Welcome to the latest from my save with Torquay United who we are now in to our third season and our first back in the Football League after gaining promotion via the Playoffs last season.
Hot off the heels of our dramatic end of last season it was time to start planning for the season ahead with just 12 players in our squad under contract I needed to crack on with our recruitment. The board had made £32,000 available for wages and nothing in the transfer budget so like the previous two seasons we are going to rely on the loan market and free transfers.
We don’t have any youth recruitment which I am enjoying because in my opinion developing youth in FM is just too easy, you see it in save after save. At this level with no youth recruitment you have to rebuild season on season and I really like that.
So I decided to try and bring back to the club some of our loan players that we had last season starting between the sticks bringing young goalkeeper Myles Roberts back in on a season long loan from Watford. The young shot stopper had a fantastic season for us keeping our very own Shaun Macdonald out of the team.
I then was pleased to be able to bring central defender Tyler Magloire back in on loan from Blackburn Rovers. Magloire was a rock at the heart of our backline last season. The 22 year old has real turn of pace which comes in very handy in the lower league’s because mistakes are made and the pace can get the team out if trouble.
In our first season we had a central defender on loan at the club which had been agreed before I took over, his name is Joe Lewis and he had a fantastic season with us making over 40 appearances scoring 5 goals but was rock solid at the back. Lewis is on the books of Swansea City and again he is available for loan so I have made a move for him because I think alongside Magloire Lewis can shine.
I also made a move for Ipswich Town left back Bailey Clements, the 20 year old was listed for loan so I signed him on a season long loan deal, however Clements picked a long term injury up which left us a little short in depth in his position so I turned to our scout reports and struck a loan deal for 18 year old James Norris to join us from Liverpool.
Entering the free transfer market I was looking at bringing in three players with a central midfielder high on my priorities. I had approached Nottingham Forest to bring Toby Edser back to the club on loan which they agreed but then took him off the loan list so with that option no longer viable I scoured the scout reports and found that Connor Lemonheigh-Evans was out of contract and available on a free transfer so I wasted no time in bringing him back to the club after he was on loan with us in my first season.
I decided to bring two wingers in to the club to add depth to the squad the first 18 year old Eddie Carrington and 20 year old Jeremy Ngakia who should give us adequate cover on the flanks.
I also accepted a bid for Jamie Reid after Irish club Larne negotiated a £76,000 deal for the forward who was our top scorer in season 1 and 2nd to Yassine En-Nayeh last season. With the sale of Reid I wanted to bring a forward in to cover so I looked at the loan market again and struck a deal with Nottingham Forest to loan 19 year old Victor Sodeinde until the end of the season.
The boards expectation is that we fight bravely against relegation which after promotion is understandable but I feel we have a squad that can aim higher with the backbone of last seasons squad still at the club I am confident that we can be competitive at this level.
EFL League Two 2021/2022
July – August 2021
It’s always nice to start the season off with a win and that’s exactly what happened when Newport County visited Plainmoor on the opening weekend. Both Jake Andrews and Yassine En-Nayeh were both on target in the first half of our 2-1 victory.
Our good start continued with wins against Crewe (1-0) kelvin Kalala with the goal and Port Vale (2-1) with a brace from Yassine En-Nayeh. We then knocked Cheltenham out of the EFL Cup with Virgil Gomis and Jamie Reid on target in a 2-0 win. It would be Jamie Reid’s last goal for the club after he signed for Larne.
We dropped our first points of the season when we drew 0-0 at Stevenage before we got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win at Oldham with two first half goals from Yassine En-Nayeh and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans enough to get all three points.
We then had another goalless draw at Plainmoor against Northampton ahead of the EFL Cup 2nd round tie at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.
The game against Crystal Palace was without doubt our best performance during my time at the club after coming away with a 4-0 win. Palace are a Championship club after being relegated and are now under the guidance of Chris Wilder but nevertheless we punched above our weight to get the result.
On the back of the Palace result we beat Swindon Town 2-0 thanks to a 2nd half brace from Virgil Gomis before we ended the month a 1-1 draw against Southend United in the the group stages of the EFL Trophy losing out on the bonus point after a penalty shootout defeat.
A less busy month kicked off with a disappointing defeat at the hands of Morecombe after failing to convert any of our many created chances. We got back to winning ways with a 3-2 win against high flying Crawley Town with Jake Andrews, Tyler Magloire and Ethan Galbraith getting amongst the goals.
Yassine En-Nayeh was on the scoresheet with his 5th goal of the season when we beat Grimsby Town who are struggling at the wrong end of the table. Loanee Victor Sodeinde got his 1st goal for the club and then got his 2nd just 14 minutes later in a 3-0 win at Colchester.
A crowd of 6,200 turned up at Plainmoor for our EFL Cup 3rd round tie against Nottingham Forest and it was ex Forest forward Virgil Gomis who struck an 89th minute leveller against the 1st placed Championship club but it was not to have a fairy tale ending with us going out of the competition on penalties.
We ended the month with a 1-1 draw against Cambridge United after taking an early lead through a Yassine En-Nayeh strike but we failed to capitalise and ended up playing out a draw.
It’s been a very good start to the season and we have surprised the media after leading the way at the top of the table.
A 3-2 win on the road at Cheltenham saw Yassine En-Nayeh, Victor Sodeinde and James Norris all find the back of the net to get us off to a good start to the month but we failed to hit the target in a 0-0 draw in the EFL Trophy missing out on another bonus point losing the penalty shootout. We are getting good at losing on penalties.
A 2-0 win over Southend thanks to goals from wingers Jake Andrews and Kalvin Kalala was the start of a goalscoring run for Kalala scoring 8 times in 7 games picking up the form he was in last season that saw him voted player of the season.
A 3-0 win against Scunthorpe saw Tyler Magloire grab a goal after the aforementioned Kalala grabbed a brace. We are looking very good at the moment dominating possession in every game using the 442 system that we used from the very start of the save.
Another Kalvin Kalala double set us on our way to a 3-2 win at Sincil Bank when we visited Lincoln City with the imps scoring an own goal to help us out.
Another battle against our old foe Notts County played out in front of a crowd of over 13,000 at Meadow Lane who enjoyed yet another 2-2 draw between the two clubs. We had both Jake Andrews and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans getting on the scoresheet to give us yet another valuable point.
We rounded off an excellent month with a fantastic 3-0 win in the derby against Exeter City in front of a crowd of 6,200 at Plainmoor. It was only fitting that Kalvin Kalala was on the scoresheet after a great month for the winger and he was supported with goals from Victor Sodeinde and Yassine En-Nayeh who were starting together up front for the first time.
November started with the FA Cup 1st round against Sutton United and it was the man of the moment Kalvin Kalala who got us on course to a 2-0 win with Ethan Galbraith grabbing our second late on.
Another draw in the EFL Trophy group game against Fulham U23’s but this time we got the bonus point finally winning the penalty shootout. Back to League 2 action next and we consolidated top spot with a 2-1 win against Leyton Orient in a game that saw winger Jake Andrews put in a man of the match performance with a double strike. Our wingers are having a good time at the club at the moment.
It was Jake Andrews again with another double this time in a 2-1 win against Rochdale at Plainmoor. Who needs centre forwards when your wingers are producing the goods hey….
Unfortunately a rotational side went down 3-1 at Morecombe in the FA Cup 2nd round with Jeremy Ngakia getting our only goal, it’s a shame that we crashed out because I wanted a big draw in the 3rd round that could have been financially rewarding for the club but it was not to be.
A month dominated by Cup football ended with yet another draw in the EFL Trophy this time 0-0 against Leyton Orient and like our last game we managed to get the bonus point on offer after winning the shootout.
A new month started off with a 1-1 draw against Carlisle thanks to a stunning strike from Victor Sodeinde in the second half.
The visit of Salford to Plainmoor saw the Gulls send the class of 92 back to Manchester with a 4-1 thrashing with goals from Yassine En-Nayeh x 2, Kalvin Kalala and Jeremy Ngakia rounding off a good performance.
A difficult trip to in form Doncaster Rovers brought an end to our 14 game unbeaten run in the league when we lost 3-1 and deservedly so to a Doncaster side who took their chances well. Our consolation goal game from on loan full back James Norris who was in for the rested Bola.
An incredible game against Cheltenham at Plainmoor followed, the game was heading for a goalless draw but with 3 minutes of added time on the clock it was youngster James Norris who broke the deadlock for us then to grab a second in the 95th minute when Virgil Gomis rounded the keeper to give us a 2-0 win at the death.
We rounded the year off with a 1-0 win over Lincoln City with the only goal of the game coming from Yassine En-Nayeh to complete a fine year for the clubs supporters.
Who would have thought it we are sitting pretty at the top of the table 11 points ahead of Crewe in second and 13 points off of fourth placed Doncaster Rovers.
When it comes to goals Yassine En-Nayeh leads the way with 12 closely followed by Kalvin Kalala on 11 and Jake Andrews with 8.
Jake Andrews leads the assist table with 13 followed by fellow winger Kalvin Kalala with 9.
It’s Kalvin Kalala who again leads the way in the average performance ratings with an average of 7.42 per game from 41 matches so far this season.
We have £291,608 in the bank and the board have given me £22,115 from the sale of Jamie Reid to Larne which I will add to the wage budget of which we have £32,364 per week budget which we are spending £27,455 per week.
Our net debt is around £98,000 outstanding from loans taken out in years gone by.
I think you will agree that we have got off to a flyer punching above our weight in the League and have put ourselves in a very good position regarding promotion to League One. Another promotion would be so good for the club so the next five or six months will be interesting and hopefully we can maintain our level of performance. I did wonder how the sale of Jamie Reid would have an effect on us but we have a squad of players who can get goals from all positions within the system which is a massive positive at all levels. We have 21 games left in the season and I will be playing the majority in extended highlights just due to the pure fact that I am enjoying the game as much as ever. I know it’s the time of year when a lot of people are winding their saves down however with the announcement that FM will be a late release this year I believe I have got a good few seasons ahead of me yet to bring Premier League football to the English Rivera.
I think I mentioned before our youth recruitment is non existent and I am not overly bothered about it to be honest at the moment because it’s fun looking for cast offs and loans and blending them together each season.