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neilhoskins77

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About neilhoskins77

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    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne & Cwmbran, South Wales

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    Bristol.R & Newcastle Utd

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    Lokomotiv Minsk (Belarus First League - FM09)

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  1. Sunday 5th May 2013 Almost as quickly as the job had become available, I had decided to throw my name into the mix, and they had decided I was the man for the job, then I had to move for a ten hour flight. Minsk to New Dehli, with a change of flights in Ukraine. The FA had offered to send their plane for me, but I would have lost half a day waiting for it, so it was quicker to jump on a scheduled flight. I was met and whisked to a city centre hotel, where I met the people who would become my new employers. The South Asian nation of India is the 7th largest in the World by area, and the 2nd most populated on the globe with over a billion citizens, and growing rapidly still. Cricket and Tennis are by far the most popular sports in the country, football competing with hockey for a top three spot. But this nation has never produced a global household name in the Worlds most popular sport. Now the hierarchy want to push the nation forward, and frankly, that is pretty much the only place India can go in football. As of today, with 208 nations officially ranked by FIFA, this nation sits in 202nd place. Only San Marino, Aruba, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Laos and Somalia are ranked lower by the games Worldwide governing body. We hold just four ranking points right now, and to put that in perspective, current number one ranked nation Italy has 2,119 points. The FA of India has in fact been part of the problem. The nation that counts Pakistan and Bangladesh as it's most fierce rivals hasn't played a Senior game for over 18 months. When India were predictably, but bravely, beaten by Qatar in October 2011 in the First Round of the Asian Zone Qualifiers for the FIFA 2014 World Cup, the FA then neglected to arrange any Friendly matches. So the only matches the nation played in 2012 were the Qualifiers for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which are played on an Under-23 format. With no football, India lost ranking points that were no longer valid, and tumbled down the rankings. That in turn led to India falling below the threshold to be included in the Preliminary Round Qualifiers for the 2015 Asian Nations Cup, which are in progress right now. That's a terrible mistake to make by an FA that always has been, and still very much is, convinced that there are plenty of young talented footballers amongst their vast population. At this point, with the domestic season just finishing, there are 924 professional or semi-professional footballers who qualify for India, either solely, or along with another nation. One of my main tasks will be to nurture the nations young footballers. Frankly, that is a job that will be delegated. The age group sides (U-23, U-21, U-20 & U-19) have been neglected almost as badly as the Senior side. Back in 2012, they did take part in the Asian Under-19 Championships, losing to Australia and Kuwait and beating Syria in the tournament held in China. The nation has a developing domestic game, the Indian National Football League is dominated by two clubs however. Mohun Began and East Bengal are streets ahead of the other ten clubs, and between them they usually hoover up most of Indian footballs young talent. A thriving transfer market sees player regularly move clubs for a extra couple of pounds a week, and not always for the better welfare of their careers. It's not uncommon for players to join less competitive non-League sides who can pay them a little more due to better sponsorship. The League operates a rule that permits no more than three foreign players per club. For a developing league that is trying to strike a happy balance, it could probably do with being increased to five to allow the clubs to try and attract more marquee players, and for the domestic players to have further opportunities to learn from professionals from nations with greater football development. Several clubs have not bothered with foreign players at all, mostly due to the increased cost. For those that have indulged in foreign players, they mostly come from African nations, Ghana and Nigeria featuring primarily. There is of course a sprinkling of Brazilians, like an Irish Bar, you are never really far from a Brazilian footballer. A few have now spent the five years required to be classed as residents in India, and as such can be called up to play. This is something the Indian FA have not really been in favour of. Well, I can tell you right now, it will be happening. While we are 202nd in the World and not even ranked high enough to take part in the Qualifiers for the Continents major Championship, we will be taking any advantage we can to climb those rankings as quickly as possible. With that goal in mind, I will be selecting our opponents very carefully. Special attention will be paid to the Rankings and opportunities to move past fellow Asian nations. We will be looking to move up around fifty spots to get alongside the likes of Hong Kong, Vietnam and Bangladesh who were amongst the nations who featured in the Preliminary Qualifying Round. Other nations to find themselves on the outside looking in like ourselves were the likes of Malaysia and The Philippines. We won't be going and chasing games against big nations right now, we'll be looking to match ourselves against nations we think we can beat to try and move forward, and hopefully install a winning mentality. Something else that the FA haven't really taken a liking to is their players moving abroad. That will also, I hope, start to change. Indian players becoming exposed to football overseas and improving their game would be of huge benefit to us as a nation, and those players that take the leap will find themselves with increased chances to feature in the International squad if they can make the move and get regular football. Right now, the highest rated player in Indian football is plying his trade in France. 6'4 striker Shafiqul Islam Chowdhury is a second string player with League Un club AS Saint-Etienne, and is a dual national. He is nowhere near good enough to be coveted by France, and the 19 year old Kolkata born player has been capped seven times at Under-21 level, netting three goals. There is another forward playing further down the levels in France, a defender in Belgium, one of the nations most popular players is making his living in Vietnam, and a defensive midfielder in Italy. It's not like we have nothing at all to work with, otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to come here. After an overnight in New Dehli, and a press conference to announce my appointment, a meeting with the FA sees the roles for managers of the age group sides filled. Finally, before I board the Indian FA's plane to head back to Belarus for Lokomotiv Minsk's midweek game, we arrange a pair of home Friendly matches for next month, both of which I am confident we can take wins from to get the ball rolling. We will play both matches in Kolkata's 120,000 capacity Salt Lake Stadium, first hosting Sri Lanka (199th) on Saturday 8th June, before stepping it up to face Thailand (115th) on Wednesday 12th June. Asian nations, much like their African counterparts, are prone to changing their managers often, including almost routinely after major tournaments. With that in mind, my time in India may prove to be short, and from a purely selfish point of view, I am here to attempt to enhance my own footballing reputation. If India's football fortunes improve as a direct result, even better. ----------------------------------------------------- Welcome, This save is now almost two years old in real time, and just short of five years old in game time. After success in the original part, where the fortunes of Northern Irish minnow club Lurgan Celtic were drastically improved, I moved across the Irish Sea to try and perform a similar feat with Ayr United in Scotland's third tier. Sadly, that didn't quite go to plan, as we were denied promotion with defeats in the Promotion Playoff Semi-Finals in successive years, also denied success in the League Challenge Cup with a defeat to Raith Rovers in the Final. A third crack at promotion was dealt a blow when the Scottish season didn't click on to the new campaign after 2011/12, and I made the move to Eastern Europe, where I am now in charge of second tier club Lokomotiv Minsk, where we have three wins from four matches in the early stages of the 2013 season. If you have not read the progress of the save, you can catch up of course if you wish, the links are included below..... Part#1 Part#2 Part#3 Now I have accepted an offer to dip my toe into the International game after previously rejecting offers from Netherlands Antilles and Liechtenstein. This thread will be updated as and when we reach International Windows, including squad announcements, match reports and anything else that impacts on the International Football fortunes of India. Grateful thanks to FMS stalwart writer @CFuller who used this method to seperate a joint save previously on these boards, and gave his permission when I asked if he would mind me replicating it. Enjoy the story, and as always, feel free to ask any questions you may have. ------------------------------------------------------
  2. Sunday 28th April 2013 If ever there was a case of a club hitting the self destruct button, I present you with 'Exhibit A'. Two time Champions of England, and once FA Cup Winners, they have really hit the skids at Derby County. Three relegations in five seasons, and seven managers sacked in the same time frame. Actually, make that eight, as with County now relegated down to the Blue Square Premier, the latest manager to be shown the door is Harry Dunn. The former manager at Blyth Spartans, who then had six months with Bury before being sacked by them, Dunn lasted only five months at Pride Park, and led The Rams to rock bottom of the Football League. With their financial problems now seemingly behind them, a stadium that holds 33,500 fans, though their average has dropped to only just above the 10,000 mark, the next job is to persuade their mix of best young players and Football League experienced veterans to stay and help the club bounce back, before they sink into oblivion. Things may be going very well in Minsk, but I would jump at the chance to take on that job. I throw my own name into the mix. It's not to be though, as by the end of the day, and 24 hours after Dunn was sacked, they have announced his replacement. In a twist of fate, the arrival is a Lurgan lad, where I started my career. 55 year old former Bristol City, Wrexham, Tranmere Rovers and Crewe Alexandra manager Jim Harvey has taken on his third manager role, leaving Forest Green Rovers after nearly seven years to move to Pride Park. He then immediately gets their fans back up, announcing that he sees his move to County as a stepping stone to a move in the right direction for himself. Unsurprisingly, that statement went down pretty badly in the East Midlands. Monday 29th April Nikolay Shvydakov is the only Lokomotiv Minsk representative in the latest edition of the First League Team of the Week. FC Baranovichi have sold left winger Yury Miroshnichenko to Lithuanian club FK Atlantas Klaipeda, and we have a 20% sell on agreement after he left our club in 2012. That's the good news. The bad news is that Atlantas paid nothing up front, and will pay £5,000 over the next two years, giving us a huge windfall of £1,000. Not exactly a game changer. Tuesday 30th April Tomorrow is a huge early season game against the favourites for promotion this season, Belshina Bobruisk. Home advantage and some very impressive early season form has given us the advantage according to the bookies. 39 year old Belshina boss Alexandr Sednev has spoken to the press, and announced that his side are very confident of earning a win from their trip to Minsk. I reply that there is a significant amount of doubt over Belshina's promotion credentials, after they lost their first away match of the season, beaten by Savit Mogilev last time out. Wednesday 1st May 2013 We move into a new month, and the Board remain satisfied with how things are going, in particular with our 2-0 win over Darida last time out in the Minsk Derby. A financial loss of £45,000 is really not an issue, we are on a sound footing when it comes to cash. Alexandr Sednev continues the trash talk, stating that his side are very confident for tonight's match, and that his team fear no-one. Confidence isn't exactly short here at Lokomotiv either, especially with the news that I have been named Manager of the Month for April. It's the fifth monthly honour of my career, and my first at Lokomotiv. That allows the press to give me a right to reply, and I tell them that I'm looking forward to seeing my side extend their winning run tonight, and overpowering Belshina in the process. Belarusian First League Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Belshina Bobruisk Attendance :- 930. Weather :- Wet, 7c. Some rotation has been put in place for our midweek match tonight with another game coming up this weekend. Maxim Ivanenko is switched out of the matchday squad, with Maxim Gukailo starting at left back and on loan potential debutant Nikolay Mironov brought onto the substitutes bench. Alexandr Degterev is also left out of today's squad, with weekend goalscorer Evgeniy Drozd starting in the midfield, with Alexandr Kozlov starting on the left wing, Georgy Schennikov left out of the squad. Alexey Razmyslovich and Djeykhun Mursalov are both on the bench for the first time this season. Evgeniy Drozd may be playing in the centre of the park today, but that didn't stop him spreading out the ball from wide. He picked out Nikolay Shvydakov, who showed excellent control, but his shot across goal was just slightly too high. Eduard Chudnovsky provided the next ball into the box, Alexey Rios the recipient this time, cutting back across goal before pinging in a left foot shot that came back off the cross bar. Chudnovsky would go for goal himself next time midway through the half, but his shot took a deflection that took it away from the goal. Rios' next attempt didn't even get that close, blocked before troubling Andriy Novak. A few minutes later, Rios was in full flight, hurdling a challenge and making it into the penalty box, before he felt he was brought down, the ref did not agree. The second half finished with a bit of a whimper, both teams giving the ball away, thankfully them more than us. Alexandr Kozlov intercepted a pass easily, but his cross just missed the head of Sergey Krot. Goalless after a first half that saw Belshina lose two players with injuries, we continued to set about them early in the second half, Rios again involved with a superb dribble down the right, this time his cross was met by Shvydakov, but again the skipper couldn't keep his shot down. He tried again quarter of an hour later, but his shot was right at Novak. Finally, midway through the second half, Chudnovsky's corner was sent to the far post. Maxim Gorbach was afforded the time to bring the ball down, but he was at a very acute angle to goal. Cleverly, he used defender Dmitriy Rogovik, who fell for the trap, hanging out a leg to block his shot, and instead it hit his knee and flew in, Gorbach credited with the goal as his shot was on target. With a lead to defend now, I made some changes. Mariusz Kaczmarek came on to make his debut for the club, and a little while later a tired Rios and fairly ineffective Krot both came off as well, Alexey Razmyslovich and Djeykhun Mursalov making their first appearances of the season. Kaczmarek tried to mark his Lokomotiv debut in style, but his shot from 20 yards out was lacking power. With Belshina failing to cause us any real problems, I brought on another debutant late on as we killed the clock, young Russian left back Nikolay Mironov also making his Lokomotiv bow, as we made it three out of three! Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 1 - Maxim Gorbach (68) Belshina Bobruisk (0) 0 Vladimir Zuhbaia; Dmitry Chaka, Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Gorbach, Maxim Gukailo (Nikolay Mironov 89); Eduard Chudnovsky, Evgeniy Drozd (Mariusz Kaczmarek 74); Alexey Rios (Alexey Razmyslovich 82), Alexandr Kozlov; Sergey Krot (Djeykhun Mursalov 82), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Alexey Yesipenok, Dmitry Biryukov (GK), Lukasz Zuk. Bookings :- None Possession :- 64% - 36%. Man of the Match :- Maxim Gorbach (Lokomotiv Minsk). I don't like my match reports to come across as one sided or biased. However, this time I had no choice. Belshina might be one of the favourites for promotion, but they had only just over a third of the possession, no shots on or off target, and not even a corner! Three out of three, and we have yet to concede a goal too. Friday 3rd May The failure to get, or even really be seriously considered for the job at Derby County has continued to irk me. I have to increase my reputation, and a potential opportunity has arisen today. Two International jobs have become vacant. One would be a long shot at best, while the other is one you would like to think I would have a pretty reasonable chance of getting. I apply for both. Meanwhile, tomorrow will see us travel for the second time this season in the First League, and we face a stern test with a trip to fourth placed Savit Mogilev. They won their two openers, first away to Zvezda-BGU Minsk and then at home to Belshina Bobruisk, before being beaten away to Vertical Kalinkovichi in midweek. They have been through a fairly major squad overhaul during the winter as they look to push themselves up into promotion contention, and they have also clinched a deal to sign a highly rated Ukrainian Under-19 International from PFC Desna-Partner Chernigiv this coming summer. That is the same club that striker Olexandr Golikov signed for after we released him at the end of his contract following the 2012 campaign. Saturday 4th May Belarusian First League Torpedo Stadium, Mogilev Savit Mogilev v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 1,341. Weather :- Dry, -3c. Another bitterly cold and sub zero Saturday afternoon in this corner of Eastern Europe, as Winter flatly refused to give way to Spring in Belarus. The temperature was in the low 20's back in the UK. Todays changes see a return to goal for Dmitry Biryukov, and also a return at left back for Maxim Ivanenko, meaning Maxim Gukailo drops to the bench and Nikolay Mironov doesn't travel with the First Team squad today. In the only other change to the starting lineup, Lukasz Zuk partners Nikolay Shvydakov up front, with Sergey Krot dropped to the bench. He is joined there by Alexandr Degterev and Georgy Schennikov, both recalled to the matchday squad today, Djeykhun Mursalov is left out. The recalled Dmitry Biryukov was called into action very early, Evgeny Savostjanov and Roman Trepachkin passed their way through our midfield far too easily, and Dmytro Brovkhin was played into our penalty box, Biryukov getting off his line quickly and blocking the orange ball that was in use today. He did put the ball in the net moments later, but he was clearly offside and that one was chalked off. In the 13th minute we finally started to get ourselves going, Maxim Ivanenko squaring the ball for Eduard Chudnovsky, and he let fly from 25 yards with a shot aimed at the top corner, Mikhail Komarov only just getting fingertips to it at the last second, a superb save. It's not very often that I have to report we were second best, but we were behind the play today, and Savostjanov played a neat pass to Maxim Tsigalko, his shot beating Biryukov but curling just wide of the target. But just after the half hour mark we were undone, Ivan Petruchik sliding the pass to Brovkhin, and his first touch got him inside of a turned Vladimir Malykh, and the striker then shot back across goal and just inside the post to hand Savit the advantage. We would have much to do in the second half. For the first time this season I would have to raise my voice to my players, and I made my point further by making a trio of half time changes. Evgeniy Drozd, Alexandr Kozlov and Lukasz Zuk all came off, Alexandr Degterev, Georgy Schennikov and Sergey Krot coming on in their place. We started to make some inroads, Degterev finding a little space but blasting his shot high and wide as he tried to beat Komarov at his near post. An Alexey Rios header from a Chudnovsky header was turned over by Komarov as we tried to ratchet up the pressure on our hosts. We weren't getting through though, and with less than ten minutes to go, we had to go for it. Ivanenko came off, Maxim Gukailo came on to play in a midfield duo with three at the back, Chudnovsky behind the strikers and the wingers pushed right up the park, we were aiming to get the ball up field as quickly as possible. Nothing though. Savit dealt with us easily, and we created nothing. Our winning run was at an end much earlier than I would have hoped. Savit Mogilev (1) 1 - Dmytro Brovkin (32) Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Gorbach, Maxim Ivanenko (Maxim Gukailo 82); Eduard Chudnovsky, Evgeniy Drozd (Alexandr Degterev 45); Alexey Rios, Alexandr Kozlov (Georgy Schennikov 45); Lukasz Zuk (Sergey Krot 45), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Alexey Yesipenok, Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Alexey Razmyslovich. Bookings :- None Possession :- 49% - 51%. Man of the Match :- Dmytro Brovkin (Savit Mogilev). Our achilles heel has been our away form since I got here, and after a win in a Minsk Derby, I thought we had turned the corner. Apparently not. We were nowhere near good enough today, and our good start has been undone, though we are at least still top of the table on goal difference, with three other clubs all joining us on nine points. We have work to do....... ......so maybe this isn't the best time to increase my workload. But that is exactly what is going to happen.......
  3. Tuesday 23rd April 2013 It's bad news for our 19 year old newcomer in midfield, Igor Zangiev. The Free Transfer signing from Dinamo Minsk has overdone it in the weights room, and has suffered a back strain. That will keep the once capped Belarus Under-21 International out of action for anything up to a month. Thursday 25th April With the preparations for the weekends game in full swing, a spanner has been thrown into the works with the loss of another of our midfielders. Yuriy Ryzhko felt unwell in training today, and after being checked over he has been diagnosed as having a virus. To minimise the risk of him passing the virus on to anyone else, he has been sent home, and will be out for anything up to two weeks. Friday 26th April That game we have been preparing for is the first of our 'Minsk Derby' meetings for the season, as we make the short trip to meet Darida-TDZh tomorrow. Home advantage has given them a slight edge in the opinion of the bookmakers. They may have a point, as since the save began, Lokomotiv have won only once against Darida in eight meetings, and that was the one game I was in charge for against them back in early September. However, our away form has been less than superb. They did lose their opener a fortnight ago though, losing away to Belshina Bobruisk. Saturday 27th April Belarusian First League Darida Kuncevschina, Minsk Darida-TDZh v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 1,565. Weather :- Gusty, -2c. Football is going through a bit of a boom in Minsk, and despite sub zero temperatures before the wind chill is even added on, it's another larger than expected crowd for this one. Vladimir Zuhbaia takes over from Dmitry Biryukov in goal, while Alexandr Degterev comes into the midfield in place of the ill Yuriy Ryzhko. That leaves a spare place on the bench, which is covered by a player hoping for a debut this afternoon, Mariusz Kaczmarek. Alexandr Degterev almost got us off to a flying start, picking up a pass from Georgy Schennikov but sending his shot over the cross bar. At the other end of the park, Alexey Petrov gave Vladimir Zuhbaia a fairly easy starter to settle him down, that shot was right at the keeper. With our keeper settled, the game did the same, unfortunately for those in attendance into a bit of a slog. Home skipper Kirill Vertinskiy earned himself a booking, and that would cause problems down their left side. His caution meant he could do nothing about Alexey Rios when Degterev sent him beyond the defensive line. The winger got all the way to the byline, and aimed a low cross at Sergey Krot, the ball hitting the heels of Alexey Dybo and almost flying into the corner of his own net. The last chance of the half would fall our way a few minutes before the break. Krot pushed a through ball into the path of Nikolay Shvydakov, and the first touch wasn't brilliant, a little too far ahead of himself and giving Valeriy Fomichev a chance to get off his line. But it was Eugene Kovtunov who applied the pressure as he chased back, and Shvydakov went down under what he felt was a shove in the back. Nothing doing said the ref, so goalless at the break. Straight from the restart, we put Darida under some intense pressure. An Eduard Chudnovsky corner kick was headed against the cross bar by Maxim Gorbach, and Vladimir Malykh figured he had an easy finish as the loose ball bounced up perfectly for him, but his header goalwards was cleared off the line. Degterev had a penalty shout turned down when his standing leg was taken from him as he was taking a shot, but the ref said no once again. Another Alexandr came close too, but it was Tarlikovskiy at the other end, his thundering effort only just flying wide of the mark. A pair of changes were made, Maxim Gukailo brought on for a Lokomotiv debut after his namesake Ivanenko earned a booking and then nearly got another right after. Even with that situation dealt with, we were so close to going behind, Petrov meeting a corner at the far post, but his header hit the top of the bar and went over. Krot should have put us in front with ten minutes left, a long diagonal ball over the top of the defence sent the striker in on goal, but Fomichev saved it with his legs. When Rios couldn't make the most of a superb cross from Gukailo, I turned to the bench once more, and within moments we broke the deadlock. Zuhbaia's clearance up the park was huge, Shvydakov won it in the air to knock it out to earlier sub Evgeniy Drozd, and he took a touch to settle the ball, and then used a second to scorch a 25 yard piledriver into the top corner for his first Lokomotiv goal. To make it even sweeter, he got to celebrate in front of the small corner pen section that housed the visiting Lokomotiv fans too! We should have had a quick second, Shvydakov couldn't quite keep down a header from an Alexandr Kozlov cross with the net gaping in front of him. No matter, there was still a cherry to go on top of the cake. Gukailo hoisted the ball into the sky, and Shvydakov read it better, getting goal side of Eduard Zimakov. He got into the box, and even survived an attempt by the defender to wrestle him to the turf, before slotting a low finish into the bottom corner. Today, Minsk belongs to us! Darida-TDZh (0) 0 Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 2 - Evgeniy Drozd (84), Nikolay Shvydakov (89) Vladimir Zuhbaia; Dmitry Chaka, Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Gorbach, Maxim Ivanenko (Maxim Gukailo 68); Eduard Chudnovsky, Alexandr Degterev (Evgeniy Drozd 68); Alexey Rios, Georgy Schennikov (Alexandr Kozlov 81); Sergey Krot (Lukasz Zuk 81), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Alexey Yesipenok, Dmitry Biryukov (GK), Mariusz Kaczmarek. Bookings :- Maxim Ivanenko 64 Possession :- 38% - 62%. Man of the Match :- Nikolay Shvydakov (Lokomotiv Minsk). Two games in, and we have already sprinted to the top of the League, scoring six times and yet to concede a goal at all. We have a Minsk Derby victory under our belts, and even better yet, a superb away performance to boot. Attendances are on the up, fans and media are starting to take notice of us, our reputation is increasing, and the players are enjoying themselves. What a time to be alive........ ..........or, what a time to head back to the UK!........
  4. Sunday 14th April 2013 Belarusian First League Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Livadia Dzerzhinsk Attendance :- 749. Weather :- Wet, 15c. Clearly it wasn't the good weather that attracted a crowd almost double the normal home attendance, as we kicked off our season with the stadium around a third full, but the rain pouring down. We might have made several new signings over the winter, but there are no debutants starting today, with the side that finished the season selected to begin the 2013 campaign. There are four potential new Lokomotiv players in waiting on the bench however should they be required. Our players were encouraged to put down a marker for the season and get the job done, and get it done well. We would get an early fright however, Vitaliy Shuganov knocking the ball down and Vladimir Karasev catching it with a half volley that was only a whisker wide of the post. Normal service, or at least what we were expecting that to be, quickly resumed however, with Georgy Schennikov in particular causing the First League newcomers some major problems. He earned us a corner in the 14th minute, and Eduard Chudnovsky whipped it towards the far post, where teenage left back Maxim Ivanenko met it with a glancing header, netting the opener, and his first ever Senior goal. Not wishing to be left out, the right side soon got in on the act. Alexey Rios looked to have run into a dead end, but he solved his problem by playing a one-two with Yuriy Ryzhko, and then crossing into the middle. Shvydakov brought the ball down, and then hit it as it rose back up off the grass, slamming it high into the roof of the net to make it a quickfire double for us to settle any opening day nerves. Sergey Krot twice came close to extending our lead still further, before we won another corner on the left. This time Chudnovsky's delivery was over hit, but Maxim Gorbach kept it from floating out, and when he headed it across goal, Alexander Gavrilovich used his hand to prevent Ivanenko getting another header at goal. Captain Shvydakov stepped up, and drove the penalty low into the bottom corner to push our advantage out to a three goal lead. That lead was still in place at half time as the foot came off the gas a little. All had gone very much to plan in that first half, and the players were asked to keep up their work rate in the second half. The worsening conditions were not helping with good football though, Andrey Arkhiptsev's shot from range took a deflection and what should have been fairly straightforward for Dmitry Biryukov to keep in play saw the keeper slide behind the byline, unable to prevent his momentum carrying himself and ball out of play. Those conditions were making chances more difficult to come by, and Chudnovsky's shot from range that was off target was all we managed before I made two changes, Evgeniy Drozd and Lukasz Zuk coming on for their Lokomotiv debuts. Ivanenko and Malykh put in well timed tackles to preserve our clean sheet, while Zuk was putting in tackles at the other end, rushing defenders and making them cough up the ball. That led to a corner, though we made nothing from that set piece. But after two more substitutions, including Alexandr Degterev coming on for his debut, we did make a set piece routine work. It was a free kick this time, Drozd curling it in from the left wing over the heads of everyone, apart from the fourth sub, Alexandr Kozlov, who met it with a controlled volley that gave us our fourth goal on a superb opening day. Lokomotiv Minsk (3) 4 - Maxim Ivanenko (14), Nikolay Shvydakov (16, 27 pen), Alexandr Kozlov (83) Livadia Dzerzhinsk (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Gorbach, Maxim Ivanenko; Eduard Chudnovsky, Yuriy Ryzhko (Alexandr Degterev 74); Alexey Rios (Evgeniy Drozd 61), Georgy Schennikov (Alexandr Kozlov 74); Sergey Krot (Lukasz Zuk 61), Nikolay Shvydakov ©. Unused Substitutes :- Alexey Yesipenok, Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Maxim Gukailo. Bookings :- None Possession :- 55% - 45%. Man of the Match :- Maxim Ivanenko (Lokomotiv Minsk). The bar has been set, and I now expect to see my squad deal with clubs in that manner on a regular basis at Lokomotiv Stadium. Hopefully it keeps the attendance levels up at a new found level too. It was worth noting that the players worked really hard late in the game to ensure that Livadia didn't get a sniff of a consolation goal to ruin our clean sheet. There was a disappointment though. And that is that we didn't have another game right away. We would now have to wait almost a fortnight before we could get back out on the park and play again. That's a little frustrating for us. Monday 15th April Maxim Ivanenko and Nikolay Shvydakov are both named in the First League Team of the Week from the opening weekend of the new campaign. Tuesday 16th April On his 17th birthday, left winger and one of our best young prospects at the club, Yury Murashov, has signed a new three year deal with the club on £35 per week. He had an excellent first campaign with our Reserve side SKVICh last year, notching three goals and two assists in thirteen matches.
  5. 2013 Lokomotiv Minsk Pen Pictures Goalkeepers :- Dmitry Biryukov (GK). 20 years old. Belarusian (Under-19 International). 6'1. 13 stone 0 lbs. Contract :- 5 years, £40 per week. Value :- £3,000 Joined Club :- 2008 on a Youth Contract. Career Record :- League Matches - 25. Goals Conceded - 25. Clean Sheets - 8. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 25. Goals Conceded - 25. Clean Sheets - 8. Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK). 27 years old. Georgian (Under-21 International - 1 Cap/0 Goals). 6'4. 13 stone 7 lbs. Contract :- 1 year, £575 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2008 on a Free Transfer from Spartak Nalchik (Russian Premier Division). Career Record :- League Matches - 43. Goals Conceded - 46. Clean Sheets - 9. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 42. Goals Conceded - 46. Clean Sheets - 9. -------------------------- Defenders :- Dmitry Chaka (RB,CB). 22 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 2 Caps/0 Goals). 6'0. 12 stone 10 lbs. Contract :- 1 year, £110 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from Slavia Mozyr for £2,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 57. Goals - 2. Assists - 1. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 15. Goals - 1. Assists - 0. Maxim Ivanenko (LB). 18 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 2 Caps/0 Goals). 5'11. 12 stone 3 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £40 per week. Value :- £20,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from Dinamo Minsk for £20,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 11. Goals - 0. Assists - 4. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 11. Goals - 0. Assists - 4. Nikolay Mironov (LB). 19 years old. Russian (Uncapped). 6'0. 12 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 1 season loan, £0 per week. Value :- £12,000 Joined Club :- 2013 on loan from Amkar Perm (Russian Premier Division) Career Record :- League Matches - 1. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Maxim Gukailo (LB,CB,DM,CM). 33 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'3. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £400 per week. Value :- £3,000 Joined Club :- 2013 on a Free Transfer from Shakhter Soligorsk Career Record :- League Matches - 253. Goals - 10. Assists - 22. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Vladimir Malykh (CB). 21 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 11 Caps/0 Goals). 6'1. 13 stone 5 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £550 per week. Value :- £4,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from FC Vitebsk for £2,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 33. Goals - 3. Assists - 0. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 12. Goals - 3. Assists - 0. Alexey Yesipenok (CB,DM,CM). 24 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'3. 13 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £190 per week. Value :- £3,000 Joined Club :- 2009 from BATE Borisov for £1,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 78. Goals - 4. Assists - 9. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 78. Goals - 4. Assists - 9. Mariusz Kaczmarek (CB,DM,CM). 20 years old. Belarusian (Under-19 International). 6'3. 14 stone 0 lbs. Contract :- 4 years, £300 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2013 from Belshina Bobruisk for £2,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 14. Goals - 2. Assists - 0. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Maxim Gorbach (CB,DM,CM). 29 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'1. 13 stone 5 lbs. Contract :- 1 year, £775 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2010 on a Free Transfer from Neman Grodno Career Record :- League Matches - 233. Goals - 15. Assists - 10. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 87. Goals - 1. Assists - 9. Egor Romanovskiy (RB). 17 years old. Belarusian (Under-19 International). 5'10. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £75 per week. Value :- £12,000 Joined Club :- 2013 from BATE Borisov for £12,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. -------------------------- Midfielders/Wingers Yuriy Ryzhko (CB,DM,CM). 23 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 8 Caps/0 Goals). 6'4. 13 stone 7 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £900 per week. Value :- £16,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from BATE Borisov for £28,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 61. Goals - 2. Assists - 2. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 13. Goals - 2. Assists - 0. Georgy Schennikov (LB,LM). 21 years old. Russian (Under-21 International - 6 Caps/1 Goal). 5'10. 10 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £600 per week. Value :- £5,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from Dinamo Brest for £35,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 61. Goals - 2. Assists - 8. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 25. Goals - 1. Assists - 4. Alexey Rios (RM,CM). 25 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 2 Caps/0 Goals). 5'11. 11 stone 9 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £250 per week. Value :- £4,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from FC Vitebsk for £3,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 74. Goals - 7. Assists - 4. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 16. Goals - 3. Assists - 3. Alexey Razmyslovich (RW,LW). 28 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'11. 12 stone 12 lbs. Contract :- 1 year, £575 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2010 from Veras Nesvizh for £7,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 217. Goals - 22. Assists - 27. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 55. Goals - 7. Assists - 14. Alexandr Kozlov (LW). 20 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 7 Caps/0 Goals). 6'0. 12 stone 10 lbs. Contract :- 4 years, £250 per week. Value :- £12,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from Spartak Shklov for £20,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 43. Goals - 5. Assists - 9. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 8. Goals - 1. Assists - 1. Eduard Chudnovsky (CM,RM). 22 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 4 Caps/1 Goal). 5'10. 11 stone 13 lbs. Contract :- 1 year, £170 per week. Value :- £1,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from Dnepr Mogilev from £2,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 53. Goals - 3. Assists - 8. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 15. Goals - 1. Assists - 6. Igor Zangiev (CM). 19 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 1 Cap/0 Goals). 6'0. 12 stone 8 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £100 per week. Value :- £3,000 Joined Club :- 2013 on a Free Transfer from Dinamo Minsk Career Record :- League Matches - 3. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Alexandr Degterev (RW,LW,AM). 27 years old. Belarusian (Under-21 International - 12 Caps/1 Goal). 5'11. 11 stone 0 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £600 per week. Value :- £10,000 Joined Club :- 2013 from Dinamo Brest for £10,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 156. Goals - 24. Assists - 11. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Evgeniy Drozd (RW,AM). 24 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'8. 11 stone 9 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £325 per week. Value :- £35,000 Joined Club :- 2013 from FC Baranovichi for £35,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 141. Goals - 7. Assists - 28. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. -------------------------- Strikers :- Nikolay Shvydakov (AM,RW,ST). 32 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 5'9. 10 stone 7 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £850 per week. Value :- £8,000 Joined Club :- 2006 (second spell) on a Free Transfer from Naftan Novopolotsk Career Record :- League Matches - 252. Goals - 70. Assists - 10. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 194. Goals - 62. Assists - 10. Lukasz Zuk (AM,ST). 20 years old. Belarusian (Under-19 International). 5'11. 11 stone 11 lbs. Contract :- 3 years, £120 per week. Value :- £4,000 Joined Club :- 2013 on a Free Transfer from Dinamo Minsk Career Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 0. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Djeykhun Mursalov (ST). 22 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'0. 13 stone 3 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £220 per week. Value :- £22,000 Joined Club :- 2012 from Kommunalnik Zhlobin for £60,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 46. Goals - 10. Assists - 2. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 11. Goals - 0. Assists - 0. Sergey Krot (ST). 32 years old. Belarusian (Uncapped). 6'4. 11 stone 13 lbs. Contract :- 2 years, £250 per week. Value :- £2,000 Joined Club :- 2012 (second spell) from Khimik Svetlogorsk for £1,000 Career Record :- League Matches - 229. Goals - 51. Assists - 2. Lokomotiv Record :- League Matches - 63. Goals - 12. Assists - 1. --------------------------
  6. Friday 22nd March 2013 With plenty of cash in the club coffers, including almost half of the Transfer Budget and over 15% of an increased Wage Budget remaining as well, I have no qualms about offering the squad an increased bonus pot for the League this season. Should we win the Title this season, they will share a kitty of £63,000, with another £50,000 on offer for success in the Belarusian Cup. Sunday 24th March Tomorrow evening we will complete our pre-season schedule with a match away to non-League outfit, Volna Pinsk. They are an ambitious semi-professional club who have some good financial backing and have brought in some good players. The jewel in their crown however is 17 year old forward Pavel Kosmin, a local player who has pushed his way into the Belarus Under-19 squad. Monday 25th March Pre-Season Friendly Volna Stadium, Pinsk Volna Pinsk v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 474. Weather :- Dry, 14c. With several players away on International duty, primarily in Israel with the Belarus age group sides, it's a small squad that make the trip to Pinsk. The starting lineup isn't too badly impacted, Maxim Gukailo replaces Maxim Ivanenko at left back, Vladimir Malykh is missing at centre back, so Alexey Yesipenok steps in. With Djeykhun Mursalov injured, Lukasz Zuk is starting up front today alongside Nikolay Shvydakov. We have just six on the bench today as I decline to call up players from the Reserve side, so a few are going to be playing the full ninety minutes for the first time. Pinsk are a club on the up, and they were certainly up for this match. Inside the opening minute Vitaliy Kibuk's shot was blocked by Dmitry Chaka, and the ball spun into the path of Vladimir Petrov. His low shot beat Dmitry Biryukov. but cannoned back off the far post. We gathered ourselves quickly, and Georgy Schennikov got a cross in from the left at the second attempt, Alexey Rios connecting with a ferocious volley that crashed back off the angle of the goal frame. The end to end play with continued with Kibuk's shot on the turn forcing a full stretch save out of Biryukov, the keeper also having to throw himself at Nikolay Shinkarev's feet from the rebound. Schennikov passed up a chance to cross a little while later, and his cut back just missed Rios. But he nearly got lucky when he swung in a corner that came back off the face off the cross bar. The best chance for us of the first half so far would follow when Lukasz Zuk managed to earn a yard of space, and cut the ball back to full back Chaka at the edge of the box, but he blazed his shot well over the bar. We were at least starting to build some momentum though, and it would pay off right before the break. Zuk held the ball up, and the ball was played through Eduard Chudnovsky, and then Yuriy Ryzhko, who picked out Nikolay Shvydakov inside the box, and he buried his shot just inside the near post to send us into the break a goal to the good. I made five of my six available changes at half time, leaving on loan left back Nikolay Mironov on the bench, as he hasn't been overly impressive so far in pre-season. Pinsk made several changes of their own at the break, and one of them, Sergey Tarasov, took a shot from just outside the box that took a huge deflection and once more tested Biryukov, who had to get back across his goalmouth and hold on to the ball. That was followed by an acrobatic save from a Petrov drive as the youngster continued to show why he was currently holding onto his spot as our first choice keeper. His next stop midway through the half was reasonably comfortable, Stanislav Byshovets curler lacked the power to really trouble Biryukov. The next chance would be ten minutes later, and was something our fans were becoming used to seeing, as we took full advantage of a set piece. Chudnovsky swung it in to the centre, and Mariusz Kaczmarek rose between two markers and powered his header just under the cross bar to stretch our lead to two goals. I thought that would knock the fight right out of Pinsk, but they kept coming, and with less than five minutes to play, the ball found it's way to Tarasov. His shot curled past Biryukov, but once more the woodwork intervened. The ball came back off the bar, and as it bounced back up, Byshovets headed it goalwards. Biryukov saved his best till last, getting back to his feet and reaching back to tip that one over the bar. A superb showing from the 20 year old. Volna Pinsk (0) 0 Lokomotiv Minsk (1) 2 - Nikolay Shvydakov (45+1), Mariusz Kaczmarek (77) Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka, Alexey Yesipenok, Maxim Gorbach (Mariusz Kaczmarek 45), Maxim Gukailo; Eduard Chudnovsky, Yuriy Ryzhko (Alexandr Degterev 45); Alexey Rios (Evgeniy Drozd 45), Georgy Schennikov (Alexey Razmyslovich 45); Lukasz Zuk, Nikolay Shvydakov © (Sergey Krot 45). Unused Substitutes :- Nikolay Mironov. Bookings :- None Possession :- 45% - 55%. Man of the Match :- Mariusz Kaczmarek (Lokomotiv Minsk). Pre-Season is over, and Dmitry Biryukov finished it in style, denying Volna Pinsk on multiple occasions, with some really top notch saves too. With Vladimir Zuhbaia away on International duty, and again not earning his first cap for Georgia, the younger keeper seems to have just tightened his grip on the number one jersey. While our game was going on, in Israel, sixteen year old left winger Yury Murashov played the entire game in Belarus Under-19's single goal defeat to their hosts. Egor Romanovsky also played the entire match, wearing the armband too, while striker Andrey Volodzko was substituted after 51 minutes, just moments after young BATE midfielder Mikhail Vysotskiy was sent off for a second yellow, and just a minute before Maccabi Tel-Aviv winger Adnan Al-Kharashi netted the winner. Tuesday 26th March The Under-21's played out a much more frantic game this evening. Potential wonderkid Alex Yosef of Hapoel Tel-Aviv scored inside a minute, only to see Volyn Lutsk defensive midfielder Roman Klymenko level a few minutes later. And Belarus would hold the lead at the break thanks to a goal from Neman Grodno striker Anatoliy Kolotsey. But Israel would come right back after the break, Maccabi Petach-Tikva attacking midfielder Yoel Goldstein levelled things on his Under-21 debut, and Ya-acov Balestra of Kiryat-Shmona increased his sensational record to 11 goals in 9 caps at Under-21 to turn the game on its head. They couldn't hold out though, Dinamo Minsk midfielder Alexandr Krugan levelled with five minutes left from a free kick to end an entertaining match at 3-3. All four of our players that made the trip were involved, Alexandr Kozlov playing the entire match, Vladimir Malykh playing 77 minutes, Igor Zangiev bizarrely substituted just after the half hour mark, and Maxim Ivanenko featuring for the final thirteen minutes from the bench. Wednesday 27th March You know you're hurtling towards the beginning of the new campaign when you are asked to make your choice for Club Captain. There is no change for us there, with Nikolay Shvydakov remaining as Club Captain, and Maxim Gorbach continuing in his role as the deputy. Friday 29th March The last thing Vladimir Zuhbaia needed was something else to disrupt his preparations for the new season, but that is exactly what has happened to Georgia's third choice and as yet still uncapped at Senior level goalkeeper. He has injured his chest while lifting weights today, and will be out for around a fortnight. The season begins two weeks from this weekend. Saturday 30th March With the Transfer Window only days away from closing, and no further incomings to the club expected, we have submitted our squad list to the League. It is a list that contains 31 players. Monday 1st April 2013 The Board of the club remain satisfied with how things are going right now. They are happy with the drubbing of Khimik Grodno in pre-season, but concerned with how uncompetitive we were against bitter city rivals Dinamo Minsk. The club recorded a loss of just under £60,000 for the month of March. Wednesday 3rd April Injury news today, and it is the tale of two strikers. Out of favour teenager Andrey Volodzko has suffered a groin strain playing for the Reserve side against Singapore side, Tanjong Pagar United. He will be out for between two and three weeks. In contrast, Djeykhun Mursalov has recovered from his thigh injury and returned to training ahead of the new campaign. Friday 5th April The Transfer Window has now closed until the 1st of July, when it will re-open for a two month window. No more registering players, no more transfers, the squads are locked in for the first part of the campaign. The pundits of Belarusian football have picked out two of the deals in the First League as the more impressive signings, Smorgon's signing of forward Sergey Kisliy for £8,000, and one of our own deals, the capture of veteran left sided player Maxim Gukailo on a Free Transfer. They also note that it may take a while for things to settle at Belshina Bobruisk, as they have signed sixteen players during this Transfer Window. Sunday 7th April The Window may be closed, but that doesn't stop us throwing our hat into the ring with a long queue of clubs who admire the talents of 25 year old Georgian midfielder, Lasha Dekanosidze. He doesn't like his chances of getting regular top tier football with new boys Torpedo Zhodino, and they have started accepting offers for him, including ours. It's a long shot that our personal terms are going to cut it given the competition we are up against. The club have announced their final season ticket sales for the 2013 campaign at Lokomotiv Stadium. Last seasons total of 128 has been surpassed, with a total of 138 season tickets sold. That increase of ten represents an increase in sales of 7.8%. Thursday 11th April With the new season just a matter of days away, goalkeeper Vladimir Zuhbaia has returned to the training. The previously unsettled Georgian is currently pretty happy at the club, and is now preparing himself to try and wrestle the starting spot away from 20 year old Dmitry Biryukov. Friday 12th April From one Georgian to another, though this one will not be joining us. We have lost out in the race to sign Lasha Dekanosidze, with the 25 year old left footer instead agreeing to join top tier side FC Vitebsk this summer. Two second tier Russian sides also missed out on his signature. Saturday 13th April We are very strong favourites to get our campaign off to a winning start tomorrow when we host newly promoted club Livadia Dzerzhinsk, their first season in the second tier since this save began. They have nine new signings in their squad, though they have retained their semi-professional status and spent no money at all on their squad. Add all that into the mix with our own squad improvements, and the bookies come up with us as 2/5 favourites. The other fourteen clubs all got started today, and if there was ever a result that would encourage us to have our heads in the game, it would be the other promoted club, Neman Mosty, thrashing FC Baranovichi 5-0 away from home! It wasn't a good start for relegated FC Smorgon either, as they lost 2-1 at home to Vertical Kalinkovichi. There were no such problems for Belshina Bobruisk, who began their campaign with a 2-0 home victory against Darida-TDZh.
  7. Wednesday 20th March 2013 We will continue our preparations for the new season tomorrow, with a return to the more difficult end of the spectrum when it comes to our pre-season fixtures. We'll be visited by Belshina Bobruisk, who have just been picked by both bookmakers and media experts as a lock for promotion back to the top tier. My plan was to play it a little cagey against them as we meet them early in the season, but now I'm very tempted to have a real go at them tomorrow and try to put a real dent in their confidence before the season even begins. Thursday 21st March The profile of our club continues to rise, with eight of our players called up for International duty in today's squad announcements. It speaks volumes for our recruitment policy, and it would be nice to get some more full Internationals amongst our squad soon, particularly a Belarusian. As it is, only one of the eight called up is a Senior International, and that is Georgian keeper Vladimir Zuhbaia once again. He's in the squad for their 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Tbilisi against Belgium next week. The other seven called up are all Belarus age group Internationals. Heading to Herzliya in Israel for an Under-19 Friendly International are the trio of right back Egor Romanovskiy, talented sixteen year old winger Yury Murashov and wantaway striker Andrey Volodzko. They will be joined by a quartet of Under-21 players heading to the same destination for a Friendly in the slightly older age group. Vladimir Malykh, Maxim Ivanenko, Igor Zangiev and Alexandr Kozlov will all be hoping to be involved in that one. Pre-Season Friendly Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Belshina Bobruisk Attendance :- 144. Weather :- Breezy, Wet, 9c. Less changes this time around for a match we were taking seriously as a chance to lay down a marker, and maybe a challenge, against a side projected to the front runners for promotion in the coming season. The mini rotation policy continues, Dmitry Biryukov taking over in goal once more, and Alexey Razmyslovich given the chance to start on the left wing, Alexandr Kozlov rotated out of the matchday squad. Maxim Ivanenko continues at left back as he will be away on International duty for our next match. As Friendly matches go, this one had plenty of bite and competitive nature to it, both sides taking a chance to get a feel for their opponent before they started to throw any big shots, aware that this could be a task against a side that they might be seeing plenty of this season. Yuriy Ryzhko fired the first shot across the bows, or over the bar in this case, his free kick from the edge of the box not getting the required amount of dip. At the other end, Vyacheslav Malkov had two range finders for Belshina, both off target, before Ryzhko had another go himself, opting for power from another free kick, this one wide of the mark. We were then dealt a blow, Djeykhun Mursalov denied the chance to continue his attempt to build form from last time out when he was injured just after the half hour mark, young Lukasz Zuk summoned from the bench to replace him. He wasted little time in trying to impress, showing a turn of pace to burst between the Belshina centre backs in a passage of play that led to Nikolay Shvydakov's shot being deflected wide of the target. 0-0 at the break. Nine substitutions at the break, changing over the rest of the outfield players to join Zuk who had come into the game already. And the young striker was certainly taking his extended chance of making an impact, his movement off the ball proving difficult to cope with for the visiting defence. He won us a corner with a deflected shot ten minutes after the break. Evgeniy Drozd tried to repeat his trick from last time out, meeting Georgy Schennikov's corner at the near post, but unable to keep his header down. No matter though, as moments later Zuk collected the ball from Schennikov on the left, drifted past a defender as he moved infield, and then slid a diagonal through ball into the path of Sergey Krot, who nudged the ball past the dive of Andriy Novak and into the bottom corner to put us in front. Zuk's impressive performance continued, doing the job that would be more expected from Krot, winning the ball in the air to produce flick on's, doing sterling work holding the ball up too. His former Dinamo team mate wasn't being left in the shadows by his performance either, Igor Zangiev produced an outrageous piece of skill to keep the ball deep in the Belshina half, which led to Alexandr Degterev picking out the quickly arriving Egor Romanovskiy, the full backs curling shot just missing the mark. We continued to push forward, Zangiev sending a shot over the bar, Schennikov seeing a defender block his effort from 15 yards out when the Russian winger looked certain to score, and Maxim Gukailo's effort tipped over the bar by Novak. A second goal looked inevitable, but it didn't arrive until injury time. Zuk flicked on a clearance from Dmitry Biryukov, Schennikov made his way into the left channel of the box, and with two defenders in attendance, he found the spare man, squaring it back to Zuk, who hit a powerful shot past sub keeper Vladislav Savchenko and into the far corner to wrap up a good days work, and an especially impressive day from our young striker. Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 2 - Sergey Krot (59), Lukasz Zuk (90+2) Belshina Bobruisk (0) 0 Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka (Egor Romanovskiy 45), Vladimir Malykh (Mariusz Kaczmarek 45), Maxim Gorbach (Alexey Yesipenok 45), Maxim Ivanenko (Maxim Gukailo 45); Eduard Chudnovsky (Alexandr Degterev 45), Yuriy Ryzhko (Igor Zangiev 45); Alexey Rios (Evgeniy Drozd 45), Alexey Razmyslovich (Georgy Schennikov 45); Djeykhun Mursalov (inj - Lukasz Zuk 32), Nikolay Shvydakov © (Sergey Krot 45). Unused Substitutes :- Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Nikolay Mironov. Bookings :- None Possession :- 58% - 42%. Man of the Match :- Lukasz Zuk (Lokomotiv Minsk). If we can repeat a performance like that when it matters against promotion candidates, we could well be about to start a season that will see the club reach the promised land of the High League, the top tier of Belarus' domestic football. I suspect it won't be as easy as that at all. It was an outstanding all around performance from Grodno born 20 year old striker Lukasz Zuk. He has put himself firmly in contention to earn a Senior debut when the campaign kicks off. His case may be helped by the unfortunate timing of an injury for Djeykhun Mursalov. After finally showing what he could do in our pre-season rout of Khimik Grodno last weekend, the £60,000 striker has now suffered a thigh strain, which will keep him out for around a fortnight. That will prevent him taking part in the final friendly match of the schedule on Monday, and could compromise him being part of the squad for the season opener in mid April.
  8. Tuesday 12th March 2013 The groundsman needs to know what dimensions are required for the pitch this season. I tell him to keep it quite short, but make it as wide as we can to ensure there is plenty of room for our wingers to operate. 46 players will take part in the Belarus Trial Day matches later this week. My Scouts have cast their eye over the squads, and given me a list of the players they believe to be the best taking part. The overwhelming feeling is that we are unlikely to find anyone who would significantly improve our squad, but they will go ahead and scout the match anyway just in case. Saturday 16th March By this morning I had comprehensive scouting reports on all the players that we were looking at from yesterdays Trial match. However, none of them impressed enough to make me consider a contract offer for them at this stage, though there is a couple that we will continue to keep an eye on. Now the attention turns to tomorrows opponents as we reach the midway point of our pre-season schedule. No one is expecting us to be given much of a test when we travel to face non-League outfit, Khimik Grodno. Sunday 17th March Pre-Season Friendly Stadium of Profilaktoriy Kupalinka, Grodno Khimik Grodno v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 508. Weather :- Breezy, Wet, 8c. Clearly Khimik don't have a particularly large squad, judging by the fact that we have five players more than them on our bench today. The rotation has continued for us in goal, at left back and on the left wing. There is also a change at centre back, Mariusz Kaczmarek moved onto the bench, with Vladimir Malykh resurrecting his centre back partnership with Maxim Gorbach. We asserted ourselves right from the off, Alexey Rios' cross was blocked, Yuriy Ryzhko's attempt was too deep. But Djeykhun Mursalov retrieved the ball and picked out Eduard Chudnovsky on the edge of the box. His finish was easier than it should be, as goalie Anatoliy Baha had put himself out of position. Number two would follow quickly, Mursalov involved once more. The striker held the ball up well, and then switched play to Rios out on the right with plenty of space. His cross was a little too high for Nikolay Shvydakov, but Alexandr Kozlov arrived and half volleyed in from ten yards out, making it 2-0 with less than ten minutes on the clock. From the restart, we were at them again. Shvydakov knocked down the ball to Mursalov, and he picked out Rios on the right once again. His first touch blew him right by two defenders, and he got to the corner of the six yard box, then slid his shot under Baha to add our third. This had the look that it could literally be any number you care to choose today, and Baha was at full stretch to keep out a Shvydakov header after he got on the end of a cross from Mursalov on the left. But in a shocking turn of events, we would have to wait over ten minutes for the next goal. It was worth the wait though, Rios tracking back made a tackle in the right back position, and then sent us right back down the park with a long curling ball that split the Khimik defence wide open. Mursalov raced through the middle, drew the keeper, rounded him, and finally slotted in his first goal in a Lokomotiv shirt, even if it was an unofficial one. He looked very relieved. Kozlov nearly added a second for himself when a mazy run saw him slice through the defence, but a last ditch tackle came in just as he was about to shoot. He then got on the end of a corner too, connecting with Chudnovsky's delivery, but his header landed on the roof of the net. He would be involved in the fifth before the break though, Ryzhko's ball down the left was relying entirely on Kozlov's pace. The winger just about kept the ball in, hooking it high into the air and right under the cross bar, Mursalov was left with in easy tap in when the ball came down to make it a 5-0 half time score. I knew that a full eleven man switch at half time was likely to spoil our rhythm, but I wanted to give as many people as possible a run out. Alexandr Degterev was certainly keen to make an impression, a free kick only just cleared the cross bar, and a corner picked out Alexey Yesipenok, who's downward header only just missed the target. We might not be finding the net like we were in the first half, but we were still playing some lovely football. Sergey Krot spread the ball to the left, and Alexey Razmyslovich danced through their defence, firing a shot that Baha managed to push away. Seconds later, he unleashed a curler that just cleared the angle of the goal frame. Khimik hadn't caused us any problems at all so far, but it the 72nd minute they sprung us wide open. Anatoliy Savitskiy found Kirill Savchenko on the edge of the box, and he touched it into the path of Andrey Tsigalko, who fired home from fifteen yards out to add a small touch of respectability to the scoreline for them. That certainly gave us a kick in the back side, and Degterev picked out Yesipenok again from a corner, and this time the centre back found the net with a downward header to make it 6-1. And he had plenty of time to deliver another good corner ten minutes from time, Evgeniy Drozd meeting that one at the near post, using the power on the delivery, and redirecting the ball inside the near post and in off the underside of the cross bar. Two of our youngsters nearly combined to add another late on, Igor Zangiev picking out the run of young full back Egor Romanovskiy who turned inside a defender, but saw sub keeper Artem Mikhalyuk deny him, turning his shot over the bar. Khimik Grodno (0) 1 - Andrey Tsigalko (72) Lokomotiv Minsk (5) 7 - Eduard Chudnovsky (4), Alexandr Kozlov (9), Alexey Rios (11), Djeykhun Mursalov (23,44), Alexey Yesipenok (75), Evgeniy Drozd (80) Vladimir Zuhbaia (Dmitry Biryukov 45); Dmitry Chaka (Egor Romanovskiy 45), Vlladimir Malykh (Alexey Yesipenok 45), Maxim Gorbach (Mariusz Kaczmarek 45), Maxim Ivanenko (Nikolay Mironov 45); Eduard Chudnovsky (Alexandr Degterev 45), Yuriy Ryzhko (Igor Zangiev 45); Alexey Rios (Evgeniy Drozd 45), Alexandr Kozlov (Alexey Razmyslovich 45); Djeykhun Mursalov (Lukasz Zuk 45), Nikolay Shvydakov © (Sergey Krot 45). Unused Substitute :- Maxim Gukailo. Bookings :- None Possession :- 32% - 68%. Man of the Match :- Djeykhun Mursalov (Lokomotiv Minsk). That was a good run out, and hopefully breeds some confidence in the squad after a couple of more difficult pre season starters. And it was particularly pleasing to see Djeykhun Mursalov put the ball in the net and have a great game in general too. Hopefully that will be the spark for the striker to start finding some form and winning around the fans and media, who currently see him as an expensive (relatively speaking) flop. Certainly the bookies don't particularly rate our chances of promotion right now. They have the two relegated clubs, Belshina Bobruisk and FC Smorgon, as the two favourites to go right back up at 7/4. Of the remaining contenders, we are seen as being behind Vedrich Rechitsa and FC Baranovichi (both 5/1), and Khimik Svetlogorsk and Slavia Mozyr (both 6/1). They have us priced at 10/1. The media experts think we will do a little better, agreeing on the top two, and predicting we will finish 4th, behind Minsk rivals Darida-TDZh.
  9. Friday 8th March 2013 A Scouting report has landed on my table for Dinamo Minsk, because there isn't a football fan in Belarus who knows all about them of course. They play defensively, and then counter attack like a snake. When they play weaker opposition (us for example), they like to keep the ball and try and grind them down. Their midfield are an organised and fluid unit, and right now their biggest threat is deemed to be Dmitriy Mozolevskiy. Capped only once by Belarus, who are currently building their squad around the nucleus of BATE Borisov's players, Mozolevskiy signed for Dinamo from one of the other clubs bearing that moniker, Dinamo Brest, for £50,000 two years ago now. He played 186 League matches for them, scoring 55 goals. In two seasons in the capital he has netted 34 more goals in 82 League matches. Dinamo have not bowed to the new trend of bringing in players from South America or Africa. Their squad is made up almost entirely of players from Belarus, with a handful of players from Russia and Ukraine. Saturday 9th March Pre-Season Friendly Lokomotiv Stadium, Minsk Lokomotiv Minsk v Dinamo Minsk Attendance :- 832. Weather :- Strong Wind, Drizzle, 9c. One change is all for the matchday squad for this one, Alexandr Kozlov dropped, with Alexey Razmyslovich brought into the squad. There are also a pair of changes to the starting lineup. Dmitry Biryukov starts in goal ahead of Vladimir Zuhbaia, while at left back there is a start for Maxim Gukailo ahead of on loan youngster Nikolay Mironov. A crowd almost twice what we usually get for a League match, swelled by visiting Dinamo fans, formed a procession into Lokomotiv Stadium....to watch a procession of Dinamo attacking our goalmouth. It started within five minutes, Alexandr Kugan sending over an inswinging free kick from the left touchline, Oleg Shkabara rising above everyone at the far post, but he couldn't keep his header down, his effort over the bar. A counter attack after a poor corner by us led to Shkabara playing supplier, sending Pavel Kosinets into acres of space. He didn't have the pace to get away from the chasing back Lokomotiv defenders though, and when he tried to cut inside, Dmitry Chaka halted his run with a great tackle. Shkabara continued to be the main threat to us, and he struck a shot from range that curled wickedly and Dmitry Biryukov was forced to punch clear rather than risk trying to catch it. We were riding our luck, and it ran out midway through the first half, Andrey Tsevan's corner was an outswinger, and that allowed centre back Stepan Girskyi to get plenty of power on his header as he arrived to meet it, powering the ball into the roof of the net. I'm pleased to report we did at least try to cause Dinamo some problems as we searched for an equaliser, Georgy Schennikov making a great run down the left, and slinging a cross to the near post, Nikolay Shvydakov got in front of his marker, but headed wide of the near post. But that was only a very brief respite, and the combination than had already succeeded from a corner nearly repeated the trick, this time Girskyi missing the target with his header. Full back Sergey Perunov had the last crack of the opening half, a shot from the corner of the box that continued rising and drifted off target. Only one down at half time? I'll take it. Last time out I changed all the outfield players at the break, this time I settle for just half of them. It didn't make too much difference to our defending from corners though. Kugan took this one, and while everyone was concerned where Girskyi was going, it was sub centre back Dmitriy Baha who powered the header home this time. Ten minutes later, the scoreboard ticked over once more, Shkabara making a great run down the right, cutting to the byline, and then cutting the ball back to Dmitriy Mozolevskiy, who unselfishly squared it on again to Kugan, who placed his shot out of Biryukov's reach. With nothing more than pride to play for here, I summoned the remainder of the fresh legs from the bench, making five more changes. Our aim now was to keep the score down, but we managed a little better than that. While we didn't threaten ourselves, we managed shackle our prestigious opponents to the point that all they created was an effort from range by Iliya Trachinskiy, which grazed the bar on its way over. Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 0 Dinamo Minsk (1) 3 - Stepan Girskyi (21), Dmitriy Baha (52), Alexandr Kugan (64) Dmitry Biryukov; Dmitry Chaka (Egor Romanovskiy 68), Mariusz Kaczmarek (Vladimir Malykh 45), Maxim Gorbach (Alexey Yesipenok 68), Maxim Gukailo (Maxim Ivanenko 45); Eduard Chudnovsky (Igor Zangiev 68), Yuriy Ryzhko (Alexandr Degterev 45); Alexey Rios (Evgeniy Drozd 45), Georgy Schennikov (Alexey Razmyslovich 68); Djeykhun Mursalov (Sergey Krot 45), Nikolay Shvydakov © (Lukasz Zuk 68). Unused Substitutes :- Vladimir Zuhbaia (GK), Maxim Ivanenko. Bookings :- None Possession :- 48% - 52%. Man of the Match :- Stepan Girskyi (Dinamo Minsk). No shock, and very little by the way of surprise. If I was desperately looking for a crumb of comfort from that match, it would be that we nearly reached parity with Dinamo when it came to possession. Possibly that was due to them switching off slightly, or more likely, they considered it a good idea to let us have the ball, and then take their chance when we made a mistake with it? Hopefully we'll get some good from it, as it is very unlikely we are going to come up against anything even close to their level in a League match this season.
  10. Friday 1st March 2013 With the new season only a month away now and the pre-season matches only days away, the Board have brought their assessment down to just satisfied right now. The club did make a profit of £189,000 in February, not to be sneezed at in the slightest. My plan to steal another player from BATE is foiled, as the player I had my eye on to convert into a right winger has rejected our offer, the 19 year old stating that right now, he isn't prepared to drop down the Divisions. Saturday 2nd March That players decision clearly didn't have any impact on his younger team mate, who this morning has rejected an offer from Kommunalnik Slonim, and will join us at Lokomotiv Minsk for a fee of £12,000. The player is 17 year old right back Egor Romanovskiy, a BATE youth player for two years without making a First Team appearance, but already a Belarus Under-19 International. He is quick, strong, good in the air, and has some skill when passing the ball. As an added bonus, he can also be effective with free kicks. It's a three year deal, and he will be paid £75 per week. Sunday 3rd March. The latest club to be linked with a potential bid for Georgy Schennikov is Chernomorets Novorossiysk of the Russian First Division. You can see why they would be interested, as over the last few years they have gone from promotion contenders to mid table, then repeated the cycle, before last year finishing just one spot above the relegation zone. Monday 4th March We're actually in Russia, so it will be interesting to see if the speculation over Schennikov increases while we are here, or indeed if any of the handful of clubs take the chance to put in an offer in the hope of being able to speak to the player while we are in the country. Pre-Season Friendly Central Salyut Stadium, Belgorod, Russia Salyut-Energia Belgorod v Lokomotiv Minsk Attendance :- 1,880. Weather :- Gusty, 3c. And so it begins. The first chance for new faces to impress, and for the recognisable faces to show they are still worthy of their place in the lineup. And it's the old guard who are more prevalent here, at least to start with. From our most used lineup of the season, there are four changes. They start in goal, Vladimir Zuhbaia starts today as Dmitry Biryukov is only just getting over the flu. There are early chances to impress for two players in the back four, on loan left back Nikolay Mironov starts, as does Mariusz Kaczmarek at centre back, despite being brought in primarily to compete with Yuriy Ryzhko in midfield. Up front, the club record signing misfit Djeykhun Mursalov starts alongside skipper and last seasons top scorer, Nikolay Shvydakov. We wouldn't have much idea of what to expect from Salyut-Energia, with the exception of their left back, we knew all about Pavel Lyutsko. It was a pretty slow start in the game, with the first chance created by our own left back, Nikolay Mironov drifting in a cross, and Nikolay Shvydakov got his head to it at the near post, trying to flick it goalwards but missing the target. But it didn't take too long for Salyut to seize control, and Alexandr Mikhnovets smashed a 20 yard effort off our cross bar after quarter of an hour. We were often the architects of our own problems, giving the ball away far too easily, and far too often. We would eventually succumb to their pressure in the 35th minute, the goal looking likely for quite some time. Pavel Dorokhin made it, taking control from a poor Eduard Chudnovsky pass, and then sprinting past Mironov and down the right channel of the box, cutting it back for Oleg Antonov near the penalty spot. His finish was superb, and looked even more spectacular when it bounced off the underside of the bar, and spun down against the inside of the upright and back up into the roof of the net. We were having all kinds of problems now, Pavel Deobald setting off at pace down the right, but his cross was unable to pick out a team mate. So next time he would have a go at goal himself, Igor Shestakov's cross wasn't cleared properly by Yuriy Ryzhko, and Deobald managed to get between two defenders and poke the loose ball into the bottom corner. I didn't shout, or raise my voice at the players at half time. There was no point, they were all coming off apart from Vladimir Zuhbaia, as I would make ten changes, with six more players making their first appearance in a Lokomotiv shirt. Certainly we looked more positive after the restart, young full back Egor Romanovskiy breaking up play nicely and sending the ball down the right for Sergey Krot. The striker tricked his way past Georgy Mikadze, then sent a cross to the back post that Lukasz Zuk won in the air, but couldn't direct onto the target. With the experienced Maxim Gukailo now at left back, Deobald had been nullified somewhat, and a long ball down the left touchline let Zuk stretch his legs, his cross looking overhit, but Evgeny Drozd came off his wing to meet it with an outrageous volley that would've been shown all over the world if it had found the net instead of flying well high and wide of the target. Zuk was certainly getting involved, and he would get a chance to shoot when Alexandr Degterev picked him out in the box with a through ball, Sergey Losev off his line quickly to block that one. As Salyut dropped deeper and more defensive, we continued to create chances, Alexey Yesipenok headed wide from a corner, while Degterev's shot from range was punched clear by Losev, who was unwilling to risk trying to catch it. Eventually we found a way through with just over a quarter of an hour to go, Igor Zangiev receiving the ball on the corner of the box from a throw in, and he rolled it square across the edge of the box, and into the path of Krot, who placed his shot through the crowd and high into the net to reduce the arrears. The question was now, did we have a second goal in us? Alexandr Kozlov picked out Zangiev on the edge of the box, and the young midfielder let the ball run across his body before striking it with the outside of his boot, Losev well beaten, but the ball just curling away from the far post and wide. With only minutes remaining, Drozd's corner into the middle sparked a goalmouth scramble, Gukailo's shot was blocked by a defender, the ball pinged around before breaking to Degterev. He went for placement, getting it just the wrong side of the post and into the side netting. Nearly, but not quite. Salyut-Energia Belgorod (2) 2 - Oleg Antonov (35), Pavel Deobald (42) Lokomotiv Minsk (0) 1 - Sergey Krot (74) Vladimir Zuhbaia; Dmitry Chaka (Egor Romanovskiy 45), Mariusz Kaczmarek (Vladimir Malykh 45), Maxim Gorbach (Alexey Yesipenok 45), Nikolay Mironov (Maxim Gukailo 45); Eduard Chudnovsky (Alexandr Degterev 45), Yuriy Ryzhko (Igor Zangiev 45); Alexey Rios (Evgeniy Drozd 45), Georgy Schennikov (Alexandr Kozlov 45); Djeykhun Mursalov (Lukasz Zuk 45), Nikolay Shvydakov © (Sergey Krot 45). Unused Substitutes :- Dmitry Biryukov (GK), Maxim Ivanenko. Bookings :- None Possession :- 40% - 60%. Man of the Match :- Pavel Deobald (Salyut-Energia Belgorod). The first half of that match made the difference between second tier outfits in Russia and Belarus look enormous. However the second half was an almost complete about turn, and as frustrating as the first half was, the second was far more encouraging for us. Our second pre-season match would be no easier, as we were going to be visited by the top dogs of our city, and original top dogs of the newly independent nation of Belarus. Eight times Belarusian Champions and three times domestic Cup Winners, and the only club from Belarus ever to be crowned the Soviet Champions when they won the League in 1982, yep, Dinamo Minsk would soon be gracing us with their presence.
  11. Good to see you back on familiar ground Dave, and I look forward to seeing how Bahtiyar Saparow gets on at Spartak, but also learning how his road led him to Moscow. Good luck.
  12. 2010/11 Combined Counties League, Premier Division Table. Up To & Including Tuesday 31st August 2010 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Horley | | 5 | 4 | 1 | 0 | 15 | 4 | +11 | 13 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | Chertsey | | 5 | 4 | 0 | 1 | 17 | 2 | +15 | 12 | | 3rd | | Sandhurst | | 4 | 4 | 0 | 0 | 12 | 4 | +8 | 12 | | 4th | | Cove | | 5 | 4 | 0 | 1 | 11 | 5 | +6 | 12 | | 5th | | Wembley | | 5 | 3 | 2 | 0 | 13 | 6 | +7 | 11 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 6th | | Badshot Lea | | 5 | 3 | 2 | 0 | 12 | 5 | +7 | 11 | | 7th | | Mole Valley | | 5 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 6 | 2 | +4 | 10 | | 8th | | Chessington & Hook | | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 7 | 10 | -3 | 7 | | 9th | | Egham | | 5 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 6 | 9 | -3 | 7 | | 10th | | Banstead | | 4 | 2 | 0 | 2 | 9 | 5 | +4 | 6 | | 11th | | Raynes Park | | 5 | 2 | 0 | 3 | 8 | 9 | -1 | 6 | | 12th | | Croydon | | 5 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 5 | -1 | 6 | | 13th | | Molesey | | 4 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 6 | 6 | 0 | 5 | | 14th | | Dorking | | 4 | 1 | 2 | 1 | 5 | 5 | 0 | 5 | | 15th | | Ash | | 5 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 5 | 8 | -3 | 4 | | 16th | | Colliers Wood | | 5 | 1 | 1 | 3 | 5 | 9 | -4 | 4 | | 17th | | Camberley | | 5 | 1 | 0 | 4 | 8 | 11 | -3 | 3 | | 18th | | Epsom & Ewell | | 5 | 0 | 3 | 2 | 7 | 11 | -4 | 3 | | 19th | | Bookham | | 5 | 0 | 1 | 4 | 2 | 14 | -12 | 1 | | 20th | | Hanworth Villa | | 5 | 0 | 1 | 4 | 2 | 21 | -19 | 1 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 21st | | Guildford | | 4 | 0 | 0 | 4 | 4 | 13 | -9 | 0 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  13. Sunday 22nd August 2010 In the late hours of a Saturday evening, the two latest new recruits to our squad were completing formalities and signing for the club. the first of the pair is 21 year old forward Nathan Cornwell. After yesterday's performance from Geoff Howell, I nearly pulled the plug on giving the 6'2 player his first Senior contract, but he does bring something to the table that could prove useful. That's the ability to also play behind the strikers, giving us some much needed Senior cover for Jamal Da Costa. He signs for two years at £20 a week. Also signing last night as I continue to stretch the wage budget beyond it's breaking point is 19 year old midfielder Stuart York. The 5'10 right footer can play anywhere across the middle of the park, and will provide some width should we need to change around our tactics during the season. He is another who is playing for a Senior club for the first time, and gets what is now the almost standard deal, £20 a week for two seasons. At the age of 16 years and 263 days, Geoff Howell yesterday became the clubs youngest ever goalscorer. Tuesday 24th August That brace of goals has rightly earned Geoff Howell a place in the Team of the Week, the only Chertsey player included this week. Competition for the forward places is hotting up, Trevor Flack returning to training today. He's another young local player, and he was ahead of Howell in the pecking order in pre-season, something that may have changed now. Flack can also provide cover for Da Costa if needed. Friday 27th August Tomorrow is our final match of August, and we're back at home where we will play host to Camberley Town. With just one win from their opening four matches, Camberley are not being given too much chance of taking any points from us at Alwyns Lane. We are at least getting a bit of respect from our opponents for a change, with Camberley manager Paul Mack stating that while he wasn't sure if we had enough quality to get promoted, he was sure there was plenty of fighting spirit at the club if we needed to dig in. Saturday 28th August Combined Counties League, Premier Division v Camberley Town @ Alwyns Lane, Chertsey August Bank Holiday weekend, and the weather was dry and warm. There are no changes to our starting lineup, with Geoff Howell keeping his spot in the side, and speculation in the local media that Dean Papali would be declared fit proving unfounded. There are two changes on the bench, Tom Bolton and Jack Preston dropping out of the squad, with new signings Stuart York and Nathan Cornwell brought in. This visitors certainly weren't here to make up the numbers, Paul Lee's diagonal through ball from the left sent Scott O'Hanlon in between our defence, and John Peacock was called into action, narrowing the angle and then making a great block save to prevent us going behind very early on. Even without scoring, Camberley had rattled us a little, and we were clearly being a little more cautious than we normally would be. We didn't create anything until the 20th minute, Craig Miller's shot from the left corner of the box curled away from goal and way past the far post. A minute later, Gary Kettle launched a long ball down the left channel, and Darren Bloor only had time to bring the ball down before Geoff Howell was on him. The striker stripped him of the ball, and then guided a low shot under Edward McLeod to open the scoring. Camberley were furious, believing Howell had shoved Bloor off the ball. John Harris came very near to protesting long enough and loud enough to get booked. That goal certainly gave us a jump though, and we nearly got another one right away, Michael Simpson hitting a pot shot that beat McLeod but crashed back off the cross bar. With half an hour played, we lost Ollie Jones to injury, meaning an earlier than anticipated debut for new signing Stuart York. It would be quite an initiation for York, as Camberley chucked the kitchen sink at us. O'Hanlon struck a shot on the turn that was blocked, before Peacock had to come to our rescue with an outstanding save to keep out Michael Webb's drive. That led to a series of corners, and Keith Schofield's cross was nearly turned into his own net by Chris Robinson, the ball coming back off the post. That wouldn't be the last time our goal frame would be struck either, as right at the end of the hefty injury time period caused by Jones' injury, Darren Barnard struck a low free kick around the wall and off the post. We had barely kept our lead through to half time. It's a shame our bigger attendance was only a very slight one, as this was all set up for a blood and thunder second half. That might have been calmed slightly if Howell had finished when York sent him in on goal, but this time, while getting his shot past McLeod again, the effort drifted just wide of the far post. York himself drove a shot over the top just before the hour, before O'Hanlon did the same at the other end, and our debutant midfielder set off a chain of events. He did that by throwing himself into a tackle on Joel Barnes, rightly earning a yellow card. Barnes' retaliation was far less subtle, as he brought down Craig Miller with a crude two footed and out of control tackle. Several players were involved in the melee that followed, York being dragged away by team mates before he could get himself into any more trouble, while Barnes was shown a straight red card. I spent five minutes trying to get York to calm down, but when it was clear that was going to happen, the sub was substituted himself as I fought to preserve both numerical and scoreboard advantages. Mark Middleton replaced him, while an out of sorts Simpson was also replaced, Nathan Cornwell coming on for his debut. Schofield had been fortunate to avoid a card during that incident, but he quickly earned one for a poor tackle on Reece Tison-Lascaris, who nearly gained revenge a moment or two later, his shot striking the top of the cross bar on its way over. Howell had another late chance to put the game to bed, but this one was also just off target. McLeod turned his final chance away in injury time, and it hadn't been our day in front of goal. Fortunately, we had survived what had turned out to be quite the test of attrition. Chertsey Town (1) 1 - Geoff Howell (21) Camberley Town (0) 0 Attendance :- 91 John Peacock; Chris Robinson, Dominic Worthington, Gary Kettle, Nathan Meade; Ollie Jones (inj - Stuart York 30 (Mark Middleton 69)); Reece Tison-Lascaris, Craig Miller; Jamal Da Costa ©; Michael Simpson (Nathan Cornwell 69), Geoff Howell. Unused Substitutes :- Jamie Hatter, Luke Buckingham (GK), Kevin Newell, Ian Baldwin. What a test that had turned out to be, and the man who received the man of the match award did not even appear in that match report I don't think. Nathan Meade was superb at left back, in particular showing excellent positioning on multiple occasions to break up attacks. St Kitt's & Nevis have Friendly Internationals coming up as they prepare for the Caribbean Championships, but there is still no call up for the 28 year old despite his excellent form for us so far. It's not like there is a big queue of players ahead of him. There were also Senior debuts for Nathan Cornwell and Stuart York, the latter having his big day condensed slightly for his own good, not a debut he is going to forget anytime soon I suspect. And to top it all off, we move up to second place in the table. Sunday 29th August Dean Papali has been passed fit to resume training again, and could now be in contention for our next match, a Wednesday night visit to take on lowly and winless Epsom & Ewell, who are currently under a transfer embargo as two seperate consortiums fight for control at Merland Rise. Monday 30th August While others spend their Bank Holiday Monday at the seaside, or being dragged around DIY stores, I'm attempting to drag a former Welsh International to Alwyns Lane. Yes, after seeing him at close quarters on the weekend, I'm trying again to get Darren Barnard to move from Camberley Town across to Chertsey. While the club quickly accept the offer to take him for absolutely nothing, we can't get the numbers to work with Darren. He wants £250 a week, nearly five times what he is paid at Camberley. Even if I found a backroom staff role for him, we couldn't afford to pay him anywhere near that. Tuesday 31st August In a Team of the Week that is dominated by Banstead Athletic players following their 5-0 drubbing of Bookham on the weekend, we have one player included, left back Nathan Meade. A backroom meeting ahead of our next match see's the Scouting team continue their fine work so far with some more possible players to upgrade our options. I have picked out several, and asked them to provide me with some more detailed information. Two of them in particular look like they could do a good job for us. With three wins on the bounce, we are the favourites with the bookmakers to win again when we take on Epsom & Ewell tomorrow night.
  14. A bonus weekend update as there was no post on Wednesday. Have a great weekend everyone. ---------------------------------------------- Friday 15th February 2013 Pre-Season has been arranged, and it will begin in early March. It was initially a six match schedule, but I cancelled one of the games as they were too close together. We'll start in Russia, and a trip to play a second tier club, Salyut-Energia Belgorod. We'll return home from there and play again five days later, with our big match, a visit from the heavyweights of Belarusian football, Dinamo Minsk. Believe me, the fans are very much looking forward to that one. Eight days later we're on the road again, as we'll travel to Grodno to face non-League club, Khimik Grodno. We were due to play again two days later, which is the match that got cancelled. Instead, it will be four days later when we play again, and host a new rival. Belshina Bobruisk are one of our early League opponents, and we might need to consider how we're going to play it against them, keeping our cards close to our chest may be prudent. We complete our season preparations four days later, with a visit to another non-League club. I'm assuming Pinsk is a new place very close to Minsk, it is in the alphabet at least. He had already given us the knock back once. Surely it was madness to try again? But we were given the encouraging signs. The club weren't so sure about him now, they have bought in other players, and he has slipped down the pecking order already. Our £10,000 offer is accepted quickly, 100% profit for them, they got him for nothing after all. He isn't so sure, we offer him everything we can. We're hopeful, it might be a big one for us. Sunday 17th February He said yes! The contract was good enough, and he was keen to move his family into a metropolitan area. At the second time of asking, Alexandr Degterev is a Lokomotiv player! And we don't have to wait until the summer either, as he never actually turned out for Dinamo Brest, he can join and play for us right away! I'm delighted. And so are the fans, turning up at the Lokomotiv Stadium to welcome the 26 year old left footed forward who can play anywhere from midfield forward and on any side, and has been capped twelve times for Belarus at Under-21 level. Monday 18th February I'd like to trim a bit of fat from the squad, and the wage budget while I'm at it. Two players are put on the transfer list, Pavel Lyutsko and Andrey Misyuk. Both attract immediate interest in the Transfer Market, though the latter does need his asking price brought down a notch before a bid arrives. Neman Grodno's cheeky 17 year old left sided player Maciej Bednarz, who rejected a loan move to us, has instead opted to join cross city First league side Dinamo-Belcard Grodno on loan for the season. We look forward to coming up against him, and hopefully showing him he made a poor decision. Tuesday 19th February Pavel Lyutsko has an opportunity to move to Russia, in fact, for the side we begin our pre-season schedule against. Salyut-Energia Belgorod have met the asking price of £5,000, and he has been given permission to discuss terms with them. Andrey Misyuk has also been given permission to speak to a club after his revised asking price was met, FC Baranovichi offering the £2,000 we were asking. There was also a bid from Belshina Bobruisk, but it fell short of our valuation. Thursday 21st February It's the dreaded financial summary day. It's announced that Lokomotiv Minsk have lost £275,000 over the last financial year, which equates to 43% of the clubs turnover, which came in at £625,000. Of the loss, by far the biggest reason was the acquisition of new players, not all by myself I might add, which came to around £200,000. Not that I am necessarily quite finished with my squad overhaul yet. BATE Borisov are sitting on a bid from us for one of their one young defenders who likes very talented. Friday 22nd February The rebuild would continue with the signing of a striker on Friday, though we will have to wait a little while for his arrival. It's a £5,000 transfer fee for 24 year old Ukrainian striker Denys Pshenychnyi, who came through the ranks at Shakhter Donetsk. He moved on to play for Terek Grozny in Russia, before spending part of last season in Belarus' top tier with another Shakhter, this time Soligorsk. The next part of the story is one you have heard before, as Pshenychnyi had a deal agreed with Dinamo Brest, but the newly promoted side have had a change of heart on the 6'2 left footer, and we are delighted to have his signature. Because he appeared for both Terek and Shakter Soligorsk last season, he can't play for us until the summer, with his arrival scheduled for the 1st July. At his height, he is as good in the air as you'd expect, but he also has exceptional feet, and very good pace, making for a striker who is more than capable of creating chances for himself. The books are balanced a little with the news that the Pavel Lyutsko deal is done, and the left sided player will move to Salyut-Energia Belgorod in Russia for £5,000. He had three years with Lokomotiv after signing from FC Vitebsk in 2010. I would say the club got value for their £7,000 purchase, Lyutsko going on to make 67 League appearances for the Rail-Road Men, scoring once, and assisting seven times. His previous club get £1,000 from this deal due to a sell on clause. I'm not concerned by that, we have just saved £775 a week on the wage bill. Saturday 23rd February I was hoping to save another £775 a week today, but Andrey Misyuk has rejected the move to FC Baranovichi. At the moment, the defensive midfielder is not too keen on moving away from Minsk. I have reduced the asking price for a second time, as I would dearly like to get Misyuk off the wage bill now. Part of the reason for that is because his replacement has completed his move to Lokomotiv today. 20 year old Mariusz Kaczmarek has been capped at Under-19 level, and signs for us from Belshina Bobruisk on a Free Transfer. The 6'3 youngster has spent most of his career at hometown club Dinamo Brest, playing fourteen League matches, before moving on to Belshina and failing to make the First Team there. He can play centre back, defensive midfield and centre midfield, and is going to provide competition for Yuriy Ryzhko in our squad amongst others. Monday 25th February With interest from other clubs leading to our offer being beaten, I have had to raise my offer for BATE's talented young defender. Tuesday 26th February That offer to BATE has now been accepted, along with the offers they have received from the other two clubs who are interested in his services. While we are there, we also make them offer for a very classy 19 year old Ukrainian who is sat in their Reserves, and is currently a right back, but would I believe be an ideal candidate to be pushed further up the park as a right winger. That offer is quickly accepted, and while the player isn't initially too keen, he might change his tune when he sees the colour of our money. Thursday 28th February Despite my best efforts, we have been unable to move Andrey Misyuk on as yet. He has rejected another contract, this time from Russian First Division club Metallurg-Kuzbass Novokuznetsk. He says they were unable to meet his wage or bonus demands after we accepted their £1,000 offer for him.
  15. Sunday 15th August 2010 Records continued to fall in the Combined Counties Premier yesterday. Four days younger than Bobby Price, the new youngest goalscorer in the League is now Bookham striker Paul Trowbridge, who found the net at Croydon. While extending his own record as the League's oldest player, Wade Fofana of Cove is now also the oldest goalscorer, 40 years and 59 days of age when he netted yesterday against Epsom & Ewell. The rest of the records to fall would all belong to us, as we now hold high marks for the biggest ever win and highest number of goals in a game in the League. Those two are also new club records. Dean Papali's four goal haul sets new high marks for League and Club when it comes to individual number of goals in a match, while Joseph Geddes' debut in Senior football see's a new club record for our youngest ever player at 16 years and 81 days old. Monday 16th August First business of the day is to deal with Mitchell Game. I resist the urge to fine the 19 year old a week's wage of £75, and settle instead for issuing him with an official warning as to his conduct on the park. Referring to the score, the teenager couldn't resist commenting that he was concerned it would cost us the match at half time. He tried his best to keep the grin off his face, and was told to do 20 laps of the park. He was still laughing when he left my office. Cheeky sod. The time difference is an issue when trying to discuss deals with clubs and players on the other side of the world. I discovered that when I yesterday made offers for two players who both currently ply their trade in Australia. They both come highly recommended by our Scouting team, and both are available on Free Transfers. Today I hear that both have agreed to discuss a deal with us, and a potential return to England. It very quickly becomes very clear that it's not just the weather that will prevent their return to these shores, and that we do not have the budget or resources to bring either of these players to Alwyns Lane right now. I really need to set my targets to a lower and more realistic level. A quartet of Scouting reports have been received from the backroom team, with midfielders and strikers included in the pile. Two of them are given contract offers, both considerably more realistic targets than my previous efforts. Tuesday 17th August Six of our players are named in the Team of the Week as we unsurprisingly dominate the lineup after that huge weekend win. I'm not too sure about the case for keeper John Peacock being included, but there are thoroughly deserved spots for Dominic Worthington, Ian Baldwin, Reece Tison-Lascaris, Craig Miller and Dean Papali. Wednesday 18th August We have a new arrival at the club, though not everyone is happy about that fact. 6'1 Kevin Newell is 21 years old, and can play at centre back and also provide cover at left back. I'm not even going try and convince you that Newell is going to be a world beater, truth be told, he is an average player for this League, and some members of my backroom team attempted to talk me out of the signing. But we have proved that we are going to be competitive, and for that to continue through busy periods of the fixture list, we will need some options and some cover. Newell can provide that, and at £20 a week on a two year deal, signs for his first Senior club. Our offer to 22 year old Free Agent striker Eddie Rimmer has been rejected by the Gloucester born player. He wasn't happy with the weekly wage we were offering, but would like to continue with negotiations. I decline to do so, as I now believe the Scouting team has better options for us to pursue. Friday 20th August Tomorrow afternoon, we will travel to take on Ash United away from home, and have today learnt that they are expecting their largest ever crowd at Youngs Drive, with over 100 tickets sold for the match. We're honoured! Hopefully we can do a job on them after their 30 year old manager Garry Wardell told the press today that he didn't believe we had what it takes to get promoted from this League. The bookies might not disagree with that, but they certainly don't expect United to upset us this weekend, making us Even money favourites for the win, a seemingly generous price against a side who have managed just two goals so far this season. In management news, Taunton Town of the Southern League Division One South & West have sacked their manager Laurence Woodley today following a Boardroom takeover. It seems a touch harsh on the 30 year old, who took the job just 38 days ago. Saturday 21st August Combined Counties League, Premier Division v Ash United @ Youngs Drive, Ash (Surrey) In an ideal world, I wouldn't have had to make any changes to a winning side. Unfortunately, managing at this level, seldom does anything go ideally as you would like. So there are four changes, and that includes a debut at right back for on loan Chris Robinson, taking the place of a very unlucky Jamie Hatter. There is a recall at left back for the rested Nathan Meade, while Ollie Jones returns in defensive midfield, and Reece Tison-Lascaris pushed into centre midfield with Mitchell Game suspended. Up front, the injured Dean Papali is replaced by young Geoff Howell. On the bench, Joseph Geddes drops out of the matchday squad, Hatter and new signing Kevin Newell providing defensive cover, while there is a call-up for 16 year old local striker Jack Preston from the Under-18's, and he'll be hoping to make his Senior debut today from the bench. A record crowd for Ash United were greeted by a persistent drizzle, and us trying to get on the front foot immediately, Geoff Howell drifting out to the left to make himself available, and then cutting in off the touchline, and finding Michael Simpson who tried to lob Nathan Hunter, but just missed the target. Howell was proving to be a real pain for Ash early on, his shot on the run a little too high, and then his knock down to find Simpson needed a smart low stop from Hunter. There would be another chance for Simpson that he would pull wide of the target before we eventually opened the scoring midway through the first half. The striker had won the ball in the centre circle, and played it off to Howell. The youngster did some great hold up work before returning it to Simpson, who earned a yard and then struck a low curling shot that faded away from Hunter and found the net via the inside of the far post. We could have had another before the break, but Jamal Da Costa showed that his build up play is better than his finishing, as he shanked his shot badly wide after doing all the hard work to get himself into a shooting position. We were nearly caught out just before half time though, Michael Campbell dropped the ball over the head of Nathan Meade to send Ben Highmore in behind our defence, and he angled his run into the box, then tried to squeeze his shot inside the near post, John Peacock making a good stop to turn it behind and preserve our half time lead. We almost doubled that lead right from kick off in the second half, passing our way through the Ash side, and Craig Miller sent Howell into space in the left channel of the box, but he blasted his shot well over the bar. Da Costa made a spectacular run shortly after, dribbling his way past three green shirted players, and then beating Hunter with his shot, but it was just the wrong side of the post. Hunter then denied Simpson a second with a flying save, before Ash finally cracked for a second time. From the back, Dominic Worthington dropped the ball down the right flank, and Lee Carr dawdled slightly. Simpson stole the ball off him and reached the byline, before sending it across the goalmouth, where Howell met it with a diving header, netting our second, and his first ever Senior goal. I wasn't yet confident enough to bring off any players for a rest, and my trepidation wasn't helped by sub Colin Robinson sending a curler from the corner of the box only just over our cross bar. Another goal would be perfect, and Miller nearly obliged on the hour, his curling effort almost caught out Hunter, who got fingertips to it at the last moment to divert it wide. When Paul Rhodes missed Ash's best chance for a while with quarter of an hour to play, lashing a shot high and wide of the goal frame after pulling the ball down from a corner, I decided we were safe enough. Simpson came off, replaced by debutant Kevin Newell as we went to five at the back. And wouldn't you know it, we snatched a third just moments later. A free kick on the right near the corner flag was whipped in by Miller, and Howell met it with a perfect volley at the far post to notch his second of a really good day for the young striker. He was brought off a few minutes later to allow Jack Preston a Senior debut, while Jamie Hatter also came on as we cruised to a third win of the season. Ash United (0) 0 Chertsey Town (1) 3 - Michael Simpson (22), Geoff Howell (52,82) Attendance :- 154 John Peacock; Chris Robinson (Jamie Hatter 86), Dominic Worthington, Gary Kettle, Nathan Meade; Ollie Jones; Reece Tison-Lascaris, Craig Miller; Jamal Da Costa ©; Michael Simpson (Kevin Newell 79), Geoff Howell (Jack Preston 84). Unused Substitutes :- Luke Buckingham (GK), Tom Bolton, Ian Baldwin, Mark Middleton. There was plenty to like about that performance, and getting a first win on our travels is a real confidence boost for everyone at the club after missing out on a point at least the last time we were away from home. Special word for young Geoff Howell, who netted his first ever Senior goals with a pair of clinical finishes, and has certainly given food for thought in a side that has scored sixteen times in just four matches, shipping only two at the other end. While that match was going on, the League had their disciplinary committee sat, and they have handed Mitchell Game a further two match ban after his straight red card last weekend. It's not a surprising bit of news to be honest. Not that it should impact us too much actually, and that's because before the day is out, we have two new arrivals signed at the club!
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