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neilhoskins77

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About neilhoskins77

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    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne & Cwmbran, South Wales

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    Bristol.R & Newcastle Utd

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    Kyrgyzstan, Celik Niksic & Lurgan Celtic FC

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  1. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    January 2012 Happy New Year. It's a good start for us, as Neil Lloyd spurns the continued advances of Chippenham Town and once more announces his intention to remain at Clennon Valley. On the same day, Wayne Rooney is named as FIFA Golden Ball and World Player of the Year, while Gareth Bale is Welsh Footballer of the Year, with Aaron Ramsey taking the Young Welsh Footballer of the Year honour. The club made of loss of £676 in December, but enters the New Year with a bank balance of nearly £20,000. The finance sheet shows no loans outstanding, so it seems the cash from the Board was a gift. With interest intensifying in Neil Lloyd, and Alfreton Town of the Blue Square Premier League joining the race for his signature, it was decided it would be prudent to bring in another midfielder as the opportunity had presented itself. That opportunity arrived in the form of Jordan's Under-21 International Captain, utility player Jassim Alali. The Bishop Auckland born player, who turned 19 just before the turn of the year, failed to make the grade in the Blue Square Premier League with York City. He favours the centre midfield position, but can perform anywhere from left back to right wing and most spots in between. He is already the holder of five age group caps for his nation of heritage. His twin brother is a left back, who has three caps of his own, and was also released by York in the summer. Second and third placed sides Broadhempston United and Teign Village played their games in hand early in the month, and they went very well......for us. United were held to a goalless draw by Newton United, while Teign Village were beaten at home by Newton Abbot'66. That left us with a five point lead at the top, and seven points over the third placed side, with just eight matches now remaining in the League calendar. With a trip to lowly Beesands Rovers later in the month, things were certainly looking rosy at Clennon Valley right now. As we approached mid month, we received an injury scare, with Irish striker Marc Hughes damaging his heel jumping for the ball in training. Fortunately, the damage wasn't too bad, and Hughes would miss no more than a week, meaning he would be fine for the match against Beesands Rovers. However, Kurt Hammonds would miss out, the midfielder was sent home from training after catching the flu. While Lloyd continued to reject offers from elsewhere, our young players who had been in the First Team at the start of the season were now being targeted. Mark Smith was lured away from us, rejecting our offer to stay, and moving instead to Budleigh Salterton of the South West Peninsula League Division One East. There were also offers made for Jonathan Flitcroft, Dale Gibbons, Russell Boddy and Terry Ludlam as we approached our only match of January. Another of our players also left for the same Division, as unhappy left back Michael Watts decided to leave to join Stoke Gabriel's battle against relegation. His performances had improved since he'd been given that warning following two quick red cards. When we finally got to play our first match of 2012, the venue in Beesands had a dusting of snow on the playing surface, and the white stuff was still coming down, as South Devon saw freezing temperatures. It was to be a match of penalties, with the first awarded inside the opening minute. Marc Hughes danced inside and out past his marker Billy Davis, who resorted to tripping the Irishman. He slotted his 10th goal of the season into the bottom corner. We should have been turning the screw, but we didn't and in the second half Sam Maude gave away a penalty at the other end. Robbie Hickey's effort was saved by Callum Hawthorne, but he couldn't do anything about Craig Clayton tucking in the rebound. Then within seven minutes, the ref was pointing to the spot again, Ger Rafter penalised this time. Hickey stepped up again, and missed again, this time hitting the post. But we weren't out of the woods yet, and I had to shoulder part of the blame. Kevin Davison had been commiting fouls left, right and centre. He was already on a yellow when he drew the refs attention one too many times, and this time it was red. I should have seen it coming, but thought he would know better. I didn't make any personnel changes, instead moving Anthony Taylor into a midfield three. And it would pay a reward, Milsom couldn't contain Monday Awoyomi, and he managed to get a cross in, Hughes firing home from ten yards out. We nearly had another late on, Jassim Alali made his debut off the bench, and smashed a shot against the cross bar. We'd bagged another win, but we had to work hard for that one, and I took the chance to have a word with Kevin Davison while handing him his warning about his on the park conduct. As one of our more Senior players, I expect more from Kevin, and I made sure he is very much aware of that. Meanwhile, Marc Hughes now has 11 goals from ten matches, and the vultures are starting to circle around the Irishman, with Bath City of the Blue Square Premier League the highest profile suitors. Meanwhile, yet more of our youngsters were being targeted by clubs elsewhere, and we would lose a second player to Budleigh Salterton, as midfielder Dale Gibbons joined their promotion drive. I suppose it's not right for me to complain, as I immediately searched for new talent as soon as we had a Scout. I can't but feel a little betrayed though, these young lads were given a chance to play football and train regularly at a club that was looking to move onwards and upwards. Now I'm really hoping we meet some of these players when they're coming back the other way. I won't feel too sorry for them. The exodus continued, David Miller was next to pack his bags, the 20 year old midfielder has accepted a deal to join St. Austell of the South West Peninsula Premier Division. He walks into their relegation fight in the tenth tier. But worse was to follow, as Irishman and leading scorer, Marc Hughes, packed his bags, and left us too. He has signed a contract through to the summer with Blue Square Premier League side Hayes & Yeading, who will pay him £200 a week. It's a big kick in the b******s at this stage of the season, Hughes has scored 11 of our 27 League goals to date. The month ended with yet another departure, this time of one of our better young prospects, as 17 year old centre back Terry Ludlam has moved on, signing for Galmpton United of the same South West Peninsula League Division One East that a few of our players are now competing in. It hadn't been a great month off the park, but on it, we now had a seven point lead with seven matches remaining. Hopefully we could push our troubles to the side, and put another few wins on the board to secure that promotion. Transfers | Date | Person | Age | Position | Nationality | From | To | Fee | | 3.1.2012 | Jassim Alali | 19 | M (C) | JOR | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 20.1.2012 | Mark Smith | 17 | M (C) | ENG | Paignton Saints| Budleigh Salterton | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 21.1.2012 | Michael Watts | 18 | D/WB (L) | ENG | Paignton Saints| Stoke Gabriel | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 25.1.2012 | Dale Gibbons | 17 | M (C) | ENG | Paignton Saints| Budleigh Salterton | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 26.1.2012 | David Miller | 20 | M (C) | ENG | Paignton Saints| St. Austell | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.1.2012 | Marc Hughes | 22 | ST | IRL | Paignton Saints| Hayes & Yeading | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 31.1.2012 | Terry Ludlam | 17 | D (C) | ENG | Paignton Saints| Galmpton United | Free | | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| Scores Sat 21/1/12 - South Devon League, Division Two Beesands Rovers (0) 1 - Craig Clayton (54) Paignton Saints (1) 2 - Marc Hughes (2 pen, 77) (Kevin Davison, Red Card, 69) Attendance :- 16. Beesands Cellars, Beesands South Devon League Division Two, Up To & Including Tues 31/1/12 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Paignton Saints | | 11 | 7 | 3 | 1 | 27 | 11 | +16 | 24 | | 2nd | | Hookhills United | | 11 | 5 | 2 | 4 | 10 | 14 | -4 | 17 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Harbertonford | | 11 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 6 | 4 | +2 | 16 | | 4th | | Broadhempston United | | 11 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 9 | 9 | 0 | 16 | | 5th | | Teign Village | | 11 | 3 | 6 | 2 | 7 | 7 | 0 | 15 | | 6th | | Newton Abbot 66 | | 11 | 4 | 2 | 5 | 9 | 11 | -2 | 14 | | 7th | | Newton United | | 11 | 3 | 5 | 3 | 7 | 9 | -2 | 14 | | 8th | | Watcombe Wanderers | | 11 | 3 | 4 | 4 | 9 | 12 | -3 | 13 | | 9th | | Beesands Rovers | | 11 | 1 | 6 | 4 | 10 | 14 | -4 | 9 | | 10th | | Langdon | | 11 | 2 | 2 | 7 | 11 | 14 | -3 | 8 | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    December 2011 The end of the year is approaching, and by the time we go into 2012, we'll be into the second half of the fixture list, and beginning the run in for the 2011/12 season. We're back to two matches for this month, with the second scheduled for New Year's Eve, the long awaited return fixture with Langdon, and the chance to avenge the only League defeat we have suffered so far in this campaign. A loss of £1,400 in the month of November left us on course to still be solvent by the end of the season, as long as the Board don't want their cash injection back anytime soon. Jordan Beattie continues to be busy trying to find us a higher level of player and some youngsters for the future. I won't be sending him to the Summer's UEFA European Championship Finals however, where England have Qualified, and have been drawn into a Group with France, Greece and Holland. We're turning our attention to action at a slightly lower level, our home match with Newton Abbot'66, who sit just around the mid table mark. This game will mark the mid point of the season when it's finished. That match would be a pretty lively one as it turned out. In front of a very small crowd that only just about reached double figures, The visitors lost two players to injury in the first half hour, but just before the break, Tom Cole tripped Brown, and the ref awarded a penalty. Paul Jones stepped up, and despite moving the wrong way, Callum Hawthorne managed to keep it our with his feet, and we breathe again. Before the hour, we finally stamped our authority on the match. Nick Hutchinson picked up a booking for a foul on halfway which would later prove decisive, and the ball was moved to Sam Maude in midfield. He passed it to Kevin Davison, who picked it up 40 yards from goal and immediately headed down the left channel. When he got into the box, Hodge moved towards him, so Davison slowed, and then accelerated right by him, before smashing a low shot inside the near post. The scorer would later send a short throw in to Maude, who was hacked down by Hutchinson. He earned a second yellow and left for an early bath, while Marc Hughes picked a spot right under the bar to move us out of the remaining ten men's reach. That's now eight unbeaten. Kevin Davison's injured ribs wouldn't keep him out for anymore than a few days, but there was a possibility that we might be without Neil Lloyd going forward. That's because Southern League Premier Division leaders, Chippenham Town, have offered the midfielder a Christmas present, a semi-pro contract. I told Lloyd that I didn't want to lose him, and would like him to stay and be part of what we're trying to build here. On Boxing Day, the 32 year old announced his decision to stay with us, but on the penultimate day of the year, Chippenham came back with another offer. On that same day, Langdon's boss Colin Spendlove decided he didn't want to be friends after all. He told the local media in Dawlish that his now bottom of the table side fully intended to put a dent in our promotion hopes on New Year's Eve. I responded by stating emphatically that I would be very disappointed if we're not occupying one of the two promotion spots, but that we would face much sterner tests than Langdon over the coming months. That comment was designed purely to give Langdon something to think about, but it would backfire horribly in the first half at Clennon Valley on the final day of the year. Spendlove's side set about us, and had the lead just over two minutes in, Ger Rafter taking a heavy first touch while facing his own goal, and Paul Thackeray nipped in, before clipping the ball over Callum Hawthorne and into the net. We just couldn't get going, and as half time approached, an inswinging corner from Childs cleared the head of nearly everyone, the exception being Sam Maude at the far post, who couldn't adjust his feet, and the ball ricocheted off his shins and spun into the bottom corner. The lads got an absolute rocket at the break, as I spent a good ten minutes telling them how s*** they had been. But I didn't make any changes, electing to give the same players a chance to rectify the situation. It took till midway through the half to make the breakthrough, but it finally came when Anthony Taylor launched a deep cross, and it found it's way to Kevin Davison on the far post, who sidefooted home. He would soon be sacrificed however, as we moved to a 4-3-3, with Scott Rhodes joining the two strikers already on the park. And within moments of coming on, Rhodes was at the far post, to apply the finishing touch with his head to another Taylor cross, though he did look suspiciously offside. Just five minutes later, the turnaround was complete, this time Graeme Steenson provided the diagonal ball from the left, and Rhodes found himself in space, bringing the ball down before guiding it into the bottom corner. Spendlove looked devastated, and I enjoyed every second of it! I was given plenty of credit for that second half turnaround, but Scott Rhodes really grabbed his opportunity, and showed what he could do. Avenging our opening day thumping, and getting one over an increasingly beleagured looking Colin Spendlove were just added bonuses. As well as being unbeaten in nine, we now had four wins on the spin, and hold a six point lead at the top, though both Broadhempston United and Teign Village in second and third hold a game in hand. That last match was watched in person by Chippenham's manager, Adie Mings, a former player of theirs and now managing his hometown club. They are taking a really good look at Neil Lloyd, and we may struggle to keep him in the squad in the New Year. Scores Sat 10/12/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Paignton Saints (0) 2 - Kevin Davison (58), Marc Hughes (81 pen) Newton Abbot'66 (0) 0 - (Nick Hutchinson, Red Card, 80) Attendance :- 12. Clennon Valley, Paignton Sat 31/12/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Paignton Saints (0) 3 - Kevin Davison (68), Scott Rhodes (79,83) Langdon (2) 2 - Paul Thackeray (3), Sam Maude (45 og) Attendance :- 29. Clennon Valley, Paignton South Devon League Division Two, Up To & Including Sat 31/12/11 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Paignton Saints | | 10 | 6 | 3 | 1 | 25 | 10 | +15 | 21 | | 2nd | | Broadhempston United | | 9 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 9 | 8 | +1 | 15 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Teign Village | | 9 | 3 | 5 | 1 | 7 | 6 | +1 | 14 | | 4th | | Hookhills United | | 10 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 9 | 14 | -5 | 14 | | 5th | | Harbertonford | | 10 | 3 | 4 | 3 | 5 | 4 | +1 | 13 | | 6th | | Watcombe Wanderers | | 10 | 3 | 4 | 3 | 9 | 11 | -2 | 13 | | 7th | | Newton United | | 9 | 3 | 3 | 3 | 6 | 8 | -2 | 12 | | 8th | | Newton Abbot 66 | | 9 | 3 | 1 | 5 | 7 | 10 | -3 | 10 | | 9th | | Beesands Rovers | | 10 | 1 | 6 | 3 | 9 | 12 | -3 | 9 | | 10th | | Langdon | | 10 | 2 | 1 | 7 | 11 | 14 | -3 | 7 | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  3. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    November 2011 November will be a quiet month for us, as it features just one game. It is a big one though, as they travel to face League leaders Broadhempston United, where we will be looking to overhaul them and become League leaders ourselves for the first time in this top of the table clash. It was noted in the monthly review that centre back Gareth West is progressing well in training. Other than that, everything was pretty much as we were, and the financial hit wasn't too bad this month, ammounting to a loss of less than £500 for October. Another interesting scouting report from Jordan Beattie uncovers a defender who would become our latest new signing. At the age of just sixteen, Dublin born centre back Steve Grimes already stands at a mammoth 6'7. We bring the Irish teenager over to join us on an amateur contract, where he will attempt to prove his worth with our Youth side. He's a very interesting prospect, and I have to admit to being surprised that there were not other sides looking to take him on. As we're about to enter the week leading up to our one and only fixture of the month, Gareth West and Sam Christensen clash heads during a training session, with West coming off the worse of the pair. It leaves him doubtful for the match on the following Saturday, which is ironic, as if he is ruled out, it is Christensen who would be likely to step into his spot. Indeed, it was Christensen who would play in place of West when the centre back was ruled out on the morning of the match. However, it would be the other centre back who would steal the headlines. Irish defender Ger Rafter would score with a powerful downward header from a corner midway through the first half. He would then repeat the trick, guiding another header wide of the keeper ten minutes into the second half. Late on, Marc Hughes pressured a defender into a poor pass, and Monday Awoyomi nipped in front of his marker, and swept the ball home to complete a 3-0 win over Broadhempston United, as we swept our way to the top of the table. Outside of the First Team squad, we're having some disciplinary problems, and the culprit is young left back Michael Watts. Since being moved out of the Senior squad into the Youth side, Watts has been erratic to say the least. At the end of last month, he was sent off in a match, and now after serving his ban, he has been sent off again. I issue the seventeen year old with a formal warning, and tell him I won't put up with his behaviour for much longer, and he is proving that I was right to bring in someone to replace him. Transfers | Date | Person | Age | Position | Nationality | From | To | Fee | | 10.11.2011 | Steven Grimes | 16 | D (C) | IRL | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scores Sat 19/11/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Broadhempston United (0) 0 Paignton Saints (1) 3 - Ger Rafter (22,55), Monday Awoyomi (87) Attendance :- 22. Headlands, Broadhempston South Devon League Division Two, Up To & Including Wed 30/11/11 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Paignton Saints | | 8 | 4 | 3 | 1 | 20 | 8 | +12 | 15 | | 2nd | | Broadhempston United | | 8 | 4 | 2 | 2 | 9 | 8 | +1 | 14 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Teign Village | | 8 | 3 | 4 | 1 | 7 | 6 | +1 | 13 | | 4th | | Watcombe Wanderers | | 8 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 8 | 9 | -1 | 12 | | 5th | | Hookhills United | | 8 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 8 | 12 | -4 | 11 | | 6th | | Harbertonford | | 8 | 2 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 3 | +1 | 10 | | 7th | | Newton Abbot 66 | | 8 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 7 | 8 | -1 | 10 | | 8th | | Newton United | | 8 | 2 | 3 | 3 | 4 | 8 | -4 | 9 | | 9th | | Langdon | | 8 | 2 | 1 | 5 | 8 | 9 | -1 | 7 | | 10th | | Beesands Rovers | | 8 | 0 | 5 | 3 | 6 | 10 | -4 | 5 | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  4. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    October 2011 Another month that would host only a pair of League matches, with three weeks gap between them. The Board announce they are satisfied with how things are going, particularly that home win over Newton United. They are still smarting over the manner of our South Devon League Cup exit though, a 4-1 home defeat never likely to earn you a pat on the back of course. A financial loss of just under £2,000 isn't the end of the world at this point, though we would like to see our attendances improve in the not too distant future. I finally have a managerial rival in this League too, as the month begins with Colin Spendlove taking the job at Langdon, who very much did a job on us on the opening day of the season. It's his first job in the game as well, and he feels we have a lot in common and could become friends. I don't consider that particularly likely if I'm honest. Our first game of the month would come a week into October, as we travelled to face fifth placed side Harbertonford, who were favourites to get the points and overtake us in the League table. We would continue our unbeaten run however, moving to five League matches without defeat after being held to a 0-0 draw by a stubborn home side. After Callum Hawthorne made a couple of good early saves, we slowly started to take over proceedings, and Monday Awoyomi came close to giving us the lead, stinging the keepers hands with a fierce drive. The second half saw us dominate, but Kevin Davison's effort was tipped onto the underside of the bar, and Marc Hughes was unusually poor when played in on goal, missing the target entirely. That draw saw us drop two places back to fourth place, with Teign Village and Hookhills United moving past us. We would host them next time out late in the month. In the meantime, we would continue to try and improve our squad depth, and after missing out to Beckenham Town of the Kent Premier for the services of talented teenage winger Greg Jones, who opted for the semi-pro club, we did bring in sixteen year old Cambourne born attacking midfielder, Ray Hopkinson. He'll spend some time with our Youth side, who have a very busy schedule as their involved in a League that has 28 sides in it. However, should we elect to utilise a 4-2-3-1 formation, Hopkinson could well feature in the number ten role. He would be joined by an addition to our striking options on the eve of our final match of the month. We were pretty shocked to be able to gain the signature of 21 year old former Sheffield United youngster, Scott Rhodes. The 5'10 striker from Doncaster has been out of the game for a while, and after a couple of trials that didn't go his way, he has agreed to move to the south coast, citing his admiration of Monday Awoyomi as the main reason. While I'm very happy the performance of both of my Senior strikers so far, the arrival of Rhodes brings genuine competition to our front line. And maybe that arrival sparked an extra few percent out of our side, as we handed third placed Hookhills United a spanking at Clennon Valley. We were ahead in the 12th minute, Ger Rafter heading in a corner, and a second quickly followed, with Marc Hughes netting a shot on the turn. Monday Awoyomi added a third, collecting the rebound after his shot hit the bar, and firing in off the inside of the post with his second attempt. Anthony Taylor notched his first goal for the club before the break. Taylor would score again ten minutes after the restart, firing home a loose ball from close range, before United pulled one back with a low effort from range that skimmed off the wet surface into the bottom corner. But the best was saved for last in the 79th minute, as Hughes got his second, collecting a pass on halfway as we counter attacked from a United corner, and from 30 yards, producing an exceptional lob over the stranded keeper. A new record attendance into the thirties was helpful too. A great day all around. The month would end with our failure to add another wide playing target, as Albanian native but Irish passport holding eighteen year old Fatmadh Dunisha spurned our advances, and signed an amateur contract with Bashley of the Southern League Premier Division instead. Still, we were back in second place with another four point haul from the two games this month, and were now enjoying a six match unbeaten run. The attendances were slowly going the right way as well. Transfers | Date | Person | Age | Position | Nationality | From | To | Fee | | 20.10.2011 | Ray Hopkinson | 16 | AM (C) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.10.2011 | Scott Rhodes | 21 | ST | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| Scores Sat 8/10/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Harbertonford (0) 0 Paignton Saints (0) 0 Attendance :- 28. The Hams, Harberton Sat 29/10/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Paignton Saints (4) 6 - Ger Rafter (12), Marc Hughes (16,79), Monday Awoyomi (26), Anthony Taylor (41,55) Hookhills United (0) 1 - Graham Richardson (57) Attendance :- 34. Clennon Valley, Paignton South Devon League Division Two, Up To & Including Mon 31/10/11 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Broadhempston United | | 7 | 4 | 2 | 1 | 9 | 5 | +4 | 14 | | 2nd | | Paignton Saints | | 7 | 3 | 3 | 1 | 17 | 8 | +9 | 12 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Teign Village | | 7 | 3 | 3 | 1 | 7 | 6 | +1 | 12 | | 4th | | Hookhills United | | 7 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 8 | 12 | -4 | 10 | | 5th | | Harbertonford | | 7 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 4 | 3 | +1 | 9 | | 6th | | Watcombe Wanderers | | 7 | 2 | 3 | 2 | 7 | 9 | -2 | 9 | | 7th | | Newton United | | 7 | 2 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 8 | -4 | 8 | | 8th | | Langdon | | 7 | 2 | 1 | 4 | 8 | 8 | 0 | 7 | | 9th | | Newton Abbot 66 | | 7 | 2 | 1 | 4 | 6 | 8 | -2 | 7 | | 10th | | Beesands Rovers | | 7 | 0 | 5 | 2 | 6 | 9 | -3 | 5 | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  5. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    September 2011 This would be a much quieter month in comparison to August, with just two matches scheduled, thanks in part to our early exit from the South Devon League Cup, and also with the small numbers in the League meaning a fixture list containing just eighteen dates, and with us often playing two or three weeks apart. The first of those two matches would be early on though, as we travelled to Teignmouth to play Teign Village. It would also be the first outing of our smart looking away strip of black with white sleeves. Looking to keep our new found form going, it was looking like it wouldn't quite be our day, as we hit the woodwork twice, and had two goals disallowed, all within the first hour. But midway through the second half, Monday Awoyomi chased down Alex Steer, and forced him into a poorly executed backpass, which Irish striker Marc Hughes latched onto, and gleefully dispatched into the net to make us favourites for the three points. Unfortunately, we would return to Paignton with just one point, as with ten minutes to go, the linesman failed to draw the attention of the referee to a blatant trip by James Main on sub defender, Sam Christensen. He was allowed to play on, and crossed for Chris Doyle, who volleyed home an equaliser that was met with furious protests by our players. A point away from home wasn't the end of the world, and we were still unbeaten in the League since the opening day, but we had dropped down to 5th place. Chris Cahill had yet to be available to us since signing. He missed out again on that game as he had turned out for Samoa the previous day, his sixth cap, as the club played their final match of Group C in the 2011 Pacific Games, which were being hosted in New Caledonia. His nation had no hope of progress after being thrashed 5-0 by Kiribati, and then losing 2-0 to the hosts in midweek. They would record a victory to finish their tournament though, as they defeated Tahiti 1-0. Cahill should now be available to us for our next match in a fortnight, though he will be hoping to win another cap in October, as they are scheduled to face New Caledonia once more, this time in a Friendly in the Samoan capital city of Apia. When Cahill does finally make it onto England's South Coast, he'll find he has a new team mate. Ok, so they might all be new team mates to him I suppose, but Northern Irish left back Graeme Steenson has just arrived at Clennon Valley, and we're very much hoping he will be the new lynchpin on our back four's left flank. That is not news that is music to the ears of teenager Michael Watt, who has made a few mistakes, and shown that he isn't quite ready for Senior football with the First Team just yet. You just try telling him that though, as Michael is furious about his status being dropped down and not exactly too thrilled with being moved out of the Senior squad either. With two weeks before our next match, we still had time to try and get better, and I think the arrival of Kurt Hammonds into our midfield achieves that. The 20 year old former Swindon Town youngster was actually on a trial with Hendon, a semi-pro club playing in the Isthmian Premier League, before we swooped in and lured him to the South Coast. He would have been joined by Canadian left winger Sam McHugh, who had previously plyed his trade with Northern Ireland's top tier side Larne, but he couldn't secure a work permit, and we had to continue looking. Our second and final match of the month would be a home fixture against Newton United. It would produce our best performance to date, as we cruised to a 4-0 win. It would be fair to say we were aided in the opening spell of the match, when we were awarded two penalty kicks. The first came when Tom Goodchild went right through Monday Awoyomi on the corner of the box. The second saw Ger Rafter pushed over by Lenny Rowe as he tried to connect with Neil Lloyd's corner kick. Both were placed in the same corner by Marc Hughes, and he would complete his hatrick before the break, racing onto Rafter's header over the top, and slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Lloyd would add a rare goal of his own, firing a 25 yard screamer into the top corner early in the second half. We looked particularly dangerous from the many corners we won, and managed to get a clean sheet as well. The only downside was Chris Cahill fracturing his ribs on his debut, the Samoan International will now miss up to a month. September had been another month of progress for our small club. Four points from a possible six points, and we're back up to second place in the place in the League. The squad has improved once more as well, which is encouraging, as we can't afford to stand still. I won't be afraid to let players go if players of a higher standard become available to us. Transfers | Date | Person | Age | Position | Nationality | From | To | Fee | | 4.9.2011 | Graeme Steenson | 22 | D/M (L) | NIR | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 13.9.2011 | Kurt Hammonds | 20 | DM/M (C) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| Scores Sat 3/9/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Teign Village (0) 1 - Chris Wardle (80) Paignton Saints (0) 1 - Marc Hughes (66) Attendance :- 28. Teign Village Playing Fields, Teignmouth Sat 17/9/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Paignton Saints (3) 4 - Marc Hughes (11 pen, 34 pen, 45), Neil Lloyd (50) Newton United (0) 0 Attendance :- 18. Clennon Valley, Paignton South Devon League Division Two, Up To & Including Fri 30/9/11 | Pos | Inf | Team | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Broadhempston United | 5 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 6 | 3 | +3 | 10 | | 2nd | | Paignton Saints | 5 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 11 | 7 | +4 | 8 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Teign Village | 5 | 2 | 2 | 1 | 6 | 6 | 0 | 8 | | 4th | | Langdon | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 7 | 5 | +2 | 7 | | 5th | | Harbertonford | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 4 | 3 | +1 | 7 | | 6th | | Hookhills United | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 5 | 6 | -1 | 7 | | 7th | | Newton United | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 4 | 7 | -3 | 7 | | 8th | | Watcombe Wanderers | 5 | 1 | 2 | 2 | 5 | 8 | -3 | 5 | | 9th | | Beesands Rovers | 5 | 0 | 4 | 1 | 5 | 6 | -1 | 4 | | 10th | | Newton Abbot 66 | 5 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 4 | 6 | -2 | 4 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  6. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    August 2011 Despite me taking the job at Paignton, the other five clubs that had offered me a chance at management all came back with renewed offers. There's nothing like feeling wanted, but I had made my decision, and would happily stand by it. Few would have blamed me for having a rethink after our opening game of the season. I took a very young and desperatley inexperienced squad along the coast to Dawlish to face Langdon, with no other staff in the club at all. We were beaten 3-0, and while we didn't play as badly as the score suggests, with two of the goals coming from the penalty spot, there weren't too many signs of an oncoming improvement either. A very card happy ref didn't help either, as he showed Barry Birchall a second yellow as he conceded the second penalty late on. The magnitude of the task was starting to become apparent. Things would look up the following week as we approached our South Devon League Cup First Round tie against Riviera Spurs from one Division above us. After reviewing the interest from our adverts, we would bring in an Assistant Manager, Coach, Scout and Physio. The Physio was an extradordinary story, as current England physio, Gary Lewin registered his interest in the role. Believing it to be a prank of some kind, I called the 60 year old myself. No wind up he assured me, while he was employed by the FA and held a residence in London, he also had a house just outside the town, and spent quite a bit of his time down here. He had seen the advert and decided he may as well keep himself busy. Even the fact that there was no wage on offer failed to dampen his enthusiasm, and he became part of our staff. Meanwhile, our newly employed Scout was also very hard at work. Jordan Beattie would come up with some excellent looking options for this level of football, and we started the process of looking at bringing in players who could offer some badly needed quality, experience, and height as well. We did at least manage to bring in a keeper before the Cup match, Grant Fisher is a Torquay lad who was released by his hometown club a year ago after going out on loan to Bideford. Taking the lead in that Cup match would prove to be a false dawn, as Spurs replied with four goals past Fisher, and dumped us out of the competition early on a Friday evening. We would lift the mood at the club by bringing in eight new signings over that weekend, all in time for a Wednesday night home League fixture with Beesands Rovers. New Irish striker Marc Hughes put us ahead from the penalty spot, and when he netted a second with just twenty minutes left to play, it looked as though our first win was going on the board. Alas, it wasn't to be, as we then shipped a pair of goals in a five minute spell, and would have to settle for a draw in the end. Nonetheless, we were at least off the mark in the League, and moved off the foot of the table. We would continue to strengthen our squad, with seven more arrivals, including a winger from Samoa who had recently won his first three caps for his nation. His dual citizenship with Ireland meant Chris Cahill didn't need a work permit. A cash injection from the Board also arrived, as they put £26,000 into the club to leave us to a more healthy looking balance of £24,500. For our final match of the month, I finally started playing smart, and realising that we should now be considerably stronger than the opposition, decided to match them up in a 4-4-2. That would work like a charm at home to Watcombe Wanderers, and we finally got our first win of the season. Marc Hughes wouldn't find the net in this 4-1 win, but he did set up a pair of goals for his strike partner, Monday Awoyomi, who showed he could really find the net too. Chris Cahill wasn't available, as he was winning another couple of caps for Samoa, taking his total to five. We still had time for another signing to round off the month as well. Things are looking up on the South Coast. Transfers | Date | Player | Age | Position | Nationality | From | To | Fee | | 12.8.2011 | Grant Fisher | 20 | GK | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 12.8.2011 | Callum Hawthorne | 21 | GK | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 12.8.2011 | Kevin Davison | 23 |M(L),AM(L)| ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 13.8.2011 | Marc Hughes | 21 | ST | IRL | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 13.8.2011 | Monday Awoyomi | 23 | ST | NGA | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 14.8.2011 | Ger Rafter | 20 | D (C) | IRL | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 14.8.2011 | Sam Christensen | 18 | D(C), ST | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 14.8.2011 | Danny Brittle | 19 | M (C) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 18.8.2011 | Kevin McKiddie | 16 | D (R) | SCO | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 19.8.2011 | Gareth West | 33 | D (C) | ENG | Ely Rangers (WAL) | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 19.8.2011 | Sam Maude | 21 | M (C) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 19.8.2011 | Anthony Taylor | 21 | M (RC) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 20.8.2011 | Lewis Marr | 22 | D (C) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 22.8.2011 | Chris Cahill | 26 | M (R) | SAM | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 25.8.2011 | Tom Cole | 19 | D (RLC) | ENG | Free Transfer | Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 31.8.2011 | Neil Lloyd | 32 |D(C), M(C)| ENG |Kildrum Tigers(IRL)| Paignton Saints| Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| Scores Sat 6/8/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Langdon (0) 3 - Paul Patterson (68 pen, 86, 90+1 pen) Paignton Saints (0) 0 (Barry Birchall, Red Card, 90) Attendance :- 24. Langdon Hospital Playing Fields Fri 12/8/11 - South Devon League Cup, First Round Paignton Saints (1) 1 - River Noble (15) Riviera Spurs (1) 4 - Alex Marshall (38), Tosh Taylor (70,73), Jonathan Clough (90+3 og) Attendance :- 11. Clennon Valley, Paignton Wed 17/8/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Paignton Saints (1) 2 - Marc Hughes (14 pen, 70) Beesands Rovers (0) 2 - Nicky Stainford (73), Billy Johnson (78) Attendance :- 21. Clennon Valley, Paignton Sat 27/8/11 - South Devon League, Division Two Paignton Saints (1) 4 - Kevin Davison (17), Monday Awoyomi (50,89), Ger Rafter (58) Watcombe Wanderers (0) 1 - Jack Green (62) Attendance :- 21. Clennon Valley, Paignton South Devon League Division Two Table, Up To & Including Wed 31/8/11 | Pos | Inf | Team | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Broadhempston United | 3 | 3 | 0 | 0 | 5 | 1 | +4 | 9 | | 2nd | | Langdon | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 5 | 3 | +2 | 4 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Paignton Saints | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 6 | 6 | 0 | 4 | | 4th | | Hookhills United | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 3 | 0 | 4 | | 5th | | Newton United | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 3 | 0 | 4 | | 6th | | Teign Village | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 4 | -1 | 4 | | 7th | | Beesands Rovers | 3 | 0 | 3 | 0 | 4 | 4 | 0 | 3 | | 8th | | Newton Abbot 66 | 3 | 1 | 0 | 2 | 2 | 3 | -1 | 3 | | 9th | | Harbertonford | 3 | 1 | 0 | 2 | 1 | 2 | -1 | 3 | | 10th | | Watcombe Wanderers | 3 | 0 | 2 | 1 | 3 | 6 | -3 | 2 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  7. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    Thanks oche, always good to have you along. As for the League's, it would be easier to tell you which League's are not running.
  8. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    Didn't you hear about us 10-3, we're an absolute class act down on the South Coast. We jog right on past McDonald's, and head straight to KFC
  9. (FM'12) Crossing The Channel......No, Not That One....

    We're a pre match meal for the squad away from being penniless mate haha
  10. July 2011 After being hit with a lengthy ban by the FAW for trying to bite a referee (he tried to bite me first, and may, or may not have been sleeping with my wife), I was left with a stark choice to make if I wished to continue my passion for football management in the Summer of 2011. That choice was to leave Wales, and cross the Bristol Channel in search of a football club willing to take a chance on a Welshman with only limited experience and success, and how ever much I tried to deny it, a reputation that I could have done without. The reality was that I was going to have to go to the very lower rungs of the football ladder, and work my way back up. It was unlikely that anyone was going to come looking for me, so it would be down to me to go looking for the jobs myself. I accepted my fate with as much grace as I could muster, and started hitting up the football clubs in an area stretching from Bristol, Gloucester, North Devon, and right down to the South Devon coast. When I got the knockback from clubs around the 10th and 11th levels, it was clear that either I wasn't as good as I thought I was, or the news of my misdemeanour had travelled well beyond the boundaries of the Principality. But within a fortnight, I finally had some interest in my services. I am fully prepared to admit that this way well have been due to the fact that late July was approaching, and with the football season just weeks away, a lot of these clubs had no players, let alone a manager. My stock had dropped far enough as the 14th level of the game across the border. However, it was still high enough for me to have half a dozen offers on the table, though every single one of them were from amateur sides. Ranging from Totterdown Port of Bristol in the Bristol and Suburban Division One, and Woolacombe & Mortenhoe of the North Devon Division One, to Newnham United of the North Gloucestershire Premier Division. I decided south was the best option for me. I have always enjoyed spending time at the coast. Paignton Saints ply their trade in the South Devon Division Two. An amateur side with an obscure reputation and not a single player signed at the club for the 2011/12 season. Just as well that I like a challenge! I was confirmed as their new manager on Sunday 24 July 2011, just in time to get right to work on getting some new players in, and try and make this club at least somewhat ready for the League opener in just under a fortnight's time. -------------------------- Paignton Saints FC Profile Ground :- Clennon Valley, Paignton, Devon. Capacity :- 1,000 (no seats). Surface :- Grass. Pitch Condition :- Very Good. Corporate Facilities :- Basic. Training Facilities :- Basic. Junior Coaching Facilities :- Average Youth Facilities :- Basic. Youth Recruitment :- Average. Club Status :- Amateur. Club Reputation :- Obscure. Finances :- Okay (£254) League :- South Devon League Division Two (10 clubs, Rated 0.5 out of 5). Transfer Budget :- £0. Wage Budget :- £0. Contract :- Non Contract Basis. Salary :- N/A -------------------------- With no staff on board and waiting on the results on adverts we had placed, and myself having no knowledge of the League, we would be starting the campaign with a group of teenage local players (greys given amateur deals), and would be hoping to bring in some new players once we got the key staff members in place. I felt sure that the young squad would have a tough baptism into Senior football, and to try and make life as comfortable as possible for them, I would keep the system in a straightforward 4-4-2 to start with. With no pre-season friendlies arranged either, we would be going into the season blind, as well as short staffed, both on and off the park. Transfers | Date | Player | Age | Position | Nationality | From | To | Fee | | 28.7.2011 | Jonathan Clough | 19 | D (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Barry Birchall | 18 | D (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Terry Ludlam | 16 | D (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | River Noble | 19 |D,DM,M (C)| ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Michael Watts | 17 | D,WB (L) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Charlie Kennedy | 19 | M (R) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Mark Read | 19 | M (RC) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Jonathan Flitcroft | 18 | M (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Russell Boddy | 19 | M (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | David Miller | 19 | M (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Mark Smith | 16 | M (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Dale Gibbons | 16 | M (C) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Tony Walker | 19 | AM (RC) | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Colin Perry | 16 | ST, AM(R)| ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Shaun Parsons | 19 | ST | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 28.7.2011 | Kevin Naylor | 17 | ST | ENG | Free Agent/Grey | Paignton Saints | Free | | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| **I'm really not a fan of the newer versions of FM, the quirks of the ME are so frustrating. I do love playing the game, and making something of my saves though. So I'm revisiting the older versions of the game. This time it's the 2012 version, with more Leagues than you can shake a big sh**** stick at. This is essentially a test of the add on Leagues that I have put in place, allowing me to test that they work, are stable, and how quick I can play. Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down with the writing, no matter how much you enjoy seeing your saves come to life on the forums for everyone else to read and get involved with. But sometimes you just want to play the game. So this one will be a little different. There will be monthly reviews that will feature scores, transfers and League tables. I hope you enjoy it, feedback always welcome, who knows how long this one will last.**
  11. I think a large part of the problem is that every time someone posts something that SI don't agree with, they are asked to 'explain in detail', or send a dozen examples. Do you believe that every person who purchases the game is aware that these forums exist? Or do you think it's possible that people see that opinions and posts from posters are treated in a robotic and inflexible manner, and they think better of airing their own opinions? You're never going to satisfy all of the people, all of the time. It's just not possible in any walk of life. But you will never in a million years convince me that the attention in recent years hasn't gone into the aesthetics of the game, and 'bugs' are being 'explained away' and 'dismissed'. People get that defenders make mistakes, people get that goalkeepers spill balls. People do not get that players crosses from the byline find their way into the far corner eight times a season. People don't get why their top end full back gets skinned half a dozen times on a Tuesday evening at AFC Fylde by a grey player, who then proceeds to send in a string of absolutely perfect crosses at a full speed that defies his 2 rating for pace and his 4 for crossing, all while ignoring the almost waterlogged pitch.
  12. I've stopped buying the game on the basis that it gets released in November, yet it is usually March before any bugs get ironed out to make it playable at all. The ME in particular seems to have got worse and worse over the years. Granted, it may look the part, but that seems to be where all the effort has gone. I'm actually playing older versions, '09 at the moment. It may not look as good, but it plays and feels as it should, and has the element of realism that todays versions are sorely missing. Maybe a back to basics approach would be worth considering. Make the game enjoyable again folks. It's no longer fun to play on the whole.
  13. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Sunday 5th September 2010 While we were playing our domestic match, the Northern Irish national team were starting their campaign to try and qualify for the 2012 version of the UEFA European Championships, which would be jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Drawn into the seven nation Group E, they started off in Belfast against Sweden, and managed a very credible 1-1 draw thanks to a very late equaliser from Reading defender, Chris Baird on the occasion of his 40th cap. There were away wins for Germany and FYR Macedonia, against Latvia and Azerbaijan respectively. It was Israel who had the rest on this particular match day. The Green Army would have that next Wednesday, and will be next in action in October, when they'll travel to play Israel and FYR Macedonia. I'm not quite sure what's going on at Scottish First Division side Queen of the South. They have decided to wait until a couple of days after the Transfer Window ended before touting their star striker, Stewart Kean. They tell us we can have him if we want him, for the princely sum of £675,000. Clearly they were wasting their time offering him to us, we could sell everything and everyone we owned, and we'd still need to sell a streets worth of houses on top. Swansea City of the Coca-Cola Championship would make an offer though, albeit of a reduced amount of £250,000. The Scottish side accepted the offer, and the deal was done by the end of the day, with the transfer scheduled to be completed in January. Monday 6th September Aidan O'Kane and Andy Hamilton are both named in the Division's Team of the Week, the latter surprisingly so, as he only came on as a substitute for the final sixteen minutes of the match. The players would get another opportunity to showcase their talents tomorrow night, as we would welcome Ards to Knockramer Park, a match that we were short odds favourites for. Our opponents come into the match in 9th place, while we would be looking to reassert ourselves as we go into the match holding the status of league leaders. Tuesday 7th September Northern Irish First Division Knockramer Park, Lurgan Lurgan Celtic v Ards Attendance :- 274. Weather :- Dry, 7c. The changes are made once again, Conor McAnallen reinstated to the right back slot, while Marc Fegan is rested for the first time this season, and Justin Miller joins Lee Shepherd at centre back. The midfield pair are also rotated, Lukasz Adamczyk and Willie Boland making way for Niall Lavery and Andy Hamilton today. James McLean doesn't feature from the start today after playing on the weekend, David Sinton switches back across to the left, with Michael Downey playing on the right. The changes are completed up front, with both Jordan Baker and Stephen Magennis coming out of the side, Raymond Fitzpatrick and Neil Brown will start, the latter making his full and home debuts for Celtic today. I won't pretend to know the reason why, but we got off to an awful start, and found ourselves a goal down with barely two minutes on the clock. Ryan Newberry's thrown in was flicked on by Kyle McCleery, and Stuart Long connected with a low half volley from the edge of the box, which skidded off the surface, and beyond Stephen Havern's dive, giving the visitors an early advantage. If anything, that goal galvanised us into action, and we were so close to levelling the match in the 10th minute, David Sinton setting off on a mazy run as he went further and further across the box, before trying to send the shot back across goal, and it was just inches past the far post. Sinton would be involved again in the 19th minute. He stretched the Ards defence with a long ball across the park from left to right, which picked out Conor McAnallen. The full back played a square inside pass to Andy Hamilton, who then slid it down the right channel of the box. Michael Downey did very well to realise he would have been offside, and he let the ball go, where Neil Brown not only beat Andy Murphy to the ball, but then held the centre back off with ridiculous strength, shielding the ball, before sliding it past Andy McDonald to open his account for the club. McDonald was called upon ten minutes later, Hamilton hitting a curling drive from distance, the keeper just getting across in time and push it around the post. A quick pair of bookings followed for Ards players, and Downey would join them ten minutes before the break, Niall Lavery's through ball split the visiting defence, and Raymond Fitzpatrick dispatched it into the net, only to be flagged offside. Downey's protests were too long and loud, and he had his name taken. For what it's worth, the striker did appear to be just off when the ball was played. Both sides would have the chance to go into the break with a lead, Fitzpatrick took advantage of Dean Keenan being on a booking to spin around him and curl a low shot towards goal, McDonald pushed that one away. The other booked player was Brendan Lowe, and the Ards striker nearly put his name on the scoresheet, his driven shot hitting the outside of our upright. With all to play for, I told my players to be disciplined, and make sure they buried the chances that came their way. Ards started the second half in the same high spirits they had the first half though, and Downey had to make sure he got his timing absolutely perfect when he made a last ditch tackle in the box. Ards didn't make that good spell count, and they would be undone by a touch of magic in the 64th minute. There didn't seem to be much in the way of danger when Hamilton passed to Brown about 35 yards out. But the defender got too close to him, and Brown spun away from him, and then showed his pace, running between two more defenders, and into the box, before lifting the ball over an advancing McDonald, and watching on as it dropped into the far bottom corner of the net, before continuing his run to celebrate with his new adoring public. When sub Gerard Walsh broke our offside trap just two minutes later from a long ball, and sent his shot well wide of the target, it was noticeable that the visitors heads went down. Brown would pass up a chance to shoot with his hatrick a possibility, squaring the ball instead to Fitzpatrick, who just missed the target. I made a trio of changes in the 76th minute as we looked to turn the screw a bit, Justin Miller, Lavery and Sinton were replaced by Glenn Walsh, Aaron McElwee and James McLean. And while Brown's goal was superb, it would soon have some competition to even be the best goal in this match. Aaron McElwee started the move with a tackle in midfield, and sent the ball on to Fitzpatrick. After holding it up, he pushed it left for James McLean, who ran it all the way to the byline before fizzing it across the box. Downey did well to bring it under control at all on the far side of the box, and then laid it back for McElwee to walk on to. The teenage midfielder didn't take a touch, he just hit it, connecting with an absolute screamer that flew off his boot from 25 yards out, and crashed into the net off the underside of the bar. It was a top notch goal, and he became the second player to get off the mark in our colours tonight, as we consolidated our spot at the top of the table. Lurgan Celtic (1) 3 - Neil Brown (19,64), Aaron McElwee (80) Ards (1) 1 - Stuart Long (3) Stephen Havern; Conor McAnallen, Justin Miller (Glenn Walsh 76), Lee Shepherd, Aidan O'Kane (capt); Niall Lavery (Aaron McElwee 76), Andy Hamilton; Michael Downey, David Sinton (James McLean 76); Raymond Fitzpatrick, Neil Brown. Unused Substitutes :- Callum O'Connor, Krasimir Georgiev. Bookings :- Michael Downey 36. Possession :- 52% - 48%. Man of the Match :- Neil Brown (Lurgan Celtic). What a first start that was for our Bermudan striker, and he crowned the performance with a superb second goal that had the fans in attendance wondering what is possible with him leading the line. The reality is, we now have a couple of very good strikers, and a supporting cast that look more than capable of chipping in. Is it too early in the season to be reassessing our targets? Glebe have been held to a 1-1 draw away to Institute, leaving us with a three point lead after six matches, though Glebe have a game in hand. It doesn't sound a lot, but we travel to play them on the weekend, and we can negate that game in hand entirely with a win. We're around a quarter of the way through the League season, and challengers for promotion will rise and fade, but early indications are that we could well be in the mix.
  14. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Wednesday 1st September 2010 September would be a busy month for us, featuring six matches, including four in the League. It would also start with the draw for the Second Round of the League Cup though after we managed to overturn our First Leg deficit last night. Manager of the Month results for August are in, and it's Glebe Rangers boss Derek Donaghy who takes the honours this month after his side were unbeaten in their three League matches, and also won both legs of their League Cup tie with Bangor. He beat myself and Dave Norman of Ballinamallard United to the award. Our two new signings have been confirmed, and the fans are particularly excited about the arrival of now 20 year old forward, Neil Brown. 6'2, left footed and capped once at full International level by Bermuda in his debut season as a Senior footballer, the lad with the British passport brings a little bit of everything to the party. Great in the air, very competent with the ball at his feet, a hardworking team player, and he possesses sprinter level pace and acceleration. Most certainly one to keep an eye on I believe readers. Also signed, and now a Lurgan Celtic player, is Alex Owen. He turns 18 a week from today, and is an out and out striker. Born and raised in Conkary, the capital city of the West African nation of Guinea, this young man is also a British passport holder, and we have brought him in from FC Feindouno on a Free Transfer, despite him playing just two Senior matches. Another left footer, and also a six footer who can develop to be a very well rounded striker. He's not unlike his fellow new arrival, but he is a few years behind him, and will be a longer term project. He could be about to make history though, at least for this save, and he hasn't even arrived in the country yet. That's because before he comes to Northern Ireland, young Alex is in the Guinea Under-19 squad for a match against Botswana tomorrow. Should he play, he'll be the first current player for Lurgan Celtic under my management to play International football. As it's the start of a new month, the Board are keen to let me know how things are going. They have moved on from James McLean, with new left back Aidan O'Kane the new darling of the Knockramer Park boardroom. They have however mentioned that we made a loss once again this month, to the tune of almost £4,500. As of today, the club are £36,500 in debt. I'm still getting paid, right? The draw has been made for Round Two of the Northern Irish League Cup. With the Premier Division clubs not yet involved, we were guaranteed to be drawn against a fellow First Division side. We came out of the hat first, and were drawn against Armagh City, who we have played just once since I arrived. That meeting was in December of last year, and saw us bounced out of the Mid Ulster Cup in the First Round. This one would once again be a two legged tie, and we would host the First Leg a fortnight on Saturday, with the Second Leg on the following Wednesday evening. With us facing City on the Tuesday before in a League match, our two sides will meet three times in just over a week. Thursday 2nd September It wasn't the perfect day for Alex Owen. He was selected to start for Guinea Under-19's against Botswana, becoming the first player in my Lurgan Celtic history to play International football while contracted to the club. But he only managed to play twenty three minutes of the 2-1 defeat, before being forced to leave the park with a facial injury. He is due to arrive in Ulster for the first time on Saturday, but will now be out of action for a week or two. Friday 3rd September Alex Owen won't be in the country in time to watch tomorrow afternoon's League match, as we travel to face fifth placed side, Carrick Rangers. We have only played them once, and that was back in February this year, when we turned them over at Knockramer in the Northern Irish Cup Quarter-Final tie. Holding that win over Rangers doesn't hold any sway with the bookies, who have the home side as favourites for this encounter. Saturday 4th September Our weekend began with the Under-18's lunchtime kick off at Knockramer Park against Oxford United Stars' youngsters. On loan striker David Carroll continued to push his claims for a place in the First Team squad in this Group 2 League match, as he netted twice in the second half to secure a 2-0 win for our youngsters. Northern Irish First Division Taylor's Avenue, Carrickfergus Carrick Rangers v Lurgan Celtic Attendance :- 235. Weather :- Dry, 11c. Since his start on the opening day of the season, Lithuanian right back, Martynas Kubeckis, has waited very patiently for his next opportunity. That chance comes today, as he is rotated back into the side for the trip to Carrickfergus. There is also a return for Lee Shepherd today, as he replaces Justin Miller in the starting eleven. Willie Boland replaces Andy Hamilton in the midfield, while on the wings, David Sinton is moved across to the right, to accomodate the first start of the season for James McLean on the left flank. New signing Neil Brown is on the bench today after only being in the country a few days. The home side were pumped up for this one, and nearly had the lead inside two minutes, Warren Patton coming infield off the left wing and sending a low, curling shot inches beyond the far post. They continued to pressure us, Tyson Gray whipping a corner into the near post, where Colin Downey glanced a header against the cross bar. For the first time this season, I could say we weren't playing very well. We were giving the ball away cheaply, but fortunately we weren't punished, Gary Wilkinson and Matt Stedman both missing the target with further chances. Ciaran Clarke went close with a curling free kick that only just swerved away from goal at the last moment. In the 25th minute, we finally pulled up our socks, and started playing a bit. Within a minute of each other, Stephen Magennis forced a great save from Gregg Shannon, and when the ball came back into the box, Jordan Baker scuffed a shot wide. On the half hour, Rangers winger Patton jinked infield again, tackled in the penalty box by Martynas Kubeckis. The home fans and players all made their claims for a penalty, but the ref was unmoved, and our Lithuanian defender got on with it, clearing the ball from danger. Wilkinson sent another effort over the bar, before the key moment of the first half arrived. Baker sent a diagonal pass into the box, and Willie Boland found himself much further forward than he would usually feature. He only just had time to bring the ball under control, before he was brought down by Clarke, who injured himself in the process. The ref pointed to the spot, and we would be given a chance to go into half time with a lead. Top scorer Magennis took the ball, and placed it on the spot, but then inexplicably pulled the penalty wide of the post. That was a big chance, and it was gone! Jordan Baker took a knock in first half injury time, and rather than risk him for the second half, he is replaced by new arrival Neil Brown. The dreadlocked Bermudan forward is making his debut for Lurgan Celtic this afternoon. David Sinton tried to get us up and running early in the second half, skipping past a couple of tackles as he made his way into the box via the right corner, and then curling a shot that just cleared the cross bar. At the other end, Patton popped up in the middle of the park and let a shot go, that one hit the top of the cross bar and went over. But then on the hour, the breakthrough came. Magennis collected the ball on the byline from a throw in, and then sent it back to Boland on the edge of the box. He quickly squared it across the 18 yard line, where Aidan O'Kane was arriving. The left back kept his head down, and put his foot through the ball. It flew past Shannon, and went high into the net, and we had a lead. We would now try and ram home our advantage, and Neil Brown moved out into the left channel to collect a long diagonal ball, and showed a glimpse of his electric pace, the defender doing well to get back at him and put the ball behind for a corner. Lukasz Adamczyk's inswinging corner swerved tantalisingly through the Rangers six yard box, but no one could get the vital touch to put it in. With subs warming up and changes being prepared, good work down the left between Brown, James McLean and then O'Kane, led to the ball finding Boland in the box once more. This time the veteran midfielder did get his shot away, but the ball flashed across goal, and wide of the far post. That would be his last contribution to this match, as he was replaced, along with Magennis, by Andy Hamilton and Raymond Fitzpatrick. While we hadn't been able to put the game to bed, the points were still there on the table for us. But in the 83rd minute, Tyson Gray played a one-two with Chris Lins, and from the touchline, he sent over what was meant to be a cross. The ball swerved off his boot, and curled right inside the near post, leaving Stephen Havern stranded. That late, and a fluke as well, it almost felt as bad as a defeat, even though we'd go home with a very respectable point. Carrick Rangers (0) 1 - Tyson Gray (83) Lurgan Celtic (0) 1 - Aidan O'Kane (61) Stephen Havern; Martynas Kubeckis, Marc Fegan (capt), Lee Shepherd, Aidan O'Kane; Lukasz Adamczyk, Willie Boland (Andy Hamilton 74); David Sinton, James McLean; Jordan Baker (Neil Brown 45), Stephen Magennis (Raymond Fitzpatrick 74). Unused Substitutes :- Conor McAnallen, Justin Miller. Bookings :- None. Possession :- 44% - 56%. Man of the Match :- Aidan O'Kane (Lurgan Celtic). It wasn't all bad news of course. With Cup games going on, and there only being one other League fixture on today, the point was enough to take us back to the top of the League by a point from an inactive Glebe Rangers. We'll travel to face them next Saturday, but before that, we would return to Knockramer Park, where we would face Ards on Tuesday night.
  15. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Monday 30th August 2010 That defeat on Saturday was our first of the season. But we would have an immediate chance to avenge that one, as we play them again at our place tomorrow night. We were very competitive against them on the weekend, and I quietly liked our chances of turning the tie around and progressing into the next round. The bookies however, did not like our chances. Not one little bit. They have Institute at 1/6 to win the Second Leg, and even shorter odds still to progress into the next round. Tuesday 31st August Game day, and also Transfer Deadline Day. Clubs in Northern Ireland have until midnight to make their final moves and bolster, or trim, their squads this year. With two new arrivals due tomorrow, we have a squad much larger than we're used to dealing with, and as such, we have no interest in bringing anyone in today. Any transfer activity at Knockramer today will be exits, and will need to be well timed too as we have a match to deal with. Northern Irish League Cup, First Round, Second Leg Knockramer Park, Lurgan Lurgan Celtic v Institute - (Institute lead 1-0 on aggregate) Attendance :- 170. Weather :- Dry, 22c. There is some rotation once more for tonight, as I go for a strong side to try and overturn that First Leg deficit. In the back four, Conor McAnallen is brought in at right back, while Justin Miller remains in the side, but is moved to centre back, with Lee Shepherd dropped. Niall Lavery is not fit enough to play again today, so he is also dropped, with Andy Hamilton brought back into the side to partner Lukasz Adamczyk in midfield. There is another change on the right wing, Michael Downey brought in to replace Aaron McElwee, while up front, Jordan Baker takes the place of Krasimir Georgiev, who is rotated out of the matchday squad again today. The warm weather of late summer had scorched the pitch at Knockramer Park somewhat, and some areas looked bereft of grass. It didn't bother us too much though, as in the 13th minute, Michael Downey danced past a couple of challenges on the right wing, and then swung a cross into the middle. It looked to hot to handle, but Jordan Baker produced a moment of magic, chesting the ball down and away from two defenders, and then sliding his shot past Michael Doherty and into the net for his first ever goal in Lurgan Celtic colours. With parity restored, the game tightened up a bit, Institute relying on the crossing from the left of former Manchester United youngster Jimmy Derbyshire, while our left sided player David Sinton was doing a grand job with his defensive responsibilities. But our deficiency in defence from the First Leg would nearly bite again in the 34th minute. Derbyshire curled the ball over the top of our defensive line, and Kenny Camlin's chase bore some fruit as our defenders once more gave up the chase, believing the ball would run through to Stephen Havern. This time however, Camlin would not punish us, as he blasted the ball high and wide of the goal frame. We were a goal ahead at the break, leaving the tie all square. 45 minutes remained for either side to get the goal required to progress. Conor McAnallen and Andy Hamilton had to combine early in the second half to prevent Camlin moving into our box and having another go at goal. Baker had more luck at the other end, once again getting on the end of a cross from Downey, keeper Doherty managed to beat that one away. Twenty minutes into the second half, Andy Brown tried his luck from 20 yards out, his curling and dipping effort was headed for the top corner, until Havern got fingertips to the ball and managed to push it over the cross bar. Sean Roddy's inswinging corner was headed from right under the bar by McAnallen. The ball would arrive right back to Roddy, who curled it straight back in, the ball beating Havern's dive, but kicked off the line by Aidan O'Kane, who hadn't left his position on the post from the original corner. We had escaped by the skin of our teeth, and moments later, fortune would smile upon us. Havern's goal kick was huge, and bounced just outside the Institute penalty box. Simon McWilliams got in front of Stephen Magennis, and headed it back to keeper Doherty. The keeper controlled the ball with his feet, then tried to fall on it, and missed. Magennis gleefully slid the ball into the net, and we had ourselves an aggregate lead. We were in good spirits, and Lukasz Adamczyk passed to Baker, who spun on the edge of the box, and let a shot go that flew well over the top. Hamilton would only achieve a similar result when he tried his luck following good work from Justin Miller and Adamczyk. I would make some changes, Adamczyk replaced by Willie Boland as we went a little more defensive, and Sinton making way for James McLean, as we tried to ensure that when we did get the ball, we had plenty of pace to counter attack. It wasn't quite a counter attack, but the ever trusty set piece, but it worked either way. Downey sent over an 80th minute corner, and Baker planted a downward header firmly into the bottom corner of the net to make it 3-0 on the evening, and 3-1 over the tie. Institute didn't have it left in them to launch an all out assault, though they were nearly gifted a route back into the tie with just three minutes remaining, Marc Fegan missing a tackle on Sam Winnall, his centre half partner Miller not doing a great job of bailing him out, and sub Stuart Surgenor would get the chance to keep the tie alive. Havern had another ideas, keeping his effort out, and confirming our place in the next round! Lurgan Celtic (1) 3 - Jordan Baker (13,80), Stephen Magennis (68) Institute (0) 0 (Lurgan Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate) Stephen Havern; Conor McAnallen, Marc Fegan (capt), Justin Miller, Aidan O'Kane; Lukasz Adamczyk (Willie Boland 76), Andy Hamilton; Michael Downey, David Sinton (James McLean 76); Jordan Baker, Stephen Magennis. Unused Substitutes :- Callum O'Conner, Paul Davidson, Raymond Fitzpatrick. Bookings :- None. Possession :- 53% - 47%. Man of the Match :- Jordan Baker (Lurgan Celtic). There were most certainly times this evening where we rode our luck. But we have produced another good result, and we end the opening month of the new season with a win that should put us in high spirits to move into September. There were scouts at this evenings match, notably from Forest Green Rovers of the Blue Square Premier League. But they were not there to look at our players this time, and there would actually be no movement for us at all on what turned out to be a very uneventful Transfer Deadline Day at Knockramer Park. Tomorrow would see two new young players arrive at our little club, as we looked to make this the season we pushed on even further. Things were looking good at Knockramer Park right now, but we couldn't afford to become complacent. There was still plenty of work to do.
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