After a first season delight at Salford, Paul Loe carried on at the club in a bit to cement their position. With odds of 500/1 for promotion the task seemed difficult and the club seemed destined for a return to the league below. Paul Loe and co had other ideas though. The club really swapped quantity for quality this summer. With 20 players leaving and 10 joining in place.
Notable players from the first season including Harry Andrews and Ritchie Allen were scrapped in place of some younger more promising players such as Mats Morch, Tyrone Duffus and Chris Dickinson. Also our youngsters have developed really well at the start of the season. Keith Hooper, Thomas Eaton and Dick Flood will be vital if we are to do well this season.
We started very well, winning 3 in a row but then losing 4 on the bounce with 3 goals scored and 10 conceded in those games. Then came the tactical decision that changed my season:
We changed to a more defensive minded 5-2-1-2 which gave me a way of utilising Hooper/Eaton with added defensive cover. After this we won 8 of our next 9 and soared up the table to top it over Christmas.
Then a small disaster struck: Keith Hooper suffered a Twister Knee and was out for just over a month, with crucial games against Grimsby, Gateshead and Eastleigh coming up I was very worried.
However, Thomas Eaton (Remember the name) Stood in and played fantastically. He managed 9 assists in the second half of the season with an 84% pass accuracy across over 30 games. Before Hooper’s injury, he had scored 6 and set up 4 in 15 games (6 from the bench) with an 85% pass accuracy. I could already see a race for the first team spot starting. I’m hoping these two (along with Flood) will stick around for the entirety of their careers.
Anyway back to the football, in Cup news we drew Portsmouth in the FA Cup 2nd Round at Home (It was televised, I was given 72k just for playing it)
It was a very good game. We had to dig deep and come from 2 down but we managed to force a replay that we ended up losing 3-1. But that cup story isn’t the highlight of the season for us…
We ended up winning the final 1-0 over Havant & Waterlooville thanks to a goal from Mike Phenix. He is now a club icon and has a statue of himself (alongside Paul Loe) at the local BetFred.
Going back to the league; in short we ended up destroying the league until about late February when we started slipping… We ended up finishing 4th, and we lost the playoff final to Cheltenham 2-1 in Extra Time. I was gutted, but looking back on it I am delighted with how the season went. We avoided relegation easily, our youngsters got good exposure to the first team and we’ve strengthened to push on to the ‘real’ leagues and will hopefully turn professional soon!
Here are the Fixtures for the season and the League table. Those beady eyed viewers may spot that I’m already half way through the next season. So that means an update shouldn’t be too far away!