Welcome back! It’s fair to say we found adapting to life in Division 1 tougher than we did during the step up to Division 2. We’ve taken some hammerings but shown we can still mix it with the big lads on our day. With such a young team, it’s inevitable there will be up days and down days. Are the playoffs a step too far for the Academy? The eternal struggles continues with a trip to QPR.
3-0 down by half time? This is fine. We do rally in the second half but the damage is done. It’s not really fair to expect us to compete with a team that have Kevin Gallen and Chris Bart Williams.
We’re much better at the Hawthorns. In fact we absolutely batter poor old West Brom but there’s no way through. One of those CM days. Two points dropped…but a clean sheet after conceding 8 in 2 is welcome.
League leaders Sunderland are the next visitors and they have a goalkeeper called Casagrande. That translates as Big House and it’s appropriate as he’s a big nuisance who keeps everything out. Michael Bridges settles it as our midtable mediocrity continues.
Finally our problems are solved in Essex. Like so many of lifes problems. Son’s Pear and John score the goals that see off Southend and arrest our slide down the table. For now.
Bury are really struggling so we’re licking our lips as they arrive in Academy land. Dean Kiely keeps us out for 68 minutes but it’s a win for persistence despite Adie Mike’s late penalty.
When we take an early lead at Vale Park and I’m already starting to ready the chapter in my autobiography in years to come of how a 5-1 loss at home to Wimbledon stirred a remarkable mid season turn around. Then we lose 2-1 and the harsh reality that we just can’t defend is there for all to see.
We need more forward options, obviously. James Gallagher, who you may recall was a constant pain in the arse refusing to sign a new contract until he got a serious injury then he signed an extra year, is once again in the final year of his deal. He won’t sign it. I don’t know why, he earns £400 a week and doesn’t even have a release clause. Anyway, in the words of Mike, I could be brown, I could be blue, I could be Charlie McBride.
He’ll do, a lot of decent stats and I don’t need him to tackle. Third placed Tranmere are brushed aside as he debuts from the bench.
Hull have come through the divisions with us under the rugged eye of Mark Hateley. They’re 5th, whilst we aren’t, but our trip to Humberside turns into an all out war as Hull leave with 9 men and we have to leave two behind at the local hospital.
6 weeks out for Buckley makes the signing of McBride all the more important. We’re on fire, or rather Billing is as he single handedly takes down Huddersfield. What do you call a woman who sets fire to her bills?
Bernadette. I don’t know what it is about Southampton but earlier in the season every shot they had went in…and the same thing happened here. Maybe Heritage is a Southampton fan?
From our current goalkeeper to the former custodian, Anthony Betterton. Obviously he gets man of the match as high flying Barnsley win 1-0. Boo.
We’re a weird team really, lurching from one disaster to another with some good results in between. McBride gets his first goal as Middlesbrough are defeated on Boxing Day.
I’ll take the opportunity to rest a few as we treck to Bournemouth for the FA Cup 3rd round and Ugo Howard gets his first goal for the club several months after arriving. He hasn’t been very good. It’s a draw though so we’ll have to do it all again shortly.
Before that though it’s a trip to Charlton. What’s this? The Pearson of old is alive and full of beans!
Take that, Curbs. Then it’s a chance to avenge the Peter Ndlovu mauling we took earlier in the season and thanks to the front two, we manage it.
I don’t know what is wrong with us in the FA Cup but we seem unable to beat third Division Bournemouth. From 2-0 up we’re soon 3-2 down and Billing has to complete a hat-trick in extra time to eventually see us through 5-4. Bristol Rovers at home in Round 4.
There’s no question we’ve improved though and even if clean sheets are hard to come by, having a front 2 hitting form allows us to come from behind to beat Oldham in a frantic opening 22 minutes. That, remarkably, puts us in the final playoff position.
We’ve sold Stephen Melton. Who? He was our centre midfielder for about 7 games when we first started but he wasn’t very good and was eventually replaced by Jeff Brazier. Lovely Jeff.
All we have to do is beat Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup to finish on a high but Jeremy Beadle equalises and it’ll be a replay in Bristol in 10 days time. ‘sakes.
It’ll be Leeds away if we can win the replay. That’ll be brutal.
The table looks like this – our defensive record the worst in the top half by a margin but you would say we’ve taken a few pastings at odd times.
It’s building up quite nicely ahead of next week where we will return as usual with the final part of this season. First though, some graduate news:
Jeff Brazier – Has played 18 Premier League games for Bolton, scoring once.
Michael Twiss – Is deemed a star player for Wolves in the Premier League, he has 11 in 27 this season.
Anthony Betterton – Barnsley’s number 1, as you can see from the table has only conceded 20 in the league.
Ryan Morrison – A regular in Barnsley’s midfield, he’s now worth £3.2m and wanted by Aston Villa.
Gary Simpson – Has made 11 appearances for Bolton.
Danny Gee – Listed for loan by Vinny Jones at Wimbledon.
Andrew Weathers – Left for Arbroath for £275k but is now at Southend with a big club release clause. Suggests he has something to offer still.
That’s all for now, see you next week.