December is a time for giving and being nice to one another. The FA really got into the spirit by giving us four extra days off to prepare for our game against Newport, due to their involvement in the FA Cup.
Even better, we found out that the game would be televised, guaranteeing us a cool £2,000 from the TV rights. It’s not quite Premier League money, but we will take it.
Matchday 22 – Weston-super-Mare v Newport County
So, with the cameras in town, it was up to us to put on a show and try to get the five or six people who bothered to tune in not to immediately change the channel again.
Things started well for us as the finally fit again Marc Hughes got his first goal of the season, tapping in from close range. Hughes was delighted and it was hard not to feel happy for the lad given how hard the last few months have been for him.
After that, whilst we created a lot of chances we were not clinical enough and we spurned the opportunity to really put the game to bed. Just after half time, Ismail Yakubu lashed home to restore parity. The goal came out of the blue, considering how poor Newport had been going forward and had they managed to hold out for a draw this would have been a truly gutting result. Luckily for us, Yannick Texeira Barbosa had other ideas. He picked the ball up on the right, beat his man and then cut inside, before hitting a curling effort inside the far post. It was an excellent goal – one for the cameras – and was good enough to win any football match. Luckily, it won this one.
After the game, we were told who we would be facing in the FA Trophy first round. We got an away trip to Worcester City, a side that we knocked out of this competition last season in the qualification rounds. Hopefully, we could do the same again this year and go on a bit of a run, at least to earn us a bit of prize money.
Matchday 23 – Barrow v Weston-super-Mare
Before that, though, we had to make the trip to face Barrow. Barrow had been very poor in the league this season, conceding a lot of goals and sitting in 18th place. They should not be underestimated, though, as they clearly know where the net is, having scored a decent number of goals considering that they are a struggling side.
Maybe we might have underestimated them… Riding high on confidence after our last impressive performance, we were knocked back on our heels pretty quickly in this game as Nicky Featherstone nodded Barrow into a 2nd-minute lead. It took us a long time to recover from this setback which clearly unsettled the lads who might have been expecting less of a fight from such a poor side.
Luckily for us, Norwegian Mo, filling in up top whilst Big Cherno is out with a broken arm, has a bit about him when it comes to finishing. When he was finally presented with the ball in the box he didn’t think twice, turning on a sixpence and firing into the roof of the net. An excellently worked goal it was, and after we really turned up the pressure on Barrow, going close on a number of occasions but not being able to find the back of the net.
The second half was a quiet affair. We had clearly blunted the early confidence of Barrow, who dropped deeper and deeper as the game went on, but without Samba up front to provide a cutting edge we were unable to force a breakthrough.
It was a disappointing result, but one of our own making as we took Barrow too lightly and looked like we expected the win to come to us rather than making it happen on our own. Still, a point away from home is nothing to be sniffed at and I wasn’t too harsh on the lads after the game.
Matchday 24 – Worcester City v Weston-super-Mare
Worcester City were not the same side that we had beaten after a replay last year. At the end of the season, they were relegated from the Blue Square North and were now knocking around in one of the northern regional divisions that is sponsored by glue or something. By way of contrast, we were now a division higher and with a much better squad. Hopefully, we will not need to go to a replay again…
No we won’t, we did for them fairly comfortably in the end, although they did threaten to cause a big upset after taking a surprise lead! Luckily, we are nearly a professional outfit now and our quality shone through in the end. First, Gareth Seddon, back from injury, grabbed a goal to level things up just before half-time. That made things simpler for us; we now just had to score one to get us through.
Luckily, we scored twice, Gavin Donoghue scoring two goals in four minutes – both from corners – to seal the tie in our favour and allow us to qualify for the next round.
In fairness to Worcester, they gave us a good game, and we wish them well with getting back into the Blue Square North soon.
So, who would we get in the next round? Gloucester City is who. Gloucester have had an interesting couple of years, so it is hard to tell exactly how good they are. They finished last season 18th in the Blue Square North, but this year find themselves struggling in mid-table in the Blue Square South (how that change of division happened, I do not know). It should be an interesting tie, anyway, and offers us a good chance to progress (and get prize money, lovely, lovely prize money).
Matchday 25 – Weston-super-Mare v Southport
Before all of that jazz, though, it was back to the bread and butter of the league. So far we have picked up a win and a draw in our league fixtures this month and I would like to keep up the pressure on the top of the table. Hopefully, we can carry on our good form and get another win.
We are getting good at grinding out results, which is good because without Big Cherno we are struggling for goals a little bit. It isn’t that we aren’t creating chances, far from it. We just cannot seem to convert them. In this game we absolutely dominated Southport, the side we also beat in the first game of the season, but we were unable to make our dominance show. Luckily, one goal was enough; a cross from deep into the area found Yannick Texeira Barbosa in the six-yard box where he was simply unable to miss. Southport offered very little to oppose us and we were happy just to see the game out. No need to go mad exerting ourselves when one will do, eh?
Matchday 26 – Weston-super-Mare v Cambridge United
We rounded off December with a home tie against Cambridge United, a side that we thumped 4-0 earlier in the season. Given their good form, their fairly frugal defence and our continuing inability to score regularly a repeat of that scoreline seemed unlikely. Nevertheless, we were confident. We had climbed to second in the table and we deserved to stay there…
Never underestimate the ability of Ben Wheatland’s Weston-super-Mare side to pull one out of the bag when it is needed. We gave them a good trouncing, with Gareth Seddon finally scoring in the league again, Yannick Texeira Barbosa grabbing yet another goal and David McMillan grabbing his first of the season to see us put four past them for the second game in a row.
Ok, so they took the lead early on, but we were not to be denied as Seddon’s two goals turned the game on its head. After Texeira Barbosa added our third just after half-time the tie never seemed in doubt, although they did ramp up the tension in the last half hour of the game by pulling on back on 58 minutes. Luckily, we held firm and soaked up their pressure well before launching a late, late counter attack that resulted in McMillan sliding home at the back post to confirm the win for the Seagulls.
Well then, another excellent month at the Woodspring. The games come thick and fast in this division, and given our injury records of late, it is a good thing that I decided to sign so many strikers. One or another is almost always injured, and when they aren’t injured they are shattered. It really has been a team effort so far and I am very proud of the lads. We now sit second, just two points behind league leaders Wrexham and with a game in hand. Mid-table might be a bit of an unambitious target as well, now that I think about it…
Speaking of games coming thick and fast, January looks like it will be a fairly punishing month for us. We have six league games and a cup game to play, giving us very little time to recover in between each one. Our squad will be stretched to the limit, but this will give us an indication of how successful this season will be for us. Have a strong month and even I might be forced to admit that we are in a title challenge. Falter and we may start to find ourselves dropping out of the promotion picture.
How will we get on? Tune in next time to find out!
If you are enjoying this series, give us a like, a comment, or simply just share it with your mates. If you are not, stop coming back for more! Until next time, Cheers!