CM9798 Academy – Part 5: Step Up

Welcome back! Season 2 is upon us and after our unlikely run to promotion, the Academy now faces the even tougher challenge of competing at Division 2 level. If you are new to the series, I can only advise starting at episode 1 and going from there.

Our preparations are dealt an early blow as Gerard “£12k a week” Lyttle is the latest to graduate. That’s yet another centre back who has come and gone, which is remarkable when you consider: a) we can’t defend and b) my front two got 60 goals between them and nobody has even looked at them.

Lyttle to Leicester

A centre half is a priority for me and this man looks a good idea

stones signs

With Brazier still out too it seems wise to get an understudy for him so this man called Gordon will no doubt help

Holden signs

Don’t worry about the injury, he’s fine. Finally I’ve addressed our left flank issues with a set piece expert. He can also tackle and run, I don’t want much else.

golabek signs

Which all means we line up like this for the opening day at home to Grimsby:

team 1st game

*Swap Gallagher and Holden. I’ve put them in the wrong numbers here and then neglected to re-take the screenshot for some reason.

Grimsby finished 6th in Division 2 last season so we’ve got a job on our hands. Chris Pearson gets off and running for the new season and young Gallagher gave us a fine start. Obviously there’s no cleansheet but a win is always welcome

grimsby 2-1

A bit of a conundrum with Gallagher, he won’t extend his contract which expires at the end of the season. There’s no reason for it other than being a bit of a bell so we’ll see.

The League cup 1st round is a 2 legged affair with Colchester, who finished 10th in Division 3 i.e. we are better than them. It’s a match that costs us two injuries – though Gevara’s is just a precaution – and Pearson nets a late, late goal to give us an advantage

colch 1-0

It turns out Gallagher’s season is over. Bet he wishes he’d signed that contract now

gallagher season

Brentford away was not as tough in 1998 as it is nowadays but I am surprised to see us draw 0-0. We never draw 0-0.

0-0 brentford

Gallagher accepts a contract extension to the end of the 99/00 season. Of course he does.

The fun bus moves on to Colchester for the return leg and this is more like the Academy we know and tolerate. Behind twice, level twice, through 3-2 on aggregate. Good job.

2-2 colc

Charlton in round two and 6 weeks out for Crowe. Dropping like flies.

I feared this day would come

barnsley betterton

Noooo he’s the only one who can catch.

He’s clearly in a hurry, he’s gone the next day.

betteron gone

Paul Heritage is back between the sticks for the visit of Watford. Heritage got an Under 21 call up last year, granted he didn’t play but he was still there. That’s got to mean something. Jeff Buckley and Van Morrison give Sir Elton the blues

2-0 watford

That’s not their real names, by the way.

The games continue to come thick and fast and a trip to Plymouth is not what anybody needs on a Wednesday night. Even playing against 10 men for an hour we can’t score and it’s a tough loss to take.

plymouth 1-0

Scoring goals by the boat full is all we have so hopefully that won’t be a pattern this season. Jeff Brazier is back, which might help.

Millwall have 40 year old Nigel Spink in goal. Yet something isn’t right with us at the moment, we’re not creating anything and even when we do the shots aren’t even remotely on target. 0-0 and dreadful.

0-0 millwall

Cassin, along with Nicky Byrne, have been called into the Eire Under 21 squad so to reward Cassin at least he gets a start at Gillingham. He rewards me with a pair of goals and a welcome three points. The slide has been arrested.

2-1 gills

They love Saturday-Wednesday in this league. Sadly we are ambivalent to the idea and fall at home to Bristol City. I wish we had Shaun Goater. Cassin scores again though which is great for him but Pearson, so reliable last season, hasn’t scored since the 2nd game of the season.

1-2 bristol city

I’ll stick with him as we aren’t exactly flush with alternatives. Carlisle away is a goalfest, we share a goal each in the first 2 minutes before falling behind. Pearson finally scores then later has his free kick spilled allowing Twiss to give us the win. Danish International Claus Thomsen is later sent off. I don’t know why he is at Carlisle.

carlisle 2-3

That looks to have breathed new life into our season as we go 2-0 up against Wigan, Cassin from 25 yards and Pearson now he has the taste again. But then it all unravels and Wigan peg us back late on. Lee Sharp?

2-2 wigan

When all else fails, sign a striker. It’s what Kevin Keegan taught us. Besides, why would I not sign this man? He can even tackle. I like that in a forward.

billing

He makes his debut from the bench in a 2-2 draw with Charlton in the League Cup. Twiss is interesting Leeds and Airdrie whilst Cassin doesn’t even have a clause. We’ll do it all again in the second leg in a few weeks.

2-2 charlton

We finish with a home game against Shrewsbury. They came up with us and are making a better fist of Division 2 than we are, as they sit third. They comprehensively outplay us from start to finish and we deserve to lose.

1-3 shrews

We have to play them again 4 days later, this time at their place in the Windscreen Shield. I don’t care though and change the entire team, we’re desperate for a midweek off. We lose 5-0 though and I’m not sure we’re any richer for the experience.

All of that leaves us 12th, albeit one point outside of the playoffs

Div 2 september

Two promoted lubs lead the way, but they were promoted a long way ahead of us so don’t blame me too much.

To date we have had 6 graduates. Betterton is yet to play for Barnsley, Lyttle has managed 3 games for Leicester whilst Simpson seems to be out of favour at Man City. Norfolk and McCaffrey are regulars at their clubs whilst Danny Gee has managed 8 appearances in 11 months for Swindon.

graduates

The season is finely poised here I would say. Hopefully we can string some results together but we seem to have problems at both ends of the pitch, something I will need to address before we return next Sunday with the next part. Have a pleasant week.

 

 

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