing their chance, Jones whipping in a corner that O'Brien came off his line to punch. The ball made it only as far as McCartney just outside the box, and he didn't even look up, lifting his curling shot over the players in the box and O'Brien, and finding the top corner to give us a lead with his first ever goal for the club. That goal just before the break gave our hosts little option but to rethink their plan of counter attacking their way to a victory. And that left gaps in their defence that you could drive a sightseeing bus of Belfast through. We got a bit bold ourselves though, and Glenn Rolston blasted a shot at goal that was just high and wide of the top corner he wanted to hit. We were passing the ball around the park beautifully, and it scored us a lot of set piece opportunities, an area where we thrive. And it would come up trumps in the 78th minute, literally with two substitutes stood on the touchline waiting for the ball to go out so they could come on. Jones sent over another set piece from the left, and as the ball came through a crowd of players at a strange height, McMillan had to improvise, unable to get his head down quickly enough to meet it in the more traditional way, the striker used his chest to redirect the ball and the power already on it gave it just enough to direct it into the bottom corner and give us the breathing room we wanted. The centre midfielders were changed before the restart, McCartney and Keith Steenson replaced by Gavin Whelan and Michael Hassan. Inside the last ten minutes, Ryan Twist got some rare game time too as he replaced Robson while the game fizzled out into it's conclusion, and we would take our place in the Quarter-Finals. Police Service of Northern Ireland (0) 0 Coleraine (1) 2 - Michael McCartney (43), Andy McMillan (78) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney; Keith Steenson © (Michael Hassan 78), Michael McCartney (Gavin Whelan 78); Chris Johnston, Matty Robson (Ryan Twist 82); Gerry Nixon, Andy McMillan. Unused Substitutes :- Robert Donaghy, John Robertson. Bookings :- None Possession :- 40% - 60%. Man of the Match :- Michael McCartney (Coleraine). That was a pretty routine win, and sees us safely through into the last eight of the Intermediate Cup. This is not a glamour competition by any means, but it's been a long time since I've won any silverware, and I won't pass up an opportunity to put a pot in the cabinet. I'm hoping it will be more than just one this season actually. And this one is starting to play very much our way. Of the eight clubs left, half including ourselves are First Division teams. The remaining four contain one Second Division club, and three non-League outfits. When the draw is made for the Quarter-Final round, it isn't a seeded draw, but it comes out that way as the First Division clubs all avoid each other. We're drawn at home to Oxford United Stars, the third tier club who are midway down the League, and far from being out of the promotion race at this point. The real prize for us outside promotion this season would be the Northern Irish Cup. The Sixth Round tie in that competition is our next game, and we are travelling to face fierce rivals and fellow promotion contenders Limavady United next Saturday. So why is this Cup one of our main aims? Well apart from it being a much more prestigious event, it is a potential route into Europe, which is probably our best bet of clearing our debt in a hurry. It's a long shot, I'm prepared to admit that....... Sunday 31st January Despite it being a Sunday, it's still the last day of January, and therefore the last day of the Winter Transfer Window. I wasn't expecting much to happen from our end. In fact, I told the media just that early in the day. But early in the afternoon an unexpected opportunity arrived, and I was offered the chance to sign Lü Xin, a very quick and skilful left winger who was born in Larne, but the 22 year old has lived in China since a very young age. A British passport holder, but declared for China, he has spent some time in Europe, playing in the Czech Republic for two seasons. I was led to believe we could sign him on a Free Transfer. So the matter came to an abrupt close when I was then informed by his current club Sanshan University that the asking price was £30,000. There was time yet for another opportunity to arise, as this time we were offered Glebe Rangers left back Aaron Moore. I did check this time that there would be no fee, and when given the green light, I made my move for the relegation threatened Premier Division side's 24 year old six footer. Everything was signed and done, but the hours had ticked down and time would get the better of us. The deal to bring him in as Senior cover on a short term basis for the rest of the season had gone, and the Window slammed shut with only Michael Hassan's arrival at the club in January.
  6. South West Peninsula League Division One West League Table, up to & including Tuesday 30th November 2010 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Mousehole | | 10 | 7 | 1 | 2 | 30 | 17 | +13 | 22 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | AFC Newquay | | 10 | 6 | 2 | 2 | 22 | 15 | +7 | 20 | | 3rd | | Penryn Athletic | | 10 | 5 | 2 | 3 | 21 | 14 | +7 | 17 | | 4th | | Truro Reserves | | 10 | 5 | 1 | 4 | 20 | 15 | +5 | 16 | | 5th | | Dobwalls | | 11 | 4 | 3 | 4 | 24 | 19 | +5 | 15 | | 6th | | Godolphin Atlantic | | 10 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 18 | 15 | +3 | 14 | | 7th | | Foxhole Stars | | 10 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 20 | 21 | -1 | 14 | | 8th | | Holsworthy | | 10 | 3 | 5 | 2 | 15 | 16 | -1 | 14 | | 9th | | Okehampton Argyle | | 10 | 4 | 1 | 5 | 19 | 29 | -10 | 13 | | 10th | | Callington Town | | 10 | 2 | 6 | 2 | 17 | 16 | +1 | 12 | | 11th | | Porthleven | | 10 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 15 | 23 | -8 | 9 | | 12th | | Hayle | | 10 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 12 | 21 | -9 | 9 | | 13th | | Camelford | | 11 | 2 | 1 | 8 | 12 | 24 | -12 | 7 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  7. Wednesday 17th November 2010 We've missed out on the left winger that I hoping to sign, Basingstoke Town's speed merchant Jide Ogunbote has opted instead to sign for Chippenham Town of the Southern League Premier Division. You can hardly blame the 22 year old Londoner who was formerly on the books of Fulham, Aldershot and Woking, as he will receive £120 per week, something we can't do anything to match at the moment. Friday 19th November -------------------- THE BET Belgian Pro League Anderlecht v KV Mechelen - Home Win - 1/2 nPower League 1 Swindon Town v Oldham Athletic - Home Win - Evens Taca de Portugal 4th Round Naval v Penafiel - Home Win - 4/6 Treble Odds - 4/1 Stake - £20,000 Balance After Bet Placed - £167,166 Total Returns (Including Stake) - £100,000 -------------------- I'd have took this Treble if they were all 1/6 on. Frankly, I'll be stunned if this bet doesn't land. Anderlecht are without their first three choice Senior keepers and a few outfield players too, reducing what would normally be a higher second number to their odds this weekend, despite being unbeaten at home this campaign. My second choice was going to be Peterborough United, leaders of the third tier and home to the bottom of the table side. That bet was 1/6, but second place Swindon at home to the bottom but one side was Evens after Swindon's run of League form has seen them win only one of their last four. In Portugal, mid table Naval are holding their own and keeping well out of danger in the top tier. They're home to a free scoring Penafiel side who would be much higher up the second tier if they could sort out their leaky defence. I'm banking on Naval finding their way through that defence and winning us a tidy sum. While those games are going on, we'll be competing at Simmons Park against Okehampton Argyle as we look to continue our push towards a promotion that is the clubs singular goal this season. Argyle have started to add some Senior experience to their squad since the season got underway, and while they are struggling to find any consistency right now, they are capable of being a problem. Their defence could do with someone of the calibre of Irish 20 year old defender Graham Dowling. But he won't be joining Argyle, he'll be arriving at the Mount Wise Stadium in the New Year. With no new contract offer coming from the St Patrick's Athletic side of the Irish Premier Division, who's 'A' side he has turned out for 23 times this season, he has agreed to jump across the Irish Sea and join us on an Amateur deal. Saturday 20th November South West Peninsula League, Division One West Simmons Park, Okehampton Okehampton Argyle v AFC Newquay One change to our starting lineup this afternoon, with Martin Prince dropping out of the lineup and matchday squad, Michael Smyth brought into the lineup and Danish new signing Kasper Hansen selected amongst the substitutes. A quick start would've been ideal today, and we almost got just that when Steve Magee whipped in an opening minute curler from the edge of the box that was just wide of the post. The tide quickly turned against us though, a Jamie Murray cross was met by a Paul Douglas downward header that was just wide. We were becoming our own worst enemies as we constantly gave the ball away with misplaced passes and players trying to do too much, Jimmy Harte guilty of doing just that as he tried to round keeper Andrew Johnson when a shot was a much better option. At the other end, a Joe Hunt free kick got past the wall only to come back off the base of the upright. We were less lucky in the 29th minute, Sam Farrell giving the ball away in his own half, and Mick Thurgood easily got by Danny Howard and sent in a cross that Jason Johnson headed back across goal and into the net. An immediate attempt to equalise failed, Lewis Oliver's cross was met by Michael Smyth with a header that clipped the top of the cross bar on it's way over. Hunt would just miss the top corner with another free kick effort, before Harte sent in a cross at half time that Charlie Clapham needed the help of Thurgood to keep away from Magee just before the break. That would be Magee's last contribution, as I highlighted my half time annoyance with a change, bringing Danish striker Kasper Hansen into the fray for his AFC Newquay debut. Still, we were struggling to get on top of things here, Hunt clearing the bar with another free kick effort before Thurgood turned Howard too easily again, and then sent in a shot that only found the side netting. Oliver picked up a booking as we tried to turn things around, getting closer to doing that just after the hour mark when a free kick into the box was cleared only as far as Harte, who's shot beat Johnson only to come back down off the underside of the bar. Ferhat Selvi and Lee Hales were taken off right after Thurgood sent another effort across the face of goal, James Taylor and Ollie Harrison coming on in like for like swaps as we keep the same basic system while trying to press further up the park and get more bodies at the sharp end of the park. With five minutes to play James Ives whipped in a corner, Joe Kennedy trying to get his head to it but being manhandled by Nicky Chapman en route, the ref not seeing enough to award a spot kick despite our players protests. Instead we only got another corner, Harrison sending is over from the other side, Smyth heading it against the bar from six yards out. That would turn out to be our last chance, Harte taking a late booking for the team by tugging a shirt as Argyle set off on a counter attack that could have made things worse still. Okehampton Argyle (1) 1 - Jason Johnson (29) AFC Newquay (0) 0 Attendance :- 589 Elliot Jackson; James Ives, Joe Kennedy, Ferhat Selvi (James Taylor 76), Danny Howard (inj 87); Lee Hales (Ollie Harrison 76), Sam Farrell ©; Jimmy Harte, Lewis Oliver; Michael Smyth, Steve Magee (Kasper Hansen 45). Unused Substitutes :- Russell Sampson, Tom Murray, Matthew Evans, John Costa. Well that didn't go to plan at all, and our spell at the top of the table would be a brief one on this occasion, as we are toppled from the summit and back down into third place after our first defeat in the League in six games and our second in the campaign. A win over bottom of the table Camelford means it's Mousehole who go top, with Penryn Athletic also moving past us on goal difference despite being held to 1-1 home draw with Dobwalls. Our fans have got used to us winning, and they have been quick to express their disappointment at the result, and particularly our failure to test their keeper regularly. That might not be entirely fair, we did crack the frame of the goal a few times. Fine margins. BET RESULT Anderlecht 3-2 KV Mechelen Swindon Town 3-2 Oldham Athletic Naval 1-0 Penafiel WIN That was closer than I would have liked, particularly in Belgium, where Anderlecht had to score twice in the last fifteen minutes to turn things around after KV Mechelen had done the same when they went behind around the half hour mark. Swindon also went behind at the County Ground, but they turned things around quickly and were in front by the mid point of the first half and 3-1 to the good midway through the second. By the time Oldham got one back, it was too late for them to have serious ambitions of salvaging a point. So it would come down to the Cup game in Portugal, and Naval scored in the 26th minute and held second tier Penafiel at arms length from there out, the visiting team failing to register a shot on target, and winning us a nice six figure sum while they were at it. £100,000 has been added to our coffers, and we are now up over the quarter of a million mark in the bank account. We're suddenly being more successful at the bookies than we are on the park. Friday 26th November -------------------- THE BET Croatian First Division Hajduk Split v NK Zadar - Home Win - 1/3 nPower Championship Middlesbrough v Barnsley - Home Win - Evens Greek Superleague PAOK Salonika v Asteras Tripolis - Home Win - 4/7 Treble Odds - 3.19/1 Stake - £25,000 Balance After Bet Placed - £242,416 Total Returns (Including Stake) - £104,762 -------------------- This one looks as good as last weeks bet to me. A return to Croatia, which was good to us early in the season with Slaven Belupo, but they let us down second time around. They've started to drop down the table now, in part down to the rise to form of Hajduk Split, who we're backing this weekend for the first time. This is our third time backing Middlesbrough, and they are two from two for us, so there's no real trepidation over backing the North East club for a third time. We've bet on the Greek Superleague successfully before this season as well. That was backing Panathinaikos, but with them matched with bitter rivals Olympiakos this weekend, that one is left well alone. Our money is on the current second placed incumbents, PAOK, as they host an Asteras side that are currently pinned into the relegation zone. While there is no relegation zone from our League, if there were, Camelford would be well and truly entrenched in it. They've been bottom of the Division One West table for the large part of the season so far, and have one of the worst defences in the League. Their fortunes did start to improve in mid October for a period when they brought in a new Manager and some Senior players. But once several other clubs around them in the League matched their recruitment drive, they have since suffered two defeats to clubs nearer the sharp end of the table. We are hoping to make that a hatrick of such defeats tomorrow afternoon. Saturday 27th November South West Peninsula League, Division One West Mount Wise Stadium, Newquay AFC Newquay v Camelford There are two changes to the starting lineup from the defeat against Okehampton last time out, Ferhat Selvi replaced at centre back by James Taylor, while Tom Murray comes in for Sam Farrell in the midfield. In front of another home full house, we got ourselves off to the perfect start. Keeper Elliot Jackson played the ball out to James Ives, who in turn sent it forward to Jimmy Harte. The wide midfielder made his way infield, and found Steve Magee absolutely unmarked on the edge of the box, the striker sending a powerful low shot under the dive of John Mills and giving us a third minute lead. We almost quickly earned a second, a Harte corner met at the near post by Lewis Oliver, but his angled header found only the side netting. At the other end midway through the half, a Sam Ellis free kick was partially blocked by the wall and the ball was sent spinning towards goal, fortunately Jackson was in perfect position and fielded the ball easily. Moments later Magee missed a similar chance to the one he had already netted, Mills coming out feet first this time, and the shot hit the keepers legs. Within minutes a poor pass from Ives let William Brough in on our goal, and Jackson repaired some recent damage to his reputation with a great block save to keep us in front. That repair job lasted mere moments, as ten minutes before the break Brough brought the ball down from a throw in, and played a pass to Ellis, who unleashed a low, but not especially powerful shot that Jackson was too slow to get down to, and the ball beat him inside the far post to bring Camelford level. That was frustrating, and with only one more chance produced before the break, Harte sending a left footed curling effort wide of the mark right before the players headed off for their half time cuppa, we'd have to consider that frustration at the break. With a warning of changes to come if they couldn't get the job done ringing in their ears, my players headed back out to the park, and tried to get themselves back in front, with one change already made at the interval, Lee Hales replaced by Ollie Harrison. It was Michael Smyth that had first crack at that, striking a bouncing ball that dipped just over the cross bar. It was quiet, too quiet, both on the park and in the stands. A 65th minute Harte free kick wasn't cleared properly, and the ball fell to sub Harrison, who's well struck shot was met with a superb reaction tip over by Mills. We continued to press, Harte receiving the ball back on the right after a corner was recycled back to the original taker, his floated cross picking out Oliver, but he couldn't get enough power on his header and Mills easily caught the ball. By now there are just over twenty minutes to go, and we are in complete control. Magee drops out wide to assist Oliver, the strikers attempt at a cross is blocked, but comes right back to him, and his powers past the defender and strikes at goal, Mills well beaten, but the ball thumps off the cross bar and over the top. I sense the growing frustration from the crowd behind me that we are unable to break down this team, and I make a bold call. With a little over quarter of an hour to play, off comes right back Ives, and on in his place comes striker Kasper Hansen. With Danny Howard pinching in, we're now three at the back, and three up front as well. Bingo! Camelford are suddenly over run, and when Smyth drops in close to pick up the ball from a throw in, two visiting defenders go with him as confusion reigns over who should be marking who. Smyth slips the ball between them and into the near post, where Danish striker Hansen is waiting, unmarked, and he buries the ball into the net with a quick shot inside the near post to delight the fans. The work has to start all over again for Camelford if they are to rescue a point at least, skipper George Moises-Garvey sending in a shot from distance that bounced right in front of Jackson, who takes no chances and pushes it to safety rather than catching it. But a third goal looked more likely than an equaliser, Harrison sending a screamer just over, before being played in again by a superb reverse pass by Hansen, the curling shot across goal just the wrong side of the far post. With seconds left to play of the ninety minutes, Hansen waltzed through the defence himself, but just like Harrison he missed the target with his shot. Tempers threatened to boil over during injury time, Howard and Roger Reay both booked for an incident on the touchline that resulted in a fracas. But no one else got involved enough to be punished, and no one would stop us getting back on the winning trail today! AFC Newquay (1) 2 - Steve Magee (3), Kasper Hansen (76) Camelford (1) 1 - Sam Ellis (35) Attendance :- 3,500 Elliot Jackson; James Ives (Kasper Jansen 74), Joe Kennedy ©, James Taylor, (Y)Danny Howard; Lee Hales (Ollie Harrison 45), Tom Murray; Jimmy Harte, Lewis Oliver; Michael Smyth, Steve Magee. Unused Substitutes :- Ferhat Selvi, Russell Sampson, Sam Farrell, Matthew Evans, John Costa. Have I been making this difficult for ourselves by overthinking the tactics? Are we good enough to just get through this Division by simply deciding we'll score more goals than our opposition can manage? Would believing that attack is the best form of defence at this level be naïve, or a stroke of genius? I guess there's only one way to find out, and I have to admit to being sorely tempted. Kasper Hansen's first goal for the club, and his first ever in Senior football got us over the line today, and the Danish signing will now be pushing for a starting spot. His goal certainly delighted our fans, who's expectations will rightly be increasing, but they are as happy as me that we got the victory today, citing the amount of chances we created and the teams willingness to fight for the win as their main plus points. It's a win that sees us move back up into second place, past Penryn Athletic who are well beaten away to Foxhole Stars, but still two points behind Mousehole, who thrashed our next opponents Hayle today, recording a 6-1 win. We visit them in a fortnight, the first of consecutive weekends of League games against lowly opposition, fixtures which make up our only scheduled dates for December. BET RESULT Hajduk Split 1-0 NK Zadar Middlesbrough 2-5 Barnsley PAOK Salonika 2-0 Asteras Tripolis LOSS Routine victories in both Croatia and in Greece, a goal in each half in a game that PAOK dominated in the latter, while in Croatia an early goal had Hajduk in charge, and they then proceeded to miss a huge amount of chances to make the game much safer and improve their goal difference into the bargain. But it was in the North East of England that this bet hit the skids. There were only three minutes on the clock at the Riverside Stadium when left back and former England Youth International player Andrew Taylor was shown a straight red card for a professional foul. But that wouldn't prevent Boro from still taking the lead in the 11th minute through French forward Hassan Ahamada. But just one minute later Senegal International midfielder Mickaël Tavares conceded a penalty that was converted by Uruguayan midfielder Diego Arismendi, and before the quarter of an hour mark Goran Lovre and Jay McEveley had both also netted for Barnsley to make it 3-1. And that was all before Tavares earned a second booking before the half hour mark, and Boro are down to nine men. A quickfire double from Frank Nouble and Jim O'Brien had Boro 5-1 down at the break, as well as two men down. Our bet was long gone, and it meant very little to us when Leroy Lita pulled a surprise goal back for Boro in the second half, it certainly didn't put any money in our pockets this week. Sunday 28th November The final League game of the month is played this afternoon at Treyew Road in Truro, where the Truro City Reserve side miss the opportunity to close in to within a point of us, after losing 3-2 against visitors Holsworthy. The second string side of the one of Cornwall's largest clubs had twice evened up the game after falling behind, their second equaliser coming from former Premier League and Jamaican International striker, Barry Hayles. During the course of that second half, Hayles' side were reduced down to nine men. And they would be unable to hold out, with Abubakar Kareem scoring Holsworthy's winner three minutes into injury time. There were ten cards shown in this match.
  8. Sunday 1st February 2015 The January Transfer Window is about to close, and there seems no danger of either of the cousins making a move at this point. Eden Hazard has beaten Swansea City full back Ángel Rangel and Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero to the Premier League Player of the Month Award for January. And in quite the turn around, his boss José Mourinho has gone from the verge of the sack to being named the Manager of the Month, his side winning five on the spin in the Premier League after an early New Year defeat. He pips Manuel Pellegrini of City and Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool to the award. Tuesday 3rd February Cardiff City start the new month with a home win that will slightly ease their Sky Bet Championship relegation fears, as they defeat mid table Blackpool at the Cardiff City Stadium. It's another superb outing from Davide at centre back, but he is beaten to the Man of the Match award by Irish International forward Joe Mason, who nets in the 51st and 83rd minutes to reach ten goals for the season, and City only had a few moments of worry near the end when Tomasz Cywka netted for The Seasiders with only two minutes remaining. The result leaves City five points clear of the relegation zone. Wednesday 4th February The FA Cup Fourth Round Replay is played tonight at Stamford Bridge. An own goal from Thibaut Courtois had Arsenal in front almost midway through the first half on a snowy night in West London. It would take Chelsea an hour to level things up, Loïc Rémy finally finding the net for The Blues with just nine minutes left to play. And the French striker would net the winning spot kick after Extra Time failed to provide a winner, Arsenal putting in a poor display from twelve yards out as both Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck missed, allowing Rémy to net Chelsea's fourth spot kick and put them out of reach, setting up a Fifth Round tie against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. With a lot of Barclays Premier League sides now out of the FA Cup, the consensus seems to be that Mourinho's team are the favourites for the competition from the remaining sixteen clubs. Saturday 7th February Chelsea's strong run of form continues in Stoke this afternoon, and didn't they just revel in that form. The game was all but over inside ten minutes as Chelsea scored three quick goals, a Diego Costa penalty, followed by strikes from Oscar and Xherdan Shaqiri. They added another early in the second half through Ramires, and while The Blues are too far adrift to think about the Title, but there could yet be a race hotting up for second. It's not something that Cardiff City are going to have to worry about any time soon. One step forward last time out, two steps backwards for The Bluebirds today as they're beaten at the Cardiff City Stadium by a Bolton Wanderers side who move out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win thanks to an accurate first half strike from Mark Davies. The gap between the bottom three and City is now reduced to four points, though almost all of them have a game in hand on The Bluebirds. It was a fifth League appearance today for Davide, and the next outing will be his tenth in all competitions. Our boy is starting to make himself a fixture in the First Team, and when he reaches fifteen League Appearances, his weekly wage will double from £4,100 per week right up to £8,250. Monday 9th February Davide is tonight asked to travel down to Worthing with the Cardiff City Under-21's for their Group 2B clash with bottom of the table Brighton & Hove Albion. He put in a Man of the Match performance in the young Bluebirds 1-0 win that lifts them up to third in the table. Tuesday 10th February It's a huge night at Stamford Bridge as Manchester United travel into London to face The Blues in a battle between two sides who are jostling for position behind Manchester City. Tonight United will travel back north to Manchester with 'the blues', as a 50th minute powerful Diego Costa header is enough to secure a win for Mourinho's men, making it seven without defeat in the Barclays Premier League, and nine in all competitions. Friday 13th February For quite a while, it looked like it was going to be a fantastic Friday 13th for Cardiff City in East London, as The Bluebirds travelled into the English capital to face West Ham United. It was just before the half hour mark when Kim Bo-Kyung put City ahead, and for an hour it looked like they would leave Upton Park with a valuable three points. Unfortunately, Carlton Cole had other ideas, as he came off the bench to fire an equaliser with just four minutes remaining with his sixth goal of the season. Saturday 14th February A Loïc Rémy hatrick at Selhurst Park sees Chelsea progress in the FA Cup, but that doesn't come close to telling the story, and how close The Blues came to being knocked out. They were ahead at the break thanks to a Rémy goal, but strikes within ten minutes of each other from Owen Garvan and Marouane Chamakh had Crystal Palace in front. With ten minutes left, Rémy scored an equaliser, and he added another just three minutes later, with André Schürrle scoring Chelsea's fourth a minute later to confirm their path into the Quarter-Finals. Sunday 15th February The draw is made for those Quarter-Finals this evening, and it will be an extra West London Derby in the diary for The Blues, as they are drawn at home to Fulham in the last eight. And it's a last eight where Chelsea are undoubtedly the star turns, with only two other Barclays Premier League clubs remaining outside the West London pair. Of those, Hull City are drawn away to Charlton Athletic, and West Bromwich Albion will be at home to Peterborough United. There will definitely be at least one non-Premier League club in the last four, as Huddersfield Town host Blackburn Rovers in an all-Sky Bet Championship match to complete the line-up. Tuesday 17th February The games are piling up for Chelsea, and they're in action again tonight at the Bridge, as the European season resumes with the First Knockout Round of the UEFA Champions League. With home advantage in the First Leg against Borussia Dortmund, all was going beautifully for Mourinho's side with a Xherdan Shaqiri goal in the first half and an Oscar free kick on the hour mark. But a strike in the last ten minutes from German International winger Patrick Herrmann changed the whole complexion of the tie, and with the Second Leg in front of the Yellow Wall, there's likely to be a tough night in the German Ruhr coming up for The Blues. Saturday 21st February In a dress rehearsal for their upcoming FA Cup Quarter-Final date, it would be victory for Chelsea at the Bridge against Fulham in a West London Derby that had Barclays Premier League bragging rights. The Cottagers are looking for another win or two that should keep them out of reach of the sides currently in the bottom three, but no joy with that here, as a beautifully executed finish from The Blues in form striker Diego Costa on the half hour mark was enough for the points here, and Chelsea remain third, hot on the heels of Manchester United. Further west outside of the English capital and into the Welsh capital, nerves will very much be jangling for Cardiff City as they suffer another defeat today. They had made the trip up into Yorkshire to face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, and they return with nothing after a 2-0 loss. There was a recall for Davide, but he didn't have one of his better games as goals in the opening quarter from Eric Dier and Michael Higdon ensured The Blades would clip the wings of The Bluebirds, becoming the latest team to leapfrog them a bit further from danger and leaving them perilously close to the dotted line, just a point better off than Charlton Athletic, and with only Scunthorpe United between the two as a buffer with a dozen matches left to play. Tuesday 24th February Chelsea's fabulous run of form continues in the Midlands, as they produce the required second half performance to defeat West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns and continue to make fools of those that claimed their hectic schedule would be their undoing. Once more it was Diego Costa who put The Blues in front, though Albion would find an equaliser before the break through their veteran French full back Anthony Révillère. But The Baggies couldn't hold on to their parity for too long, as Oscar scored ten minutes after the restart, and Nathaniel Chalobah wrapped up the win with ten left to play. Chelsea now sit three points behind Manchester United, though they have also played a game more than The Reds. Saturday 28th February The final day of the month, a month that has so far produced just one solitary Cardiff City victory. It's not a record that improves today either, as The Bluebirds are held to a 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium against Millwall. It was a return to the old habit of conceding early goals for City, as they saw Yaya Sonogo put The Lions in front with less than a minute on the clock. The equaliser came just before the half hour mark through Federico Macheda. There was no Davide today, left on the bench for the duration. City finish the month in 20th, now two points and places above the relegation zone that Charlton Athletic have just climbed out of, with Scunthorpe United now taking their place in the bottom three. The knives are starting to come out for Sam Allardyce, who has only a 25% win rate and a negative goal difference since arriving at the club twenty matches ago. March will be a crucial month for Big Sam and City.
  9. I've enjoyed spending a little bit of time catching back up with this one. The rebuild of EDC seems to have gone well. Your boys could be putting the spark into the C-League........(sorry, couldn't resist)
  10. Welcome to the Boards, Keane_Mandles. Looking forward to seeing how your first venture goes. Best of luck.
  11. Narrator C, Welcome to our little corner of the Boards! This already looks like a very interesting start, and I'm looking forward to seeing what yourself and your Director of Football can do here. If she's found in the Boardroom telling the Chairperson (Wife) that you're not up to the job, then you know the pressure is on!
  12. 2008/09 Scottish League Third Division Standings, Up To & Including Wednesday 31st December 2008 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | East Stirlingshire | | 19 | 11 | 7 | 1 | 41 | 23 | +18 | 40 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | Montrose | | 19 | 11 | 4 | 4 | 26 | 13 | +13 | 37 | | 3rd | | Dumbarton | | 19 | 9 | 6 | 4 | 39 | 26 | +13 | 33 | | 4th | | Forfar | | 19 | 7 | 7 | 5 | 28 | 24 | +4 | 28 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 5th | | Albion Rovers | | 19 | 7 | 7 | 5 | 20 | 20 | 0 | 28 | | 6th | | Cowdenbeath | | 19 | 5 | 5 | 9 | 18 | 23 | -5 | 20 | | 7th | | Berwick | | 19 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 20 | 33 | -13 | 19 | | 8th | | Elgin | | 19 | 2 | 11 | 6 | 18 | 20 | -2 | 17 | | 9th | | Stenhousemuir | | 19 | 2 | 10 | 7 | 21 | 31 | -10 | 16 | | 10th | | Annan | | 19 | 3 | 4 | 12 | 15 | 33 | -18 | 13 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  13. Wednesday 17th December 2008 We are one of multiple club that have a £1,000 offer to Hamilton Academical accepted by the club for their 26 year old out of favour striker Kenny Deuchar. He's a 6'3 Stirling born lad who has scored goals everywhere he has played, but he can't get a game for the side rooted to the bottom of the Premier League right now. But it's too much of a drop in levels, and his agent advises us that he doesn't wish to discuss terms, and he will look at other options. They include Morton if he wishes to stay in Scotland, or St Patrick's Athletic and Cork City in the Republic of Ireland. There is also an option to return south of the border and into England with Bradford City. Friday 19th December Our last home game of 2008 is tomorrow afternoon as we host 8th placed Stenhousemuir. These are the kind of games that our form has led to an expectation on us to pick up wins reasonably comfortably. It's never that simple though in Leagues like this, and we need to keep our foot to the floor to ensure we stay in the promotion race. Saturday 20th December Dumbarton v Stenhousemuir Scottish League Third Division Strathclyde Homes Stadium, Dumbarton It's a snowy week before Christmas in Scotland, and we show one change from the side that drew in Elgin, with Ryan McStay coming back into the side to replace Ross Clark who isn't yet fit enough to play two games in a row. We're behind in the 6th minute with the first real chance of the game, Iain Thomson rolling the ball into the path of skipper Steven Ferguson, a player who spent time on loan here a few years ago, and his 25 yard shot skidded up off the turf, under Dave McEwan's dive and into the bottom corner. The keeper would like that one back! Chances came and went for us after that, Derek Carcary's shot curled away from goal, Stephen Murray's header was tipped onto the roof of the net by Keiron Renton, before Paul McLeod and a lacking in confidence Mark Archdeacon both sent shots over the bar. McLeod then just missed the top corner with a diving header. The players got a well deserved rollicking at the break and came out fired up, McLeod seeing Renton tip his curling shot over, Murray going down in the box appealing for a penalty but being denied. But in the 58th minute Murray stung Renton's hands with a shot he couldn't hold, and McLeod fired home the loose ball to equalise. Now we had a chance to win it, and with twenty minutes to go I brought Ross Clark off the bench to replace Mark Canning as we look to go for it, but we couldn't fashion a chance to win it, and have to settle for a point today. Dumbarton (0) 1 - Paul McLeod (58) Stenhousemuir (1) - Steven Ferguson (6) Dave McEwan, Gordon Lennon ©, Darren Barnard, Ben Gordon, David Armstrong; Mark Canning (Ross Clark 70), Ryan McStay; Derek Carcary, Stephen Murray; Paul McLeod, Mark Archdeacon. Attendance :- 774. There will be days like that, there always are for every club. Unfortunately, this time it would come on a day when our rivals would take advantage. There are wins for East Stirlingshire and Montrose, with the only silver lining be that the latter defeated Albion Rovers. We've dropped back down to third place, four points behind the leaders and a point behind Montrose who leap back above us. There is still a handy eight point gap back to the fifth placed side, Forfar Athletic, who we visit to finish our 2008 schedule on Boxing Day. Wednesday 24th December No Christmas rest for us as we prepare for another vital League game, and we head North East just outside Dundee to face fifth placed Forfar Athletic at their Station Park home on Boxing Day. Our hosts are unbeaten in their last five Third Division games, and earned a place in the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup too during that spell. On loan striker Johnny Russell from Dundee United leads the scoring chart for the club, and the creative tactics of their Manager at the club Dick Campbell make them tricky to play against. The former Dunfermline Athletic, Brechin City, Partick Thistle and Ross County boss is a cautious type, but it'd be wrong to underestimate that trait, his teams can counter attack at pace and they're favourites for this clash. Friday 26th December Forfar Athletic v Dumbarton Scottish League Third Division Station Park, Forfar So I spring a tactical surprise, setting us up with three centre backs in a 5-2-2-1 to try and combat Forfar's own three at the back and another three across midfield, and try to tempt them out so we can counter attack them ourselves. Mark Canning moves into the rearguard, while Paul McLeod drops to the bench allowing Ross Clark to start in the middle with Ryan McStay. It started promisingly too, as McStay sent a low pass into the box that Mark Archdeacon fired across goal and into the bottom corner to end his recent goal drought and hand us an 8th minute lead. We had planned to force Forfar to come out of their defensive shell, and we soon wished we hadn't baited them. Stephen McNally made a run down the right in the 20th minute, and his cross to the edge of the box was knocked down by Andy Tod, and Darren Brady walked into it and sent a shot through a crowd that Dave McEwan didn't see until it was past him. We fought back, both Gordon Lennon and Darren Barnard sending in crosses that just missed their mark, before McStay did the same with a shot from the edge of the box that found only the side netting. And by half time we were behind, the keeper sending a long ball down the park, Johnny Russell not quite able to control it, and David Armstrong's attempted clearance hit Russell and fell right into the path of Stephen Manson who buried it. I urged my players to respond in the second half, Derek Carcary pulling the ball back from the right flank after the restart, McStay's dipping shot cleared the cross bar. By midway through the second half, we had come no closer to denting their defence again, so I switched us around, Barnard and Armstrong replaced by Don Hutchison and Paul McLeod as we looked for more options further up the park. But now we were at the mercy of the Athletic counter attack, Russell just missing the top corner, and then sending another effort across goal and past the far post. With ten minutes to play, I pushed us into an even more attacking setup, but we created nothing, and our unbeaten run was over. Forfar Athletic (2) 2 - Darren Brady (20), Stephen Manson (40) Dumbarton (1) 1 - Mark Archdeacon (9) Dave McEwan; Gordon Lennon ©, Darren Barnard (Don Hutchison 67), Ben Gordon, David Armstrong (Paul McLeod 67), Mark Canning; Ryan McStay, Ross Clark; Derek Carcary, Stephen Murray; Mark Archdeacon. Attendance :- 346. The press were all over me for this one. I was labelled as 'tactically inept' for risking an untried tactic such as five at the back in such a big game. When the 4-2-2-2 had been working so well and got us into this position, they couldn't fathom why I had taken a risk and changed it in a game that saw Forfar move up into fourth and five points behind us, overtaking a Albion Rovers side that lost again and were now winless in five. But that was only the minor issue, as East Stirlingshire and Montrose both win again, pulling seven and four points in front of us respectively at the top of the table.
  14. Friday 1st January 2016 A New Year, and hopefully 2016 is the year that Coleraine make their return to the Premier Division. Four League games this month will potentially go some way towards securing that aim. There are also two Cup games in the schedule, as we look to bring some silverware into the club to boost our profile, and hopefully the financial situation as well. The Transfer Window is now open for a month, but don't expect too much to be happening at The Showgrounds with the way our finances look. We lost another £12,000 last month, and the debt continues to mount up, almost £320,000 now. Saturday 2nd January Never mind new signings, all the talk right now around The Showgrounds is regarding dealing with contracts for current players, and regarding four in particular, it's a case of the 'will's' and the 'will nots' at the moment. Michael McCartney is still negotiating to get a wage closer to what he is expecting while still accepting that a pay drop is inevitable. Also in his camp is Trevor Smyth, the Reserve goalkeeper who still keeps complaining to the media that he hasn't received a contract offer. In the case of those that are going to be staying, two more have signed on the dotted line. It's the two combative midfielders today, firstly John Robertson, the 21 year old Scot who has signed a one year extension with his wages dropping from £80 down to £65. Also remaining with us is the Club Captain and one of the The Showgrounds favourite sons, as Keith Steenson also signs a one year extension, with his wages remaining at the £20 per week level that he currently gets paid. Sunday 3rd January Michael McCartney has changed camp today, and signed a one year extension to remain at the club beyond the summer. Not only that, but he has taken a wage cut of nearly a third as well, with his weekly salary dropping from £350 a week down to £220. The 26 year old has stated he is delighted to be playing for a successful and well supported club, and wants to be part of what is being built at The Showgrounds. It's a development that means for the first time in quite a while, the club is running within it's allocated Wage Budget. Monday 4th January We're red hot favourites to win tomorrow night, priced at 1/4 for our trip to face Armagh City who currently sit 10th in the First Division, but have caused our club problems in recent times. It's nearly eighteen months since the clubs last met at Holm Park, where City recorded a 2-0 win. It was February last year when the teams last met at The Showgrounds, and ended in a goalless draw. Their dangerman is Ian Cox, a 22 year old attacking midfielder who has averaged almost a goal every other game this season in all competitions, though the large majority of them have come in the Cup competitions. Tuesday 5th January We have a new signing today. A chance presented itself, and the money made sense. The new arrival is 19 year old utility player Michael Hassan. A twice capped Northern Ireland Under-21 International who also has a goal at that level, Ballynahinch born Hassan has spent four years on the books of Republic of Ireland Premier Division club, Derry City. He played ten times over that period in the League for City, though has some experience this side of the border too, playing eleven times in the Premier Division during a loan spell with Institute in the 2013/14 campaign, also playing plenty of football during loan spell in the Republic with non-League side Letterkenny Rovers. Able to play at right back, defensive midfield, centre midfield or on the right wing, 5'10 Hassan has signed a £100 per week deal that will take him through to the end of next season, and provides some much needed cover for the club. His ability to play at right back allows us to make another move to reduce our wage bill once more after this deal takes it back over the allocated amount. I offer out of favour 21 year old right back Ray Doran a mutual termination deal. He refuses, stating that he believes he has the ability to be an important player for the club in the future. I disagree, and take the next step, paying Doran £3,000 to leave the club with immediate effect. He appeared twice for the club this season, both games in the League, being sent off in one of them. Northern Irish First Division Holm Park, Armagh Armagh City v Coleraine Attendance :- 225. Weather :- Gales, 7c. Andy Dickinson and Chris Johnston keep their places after being brought in for the Newington game last weekend, but Pat McIlroy is back out of the matchday squad, with Andy McMillan selected to join Stuart Shaw up front, and Gerry Nixon selected amongst the substitutes. Gerard Doherty plays his 350th Career League game, and also his 100th for Coleraine. There is familiar face from the past in the opposition lineup, with 21 year old striker Daniel Walsh, who scored some vital goals in the season I saved Maidstone United from relegation, now plying his trade this side of the Irish Sea after a summer move. City missed a great early chance when Walsh held the ball up outside the box and played it in to Dennis Perkins, but he was leaning back and sent his shot well over the bar. And moments later they were behind, Gerard Doherty's clearance down the park was wind assisted in the gales, and it flew over the heads of the back four, Stuart Shaw getting goal side of his marker and bringing the ball down, before sliding a low shot by Willem de Lange, and opening the scoring. City immediately switched to a more attacking setup, Paul Hoyle heading the ball over from a corner, before Chris Johnston's attempt at a cross field pass was blocked, and Gary Williams floated over a cross that Ian Cox headed home after getting between our centre backs. City reverted right back to their normal formation, and we caught them again. Keith Steenson won the ball in midfield and Johnston drove forward before picking out Andy McMillan in the box, the striker rolling his marker and then lashing his 5th of the season into the roof of the net, giving de Lange no chance. So the pattern continued, and City set themselves up to attack again. This time I adjusted too though, moving Steenson back into a defensive midfield role and asking the players to counter attack. It seemed to work too, Steenson there to help break play up when Walsh was played into space in our box. Then from a free kick, Walsh knocked the ball down to Gary Rutherford who struck a first time shot at goal that Doherty saved with his legs, the rebound falling right to Cox who drove another shot at goal, only to see Doherty spring to his feet and turn that one over the top as well. And before the break, we caught them again and extended our lead, Gavin Whelan whipping in a corner, and McMillan glanced home a header to make it 3-1! Steenson was booked late in the first half, and I was tempted to bring him off. But he was having a great game, and I persevered with the skipper. He would get an assist for helping Tony Jones prevent Lorcan Fitzgerald get in on goal early after the restart too. Jones was almost effective at the other end too, curling a free kick around the wall and just missing the top corner. We were looking ragged at the back though, and failed to get the ball away allowing Walsh a shot at goal, Doherty again coming to the rescue with a superb reflex save. Sub Aaron Young sent over a cross that just missed Walsh, before another sub Michael Blackburn curled in a shot across goal that was just wide of the far post. Shaw was brought off after a knock, Gerry Nixon coming on in his place. Doherty had to make another save, this time from Williams, the keeper tipping this one over the bar. With fifteen minutes to go, I forgot about counter attacking altogether and pulled us back into a more defensive setup, Steenson and McMillan subbed off, with Michael McCartney and John Robertson brought into the game to protect the back four. That coincided with City running out of fresh ideas to try and find a way through, despite having been the second best side on the park for large parts of that game, we would travel home with three more points. Armagh City (1) 1 - Ian Cox (12) Coleraine (3) 3 - Stuart Shaw (7), Andy McMillan (17,34) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Stewart Devine; Keith Steenson © (John Robertson 75), Gavin Whelan; Chris Johnston, Matty Robson; Stuart Shaw (Gerry Nixon 65), Andy McMillan (Michael McCartney 75). Unused Substitutes :- Ryan Young, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- Keith Steenson 39 Possession :- 54% - 46%. Man of the Match :- Andy McMillan (Coleraine). City, and in particular their manager Gordon Chambers, spent the rest of the evening telling anyone who would listen how much injustice there is in the game sometimes. I can't deny that for large parts of the match we had our backs to the wall and were clinging on a bit. Andy McMillan's two goal haul landed him man of the match, but without question it was Gerard Doherty who won us the points this time around. The veteran keeper will be 35 this summer, and it's bothered me throughout my time here that we don't have a keeper capable of challenging him for his spot. The financial situation has always prevented me from being able to get in someone. But to be fair, every time a mistake or a moment of worry over him has made me wonder about his future, he always bounces back and produces a display to put us straight. Winning in that manner was another string to our bow, and one that might come in very useful next season should we get the promotion that we have now moved a step closer to after moving to six straight League wins, and nine points clear of Limavady United who now sit in second place. And we will potentially get some more practice at it this weekend too, with the Premier Division's current third place side Newry City visiting The Showgrounds this Saturday in the Fifth Round of the Northern Irish Cup. Wednesday 6th January The only keeper we currently have that could stand in for Doherty if he were to get injured or suspended is the 19 year old Trevor Smyth. As he once again asks for a contract to be sorted out, I have to keep him sweet to a degree. That isn't the case for attacking midfielder Ciaran Owens, who is another on a Youth Contract that doesn't pay him. Owens is told that there won't be a contract offer, and that he's free to find a new club should he wish. Friday 8th January After beating rivals Ballymena United in the last round, tomorrow we take a step up in quality in the Cup, as we host Premier Division outfit Newry City in the Fifth Round, and we'll be looking to cause an upset and move into the last sixteen. In some quarters we're quite fancied to turn over City, and while they're priced as Even money favourites, some pundits rate our chances. That may be to do with City missing several players, most importantly for them their Scottish top scoring striker, Phil Hamilton. The 20 year old has eight goals in fifteen appearances in all competitions this season, but has a fractured wrist. Maybe even more importantly, 30 year old former Northern Irish Under-21 International right winger and the club captain Richard Clarke has torn a calf muscle and could miss the majority of what's left of this campaign. He's one of their most productive players, scoring five goals and adding five assists. Saturday 9th January It'd double header day once again at The Showgrounds, with the Under-18's kicking off proceedings in a late morning kick off against Portadown. It was a fairly even first half, until Portadown midfielder Chris Kennedy found the net just over five minutes before the break. But we got our leveller just after the hour, 16 year old Joe Gibbons netting his first goal of the season to earn the youngsters a point, and they remain sixth in Group 1. Northern Irish Cup, Fifth Round The Showgrounds, Coleraine Coleraine v Newry City Attendance :- 372. Weather :- Dry, 1c. We go with an unchanged starting lineup and squad from the win in Armagh in midweek for this one, sticking to our usual formation at least to start with, as I fight the urge to go more defensive. Instead, we'll see if we can cause a higher echelon top tier club problems in the way we play on a week to week basis. There's an improved attendance for this one despite the almost freezing conditions, though it's still not as many through the gate as we were hoping for. That refusal to move into a more defensive role seemed to catch City unawares, and we controlled the early part of the game. We created the first chance of note too, Stuart Shaw not giving up on a chase down the left wing, which brought about some nice passing and Chris Johnston was played into a shooting position, but the winger got his shot all wrong. The next time we created a chance, we were much more clinical. Matty Robson and Stewart Devine combined down the left, and then Gavin Whelan slid a through ball in for Shaw, who nipped in front of the defender and lifted it over the onrushing keeper Myles Howe and into the bottom corner to give us an 18th minute lead. Within a minute, we could have doubled that lead, Devine sending a curling pass forward and over the right back, and Shaw raced in behind him, before chipping the ball into the near post. The defender was no match for Andy McMillan's power and strength, but the teenage strikers header came back off the near post. McMillan would soon get another chance, the build up play coming down the right this time, Tony Jones knocking the ball down for Johnston, and he sent it back into the penalty box where McMillan chested it down and hit a shot towards the top corner, just missing the target. With less than ten minutes to go till the break, Andy Dickinson sprayed the ball out to the left for Robson, and his cross was a nightmare for the defenders to deal with. And they failed miserably, McMillan again evading his marker and sidefooting home from five yards out to continue his little purple patch of goalscoring, and put us in a superb position at half time. City couldn't afford to waste time in their efforts to turn things around, and they made a change at the break, bringing on an extra striker. An early Séan Evans trick free kick from on the right found defender Harry Morris, but Declan O'Hara threw himself into the path of the shot to block it to safety. After another series of Evans set pieces failed to find a way through, City finally cracked the code on the hour mark, O'Hara drawn out of position to battle for a loose ball on the right corner of the box with Morris, the City defender winning out and getting the ball into the box and to the feet of their second sub Adam Owens, who found the top corner for his first ever goal for the club. At this point, I switched us into a counter attacking setup, which almost paid off right away. City were guilty of overplaying, and Shaw and Robson broke down the left before switching it across field to the absolutely unmarked McMillan, the strikers pot shot was turned over by Howe. It was us that were overplaying midway through the half as we tried to counter attack again, but Shaw's attempt to find Johnston on the right went array. With City using up their last change, I started to delve into mine, Johnston and McMillan replaced by Michael McCartney and Gerry Nixon, requiring Whelan to move out to the right wing. But less than ten minutes later, Whelan was needing to come off himself, the midfielder getting injured and I attempted to shore up our defence by bringing on Ryan Young in his place as we moved into a very defensive outlook for the remaining few minutes. An Evans cross missed it's target, and then an Owens shot was too high. We nearly caught them out at the end when Robson intercepted an attempt to get the ball forward, and hoisted it long up the park himself, Nixon bringing the ball down and racing into the box, Howe turning his attempt to find the net away to safety. But we had bought ourselves enough time to see out the game, and we were safely into the last sixteen. Coleraine (2) 2 - Stuart Shaw (18), Andy McMillan (37) Newry City (0) 1 - Adam Owens (60) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Stewart Devine; Keith Steenson ©, Gavin Whelan (inj - Ryan Young 84); Chris Johnston (Michael McCartney 75), Matty Robson; Stuart Shaw, Andy McMillan (Gerry Nixon 75). Unused Substitutes :- John Robertson, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 62% - 38%. Man of the Match :- Harry Morris (Newry City). We played that very nicely, and I can't say that at any point I was worried we were going to lose that one. Getting one over on the Premier Division clubs is always a good day, and today we weren't the only ones to pull off a shock. Distillery replicate our feat as they record a home win over Crusaders, while Glebe Rangers are also out at the hands of First Division opposition, as they are beaten on penalties away to Bangor. The biggest shock is probably inflicted on Wakehurst though, as they are bundled out by the now only non-League club remaining in the competition, Ballyclare. After that Round of shocks, there are now only six Premier Division teams left in the last sixteen of the Northern Irish Cup, alongside seven First Division sides including ourselves, two from the Second Division, and the non-League side from Ballyclare. When the draw is made for Round Six later in the evening, there is one all Premier Division clash paired up, meaning a maximum of five top tier clubs can make the last eight. We won't be able to affect that number, as we are drawn away to First Division and local rivals Limavady United, currently our nearest challengers in the second tier and also one of our nearest and most bitter rivals. We have drawn our last two meetings with them, both since my arrival, we had won three in a row against them before that and have never lost against them since the save began. We'll make the short trip in early February. This competition is getting very interesting, and we won't be the only ones liking our chances of potentially causing a Cup upset to lift the famous old trophy this season. Many of the big wins that have come through my career have come accompanied by an injury, and this one is no different. Gavin Whelan has suffered a damaged heel, and he will be out for three weeks or so. Fortunately for us, it's a position where we have a fair few options, but with three goals and nine assists this season so far, it will be hard to replace his productivity over the next few weeks. Monday 11th January Four of our team are included in the First Division's Team of the Week, with goalkeeper Gerard Doherty joined by Stewart Devine, Declan O'Hara and a very deserving Andy McMillan. It's quite the day for Doherty, as the 34 year old goalkeeper has this morning signed a one year extension to take him through to the end of next season. It's a much deserved deal, though he has also done us a solid by accepting a pay cut down to £100 from £150 per week as well. We're now over £100 under our weekly Wage Budget. And Doherty isn't the only one signed up today, as on form teenage striker Andy McMillan has agreed to play another season at least for us on his current appearance fee and goal bonus only deal. With a record of a goal every other game on average this season, the soon to be nineteen year old is continuing to see his reputation grow. Tuesday 12th January Stewart Devine signs his new contract offer as well today, the 31 year old Scottish left back has been one of our best players this season, and signs a one year extension on the same £60 per week terms that he was already getting. We've got Queens University Belfast away tomorrow night in the First Division, and we're nailed on favourites to pick up another three points according to the bookies. Hopefully McMillan and Devine will celebrate their new deals with a hand in a win that will move us another step closer to the promotion we crave. Queens come into the match embroiled in a relegation battle that looks like it will involve as many as half a dozen clubs. Their need is greater than normal in this round of games, with two of the other clubs around them playing each other as Bangor host Police Service of Northern Ireland. We haven't lost to Queens since I arrived at the club, but we'll need to be wary of their top scorer, 18 year old Bob Foster. Wednesday 13th January Northern Irish First Division Newforge Lane, Belfast Queens University Belfast v Coleraine Attendance :- 263. Weather :- Wet, 1c. It's our third game in just over a week, and with Gavin Whelan in the treatment room, Michael McCartney starts in the midfield, with new signing Michael Hassan brought into the matchday squad on the bench for a potential Coleraine debut. Joining him is Pat McIlroy, who replaces Gerry Nixon. There are 25th League Appearances for Coleraine for both Tony Jones and Chris Johnston, while Stuart Shaw plays his 75th Career League game, and Declan O'Hara plays his 375th. A rather quiet first half came to life a little in the 20th minute when Bob Foster used the right channel to get into our penalty box and to the byline, Declan O'Hara timing his tackle perfectly to take the ball away without fouling the striker. Within a short while we had pegged Queens back into their own final third, in fact every player except our own goalie was in that third of the park. As we pushed the ball around and probed for a gap in their defence, Matty Robson sent a low ball into the box for Michael McCartney, and Ian Quinn dived in with a challenge off his feet that resulted in a spot kick. Tony Jones coolly slotted the ball past Paddy Agnew's dive, and we had a 28th minute lead. We turned up the heat for a second goal, McCartney sending a shot just wide, before O'Hara headed a Robson corner delivery against the near post. But it wasn't all smooth sailing, as both Stewart Devine and Stuart Shaw picked up injuries in the three minute spell before the break. Neither was risked for the restart, Ryan Young replacing Devine with O'Hara moved out to left back, while Pat McIlroy came on for Shaw. That development gave Queens a shot of confidence at least, and Foster stung Gerard Doherty's hands with a driven shot that the keeper couldn't hold, Liam Fagan sending the rebound well over the bar. They kept creating chances though, Quinn trying to make amends for giving away the penalty with a shot from range, but his effort also cleared the bar. With just over twenty minutes to go I dragged us back into a more defensive formation, bringing Andy McMillan off and replacing him with Michael Hassan, the debutant asked to sit in the middle of the park as we switched to three in midfield and just one up front. We were given another warning shot as a dipping shot from Foster just cleared the bar, but he didn't miss next time, substitute Graham McLaughlin making a run down the left, and his cross had all the pace the ball needed on it, Foster diverting it downwards and past Doherty and into the bottom corner to level things up. With Ryan Young now hobbling around badly and us out of substitutes, it wasn't looking very good for us to get ourselves back in front. Enter young Scottish defender Jones once again. The right back picked up the ball just over halfway and made his way down the wing, angling his run into the box, then firing in a low cross that took a deflection off Hassan, keeper Agnew pushed it against the near post, and the ball came back off the prone keeper and crept over the line! Queens now had no choice but to go all out, and during injury time they won three corners, the last of them eventually seeing the ball drop to defender James O'Hare, who skied it well over, and our run continues. Queens University Belfast (0) 1 - Bob Foster (72) Coleraine (1) 2 - Tony Jones (28 pen), Paddy Agnew (86 og) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Stewart Devine (inj - Ryan Young 45 (inj - 76)); Keith Steenson ©, Michael McCartney; Chris Johnston, Matty Robson; Stuart Shaw (inj - Pat McIlroy 45), Andy McMillan (Michael Hassan 69). Unused Substitutes :- John Robertson, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 48% - 52%. Man of the Match :- Bob Foster (Queens University Belfast). The Queens University supporting natives of Belfast will be absolutely gutted to come out of that one without anything to show. But we're not completely happy with life heading back home either. Ice packs are very much the order of the day for the bus journey home, as we've suffered three injuries that will all mean time on the sidelines. Striker Stuart Shaw will miss four weeks with a calf injury, while Stewart Devine (twisted ankle) and Ryan Young (groin strain) will both be missing from our defence for four to five weeks. That knocks a big hole in our depth at a crucial time of the campaign. However, we're now into the second half of the season, and our lead at the top of the First Division has increased out to eleven points with Limavady United held to a 2-2 draw at home by Annagh United. We have a ten day break now before two home League matches, followed by a game away against PSNI in the Intermediate Cup to round off January.
  15. No 'marching on together' then mate? I'm sure you know the words.......haha ;-)
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