Tag Archives: Gainsborough

The big play-off tease continues

Eight victories, three draws and four defeats since my last update leaves us pretty much where we were the last time I wrote about my third season with Solihull Moors in the Conference North. The play-offs continue to be just out of our reach. They’re teasing me. It’s like the play-offs know that I sometimes put treats under the sofa so the cats can see them but can’t get them, and they’re teaching me a lesson.

The cats always get the treats in the end, by the way. Please take note, play-offs.

An excellent run of just one defeat in 10 brought us to within two places of the top five, but then I only went and ruddy lost at 19th placed Workington, didn’t I? I’d overcome much stiffer challenges in the weeks before, beating Nuneaton 2-1 away when they were pushing Harrogate for top spot, and then I held Harrogate to a 1-1 draw at home. I then stuffed Blyth 3-0 and suddenly we were on a roll.

The problem has been that every other bugger – from Southport in 4th to Gainsborough in 11th – has been getting similar results. There are eight teams pushing for two play-off spots, realistically speaking, and while I still might only be 10th in the league it’s getting tight in the balls department.

League table showing Solihull in 10th place

I lost my FA Trophy second round match 2-1 at Conference side Hereford, although we played well and probably deserved a draw. I thought it was destined to end level since every other cup game I play seems to end in a draw and an energy-sapping replay, but this one screwed me over. The reaction in the league was good, with a 1-0 win at Histon, but then I lost 1-0 at home to Altrincham and then 2-0 away to Tamworth.

That’s when the sequence of one defeat in 10 began. I put my rubbish home form to one side to beat bottom side Redditch 4-0, and a few weeks later I had extended my excellent away record with wins at Stafford and Bedford (also in the lower reaches of the division).

The defeat came at home (surprise, surprise) to Halifax, who turned us over 2-0. But a 4-2 win at home to mid-table Worcester was followed by that great win at Nuneaton and home draw to Harrogate.

My last game of this recent spell, which leaves us in mid-March and with just seven games left to play was a 3-0 home win over local rivals Hinckley. It saw a return to form of striker Stephen Reynolds, who hadn’t really been out of form for long if I’m honest. He scored his 20th and 21st goals in all competitions in a game that we dominated from start to finish.

The central midfield area still gives me cause for concern, as does the right wing, but in recent times I’m beginning to rely on Will Roberts and not-so Junior English. Jay Denny has done ok on the wing, even though he prefers a more central role. Alex Price has been shocking in the last five games, while I’m pleased to say that Ricky Fletcher has returned to form in central defence alongside Roberts-Nurse. Stuart Pierpoint had done well in his absence, but he had two crap games and deserved dropping.

Ben Montgomery – a fairly talented right back who I signed from Hinckley at the end of the first season – has also come back into the side after a couple of months on the treatment table. His replacement in that time, youth player Maxwell Ibrahim, did very well and played above expectations. So much so, in fact, that he somehow managed to secure himself a move to Kilmarnock in the summer.

Ibrahim was probably my one and only youth team player worth anything to the side (either this season or next) so I’m sorry he’s going in this fashion. I would’ve done more to keep him at the club but from the moment I clicked ‘continue game’ to the next moment it let me re-enter the managerial world, the approach had occurred and the contract agreed and finalised. I thought the game would stop to let me know this was happening, but it didn’t. In truth I don’t think I could’ve stopped it.

As he’s only 19- years old I’m expecting some kind of compensation. He’s out of contract in the summer and I can’t offer him a new deal since he’s already got his next one lined up. I’m still trying to work out why Kilmarnock were allowed to offer him a deal when he was under contract with us. I’ve tried poaching someone else’s 19-year old right back when they enter the last six months of their contract and for some reason I’m asked to offer a transfer fee first. It’s a bit odd.

But I refuse to make out the game is against me. Ibrahim’s talent was obvious – not just from the four-star report from my first team coach, but also by the way he’s been representing the Nigerian under-20s recently. He’s not been playing well, but at least I can say I’ve got an international player on my books.

When Tyler Collishaw got injured and my regular left winger Tommy Taylor played poorly I decided to bolster that side of the team with the signing of ex-Bristol City winger Lewis Hall. I brought him on with less than 10 minutes to go in the 0-0 draw at home to Boston and he managed to get injured immediately for three months. Thankfully Collishaw recovered quite quickly (although he’s got no match fitness and has had to play a few reserve games.

So then, seven games remain. I’ll probably write my next update once they’ve been played. Wish me luck – I’m going in dry…

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Big scores but play-off heartbreak for sullen Solihull

The play-offs – a great way to get promoted; a terrible way to end the season if Bradford Park Avenue do you over in extra time. As I just found out.

It’s like I’ve just been served a cold cup of sick in one of those really cheap and horrible cafés outside train stations that have those electric blue lights behind a grill to kill flies. After winning one of the most bizarre but euphoric play-off semi-finals against a Histon side that finished above me by just two goals, I was made to play the final at Bradford PA’s Horsfall Stadium, which seems a bit of a cheek given that any other league above the Conference North plays its play-off finals at neutral venues.

After falling behind on 13 minutes, Ross Wilson equalised with his 18th league goal of the season on 27 minutes. It was deserved. Bradford PA turned the screw after the break but it remained 1-1 at full time. We went behind just four minutes into extra time, and then gave away a penalty on 107 minutes, which PA scored. I made my final substitution. Jamar Dobson made it 3-2 with eight minutes left, but then my centre back Dominic Langdon got injured and had to be brought off. PA inevitably scored through the striker Langdon was supposed to have been marking and secured a 4-2 win, leaving us to face a third season in the Conference North.

However, simply making the final looked unlikely after losing the semi-final first leg 1-0 at home to Histon. It was a smash and grab performance – we dominated and wasted chances; they scored with three minutes to go with their only shot on target. I wasn’t happy. I may have sworn and put my ‘page up’ key out of action for a while. It should really get fixed but I don’t use that key so much.

I needn’t have worried. Because this happened:

Screenshot of a 6-2 win for Solihull Moors at Histon.

That’s right. Langdon got us level on aggregate justsix minutes into the tie and not-so-Junior English put us ahead later in the half. Langdon made it 3-0 on the night on the stroke of half time, and then goals from English and Tommy Taylor made it 5-0 with 26 minutes still to play. Although Histon pulled a goal back almost immediately, English completed his hat-trick just a couple of minutes later to make it 6-1. Histon grabbed a consolation near the end but it finished 6-2 to Solihull and 6-3 on aggregate.

It was, without doubt, the most remarkable play-off game I had ever been involved in on any version of Football or Championship Manager. It got me thinking back to times when I may have scored six goals as the away side, and I don’t even think that’s ever happened to me before.

It wasn’t the only big score of the night – check out the other semi-final:

Screenshot showing Bradford PA's 7-1 win over Gainsborough Trinity.

You can see why I didn’t fancy playing Bradford PA in the final after they came back from a 2-0 deficit to trounce Gainsborough Trinity 7-1 in their second leg. Ultimately I have very few complaints with how the final went, but it’s still a kick in the teeth not to get promoted after a pretty solid season:

Chart showing Solihull Moor's2013-14 league progress.

When I last blogged there were still six league games to go. I got a great 1-0 win at Guiseley, who were above me and in the play-offs at the time, and I followed that up with a good 2-0 home win over mid-table Tamworth. A 2-0 defeat at Harrogate didn’t go down well after I’d had more than 20 shots on goal, but we grabbed a decent 2-1 win at Stalybridge to keep us in the play-offs by a couple of points going into the final two games of the season.

What made the 6-2 win at Histon so remarkable was that it followed an incredible 6-1 win over Gainsborough just a few weeks earlier. Gainsborough were just below me and a win for them would have seen me drop out of the play-offs with one game left. Tyler Collishaw – a fringe player for the entire season and an average rating of around 6.55 (with no goals or assists from roughly 10 starts and 10 sub appearances) turned in a man of the match performance, scoring two and setting up another in a completely unprecedented rout. It was a game in which everything hit the back of the net.

The final game of the season – after we had secured a play-off spot – was a 0-0 bore draw at home to Vauxhall Motors. It was a result that actually relegated the side from Ellsmere Port. Had they won, they’d have survived. Meanwhile, Hednesford scored in the 91st and 93rd minute at Colwyn Bay to turn a 2-1 defeat into a 3-2 victory to stay up at the Welsh team’s expense.

Ultimately, the board seem happy with what we’ve achieved this season:

A summary showing largely positive progress bars.

You’d think the board would offer me another year on my contract to say thanks, wouldn’t you? Well, that they did… but £50 less than what I was earning. That’s right – they considered my current deal of £400 p/w and chose to reduce it to £350 p/w, to reward me for such a thrilling campaign.

In all honesty I’m not sure I’ll be staying at Solihull Moors next season. It’s not just down to petulance over £50 that doesn’t exist or even have any bearing on the game whatsoever; it’s just that there are top players like Connor Roberts-Nurse and Ross Wilson who I know I won’t be able to keep for next season.

And with the club more than £250,000 in debt because of its pathetic weekly attendances of 350, I’m anticipating a further reduction in my already meagre weekly wage budget – making a repeat of this season’s feats highly improbable.

I’ll take time to decide whether I will spit my dummy out.

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