Last month was a mixed bag, but we ended it with a good win to set us up for a busy March. Brett Trowbridge was back from injury and our squad was looking strong again. We had a lot of ground to make up and had to hope that Salisbury and Truro would both falter over the coming two months if we were going to avoid the playoffs.
Matchday 39 – Weston-super-Mare v Boreham Wood
First up was a home game against Boreham Wood, a side that had thumped up 1-3 earlier in the season, although after that result we went unbeaten in the league over the next thirteen games. Hopefully, we could beat them this time before embarking on another epic run.
Oh my, we managed to win! An excellent performance from the boys to avenge our previous defeat and nice few goals scored as well. Hughes got us off to a good start, heading in from inside the six-yard box after good work from Trowbridge down the right. We cruised gently to half time without much bother, and the boys seemed confident so I just praised their efforts and sent them back out to finish the job. Two minutes later the game was won as we benefitted for the second game in a row from a goalkeeper scoring an own goal. This killed the game, effectively, and there wasn’t much of note for the rest of the half. Late on I decided to throw on Ali Gibb on to replace Harpal Singh and he quickly set up Brett Trowbridge to score our third. Momentarily complacent, we immediately went and conceded, but the game was already won and it didn’t matter.
Three more points on the board is pleasing, and the performance was good too. Let’s try and keep this run going!
Matchday 40 – Weston-super-Mare v Tonbridge Angels
Well, part one of my plan worked – we beat Boreham Wood. Now to go on a glorious unbeaten streak and win the title at a canter. Football management is easy.
To kick-start that inevitable run we welcomed Tonbridge Angels to the Woodspring. We hit four past them earlier in the season, with Marc Hughes grabbing a brace and Brian King scoring a lovely free kick, so we were confident we would have the upper hand in this game. Ok, they were on a great run of form that threatened to crash the playoff picture, but we should still have this.
Well, that was fairly unremarkable. Despite them being on good form, Tonbridge didn’t threaten our goal half as much as we had expected and, in the end, we ran out comfortable 2-0 winners, Big Cherno grabbing a second-half brace to hand us the win.
This result set us up nicely for our next match, a crunch tie against top-of-the-table Salisbury City. We would have to go to their stadium and come away with a win if we wanted to have any hope of winning this division.
Matchday 41 – Salisbury City v Weston-super-Mare
We had beaten them earlier in the year, smashing them 4-1 at the Woodspring Stadium to send us clear at the top of the league, but this was a different proposition. We were fresh then and had momentum on our side. Now both teams would be fighting tooth and nail to win, knowing that a loss would make catching up with the winner very much more difficult. This would be a tense and edgy affair.
I was right too, this was not a fun game to watch. I no longer have fingernails and I am not the only one if the mood in the stadium was anything to go by. We started well and even went as far as having our customary goal ruled out for offside, courtesy of Big Cherno. Overall, though, there weren’t many clear opportunities as both sides attempted to outmanoeuvre each other, and we went into half-time tied at 0-0.
At half-time, I told the boys to go back out there and give our long-suffering fans something to cheer about. It didn’t noticeably make a difference – the squad still seemed nervous but determined, but nevertheless it got through to them on some level. After the restart we looked a bit better, keeping possession well and making Salisbury chase us to get the ball back. After ten minutes of this, up stepped one of our star players to score one of the biggest goals of our season. Three words: Big. Cherno. Samba. Their ‘keeper took a goal kick that was won in the air by Ben Kirk. He nodded the ball perfectly for Samba to run on to between the two Salisbury defenders. One on one with the keeper, Samba gave him the eyes before slotting the ball confidently in the back of the net to send our fans into delirium.
Following the goal, Salisbury immediately hit back, controlling possession for a long period without really creating much. When we had the ball we were equally wasteful. With the game reaching the final whistle, Salisbury piled on the pressure but the ball just would not land for them kindly. After the ball was crossed into no-one in particular yet again, the referee finally blew his whistle. That was it. We had done it. Calm.
I was delighted with the character and determination of my team. They played brilliantly and really were a credit to Weston-super-Mare football club. There were smiles all round, and as we arrived back in Weston after the game I had the team bus pull over and I bought us all fish and chips. The best meal I’ve ever had…
Of course, I had more than one reason to celebrate…
A good day.
Matchday 42 – Weston-super-Mare v Hampton & Richmond Borough
After the highs of beating Salisbury and regaining second place in the league, we were brought back down to earth with a home game against lowly Hampton and Richmond Borough. Hampton and Richmond were 20th after a dismal season, had lost their last four league games, and had conceded a naughty amount of goals this season. Plus trounced them 0-4 earlier in the season. This was going to be a gimmie.
Although no, obviously it wasn’t. This always seems to happen after a good result; we go on to disappoint in the next game. We dominated in every area and looked ridiculously comfortable throughout the game. It took us some time to take the lead, but once Hughes had put us 1-0 up early in the second half there only looked like being one winner. Unfortunately for us, Hughes’ goal seemed to anger Hampton and Richmond as they slowly began working themselves into the game, looking particularly dangerous on the counter attack. It was via a counter attack that they scored their goal; when one of our many wasteful corner routines was cleared to their striker, all that was left for him to do was wander unopposed towards our goal and place his shot under the onrushing Paddy Gamble. We nearly stole back the win at the death, with a Hampton and Richmond defender clearing off the line from Harpal Singh’s effort deep into injury time, but it wasn’t to be.
Luckily for us, Truro drew and Salisbury lost, meaning that our wastefulness wasn’t punished too harshly.
On the 24th of March? That Paolo Di Canio knows what he’s doing.
Matchday 43 – Farnborough v Weston-super-Mare
So to end the month we had a trip to Farnborough, the team who had replaced Hampton and Richmond in 20th place after the last round of games. Unlike Hampton and Richmond, though, they were on a fine run of form having just won their last three, and whilst they have also conceded goals for fun this year they are also clearly making a good go of surviving relegation.
Luckily for us, it seemingly matters not a jot about our opponents’ form whenever we play them. If they are on a winless run, be sure to bet on a heavy Weston defeat. If they are on their longest winning streak of the season, well…
We win 0-1, obviously. Big Cherno once again showed the other lads how to do things by netting early. After that, many chances were wasted and we hit the woodwork on a frankly ridiculous number of occasions. On another day we could have had four or five (like the last time we played Farnborough) but today their defence held firm and restricted us to just the one early goal. Luckily our defence is looking pretty solid now and they had no real chances of note, meaning that we were left to close out a relatively easy yet deceptively close game 0-1.
Another good result for the Seagulls and better news was to follow…
Yep, Truro City and Salisbury City both contrived to lose their games, meaning that, remarkably given our form not too long ago, we were back on top of the league!
Just five games remain in the league. Two home games, three away games. Four games against middle of the table opposition, plus a home game against play-off chasing Eastleigh. We should be able to do that, surely? We have done so well to get back to this position, surely we won’t choke now that we are so close?
You’ll have to come back next time to find out…
Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying this series. If you have anything to say (abuse, suggestions, more abuse) please leave a comment and let me know. Until next time, cheers!