Six wins, two draws and one defeat since my last update lifted me into the play-offs, but a couple of annoying defeats in my last two games means that my place in the top five hangs in the balance. FC Halifax and Histon await like vultures to pounce on the last play-off spot that I’m currently clinging to.
There are no games in hand for anyone. All teams in the Conference North have played 36 matches. For a game that prides itself on realism, the makers seem to have missed a trick when it comes to postponements. We all know that at non league level it’s not unusual for one team to have about six games in hand on another at this time of the season. It can be a complete ball ache if it’s your team that has to play a million matches in three weeks (especially when your part time players are already whinging about needing a rest) but I’d take it just for the challenge it offers. Mind you, I probably wouldn’t say that if it derailed my promotion train.
As you can see from the graph below, we’ve been lurking around the play-offs like a socially awkward geek hangs around a fit girl he’s got no chance with at a party. I’m hoping there’s no downward movement between now and the end of the season, but I’ve got some tough looking fixtures coming up, including Guiseley (3rd) and Stalybridge (8th) away, and Gainsborough (4th) at home.
Striker Ross Wilson, on loan from Hereford, continues to bang in the goals. He’s got 17 for us this season and has been supported well by Jamar Dobson – picked up on a free transfer in the summer after his release from Stoke. He’s added another 11 goals. And when he’s struggled to find the net, Stephen Reynolds has chipped in with seven goals in eight starts (and eight sub appearances).
What all this means, is that the board have finally stopped banging on about what a bad piece of business it was to let Omar Bogle go last summer. I’ve got the team scoring way more goals this season with Wilson, Dobson and Reynolds, so I think I know who’s come out of this looking pretty clever.
Mind you, with six games to go I’ve turned my attention to renewing some of the contracts of players that have done well for me this season. Two outstanding performers have been centre back Connor Roberts-Nurse and not-so-Junior English. The success of being fifth in the Conference North has obviously gone to their heads, though, because they’re asking for silly money. I’d have to break my wage budget just to keep Roberts-Nurse. He’s after £650 p/w when my current top earner, Roberts-Nurse, is on £300 p/w. He’s getting above his station.
One other thing to mention is that my Brazilian trialist, Rodrigo, didn’t really do anything in his couple of reserve matches to earn a permanent deal. Someone who did impress, however, was Belgian striker Mehdi Lazaar. He had been released by Burney without ever troubling their first team, but despite two goals and a rating of 9 in a 4-1 behind-closed-doors friendly win against Buxton, he got a bit greedy and the deal fell through. He then went and signed for rivals Gainsborough on a tiny contract, which caused me to let out one of the more squeaky exclamations I’ve made in my time of playing the game.