After our run of good form we were now clear at the top of the table, but we had a tough month of fixtures ahead.
Matchday 6 – Weston-super-Mare v Eastbourne Borough
We finished our August fixtures with a home game against Eastbourne Borough, the team sitting behind us in second place. This would be a great opportunity for us to extend our lead at the top of the table whilst simultaneously dealing a blow to one of our rivals. Eastbourne are a strong side and are predicted to finish 5th, so the game would give us a yard stick against which to measure ourselves.
Before the game, Borough’s manager decided to play the mind games with me by telling the BBC that our trouble is we always try to walk the ball in.
Last time someone criticised my team in the press I ignored it, and then went on to show them a footballing lesson on the pitch, so I decided to do the same again this time. And what a result! We ran out comfortable 2-0 winners, with Marc Hughes again bagging a goal to take his season tally to five, and the veteran striker Michael Evans grabbing his first goal for the club to round off the victory.
It was a good, solid victory in which we were reasonably dominant and gave very little away. It was a shame that only 297 fans turned up to watch, but we can’t have everything in life!
This game also marked the longest unbeaten run in the club’s history (apparently). Already the seeds of revolution have been sown…
The win also capped off August for us, and with the changing of the month I got given a very welcome surprise:
I have to say, I am enjoying this…
Matchday 7 – Maidenhead v Weston-super-Mare
Confidence coursing through our veins, we then had to travel to struggling Maidenhead, and we were made firm favourites for the win by the press. I wanted to warn against complacency in this game, after the good start we have enjoyed, and so told the boys to give me a performance.
My how they responded! Cherno Samba scored immediately from kick off, breaking the fastest goal record for the club and division, and had completed his hattrick before half time. This was particularly pleasing for me personally, as I had been receiving questions over the wisdom of signing Samba, and he more than paid me back!
— Tom Flynn (@TomFlynn27) August 22, 2016
Goals by Brett Trowbridge and Marc Hughes added gloss to the scoreline, and even though the Magpies were able to draw two goals back, we never looked threatened during the game and were good value for another three points.
This management lark has been surprisingly easy so far. One major issue for the side is the amount of goals that we keep conceding. This is fine at the moment whilst we continue to score freely, but a few injuries to our key strikers and things could go bad fast…Luckily, Hughes and Samba have remained injury free until now.
Matchday 8 – Staines v Weston-super-Mare
With the news of Hughes’ injury spreading, the manager of our next opponent Staines Town decided now was the time to start up the mind games. Staines are on a good run of form themselves, and find themselves sitting just a few points behind us in the table, but even so, the confidence of the man is impressive.
Surely just ignoring it and being the bigger man is the right course of action? Apparently not…
Well now, we didn’t see that one coming. With Marc Hughes out through injury, Trevor Benjamin stepped up to fill his spot. We started the game well, and were on top for large periods, but were hit by a sucker punch after 20 minutes. Then, joy, just three minutes later Singh was felled in the Staines box and we had been gifted the opportunity to stick in the face of the Staines manager. But, for some reason, Cherno Samba didn’t step up, instead handing penalty-taking duties to Trevor Benjamin instead. Predictably, Benjamin stepped up confidently, only to hit his penalty way, way over the bar.
They had gotten into our heads, and it showed badly. We gave them their own chance to score from the spot just ten minutes later after a foul in our area from Sacha Opinel. The curse of Benjamin couldn’t strike twice, however, and they scored to restore their lead. In the second half, Benjamin did manage to get on the scoresheet, but they immediately extended their lead further. Playing well, Cherno Samba then ran through their whole team to score, giving us hope of a way back into the game. Unfortunately, Staines were in a ruthless mood, and they scored again straight after kick off. Bugger.
So, there you have it, my first loss as manager of Weston-super-Mare. Not enough, just yet to knock us off of top spot, but we are now holding on by our fingertips. I hope next week’s game is better…
Matchday 9 – Weston-super-Mare v Havant and Waterlooville
Ok, so both the display and the result were disappointing, but it was important not to change too much – one defeat does not mean that the team needs wholesale changes. That said, clamour from the fans for me to drop ‘keeper Lloyd Irish was alarmingly loud, and he had conceded a lot of goals so far, so I decided to give him a break from the first team and bring in back up ‘keeper Paddy Gamble. Would this turn out to be a gambl…no, I can’t write it, it’s too obvious…
Luckily for me, sticking with largely the same team actually turned out to be a good strategy, and we ended up strolling to an all-too-comfortable 3-0 home win. Goals from Gilbert, Samba, and one more from Benjamin rounded off the routine win which saw us stay top of the league on goal difference alone.
Hopefully the Staines result was just a one off, as we really need to keep up the pace in this league if we want to stand a chance at promotion – only two teams get promoted, and I would prefer to go up automatically than through the play-offs…
Matchday 10 – Weston-super-Mare v Truro City
Next up was surprise package Truro City, who were surprising everyone by sitting in 7th place. They were in great form, and we were hoping to continue our recovery after our first loss.
Unfortunately, Truro proved a tough nut to crack, although our profligacy in front of goal helped them get out of jail a bit, as on any other day we would have converted more of our chances. As it happened, we had to come from behind and were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw. Marc Hughes was able to return after his injury absence, but he was not on the pace and barely troubled the Truro ‘keeper. We were lucky to score at all, as we had to rely on Brett Trowbridge scoring an absolute world class finish to get us the points.
It all feels a bit like the early season momentum is leaving the team, and that is worrying. We have dropped to third, and although it is hardly panic stations, things could be better. Still, it could be worse…
Matchday 11 – Boreham Wood v Weston-super-Mare
Before the Boreham Wood game, I received some good news, finally…
Excellent, now Trevor Benjamin will not be our only fit alternative as a striking option! I immediately slotted Adam onto the sub’s bench, planning to ease him back in whilst also secretly hoping he comes off the bench to score an improbable winner.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. We did continue our run of scoring in every competitive game we have played this season, but honestly, we never looked like getting much out of this game and we deserved our defeat. Cherno Samba got our goal, a fantastic banana shot from 20 yards, but it was just a consolation as we slipped to a second defeat of the season, and down to 4th in the league.
At least our next game will give us a much-needed break from the league, as we have been drawn at home against North Leigh. Surely a money spinner, that one (sarcasm), but at least we will get a chance to give a run out to the lesser spotted members of the squad.
So this is how the fixtures for September panned out, although there was not one suggestion of me bagging another manager of the month gong. I think I will show you the monthly results, otherwise this has the potential to become quite the tome!
Hopefully October can be a bit kinder to us..!