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Formed in 2010 after the winding-up of Chester City, Chester FC have managed to work their way from the amateur divisions to the Vanarama National League. Now it's my job to try and take this club from non-league to one of the best teams in the world.

Discussion
Chester FC - Rising from the Ashes


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


Hello everyone and welcome to my first ever career here on the sortitoutsi forums. In this save I will be taking control of my local team Chester FC and attempting to take them from the fifth tier all the way to European and domestic glory. This will be my main save for this year's game - also, bear in mind that FM17 is my first-ever FM and this is only my second career (after a Celtic 'beta' save which overran) so I hope you excuse the fact I'm not the best at the game.

A Brief Overview of Chester

The original Chester City FC was founded in 1885 as an amalgamation of smaller teams from the area. Throughout its history, the team mainly played between the third and fifth divisions of English football - with perhaps their finest hour being in the 1970-71 season as they reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, knocking out Newcastle United and thrashing national champions Leeds along the way. Somewhat unusually for a lower-league team, several famous players have played for the club including Lee Dixon, Kevin Ratcliffe, Cyrille Regis and Ian Rush. However, in the 1990s the club began to fall upon hard times as it entered administration in 1998 and relegated from the Football League for the first time in 69 years in 2000. Several attempts to save the club followed as the team bounced between the fourth and fifth tiers and the finances bounced between the red and the black. Ultimately, these attempts provided fruitless as the club was wound-up in March 2010.

https://i.gyazo.com/d252b0fe19692fdbd0bb731a35c286b2.png

After the winding-up of Chester City, a phoenix club was set up by the fans simply called Chester FC - the old name of the original club. Continuing to play at their old home, the 6,500 capacity Deva Stadium, they were initially placed in the Northern Premier League Division One, the eighth division in England. Under the management of Neil Young, Chester achieved a remarkable 3 consecutive league titles meaning that they would play in the National League just three years after their re-formation. Life in the division proved tough, though, and new boss Steve Burr was unable to save the club from relegation - but after Hereford United were expelled from the league Chester were allowed to stay in the fifth tier. The next season proved to be more promising as the team ended the campaign in 12th place. Unfortunately the next season they were back flirting with relegation, with a disappointing 17th placed finish resulting in Burr's sacking. The next chapter? Well that's up to me...

Meet the Manager

https://i.gyazo.com/f80c92642a99da7534059d93d592b3fa.jpg

This is me, James Lazurite or better known to you all as 'lolmappo'. I am 35 years old (not my real-life age) and have lived in Chester all my life. Despite being English I support Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga as they are the team that made me interested in football a few years ago, prior to this I had little interest or knowledge of the sport. I also follow my dad's team Everton and AC Milan as I am half-Italian - as well of Chester of course. I have a National A coaching badge and I am a former semi-pro footballer, with a 'tactician' managerial style.

https://i.gyazo.com/cdda1deee7c750f7c427c15aa8b38fd9.png
https://i.gyazo.com/8080bd6ab2dead8f673adafb6361c652.png

So here we go, my local team have put their faith in a manager with no previous experience on the touchline to try and take them to the next level. As you can see, expectations in the league are pretty low as the board only expect us to avoid relegation but they also want us to reach the first round of the FA Cup and the second round of the FA Trophy. There is no transfer budget but plenty of wage budget left to spend - I don't have too much of a problem with this as most players are brought in on free transfers at this level. I also immediately asked to go on a coaching course but the board rejected it as they fear if I am more qualified a bigger club will try and poach me! They don't need to worry though - I'm in this for the long haul.

Squad Report

https://i.gyazo.com/e22a484e6a49c88fc7dcef9c4f4e9d15.png

The first thing you'll probably notice is that we have a very young squad overall. This is great as some of those players have the potential to still do a job in the higher divisions, meaning it shouldn't be as much of a rebuilding job whenever we get promoted. Liam Roberts looks like a quality keeper on loan from Walsall, while we have Alex Lynch permanently who seems another decent option. Evan Horwood looks to be a good left-back, the oldest player at the club at 30 years old. We also have Matty Waters who can play on either side, he looks like one of our best young prospects right now. Our central defence won't need too much work as we have five high-potential players although Vassell is only in on loan and Killock is out for up to 3 months with a calf injury. Annoyingly, we don't have any natural right-backs - this will be my priority in the transfer window as we will need a couple of decent options there come the start of the season. Central midfield is a similar problem as we only have three CMs. We have lots of depth out on the wing with Port Vale loanee Ryan Lloyd the pick of the bunch - I might look to move a couple of our wide men onto other clubs to give us funds to strengthen elsewhere. James Alabi is tearing the league apart in real life at the moment and he looks like he could potentially in-game as well - we'll be looking for him as our main source of goals this year and at just 21 years old the best may well be yet to come for him. And since my assistant rates him as our best player, here's a closer look at him:

https://i.gyazo.com/d94e9958054ffe2b53cf03e2eab861e4.jpg

Unfortunately we can't make any signings yet though - we currently don't have any scouts at the club so I am posting adverts for a new Chief Scout and other scouts, as well as for more coaches and physios as we are generally rather unequipped in the backroom.

And that just about brings us to the end of this introductory post, I should have a preseason update posted tomorrow, but bear in mind I have school IRL and exams coming up soon so I might not be able to post updates as often as some others. I hope you will join me in my quest to take Chester to the top and any feedback is always appreciated!


http://31.media.tumblr.com/827602dc93447bf2d8f6f29278addee6/tumblr_mr0qjlPm6c1sdqx19o1_500.gif
Good luck with Chester, I'm currently enjoying a lengthy (12 seasons to date) career that started down in the Vanarama South, we've just made the Championship but I always enjoy the lower league manager saves!
Good luck with this! Ryan Astles is a beast of a CB! Played for my team Northwich last season!
Great start mate. Love seeing an English lower league career.
Thanks @Dan it'll be a long but rewarding journey trying to reach the higher tiers
I'm sure you'll be glad to know @tongey that he should be a big part of our team this season
Don't we all @Fola


______________________________________________________________________________


Chester FC - Pre-Season Update


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


It's been a pretty eventful run-up to my first season as manager of the Blues, with games against a variety of oppositions and both players and staff coming into the club.

Hellos and Goodbyes

https://i.gyazo.com/dcb661fcced353f1c62463e818889ea9.png

We'll start with transfers I guess. Only four new faces in so far, but we are only in the start of August so expect more signings before the next update. Starting off with Lateef Elford-Alliyu - his name isn't the easiest to remember but hopefully he will have a big impact this season. He comes in to play alongside Alabi and just like his strike partner he looks as though he could tear the leagues apart, coming in after being released by Coventry and curiously enough he played in Malta prior to this. Our next signing was a much-needed centre-mid in Rian (pronounced Ryan or Reean?) Carroll, accomplished in pretty much every CM role and he can even do a job on the wing. Lee Beevers arrived from Lincoln after they accepted our bid of exactly £0, he becomes the oldest player in the team at 32 but looks like he could do a job for the next couple of years, able to play in central defence but he will predominantly fill the vacant right-back slot for us. Finally, Fergus Bell is another good central midfielder to play alongside Carroll or one of the players already at the club - having previously played his trade in England, Scotland, Spain, Belgium and Italy despite being just 25! Only one player on the outs as of yet: Kane Richards going on loan to Bradford Park Avenue until January.

https://i.gyazo.com/ca6a4fc0a5c5f795badaebd126bd7f93.png

We've also had an overhaul behind the scenes - when I joined the club we only had 4 members of staff including myself but I have managed to increase that number to a whopping 17. Our scouting team - including Swedish legend Patrik Andersson and former Oldham star Mike Milligan - and our physiotherapy team are now ranked as the best in the league, while we are ranked second for mental and tactical coaching thanks to my 'tactician' manager style as well as the addition of Norwich legend Darren Huckerby.

Pre-Season Review

https://i.gyazo.com/103cd35a0061316ee06f154b9c8846c6.png

I'm not too bothered about preseason as it was mainly about getting players fit and familiar with our tactics but for the most part the results were pretty pleasing. We started things off with a narrow but expected 1-0 loss to Scottish Championship side St Mirren before a hattrick from Elliott Durrell - including a penalty after just twenty seconds and another with two minutes left to play - gave us a three two win over Salford who are currently playing in the division below us. We then blew a two-goal lead to draw with Welsh champions TNS - who incidentally once applied to share Chester's ground in 2010. This was followed up by a 3-1 defeat against League One side Bradford; Astles' early header gave us hope of a potential upset but we quickly threw away the lead to lose the game. Three more games against Welsh opposition followed - the first of which was a comfortable 4-0 win over Caernarfon. We then emerged 5-2 victors over Llangefni despite being down at half time, James Alabi remarkably managing to score both a goal and an own goal. Our final friendly game was against our affiliate club Airbus UK Broughton, our new man Elford-Alliyu's stunning volley in his first appearance in a Chester shirt helped us to a 2-0 victory.

Season Preview

https://i.gyazo.com/0a2a76d69d8df74994981cd9f4b84c66.png

And here's the tactic we'll probably be using for this campaign, along with what I reckon is our strongest XI. The pairing of Alabi and Elford-Alliyu up front should provide us with lots of goals, we have several options on the flanks to provide balls into our front two while our new midfield duo are able to link the attack to the defence, both supplying passes and sweeping up loose balls. Central defence is more or less covered with lots of tall, strong players to choose from and Horwood will be a solid left back. Ideally I want to get another right-back in before the window closes so keep your eyes peeled for more transfer news when I next update this career.

https://i.gyazo.com/2f8c9b5908f9160201c9abba2704873a.png

Here are the bookies' predictions for the upcoming season. They've put us down in 20th, just one place above the relegation zone; personally I think that is a very pessimistic prediction - personally I would consider a decent top-half finish a good but achievable season. Our fierce rivals Wrexham and Tranmere are both expected to be fighting for a playoff spot, while Eastleigh are 4-1 favourites for the title. At the other end of the table, North Ferriby are favourites for the drop while Solihull Moors face equally steep odds.

https://i.gyazo.com/ac3ddb1a8396121a5476eca67529ed65.png

And finally, here's an overview of our fixtures for the first part of the season. We kick things off with a challenging but winnable trip to Gateshead before taking on recently-relegated Dagenham and Redbridge in our first home game of the season. Our first derby game against Wrexham is in late September while we have another huge game against Tranmere on the 12th of November. We also begin our FA Cup journey in October but we'll have to wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas to kick things off in the FA Trophy. Let's hope for a successful first season here at the Deva!
http://31.media.tumblr.com/827602dc93447bf2d8f6f29278addee6/tumblr_mr0qjlPm6c1sdqx19o1_500.gif
Chester FC - August 2016


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


Well, we've played through our first month of football in the National League this season. Our aim for the league is just to avoid relegation as far as the board are concerned but I am confident we can stay up comfortably and as I have previously said, I would regard a top half finish as an achievable goal. It's never as easy as it sounds, though - so how did we fare?

https://i.gyazo.com/61d2db18d48c93043ac1aabad96939c2.png

I guess you could look at this month of football and say that we've only had one loss. That's true - but we've also only had two wins, and annoyingly FOUR draws. We started the season off very brightly with a fantastic 4-1 victory away at Gateshead. We conceded after just a couple of minutes but our players reacted well and an Alabi brace plus goals for Durrell and Carroll on their competitive debuts meant we upset the odds and went home happy. We never really threatened in the next game, though - Daghenam and Redbridge put us under a lot of pressure throughout the match and we were lucky to get a goalless draw. The next game was the polar opposite - a six goal thriller against Maidstone in which we only managed to get a point despite our dominance. An early goal from left-back Horwood and two from Lateef put us 3-1 up but the side tipped for relegation this year scored twice in the same minute to salvage a three all draw. Our third straight draw followed, this time though it was actually a satisfactory result against a Barrow team predicted to challenge for promotion. Lateef again put us ahead but we were pegged back on the hour mark by former Chester man - and in fact our top scorer last season - Ross Hannah. Off the back of this was our only loss of the month, a disappointing defeat to Boreham Wood. Again we blew an early lead through James Akintunde; we defended poorly and were unable to withstand the pressure, our defenders giving the ball away stupidly and not fulfilling their marking duties properly. However, this defeat motivated us to come back with a 2-0 home win over recently-promoted Sutton Utd, with both goals coming from our poacher Lateef - I said I hoped his goals would fire us to glory and he certainly seems to be making a big contribution so far. And it was that man again who found the net in infuriatingly our fourth draw of the month against an admittedly strong Woking side.

Good draws? Bad draws? Well, results like the Barrow one were pretty pleasing I guess, but we've also got the disappointing Maidstone result. Interestingly enough, in all of our games barring the first one we've been the first to score - we just need to work on defending our leads and hopefully we will improve in that area as the players become more familiar with our tactics. If you're wondering why Alabi isn't on the scoresheet much, by the way - he's been injured for a couple of weeks and only returned in I believe the Sutton game. Hopefully his return will help us push further with more firepower up top.

https://i.gyazo.com/cd609248bb1d5f6a3640a3603839adc2.png


So after seven games played we find ourselves in 10th, I said I was hoping for a top-half finish and that is the case at least at this early stage. Despite our mixed results we find ourselves only 3 points off the playoffs - a few wins and we could soon be up there. Also, Lateef is currently the second-highest scorer in the league with 6 to his name already. Finally, we've got another new addition to the team:

https://i.gyazo.com/26adfed7295f0fcade570dc815402947.jpg

He's not the best player by any means but Tom Youngs has come in as a solid backup option at striker, for when one of our first-choices is out of action through injury or tiredness. As you can see he's already played 3 games for us, while Alabi has been out - he hasn't found the net just yet but has a singular assist to his name. He's still young (no pun intended) at 21 so he could certainly push for first-team football in the next few years.
http://31.media.tumblr.com/827602dc93447bf2d8f6f29278addee6/tumblr_mr0qjlPm6c1sdqx19o1_500.gif
I'm aware there's been no update to this for 4 days - I've been busy with GCSE stuff and currently in the middle of a minor illness, regular updates should be back soon.

______________________________________________________________________________


Chester FC - September 2016


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


We're only in the second month of competitive football here at Chester but it is nonetheless a big one for the club. We 'only' had five games this month, beginning with two harder fixtures against 1st and 2nd-placed Forest Green and Aldershot. We would then come up against two easier teams in Guiseley and Braintree before the biggest game of the lot to end the season, my very first derby against Wrexham.

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/8ba887a7a8d955a130ace64c96ee662b.png

Since there is no transfer window in the non-leagues, we can continue to strengthen our squad throughout the season and we certainly did here. Four new faces coming into the club, and four faces who I think could all have a big impact in the future.

https://i.gyazo.com/b9cb7e667676c008f672aaa887dda68b.png
https://i.gyazo.com/96b85f3435330c08545ca3f5bd76f0c5.png
https://i.gyazo.com/53dd66f5639855e82c5216056ed4257e.png
https://i.gyazo.com/734a06c847b8ed2a474953ac9a396bdd.png

First off, Billy Simpson was signed early on in the month; he's by no means the finished article yet and will probably get limited game time this year, but in the seasons to come I think he could certainly give Lee Beevers competition at both right-back and centre-back, and eventually become a starter for us. The next player will probably find it easier to get into the team right now - Levi Rowley comes in as another good centre-mid also capable of playing CAM if we ever decide to change our formation. We managed to get Richard Nartey in on loan from Chelsea, again able to play right-back and centre-back whilst also being competent at left-back and will probably find himself at least in the squad for most games. Finally our first monetary signing of the window, and one I feel is somewhat of a coup: the awesomely-named Bobby-Joe Taylor arrives for £12.5K from relegation candidates Maidstone. We'll be using him on the left flank in rotation with Ryan Lloyd, and he provides a very good alternative if we are unable to make Lloyd's loan stay a permanent one.

Matches

After a mixed first month with annoyingly four draws, we were looking for the momentum to really kickstart our season. There was a good mix of some winnable games and challenging ones, as well as of course our massive derby fixture away at Wrexham. Could we get some more wins on the board and build some good early-season form?

https://i.gyazo.com/f2b743cddc4ced3dd704cf5986363471.png

The answer is a resounding YES. Kicking things off with a tough home game against table-toppers Forest Green Rovers, I didn't expect to get much out of it but we took our chances and blew them away as we produced a shock 4-1 victory with braces from both Alabi and Lateef (who I have nicknamed since I can't be constantly typing his full name), we were so clinical in front of goal despite the stats being 50-50 in almost all regards. We couldn't keep the momentum going though, and our only loss of the month was a disappointing 3-0 away defeat to Aldershot. We rather famously put EIGHT past them in real life last season but unfortunately in this game we just couldn't create anything against one of the league's high-flying sides. The result didn't get us down too much though, as we followed it up with two home wins. The first was a comfortable 3-1 victory over Guiseley; Lloyd, Lateef and club captain Tom Shaw all netted within twenty minutes, I thought it was going to be an absolute smashing but unfortunately the goals stopped coming after that and a last-gasp penalty for them denied us the clean sheet. We then narrowly beat Braintree 1-0 thanks to a goal from James Alabi, we got all three points at the end of the day but it was still a somewhat disappointing result against a team currently sitting in the relegation zone. However, we finished the month as well as, if not better than, how we started - a fantastic 2-0 victory over our fierce rivals Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground. We were favourites to lose the game but our man in form Lateef grabbed a brace to ruin the Welsh side's hopes of any celebration and send our fans home happy.

https://i.gyazo.com/f42d866c662abcad9de0e2707e174ab9.png


And would you look at that, I know it's only early days but our brilliant form this month has seen us rocket into the playoff spots. Admittedly we are only just in by a point and still five points off current leaders Lincoln but hopefully our winning ways will breed even more confidence in the dressing room and maybe lead us to pulling off an upset come the end of the season.

https://i.gyazo.com/6e252532ea8569cc57cc6c9c14dd5f93.png

Finally, Lateef's great scoring run has seen him pick up the National League Player of the Month award, after he found the net five times in as many matches. He's certainly proving to be a fantastic signing and hopefully he can continue in this vein for a while longer...

Next update: October 2016
http://31.media.tumblr.com/827602dc93447bf2d8f6f29278addee6/tumblr_mr0qjlPm6c1sdqx19o1_500.gif
Terrific beginning to the season, @lolmappo. Hopefully you can keep it going!
My Football Manager 2017 career: Journeyman's Journey
Thanks @Dan, Lincoln are indeed in some good form but not unbeatable as we may be about to see
Cheers @r96Skinner we're not getting ahead of ourselves but this league can be very unpredictable...


______________________________________________________________________________


Chester FC - October 2016


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


After a strong September saw us really get going this season, time would only tell if we could keep our great form going for another month. It would be tough on our legs though as we played 7 games in October, however they were mostly easier ones on paper. We also got our FA Cup journey started for the season.

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/9b7b97e546046b5188204f2ddb836e81.png
https://i.gyazo.com/7793402d21155a3b286665846d3a7075.png

Just the one player coming in this time, Alex O'Hanlon looks like a very nice midfielder at this level, probably actually our best player in his position. I know that our central midfield is pretty crowded, I'm looking to loan a couple of players out to increase their game time though. Speaking of loans we've also had Joyce, Simpson and Killock depart the club temporarily to National North sides in order to give them regular football and get rid of some unnecessary weight from our squad - they're all on 6 month deals with the option of recalling them so if the worst comes to the worst we can always bring them back. Joyce and Killock have also been put on the transfer list to hopefully free up more funds, so if they impress while out on loan we might have a few teams come knocking for them.

Matches

Looking to pick up where we left off last, could we keep our brilliant form going and strengthen our position near the upper echelons of the table?

https://i.gyazo.com/52855ac5d9ab961badb819349a37431a.png

Wow, I expected us to trail off a little but the Chester steamroller has kept on going with arguably an even better month, six wins out of seven including one that sees us progress to the first round of the FA Cup. We ensured we had a good start to October with a 2-1 win against bottom side Dover, it was much more comfortable than the scoreline suggested as Lateef and Horwood netted in a first half where we should have scored three or four. A calamitous own-goal by @tongey's favourite Ryan Astles took the sheen off the scoreline but overall a pleasing performance. We followed it up with a 3-1 victory over another struggling side in North Ferriby with Lateef, Chapell and Youngs getting on the scoresheet and their only consolation coming late in the game. Our man in form Lateef again scored the only goal of the game against Torquay, another match where we should have won by a bigger scoreline given our dominance. We played fellow National League side Guisley in an FA Cup qualifying round in which we emerged deserved 2-1 winners thanks to Alabi and Lateef, but this was followed by a game against York where we were quite frankly lucky to get all three points. They were definitely the better team but we defended well and counter-attacked quickly, Alabi scoring the all-important goal two minutes after the restart. The next game was a somewhat surprising defeat to nearby side and fellow playoff chasers Macclesfield, we didn't play well and Alabi's goal was our only shot on target in the whole 90 minutes. However, we ended the month on a positive note as we bounced back with a fantastic 3-0 victory over high-flying Lincoln. They edged possession and shots but a great rearguard display from us as well as good attacking ensured that Alabi, Lateef and Youngs found the net.

https://i.gyazo.com/8484d91cf1f591092f51f176156fbc3f.png


Well well well, we've risen even higher up to third and we're now remarkably eight points inside the playoffs and only three points away from Forest Green who sit in the division's only automatic promotion place. I'm still not trying to get too far ahead of myself though, we're in great form at the moment but I don't expect this run to last for ever and a bad month or two could see us slide down into mid-table. Remember though that the board's target for me was only to avoid relegation, I'm sure this isn't going to happen since we're already 20 points away from the drop zone but anything else is just a bonus and we're even surpassing my own aim of a top-half finish.

https://i.gyazo.com/d6163a06dcb34a83610d0a27b845a062.png

And yeah, it's nice to be recognised for my good work

https://i.gyazo.com/d8056ae72e264545864e2da22763e4e5.png

We've also had the draw for the first round of the cup, and it's against Football League opposition in Exeter City. It's not going to be easy but they're currently struggling in League Two, and we will have home advantage for the match. Also worth noting that this game has been selected for TV, that will provide a nice bit of income when combined with ticket sales as it will hopefully attract a big crowd at the Deva Stadium.

https://i.gyazo.com/883efcef34d8ed37df8aa41c6e5898b0.png

Finally, our elections are coming up soon and our current chairman Simon Olorenshaw has decided against another term. I don't expect it to be too much of a big deal since so far all the candidates have said they want to keep the club largely running the way it is currently, but nonetheless it's worth keeping an eye on.
http://31.media.tumblr.com/827602dc93447bf2d8f6f29278addee6/tumblr_mr0qjlPm6c1sdqx19o1_500.gif
Chester FC - November 2016


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


Going into November on a high after a remarkable run of form, there was no reason why we couldn't keep it going even longer as we faced some more favourable fixtures in the league as well as a huge FA Cup tie against League Two side Exeter. Could we continue to defy expectations and stake our claim as legitimate promotion contenders?

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/7c48ed6a6b2eab0c1e674ad608f161b5.png

Again just one player in this month and none departing, we're finally starting to slow down in the market as we have built a very strong squad and made additions where I wanted. Sesay joins us on loan from Barnet for the remainder of the season, his valuation isn't too high either so we might be able to turn the deal into a permanent one if he impresses. He's the first international in our squad, having three caps - albeit for Sierra Leone. He looks like a solid central defender and will slot nicely into our back four, hopefully he should get quite a lot of game time.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/facf19b1aa39051a8dd36b6de364f007.png

What an incredible run we're on right now, this month could be our best yet as we managed to win all five of our games in the league. We'd start on a sour note though, as we were unable to cause an upset against Exeter in the first round of the FA Cup. Lateef put us ahead through what may well be goal of the season but we defended pretty poorly, the team from the south coast were probably the better side and denied us the chance to go up against League One Peterborough in the second round. I feared the result would get us down a bit but it was quite the opposite, we returned to action in the National League to thrash fierce local rivals Tranmere 3-0 with in-form Jordan Chapell netting as well as a Lateef brace. Shaw, Waters and Alabi all scored in a 3-2 home victory over Bromley - we nearly blew a 3-goal lead but managed to hold on to come away with all three points. A narrow victory followed over a Southport side managed by former Chester gaffer Steve Burr, Tom Youngs getting the all-important goal. Eastleigh were predicted to be one of the favourites for promotion at the beginning of the season but currently sit in 11th, we found ourselves a goal down early on in our game against them but another double from Lateef - including a 91st-minute winner - helped us record a deserved win. Finally we won 3-1 against struggling North Ferriby, all the action was in the first half. We trailed after just two minutes but James Alabi was the hero, finding the net twice as well as providing the assist for Ryan Lloyd's third.

https://i.gyazo.com/e175f40ea3b3d2f79face7917d8f38e3.png


And incredible scenes as far as the league table looks, after pretty much a perfect November in the league we not only find ourselves in top spot but also four points clear of Lincoln. Perhaps even more interesting though is that Sutton have managed to rise 10 places since the last update and now find themselves in the playoffs, after four straight wins. York have also risen five places while we're laughing at our rivals Tranmere and Wrexham, both of whom are expected to finish above us and fighting for promotion, but instead both lie in the bottom half after some torrid form. Dover, who were seven points adrift of safety, have been in great form and are now in the relegation zone by just a single point.

https://i.gyazo.com/835d36541626260ab73cde7f4f7ac50e.png

Again I've been named Manager of the Month with a 100% win ratio, beating Sutton's manager as well as a certain Kevin Nolan to the award.

https://i.gyazo.com/6bb1486accfd7f1c47b1dd3703af216b.png

Finally here's our new chairman, I said I didn't think it would be too big a deal and that is certainly the case as he doesn't plan to provide any additional funding but at least my job is safe (although frankly I wouldn't have expected it to be in any danger based on how things stand). I dropped in another request to go on a coaching course, the new board declined but this time their reasoning is at least understandable as they want me to be as effective as possible in training.

Next update: December 2016
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Excellent, excellent month @lolmappo! Let's hope it continues
My Football Manager 2017 career: Journeyman's Journey
I don't know how long it's going to go on for @r96Skinner but I'm not complaining, suddenly promotion is looking like a real possibility
You never know @Dan here's hoping we can pull off a massive surprise and keep our top spot come the end of April

______________________________________________________________________________


Chester FC - December 2016


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


Going into the festive month of December, we were certainly full of cheer and it was looking more and more likely we would go into 2017 sitting at the top of the non-league tree. With a fairly easy month on paper, there was no reason why we couldn't extend our 6-match win streak and consolidate our grasp at the top of the table...

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/800548eb06c82b56b99a1a1efb62db7e.png

This man was our only signing this month but overall our 12th of the season, he's also just the second with a price tag attached. Callum Driver is another arrival from Maidstone, somewhat of a bargain really at £4k. He may seem like a surprising addition to the team since we are already pretty sufficiently covered at full-back, but he is in my eyes a replacement for Lee Beevers - despite only signing in July the veteran defender hasn't really impressed me and we may be looking to move him on already or even offer him a role in amongst the coaching staff.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/f99cadcc6643133190156bf82dc13cb1.png

Only four games and as I mentioned earlier they were all winnable ones, it seems a good month on the face of it but in fact we were lucky to escape with the results we did. We travelled to Guiseley where we managed to grab a 3-2 win, perhaps an undeserved one though as the stats were skewed towards the home team and we had to fight back from 1-0 and 2-1 down - however an Alabi brace and a Lateef winner ensured we avoided something of an upset. The next match was against Barrow in the FA Trophy, another narrow scoreline but this time we dominated. They defended for their lives and I thought we'd end up going to a second leg but they had a man sent off and eventually an own goal saw us progress to the next round where we'll face Maidstone. It was the same result but pretty much the opposite scenario against Aldershot, they thrashed us 3-0 earlier in the season and it looked like it was going to go that way again after our captain Shaw was shown a straight red after just twenty minutes - we triumphed over adversity though as we defended and countered well and Lateef scored the winner at the Deva Stadium. Ending the month on something of a sour note though, we drew 0-0 with the division's cellar-dwellers Solihull Moors on Boxing Day and if anything we honestly deserved to lose that game since we were pretty much out of ideas. Perhaps a sign of a downturn in form and the culmination of our satisfactory yet uninspiring performances throughout the month. I won't dwell on it too much for now though.

https://i.gyazo.com/6cdcd1e90df769f0dfee8b9680383486.png


I'm not letting it get us down though - we've extended our lead at the top by another point. We've defied everyone's expectations so far and at the halfway point of the season, even if we bottle it and aren't crowned National League champions we should at least be making the playoffs. Hopefully we should prove why we deserve to be where we are next month as we face another favourable run of fixtures but also a home derby game against Wrexham.

https://i.gyazo.com/f45cd11f034fb9357106ee260bc282e1.png

Finishing off with another pretty significant piece of news, James Alabi has been refusing new contract offers since the start of the campaign and it was looking like he was ready to walk out on us but we've just about managed to convince him to sign a new two-year deal which sees him become the highest-paid player at the club by a long way. I'm confident he'll still be an important player for us if we go up to the Football League, he also has a release clause which can be triggered if we fail to win promotion which is just more motivation to push for the title.

Next update: January 2017
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Chester FC - January 2017


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


It's a new year and if the first half of the season's anything to go by it looks as though it'll be a very good one for the club. We had seven different games to play in January including a home derby against Wrexham, could we continue to prove why we deserve to be up there at the top of the table?

https://i.gyazo.com/719d1d074735cdf11b04321b8876d255.png

Well yes we could, another really good month overall with lots of green dots and no red ones. It was a happy new year for us as we thrashed Solihull Moors 3-0, last time out we could only muster a draw but an Alabi brace and a Waters stunner all within the first twenty minutes ensured a comprehensive victory. It wasn't so easy against Braintree though, we fought hard to get a one nil win thanks to Lateef and had it not been for their poor finishing the home team might have won. The FA Trophy isn't one of my priorities but nonetheless I fielded a strong team at home versus Maidstone, I expected a comfortable win but the game was pretty even and a 92nd minute equaliser from them forced a replay in a six goal thriller. I actually put out a weaker side for said replay as I wanted to rest my best players for the Wrexham match - but we recorded a 3-1 victory with goals courtesy of our front two, Alabi and Lateef, despite being pretty much dominated in the second half. A huge Cross-Border Derby came just three days later - earlier in the season a Lateef brace had helped us record a 2-0 away win and it was the exact same case at the Deva as our star poacher got us the three points once more. We put another somewhat weakened team out for the Dover game and it resulted in a disappointing but fair 0-0 draw. We ended the month as we started it as we narrowly beat Dagenham and Redbridge 1-0 on the 31st, Lateef again getting the winner with his thirtieth of the season.

https://i.gyazo.com/b13a0c3f6d313679e8a16eda9a3a8ffe.png

We also managed to break our record attendance in the Wrexham game with a complete sell-out of the Deva. This probably wouldn't happen in real life though at the moment as its 'bubble match' status is leading a lot of fans from both sides to boycott the games.

https://i.gyazo.com/975953c06b4794428c2dea6796e59bce.png


The air's starting to get thin as we have a remarkable 11-point cushion at the top of the National League now and with three months of football left it's looking more and more likely we'll be the surprise champions and win promotion to League Two for the first time as a reformed club. Wrexham's good form has seen them bounce back to ninth but Tranmere continue their fall down the standings as they lie in 15th after another poor month. We might well be seeing the same bottom four for the remainder of the campaign with even Dover in 21st lying six points away from safety. Solihull Moors seem relegated already, 14 points from North Ferriby.

https://i.gyazo.com/d7b13a615555200e8904c465cb59fe90.png

Oh and I've won this thing again, it was kinda prestigious to get it for the first time but now I'm just taking it for granted really.

Next update: February 2017
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Chester FC - February 2017


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


We're starting to get into the 'business end' of the season where teams really try and push on in the league, it's really quite competitive behind us but with three months left we seemingly have the title in the bag. We need to continue to stay on task though if we want to avoid a late season slump, hopefully we could continue to have as much energy in these latter stages as we did earlier on...

Transfers

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https://i.gyazo.com/ff26149ec978a1cf5b4806b518038b89.png

It's probably a good job we don't have transfer windows in this division, we signed nobody in January but picked up three good players this month. The first was someone I'd been looking at for a while in Oyeleke - he will be a good midfielder for this league, as we look to move some players in the squad on who are no longer really good enough to get in the team now we have better alternatives. We also had two central defenders actually joining on the same day, the first being Max Muller from Germany who arrives after being released by Wycombe in League Two. He becomes perhaps our best centre-back, someone who will probably be able to survive once we make the jump to the Football League. Quade Taylor joins us from Dulwich Hamlet for nothing, despite playing two tiers below us he still looks to be a quality player and should get a lot of game time in the last couple of months.

https://i.gyazo.com/d3a580fc178f6e2aa3d0ff6fad0be857.png


I forgot to show you this in the last update but we've brought in even more new staff and now have seven coaches, we're now best in the league at everything other than fitness in which Forest Green narrowly beat us. I don't think it's really expected for a non-league club to be as good as us in the backroom, especially considering the state of it when I first arrived here.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/29f21446e0002e04b8d5fdf69f879b4f.png

Another unbeaten month and we won five of those six, incredibly we still haven't lost a game since early November. We'd begin with back-to-back games against Gateshead, the first one coming away in the FA Trophy. We had to withstand heavy pressure throughout and conceded a couple but we were so clinical in front of goal as we scored with all of our shots on target to advance to the 4th round. At home in the National League it was a much more comfortable result, 3-0 with an own goal and two from Lateef all in the second half. Again they tried to attack from the off but their forwards really didn't play well and yet again we scored with all the shots we had on goal, overall the win was very much deserved. Maidstone have given us a hard time in the past but we managed to keep them quiet for the most part at the Gallagher Stadium as a rare goal from Ryan Astles plus Lateef and a Durrell penalty secured three points. We had to withstand lots of pressure again though, this time at home to Barrow. It was 1-1 at half time and they were looking by far the better side but a switch in tactics proved key and we absolutely played them off the park in the second half, man of the match Chapell and both our strikers getting on the scoresheet. In the quarter finals of the FA Trophy we played National South side Ebbsfleet so put out a slightly weaker team, I am however starting to take the competition more seriously than I was at first since it's likely this will be my only chance to win it. We dominated but somehow only scored the one goal, it was actually O'Hanlon's first for the club despite him being arguably our best midfielder this season since joining in October. Back in the league though we only managed a draw at bottom-half Southport, managed by ex-Chester boss Steve Burr. They defended really well after getting their equaliser to cancel out Lateef's opener, and they even looked like winning at some times as they challenged us in front of goal a lot.

https://i.gyazo.com/9f8c0dd279c63d0e7d34a838d2db0e84.png


Our name's probably already been etched on the trophy as with eleven games to go we're now seventeen points clear. As I said this season has been very competitive and we've been able to capitalise on the wavering form of other teams. Second and third still look like a bygone conclusion, neither Forest Green nor Lincoln have been doing great as of recently but the teams below have just been too inconsistent. If we continue with the same point gap over second place, we'll be champions at the end of the next month. Pretty amazing really considering that I was only expected to avoid relegation this season.

https://i.gyazo.com/f9fd22282bc8586fccdfec2f35f4ce24.png

Some brilliant news concerning Lateef, our star man this campaign will be going into the record books as our highest goalscorer in a single season. He's beaten the record set in 2010 by Michael Wilde in our history as a reformed club, however since that news article came through he's also broken the all-time record of 36 goals set by Dick Yates back in 1947 for the old Chester City. If he continues to perform as amazingly as he has been, there's no reason why he can't become a legend at this club sooner rather than later.

Next update: March 2017 (+ title celebrations? )
http://31.media.tumblr.com/827602dc93447bf2d8f6f29278addee6/tumblr_mr0qjlPm6c1sdqx19o1_500.gif
Absolute breeze at the moment, @lolmappo. Incredible season given the expectations too.
My Football Manager 2017 career: Journeyman's Journey
It really is amazing @r96Skinner, I think I'm going to call us the 'Non-League Leicester'
I think it'd be the biggest bottle-job in history @Dan if we somehow blew it now


______________________________________________________________________________


Chester FC - March 2017


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


It's been a fairytale season for our club and we finally had the chance to secure the title a month early. We're certainly showing that we're ready for League 2 action and there would be seemingly no way we could slip now. We also had the chance to reach the final of the FA Trophy, a competition which wasn't too important to me at first but it's even better to go up winning the 'domestic double' I guess.

Youth Intake

https://i.gyazo.com/a6b9990423bd737349365bd354847200.png
https://i.gyazo.com/a00568e976b2dec164fa8fd18ff6a521.png

But before all that, regen day has been and as you can see there are actually a couple of decent players from our first ever youth intake. Kelly and Lyons look like they might have the potential to actually play for us in a few years but their poor current ability ratings mean it will take a while for them to reach that level, and unfortunately we might be rising up the leagues faster than they are developing. I've put them both on the loan list though in the hope that some National North/South clubs might want to pick them up. The other newly generated players will probably just end up being released.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/0849e7bcd024b5b65f3ef2e4573f4521.png

No two ways about it, this is not only the form of champions but the form of bloody gods. Unbeaten for the fourth month running, as well as a 100% league record this month. We'd start off with a local derby against Tranmere at the Deva, two first-half goals from James Alabi either side of an equaliser in a comfortable 2-1 win. We welcomed Tamworth who are playing in a league below us for the first leg of our FA Trophy semi-final tie, and we absolutely stuffed them 5-0, with Lateef scoring a hat-trick against one of his former clubs as well as a strike from Alabi and an own goal. Back in the league we'd face Lincoln who despite looking like our only real title challengers for a while, are now starting to slip and fighting for a top 5 finish. They put a lot of pressure on us at Sincil Bank but another two from Lateef ensured we took home all three points despite conceding a late consolation goal. We played a much weaker lineup for the second leg against Tamworth with the tie already dead and buried, we could only draw despite a goal from Alabi and Tom Youngs FINALLY finding the net for the first time since November! Macclesfield put up a good fight against us back at home, but our talismanic striker Lateef's early goal saw us record a narrow 1-0 victory. And Bromley challenged us even more, despite being in the relegation zone they threatened us on their own turf and we needed an 87th minute winner from Quade Taylor, his first goal for us, in order to emerge winners. We ended the month with a more comfortable win over Eastleigh with Vassell and Lloyd both hitting the target despite another late consolation goal.

https://i.gyazo.com/ba52175413722661e9eb8ccbe0b5c197.png

It's been inevitable pretty much all throughout the second half of the season and it's finally official, we were actually crowned champions after the Bromley game. It's a fantastic achievement for everyone involved, especially if you consider the board's preseason expectation was only to avoid the drop. I was more optimistic and aimed for a top-half finish, but there's no way I thought we'd be up there not only champions but completely dominating in the process. We're back where we belong in the Football League, for the first time as a reformed club and after an overall absence of eight years. But we're only getting started - hopefully in a few years we'll find ourselves much higher than the fourth tier...

https://i.gyazo.com/163d0eb719b9cf3472c97ed0ac78f72d.png


Oh, and here's the league table if you're interested in how all the other teams are getting on. Lincoln have been on a horrific run of form and have only won once in two months whilst our rivals Wrexham could yet be joining us in promotion. Guiseley, Bromley and probably Solihull Moors are all pretty much relegated while it seems pretty much a battle between Dover and Boreham Wood to stay up - although even teams as high as 17th-placed Southport could be dragged in with a few bad results.

Other news

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Just a few more news items to finish off with, the first being the fact that I've signed a new deal with the club. It's to be expected given our successes and I was only on a one year deal anyway, the board were unable to extend it any further than a year but I am now on £1,000 a week - making me paid more than any of the players minus Alabi. Annoyingly the FA Trophy final is our only game in May and we have nearly a month without any competitive football, but what a game it should be as the Cross-Border rivals will meet at Wembley for what I believe is the first time ever. Finally, we have begun the search for a senior affiliate club we can loan players from - ideally I'd be wanting to get them in on permanent deals but since a lot of our current 'squad players' won't be good enough to play in League Two, we can help improve our strength in depth with some decent loan signings if our budgets stop us from strengthening everywhere I want to.

Next update: April 2017
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Chester FC - April + May 2017


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


We've already got the title in the bag so these last couple of months were really a time of reflection for the club as we look back on what has been a really incredible season. Most of the important stuff that's gone on has happened off the pitch but we still needed to retain focus in matches as well so we can continue to carry our positive momentum through to next season. There was only one game in May so I decided to include that in our update as well.

Matches

https://i.gyazo.com/4b0bf976f28ab424b6489e8cf5fe566c.png

Everything you'd expect for the most part really in our final 6 games in the fifth tier, hopefully our final 6 games ever in this division over the course of this career. A 0-0 draw against Torquay wasn't the best start but probably reflected the game pretty well, the stats were about even and both teams defended well. Back at home we had a dramatic 3-2 win against York, we fell behind early on but Chappell and Vassell scored to make it 2-1 at half time. The away team equalised and were knocking on the door for a winner but we had the last laugh in the 87th minute, our star man Lateef netting the winner. The next game though was undoubtedly our best performance of the season - a 5-0 hammering of second place Forest Green! Emmanuel Oyeleke's first goal for the club in the 4th minute was probably the best one he'll score in his career, and also perhaps the best one of this series as he scored a screamer FROM THE HALFWAY LINE. An own goal followed before we really piled on the misery in the second half with defenders Muller and Nartey both getting on the score sheet, and James Alabi completed the rout with virtually the last kick of the game. Our next match wasn't so glamorous though as we only managed a 1-1 draw at home against Woking - despite us being by far and away the better team, they got a late equaliser to cancel out Lateef's opener. We went back to winning ways on the road again as we faced promotion-chasing Sutton and recorded a great 3-0 victory with Alabi, Carroll and Lloyd all scoring within 4 minutes of each other! The season would end for us at home to one of only three teams to beat us this season, struggling Boreham Wood. We most certainly got our revenge though as Lateef netted a superb hat-trick, his first for us in the league, in addition to another goal from in-form Rian Carroll.

https://i.gyazo.com/d4359ebfd164431281d4776d3ce167e4.png


This is how the table looks at the end of the season, we ended up winning the league by an amazing 25 points with 111 overall, and broke both the club and National League record in the process. Second-placed Aldershot will be joining us in League Two next year as they beat Wrexham in the playoff final - the Shots themselves have been in just as good form as us recently and deservedly go up. Despite being first or second for the majority of the season, Lincoln almost blew it all as they only finished a point inside the playoff positions. At the other end of the table it's North Ferriby, Solihull Moors, Bromley and Guiseley who will all be playing in the Vanarama North or South in 2017/18, that's not really a surprise as two of them were playing in the fifth tier for the first time in recent years and the other two were promoted the year before. A special mention goes to Kevin Nolan's Dover Athletic who in the end managed a respectable 17th place despite being in the drop zone for the majority of the campaign; and to recently-promoted Sutton Utd who just missed out on the playoffs and the chance to go back-to-back.

https://i.gyazo.com/cd6f96ae9e3da3f1221ec378892e51fb.png


FA Trophy champions! We do the 'domestic double'! This wasn't a competition I prioritised at the beginning of the season but it's a nice one to win nevertheless and puts even more of a sheen on our fairytale campaign. Over 45,000 fans made the trip to Wembley - which is an insane figure for two non-league clubs from the north-west - and saw us thrash our fierce local rivals in the final. Two from Lateef and one from Alabi all in the first half saw us record a 3-0 victory and lift the cup.

End of Season Awards

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FIFA CORRUPTION! Somehow, despite getting the highest average rating in the league and not only winning the golden boot but breaking goalscoring records in the process, Lateef hasn't won the player of the year which instead goes to Forest Green's Rhys Murphy!!

https://i.gyazo.com/43650dc072342549e7c39addf3046969.png

At least justice has been done here

https://i.gyazo.com/8b04d86555053f808aa7e6acc92408f6.png

We didn't even have a goal on the top 3 goals of the month until April but it turned out to be goal of the season from Oyeleke and his 50-yard screamer. Here's a GIF of it for you to savour...

https://i.gyazo.com/ee65e006f3e067a99f2bab1a345d90aa.png

In the fans' awards Lateef dominates again, deservedly winning both young player and overall player of the season, plus signing of the season while Oyeleke obviously gets goal of the season. The best lineup is accurate for the most part apart from the fact that Sam Hughes has barely ever played in midfield this season, and I have no idea why Astles is in there since he's only played 19 games.

https://i.gyazo.com/99a9f52cdb6ab46259e0fbce1f5fcb54.png

The national press are raving about the 'Non-League Leicester' too as they recognise our dream campaign. Winners of both the National League and the FA Trophy as well as managing to get to the first round of the FA Cup. Looking at the past positions we were top for over half the season and really were unstoppable once we got there. Our match of the season was apparently our 4-1 win against Forest Green in September which arguably started this whole run, although I don't know why they didn't put it as the 5-0 or one of our derby victories. I agree with our moment to forget though, our 3-0 humbling against Aldershot. Our attendances could have been better but are still way higher than in real life. Somehow we used the most players in the league despite usually having a similar 16-man squad for most games.

Other news

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https://i.gyazo.com/9c0ba3a57a17dacc816833036b3c6cc5.png

And to bring this exhaustingly long post to an end, we've got a new junior and senior affiliate. Northwich all the way down in the eighth division become a club we can loan young or out-of-favour players to, plus we have first refusal on their players although I doubt we'd want to buy any of them. More exciting though is our link with Derby in the Championship, we can loan players from them without having to pay any of their wages and I can see this being very useful next season since we might be lacking some strength in depth. We'll still need to look for permanent additions though and hopefully you'll be able to see some of them in the next update...

Next update: Preseason 2017/18
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Chester FC - Pre-Season Update 2017/18


http://chesterfc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/ChesterFC-300x300.jpg


Another fairly busy preseason has been and gone as we gear up for life in League Two for the first time as a reformed club. We've had some faces coming both in and out as well as lots of friendlies to get the team fit for the new campaign, how exactly would we fare?

Transfers

https://i.gyazo.com/3201d749a54998f2ab3230301818ba5e.png

As you can see there are loads of players leaving on frees, most of them were just youth players that will never make the step up - there are a few faces though who featured in the first team last season, but I don't think are good enough to be playing at this level. Some notable departures include former captain Tom Shaw as well as Lee Beevers who we signed last season, plus several players who had starred in previous seasons but were only ever on the fringes under my reign - Mahon, Hunt, George and Richards all examples of those. We also have a couple of youngsters going out on loan again for 6 months, transfer-listed Joyce as well as Simpson who actually might have a future at the club. On to the ins and three of them you'll probably already recognise but there are some more obscure names as well. Amadeusz Skrzyniarz, who we'll probably just refer to as Amadeusz, becomes our new number one 'keeper, I have no idea how he was playing for Romsey in the tenth division considering my scouts think he'd be a decent player for most League Two sides! We snapped him up as his contract was expiring but we had to pay £5k compensation - still not much for a player of his calibre. Ryan Lloyd joins us permanently after being deemed surplus to requirements at Port Vale, he was one of our star players last season so upon seeing that he was set for release from the League One side the deal seemed like a no-brainer. We've got Vassell and Nartey on loan for another season, Vassell should continue to feature regularly but I have doubts over how much game time Nartey will get if we manage to find a better right-back - that position's still a weakness in our team. Ben Tollitt is an invaluable addition since he has experience in this division playing for Portsmouth, admittedly only getting 14 games in his two years there but nonetheless he'll be a good right winger and should appear much more for us. Finally Josh Rees comes in from Chelmsford, another player who shouldn't be playing so low down the pyramid as he should be at least a good rotational option for us in central midfield. The fact we had a bid of only £500 accepted feels like daylight robbery. We're also only in the start of August so hopefully there should be at least a couple more new faces in the next update.

Matches

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The team returned to training nice and early, in June in fact, and we played a total of nine friendlies in order for everyone to be as fit as possible by the time our first competitive matches come around. The results were mostly pleasing even though they're pretty much meaningless in my eyes, for me it's just about getting fit but perhaps our good summer has raised morale even more. We played National North side Halifax first of all and recorded an expected victory, the few fans who decided to attend were treated to a seven goal thriller. The familiar strike partnership of Alabi and Lateef netted a brace each as well as an injury time goal from Tom Youngs. The Southport defeat was annoying but as I said I'm not all that bothered, for all the friendly matches including this one I just quick picked the team and none of the players were anywhere near fit. Alabi, O'Hanlon and Lateef scored as we beat Kidderminster comfortably 4-0 before we drew 2-2 with Gateshead, all the goals coming in the first twenty minutes. We played Grimsby and Hartlepool, the former still in League Two and the latter relegated from it last season - so I was pretty happy that we managed to beat them both. Lateef bagged a brace in the first of the two games and Hughes and Durrell each found the net in the second. All the goals against Macclesfield were in the first half with Tollitt scoring his first for the club and another Lateef brace plus an Alabi strike gave us a 4-1 win there. Performance of the pre-season has to be the game against MK Dons in the Championship, I said I don't care about results when the aim is just to get match practice but it was still nice to beat a team at their level. Vassell, Alabi, Lateef and Astles all scored. Finally we faced the Ajax youth team and were expected to lose pretty heavily, I thought we were going to do just the opposite but we blew a 2-0 lead to draw two apiece.

Season Preview

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This is probably our best XI, we're continuing to use the traditional 4-4-2 that was so good for us last season. We'll be relying on Alabi and Lateef again to grab us most of our goals, they've proven they can do it at National League level a lot and I'm hoping they can continue to do so. Another familiar face, Ryan Lloyd will again be sending in most of the balls for our front two along with new signing Tollitt. Again we have lots of options in midfield, most of them are from last season and Carroll and O'Hanlon are probably the best two. Matty Waters has come through the ranks at Chester and was probably the biggest rising star last year, he hadn't played a single game before I took over but he has developed at an incredible rate and is now one of the best players at the club. It's been a similar story with his fellow academy graduate Sam Hughes who is probably our best centre-back, alongside Max Muller who only joined us in February. As I've said right-back is a bit of a problem but for now Driver will have to try and do a job having joined last December from Maidstone.

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I think I'm the only person on these forums that shows the staff screen, but after last season's success was in no small part helped by my backroom overhaul I feel like it's necessary to show it again. We ended our stint in the National League with the best staff for everything across the board, and even in a higher division a lot of the staff I brought in last time round can still cut it. We continue to have the best scouting and physiotherapy team while our coaches are ranked first or second in most things. I'm hoping to bring one or two more in as well to bring that up to number one in everything.

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We were predicted to avoid relegation at the very start of preseason but since then our odds have been rising more and more and we're now predicted to finish 23rd, above only Aldershot who came up through the National League playoffs. Remember that last season we were only expected to avoid relegation but ended up winning the title, I'm not so optimistic this year though and I won't even go as far as my ambition then which was a top-half finish, I actually think we will struggle a lot more and there will definitely be a lot more red circles, I'm only hoping to avoid relegation back into the non-league wilderness.

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Here's our fixture list up until the end of the calendar year, we'll actually start the season at home to Aldershot, pretty much the best first game we could have hoped to have. In the first round of the League Cup though we've got pretty much the hardest draw possible, away at Middlesbrough who have recently been relegated from the Premier League! It's a good job the board don't really care about that competition, in the same way that they don't care about the Checkatrade Trophy aka the Mickey Mouse Trophy in which I'd just field the youth team if it wasn't for the stupid regulations about playing a certain number of first-team regulars. Our FA Cup journey will begin a round later this time, on the 4th of November. We don't really have any local rivals in this tier with possibly the exception of Crewe, we'll first face them in early October.

Next update: August 2017
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Just read this. Very nice first season. Very impressive

Lateef is a beast
Amazing first season mate! Good luck in the second, hope you do better than just avoiding relegation.
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I'm loving this! That was like the best first season ever. Lateef is a beast though!
Welcome aboard @b0nb0n it was indeed a fantastic season last time out and yes, Lateef is an absolute god
It'll be tough this time round @chokosc but hopefully we can carry the momentum over from last season
I'm glad to see you're enjoying this so much @Crazybone5000, and hopefully the beast Lateef will continue banging in the goals for us as much as he did in his 'dream' first season with us!


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Chester FC - August 2017


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If you'd have told me this time last year that we would be playing in a division higher come the next season, I quite frankly wouldn't have believed you. That's where we are, though, as we go into the opening stages of fourth tier football for the first time in almost a decade and first-ever since our reformation in 2010. It definitely won't be easy to get out of this league but we're not thinking about promotion just yet, after all we were expected to battle relegation last campaign so it's only natural that the board and the media expect the same if not worse. With some good early-season form though perhaps we could defy the critics again, how would we get on as we began our journeys in three different competitions?

Transfers

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I said that I wanted to continue strengthening the squad before the transfer deadline and I've done just that as we say hello to four new players, two of which arrive on loan from parent club Derby. Unfortunately I wasn't quite able to make all the signings I wanted but I still think the team is good enough to avoid the drop. First up we have Matthew Yates, he's one of the players coming from Derby but you probably won't see much from him since he'll be playing behind Skrzyniarz in goal - I'll probably just start him in some of the lesser cup ties. We needed a new number two though as Alex Lynch just isn't good enough for this league, he's still with us for the time being but I'm not sure he will be for much longer. The next player comes in permanently, Jordan Richards signed as a free agent but to be honest, he's not quite as good as my scouts said he would be. He'll still get some solid game time for us though at right-back (yes, this is STILL a weakness in the team!). Our second loan signing is Alex Babos, he was at Eastleigh last year and bagged twelve goals in the league. I'm actually quite excited about this signing - for once we actually have a player who will provide both cover and competition for Lateef and Alabi as he is good at playing as a poacher and a target man. Finally we managed to secure the services of Omar Beckles on deadline day as he signs from recently-relegated Accrington for £12.75k. I know we're now relatively stacked at centre-back but this arrival means that we can perhaps start to play Hughes in midfield more, thus strengthening two areas of the team with one player!

Matches

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Well how's about that for some early-season form?! Five wins out of five in the league, okay we could have had a harder list of fixtures but the fact we also managed to beat title favourites Bristol Rovers shows we're not exclusively about winning against the smaller teams. Notice I've left out the Middlesbrough game, we're saving that one for later. We played fellow promoted side Aldershot at home on the first day, who handed us our biggest loss last season, we managed to pick up a win here though with Ben Tollitt scoring the decisive goal on his debut for the club. Our first away game was against Cheltenham who are also predicted to be battling relegation, we recorded a comfortable 3-1 victory - Tom Youngs who could barely hit a barn door last year must have been wearing his lucky boots that day as he somehow bagged a brace. Left-back Horwood was the other scorer in that match. We left it late against Luton but eventually managed to beat them by the same scoreline, the familiar partnership of Alabi and Lateef both getting their first in the league this campaign. A tough trip to Morecambe saw us rest a number of players due to fixture congestion, but Lateef ensured we took home maximum points despite playing with a weakened team. I was expecting Bristol Rovers away to be one of our hardest games of the season but some great rearguard action and a lovely goal from that man Lateef again saw us snatch the win from them. Our only loss of the month (at least out of the games you're currently seeing) was in the Checkatrade Trophy, I've already said that I have absolutely no interest in this competition and neither do the fans seemingly as only 900 people bothered to turn up. We played a significantly weakened side - if it wasn't for the rules on first-team players then I'd have just put the youth team out - and were beaten 3-1 by League One side Bury despite initially taking the lead through Youngs. But, there's still one more game we need to address...

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Absolute f**king scenes in this game!! We had pretty much the toughest first-round tie you could imagine for the EFL Cup, travelling to Riverside to play Middlesbrough but we stunned them as we knocked them out on penalties! They absolutely battered us in terms of stats, as you'd probably expect, but Alabi nicked a goal in the first half and it looked as if that would be enough for us. Unfortunately though our opponents equalised with the last kick of normal time to send it to extra time. We managed to hold our for another half-hour thanks to some superb defending and a great display from our keeper and eventually it went to penalties despite us having 40 shots against us. Both sides scored their first three but Julien De Sart's spot-kick was saved and centre-back Vassell converted the decisive one to send us through to the next round and record a famous upset!

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And there was more drama in our second-round tie, albeit against a much smaller team in Cheltenham who we'd already played once in August. They were battering us though and we found ourselves two one down at half-time and even then our goal didn't come until just before the break, I gave the players the hairdryer treatment and we dominated in the second half. In the end we came out 4-2 winners after goals from Lateef, Hughes and a double from Alabi. We'll play another Championship side in Reading in the third round.

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We're top of the league! Okay, we've only played five games but we've been playing superbly and hopefully the great form can continue. We're not really focused on the upper part of the table despite sitting top of the pile though, our goal is still only to avoid relegation but we're already eleven points above the drop zone.

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We're still winning awards, even in a higher division. Lateef looks like he's picked right up from where he left off last time round, with three goals and two assists in his first five league games and a fantastic 7.60 average rating and has deservedly won player of the month. Meanwhile I've got another manager of the month award after a 100% win percentage!

Next update: September 2017
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I come from Derby and am a massive DCFC supporter! Glad to see them as your parent club
I was surprised we could get such a big club as our affiliate @Crazybone5000 but I'm certainly not complaining - also, you guys finished 4th last season if you're interested


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Chester FC - September 2017



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We got our season off to a flyer in August, picking right up from where we left off in the National League as we won all five of our opening matches in the EFL League Two. Could we keep it going for another month and begin to dream of more than just avoiding relegation?

Transfers

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The window's shut but we've still brought in two new free agents, both of whom have experience at this level, and even higher, and should become key players for us. Aaron Wildig featured in almost every game for Morecambe last season, he didn't play too well but I'm still surprised he was let go since he's shown he has what it takes at both League Two and League One level and at 25 he should be coming towards the prime of his career. He'll form a very nice central midfield partnership with Rian Carroll as we look to have a bit of an overhaul in the middle of the pitch. Joel Grant is one of our oldest players at 30 but is also one of our best, he was released by Exeter and actually scored the winner against us last season when we met in the FA Cup. Again, I don't know why he was deemed surplus to requirements there as just a few years ago he was a stalwart for Yeovil in the Championship!

Matches

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Our players don't seem to have got the memo that we're in a higher division because we're still marching forward at the same pace we were last time out. Still unbeaten in the league, a few more draws are creeping in but still very pleasing results given that we're supposed to be in and around the relegation zone. A home game against struggling Grimsby was up first and we recorded a solid 2-0 win, Lateef netting in the first half and Alabi scoring late on in injury time to secure the three points. We couldn't find any goals though in a bore draw against Blackpool, there's not much I can say about our performance since there were only a couple of highlights in the whole 90 minutes. We went 2-0 down early on against promotion-hunting Notts County and looked set for our first league defeat but we rallied superbly and came back to win 3-2 thanks to Lateef, Lloyd and Alabi. And Alabi continued his fine form with two second-half goals att home against recently-relegated Wimbledon. Back-to-back draws followed - we had a trip down south for a week as we faced Devon sides Exeter and Plymouth. Neither team could find the back of the net in the first game but against the latter team we looked set to return to winning ways with Lateef's strike - unfortunately though we conceded an 87th-minute equaliser and had to settle for the single point. Back at home though we beat another newly-relegated team in Chesterfield through our star man Lateef.

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It's unbelievable! We're now through to the last 16 of the EFL Cup after knocking out another Championship team in Reading, this time though it was much more comfortable as we bossed the game and beat them 3-1 despite our opponents being 2nd in the second tier! All our goals came in the first half, Sam Hughes getting one and Lateef with a brace; Reading's 91st minute goal was their only consolation. We'll play Brentford in the fourth round next month.

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We're the only unbeaten team in our league, four points clear at the top and while I do think we'll end up picking up quite a few losses there's no telling where we'll be come the end of the season. Morale has stayed high after our amazing 16/17 campaign, and as we continue to strengthen our squad we may well do much better than avoiding the drop!

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And of course the board are desperate to keep me tied down and I'm perfectly happy to sign a new deal. I didn't sign a new contract all that long ago but understandably the men upstairs don't want me jumping ship and will probably continue to offer me new ones regularly if our success continues. I'm tied down until June 2019 and a small wage increase means I'm being paid more than all bar five of our players.

Next update: October 2017
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*I know it's been 5 days since the last update, it's half term right now but I've had to spend most of it working on pointless school stuff *

Chester FC - October 2017


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We've well and truly got our season off to a cracker as we've gone unbeaten in our opening 12 matches in League Two. Suddenly even in this early stage, we've got one eye on back-to-back promotion and maybe even back-to-back titles, incredible really considering at the start of the 16/17 season we were predicted to finish 20th in the National League! We only had four league games plus a match in the pointless Checkatrade Trophy, but the real focus this month was on our EFL Cup match against Brentford as we looked to make it to the quarter-finals!

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I've left that game until the end for added suspense, for now here's the other five games on our fixture list for October. There's been no transfers either so we're jumping straight in to the action. We're out of the Mickey Mouse Trophy with a game to spare as pretty much our youth team plus a couple of first-team regulars were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Fleetwood. Back in the league, we faced local team Crewe and beat them two one, coming back from being a goal down at half time with the familiar duo of Lateef and Alabi scoring. We'd then record a more comfortable win over Mansfield at home, Quade Taylor and of course Lateef getting on the scoresheet. Neither side could find any goals though as we played through another boring goalless draw against Leyton Orient, but we saved probably our most impressive performance until last, beating Yeovil 4-1. Lateef opened the scoring after just 13 seconds but it looked as though things would go south soon after when we conceded from a set-piece and then Alex O'Hanlon was shown a straight red for a horrific challenge. We rallied though and Tollitt restored our lead just before the interval and two late goals from man of the match Ryan Lloyd in the 88th and 91st minute secured the victory. And now, the game you've been waiting for...

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I really don't have any words, not only are we beating League Two sides but we're also beating Championship teams! After humiliating Reading in the last round we travelled to Griffin Park for a highly dramatic game. Lateef put us ahead with his first-half goal and we managed to keep Brentford at bay for a while, partly through some fantastic defending and partly from some poor finishing on their part. They eventually did draw level though with Tom Field's 72nd minute strike from a set-piece and it looked to be going to extra time - but a stunning free-kick from teenage superstar Matty Waters in the 89th minute sent the away fans into pandemonium and then Sam Hughes' injury-time shot was deflected off of the opposition defender to send us through to the quarter finals! We'll face our toughest test yet though - Stoke away. We've not been causing the biggest shocks though, believe it or not - that title goes to Oxford United of League One who, after knocking out Manchester City in the last round, beat Chelsea 3-0!

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Finally here's the league table. We haven't extended our lead at the top any further as Crawley and Notts County have both had similarly good months but we're starting to gain ground on the chasing pack, we're now 11 points inside of the automatic promotion spots. Aldershot, who came up with us from the National League, have also had a good start as they find themselves just two points outside the playoffs. 39-year-old Emile Heskey's goals haven't been enough though for Grimsby who have only won once in sixteen games and prop up the table on just seven points.

Next update: November 2017

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Chester FC - November 2017


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We're now in our fourth month of the season and form is beginning to settle down, but the Chester train is steaming ahead as we go into November top of League Two. We're still unbeaten in the league and eyeing back-to-back promotions, it wouldn't be our only focus though as we had eight games in four different competitions including the EFL Cup quarter-final against Premier League team Stoke!

Transfers

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One player joins us this month and it's Welsh winger Jack Compton who signs for free. He's another player with plenty of experience at this level, having played for the last five years in League One and Two. He gives us more depth on the left wing - Ryan Lloyd has been arguably our best player so far this season but the only other player we have who's natural in that position is Bobby-Joe Taylor who I just don't think is good enough for this division yet. Compton and Lloyd will probably be used in rotation with one another for the remainder of the campaign and Taylor will probably be sent out on loan.

Matches

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A mixed month with three wins, three draws and the one loss - fortunately though that loss was in the Mickey Mouse Trophy. Our FA Cup journey would begin against Stevenage but we couldn't beat them in 90 minutes at home as we played out a 0-0 draw, both sides defended well but couldn't come up with anything going forward. The aforementioned Checkatrade Trophy game was thankfully our last for the season as we were beaten by Manchester United's youth team, we'd already been knocked out so it really didn't matter and as with the two previous matches I just fielded a fringe team including two regens who came through our academy last February. Interestingly the goalscorer for United U23s was a man by the name of Ashley Young. In our first league game of the month we faced one of the worst defences I've ever seen in Oldham, even though they were statistically the better team their back four were all over the place and the fact Lateef only scored twice was a huge let-off for them. In the FA Cup replay we came back from behind to win 3-1 with two goals from Alabi and another from Lateef, setting up a tie with Bury in the second round. Alex Babos finally scored his first goal for the club and it proved to be the winner in a 1-0 victory over another struggling side in Newport in League Two, they had a man sent off after just ten minutes and we could and should have scored more as we dominated the whole match. The next game was a lot different though, we were lucky to get any points at playoff-hunting Cambridge, they were the better team and would've won if their strikers had been at the races. Finally we got another draw against Carlisle, this time we did manage to score though and it was a pretty special one. Brian Kelly, the best player to come from our youth intake last year, was a shock starter for the game as we rested our first-teamers for our big EFL Cup tie, he defied the odds however and scored not only a great goal but also got man of the match on his debut! He becomes the youngest goalscorer in our history as a newly formed club at just 17 years and 95 days, however it unfortunately wasn't enough to clinch all three points as Carlisle got an equaliser soon after.

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I honestly cannot describe this. We've gone and beaten a Premier League team, not only that but a Premier League team challenging for Europe and a team infamous for being hard to beat at home. But on a cold, rainy night in Stoke it was plucky old Chester of League Two who ran out victors! Our main man Lateef gave us a shock lead on 21 minutes, we couldn't withstand Stoke's pressure for long though as they hit back before half time. In the dressing room I told the players to 'get out and grab a goal to win it for us' and they did just that, man of the match Joel Grant netting on the hour mark. We went on to defensive but the Potters continued to put us under intense pressure, we managed to hold out for the win though and record one of the great cup upsets! It'll be an even bigger upset though if we somehow manage to progress to Wembley as the team standing in our way are champions Manchester United, last year they won a quadruple of the league, both cups and Europa League and are certainly the dominant English team at the moment.

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We're still keeping full focus on the league though and despite another unbeaten month we've only extended our lead by a single point since Crawley still refuse to slip up. We're playing them next month, that should be a good test for us. The top two are further breaking away from the chasing pack though with the other teams all in inconsistent form and the third automatic promotion spot still in reach for any of the teams in the playoffs if results go their way. That also means we're eleven points inside of the top three, the same points margin that we were inside of the playoffs by a month ago so it's starting to look like at the very least back-to-back promotions if not back-to-back titles are on the cards.

Next update: December 2017
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Chester FC - December 2017


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It's definitely a season of good cheer right now for us, as we approach the halfway point it's Chester who sit top of the League Two table and looking more and more likely to achieve back-to-back promotions. We musn't get too ahead of ourselves though as there is a lot of football still to play and there's still chance for a capitulation if we don't keep our heads down. We've also got our remarkable EFL Cup run to the semi-finals to look forward to, that won't be until next month though so the main focus now is on the league as well as maybe some FA Cup progression.

Transfers

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Wow, how uncharacteristic of me. For once I haven't signed any new players but instead we're beginning to ship some players on as I'm overseeing somewhat of an exodus at the club. There are several faces who I still think are good players but just can't get in the team right now and this is only going to get worse with the January window approaching, so they're leaving on loan for the rest of the season. Unfortunately in the non-leagues there's hardly any money around so some players I don't think are good enough and have placed on the transfer list just won't be able to move permanently, and those sent away temporarily are still having all their wages paid by us. Levi Rowley was supposed to be a big prospect in midfield but things haven't quite worked out for him and he hasn't played a single minute of football for us in League 2 so he'll join local club Macclesfield (as you can see, this actually happened at the start of November but I forgot to include it in the last update). Ryan Astles can probably be placed in the same category, he was a decent rotational player in the last campaign and I actually gave him a new contract but he hasn't played at all this season - he's headed to playoff-chasing York. The next move might seem somewhat surprising since Jordan Chapell was one of our best players in the National League but unfortunately I think that's his level - he's struggled at this higher tier and has only played twice following the signings of Grant and Tollitt so has been sent to Gateshead. And the fourth and final player going back down a division is Tom Youngs. He was touted as a big star for the future when we signed him last season but only managed 5 goals in 30 games across two seasons, and with Alex Babos coming into the team and Brian Kelly's breakthrough he's now pretty much our fifth choice. He still has time to get his career back on track though - a move to Torquay will give him the chance to prove that he still has the potential to become a regular starter at our club.

Matches

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Grrr that's annoying, we were unbeaten in the league all calendar year until the very last game! Yes, as you can see we've ended our unbeaten start to the season but there's a lot of other games as well to deal with. We'd start the month with yet more cup progression though, this time in the FA Cup as we narrowly beat League One's Bury. In a sold out Deva Stadium we enjoyed more of the possession but could only find the one goal with Lateef's early opener, thankfully that would be enough to go through. It was a huge first vs second match against Crawley in League Two, they had a man sent off after just 15 minutes but we couldn't find a way through and in fact they were probably the better team. A goalless draw was how that one finished. We went back to winning ways back at home against Barnet, an own goal and a Lateef brace giving us a comfortable 3-1 victory. It was a battle of the two best defences when we travelled to Stevenage and I was expecting another 0-0 but instead we managed to catch them off-guard despite fielding a weakened team. The unlikely partnership of Kelly and Babos worked wonders, with the former getting a goal and assist and the latter scoring his first two goals for the club to secure back-to-back 3-1 wins. Against Aldershot, I started O'Hanlon for the first time since his sending off and guess what? He went and got sent off again in the first half, it was after both goals had been scored though and we held out for the draw - for once I'm not too bothered about a point against a side we should be beating. Our away struggles would come to a head though in our final game, a defeat to our promotion rivals Luton. We were just awful, not creating anything and we deserved to lose and give the Hatters a massive three points.

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Everyone in the top three picked up the same amount of points so we're still five points clear despite failing to beat either of the other sides currently in the automatic promotion spots. It still seems like a two-horse race for the title right now between ourselves and Crawley, with the fight for third still very competitive. At the halfway point last year we were cruising at the top of the table but this division certainly seems to be a lot more exciting and we definitely can't afford to become complacent. Big shout out to Oldham, who were sitting rock bottom a month ago but have won every game this month to lift them 10 points clear of the relegation zone!

Next update: January 2017
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