We started the month with a tough away game against Dartford, and Josh Okotcha gave us the lead early in the second half. When Niall McManus got us two up in the 83rd minute, everything looked set to go our way. Then came six minutes from hell. 1-2 in the 88th minute, Okotcha sent off in the 89th and 2-2 five minutes into overtime. However, we still manage to get a point from a total collapse, so it’s not all bad.
We were back to our winning ways again when Hemel Hempstead came to visit. A brace from Jason Prior and a header from Ed Harris killed the match before we played half an hour. This was the 20th game we scored in a row – proof of our excellent attacking quality.
Eastbourne Boro took the lead early on, and again we struggled away. After an hour, Alfie Rutherford equalized, but we never managed to put pressure on after that.
Against Hampton & Richmond, all our strikers found the net. First Jason Prior in the first half, before James McShane and Rutherford, scored in the second half.
The Ebbsfleet game was as important as the last one, and with a win here, we could get a 5 point lead. It sure looked good when Bobby-Joe Taylor scored in the first half. However, just minutes after the break Ebbsfleet equalized. The rest of a half saw two teams going forward with everything they got. No goals came from it before Rutherford, who, of course, came from the bench, scored a screamer in the top corner in the 91st minute. After the wild celebration, we turned our heads off and let Ebbsflett equalize yet again one minute later. We can’t continue to finish our games like that, and something needs to change.
Slough is a tough team to beat, but Meadowbank is a tough place to come. McShane scored the only goal to win us the match. Great with a clean sheet again after almost three months since the last one.
Chippenham was no match for us, and we beat them comfortably after goals from Prior, McShane, Harris and a rare goal from Matt Briggs.
Against Welling, our away form finally looked to have turned after Harris scored a brace and Prior got a goal within the first 15 minutes. I don’t know what happened after that, and I’m not sure anyone does. We gave away five goals from the 28th to the 66th minute, last years favourite Kaylen Hinds scored a hattrick, and it looks like he still has something to fare with. They scored on every chance they got. I had no other option than to throw everyone forward and go for a goal. Prior managed to get a goal before Okotcha scored after a corner. What a relief to get something from this game!
Bobby-Joe Taylor also deserves credit after this game with his four assists.
Later that week, we continued to give goals away against Concord. Prior, Harris and B.J Taylor continued their excellent form, and all got on the scoresheet. McShane grabbed his third hattrick of the season, and we managed to keep the 2 points lead to Ebbsfleet.
St.Albans away was more challenging than expected, and yet another month without winning away from home. Briggs scored for us, and there’s nothing more worth mentioning from this game. Luckily Ebbsfleet also gave away points, so it’s status quo in the title race.
With everything going our way, we could win the league if we won against Dulwich Hamlet. However, it looked like all of the lads were nervous and couldn’t cope with the pressure.McShane got us a goal, but it didn’t help as we were nowhere near good enough. So there goes our 18 games unbeaten run and at home as well. It’s the first loss at home in the league since August.
Since Ebbsleet also lost, we were still in a great position when we visited Hungerford. We attacked from the first kick on the ball and took the lead by Josh Taylor after just 4 minutes; it’s the 30th match in a row we scored a goal. When Harris scored again after 15, we were never giving this away. Okotcha scored early in the second half before Wes Fogden scored on a penalty at the end of the game. A beautiful moment as he had just returned from injury after ten months out.
We’re up, we’re champions, and we’re one step closer to the EFL!!
We have some impressive attacking stats, with six players scoring over ten goals. We also have four players with over ten assists. The attacking numbers have been great this season, but we have a lot of work to do on the other side of the pitch. The other teams will punish us even harder for our mistakes on a higher level next season.
Some of the key players this year;
Games – Goals – Assists (Total)
Jason Prior 39(46) – 30(35) – 10(11)
Bobby-Joe Taylor 37(45) – 11(12) – 29(33)
James McShane 39(45) – 23(27) – 7(9)
Bobby-Joe Taylor was named as National League South Player of the year and Jason Prior won National League South Golden Boot.
We got presented some great news after the last match, and one of them is that we’re getting a new stadium; Dorking Stadium. A little bigger, no more artificial grass. The downside is, of course, that we need to play our home games somewhere else for the upcoming season. So we’ll have one year at The People’s Pension Stadium in Crawley. I don’t like that one bit, but the Meadowbank don’t fulfil the National League’s requirements.
The head of youth development told me that we had a golden generation coming through, and while it looks decent at our level, I think it’s nowhere close to a golden generation. Hopefully, we can get something out of Aaron Lee. The rest will probably stay in the U18’s and reserves.
The aim is to invest in these kinds of facilities as soon as possible. We can never be self sufficient with this kind of players coming through.
I got my continental C licence during the season and also started studying for the B licence. With three Manager of the month awards and the first title in my debut season, my reputation is growing, and I’m on my way to making a name for myself. On top of all that I was named as National League South Manager of the year!
I couldn’t ask for a better start to this career, but it’s still a lot of work to be done, and I’m just getting started.