Saturday 2 June 2012

Wrapping up the season

So that's that then.
Another season over, and another pre-season of ridiculous rumours and over-reaction to players leaving/arriving/turning us down has already started.
To wrap it up, it was a season which started slowly, gathered pace in the Autumn, stuttered slightly before threatening to implode completely, then almost finished on the most incredible high.
After an inauspicious pre-season which included defeats at Stourbridge and Newport and draws at Cirencester and Telford, optimism wasn't exactly high when we trekked to Gillingham for the opening game on August 6.
But as it turned out, by the end of August we had wrapped up home wins over Swindon and Crawley (both of whom went up) and a comeback win at Northampton, while making progress in the JPT as well.
September saw Jack Butland's arrival - and little did we know he would end the season on the plane to Poland and the Ukraine.
His debut, the 2-0 win over Macclesfield, was our only win in the month, which ended with a disappointing 0-0 draw at Hereford, but that was the catalyst for the season to really take off.
October opened at Bristol Rovers, and the team selection raised a few eyebrows - Danny Andrew dropped, Sido Jombati in, three in central midfield, and a new loanee Luke Garbutt on the bench.
One 3-1 win later and maybe that proved Yatesy does know best... The month carried on with only one defeat (against Crewe... see also April and late May...) and ended with a last-gasp 2-1 win over ailing Plymouth.
Three League games in November, and three wins meant we were flying up the table, and there was a also a superb 1-0 win at League One Tranmere in the FA Cup but a JPT exit.
We were then unbeaten in December and booked an FA Cup game at Spurs, by beating Luton in round two, and the home win over Southend was arguably the best display of the season, and the best at home for a few seasons.
We seemed to be on a roll and started January with wins over Port Vale and Aldershot, sandwiching that memorable day at White Hart Lane - but got a wake-up call with a defeat at home to Bristol Rovers.
But we ended the month on top of League Two after winning 3-1 at Macclesfield - but that was the to be as good as it got.
February opened at Crawley with a 4-2 defeat in a game which should have been postponed as the pitch was frozen, then carried on with usual non-victory at Hereford and a home defeat by Torquay.
It ended better - wins over Dagenham and Burton and a draw with AFC Wimbledon re-ignited the top-three bid, but that was to be swiftly extinguished.
March. I thought about leaving it out but had to re-live the pain.
Two points out of 21, defeats to all of our promotion rivals, red cards, missed penalties and no goals for the best part of six games. Need I say any more? No, I don't think so.
So, that was top three out of the window and it was now a case of making sure we finished in the top six.
We managed it in April thanks to three home wins, over Barnet, Accrington and Bradford, despite one goal losses at Rotherham (in the 92nd minute) and Crewe (yes, them again).
May began at Plymouth with a much-changed team winning 2-1, and we were to go back to Devon for the play-offs, and what a night it was at Plainmoor as we booked that Wembley place.
It was to end in disappointment against Crewe - but what a season it was, and now is the time to hand out the CTC 2012-13 awards (drum roll please...)

Player of the season
As I have said often in the past, my vote here goes to Steve Elliott. I thought he had a fantastically consistent season, and we really missed him in those games he missed between the Spurs game and the 5-0 win at Dagenham back in mid-February. He benefited greatly from having Alan Bennett alongside him, and they formed a great partnership. Hope they both stay!

Signing of the season
A few to choose from here - Bennett, Duffy, Garbutt, Mo, Butland, Penn to name a few, but it has to be Sido Jombati. Plucked from Bath City (cheers Archie) he got his place in the side in October, and never lost it again. His goal at Oxford was a great moment, and he has become a cult hero. Still not the finished article and has to work on a few things, notably his tackling and cutting out the rash challenges which have cost us penalties and got him that red card at Southend.

Goal of the season
This looked to be a stright fight between two goals scored in the same game - Kaid Mohamed's solo effort and Luke Summerfield's smasher from the short corner routine at Bristol Rovers. That was until the 88th minute at Plainmoor in the play-off semi-final, when Marlon Pack's free-kick against Torquay nipped in and stole it. A special goal for a special moment.

Home performance of the season
I am going to vote here for the 3-0 success over Southend. It was during our great run of form, and was Jack Butland's last game of his initial loan spell. Southend were also high-flying but we swept them aside with a superb display and could have won by more. Jimmy Spencer, Russ Pen and Marlon Pack scored, but Marlon hit the post twice and Luke Daniels in the Southend goal made some fine saves.

Away performance of the season
For a change this season, we saw some superb displays on the road, and I could vote for the wins at Oxford, Bristol Rovers, Burton, Dagenham or Bradford - the five I would say are the best 'on the road' shows. Of those, I am going to the 3-1 win at Oxford, as that was the day I feel we really put a marker down. Right from minute one, we dominated and Sido Jombati, Jimmy Spencer and Kaid Mohamed sealed a superb win.

So that's the end of season 2011-12. Let the fun begin again in 2012-13...!

1 comment:

  1. Decent summary that mate. What a season it was.

    Have to say that I really hope we keep the ruby kit. Best looking kit in the whole football league.