Season Review 2014/15
Second season in charge, and a second successful season in both the league and cups. I must be doing something right, as two clubs in League Two approached me to manage them – Hartlepool and Scunthorpe – but both offers were promptly rejected. I was rewarded with a two year, £1,000 a week contract which makes a change from the one year deals I’ve been offered in the previous seasons. The club turned professional at the start of the season, which prompted me to bring in a proper backroom staff and tie key players to long-term, full-time deals.
Blue Square Premier (stats)
We spent most of the season in the playoffs, though Luton took a commanding lead in the table, and by the halfway point they were 11 points clear in the solitary automatic promotion spot. In the second half of the season though, they looked intent on imploding, which they did, losing the lead with six games to play. It was important that we avoided the playoffs, and we achieved that on the final day of the season, though only just. If Mansfield won, which they did, we’d need a win away against Woking to stay in first place. After only 7 minutes we were a goal up thanks to Stuart Evans, and that was to be the game’s only goal. It was incredibly unnerving as our opponents threw everything at us, but we held on to claim the three points and win the league!
FA Cup (stats)
Last season’s run to the second round did wonders for our bank balance as well as our reputation. This season we went one better, reaching the third round! Beating League Two side Accrington was satisfying, as they are of the level of opposition we shall face next season, but Championship-based fierce rivals Leeds were a step too far. While we were not destroyed, the game wasn’t exactly close either. 0-3 was a fair result. Shame the fans didn’t agree, calling the result ‘unacceptable’. Idiots. As @cnichol33 said on Twitter: “what do you expect from ex man utd fans?“
FA Trophy (stats)
I was surprised that we managed to win this for a second time, as I didn’t really prioritise it like I did last season. This was reflected in the scorelines, as we only just scraped through in many of the rounds. Still, it should give us a slight reputation boost, and the gate receipts and prize money will add to an already decent bank balance. We also broke the record for average attendance in this competition, by nearly 2,000, with an average of 4,442 people attending our games.
Stuart Evans had another brilliant season, scoring 40 goals in 44 apps, and at the tender age of 17! 50% of his shots hit the target, and his average rating was 7.64 for the season, the highest in the squad. Both Watford and Ipswich have been watching him this season, though neither have bid for him. His excellent season earned him the Blue Square Premier ‘Player of the Year award’ as well as BSP Top Goalscorer! Also worth a mention is Cledan Devonald, a 19 year old right back signed on a free from Llanelli. He attained an average rating of 7.38 and assisted three goals in his 21 games. New signing Rhys Taylor played a blinder in goal, relegating Mirko Ranieri to the bench by keeping 27 clean sheets in 57 games. As for the youth intake, it was again abysmal, and no players were signed.
Four in, with defensive mid Amir Berkane joining on a free after being released by Ipswich, last-season’s GK target Rhys Taylor finally joining from Macclesfield also on a free. Cledon Devonald was found playing for Llanelli by my scout, and with ‘good League One potential’ he should hold down the right back slot for a good couple of seasons. Last in was Jeremy Keegan, a 17 year old English AML signed from Welsh side TNS on a free and is currently used as a backup winger, but may get a few more starts next season as he has improved lately.
I always say that the aim for the next season after promotion is to not get relegated. And that is because that is the basic goal. In truth, I hope to challenge for the playoffs, and we should be able to if we can bring in a couple of new faces, especially in midfield and at centre back. I’m more than happy with my current striker and goalkeepers, though another striker to back up Evans is needed as we struggled during his bans and injury layoff.