Today in Local to Legend…
Welcome to part #6 in my “local to legend” series with Christchurch FC. In part #5 I took you through the first half of the season. If you missed that catch up here. If you have just joined us, review the series from the start here. In this part, I will be looking at the second half of the season and all the action that has happened.
The youth intake for Christchurch FC was particularly pleasing as the club brought in a lot of high potential youth players. I have picked out three for you to have a closer look at. Alan Smith; no not that one! Owen Hargreaves; let’s hope he has a better haircut than the injury-plagued one. Andy Parker; sorry, I’ve got no pun for this one – Just let me grab a pen. All three have very high potential; reaching that will be another story though. Smith looks like a solid left-sided midfielder with good physical and ok mental attributes, however his technical side lets him down. Hargreaves looks to be a tidy striker with decent technical attributes in the right areas and once again a good physical game. Last of the three, Parker looks to have a more well-rounded set of base attributes in all three categories. He’s got potential to be our key player in future years. Only time shall tell.
Our Competitive Streak
The Wessex League
I thought I would try something different in the next post, so this shall be the last game of the month type post I’ll be doing. This is mainly due to having a different number of games in each month and much like in this post the last two months have been combined as there was only one game in June.
A month with only 3 games to play. It didn’t get off to a good start with an unexpected 2-1 loss to Bermerton Heath. However, form picked up with wins against Alresford and Fleet. Alresford is our stand-out game of the month for 9 reasons; them being goals!
The middle of three games in January saw Christchurch FC face Alresford in a home match at Hurn Bridge Sports Club. A cracking game with 9 goals shared between the two clubs. Christchurch FC put on a fantastic attacking display, but a very poor defensive one. A story of the second 20 games of the season, it seems. Half-time saw Christchurch FC lead 4-1 with goals from Holmes, McGee and Higgs. A very sub-standard second half from the Church helped Alresford score 3 goals, but McGee added a 5th for the home side which left the game open for a tight end. It certainly was squeaky bum-time in the home dug-out, but the church hold on for a 5-4 win.
A month full of action in February as Christchurch FC experienced mixed results. A loss away to Shaftesbury and a draw at home to AFC Portchester is not what I was looking for from the lads. As the league title starts slipping away from us. The team bounce back with two wins against Hamworthy and Bashley to put pressure on Lymington; a few points behind in second place.
Our February game of the month saw us provide another exciting performance against the laughable Hamworthy United. A double over Hamworthy is what I was after. A slow start considering Christchurch FC’s recent form meant thanks to McGee the scoreline read only 1-0 at the break. An emphatic second half saw 4 goals scored shared between McGee, Holmes, Williams and Lyons. Hamworthy provided no threat at all with only 2 weak attempts on goal during the whole game. It stayed the same and the game ended 5-0 to the church.
A very good March saw us rise in the league, however Lymington’s recent good form also meant Christchurch FC stayed in 2nd place. Wins against Romsey, Whitchurch United, Brockenhurst, Petersfield and a loss versus Baffins Milton completed the month of March. It would be a case of the upcoming game against Lymington in May that would decide the title.
The stand-out game in March saw us play Petersfield in an exciting fixture. A game that compromised of 20 shots with 7 on target. Christchurch FC dominated possession and were 3-0 up inside 40 minutes thanks to McGee with a double and Barrett with a nicely placed finish. 3-0 at half time saw Christchurch FC in total control of the game. Two moments of action in the second half with Petersfield going down to 10 men on the 73rd minute, which lead to McGee scoring his third goal in a hat trick and the home sides 4th goal of the day 9 minutes later. The game finished 4-0 to the church.
Only the three matches in April, however it did not see us take all 9 points from 9. A loss away to Team Solent meant Lymington went further ahead in the league. Wins against Blackfield and Portland United helped the team regain the momentum in the league as Lymington fall to a late defeat in their last game of April.
April’s game of the month saw us face Blackfield in an emphatic attacking and cautious defensive display. The first half was a McGee masterclass with 2 goals in 10 minutes (28th-38th). 2-0 at the break it stood, Christchurch FC looked good for their lead. Unfortunately, it was more of the same for Blackfield as McGee completed the masterclass performance with 4 goals in total. However, Blackfield did pull 1 goal back. It was overshadowed by the outstanding McGee, once again. The game finished 4-1 to McGee FC.
The combination of May and June saw us play 5 games that would decide our future next season. An unbeaten month in the most critical stage of the season saw us regain the league with two games left. A good win versus Horndean put us and Lymington on level terms. The next match was crucial and it ended in a disappointing draw with 12th placed Newport. Lymington did however claim a 2 point lead on us after this match. The next game was absolutely essential against Lymington. The title deciding match ended with a Christchurch FC win and the team going 1 point ahead of Lymington in the league. That is how it stayed as the lads beat Hamble and Sholing to win the league.
I’ve decided to go for the Horndean game as my game of the month for May/June for the basic reason as the team outplayed them and performed exceptionally well. Many would expect the Lymington game, but not this time round. The pleasing thing about this match was there were so many newgens playing; 6 started the fixture. The first half saw complete domination from the home side and 2 goals from experienced players in McFarlane and Hornby. 2-0 at the break was a healthy lead which the players felt they could hold on too and build on. The second half brought the best out of our newgen players. Recent newgens Watson and Parker added 2 more goals to the scoreline as well as rounding of a perfect performance from the church. Horndean did ruin the clean sheet party by claiming a second half consolation goal. The game ended 4-1 to the church.
Game of the Season
The game of the season has to be the title deciding fixture between Christchurch FC and close rivals Lymington Town. Despite recent form Lymington would go into this fixture as slight favourites over Christchurch FC. Lymington at this point were top of the league by 2 points ahead of Christchurch FC, which made it even more important for the home side to win this match. This would also be the first title deciding match I have managed in with Christchurch FC.
The first half would see 4 goals shared between the sides. Murphy put the home side 1-0 up within 4 minutes before a contentious penalty converted by Higgs made it 2-0 to the church. Lymington did manage to pull one back to make it 2-1, but shortly after McFarlane scored a fantastic headed goal from a well delivered corner to end the first half 3-1 up. A rather quiet second half in comparison to the first saw Murphy continue his good scoring record by adding a second, 10 minutes into the second half. The score was now 4-1 to the church. Lymington did pull another goal back but much to the delight of the Christchurch FC supporters that was to be the last goal conceded by Lymington today. The match ended in a 4-2 victory to the home side.
An amazing season overall, especially after our dip in form after 20 games had been played. Our goal scoring form was very pleasing. I am over the bloody moon! Surpassing my expectation for the second season into this save, is brilliant. Now to build on this small victory and progress even further!
Numbers, Bloody Numbers!
Taking a look at things from a team perspective is certainly interesting and it picks out why this season Christchurch FC won the league and performed so well. First thing is first, the reason why the lads won the league is simply because our goals scores tally is much higher than anyone else. Baffins Milton and Lymington are the only other teams that come anywhere close to our total of 122 goals scored. Another reason for why our season was so successful is because of our excellent form throughout the season. Especially, topping the games without losing chart alongside topping the amount of league clean sheets obtained as well. However, Team Solent did top the games won in a row chart in which Christchurch FC came second with 3 games won in a row this season.
After a season like that. It makes analysing player performances and form so easy. Clearly, Hornby and McGee have bossed this season obtaining the highest average match ratings of 7.94 and 7.84 respectively. In terms of player of the match awards McGee tops that as well with 13. Something that often gets missed is our goalkeepers record which stands at 43 games played, conceded 51 and 15 clean sheets. Another astonishing McGee stat is he has had 82 shots in total and 45 of those shots have turned into goals. Just amazing! The most number of games a single player has taken part in is 41 where McGee, McFarlane and Summers all played this amount of games. All in all, a very good season for us.
End of Season Awards
Fans’ Player of the Season
George McGee. What can I say about this guy, even when you think he’s having an average season; he scores well over 40 goals. Our best player since the save was started two season ago. He does have Regional Premier Division clubs looking at him, but as the loyal servant he is he has rejected any move away from the club. Christchurch FC legend that has scored 70 goals in 65 league appearances. I would expect more of the same from him in the near future.
Goal of the Season
Ex-Christchurch FC wide midfielder Waller-Lassen scored what happened to be our goal of the season. A fantastic free kick which looped over the wall and moved in the air to confuse the opposition keeper. The powerful Cristiano Ronaldo-esk shot. One of the best free kicks to have ever been scored in a Christchurch FC shirt for sure.
Signing of the Season
Something I totally do not agree with, our signing of the season is apparently T Ripsher. A player that has the ability to become our best player, but just hasn’t. His form this season has been really poor, so much so that R Slack has been more first team than T Ripsher. A more appropriate signing of the season would be B Williams; who played a rotational role in the centre of midfield. Compared to Ripsher’s 15 appearances, Williams played in 31 matches this season. A much better signing in my opinion.
Young Player of the Season
L Hornby has won our young player of the season award. This was due to the continuous ‘Kevin De Bruyne-esc’ performances he put in. He has definitely been our creative force this season. I am confident Hornby will stay a first team player for the next two seasons. Hornby scored 2 goals, assisted 17 and got an average match rating of 7.94 in 29 appearances across the course of the season.
Newgen of the Season
A new award I have thought off; and that will become increasingly important in the future years. It was a close one between the lad below and C Murphy. But the fact that D Barrett has had to feel in after J Waller-Lassen left the club is a major reason why he has won this award. Barrett has scored 7 goals, assisted 10 and obtained an average match rating of 7.29 in 31 appearances this season.
Team of the Season
Our team of the season has seen some surprise inclusions including two newgen players from the first season. The team reads: A Moody, R Slack, N Summers, C McFarlane, R Batchelor, J Higgs, D Wearing, L Hornby, J Waller-Lassen, L Holmes, G McGee.
A Word from the Board
The board is obviously ecstatic with how the team have performed this season, despite the short fallings in the FA Vase. The board seems to be very happy with my performance as manager and this showed when I was added into the favoured personnel category at the club. Positive comments from the board about our tactical familiarity showed towards our formation of 4-4-2 as well as our tactical approach. There were a few moments to forget, the defeat to Shaftesbury was definitely one of them. However, It was a fantastic season that because of our drop in form made the fight for the league title that bit more exciting! It will be expected that the club continue to grow and challenge for a promising position in the next league, which will be the Southern League Division One South.
Next Time on Local to Legend…
In part #7 I’ll be taking you through our next preseason as well as our players and staff transfers.
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