To read Part 1, covering pre-season and the first 4 games of August, click here. Nothing has changed here except the skin, as I opted for the default “Football Manager” one. If you want to see more detailed, high-resolution versions of the screenshots, just click on them.
“The world looks a totally different place after two wins.” – Gordon Strachan
We didn’t have two wins, but we were off the mark with our first following a 2-1 win over Poole Town. It was pleasing not just for the three points but for the fact that my misfiring lone frontman Eliot Richards bagged both goals.
Weston-Super-Mare vs. Dartford Town
I was hoping to continue in that vein with another win in another home game, this time against Dartford Town. Sticking to the old adage about not changing a winning team I stuck to the same tactics and XI. I still was not convinced about the 4-3-2-1, but I didn’t have any better ideas. And besides, it had worked last time out.
Bloody glorious, another 2-1 win! The only slight downside was that Richards didn’t continue his goalscoring exploits (and was in fact largely anonymous) but a win is a win.
We scored with virtually our first attack, and it was a disarmingly simple goal. A throw in on the right found Jesse Kewley-Graham, who played a simple square ball to his midfield cohort Adam Pepper. From just inside the box, Pepper lashed a shot inside the near post that was too swift for the Dartford keeper to stop.
It was 2-0 just after half time, and the goal was similar. This time Heath’s throw in from the left was flicked on by Jack Maloney. Kewley-Graham collected the ball on the edge of the area and lashed a shot home.
Dartford rarely threatened, but did get a goal back inside the final 15 minutes to make things tense. Some slack passing in the centre circle saw us lose the ball, and a quick break from Dartford saw them in behind out defence. Sub Danny Harris could have scored but instead squared unselfishly for Duane Ofori-Acheampong to tap in.
The pressed for an equaliser but couldn’t create anything clear cut as we withdrew and sat deep. Their frustration told with less than ten minutes to go as Eliott Bradbook was shown red for a two-footed lunge on Mark Nisbet. After that, whatever fight they had faded away, and we held on comfortably for a second 2-1 win in a row.
Ideally I wanted another home game to continue the momentum we had built, but instead we had an away trip to Margate. Again I saw no point in chopping and changing for the sake of it so we kept the same personnel playing the same way.
Margate vs. Weston-Super-Mare
Our winning run came to an end after just two games. Everything of note happened in the first half. Margate netted from a corner – our Achilles’ Heel – when centreback Yado Mambo’s header was diverted in, virtually on the goalline, by striker Daniel Akindayini.
It didn’t take long for us to equalise. Around 10 minutes later we had the ball in the net in fortuitous circumstances. Winger Jack Maloney had a speculative long rang effort that somehow squirmed under the body of the Margate goalkeeper and into the net. It wasn’t a good goal, but I wasn’t complaining!
And that was pretty much it for the rest of the game. Maloney’s effort was the only one we could muster on target, the best we could offer was other long range potshots that sailed into the stands. Margate were much the same, though Akindayini did miss a couple of gilt-edged one-on-one chances. A 1-1 draw was fair, it was pretty obvious we were two poor teams.
Our winning run had ended, but we were still unbeaten in three. I hoped that the confidence would still be intact after early pace setters St. Albans came to visit. I had make some changes. Unforunately experienced right back Sekani Simpson suffered a cruiciate ligament injury in training that would keep him out for the rest of the season. In his place, I loaned young full back Tyler Little from Bristol Rovers. Due to tiredness I also drafted in Syd Camper at left back, and Ladjie Soukana into defensive midfield. The changes weren’t ideal, so I was worried a heavy defeat would be on the cards…
Well, a heavy defeat was avoided. But we still lost. In fairness, we played quite well, and created more chances than them. The real difference came in the fact that they had Louis Theophanous leading the line and we had Eliot Richards. The Welshman had another forgettable game up front, while Theophanous showed him how it was done, diverting a near post cross into the net at the stroke of half time to give St. Albans the lead.
We had chances, but they were either saved by keeper James Russell or (more often) diverted haplessly wide and/or over the bar by Richards and his cohorts out wide. A 1-0 defeat against the early league leaders was no disgrace, but it proved that I had a lot of work to do to make this side competitive, despite those two wins.
The month of August had shown that we’re a better team than the relegation certainties we were predicted to be, but that we’re also a long way off matching the league’s better sides. I knew I had plenty to do, but I was confident that at the very least, I could keep this side up. I just needed a reliable source of goals from somewhere. We had a packed September ahead – 5 league games plus the second Qualifying Round of the F.A. Cup meant our squad would be stretched to the limit. Things were about to get interesting…