November 2014. Let’s be honest, we have had more exciting months, but every game counts and if we are to be promoted we need to be winning more than we lose. So far we are going in the right direction, but that could all change very soon. We need to stay alert and make sure we don’t suffer a regression in form like we did around this time last season.

Matchday 20 – League Two – Rotherham United v Weston-super-Mare

The first challenge of November was a visit to 20th placed and relegation-threatened Rotherham United. They had obviously had a bit of an upturn in form recently, although a loss last time out means that their fragile confidence would be damaged once again. We could take advantage of this…

No, we couldn’t. Rotherham, despite their current struggles, are a strong side and we were lucky to come away from the game with a point if I am honest. The Millers were relegated last season and so, in theory, should have one of the better sides in the division. They may have started the season badly but they were more than capable of putting us to the sword in this game. Luckily we held firm at the back but we really didn’t deserve much from this game and I was pleased with a point come the final whistle.

To add to the frustration about our performance in this game, I got an additional bit of unwelcome news as I found out that Lee Nasir would be banned for our next game after picking up five yellow cards. Luckily we have Andreas Nordvik who can play pretty much everywhere, but this is still not ideal.

Also, it is worth mentioning that, with our renewed good form, my services have once again caught the attentions of other clubs. Luckily for Weston-super-Mare, neither Leyton Orient…

…nor Portsmouth were particularly enticing prospects. I took the opportunity to improve my position at Weston-super-Mare by publicly stating that I wasn’t interested in either position.

The board loved it..!

Matchday 21 – League Two – Burton Albion v Weston-super-Mare

In the wake of our draw with Rotherham and the goodwill I had brought myself by reaffirming my commitment to the club, we travelled to promotion-chasing Burton Albion for our next league game.

Burton were doing well in the league but, despite that, they didn’t score too many goals. Ok, they don’t concede many either, but this gives me hope. What I was sure was that I would not tolerate a second game in succession where we fail to register a shot on target.

We certainly managed to get a shot on target. In fact, we took an early lead as David Hruby got on the end of a Bob Holmes cut-back to confidently slot home. We were in full control after this and it didn’t take too much longer for us to extend our lead as Captain Barbosa curled home a beauty.

This sparked Burton into life, however, and they immediately hit back at us after Captain Barbosa’s goal. They swarmed forward and grabbed one back seven minutes later as Steve Perkins hit a decent shot from the edge of the area. We were under siege at this point but managed to limp to half time still in possession of our lead.

I told the lads to play calmly and control the game a bit, but this isn’t much use as advice when the opponents grab a goal immediately after the restart. That is exactly what Burton did as Billy Kee robbed Roy Burnell in midfield before running at our defence and hitting a shot past Pedro Guedes.

Were we going to drop yet more points against sides we should be beating? Well, the answer was no. I brought on Steven Howarth for a rare appearance and he immediately grabbed his first of the season by – you guessed it – lobbing the ball over the Burton ‘keeper from the edge of the box. This again prompted a wave of Burton attacks, but we held firm and started playing on the break. Eventually, this rewarded us with our fourth. A lightning quick attack saw Alex Diabate go one-on-one, but rather than getting on the scoresheet himself his shot took a wicked deflection and went in off of the unlucky Aaron Jameson.

This was a very pleasing win against the side that I had picked out to be the hardest test of our month’s fixtures. The manner in which we conceded the lead was troubling, but the fact that we came back and managed to still win the game by two goals was a good sign.

Now we took a break from our league commitments to welcome Histon to the Woodspring in the first round of the FA Cup. We were expected to do well and our fans, for once, were putting big pressure on us to win, and win big.

To help us in that regard, Luke McCullough returned from his double hernia injury. It was probably too soon to reintroduce him into the side, but his return meant there was less worry should one of our other defenders get injured at any point (it will happen, it always does).

Anyway, being as our strikers have had a bit of a tough time in the past few weeks, I thought I would bring in a couple of loan signings to try and shake things up and, hopefully, prompt a response from our regular strikers. Therefore, in came Chelsea’s perpetual prospect Pat Bamford for three months…

…and young Fulham striker, Gardner Douglas.

Both can definitely do a job at this level and so I will be expecting our boys to step up to try and keep them out of the side.

Matchday 22 – FA Cup – Weston-super-Mare v Histon

Histon arrived at the Woodspring unbeaten in their last five and pushing for the play-offs in the Blue Square South. They were on decent form but really shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for our mighty Seagulls, especially with our home support behind us!

We drew 1-1, of course, meaning that we will have to travel to their place to face them in a replay if we want to progress to the next round. They really gave this game a good go in the early stages and even took the lead when Dan Holman struck after around 30 minutes.

Luckily, this was enough to spur us into life and we finally started to create chances. Bob Holmes was the man to spare our blushes as he latched on to a David Hruby through-ball into the box that allowed him to absolutely hammer home a shot. After this, we continued to press but Histon performed admirably in defence and more than deserved their replay. On the other hand, this is exactly why I signed our extra striker cover.

So, now we face an irritating replay at Histon in a few weeks’ time. Hopefully, we can get the job done once and for all and progress to the second round…

Bob Holmes may have scored the goal to keep us in the competition in the last game, but he also picked up a needless yellow card that means he will be forced to sit out our next league game…

Matchday 23 – League Two – Weston-super-Mare v Morecambe

Holmes’ suspension meant that Pat Bamford was awarded his first start for the club, alongside Olli Sara, in our next game against Morecambe. Morecambe were poor and were currently struggling around the bottom of the division. Last time we played a team in a similar position we got thumped, but I was hoping that this time things would be different.

Different they were. Morecambe did their best to make us look really good in this game and, in turn, we did actually look pretty handy. First, Norwegian Mo scored a tap in after excellent work by Roy Burnell. David Hruby then doubled our lead by sweeping a free kick into the back of the net, and we rounded off the first half thrashing when Vladimir Rusnak caught a half-clearance sweetly to smash it into the top corner of the Shrimpers’ goal.

Things were looking good and the game was essentially over after just four minutes of the second half. First, Olli Sara tapped home to extend out lead to 4-0, before Ross Evans got a rush of blood to the head and got himself sent off for a second yellow card just a minute later. I believe Evans’ second yellow was for dissent after arguing with the referee that Sara’s goal was offside, but unfortunately for him the goal stood and he was given his marching orders.

The game was over as a contest at this point and we shut the game down, happy to claim the points without embarrassing our opponents too badly.

Matchday 24 – FA Cup – Histon v Weston-super-Mare

That result gave us a good springboard to launch us into our second game against Histon. Since our first game, they had won a game in the league and had jumped up to fifth. But we had won one too, so things were essentially still at square one. We would just have to grind out a result against them.

Which is exactly what we did! It was a turgid game to watch. We created a host of chances but yet again couldn’t capitalise on our superiority. That is, until Latvian Toms – brought on as a sub for the recovering Luke McCullough – popped up at a corner to nod home a goal that sent relief around our squad and fans. Two minutes later we were awarded a penalty, but Norwegian Mo hit it high and wide. Had he scored we would have been comfortably home and dry, but as it was his miss set up a nervy finish. Just to ramp things up even further, Roy Burnell got himself sent off for a second yellow that was well deserved as he dragged back a Histon striker who was through on goal. Professional fouls aren’t great to see but I was keen to avoid extra time and penalties so I wasn’t too fussed, #principles.

Thankfully we just about held out for the win and were through to the next round.

Our Chairman almost bit the arms off of the FA representative who handed him the cheque for our prize money of nearly £20,000…

…before we learned that we had drawn non-league Dover Athletic in the next round. Another draw that was perfectly winnable on paper but that could act as a horrible banana skin if we allow them to get at us. We only had a week to prepare for this game, which would be played on the 3rd of December, but I was confident that we were ready.

Oh, and despite not asking to be substituted in our game against Histon, Gardner Douglas twisted his ankle and will now be out for up to six weeks, ruling him out for most of the rest of his loan spell at the club. Good work, chap.

At the end of November, we had solidified our position at the top of the league after another unbeaten month. Two wins and a draw were enough for us to extend our lead over Wycombe to five points whilst Aldershot have dropped back to fourth place. Things are looking rosy right about now…

December’s fixtures feature a couple of very important league games against second place Wycombe Wanderers and fifth place Gateshead. We also take on midtable sides Tranmere and Northampton but kick the month off by travelling to the Crabble Athletics Ground to face Dover in the second round of the FA Cup.

Can our good league for continue? Will we need another replay to make our way past a non-league side? Come back next time to find out! Cheers!

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