After a tough September, it was good to start this month with a win against Salford. In the first half, Louis Flower scored the opener for us before Connor McAvoy increased the lead after a corner. Despite our two goals, it was Salford that created the chances. 12 saves from Dominic Rogerson and an 8.7 rating. He may be one of the best goalkeepers in the division, and we’re lucky to have him still.
The games against Oxford and Sunderland were all about defending. It’s hard to compete for us when you come up against players like Martin Braithwaite.
Against Swindon, we played a better match and got away with a strong result away from home. Lewis Hall scored his first goal for the club on a beautiful free-kick.
Not much to say about the games against Lincoln and Bolton. I can’t even say we were unlucky. We were simply just not good enough. George Nunn scored our goal against Lincoln.
We still struggle with scoring goals and start the month with a draw against Fleetwood and another one against Bristol Rovers. McAvoy scored late to equalize.
Against AFC Wimbledon, we conceded early and had to chase a goal from the start of the game. Richard Olise tied the game with a goal in the 45th minute, and we held on for much of the second half. Three minutes before full time, Michael Craig got sent off and got a penalty against him. Of course, they converted and won the game. Everything that can go against us does at the moment.
I decided to change tactics before the Morecambe game and got rewarded immediately when Daniel Gore came from the bench and scored the winner in the 71st minute. Our first win in almost two months.
We continued to good play against Blackpool, who are sitting dead last at the table. Edwin Andersson was finally back from injury and scored the game’s only goal in the first half. It also helped a lot to have a good goalkeeper. Rogerson saved a penalty in the 94th minute and won us the game.
Due to the lack of goals, I decided to loan Charlie McNeill from West Brom(Ex-Man Utd) to help us upfront. Hopefully, he will have an effect and help us climb the table.
This month, the first two games were against teams that were way better than us. Grabbing a point from home against Huddersfield is good and losing 2-0 against Sheff Wed is nothing we can complain about.
Against Colchester, we finally scored more than one goal for the first time since we beat Salford ten weeks ago. Andersson gave us the lead in the first half before we hit them on the counter twice in two minutes to finish the game. Olly Allen scored in the 89th minute and Andersson again in the 90th. Great result.
Andersson continued his excellent form and scored after 2 minutes against Blackpool. They tied the game later in the first half. After the break, both teams looked nervous and didn’t create any significant chances. The game looked to end with a draw when McNeill scored 2-1 out of nowhere in the 95th minute.
Nothing could stop us against Salford. Andersson found McNeill, who scored after just 4 minutes, and we went to halftime one goal up. Andersson increased the lead 15 minutes into the second half. Twenty minutes later, Jezreel Davies sent us 3-0 up with a screamer from a distance before he scored his second in the 92nd minute.
The Oxford game was about defending again, and we did great to grab a point.
Edwin Andersson was awarded a young player of the month after four goals in four games.
Bobby-Joe Taylor left the club on loan, as he longer has the needed quality on the left side. Brandon Fleming was loaned in from Sheff Wed to replace him.
We also had to sell some players that have been with us for a while. Josh Okotcha joined Coventry for £29.5K. He played 87 league games and scored ten goals for us in 3,5 seasons.
On deadline day Jezreel Davies left for Luton for £240K. He’s had his best season for us this year, but we can’t refuse that kind of money. So I decide to loan in Leo Castledine from Chelsea to replace him.
Later on the same day, we got an offer that could significantly impact how we run our club. Huddersfield came in for Aaron Skinner, who has developed into our most important defender. He has the best passing statistics in the league and is a vital part of our team. He’s also our vice-captain this season. Skinner stopped on 120 league games and five goals but will forever be one of the few who played in three consecutive promotions.
This is by far our biggest sale yet, crushing the former record with over £1M. We will spend some money on improving our training facilities and our youth level.
On the first day of the year, we played Swindon at home. They took the lead after 12 minutes, and from there on out, we attacked without any result. We had 21 shots and 2.76 xG before we were awarded a penalty in the 86th minute. Andersson scored and got us a much-deserved point. Fleming was awarded man of the match in his first game and first day at the club. Can you have a better start than that?
We played our best game of the season at the Stadium of Light when we beat Sunderland 3-1. What a shocker that is! Hall gave us the lead in the first half before Sunderland tied the game straight after the break. Then, in the 77th, Nunn found Fredricson after a corner to make it 2-1. Just minutes later, Nunn found Flower, who killed the game with his goal.
Four days later, against Lincoln, we continued our fantastic form. McNeill and Andersson scored early in the first half and killed the game.
We suffered a tough loss against Forest Green when we didn’t produce any big chances.
We fired on all cylinders for the last league game in January when we visited Bolton. Rhys Bennett scored on a header two minutes before Gore and McNeill made it 2 and 3-0 before we had played half an hour. McNeill then found Nunn to make it 4-0 before the break. Hall scored a beautiful team goal in the second half with 17 passes before the goal. Later on, McNeill scored his second. To win 6-0 with 1.69 xG is fantastic but also says something about our luck. We wouldn’t have won with six goals if we played the game again.
Lewis Hall was awarded a young player of the month after two goals in four games.
We started the month with a new match against Ian Burchnall and Notts Co. This time we didn’t stand a chance when they deservedly beat us. This was the last time in a while I got to go head to head with Ian, as he was handed the job at Bournemouth – after I turned them down. Good luck to Ian!
We travelled to the Britannia Stadium for the next game to play the leader, Stoke. We started fantastic when Fleming gave us the lead after 11 minutes. However, they equalised on penalty in the 36th minute, and we were at status quo at halftime. We were awarded a penalty that Hall converted and won us the game in the second half. Another insanely strong win away from home!
McNeill scored the game’s only goal against Plymouth as we grabbed another critical three points. Unfortunately, the two substantial victories were followed by two draws against MK Dons and Fleetwood. Bennett scored our first after a corner from Hall before Hall himself scored the equaliser. Once again, Gore deserves mention after coming from the bench and contributing with an assist.
Bristol Rovers won deservedly in the last game of the month, as we didn’t turn up. Gore came from the bench again and was our best player. But, unfortunately, he can’t win a game on his own.
For the second month in a row, Lewis Hall was awarded a young player of the month after two goals in four games.
We had a tough encounter with Gillingham as we were so close to being knocked out in the first round. However, Allen secured a replay with a late goal. In the replay, goals from Gore and Andersson secured penalties. We were through to the next round when Gillingham missed three of their first four penalties.
In the second round against Plymouth, we played them off the field with 837 completed passes. Nunn scored the first straight after the break before Olise scored 2-0 after 78 minutes.
Finally, we were up against a Premier League side in the third round. It started great at Elland Road when Allen scored and gave us the lead after 42 minutes. Matthew Craig made it 2-0 in the 59th minute in the second half. From there on out, it was all about Leeds. First, a disallowed goal after 63 minutes, before they scored in the 70th. They missed a penalty in the 81st minute, and then I started to think that we could make it. In the 90th minute, Robin Koch scored on a header after they had moved everyone forward.
We retook the lead when Flower scored in the 63rd minute in the replay at packed Dorking Stadium. And yet again, we were so close, but Leeds are simply two levels above us and much more effective. Two goals in ten minutes. Darwin Núñez sent us out of the FA Cup this time.
PAPA JOHN’S TROPHY
Against Oxford, we played a good game, but our reserves and youngsters didn’t last the whole game. However, after trailing 0-2, we turned it around and equalised after goals from Jeff Edwards and Bennett before conceding a late goal.
In November, we played a much better game against Fulham U23 but eventually lost on penalties. Hall scored our goal after 4 minutes before McNeill had two disallowed goals in his debut. Unlucky to lose it on penalties, but an excellent experience for some youngsters. Especially for the 16-year-old debutant in goal, Jared Mncube.
Big news from the academy when we for the first time ever have a player that’s been called up for international duty. Vogel got his debut in the Papa John’s Trophy earlier in the season and has impressed Under 18’s so far.