This is the second post in my “local to legend” series with Christchurch FC. In part one, I introduced myself, the club and how preseason went. You can find part one here > http://ninjacookiefm.co.uk/christchurch-fc-a-new-era1. In this part, I’ll take you through the last six months and how the club has performed, what tactics I have adopted as well as going through what players I have bought in.
I shall start by introducing our new players. There have been a lot, so bear with me. One thing I have noticed is that being semi-professional and in tier 10 of English football I seem to pick up players throughout the season. Mainly, because there is no transfer window as of yet. Below, are the ins and outs I have negotiated since part one.
Ben Payne is an English, 29-year-old that plays as a defensive central defender. Payne joined the club on a free transfer. Unfortunately, it did not work out for Payne as his performance level dropped so did his contract.
Nathan Millichamp is an English, 20-year-old that plays as a defensive central defender. Millichamp joined the club on a free transfer.
Jerome Jibodu is an English, 23-year-old that plays as a defensive full back. Ex-Hastings full back Jibodu joined on a free transfer.
Aaron Moody is an English, 21-year-old that plays as a goalkeeper. Ex-Swindon Town goalkeeper Moody joined the club on a free transfer.
Lee Hendrie is an English, 40-year-old that plays as an advanced playmaker in the centre of midfield. Ex-Aston Villa legend joined the club on a free transfer.
Harrison Gilkes is an English, 22-year-old that plays as a right-sided winger. But is being retrained to play as an left-sided inverted winger. Gilkes joined the club on loan from Slough Town.
Luke Holmes is an English, 20-year-old that plays as a deep-lying forward. Holmes joined the club from local rivals Wimborne on a free transfer.
Kyle Asante is an English, 26-year-old that plays as a poacher. Asante joined the club from Thurrock on a free transfer.
Lewis Hornby is an English, 22-year-old that plays as an advanced playmaker in the centre of midfield. Ex-Kettering Town star joined the club on a free transfer.
Callum McFarlane is an English, 21-year-old that plays as a defensive central defender. McFarlane joined the club on a free transfer.
Nathan Summers is an English, 21-year-old that plays as a defensive central defender. Summers joined the club from Paulton Rovers on a free transfer.
Mark Knee is an English, 40-year-old that plays as a left-sided full back. However, he will be playing as a right-sided inverted winger. He will mostly play back up to Higgs. Knee joined the club on a free transfer.
Liam Dempsey is an English, 23-year-old that plays as a right-sided defensive full back. Dempsey will be providing injury cover for Batchelor. The right-sided full back joined on a free transfer.
Charlie Dove who is an English, 26-year-old that plays as a ball winning midfielder. Dove leaves the club on a free transfer to Stratford. A fallout with management was the main reason behind Dove leaving.
Jake Young who is a Welsh, 18-year-old that plays as a ball winning midfielder. But was perfect for the right-sided wide midfielder role. However, Young failed to adapt to this role during his time at the club. Young leaves the club on a free transfer to St Neots Town. A fallout with management was the main reason behind Young leaving.
Ben Payne, Jamie Cook, Jack Satterley, Johnny Blake, Max Frampton, Luca Coleman-Carr, Will Robinson & James Rowe all released.
In part one, I described what type of tactic I would like to set up and an example of that. Basically I scrapped that completely, the example that is. That example is no reflection of how Christchurch FC currently shape up. In part one I stated that Christchurch FC might be playing attacking football; I haven’t differed from this, whether I’ve played at home, away or against a bigger team. This may be my flaw to a fault, but I do believe in consistency.
As shown above I have developed a fluid and expressive, attacking tactic. This may be a bit adventurous considering our current stature. But I feel Christchurch FC are one of the best teams in the league and should be an attacking threat to all. The tempo of the side when in possession is set to a high level meaning I should expect the team to work the ball to the goal very quickly. This coincides nicely with our direct passing. The defensive line will sit at a normal level. I don’t want to commit to defending too deep or high. The team shall press as and when. This is due to the low levels of determination, work rate and teamwork within the side.
I will be looking for our keeper (who ever is playing there at the time) to keep things simple. I have decided not to ask him to play short passes as this will result in conceding goals from our own goal kicks. That is not ideal! I believe that would happen as the first touch levels within our defence are not great. Instead I have asked the goalkeeper to play long goal kicks in an attempt to keep the ball away from our goal as much as possible.
I don’t expect much from the full backs as their attribute level isn’t going to be very good. The most I can expect and accept is to be defensively solid, not stray too far from the central defenders and pass into the midfield without traveling beyond them.
Our central defenders are going to be as defensive as they can be. I’ll be putting into play the ‘if in doubt, kick it out’ philosophy for this position. This is mainly because anything extra than the key attributes (tackling, marking, heading, determination, positioning, jumping reach & strength) is likely to be at shocking levels. So, keeping the role instructions as simple as possible will be key.
The players in these positions will be our most creative and attacking outlet. But, they must also be able to keep defensive shape. The way I’m setting this role up is almost like an inverted winger, with players playing on their weakest foot side. They will be cutting in from wide positions and sitting narrower to help support the defensive shape of the team. When in possession they will drive through the central areas of the pitch in order to overload the middle third alongside our advanced central midfielder.
Our central Midfielders will be responsible for the rough and tumble of the game, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and providing a defensive and attacking display which shows creativity and stability. In simple terms, one midfielder will provide an attacking threat whilst the other stabilises the midfield through solid defensive work. I like to have one playmaker type midfielder and one ball winning midfielder. That way it strikes a balance between attack and defend.
In this tactic I play with two strikers. One will be playing slightly deeper than the other and will hold up the ball to allow the midfielders to join the attacks. The other striker must stay alert to defensive mistakes in the their box and pounce on them. The more advanced striker will close in on the goalkeepers position, in order to pick up those loose balls.
Wessex Football League One
If I could I would go through every league game and provide a report for it. However, that would take for too long and would be rather repetitive. So, what I’ve decided to do is pick out a game of the month and provide a mini report on those games.
August Game of the Month
My game of the month for August has to definitely be the 8-1 thrashing of East Preston away in the FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay. This was my game of the month because it’s not often that you dominate a match from start to finish at any level, let alone in tier 10 of English football.
A game that was dominated by Christchurch FC in all areas; chances created, shots on target and possession. Total control of the game paid off in full as the away side went in at half time 5-0 up through Martin, McGee, Kanjor and Anderson. Neither team really pushed the limits in the second half; East Preston were expected to attack more. However, this was not the case. Christchurch FC added 2 more through Martin and McGee before East Preston scored a late consolation goal. I couldn’t have been happier with the way the lads won this one.
September Game of the Month
I picked this game as my game of the month for September because it was a giant killing on a smaller scale. So, more like a big man killing! They were in the league above and performing well whilst our form was inconsistent.
A evenly matched game where both teams shared their fair share of chances; with Christchurch FC being the more clinical team. They were already 4-2 up half time with an Asante and Higgs double. The second half was as boring as watching paint dry until Christchurch add a 5th goal through Higgs. Bemerton Heath would be disappointed in their performance, but I was ecstatic with this win.
October Game of the Month
This game was by far the most exciting and prestigious match in the month of October. Another game where the opposition are from the league or tier above. After a 0-0 away draw against Shepton Mallet. I really needed the team to perform to get us further in the FA Vase. A fantastic first half saw us 3-0 up at the break. I would have expected Shepton to come out attacking. However, we came out thriving on recent home form and scored another 3 goals before the away side scored a late consolation.
November Game of the Month
This was arguably not the most exciting game of the month, but it was the most important. At this point in the season Whitchurch United were about to pull away from next four or five teams in the league. It was a game that Christchurch FC needed to win to stay in touch with the current leaders.
It was a poor start to the match as Folland take the lead through O’Neil on the 19th minute. However, it was first half for goals with Christchurch FC stepping on the gas after conceding. Gilkes and McGee put the home side in the lead before the break. The second half was as boring as watching Manchester United playing at home, so it ended 2-1.
December Game of the Month
Once again I’ve chosen a game that was important rather than exciting for our December game of the month. The importance to this game was second to none. East Cowes were joint top with Whitchurch United whilst the lads and I were chasing them in 3rd position.
In a game in which was dominated by the home side, they went in at half time 2-1 down. The second half brought out the best in the team and only 3 minutes into the second half saw McGee equalise. It was touch and go for most of the second half with both teams creating most of their chances within this half. Holmes did manage to claim the winning goal in the 82nd minute and with it the 3 points.
It is fair to say that our league form has been inconsistent at times, but bloody brilliant at others. You would think I’d be ecstatic with our league position, considering the board have expected us to finish above bottom of the league. But as I stated in part one, I will be expecting to improve on the clubs previous positions of 4th and 6th.
The FA Cup
Our dream in the FA Cup was to win it! Isn’t that everyone’s dream? Clearly, the board had set out some perimeters. If you remember back to part one, Mr Duffy our chairman had stated the club should be reaching the preliminary round of the competition. Thankfully, that’s where we entered. The pressure was off, we could go out and play our own game without the anxiety of reaching a certain round.
The club started with a home tie versus East Preston, which ended in a 0-0 draw. The replay was to be played at the Roundstone Recreation Ground where the lads put on a performance. An astounding 8-1 thrashing of East Preston saw us progress. In the next round the draw placed us against Bedford away. Another draw, 1-1 this time meant another replay. The replay at home helped the lads put on a good performance. However, it was not meant to be as the home side lose 3-2. The loss meant Christchurch FC were out of the FA Cup for another season, but at least the board were happy with us surpassing their expectations.
The FA Vase
Our goal in the FA Vase was to win it. A more realistic goal than our dream of an FA Cup win! The furthest any Christchurch FC side has ever got was the Fifth Round. The board would expect no less than the First Round of the FA Vase. I felt confident and as the draw played out a home tie against Wessex Football League side Bemerton Heath, I was smiling.
Bemerton Heath at home in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Vase saw us dominate the game and come away with a 5-2 victory. The next round put us against Shepton Mallet away, for the second time this season. The game ended in a 0-0 bore draw, which meant one thing – a replay. The replay as they have done for us this season, churned out a stunning performance and a 6-1 win at home. Baldock Town were our next victims. They were easily dispatched like logs to fire 2-0. The Fifth Round seemed so close as Yaxley were announced as our Third Round FA Vase opponents. Sadly, this was the furthest the lads would get us this season as Yaxley confidently saw us of in a 4-0 drubbing.
At the half-way stage of the season, our form much like our league position is something to be desired. I’ve picked out my top three key performers as well as where I’m looking to improve.
This lad has been on fire. They should write a song about him. Screw that Will Grigg bloke. It should be George McGee! He has achieved an average rating of 7.64, 5 player of the match awards, 11 assists and 21 goals from 23 appearances in all competitions.
Apparently only suited to playing in midfield. I retrained him to playing up top. This player is one of the reasons McGee has played so well. A great first half of the season with getting an average rating of 7.29, 2 player of the match awards, 12 assists and 13 goals from 21 appearances in all competitions.
Another player that has been retrained to play another position on the pitch. In our current tactic he has moved from playing on the left as a winger to playing on the right as an inverted winger. The switch of positions has contributed to his average rating of 7.26, 2 player of the match awards, 3 assists and 5 goals from 26 appearances in all competitions.
Room for Improvement
I have selected a few areas of the squad which would need strengthening to increase our position in the league. Holding midfield is one of our main weaknesses in the team. Kanjor who plays there at the moment does a solid job. But his ability is on the decline along with his age. I doubt he will be able to perform consistently for us for very much longer. Another area for us to strengthen is the positions where loan players are playing. Gilkes is a prime example. He is on loan from Slough Town and on £150 per week. It will be very unlikely that his contract will be renewed at Slough Town and he’ll join us next season. In summary, once the season ends I will be in the search for a decent holding midfielder who can play in the role of a ball winning midfielder also I will be looking for a wide player who can play in the role of a left-sided inverted winger.
In part #3 I am going to be taking you through our end of season 1 review and potential transfer targets for next season.
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