We’re just over halfway through the season and on a great run of form. As it stands, we’re seven points clear at the top and looking good for back to back promotions.
The season started with us banging in plenty of goals and looking brilliant. Then we managed to pick up good results despite a rough patch of performances. I’ve got to say, I’m open to the possibility that we might be good…
Happily, it was a quiet one. There was one notable outgoing in the shape of Harry Lee. After four and a half years with us, he leaves for Scunthorpe for the heady sum of £600. That is not a typo.
His stats for us over that time stand at: Apps 83(31), 10 goals, 8 assists and an average rating of 6.94. He did some great work for us, and was a capable vice captain to boot, but our rise up the leagues eventually left him behind. We wish him well.
Jordan Holsgrove returns to Reading after failing to establish himself on loan. I thought I’d signed too many midfielders, and he barely featured as a result.
Ben Adamson’s loan at Morecambe was going poorly, so we pulled him out and sent him on loan to Salford instead. Also going out on loan are three members of our U18 side who have just turned, or are about to turn 18. Ronnie Ramm-Hayes: DC/ DM, MC, Andy Clarke: ST and Dan Morris: DC all join our feeder club Whyteleafe until the end of the season. Unless they perform well, they are all at risk of release.
Kameron Stanley is absolutely tearing it up for Chesterfield in the Vanarama National and developing nicely. He’s earned another year on his contract.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. I don’t know how Southampton are bottom of the Premier League as they are light years ahead of the Everton side we faced last year.
Still, we didn’t disgrace ourselves. On the balance of play it was probably a fair scoreline, after 90 minutes of attacking football from both sides. Gonzalo Carneiro was unquestionably the best player on the pitch. I’m always glad to at least score in these type of fixtures, to give the fans a cheer or two.
We’re going to need to consistently get to this stage or later in the FA Cup. We need the cash badly. Despite selling John English, we’re back in the red and losing money disturbingly fast. I might have to make some cuts to the staff in the summer…
Before the money was all gone however, we made a couple of board requests:
We can’t afford to upgrade the facilities, so for now, we do what we can:
And finally I got a contract extension:
We’ve now settled on a first choice eleven:
A couple of changes then. It turns out than Damien McCrory wasn’t the answer at left back. He started poorly, and worse than that, he has shown signs of decline, even before he turned 32 in February. His £1k wage may grate on me next season. I’ll likely try and ship him off in the summer. Fortunately, Conor McHugh has had a good season for us so far, and has made the position his own.
In midfield, Ben Greenhalgh has finally been overtaken on the left wing. Ben’s been OK, but not as influential as he once was. League One rotation option may be his ceiling, but he gets a new contract as he’s an invaluable team leader and club legend. Kevin Brown has been great on the left and I’m happy to say we’ve extended his loan to include the entire of next season. Central midfield has seen the most rotation due to suspensions and injuries, but Robbie McKenzie and Toby Edser are first choice.
Sky Bet League One:
Well, we’re banging in the goals again:
Four good performances, and a backs-to-the-wall point against Millwall makes for a very satisfying month. I’m particularly happy with the 6-2 win against Crewe, in which our 2nd XI really came to play.
John English is back on form, and helped us to another successful month. The comeback from 1-0 down against Portsmouth was great to see, with us scoring three in the second half after changing to a more attacking 442.
Nine points clear at the top with eleven to play. We’re unbeaten at home, have won twelve away games, are scoring plenty of goals and have the best defensive record in the division.
We’re close to The Championship, I can almost taste it, and I desperately hope there will be significantly more TV money so that we can finally grow the club.
Although Andrew Parker has shown slightly more improvement than he did last season, it’s not enough to warrant going to the effort of grabbing screenshots. I don’t think he’s long for this club. I’ll probably look to loan him out next season.
Malcolm Hackett on the other hand has made some strides:
I’ve finally noticed that he’s six foot six. Only took me two entire years. So we’ve started to boost his physical stats a bit, see if we can’t mould ourselves a decent target man. If I’d noticed earlier, I’m not sure I’d have wanted him to pick up the “Moves Into Channels” trait. I may have to re-train that out of him.
The stand out player from last year’s intake, Ronnie Rutherford, has improved little.
Overall, we’ve not accomplished much with the kids so far. We have decent coaches but I think ultimately it’s probably down to the poor youth and training facilities that we have. And there’s not much we can do about that without cash. Sorry to keep banging on about how broke we are, but it’s a source of constant frustration!
From this year’s intake, goalkeeper Matt Davies:
And defensive midfielder Taylor Webb are the pick of the bunch:
They certainly have potential, and we’ll try our best to improve them.
Now why would I have left this until last…
We’re only in the bleedin’ final! Our last three matches in this competition have been excellent and Ryan Longman’s been banging them in for fun. He loves the Checkatrade!
I don’t know what to expect from Liverpool U23s. Reserve team lineups are difficult to predict. We’ve actually got two of Liverpool’s players on loan, and the rules seem to allow both Corey Whelan and, more importantly Kevin Brown to play for us in the final.
On the pitch, things are going great. Other than the FA Cup tie against Southampton, we haven’t lost for ages. Hopefully next time out we can seal a triumphant double! Thanks again for reading!