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January – New year, new resolutions, same problems

fm 2015 story 2

After a few glasses of bubbly, we see in the New Year, and we look forward to what 2015 may bring. Naturally, it’s a time to look back at what has gone before us. To celebrate what people achieved in 2014.

Lionel Messi won the World Player of the Year, leaving Juan Mata and Oscar in his wake. Johannes Geis wins the Young Player award.

There’s also a bit of a reshuffle at the helm of a couple of clubs, most notably Brian McDermott taking charge at Fulham, and George Burley fills the vacant position at Motherwell. Nigel Worthington has also decided to cross the border, leaving York City to take over at Hearts.

We start 2015 with a game on New Years day against Solihull Motors. My lads must’ve still had a bit of a fuzzy head, as we concede after just 16 seconds. A defensive mix up allowed Bogle to tap into an empty net. He would be a pain all match. In fact, he’s instrumental in setting up their second as he squares it to Knights who fires in to make it 2-0. On the half hour mark, we start to get back into the game with Taylor getting onto a loose ball after a corner. Just before half time, Mettham misses a glorious opportunity to pull us level. We gave it all in the second half, and finally get our just rewards in injury time. We spring a counter attack. Hibbert chases the ball down the line, whips in a cross which is converted by Simmons to rescue a point. Inspired substitutions? Possibly.

4th January saw us travel to 3rd placed Stockport County. In all honesty, it was hardly a classic. We went in a goal down at half time after conceding from a corner (yup, that problem strikes again) when Nathan Rooney scored his first goal of the season. Thankfully we came out fighting in the second half and when Mettham was brought down in the box, Thornton converted the penalty and we took a share of the spoils.

Two points from our previous two matches wasn’t the best form, so an FA Trophy match against Banbury from the Southern Premier division was a welcome distraction from the league. However, despite being in a league below us, they gave it everything. They actually took the lead on 13 mins when Zapata got his head to a cross to grab his 16th goal of the season. We actually equalised in the most bizarre fashion. Their keepers clearance ended up coming back to him, and when he tried to dig the ball out from under his feet, he struck it straight at Taylor and had to watch as the ball rolled into the net. Banbury nearly nicked it right at the end when Belshaw was needed to make a fantastic save to deny Zapata a second.  Queue a replay, which actually gets postponed due to heavy snow. This leads to a bit of rescheduling for our Conference North match against Leamington. Meanwhile, Steve McClaren takes over the reigns at Leeds United.

We finally get to play our FA Trophy replay, and to be honest, it was one of the worst games of football I’ve ever seen. The term bore draw doesn’t even do it justice. We can’t be separated over 120 minutes, so it goes to penalties. After 6 perfect penalties, Adams misses for them giving us the advantage. We win the shoot out 4-3 with Mettham scoring the decisive kick. Despite the positives, my left back Sleath picked up a groin strain and will be out for 5 weeks.

Next up in the league was a home game against Guiseley on the 20th January. We played them on my debut in management, and we were hoping to do the double over them, especially as they’ve only won 1 in their last 5. With the rain lashing down, I was expecting us to take all three points. We battled through the first 45, but went in level. In the second half, we started to turn the screw. On 52mins, a corner from Thornton bobbled around in the box before Fitzsimmons stuck a boot out and turned it into the net. Three mins later, Taylor was tackled in the box, but the ball was pounced on by Simmonds who struck to give us a 2 goal advantage. We then made it three goals in 8 minutes, when Watson sprayed a pass into space for Simmonds to run onto and he cooly finished at the near post. Simmonds was denied his hat-trick two minutes from time thanks to a crucial last-ditch tackle. Boshell grabbed a consolation goal for the visitors in the last-minute. With 6 matches unbeaten, we set a new club record.

We looked to keep our unbeaten record going at home to Worcester in the FA Trophy. The bookies made us slight favourites, and we didn’t disappoint. We took the lead on 13 mins when Taylor flicked on a long ball into the path of Mettham who slotted home. The pair repeated their link up straight from the re-start as Taylor whipped in a cross for Mettham to meet it with his head and to give us a 2-0 win.

Two more games left in January. First up was our rescheduled trip to Leamington. It wasn’t a classic by any stretch of the imagination. The most interesting thing of the match was realising they had a centre-half called Tank. We won the match 1-0 as we scored just after the break following a dropped ball by their keeper which was turned in by Preston.

Despite seeing us progress in the cup and the league, the players started whinging on a bit. I called a meeting and told them all to shut up and get on with the task in hand. Most accepted that was probably the best course of action. There were still a couple of lads who thought I’d dealt with that matter in a less than satisfactory way. Needless to say they were less than chuffed when I told them that I’d happily listen to offers for them.

Our final game of the month came against Oxford City. Our hosts were sitting in 16th place, having only won 1 in their last 6.

Our hosts actually took the lead on 17 mins when Jackson gives away a penalty. Revan dusts himself down and slots it home. We rally the troops and on the stroke of half-time Thornton floats in a corner, Green gets up above his marker and heads up level. We then take all three points when Jackson tees up Mettham in the area who picks up his 11th goal of the season five minutes from time.

We end the month sitting comfortably in 5th and with only a couple of players still complaining.

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