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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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  • Currently Managing
    Lokomotiv Minsk (Belarus First League - FM09)

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  1. Monday 3rd September 2012 Yesterday's superb win against fellow Minsk club Darida saw some well deserved recognition for the club, as four of our players were named in the team of the week for the First League, the highest of any club in the Division. Teenage left back Maxim Ivanenko, unlikely goalscoring substitute Alexey Yesipenok, the man with two assists Alexey Razmyslovich, and our top scorer Nikolay Shvydakov are all named in the weekly team. Our next League match was scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening of this week against a Slavia Mozyr side that have lost their last two and are winless in their last four, with only three wins in their last fourteen League matches. That match has now been postponed due to our International call-ups, and will instead be provisionally rescheduled for next Wednesday, the 12th. Thursday 6th September There is some more International recognition for a few of our players when the Under-19 squads for the International Window in September are named. But there is also one Senior call up, as our current back up keeper, Vladimir Zuhbaia, has been called into the Senior squad by Georgia for the first time, as they prepare to face England at Wembley in a FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier. Meanwhile, Belarus Under-19's are going to be hosting Austria in a Friendly, which will, like the Under-21's match, take place in Minsk at the Traktor Stadium. Three of our players have been called up, Maxim Ivanenko, who has been capped at the older age group level, along with Andrey Volodzko and 16 year old Reserve team left winger, Yury Murashov. Friday 7th September After that second announcement of International call up's, the League match with Slavia Mozyr has been pushed back once more. This time it's moved back nearly a month, to Wednesday 10th October. That date is also right before the International Window next month, so don't be surprised if that game gets moved at least once more yet. This International Window starts today, and it starts well for Belarus. While it hasn't been a very good campaign for the Under-21's, they do conclude their UEFA 2013 European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers with a win at Traktor Stadium against a Liechtenstein side who have failed to pick up a single point. Two early goals, one set up by Alexandr Kozlov who played the whole match, guides Belarus to a 2-0 win that puts them into third ahead of Finland for now, though likely only temporarily, as they will take on Liechtenstein next week in their remaining match. Eduard Chudnovsky also played in this game, coming off the bench for the final nineteen minutes. Saturday 8th September Centre back Denis Lekhavitskiy has been passed fit enough to return to training after three weeks out with a thigh injury. He returns to find himself in a battle to now dislodge new signing Vladimir Malykh, who arrived around the same time that Lekhavitskiy sustained his injury. Monday 10th September We spent quite a bit of time, probably too much time actually, chasing the signing of forward Alexey Dobrovolskiy from FC Minsk. With his contract due to run out at the end of the season, the 6'2 attacking midfielder who was a product of Dinamo Minsk's youth system was to be one of my major winter targets. That looks unlikely now though, as he has today signed a two year contract extension, worth £70,000 a year to the player. Still big money, and more than we can afford, but he has taken a £700 a week pay cut. Things continue to go well for Lokomotiv players on the International stage, as back at the Traktor Stadium, it's Andrey Volodzko who netted in the 13th minute to give Belarus Under-19's the lead against Austria. Unfortunately, Ried striker Markus Pranter equalised within a minute, and he would do the same twenty minutes later, right after BATE centre back Vladimir Savitskiy had put Belarus ahead for a second time. 2-2 was the final score, Maxim Ivanenko played the whole game, Yury Murashov came on as a late substitute. Thursday 13th September That postponed match hasn't done us any harm when it comes to injuries. If the game had gone ahead yesterday, we would have been without right back Dmitry Chaka. But the 21 year old has returned to training today, and may well be fit for our match this weekend. Saturday 15th September That weekend match is a second consecutive Sunday fixture, once again at home, and this time against a club we are looking to move past, though we can't achieve that this weekend. Vertical Kalinkovichi are 8th in the Division going into this weekend, five points in front of us, but we have a game in hand on them. A win tomorrow would mean we are in striking distance of moving past them, which would be good ground to make up as we go into the match sat in 12th. At 1/6, we are overwhelming favourites to get that win too. After today's results, we now know a win would push us up to 10th. Sunday 16th September Belarusian First League Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Vertical Kalinkovichi Attendance :- 439. Weather :- Breezy, 24c. We arrive to find that we have been instructed to play this home match in our away colours after Vertical arrived with only their scarlet red kit with them. With our injury worries cleared up, there are no changes to the starting eleven that produced a Minsk Derby win last time out a fortnight ago. There is one change on the substitutes bench, with Pavel Lyutsko dropped from the matchday squad to accommodate the return from injury of centre back Denis Lekhavitskiy. A good start at home can make a big difference, and we got ours inside five minutes. Eugene Lysytsyn tried his very best to get beyond Georgy Schennikov down our left side, but the winger did a superb job not only stopping him, but taking the ball from him too. He sent it back to Maxim Ivanenko, who lifted a curling ball down the left and over the visitors defence, Nikolay Shvydakov bringing it down, and then using his strength to hold off a defender, before guiding his shot past Mikhail Yurkevich to put us in front. It was the strikers tenth of the season, and his seventh since I arrived. The Captain is enjoying a new lease of life right now. Schennikov was also enjoying himself, with a wonderful first half showing here, setting up Eduard Chudnovsky who shot over the bar, making a mazy run that saw his cross attempt from the byline blocked, and then finding Sergey Krot, who thought the ref should have pointed to the penalty spot when he was shoved off the ball. Krot then forced an outstanding point blank save from Yurkevich with a header before Schennikov went for goal himself, that one blocked. Krot did put the ball in the net on the half hour after Dmitry Chaka picked him out in the box with a through ball, but the striker hadn't quite shown enough patience, failing to stay onside. A second looked inevitable, and arrived just before the break, Schennikov whipping in a corner, and Yuriy Ryzhko thumping in a header from a couple of yards out, his first goal for the club. Andriy Alexandrov finally managed to get a shot in for Vertical in first half injury time, but his effort from the edge of the box just curled wide. It had been a very satisfactory first half. With things going very well for us, I brought off Alexey Rios at the break to give Alexey Razmyslovich another run out down the right. He got involved quickly too, picking up the ball down the right from Chaka, and then picking out Shvydakov in the box, who turned back inside a defender before sliding a shot under the keepers dive to increase our lead to 3-0! I had subs warming up ready to be introduced, but it wasn't quick enough, as Schennikov went down with an injury in the 57th minute. Alexandr Kozlov came on in his place, with Krot replaced by Djeykhun Mursalov at the same time. But Vertical weren't quite ready to call it a day, and on the hour, they notched the best goal of the match. Valentyn Krukovets played a square pass to Lysytsyn, and he picked out the bottom corner of the net with a superb low drive from twenty five yards out. Now we would have to show some game management skills, and I was happy to see my players start to close things down, forcing Vertical to shoot from range, Nikolay Fastov's effort was easily dealt with by Dmitry Biryukov. While Vertical were trying to ensure that one goal wasn't condemned to the consolation column, we were contenting ourselves with trying to pick them apart on the counter, Ivanenko's cross picking out Razmyslovich, but he couldn't quite direct his effort onto the target. With four minutes remaining, we shut the game down entirely, Alexandr Alkhovik replacing Chudnovsky, and joining Ryzhko in sitting in front of the back four. Vertical's players were left horizontal on the turf as the three points went our way. Lokomotiv Minsk (2) 3 - Nikolay Shvydakov (5,49), Yuriy Ryzhko (43) Vertical Kalinkovichi (0) 1 - Eugene Lysytsyn (60) Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Maxim Gorbach, Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Ivanenko; Yuriy Ryzhko, Eduard Chudnovsky (Alexandr Alkhovik 86); Alexey Rios (Alexandr Razmyslovich 45), Georgy Schennikov (inj - Alexandr Kozlov 57); Sergey Krot (Djeykhun Mursalov 57), Nikolay Shvydakov. Unused Substitutes :- Denis Lekhavitskiy, Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Alexey Yesipenok. Bookings :- None Possession :- 47% - 53%. Man of the Match :- Nikolay Shvydakov (Lokomotiv Minsk). There is literally no stopping Nikolay Shvydakov right now, and that is eight goals in eight matches since I arrived at the club, and eleven in total for the season. We are up into tenth place, and if we win our game in hand, we could push ourselves up into eighth. It's too late for a run towards the a promotion spot, and the remainder of this season is all about building towards next season. We'll spend up to the next month of the season without Georgy Schennikov however, the Russia Under-21's left winger has suffered a pulled hamstring, and will now be spending between three to four weeks on the sidelines. It's a shame, because he's superb to watch, but it does give Alexandr Kozlov a chance to impress in the coming weeks as he settles into life at Lokomotiv.
  2. Wednesday 29th August 2012 A chance has arisen to bring in a young player who has the pace to frighten any side into thinking twice about leaving space for us to counter attack into. He currently plays for Non-League club Spartak-UOR-Snepr Shklov, they respond to our first bid quickly, telling us that we need to increase our offer. We send in an improved offer, which they still consider to be short of their asking price, though they have dropped that price slightly. Negotiations look set to continue. Thursday 30th August It's Transfer Deadline Day, and while we are not expecting a lot of activity today, we do get early word that Shklov have accepted our improved offer. It's for a total of £21,000, part up front, with the remainder in installments. We now have permission to discuss terms with the player, but that doesn't immediately prove successful, as he knocks back our first offer, but is happy to continue talking to us. I break this news from the window of my car. I don't care which country we're in, it's not Transfer Deadline Day until someone does it. Discussions continue throughout the day, and eventually, a lot later than we would have liked, we manage to agree a deal. 19 year old Alexandr Kozlov will eventually cost us a total of £21,000, but the pacey five times capped Belarus Under-21 International may well turn out to be well worth the money. Lightning quick and with 35 matches under his belt for the Non-League side after failing to make the grade with Dnepr Mogliev, he already has four goals and eight assists to his name. He will have to compete against Georgy Schennikov, but it's nice to know we have a capable replacement on both wings now. Friday 31st August That's that for the Transfer Window then, and the squad is now locked in for the remainder of the season. The ten players we have signed are the most of any team in Belarus not surprisingly, and means the squad has, in my opinion, been improved since I arrived and should allow us to be much more competitive for the remainder of this season for a start. Three months from today, a fair sized group of players for us will be out of contract, and as it stands, I don't expect any of those players to be offered new deals to remain with us with the exception of the ones already sitting on offers. Saturday 1st September 2012 We're into September, and we start the new month tomorrow afternoon, with my first experience of a 'Derby Day' in Minsk as we host Darida-TDZh, who are currently 3rd and five points away from the promotion places, which increases to eight after Dinamo Brest win this afternoon with yet another clean sheet. Despite us having home advantage, the bookies are making Darida favourites to close that gap back up to five points and re-establish their comfort zone in third as both Khimik Svetlogorsk and Vedrich Rechitsa win behind them. Young striker, Andrey Gagiev, who is doing really well with our Reserve side, SKVICh, has signed a new deal with the club today. The 18 year old who stands 6'2 and has scored five times in six matches for the second string side has inked a contract that will take him through to the end of the 2015 season, paying him £40 per week. Also set for a longer stay with Lokomotiv is the second string's current goalkeeper, Gennady Burmistrov. The 18 year old signs through to the end of the same season for £60 per week. Sunday 2nd September Belarusian First League Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Darida-TDZh Attendance :- 964. Weather :- Breezy, Showers, 19c. Clearly a Derby Day in Minsk is good for our attendance figures, I just wished that more of them were Lokomotiv fans, as the Darida faithful made their way across the city to support their side, in the hope of seeing them improve their prospects of challenging for promotion. Our fans our hoping to see us show them that we will be in a position to compete next season, and they see one change to the matchday squad today, with Alexey Breschenko dropped, and new signing Alexandr Kozlov brought in on the bench. Darida came flying out of the traps, and an early Alexey Martynov shot that just cleared the bar would have had the Darida fans out of their seats, if they had sat in them to start with, the noisy lot. Still, our lot were not exactly sitting on their hands either, and a great team move played Sergey Krot in on the left of the box, but his shot went across goal and wide. While the play wasn't exactly end to end, both sides were getting their chances. Martynov sent a cross right through our six yard box, while Konstantin Yakubovskiy brought a save out of Dmitry Biryukov, who pushed the ball over the bar after the shot from range. At the opposite end, a cross from Georgy Schennikov was met by a header from Nikolay Shvydakov, but he just missed the target. Our hopes weren't helped out too much when we lost right back Dmitry Chaka to injury ten minutes before the break, Alexey Razmyslovich came on, and Alexey Rios was pushed back into an emergency right back role. I begged my players to shut the Darida fans up as soon as possible, they were giving me a real headache. A long throw from the left by Maxim Ivanenko into the Darida box found Schennikov as he snuck into the six yard box, his shot was saved superbly by Valeriy Fomichev at point blank range. A minute later another throw in provided the breakthrough. Alexey Razmyslovich brought the ball down on the edge of the box, and then passed it back to the left for Krot, who sidefooted a left footed shot from the edge of the box past Fomichev and inside the near post. It was his first for the club, only a very small part of the reason why our fans were so delighted. Five minutes later, and we used the right wing for our next attack. That meant Razmyslovich was involved again, bringing the ball down expertly on the touchline, and moving past his marker despite being afforded very little room. His cross was low, and perfect, Shvydakov walking onto it and smashing the ball just under the cross bar and into the roof of the net to double our lead in double quick time. Darida turned to their subs bench, and one of them, Alexey Petrov, let an effort from outside the box go on the hour, but that one hit the top of the bar on it's way over. We would go to the bench ourselves in the 73rd minute, Schennikov took a knock and we wouldn't risk him making it worse, Alexandr Kozlov receiving a warm welcome from our fans, and a less than warm one from the Darida contingent as he made his debut for us in a Minsk Derby. Sensing that the visitors were already on the ropes, we went for the kill, Shvydakov holding the ball up, and then laying the ball off square to Yuriy Ryzhko who hit a vicious right footed shot that only just flew wide of the top corner. I had seen enough to believe Darida were done, and replaced Vladimir Malykh and Krot with Alexey Yesipenok and Djeykhun Mursalov. That would pay a very quick dividend, Ivanenko swinging in a left footed corner, and Yesipenok headed in off the bar from no more than a yard out. Today, Minsk belongs to us! Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 3 - Sergey Krot (48), Nikolay Shvydakov (53), Alexey Yesipenok (84) Darida-TDZh (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka (inj - Alexey Razmyslovich 36), Maxim Gorbach, Vladimir Malykh (Alexey Yesipenok 81), Maxim Ivanenko; Yuriy Ryzhko, Eduard Chudnovsky; Alexey Rios, Georgy Schennikov (inj - Alexandr Kozlov 73); Sergey Krot (Djeykhun Mursalov 81), Nikolay Shvydakov. Unused Substitutes :- Pavel Lyutsko, Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Alexandr Alkhovik. Bookings :- None Possession :- 51% - 49%. Man of the Match :- Alexey Razmyslovich (Lokomotiv Minsk). On my biggest day so far as Lokomotiv manager, we put in out best performance. I'd like to think we would get a few extra fans in from the back of it, but the bumper attendance was almost exclusively down to the Darida supporters. But they went home with their tails between their legs. At least it wasn't too far to travel. In not such good news, right back Dmitry Chaka suffered a gash to his leg in the first half, and he is going to be out of action for anything up to two weeks. There is better news on Georgy Schennikov, as the left winger has not suffered any damage that should keep him out of the side for any length of time. Looks like it was a good, safe move to take him off when we did. It's particularly good news for Schennikov, as he has been called up by Russia Under-21's for their double header of UEFA 2013 European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers, firstly at home against Hungary in Ramenskoye, followed by a trip to Turkey where they will face their hosts at the home of Besiktas in Istanbul. He isn't the only one called up either, as two of our Belarusian players are also called up for the highest age group squad. They are both signings of mine as well which is pleasing. Eduard Chudnovsky and our latest signing Alexandr Kozlov will both hope to be involved when Belarus entertain Liechtenstein in Minsk in what is also a Euro Qualifier. That match will take place at the home of MTZ-Ripo Minsk, who play at the old 1950's built Traktor Stadium in the city. It holds 17,600 people currently. 2012 Belarusian First League Table, Up To & Including Sunday 2nd September 2012 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Torpedo Zhodino | | 19 | 15 | 1 | 3 | 43 | 21 | +22 | 46 | | 2nd | | Dinamo Brest | | 19 | 12 | 5 | 2 | 34 | 14 | +20 | 41 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Darida | | 19 | 9 | 6 | 4 | 30 | 22 | +8 | 33 | | 4th | | Khimik Svetlogorsk | | 19 | 10 | 3 | 6 | 21 | 19 | +2 | 33 | | 5th | | Vedrich Rechitsa | | 19 | 9 | 5 | 5 | 25 | 23 | +2 | 32 | | 6th | | Lida | | 19 | 9 | 3 | 7 | 24 | 25 | -1 | 30 | | 7th | | Baranovichi | | 19 | 8 | 5 | 6 | 28 | 24 | +4 | 29 | | 8th | | Vertical | | 19 | 8 | 4 | 7 | 25 | 22 | +3 | 28 | | 9th | | Savit | | 19 | 7 | 5 | 7 | 22 | 19 | +3 | 26 | | 10th | | Zvezda-BGU | | 19 | 7 | 3 | 9 | 28 | 33 | -5 | 24 | | 11th | | Slavia Mozyr | | 19 | 6 | 5 | 8 | 25 | 24 | +1 | 23 | | 12th | | Lokomotiv Minsk | | 19 | 6 | 5 | 8 | 18 | 17 | +1 | 23 | | 13th | | Mikashevichi | | 19 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 20 | 28 | -8 | 19 | | 14th | | Belcard | | 19 | 4 | 3 | 12 | 25 | 34 | -9 | 15 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 15th | | Postavy | | 19 | 2 | 5 | 12 | 18 | 41 | -23 | 11 | | 16th | | Kommunalnik Zhlobin | | 19 | 2 | 3 | 14 | 21 | 41 | -20 | 9 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  3. I suspected it would be of interest to you mate. Yes, when fate decided that I should leave Scotland, this was the one job that stood out that I fancied a crack at. Enjoying it too. Won't be easy to drag them up to challenging in Belarus, or even Minsk for that matter, but should make for some interesting times. Yes, it is the same Georgy Schennikov, with his in game name spelt wrong. Clearly this version of FM had no love for left wingers (see James McLean). I wasn't aware of the real life version until I watched a CSKA Champions League game last week and heard his name. A quick search showed him to be the very same guy. CSKA released him before he played a match for them in early 2009, and he ended up in non-league in Russia. He was bought by Lokomotiv before my arrival at the start of the current season for £35,000. I hope you enjoy this one mate, it is already looking like a bit of a project.
  4. Sunday 19th August 2012 Denis Lekhavitskiy will miss anything up to four weeks after damaging his hamstring in yesterday's match. We are not blessed with superb cover options at centre back, though that situation rectify's itself within hours, as we receive some good news on the recruitment front. We have been chasing 20 year old centre back Vladimir Malykh for a few weeks, and finally we have secured his signing. He had been a little reluctant at first, having spent all his career in the second tier, he made a move to FC Vitebsk in the top tier at the start of the season, and wasn't too keen to come straight back down a level so quickly, especially as he had managed to become a regular for them. However, a fairly hefty pay rise, and a chance to move back to his native Minsk ultimately proved too much to resist for the 9 times capped Under-21 International, who's 3 and a half year deal is worth a sizeable £500 a week to the 6'1 ball playing centre back. While the wages are quite a lot, the Transfer Fee was not, as we paid just £2,000 for him. Our hopes of getting that second player in from BATE Borisov are in the balance once again, with the news emerging that two other clubs are preparing to match our offer for the coveted young player. However, with our offer now accepted, and the contract offer sat with him, I am reasonably confident that the other clubs will struggle to match the package we have put together for the player. I have gone to the next level for this lad, as for me, he would be a very important signing for us to get done over the long term. Monday 20th August Another Minsk side, MTZ-Ripo Minsk of the top tier have unveiled themselves as one of the other clubs to be interested in the BATE Borisov player. They make it known that they have matched our offer, and are also now around the table discussing terms with the player. His signing has become more important to us, with the news that we have failed to land our main target. FC Minsk's 27 year old forward, Alexey Dobrovolskiy, has rejected our final, and best offer for his signature, and that deal is now dead for the time being at least. He is going to be out of contract at the end of the season, so it might not be the last you hear of him. Wednesday 22nd August One player that you probably will have heard the last of, with this being first you'll have heard of him, is Yury Vodovozov. A 30 year old winger who was banished to the Reserves long before I arrived after playing just once for Lokomotiv in the League this season, he asked to leave a few days ago. I granted his request, and even made it easy for him by not requesting a fee for him either. He has signed for a Division rival, and one that is further up the League than us too. Khimik Svetlogorsk secure his signing on a £180 a week short term deal for the remainder of the season. Thursday 23rd August The Transfer Deadline is one week from today, but for the second successive day, the main news at Lokomotiv is of a departure, rather than an arrival (bit of train based wording for you there, Lokomotiv fans). Denis Sysoev had spent three seasons in and around the First Team here, and the few appearances he had as a substitute since my arrival was his most consistent run of games. Clearly, the 20 year old was a notch or two below the level we were looking for, and he will leave to join Non-League side FC Sozh Krichev when his contract is up on December 1st. Friday 24th August Tomorrow will be another tough away trip, this time against second place Dinamo Brest, a four hour bus ride to the South West corner of the country, only a short distance away from the border with Poland. The G.O.S.K Brestskiy is one of the newer and better stadiums we visit in the second tier, an all seater stadium that is only seven years old and seats 10,000. They don't look like they will be a problem for us next season, as they are sat in second behind Torpedo Zhodino and look a good bet for promotion. According to the bookies, they are an even better bet to pick up three points tomorrow, 4/6 favourites actually. We might have just improved our prospects a little bit though. Mid-afternoon, and we finally receive news that we have our man! Yuriy Ryzhko is a 22 year old with eight caps for Belarus Under-21's, and he stands 6'4 tall. He has signed for us from BATE Borisov for £28,000 today, and I'm delighted to have him on board. He can play either at centre back, defensive midfield, or in the centre of the park, and the lad oozes class. BATE sold him to Shakhter Soligorsk in 2010 after he had played just once in four and a half seasons with them, and then after he became a regular with them, they signed him back at the start of this season. He's played eleven times for them this season, and is now only two appearances away from bringing up his half century of League outings. Saturday 25th August Belarusian First League G.O.S.K Brestskiy, Brest Dinamo Brest v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 3,911. Weather :- Dry, 20c. The main team news for us today is the inclusion of two debutants in our starting lineup. Denis Lekhavitskiy's injury means an immediate start for new centre back, Vladimir Malykh. Just in front of him, Alexandr Alkhovik is left out, making room for the other new arrival, Yuriy Ryzhko. On the bench, Djeykhun Mursalov is once again left out, with Andrey Volodzko brought back into the matchday squad. Nearly a quarter of an hour in, and we almost fell behind when Sergey Kozak let fly with a long range shot that took a huge deflection off the back of one of our defenders. That left Dmitry Biryukov wrong footed and out of position, so it was left to the goal frame to come to our rescue, the ball bouncing back off the angle of the metal work and Biryukov scrambled across goal to clutch the rebound. Fortunately, from that point on we did a lot better with our blocking, preventing a barrage of crosses and shots from range from troubling our young keeper at all. In fact, all he would have to deal with would be another Kozak effort that was straight at Biryukov and that he dealt with very comfortably. It was hard to work out who was more frustrated at the break, the Dinamo side, or the near 4,000 fans inside the G.O.S.K. We started the second half well, Alexey Rios stealing the ball and trying to launch a counter attack down the right wing. That one failed, and moments later debutant Yuriy Ryzhko lost the ball in the midfield, very nearly fatally, Pavel Evseenko taking the ball from him and then squaring it to Dmitriy Zhdanok who's left footed curler only just missed the target. He had a go from much closer range moments later, Biryukov pushing that one around the post. We were starting to get overwhelmed, and I had to make a change. Sergey Krot would come off, leaving Nikolay Shvydakov as our lone striker, Alexandr Alkhovik coming on to keep a pair in centre midfield, while Ryzhko went back into his more natural habitat of the anchor role between midfield and defence. But that would only hold the tide temporarily, and when we part cleared a corner, Kozak sent it back into the box and picked out an unmarked Evseenko, who slotted the ball low into the bottom corner and broke our resistance. Now we had to go looking for a goal ourselves, but when Rios' cross wasn't of the best quality, a counter attack nearly saw us quickly go further behind, Vyacheslav Grigorov blasting a shot at goal, Biryukov managing to get a fingertip to the ball and send it over. Rios would join Eduard Chudnovsky in being repalced, Alexey Razmyslovich and Andrey Volodzko coming on as we look to go on the front foot. Dmitry Chaka managed to get forward from right back, using newly introduced right winger Razmyslovich as a decoy to get to the corner of the box, before picking out Ryzhko, who's shot was turned over by Sergey Sarharuk. The home keeper had to be off his line quickly when Chaka's long ball down the right sent Razmyslovich on the chase behind the defence, the keeper just getting there first and knocking the ball into touch, otherwise he would have left his side in real trouble. We wouldn't trouble him any further though, the best defence in the League was too good for us to breach today. Dinamo Brest (0) 1 - Pavel Evseenko (61) Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Maxim Gorbach, Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Ivanenko; Yuriy Ryzkho, Eduard Chudnovsky (Andrey Volodzko 69); Alexey Rios (Alexey Razmyslovich 69), Georgy Schennikov; Sergey Krot (Alexandr Alkhovik 52), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Pavel Lyutsko, Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Alexey Yesipenok, Alexey Breschenko. Bookings :- Alexey Rios 36, Dmitry Chaka 43 Possession :- 53% - 47%. Man of the Match :- Pavel Evseenko (Dinamo Brest). So while we may have shown some progression in the month or so since I arrived here, we are still the top few percent away from competing with the better teams in this Division. We spent far too much of that game on the back foot, and we need to work on making the opposition more fearful of us, and not feeling that they can throw players forward with no chance of any repercussions.
  5. Thursday 16th August 2012 The attendance of 411 at last nights match with Savit Mogliev has set a new club record. Not a good one either. It's the new lowest attendance for a competitive match in Lokomotiv history, five lower than the previous lowest mark set in October 2010 against Baranovichi. Friday 17th August Another contract offer has been sent out to the FC Minsk player that we have been chasing. I'm going to be honest, I'm starting to lose hope that we can land the player, at least during this Transfer Window. I think his demands are going to put him just out of our price range, and if he turns us down this time, we will have to draw a line under it for now. There is better contract news internally though. Centre back Alexey Yesipenok has signed a two year contract extension to remain with the club, and has also agreed to take a pay cut after being told that he will no longer be an automatic first choice for the club, which he has been for a large part of the last two years. His salary drops from £250 a week, down to £170. Another centre back has also put his signature on a two year extension, this time it's Denis Lekhavitskiy. His wages have increased very slightly, but at £95 per week and in his seventh year at the club, he was due a rise. He is now on £100 a week. I did say it was a very slight rise. Next in through the door with a signed set of paperwork is midfielder, Alexandr Alkhovik. I'm going to admit to being unsure about the 30 year old. But I wasn't quite prepared to lose him on a Free Transfer at the end of the season either. So he signs on a one year extended deal, with his wage remaining as it is, £35 a week. Finally, it's the one we really wanted, and needed, to get done. Goalkeeper Dmitry Biryukov turned 20 years old last Saturday, and he will be a lot older than that when his contract expires. He has signed a new five year deal to stay at Lokomotiv, and I told him that he's currently my number one. As such, I asked him to accept a small pay cut now, and in return, he would get a 10% rise at the end of each season, with a further 25% rise if we get promoted. He is delighted in the show of faith, and is happy to remain with the club he first came to as a 16 year old. Tomorrow is going to be a tough away trip for us, as we take the three and a half hour bus trip to Rechitsa, which sits near the borders of both Russia and Ukraine. The club side there, Vedrich-97 Rechitsa sit 7th in the League right now, and have lost only two of their last eight League matches, which also included a run of three straight wins. There is no doubt who their main man to keep an eye on is, 26 year old striker Dmitriy Lebedev has eleven goals in fifteen League appearances so far this season, making him the League's joint top marksman. Saturday 18th August BATE Borisov are still playing hardball with us over our attempts to sign a second player from them this summer. They tell us that the asking price for the midfielder we want is £28,000, and there is no longer any room for negotiation. With the Window starting to move towards it's close, and other clubs also showing an interest in the player, I agree to match their asking price. Belarusian First League Tsentralniy, Rechitsa Vedrich-97 Rechitsa v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 2,184. Weather :- Dry, 13c. This ground holds a thousand more people than ours, and is well over two thirds full this afternoon. We really have to improve our popular appeal amongst the public of Minsk. Anyway, on to more pressing tasks, and there are two changes from last time out, with both coming on the substitutes bench. Denis Sysoev and Andrey Volodzko have both been dropped from the matchday squad, replaced by winger Alexey Razmyslovich, and so far unconvincing signing, striker Djeykhun Mursalov. We made a decent start, some slick passing and patience crafted an early opportunity, Nikolay Shvydakov playing the role of supplier, holding up the ball and slipping a pass to Eduard Chudnovsky, but his effort was pushed to safety by home custodian, Vitaliy Stepanovich. Then Georgy Schennikov failed to work the keeper with a free kick that just missed the target, but did better with a raid down the left and a cross, which picked out Sergey Krot, the striker not able to get the ball under control and get a shot in. Within moments, we were without Krot, who took a knock and was swiftly replaced by Djeykhun Mursalov. By this point Vedrich were starting to take control, but their crossing was letting them down badly, one being so bad that we actually launched a counter-attack from it, Shvydakov starting the move, Alexey Rios and Chudnovsky also involved, before Shvydakov forced an outstanding reaction stop out of Stepanovich, who denied our skipper an extension to his fine run of goalscoring. From the resulting corner, Schennikov picked out Rios, who's glancing header hit the bar before being hooked to safety. Vedrich took control before half time though, and almost reached the break with an advantage, Igor Antsypov hitting our cross bar with a half volley from 15 yards out. All to play for then in the second half, and with a couple of Vedrich players needing to be a little careful, three of them picking up bookings in the first half. That was in evidence when Schennikov sprinted down the left after a long ball down the touchline from Maxim Ivanenko, and our winger found himself up against Sergey Duben, who was already treading a thinner line with the ref. Schennikov teased him unsuccessfully into making a challenge, before picking out Djeykhun Mursalov, who's shot was struck well, but Stepanovich made another good stop from fairly close range. We were playing well, and causing our hosts problems, Rios picking out Shvydrakov with a cross, and he let go a left footed piledriver that was just an inch or so too high, Duben doing the same with a free kick at the other end. Back at the other end near the hour mark, Rios should have done better after being played into the box by Chudnovsky, but his shot was right across goal and wide of the far post. The chances continued to come and go for both sides, though Roman Loktionov's curling shot from range was more of an opportunists strike, the ball skimming the post on it's way past the goal frame. Alexandr Alkhovik was replaced just after the hour, Alexey Yesipenok brought on and utilised as a midfielder. We were starting to ship more chances though, and Andrey Lapytov's corner was met with a firm side footed shot by Mikhail Kotin that was heading back inside the near post, until Dmitry Chaka booted it off the line. Sadly, our luck would run out with twenty minutes to play. Loktionov played his part, holding the ball up expertly on halfway, before releasing Lapytov on the left. His pass inside found Kotin, and picked out the dangerman, Dmitriy Lebedev, who let the ball run across his body to shield it from Denis Lekhavitskiy, before picking his spot with a well struck low shot, steered beyond the dive of Dmitry Biryukov. That was a hammer blow, and a hefty penalty for missing the chances we had created. We would quickly create another, Rios skipping away from a tackle and reaching the byline. He cut it back, finding Alexey Yesipenok, who squared it perfectly for Chudnovsky, his curling shot finally beating Stepanovich, but not the upright, as it bounced back off to relative safety. Lekhavitskiy took a knock soon after, landing awkwardly and appearing to pull something while jumping for a header that he lost, Biryukov tipping that one over the bar. The centre back was replaced, Andrey Misyuk coming on, which meant Yesipenok moving into the back four, while Chudnovsky also came off, Alexey Breschenko coming on as we looked to be more attacking. It wasn't to be today though, as Vedrich were too good for us, taking the ball off us and keeping it for spells by just passing around us, almost extending their lead when Lebedev tried to lift the ball over Biryukov, who made a superb recovery stop to keep the deficit down to one at least. Right at the very death, with the clock into the final moment, Shvydakov would pop up again, getting goal side of his marker near the penalty spot as Schennikov released the pass in his direction, bringing it down, and then smashing it.....a whisker wide of the target. It was not to be for us today. Vedrich-97 Rechitsa (0) 1 - Dmitriy Lebedev (70) Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Maxim Gorback, Denis Lekhavitskiy (inj - Andrey Misyuk 77), Maxim Ivanenko; Alexandr Alkhovik (Alexey Yesipenok 61), Eduard Chudnovsky (Alexey Breschenko 77); Alexey Rios, Georgy Schennikov; Sergey Krot (inj - Djeykhun Mursalov 15), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Pavel Lyutsko, Alexey Razmyslovich. Bookings :- None Possession :- 46% - 54%. Man of the Match :- Mikhail Kotin (Vedrich-97 Rechitsa). People might say a lot of things about us, but one thing they can't accuse us of is failing to create chances. We absolutely had enough chances to not just get something from that one, but to win it. But putting them in the net is clearly a real problem for us. That was our 17th League match of the campaign, and we have managed just fifteen goals, the worst in the Division, with even the clubs in the bottom two more prolific than we are. On the flip side, we do have the second best defence in the Division, with only Dinamo Brest, coincidentally our next opponents, shipping fewer goals than us in the League so far this season. Maybe we have just got to the bottom of why we are struggling to get fans in through the gate at Lokomotiv Stadium as well? Clearly, we are not an entertaining side to watch. I can live with that if we're fighting for Promotions, Titles or Cups. But not while we are treading water below the halfway point in the League. That isn't a good combination.
  6. Sunday 12th August 2012 Our move for a veteran striker is progressing, with his club accepting our offer, and personal terms now being discussed. Meanwhile, we are also trying to relieve BATE Borisov of another one of their talented young players. It might be a case of once bitten from them, as they are less reluctant to look favourably on our low ball offer, and have negotiated us up a bit. Still, if we can get the deal done, I'm confident we will still be getting ourselves a bargain. A few of our players are due for contract renewal at the end of the season, and I have seen enough over the last few weeks to form a framework of opinion over who I want to keep, and who I don't envisage having a future with us here at Lokomotiv. Contract offers have been sent out for those we see with a future with our club. Monday 13th August BATE are certainly playing the field this time, stalling for time as they attempt to get a better deal from one of the other interested suitors of the player we are keen to add to our squad. It is quite obvious to me, that they have heard about my success at Lurgan Celtic, and they are concerned that I'm going to drag another side beginning with the letter 'L' up into the top tier! Too much? Tuesday 14th August We have again been given permission to discuss terms with the centre back who gave us a rejection last week as he wasn't too keen to drop down from the top tier. I have really given him something to think about this time, as our new contract offer would better than quadruple his current salary. Surely, for that kind of money, and a move into the capital, we have to have got his attention? Savit Mogliev are one place above us in the First League table at the halfway point, and tomorrow we kick off the second half our League campaign with a home tie against them. The bookies are not really convinced by either side, and they have us as very narrow favourites (6/4) by virtue of our home advantage and improving form. However, at 13/8, they wouldn't be too shocked to see Savit get something out of the match and stay above us in the table either. Wednesday 15th August It's matchday in Minsk, and we have a new signing to introduce to the fans before kick off. Not that he will need introducing, as this will be his second spell at Lokomotiv. Veteran striker Sergey Krot played here between 2005-2007, scoring nine league goals in 48 appearances for us. He moved on to Shakhter Soligorsk, and then Neman Grodno, struggling to get First Team football on a regular basis with either. But then last season at this level, he scored fifteen times in 28 League matches for Khimik Svetlogorsk, and had another three for them this season as well. He is only two short of fifty career League goals. And we have signed him, for £1,000. Bargain. So what do we get as well as that goalscoring ability and veteran experience? Height. At 6'4, he is a couple of inches taller than Olexandr Golikov. I'm hoping that might give our set pieces a shot in the arm. We haven't scored from a corner yet! Outrageous. Before the match the draw is made for the Third Round of the Belarusian Cup, and it might not be great news. After taking a bit of a thumping from Torpedo Zhodino in my first match in charge, we'll have to travel to face them again next month after being paired with them. If we're looking for a positive, it will give us a very good marker of how much progress, if any, we will have made about a month and a half after my arrival. Belarusian First League Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Savit Mogliev Attendance :- 411. Weather :- Wet, 24c. Two changes are made to our lineup today, with Andrey Misyuk dropped to the bench, Eduard Chudnovsky brought into the midfield in his place, while up front, new signing Sergey Krot is brought straight into the lineup, with club record signing Djeykhun Mursalov finding himself dropped from the matchday squad today. This wouldn't be a match for those looking for plenty of goal action apparently, with 20 minutes on the clock before anything of real note happened, Alexey Volkov picked up the ball from a short corner and then swung the ball in towards the far post. It looked to be creeping in too, but Alexandr Alkhovik got his head to it, and sent it over his own cross bar. Set pieces were appearing to be important, Andrey Divakov bringing down the ball at the near post from a corner, and then shooting on the turn, Dmitry Buryukov dealing with that without too much trouble. There was half hour on the clock before we created any issues for Savit, and Georgy Schennikov was heavily involved, first providing a cross that Sergey Krot shot wide, and then retrieving the ball from a cleared corner, and running across the park before shooting himself, that one going over the bar. Goalless at the break, and the match had been as tight as the scoreline suggested to this point. That wouldn't really change in the second half either, Dmytro Brovkin managing to beat two in the left channel outside our box, but then sent himself tumbling to the turf as soon as he got inside the box, failing to suitably impress the Belarusian judge otherwise known as the referee. Alkhovik and Krot were both substituted twenty minutes into the second half, Denis Sysoev and Andrey Volodzko coming on in their place. Five minutes later, and Alexey Rios gave a brief glimpse of his talent on the corner of the box, dropping a shoulder to beat a defender, and then running square across the edge of the box, before shooting left footed, the shot hitting the top of the bar and carrying on into the stands. Schennikov just missed the target moments later as he aimed for the top corner with a free kick, and when Denis Lekhavitskiy started to struggle with a knock, I made my final two changes, Eduard Chudnovsky also going off, Alexey Yesipenok and Andrey Misyuk coming on. This match was drifting towards a stalemate, until with three minutes left, Denis Sysoev sent a low pass into the feet of Nikolay Shvydakov on the edge of the 'D', and the skipper rolled a defender, before sending off a left footed curling shot that beat Andrey Komarytskyi, hit the underside of the bar, bounced down on the line, hitting the bar again on it's way back up, and spinning across the goal line and into the net! It was the 32 year old strikers fifth goal in his last three outings, and it gave us a priceless three points just as it looked like we were about to leave two on the table. Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 1 - Nikolay Shvydakov (87) Savit Mogliev (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Maxim Gorbach, Denis Lekhavitskiy (Alexey Yesipenok 78), Maxim Ivanenko; Alexandr Alkhovik (Denis Sysoev 65), Eduard Chudnovsky (Andrey Misyuk 78); Alexey Rios, Georgy Schennikov; Sergey Krot (Andrey Volodzko 65), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Pavel Lyutsko, Alexey Breschenko. Bookings :- Maxim Gorbach 90+4 Possession :- 48% - 52%. Man of the Match :- Sergey Tsvetinskiy (Savit Mogliev). He's done it again! That was a superb strike from the Club Captain, and Nikolay Shvydakov's fifth goal in the last three matches means we are now on a three match winning streak. Morale in the club is on the up, and so is our League position, as we nudge above Savit and into 10th spot. We have a more difficult run of games coming up, two away matches against sides nearer the top part of the League, followed by a return home for my first ever experience of a 'Minsk Derby', as we will play host to Darida in an early September fixture on a Sunday.
  7. Monday 6th August 2012 Two goal striker Nikolay Shvydakov is named in the First League team of the week, the only Lokomotiv player to be selected this week. Maybe I'll sign Aidan O'Kane....... There's some movement at last regarding our number one target, as FC Minsk finally accept our improved offer. A contract has been offered to the player, so now we'll see how close we can get to landing him at Lokomotiv. Tuesday 7th August We are not resting on our laurels with only three weeks or so left of the Transfer Window, as we have more deals being discussed. A veteran striker is amongst our targets, as is some improvement to our midfield and centre defence. The centre back rejects our offer later in the day, not keen to move down a Division right now. We offer him improved terms to see if some more cash will alleviate his concerns. Thursday 9th August We have managed to complete the signing of another striker today, not the deal we initially intended, but one I'm very happy to get across the line. I will confess to be very surprised when BATE Borisov accepted our £10,000 offer for 18 year old striker Andrey Volodzko. He was one of the leading lights in a Youth system that is amongst the best in Eastern Europe right now. He played twice for their First Team last season, managing to notch his first ever Senior goal as well. He is only 5'8 tall, but is incredibly good in the air, and has very good pace, and a cool head in front of goal. I decided to make sure he would definitely sign for us, offering him £300 a week. He signed the deal, which will take him through the next four and a half seasons. One to watch I think. It wasn't such good news on the FC Minsk forward, who has rejected out initial contract offer, stating that the weekly wage wasn't enough for him to consider the move viable at this point. I've asked him for another chance to submit a better deal, and we're waiting to hear back from him again to see if he's prepared to continue talking. Friday 10th August Mikashevichi are the firm favourites for tomorrow's Belarusian Cup Round Two tie in Luninets, a three hour drive south from the capital, and heading down towards the border with Ukraine. They managed an away win in the League last weekend, their first three point haul since mid May! Saturday 11th August Belarusian Cup, Round Two Polesie, Luninets Mikashevichi v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 726. Weather :- Breezy, 25c. Our starting lineup remains as it was for the win on the weekend, but there are two changes on the substitutes bench. Alexey Yesipenok is available again after serving his suspension, but has to make do with a spot on the bench, with Denis Lekhavitskiy remaining in the side. Olexandr Golikov has been left out of the matchday squad, with new signing, 18 year old striker Andrey Volodzko available for his Lokomotiv debut. The first attack didn't come until the 11th minute in our not very attractive 'off white' jerseys, and some of our players thought it should have led to a penalty. Djeykhun Mursalov collected Maxim Ivanenko's cross into the near left channel, and the striker thought he was shoved as he attempted to control the ball, the referee not impressed though. It was clear that most good things were happening down our left side, and in particular through Georgy Schennikov. He just missed the target with a free kick, and then sent the ball to Nikolay Shvydakov, who shot on the turn, his effort coming back off the cross bar. We hadn't managed to create too much in a tight first half, but it was more than the hosts managed, a Sergey Kiturko shot over the bar from the edge of the box being the only thing to show for their efforts. Schennikov continued his work down the left in the early stages of the second half, producing a deep cross that Alexey Rios sent back across goal, and then hitting a shot himself from the edge of the box, Roman Stepanov holding that one quite comfortably. While it wasn't a classic match by any means, we were having the better of things. So it was frustrating to get sucker punched in the 58th minute, Roman Volkov with an inswinging corner, and Artur Levitskiy crept in at the near post to glance a header, just changing the flight of the ball enough to leave keeper Dmitry Biryukov flat footed, and unable to keep the ball out. Moments like that are tough to take as a manager, and I responded with a trio of changes, the maximum allowed in this competition. Alexandr Alkhovik, a now limping Schennikov, and Mursalov were all taken off, with Eduard Chudnovsky, Pavel Lyutsko and young new signing Andrey Volodzko all coming on. I mention that only three changes were allowed as it became significant just seven minutes later, when full back Ivanenko went down and wouldn't be able to continue. Now a man down as well as a goal down, I pulled Lyutsko back into a left back role, and brought Rios in from the left to play behind the strikers, as we moved into a 4-2-1-2 with no wingers. Despite being a player down, we were the ones doing most of the attacking, probably not too surprising to hear as we had to chase the game. Volodzko was causing a nuisance to the Mikashevichi defence, dropping deep, moving out wide, and generally being a pain for them to try and mark. He set up Lyutsko for a shot from the edge of the box with just three minutes left, but Stepanov saw that one all the way. With the clock on ninety, we looked pretty much finished. Enter the skipper, again. Shvydakov collected the ball near the byline on the left from a throw in by Lyutsko. As the defender kept a bit of distance, keen to just marshall him into a dead end, the striker cut back inside on him and raced into the box. As he got towards the edge of the six yard box, and from an acute angle, he went for power. Stepanov got both hands to it, but he could only push it inside his own near post, and we were level right at the death! The home side looked crestfallen that they'd allowed that to happen so late, and set about preventing the game going into a further half hour, Victor Dotsenko pulling the trigger from the edge of the box, his shot blocked quickly. Extra time it would be then. With a furious home side determined to get the job done, and the visiting side down a man and happy to play for penalties at this point, extra time could go one of any number of ways. Dotsenko would try his luck again from the edge of the box, Biryukov equal to it, the young keeper diving to his left and tipping the bottom corner bound effort around his post. For our part, we had set ourselves up quite nicely, and we were restricting the home side to efforts from range. Until the 111th minute, when Karen Muradyan cut us open with a through ball that Alexandr San'ko raced onto. He wasn't blessed with great pace, and had two centre backs gaining on him, so he shot from the edge of the box, Biryukov flinging himself to his right this time, and turning that one around the post too. We were happy. We had played for penalties, and that was what we would get. Sort of. With the clock into injury time at the end of Extra Time, we won a free kick. Alexey Rios whipped it in from the right, and at the far post, Volodzko tangled with goalscorer Levitskiy. The ref hesitated, and then pointed to the spot! Playing for penalties had now become singular. If we could score from this one, we wouldn't need to take any more. Shvydakov didn't hang around, placing the ball and smashing it just off centre, to the keeper's right, and just out of his reach as he took a step the other way! Game over. What's Belarusian for 'smash and grab'? Mikashevichi (0) 1 - Artur Levitskiy (58) Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 2 - Nikolay Shvydakov (90, 120+1 pen) (after extra time, 1-1 after ninety minutes) Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Maxim Gorbach, Denis Lekhavitskiy, Maxim Ivanenko (inj - 74); Alexandr Alkhovik (Eduard Chudnovsky 67), Andrey Misyuk; Alexey Rios, Georgy Schennikov (Pavel Lyutsko 67); Djeykhun Mursalov (Andrey Volodzko 67), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Alexey Yesipenok, Vadimir Zuhbaia (GK), Denis Sysoev, Alexey Breschenko. Bookings :- Denis Lekhavitskiy 118 Possession :- 40% - 60%. Man of the Match :- Nikolay Shvydakov (Lokomotiv Moscow). When I arrived a couple of weeks ago, skipper Nikolay Shvydakov had scored three goals in nearly half a season. Now he has four goals in as many days, his second brace in as many games firing us into the Third Round of the Belarusian Cup. How about his composure to net in the final minute of normal time to keep us in the tie, and then in injury time at the end of Extra Time to give us the win? Outstanding stuff! It's just as well that we are not short of a couple of rubles at the moment, as our reward for progression into Round Three is the appropriately worked out £3,000. Both Georgy Schennikov and Maxim Ivanenko are showing no signs of anything more than just minor knocks, and both should be available for our return to League action in midweek, a home match with Savit Mogliev, with the motivation being moving above them should we manage a win.
  8. Monday 30th July 2012 FC Minsk are fighting to avoid relegation from the top tier. One of their better players wants to leave the club, feeling that the time is right for him to try his luck elsewhere. Portuguese side Leixões are amomgst his admirers, but we attempt to steal a march. I have money to spend, and a statement of intent will really get the fans behind us. FC Minsk are surprised to find themselves negotiating with us, and possibly already resigned to losing one of their better players, they hike the price up. We don't scare that easily. We will go into Sunday's match against Kommunalnik Zhlobin as the firm favourites, our opponents finding themselves in the bottom two at the moment. But they do have something we don't currently have. An out and out goalscorer. Not for much longer if we have our way, as we throw in an offer for him. They are not too keen to sell, which isn't surprising, but we are continuing with negotiations. Wednesday 1st August The first one is in through the door, and while it isn't one of those already mentioned, it is a young player from a Minsk club. The biggest Minsk club actually. 17 year old left back Maxim Ivanenko has already been capped at Under-21 level, and has never played a Senior match for Dinamo Minsk. And he won't either, as we snap up skillful teenager for £20,000, on a cheap as Belarusian chips contract of £35 a week for two and a half years. He is quick, defensively reliable, and has bags of room to get even better. He says he can't wait to get stuck in and make his debut, even though he doesn't expect to play right away. I've got news for you then young lad! By late morning, our other full back spot is improved, with our second signing. We have paid £2,000 to Division rivals Slavia Mozyr, and secured the signing of 20 year old Dmitry Chaka. Also an Under-21 International with two caps to his name, he was an ever present for them last season when they were relegated from the top tier. 6'0 tall, and capable of playing on the right or in the centre of the back four, he is more attacking than his more junior new colleague on the left, and signs to the end of next season for £100 a week. The fans are happy with a signing of that calibre, and a good mornings work is done. But there's plenty of time left today, and the next one isn't too far away. It's another £2,000 spent, and this time the upgrade comes in the centre of the park, with the arrival of top tier side Dnepr Mogilev's centre midfielder, Eduard Chudnovsky. More expensive on salary at £160 a week till the end of next season, the 21 year old is also a former Belarusian Under-21 International, who also has two caps to his name for that age group side. He has been an ever present for Dnepr this season, who only got him from BATE Borisov at the start of last season. I look at the lads attributes, and think he should be more productive than the two goals and two assists he has in nearly forty First Team matches, and maybe we can coax that out of him. That signing is also a fan pleaser. Thursday 2nd August The next deal was actually agreed in the wee small hours of this morning, and then announced at a more reasonable time of the day. Did I just say wee? I need to remember I'm not in Scotland anymore. It see's the further rebuild of our right flank, and the return of a Minsk native. 25 year old Alexey Rios can play down that right flank, or in the middle of the park. He left his home city to join Shakhter Soligorsk in his late teens, soon establishing himself in the First Team setup, and earning a couple of caps for Belarus Under-21's. This is Rios' third move in two seasons, after a spell with Neman Grodno. He's played this season so far with FC Vitebsk, but is prepared to play at a lower level to return to Minsk. It's a two and a half year deal at £250 a week, and we have paid £3,000 for him. More fan adulation is earned. Friday 3rd August It's been a long slog of negotiations, offers and counter offers. Last night we finally agreed a price with Kommunalnik Zhlobin for their top goalscorer Djeykhun Mursalov. £60,000 is the agreed price, a new club record fee paid out, and steep I'm told for the 21 year old left footed 6'0 striker. The contract was much more straightforward, two and a half years at £200 a week, and we have our man. 8 goals in 14 League matches so far this season, his first with the Zhlobin club who we play this weekend. It's been a break out season for him, and they cash in after signing him on a Free Transfer at the start of the season. As adept on the floor as he is in the air, I really need him to hit the ground running and start firing in some goals for us as soon as possible. We continue to speak to FC Minsk about their forward, and we are also in talks with another club about a centre back who would improve us. We are running out of time to get anything else done ready for this weekend's next fixture though. Saturday 4th August As our build up for tomorrow's match begins, the rest of the Division play their matches. We're 1/4 favourites to win my first home match in charge of the Lokomotiv side, and we now sit in 13th heading into the game. A win would move us up into 11th, and within striking distance of the mid table spots that we were predicted to be occupying well before I got here. Sunday 5th August Match day morning, and we hear back from FC Minsk after nearly a week. They tell us the price they want for their player, and we immediately meet that price. Now we have to wait to hear if the player will agree to speak to us. I'm told not to get my hopes up when it comes to that minor detail. Belarusian First League Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Kommunalnik Zhlobin Attendance :- 421. Weather :- Dry, 28c. It's a beautiful, warm, sunny day in Minsk, and the few hundred who turn out at Lokomotiv Stadium will get to see four of our five new players making their debuts from the start, which includes 17 year old left back Maxim Ivanenko making his Senior club debut for a hometown club, though not the one he joined as a Youth player, and new club record transfer Djeykhun Mursalov making his Lokomotiv debut against the club he signed from just two days ago. Eduard Chudnovsky is the only one of the new recruits not starting, he is on the bench today. Denis Lukhavitskiy is brought in at centre back to replace the suspended Alexey Yesipenok. We are lining up in the 4-2-2-2 wide that I often used at Ayr United, particularly at home. From the off it was clear to see that this match was an entirely different proposition to last weekend. We kept the ball well, passing nicely and our new players looked to settle quickly on the whole, Djeykhun Mursalov passing up a chance to shoot early, slipping a square pass to Georgy Schennikov who stung the keepers hands with a drive that Dmitry Guschenko pushed away. Dmitry Chaka picked out skipper Nikolay Shvydakov in the box, the striker missing a great chance, seemingly unsure if he was onside or not. Not to worry, we would create plenty more chances yet, though Mursalov missed a great opportunity to get off the mark on his debut, but he wanted one too many touches on that occasion, allowing Guschenko to make a crucial save. It was being noted that our new striker looked uncomfortable under the pressure, and not especially confident. Hopefully a goal would change all that, but when it arrived in the 38th minute, it wouldn't be the big money signing. Instead, it would be Shvydakov, running from deep, playing a one-two with Alexey Rios, and then firing past the keeper to open the scoring. 1-0 up at the break, and it could have been more. It almost was seven minutes after the restart, Alexandr Alkhovik curling a free kick from the left into the far post, and teenage left back Maxim Ivanenko almost marked his Senior debut with a goal, beating a defender in the air, his header crashing back off the cross bar! That was a desperately unlucky start to a second half that offered little in terms of attacking entertainment, but plenty in the way of our Lokomotiv players showing a willingness to get stuck in and defend our lead. A double change in centre midfield with 20 minutes left saw Eduard Chudnovsky become the fifth debuting Lokomotiv player of the day, Denis Sysoev coming on at the same time. Ten minutes later, and Mursalov missed another great chance to notch a debut goal, Shvydakov playing him in, but the new boy sent his shot over the bar. He would get the hook moments later, replaced by Olexandr Golikov. But before he went, he would play a superb diagonal pass into space on the left for Schennikov to run onto, and he produced a deep cross to the far post, where Shvydakov popped up between two defenders to apply the finish, his second of the match, and fifth of the season. We could breathe a little easier....for a couple of minutes anyway. A free kick into our box found the head of Kirill Statuev, who's header back across goal picked out substitute Magomed Magomedov. He attempted to bundle the ball past Dmitry Biryukov, and in his attempt to help out, Denis Sysoev could only help the ball on past his own keeper with five minutes to play. It was back to the nervous finish we had been hoping to avoid, but the best chances fell to us, Olexandr Golikov and Schennikov both missing chances to extend our lead. For today, I'll gratefully take the two that we did get. Lokomotiv Minsk (1) 2 - Nikolay Shvydakov (38,82) Kommunalnik Zhlobin (0) 1 - Denis Sysoev (85 og) Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Maxim Gorbach, Denis Lekhavitskiy, Maxim Ivanenko; Alexandr Alkhovik (Eduard Chudnovsky 70), Andrey Misyuk (Denis Sysoev 70); Alexey Rios, Georgy Schennikov; Djeykhun Mursalov (Olexandr Golikov 82), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Alexandr Mashkov, Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Pavel Lyutsko, Alexey Breschenko. Bookings :- None Possession :- 59% - 41%. Man of the Match :- Nikolay Shvydakov (Lokomotiv Minsk). So the score makes that look like a close game, but we were the better side by quite some way, and I'd have been furious had we thrown away a few points there. It's not easy to compare that performance to last weekends, the opposition were at the other end of the scale from each other. But it was much improved on last week, and our new signings hit the ground running for the most part, with club record arrival Djeykhun Mursalov the only real exception, as he looked well out of sorts in front of goal, though did redeem himself by helping to setup what proved to be the winner just as he was about to leave the park. The general consensus in the media is that we should have won by more goals than we did, but a win is a win, and that's the first one Lokomotiv have added in the win column in eight games. That isn't a club record, thanks only to a twelve match spell without a win back in 2008 when the club suffered relegation from the top tier. There is a little break from League action, as our next match is a Belarusian Cup game next Saturday. The Board have set us a target of reaching Round Two, which is great for us, as we don't enter the competition until that very round, so mission accomplished! We've been drawn to face Division rivals Mikashevichi away from home in the Second Round, and they are one of the few clubs below us in the League. A run in the Cup would be an ideal opportunity to help build the players confidence.
  9. Thank you Gav. I do enjoy an Eastern European save, and this one does look like a bit of a challenge. From memory, it's my first time in Belarus, and I'm loving it already. But if I can't get things straightened out at Lokomotiv, I might not get to stick around too long.
  10. Saturday 28th July 2012 Belarusian First League Torpedo Stadium, Zhodino Torpedo Zhodino v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 2,724. Weather :- Breezy, 27c. We would line up in a fairly basic 4-4-2 formation for our trip to the league leaders. The team almost picked itself, and we were behind as quickly as 45 seconds in, as we failed to clear a cross properly, and Dimitar Tsenovski found the bottom corner from 20 yards out to beat young Dmitry Biryukov, who had been given the nod in goal. Zhodino kept up the pressure, and Biryukov was beaten again in the 9th minute, Tsenovski turning provider this time with an outswinging corner that was met with a thumping header from Sergey Kondrat'ev. It had been a horrible start, and was starting to feel like a real baptism of fire. It could have got worse too, Andrey Sheryakov sending a tame header right at Biryukov when either side of him would have been a certain goal. Georgy Schennikov provided some brief respite down the left, his searing pace and no lack of skill got him into the box, but his shot was too high, and normal service was soon resumed. Alexey Filimonov launching a free kick to the edge of our box from inside his own half, Biryukov started to come for it, then changed his mind halfway, and Sergey Bubnov beat Maxim Gorbach in the air, and lofted his header over the stranded keeper to increase our embarrassment levels with less than half hour played. It was more luck than skill that got us through to half time without any further damage, Torpedo missing several chances to further increase the score. I'm not sure that getting angry through an interpreter has quite the same impact, but it was done all the same. A lack of options on the bench made changing things drastically a pointless option right now. Still, the words did seem to have some effect, as we did settle down a little, while still being clearly the poorer of the two sides, Bubnov reminding us of that fact when he effortlessly stepped away from a tackle and sent a shot against the cross bar. I decided that having a look at a couple of other players would at least serve us well in the coming week or so, and made a pair of changes ten minutes after the restart. Predictably, it wouldn't change the course of the game, though it did even things up a little, there again, that could have just been Zhodino taking their foot off the gas, and our throats. I was preparing to make my final change when that decision was made for me in the 74th minute. Andrey Zaleskiy picked out Alexandr Kolotsey with a through ball that had the striker on the edge of our box with his back to goal. There was no finesse about Alexey Yesipenok's challenge, as he went straight through him with a reckless tackle that rightly earned him a straight red card. Olexandr Golikov was sacrificed to bring our defence back to four, and we spent the remainder of the match attempting to limit the damage, arguably our most successful feat of the day, full back Sergey Matverychik coming closest to increasing the score when his curling shot came back off the far upright. Torpedo Zhodino (3) 3 - Dimitar Tsenovski (1), Sergey Kondrat'ev (9), Sergey Bubnov (28) Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Alexey Razmyslovich, Maxim Gorbach, Alexey Yesipenok, Pavel Lyutsko; Alexandr Alkhovik, Andrey Misyuk (Denis Sysoev 54); Pavel Mikhaltsov, Georgy Schennikov; Nikolay Shvydakov © (Vadim Mironov 54), Olexandr Golikov (Denis Lekhavitskiy 74). Unused Substitutes :- Vladimir Zahbaia (GK), Alexandr Mashkov, Artur Groda, Alexey Breschenko. Bookings :- None. Sent Off :- Alexey Yesipenok 74 Possession :- 44% - 56%. Man of the Match :- Dimitar Tsenovski (Torpedo Zhodino). All I can really say after that, is thank the lord that the Transfer Window is open, and remaining open for another month or so. Also, I find out after the match that in this League, we are permitted to use four substitutions, which is a bit different. Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure that we can be competitive for the rest of the season. Forget being top dogs in Minsk for now, that alone is going to be challenge enough for us in the interim. Sunday 29th July Hapless. That is how we are being described in the media today. The club is now seven matches without a win, and today I have my staff all in to work as we look for new players and new ideas. Also brought in is Alexey Yesipenok, who is very apologetic at his rush of blood, and is served with an official warning for his poor judgement that earned him a straight red card yesterday, the first Lokomotiv player of the season to earn one. Today has been a long day, but a worthwhile one. We have a list of targets that we are going to chase, and the more we get signed this week, the better. Almost every position, with the possible exception of goalkeeper, needs to be strengthened. By the time the day is over, we have had transfer bids rejected, accepted, negotiated, the lot. We are now talking to several players. Expect arrivals soon.
  11. 2012 Lokomotiv Minsk Pen Pictures Goalkeepers :- Dmitry Biryukov (GK). 19 years old. Belarusian (Under-19 International). 6'1. 13 stone 0 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £40 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2008. This Season :- League Matches - 6. Goals Conceded - 5. Clean Sheets - 2. Career :- League Matches - 9. Goals Conceded - 5. Clean Sheets - 5. Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK). 26 years old. Georgian (1 Under-21 Cap). 6'4. 13 stone 7 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £575 per week. Value :- £4,000 Joined Club :- 2008 This Season :- League Matches - 7. Goals Conceded - 6. Clean Sheets - 2. Careers :- League Matches - 42. Goals Conceded - 45. Clean Sheets - 9. ------------------------- Defenders :- Alexandr Mashkov (LB,CB). 18 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'1. 12 stone 10 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £35 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2011. This Season :- League Matches - 1. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 43. Goals - 1. Assists - 4. Pavel Lyutsko (LB, LWB, LM). 25 years old. Belarusian (1 Under-21 Cap). 5'8. 11 stone 4 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £775 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2010. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 93. Goals - 1. Assists - 7. Denis Lekhavitskiy (CB). 25 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'9. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £95 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2006. This Season :- League Matches - 9. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 85. Goals - 1. Assists - 2. Alexey Yesipenok (CB, DM, CM). 23 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'3. 13 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £250 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2009. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 0. Assists - 1. Career :- League Matches - 67. Goals - 3. Assists - 9. Artur Groda (CB, DM, CM). 26 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'1. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £110 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2012. This Season :- League Matches - 3. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 149. Goals - 3. Assists - 4. Maxim Gorbach (CB, DM, CM). 28 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'1. 13 stone 5 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £775 per week. Value :- £3,000 Joined Club :- 2010. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 0. Assists - 3. Career :- League Matches - 218. Goals - 15. Assists - 10. Alexey Razmyslovich (RWB, LWB, RAM, LAM). 28 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'11. 12 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £575 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2010. This Season :- League Matches - 8. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 207. Goals - 21. Assists - 24. ------------------------- Midfielders/Wingers :- Georgy Schennikov (LB, LWB, LM). 21 years old. Russian (4 Under-21 Caps). 5'10. 10 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £425 per week. Value :- £5,000 Joined Club :- 2012. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 0. Assists - 1. Career :- League Matches - 49. Goals - 1. Assists - 5. Alexandr Alkhovik (DM, CM). 30 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'9. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £35 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2009. This Season :- League Matches - 12. Goals - 0. Assists - 3. Career :- League Matches - 114. Goals - 8. Assists - 10. Andrey Misyuk (DM, CM). 31 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'9. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £775 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2010. This Season :- League Matches - 10. Goals - 2. Assists - 1. Career :- League Matches - 220. Goals - 29. Assists - 25. Pavel Mikhaltsov (DM, AM, RAM, LAM). 21 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'4. 11 stone 9 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £130 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2012. This Season :- League Matches - 3. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 61. Goals - 5. Assists - 9. Denis Sysoev (CM). 20 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'0. 12 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £220 per week. Value :- £0 Joined Club :- 2009. This Season :- League Matches - 1. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 23. Goals - 0. Assists - 1. Alexey Breschenko (CAM, RAM, LAM). 27 years old. Belarusian (2 Under-21 Caps). 6'0. 12 stone 8 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £300 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2010. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 1. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 171. Goals - 15. Assists - 13. ------------------------- Strikers :- Nikolay Shvydakov (CAM, RAM, ST). 32 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'9. 10 stone 7 lbs. Contract :- 1½ years, £775 per week. Value :- £9,000 Joined Club :- 2005. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 3. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 235. Goals - 60. Assists - 6. Olexandr Golikov (ST). 20 years old. Ukrainian (Uncapped). 6'2. 13 stone 3 lbs. Contract :- 6 months, £400 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2011. This Season :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 6. Assists - 1. Career :- League Matches - 49. Goals - 21. Assists - 1. Vadim Mironov (ST). 18 years old. Russian (Under-19 International). 5'11. 12 stone 6 lbs. Contract :- On Loan for the Season from Amkar Perm (Russia), £0 per week. Value :- £525,000 Joined Club :- 2012. This Season :- League Matches - 2. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Career :- League Matches - 2. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. -------------------------
  12. Friday 27th July 2012 I arrive in Belarus in the middle of the 2012 season, and I have been a football manager for a little over four years now. My new club were taken over by a consortium headed by Vladislav Dedyush in 2008, just three weeks or so before the club were relegated from the nations top tier after finishing bottom of the table. Since then, they have finished 5th, 7th, and last year, 4th. Now things have started to go a little south for the club, and instead of pushing to join the bigger clubs from Minsk in the top tier, they are starting to drop ever closer to the trap door. The club had seen enough, and have sacked Yury Kurnenin, who is also in charge of Belarus' Under-21's. Less than a week later, after hearing I had quit the Ayr United job, they made their move. They offered me a deal to the end of next season, and I negotiated an extra season on top, getting me a contract through to Winter 2014. They'll pay me £325 per week. Lokomotiv Minsk are a professional club, and they play their games at the 2,000 capacity all seater Lokomotiv Stadium. The biggest success in the clubs history to date was when they played in the Belarusian Cup Final in 2002, losing to their city rivals, and Belarus football powerhouses, Dinamo Minsk. Have no doubt about it, this club are very much the poor relations of football in the city of Minsk. Nearly 2 million people live in this city, and you can fit 0.1% of them in our stadium. Darida, the just six years old FC Minsk club, and of course, Dinamo. They are all in front of us. But Minsk is being overpowered as the footballing giant city in Belarus. There are new upstarts in this ex Russian state. They come from the city of Borisov, in the form of a new club. BATE are just twelve years old, but are winners of five of the last six Titles. There is work to do if Minsk is to be restored as a football powerhouse city. No one is expecting Lokomotiv to be a part of that. My job now, is to prove them wrong. My first match, is in just two days time, and it's against the current league leaders. No pressure. On day one, after starting to get adjusted to my surroundings, I get a very important job done. 37 year old Vladimir Panteleev comes into the club as my new Assistant Manager, his first job in the game. He is an expert when it comes to coaching a team in the art of defending, and is also a motivator and disciplinarian. He'll have his work cut out, we travel to the leaders for our first match tomorrow. ----------------------------- Neil Hoskins. 34 years old. Welsh. Uncapped. Reputation :- National. Contract :- Full Time, 2.5 years, £325 per week. Previous Experience :- Sunday League Footballer. Managerial Statistics :- Club/Player Loyalty :- 8. Domestic Players Bias :- 15. Financial Control :- 6. Hands On Approach :- 5. Squad Discipline :- 14. Tactical Consistency :- 16. Season Expectations :- Achieve A Respectable League Position (Not being judged this season). Transfer Budget :- £193,000. Wage Budget :- £11,265 per week. Currently Spending :- £7,088 per week. ---------------------------- Lokomotiv Minsk. Founded :- 2000. Nickname :- The Rail Roads Men. Status :- Professional. Reputation :- National. Value :- £1,200,000. Chairman Status :- Enjoying Life at the Club. Finances :- Okay (£1,015,591). Club Colours :- Home - Red with White Trim. Away - White with Black Trim. Club Legends :- Anatoly Yurevich Club Icons :- Dmitry Denisyuk. Favoured Personnel :- Nikolay Shvydakov. Fierce Rivals :- None. Other Rivals :- Dinamo Minsk, Darida-TDZh Honours :- *Belarusian First League Winners - 2004 *Belarusian Second League Winners - 2001 *Belarusian Cup Runner's-Up - 2002 Last Season :- 4th in the Belarusian First League. Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk, Belarus. Capacity :- 2,000 (all seater). Condition :- Very Good. Surface :- Grass. Surface Condition :- Very Good. Adequate Corporate Facilities, Average Training Facilities, Good Youth Facilities. ------------------------------- 2012 Belarusian First League Table, Up To & Including Friday 27th July 2012 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Torpedo Zhodino | | 13 | 10 | 1 | 2 | 29 | 16 | +13 | 31 | | 2nd | | Dinamo Brest | | 13 | 8 | 4 | 1 | 28 | 12 | +16 | 28 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Darida | | 13 | 8 | 2 | 3 | 24 | 14 | +10 | 26 | | 4th | | Vertical | | 13 | 7 | 3 | 3 | 22 | 15 | +7 | 24 | | 5th | | Lida | | 13 | 6 | 2 | 5 | 15 | 17 | -2 | 20 | | 6th | | Vedrich Rechitsa | | 13 | 5 | 4 | 4 | 17 | 19 | -2 | 19 | | 7th | | Baranovichi | | 13 | 5 | 3 | 5 | 19 | 17 | +2 | 18 | | 8th | | Savit | | 13 | 5 | 3 | 5 | 16 | 15 | +1 | 18 | | 9th | | Khimik Svetlogorsk | | 13 | 5 | 3 | 5 | 13 | 17 | -4 | 18 | | 10th | | Zvezda-BGU | | 13 | 5 | 2 | 6 | 22 | 23 | -1 | 17 | | 11th | | Slavia Mozyr | | 13 | 4 | 3 | 6 | 18 | 19 | -1 | 15 | | 12th | | Lokomotiv Minsk | | 13 | 3 | 5 | 5 | 12 | 11 | +1 | 14 | | 13th | | Mikashevichi | | 13 | 2 | 6 | 5 | 13 | 20 | -7 | 12 | | 14th | | Belcard | | 13 | 3 | 2 | 8 | 19 | 27 | -8 | 11 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 15th | | Kommunalnik Zhlobin | | 13 | 2 | 3 | 8 | 16 | 26 | -10 | 9 | | 16th | | Postavy | | 13 | 1 | 4 | 8 | 11 | 26 | -15 | 7 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  13. Thursday 26th July 2012 A relief. That was how it had felt to walk away from Somerset Park yesterday. Not knowing if the Board would keep me on, or if they would sack me as soon as a better option became available was one thing, but dealing with their unreasonable requests on finances were quite another. I was quite looking forward to a bit of a rest as well. Maybe head off to the coast somewhere, spend some time in the sun and enjoying myself. Then when football season starts, I'll get out and about around the grounds, get my face out there, do some networking, and figure out a way to get back into football. Or, I get an offer right away to jump back into the game. The location is, well, less than glamorous. But I look at what the club has, and I get excited at going somewhere new, and dragging a club up from the ground. The money is almost three times what I was being paid at Ayr United too, so that helps. The challenge is too much for me to say no. So I say yes. They have me on a flight that very evening. -------------------------------------------- Hello, Welcome to Part III of my save that began in 2008. If you have missed anything, then you can catch up with my time with Lurgan Celtic <here>, which was followed by my spell in Scotland with Ayr United, which came to an end prematurely due to a glitch in the game, but can be caught up with <here>. Once again, I will endeavor to try and keep match reports a little shorter, allowing you, the reader, to have more progress per post, and allowing me to play through the match at a quicker pace. I have never before suffered a glitch playing FM'09, and I'm gutted that is has happened in this save, which was progressing nicely. But the save isn't dead, and we continue on. Thanks for reading, and feel free to post any questions or comments. --------------------------------------------
  14. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Sunday 1st July 2012 Ayr United have been thrown into turmoil today, as reports suggest that their Manager has walked out on the club after a dispute with the club over their budgets for the new season. Neil Hoskins, the 34 year old Welsh Manager who led the club into the Promotion Playoffs in the Scottish Second Division last season, stated to the press that the Board told him he had to drastically cut back on his wage spending, despite several players already leaving the club this summer. Hoskins, who had been at the club since December of 2010, still had a year to run on his contract, and had recently turned down an offer to manage a club in the Czech Republic. Last season, Ayr were beaten in the Playoff Semi-Finals by Hamilton Academicals in a fiery two legged tie, and Hamilton would eventually preserve their second tier status. He also led the club into the Scottish League Challenge Cup Final for the third time in their history, but they were beaten by another First Division club, Raith Rovers. Former Nottingham Forest boss, Ian McParland, and Paul Trollope, who was sacked by Bristol Rovers in March, are the early favourites to replace Hoskins at Somerset Park. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ** Ladies and Gents, What you have read above, is media propaganda. Fake news if you will. What actually happened, is that I stayed till July 25th, signing multiple players for the club, and playing through a five game pre season (wins over Bathgate Thistle, Deveronvale, Derby County and Cambridge United, plus a defeat to TSG Hoffenheim). However, after not playing the Second Division Relegation/Third Division Promotion Playoffs, the game became stuck, and would not schedule the new league season in Scotland. It made the draws for the Cups, and they seemed to be fine, but without any League football, it would be a bit pointless. It's not the end of the save, just a premature end to my time in Scotland with Ayr United. It may well be the case that it corrects itself, but the best option at this point seems to be to move on. It won't be difficult.......the food was awful! Part Three of this save is just around the corner! ** Ayr United FC (20/12/2010 - 25/7/2012) 584 days in charge Honours :- Scottish League Challenge Cup Runner's-Up :- 2011/12 Ayr United Record :- GP 67. W 31. D 17. L 19. GF 100. GA 84. GD +16. Win Percentage 46.3% Overall Career Record :- GP 160. W 85. D 37. L 38. GF 275. GA 177. GD +98. Win Percentage 52.5% Highest Transfer Fee Paid :- £2,000 for Aaron McElwee 1/1/2011 Highest Transfer Fee Received :- £5,000 for Kenny Connolly 1/1/2012 Manager of the Month Awards :- 4 (1 with Lurgan Celtic, 3 with Ayr United) Total Career Earnings :- £28,000
  15. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    2011/12 Season Review (continued) Best of Europe UEFA Champions League Arsenal (ENG) beat Chelsea (ENG) on penalties (1-1 after extra time) at Allianz-Arena, Munich, Germany UEFA Europa League Manchester City (ENG) beat VfL Wolfsburg (GER) 3-0 at The Municipal Stadium, Medgidia, Romania UEFA European Super Cup Real Madrid (SPA) beat Tottenham Hostspur (ENG) 1-0 at Stade Louis II, Monte Carlo, Monaco Belgium Champions :- Anderlecht (60 pts), Runner's-Up :- Standard de Liège (55 pts) Top Scorer :- Nicolás Frutos (Anderlecht - 20 goals). Top Average Rating :- Nicolás Frutos (Anderlecht - 7.38) France Champions :- Olympique Lyon (85 pts), Runner's-Up :- Olympique de Marseille (77 pts) Top Scorer :- Robert Lewandowski (Olympique Lyon - 20 goals). Top Average Rating :- Djibril Cissé (Olympique de Marseille - 7.49) Germany Champions :- FC Bayern Munich (68 pts), Runner's-Up :- Bayer 04 Leverkusen (66 pts) Top Scorer :- Stefan Kießling (FC Bayern Munich - 20 goals). Top Average Rating :- Stefan Kießling (FC Bayern Munich - 7.63) Holland Champions :- PSV Eindhoven (68 pts), Runner's-Up :- Ajax Amsterdam (66 pts) Top Scorer :- Marko Markovski (Willem II - 22 goals). Top Average Rating :- Lex Immers (NEC Nijmegen - 7.60) Italy Champions :- Inter Milan (73 pts), Runner's-Up :- Juventus (70 pts) Top Scorer :- Luciano Figueroa (Sampdoria - 18 goals). Top Average Rating :- Kaká (AC Milan - 7.74) Portugal Champions :- Benfica (72 pts), Runner's-Up :- Sporting Lisbon (71 pts) Top Scorer :- Rafael Sóbis (Benfica - 20 goals). Top Average Rating :- Oscar Cardozo (Benfica - 7.86) Russia Champions :- CSKA Moscow (69 pts), Runner's Up :- Zenit St.Petersburg (65 pts) Spain Champions :- Real Madrid (98 pts), Runner's-Up :- FC Barcelona (86 pts) Top Scorer :- Vagner Love (Real Madrid - 23 goals). Top Average Rating :- Vagner Love (Real Madrid - 7.90) ---------- Rest of the World FIFA Club World Championship Real Madrid (SPA) beat River Plate (ARG) 3-1 at Yokohama International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan Copa Libertadores Athlético Mineiro (BRA) beat River Plate (ARG) 2-1 on aggregate Copa Sudamericana River Plate (ARG) beat Palmeiras (BRA) 4-1 on aggregate Asian Champions League Al-Ain (UAE) beat Pohang Steelers (KOR) 3-2 on aggregate North American Champions League Club de Nuevo Léon Tigres (MEX) beat Los Angeles Galaxy (USA) 3-2 on aggregate OFC Champions League Auckland City (NZL) beat Titavi (SAM) 6-0 at Korman Stadium, Port Vila, Vanuatu Argentina Champions :- River Plate, Runner's-Up :- Boca Juniors Australia Hyundai A-League Regular Season Champions :- Sydney FC. Runner's-Up :- Central Coast Mariners Hyundai A-League Grand Final Series :- Sydney FC beat Central Coast Mariners 2-0 at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Brazil Champions :- Palmeiras, Runner's-Up :- Internacional United States of America Major League Soccer Regular Season Champions :- Los Angeles Galaxy, Runner's-Up :- Columbus Crew Major League Soccer Final :- New York Red Bulls beat CD Chivas USA 2-0 at Rentschler Field, Hartford, Connecticut ---------- International 2012 African Cup of Nations :- Hosts :- Gabon. Holders :- Cameroon Final :- Morocco beat Ivory Coast 2-0 at Stade Omar Bongo, Libreville Top Scorers :- Pierre Achille Webó (Cameroon - 5 goals), Nabil Baha (Morocco - 4 goals), Benni McCarthy (South Africa - 3 goals) Top Average Rating :- Papa Diakhate (Senegal - 8.07), John Mensah (Ghana - 7.73), Abdoulaye Faye (Senegal - 7.70) 2011 Asian Nations Cup :- Hosts :- Qatar. Holders :- Iraq Final :- Australia beat China 4-1 Top Scorer :- Aziz Ibragimov (Uzbekistan - 6 goals) Top Average Rating :- Aziz Ibragimov (Uzbekistan - 7.88) 2012 Oceania Nations Cup :- Hosts :- New Zealand. Holders :- Solomon Islands Final :- New Zealand beat Fiji 6-1 on aggregate Top Scorers :- Osea Vakatalesau (Fiji - 6 goals), Roy Krishna (Fiji - 5 goals), Benjamin Totori (Solomon Islands - 5 goals) Top Average Rating :- Chris Killen (New Zealand - 8.60), Ryan Nelsen (New Zealand - 8.07), Shane Smeltz (New Zealand - 7.87) 2011 Copa América :- Hosts :- Argentina. Holders :- Brazil Final :- Argentina beat Brazil 2-0 at Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires Top Scorer :- Sergio Agüero (Argentina - 5 goals) Top Average Rating :- Juan Ángel Albín (Uruguay - 8.02) 2011 Under-20's World Cup :- Hosts :- Colombia. Holders :- Brazil Final :- Brazil beat Spain 2-1 after extra time Top Scorer :- Nathan Delfouneso (England - 9 goals) Top Average Rating :- Nathan Delfouneso (England - 8.05) 2011 European Under-19 Championship :- Hosts :- Norway :- Holders :- Ukraine Final :- England beat Ukraine 2-0 at Lerkendal, Trondheim Top Scorer :- Petr Cermak (Czech Republic - 7 goals) Top Average Rating :- Petr Cermak (Czech Republic - 8.00) ---------- Awards FIFA World Footballer of the Year 1st :- Cesc Fàbregas (Arsenal & Spain), 2nd :- Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona & Argentina), 3rd :- Vagner Love (Real Madrid & Brazil) UEFA European Footballer of the Year 1st :- Cesc Fàbregas (Arsenal & Spain), 2nd :- Carlos Tevez (Manchester United & Argentina), 3rd :- Frank Lampard (Chelsea & England) UEFA European Golden Boot 1st :- Michael Owen (Newcastle United), 2nd :- Vagner Love (Real Madrid), 3rd :- Kike Sola (Osasuna)