So we move swiftly into October 2014 in my first ever FM15 blog, things are moving at quite a pace at The Old Spotted Dog. Again, there were to be five league games and the 1st Round of the FA Vase – we had been drawn at home to Colliers Wood of the Combined Counties League.
First up in the Essex Senior were Stansted. They had been struggling, just three wins and six defeats so far, but their most recent performance was a 4-0 hammering of Bowers & Pitsea. We made the short trip to Hargrave Park looking to get ourselves back on track, frankly I was worried that the bubble had burst and we were going to be in for a tough month. I continued with Moloney playing the Treq role with Gilfedder to the left of him. The rest of the side was unchanged. It proved to be the right decision, as Moloney put us ahead in the 13th minute with a header from 15 yards, another great cross from the right back, Pulford. Junior Pulford was at it again in the second half, a great delivery from the right and this time it was Hennessy arriving late in the box to drive it home and ensured we flew out of Stansted with all three points. It was a very solid performance, we only allowed them one shot on target and we dominated possession for the first time in a while.
Next up were London Bari, who were playing us off the back of four straight defeats – surely an ideal time to meet them? They left The Spotted Dog with their tails firmly between their legs as we ran out impressive 5-0 winners. The deep midfield runners continued to score our goals, Osborne and Hennessy with a brace apiece, Lee Barney getting the other. It was the left hand side that provided the width, Herron and then his late replacement, Jennings, providing two killer assists from crosses. Gilfedder was also highly creative, setting up two. Two wins on the bounce was us staying in the early break-away pack in the table, third but very much in touch with FC Romania who were already living up to the pre-season prediction of title winning material.
Four days later we were on the road to Greenhouse London, who had followed up four wins on the bounce with a couple of defeats. My only change was to rest Herron who was in need of a game off, and replace him with young Morrell Jennings. Our man-of-the-match turned out to be Ross Gilfedder, who scored both our goals in a 2-1 win, either side of half-time. It was another ground-out victory, and we had won all of our October fixtures so far – great preparation for the arrival of Colliers Wood on Saturday.
I was starting to grow fond of the FA Vase, each time the draw had been made so far I looked at the opposition and thought that if they were in our league I would hope to beat them, and the first round tie against Colliers Wood was no different. I won’t spoil it, go and watch the match for yourself here.
As you saw, I gave Rafa Nade a first start in the Treq role and he was superb, pulling strings all over the place. He really impressed me, along with Osborne who was linking up play beautifully. Gilfedder is starting to look the part now, 5 in 2 and we are looking so slick moving the ball forwards. Bring on the next round, right?
We ended October, looking for the full house of wins, by entertaining Sporting Bengal at The Dog. Could we win every match of my birthday month? Sporting at shipped ten goals in their last two games, which gave me every confidence we could. They way we played in the last game against Colliers Wood really excited me, and I was looking forward to unleashing Barney, Nade and Gilfedder on these boys. I wasn’t disappointed, as we cruised to a 3-1 win with Barney, Axten and Nade getting the goals. The more I watch us play, the more I realise we won’t be nicking many matches 1-0.
We ended the month in 2nd place as FC Romania managed to match our month, but I was full of confidence going into November. The FA Vase gave us Hartley Wintney and I couldn’t see anything in the fixtures that massively worried me.
How wrong could I be? We got off to a shocking start, Eton Manor humbling us 3-0 at Cappershotts before we let a 3-0 then a 4-2 lead slip against Newham and ended up in a 4-4 draw. Fortunately we sorted ourselves out, and I put down to a minor bump in the road as the we turned Ilford over 3-1 next time out. I had finally lost patience with Steve Humm and replaced him permanently with Alex Adesina, who rewarded me with the opening goal. Gilfedder notched another and Daryn Hennessy made the game safe late on. Hartley Witney came to The Dog next, hoping to end our FA Vase dream.
Well that was all done and dusted rather quickly, wasn’t it? Our third goal was so pleasing, a throw from the ‘keeper all the way to a tap in at the other end, great football. On our day we look like a much higher level outfit than an Essex Senior side. We rounded off November, and this FM15 blog for today, with a 4-3 win away at Waltham Forest. Boy did the game swing one way and another. We were 1-0 down, then 2-1 up with ten minutes to go with Adesina and subsititue Blake notching. Then they levelled straight away, before Lee Barney scored very late brace to put us 4-2 up. They were late nerves as they pulled one back deep into injury time, but we held on. Another month done, and we are still clinging on to the coat tails of FC Romania who are somehow still three points ahead of us.
Stand out’s from the last two months – has to be the scoring form of Ross Gilfedder. It would not surprise me if he goes on to get 25+ this season. Also Kieron Osborne, who the coaching staff rate as my 8th best midfielder but always gets involved when he plays, be it goals or assists. Concerns? Not so much that we do ship goals, any team playing this way will unless you are Barcelona of old and we are certainly not that, but more the fatigue that sets in quickly for my two full backs who are asked to get up and down the pitch all day long. If anyone has any tips for that, I would gladly hear them. We also concede a hell of a lot of goals from crosses, and it is not just because my full backs attack, quite often they are back in defensive positions and the cross still comes in and we fail to deal with it. Then, to be fair, we score a truck load of goals that way ourselves, so swings and roundabouts!
Anyway, over and out for this update – I think the next one will be on Friday as I am flying back to Spain tomorrow.
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FM15 Blog: www.comeontheoviedo.wordpress.com
Author of the “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” series
Read the first chapter of “The Second Season Syndrome” at www.chrisdarwen.com