Smithers - Oxford City - Blue Square Premier - 2013/14
League Prediction - 24th
League Position - 1st
Another quite excellent season to secure back-to-back promotions, and finally enter the promised land of the football league. Predicted to come a definite last in a difficult relegation battle, we proved our critics wrong quite spectacularly by dominating the league, going unbeaten at home, and reaching the final of the FA Trophy, only to succumb to a bitterly disappointing 4-1 defeat to York, only our 7th loss of the season. Winning the manager of the season was a nice little bonus too.
FA Cup run - not a brilliant run, as although we dispatched Didcot 3-1 in the 4th qualifying round, we were convincingly beaten 4-2 at Macclesfield in the 1st round, thanks to a Gavin Tomlin hat-trick.
FA Trophy run - a fantastic cup-run saw us emerge victorious against the likes of St. Albans, Bath, Woking, Weymouth and Stafford, but we fell apart at our first trip to Wembley. We were always going to be second-best, as our best midfielder Francis Quarm got injured (in an otherwise injury-free season) shortly before the match, and star striker Stephen Thompson was forced to come off just half an hour in too. Things went from bad to worse, as we saw a goal disallowed for offside, and we capitulated just before half-time as York capitalised on our defensive frailties, and from then on there was no looking back, despite a late Kyle Wilson goal. It was to be a melancholy end to a season, but even so our success in the league more than makes up for it.
Transfers - although the transfers in screen may suggest otherwise, the main crux of the team from last season remained the same, with most of our new signings used as backup, most only playing a handful of games, some not at all. Anthony Wordsworth however quickly established himself in midfield due to his terrific versatility, and although his stats may imply a poor season, goalkeeper Grzegorz Szamotulski was for the most part exceptional in goal (except when he got lobbed from 80 yards by Accrington Stanley's own goalie). Our signing of the season though was by far striker Stephen Thompson who immediately settled in right at home with partner Gareth Evans in one of the best seasons I have ever witnessed in terms of striker parterships. Scoring 35 league goals in 36 starts, and further influence in the cups, he was consistently in formiddable form, earning himself a place in the BSP team of the season (alongside Evans), top BSP scorer (with Evans coming 3rd), and ultimately player of the season.
Meanwhile, Oxford said goodbye to unhappy striker Darryn Stamp, aging left-back Sacha Opinel and midfielder Rossi Jarvis, who will be forever remembered for his input into our first couple of seasons.
Squad - at the back, we remained the same as last season, with highlights being Jon Boardman overtaking Jermaine McSporran's appearance record, and Phil Anderson's consistency. Midfield was again solid, with a strong rotation policy of wingers, and Solomon Shields, Ryan Hall and Luke Thurlbourne coming in to impress whenever needed. Attack was certainly our biggest strength, as Evans' (fans' player of the year) and Thompsons' partnership saw them jointly notch up 72 goals, and for the majority of the season they were in constant competition with each other to score the most goals.
Finances - weren't a huge problem this season; in fact due to our excellence in the league, our transfer budget was increased from nothing to a hefty £400k. I used this to pour more money into the wage budget, and combining this with the sales of expensive players such as Rossi Jarvis, we are now in a very secure position.
Aims for next season:
- survive obviously
- get a decent parent club (I say this every year but never get round to it), especially since we're now in the same league as our current one Oxford Utd and so lose those connections
- just generally expand the squad and improve key areas
Season League Position Achievements
2010/11 Blue Square South 14th n/a
2011/12 Blue Square North 4th Play-offs, lost in final
2012/13 Blue Square North 2nd Promotion via play-offs
2013/14 Blue Square Premier 1st Champions, FA Trophy runners-up