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After a long hiatus Mark is back with a new story. Where will it take him?

Discussion
How frustrating to finish 2nd.
Hopefully you can get through the play-offs. Fingers crossed!

Very frustrating indeed mate. But think the squad can beat the Czechs; so happy to avoid the Spanish.

Domestically, the win against Rodez was pleasing especially as they’re one of the promotion favourites. My contract is up at the end of the season. Could be stick or twist again depending where we finish in the final standings.

Updates continue to be fantastic mate. Gutted to finish second in that group with that points tally.

Thanks bud, glad you're still following the journey. Yeah as soon as the Danes went down to ten men, I kinda thought we got this but surely there was no Nordic skullduggery going on in the background? Hope we can pick ourselves up and win the play-offs to make the finals.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 24 October 2022 at 11:30

TOUNKARA IS FIVE STAR QUALITY IN THE CUP

https://i.postimg.cc/63ZFW0W5/lecoupedefrance.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/BvBKL5yp/Coupe-De-France-2022-R6-Result.png

Forward Oumaré Tounkara produced a five star performance as we advanced to the seventh round stage of this season's Coupe de France.

In a game which we had an astonishing 29 shots in the ninety minutes, the former Châteauroux winger dazzled with an individual club record five goal haul in a game.

The scoring was opened in the 13th minute which proved to be unlucky for our hosts. Making his first competitive start of the season in the place of Amadou Coulibaly, Ludovic Wacouboué swung in a cross from the right and Tounkara powered home a header at the far post for his 10th goal of the season. The lead was doubled after 23 minutes, and in similar fashion to the opener: Wacouboué with the cross and Tounkara with the thumping far post header. Two minutes later, he had completed a 12 minute treble with another header; this time from Abdoulaye Koté's cross.

The scoring subsided for a while but we added a fourth in the 64th minute. Enzo Barreau headed down Kévin Rimane's corner and Tounkara drilled home a right foot effort past the keeper. With just 12 minutes to play, the nap hand was completed for the team and for the red hot forward. Tounkara started the counter attack when he picked up an errant corner and then finished it with a swivelled left foot finish. The perfect hat-trick and one that had the small pocket of away supporters purring with delight. An extra special perfomance..

The seventh round draw was made shortly afterwards and this time we have a home tie. Our opponents play in the level below us so will prove the biggest test of our Cup run so far:

https://i.postimg.cc/W3pJMFcv/Coupe-De-France-2022-R7-Draw.png

The tie will be played on Sunday 13 November 2022.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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October 2022 Review

The latest month's action for season 2022-23 in Le Championnat National.

https://i.postimg.cc/vm26t8Yx/Le-Mans-Oct2022-Results.png

We began October with a re-arranged game at Chambly. Playing an important Le Championnat game just three days before a Cup match isn't easy and with the Cup team selection rules: well it gets even harder. Thank heavens for having a large squad, eh? We took the lead midway through the first half, midfielder Wassim Mechmache drilling home a fine effort for his first ever club goal. But we lost our way in the second half as they bagged four goals without response to lead 4-1 going into the final stages. We did manage a consolation in time added on though, Grégory Aubert shrugging off a Chambly defender to lash in what was also his first club goal.

After the Cup win we entertained Boulogne in our next league encounter. Thankfully there was no cup hangover but it wasn't a pretty spectacle either with both sides picking up three yellow cards apiece from referee Antoine Grare. The only goal came two minutes from the interval when Amadou Coulibaly, why doesn't he do this more often, crossed on the volley and skipper Mamadou Soro glanced a header beyond the keeper and into the far corner. Coulibaly so frustrates me, one minute he can be brilliant like this then the next he's not bothered. I just don't get it.

So after that we had a trip south to face lowly Marseille Consolat who started the game 16th in the table. Once more I had to shuffle the pack again due to an impending Cup match which probably unsettled the team more. We thought it was going to be our lucky day when our hosts were reduced to ten men, El Moudane seeing a straight red after just 22 seconds! But we didn't take advantage of the numerical and wasted chance after chance after...well you know don't you? Sure it was going to bite us back on the backside wasn't it? And it did when they netted seven minutes from the end, Roderic Flippi dawdled on the ball and the ball was switched to Mascarel who netted with the help of a post. Well if you don't take your opportunities then you gonna regret it, right?

We concluded October with a big game against promotion rivals Châteauroux at their place. They took an early lead in the eighth minute when central defender Matthieu Gans headed in a Munoz corner. We equalised just after the half hour at the end of a flowing move; former Châteauroux favourite Tounkara sent Soro clear. The skipper took a touch and then blasted the ball into the net from close range with home defenders backing off him. Just after the hour, we were in front when Soro crossed from the right wing and Tounkara volleyed in his 15th of the season at the far post. But to be honest they deserved something out of it and a nice solo effort from substitute Steve Jacquier got them a point; he had only been on the pitch a minute! At least we didn't lose..

So this is the end of October standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/gcZ63Pfr/Le-Mans-Table-End-Oct2022.png

Quite an up and down month but we're still in the top two which if it stays this way, will be absolutely superb. Grenoble might have a five point lead at the summit but that means nothing. As the old saying goes, it's a marathon not a sprint. I'm sure they can be hauled back into the chasing pack as long as we stay in touch.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Wales Under-21 squad announced for Under 21 qualifiers

Last Updated: 02/11/2022 12:00pm

Wales Under-21 manager Mark Duell has named his squad for their European Under-21 Championship play-off against the Czech Republic.

Goalkeepers:
Scott Reed (Swansea City)
Nathan Evans (Sutton United)
Ryan Ramasut (Derby County)

Defenders:
Jonathan Letheren (Newport County, on loan from Swansea City)
Neco Williams (Liverpool)
Sam Edwards (Swansea City)
Trystan Jones (Cardiff City)
Ryan Astley (Everton)
Brandon Cooper (Burton Albion, on loan from Swansea City)
Jamie Evans (Lincoln City)
Tom McCarthy (Cardiff City)
Ryan Reynolds (unattached)

Midfielders:
Terry Taylor (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Ian Harrington (Stoke City)
Gwyidon Astley (Chester)
Elfion Tipton (Coventry City, on loan from Sheffield United)
Lloyd Holden (Rotherham United, on loan from Aston Villa)
John Eaton (Colchester United)

Forwards:
Matty Argent-Barnes (Bolton Wanderers)
Ian Branch (Cardiff City)
Joe Adams (Bristol City, on loan from Middlesbrough)
Sam Hall (Stoke City)
Issak Davies (Cardiff City)

There's a number of changes from the squad that faced Macedonia and Bosnia respectively. Manager Mark Duell has lost midfield powerhouse Anthony Hartigan, wingers Rabbi Matondo and Brennan Johnson as well as striker Andrew Berry. All four names have been called up for the senior squad for the first time by national team manager Rob Page. It's a tough ask for the young Welshmen that Duell has called upon but if they play as well as they can then a victory over the two legs is not beyond them.
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Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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So a two legged play-off against the Czech Republic to make the Finals.

After suffering anguish at this stage two years ago against Portugal, could we do it this time? Or will lightning unfortunately strike twice against us?.

Friday 11 November 2022
https://i.postimg.cc/wvMTc73r/Wales-U21-111122.png

A tense first leg at home with both teams creating chances but not wanting to give anything away either. The only goal game of the game came with 14 minutes left to go. That happened when the Czechs headed out a Ian Harrington corner out to debutant Sam Hall. He then fed Joe Adams whose low cross was turned in from six yards out by Matty Argent-Barnes. The majority of the 7045 crowd went absolutely bonkers! After that it was a case of parking the bus and ensuring we don't concede an away goal. This we did and we headed into that second leg with a slender advantage.

Could we finish the job?
Monday 14 November 2022
https://i.postimg.cc/7LdY9q7Y/Wales-U21-141122.png

So off to the Czech Republic we headed. However it wasn't in Prague as I thought initially, we were to be playing in Liberec. Liberec is in the north of the country and 67 miles from Prague so indeed on our travels for sure. We had to go into the second leg with Adams who twisted his knee in the dying embers of that first game and with four key players completely then maybe the odds were against us totally. The unfortunate injury meant a debut for John Eaton of Colchester and within six minutes he had repaid my faith in him. The winger powered in an unstoppable header from Issak Davies' corner and silenced the vocal home support. An absolutely crucial away goal.

After that we defended as if our collective lives depended on it. Tackles snapped into, and sheer resolution and committment from the boys wearing the Wales shirt. Martin Havlac pulled one back for the home nation on the hour but we held sway and didn't concede more.

So the pain of Portugal is no more, and we're off to the Finals in Italy this summer. The draw for that will be made next month, and to be honest we fear nobody.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 14 November 2022 at 11:30

SHOOTOUT SEES TEN MEN HOME

https://i.postimg.cc/63ZFW0W5/lecoupedefrance.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/prqdDzJ3/Coupe-De-France-2022-R7-Result.png

It took extra time and penalties but we are through to the eighth round of this season's Coupe De France.

The opponents never made it easy for us in front of a low crowd at the MMArena, and perhaps that contributed to the nervousness on the pitch. However, we took a 20th minute lead when Serge Aka's well flighted free-kick was headed goalwards by the in-form Oumaré Tounkara. His header was parried onto the post by the visiting custodian but back out to the goalscoring Tounkara who made no mistake at the second attempt. It was an ill tempted affair and plenty of cards on show by the referee. Alas we suffered at that when Wassim Mechmache was shown a red card for two yellows just before half time.

A reshuffle in place to try and see the game out but with one full half to deal with. Predictably they did equalise and it took them just two minutes after the restart to do so. Midfielder Hadj Safi given time and space to pick his spot and fire a low shot beyond Quentin Beunardeau in the home goal. Thankfully this was the only time they would breach us as we held on for extra time. Nobody could then break the deadlock in the additional thirty so off to penalties we headed. It didn't start well when Tounkara blasted our first spot kick high, wide and not very handsome. We needed a hero or two.

Step forward Beunardeau as the boyhood fan saved the next two visiting penalties whilst we scored ours. Then with the visitors making it 3-3 with their final regulation penalty, another hero stepped up to the mark. That was defender Kévin Rimane and he blasted in his kick to secure a eighth round berth.

So who did we draw in round eight? Well it was....
https://i.postimg.cc/rpcvL3kC/Coupe-De-France-2022-R8-Draw.png

An away trip to Ligue 2 and local rivals Angers! Now if we are to make the ninth round; we are certainly going to have to do it the hard way.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Nicely done with Wales!
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European Under-21 Final group drawn

Last Updated: 01/12/2022 12:00pm

The wait is over as Wales Under-21 have found out who they will face in the Finals of this season's European Championships.

https://i.postimg.cc/wTB48rBL/Wales-U21-2022-Final-Group.png

As seen, the young Welsh starlets are reunited with Denmark whom they were in the group stage with. Completing the group are Spain and Scotland but manager Mark Duell is not fazed about being the lowest ranked team in the group:

"So that's the draw then.

We might have got a tough draw but then again there's no such thing as easy when you get to this stage. Every game is like a final, and we know we will have to be at our best to advance. Yet we have a group that works for each other and you can be assured that we will be ready to do the Welsh nation proud.

Cymru am byth!"

The tournament begins on 18 June 2023 when Portugal play the Netherlands in Group A. Wales will play their first game on 20 June when they face Spain, Scotland follow three days later before finishing with Denmark on 26 June. To make the semi-final, they will need to finish either top of their group or be the best second placed nation across all three groups.

Warm up games are to be announced shortly.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/CLzFLmww/lechampionnatnational.png

November 2022 Review

Three more games as we head towards the halfway point of season 2022-23 in Le Championnat National.

https://i.postimg.cc/3N63CvRw/Le-Mans-Nov2022-Results.png

We started November with a home game against newly promoted Sedan who have enjoyed a fairly reasonable start to life back in Le Championnat. It was an entertaining game to say the least with both sides creating opportunties. After Oumaré Tounkara had a third minute penalty saved; we took the lead ten minutes before the interval when skipper Mamadou Soro played in midfielder Wassim Mechmache who netted with a low finish into the corner. However we would go into the break level when Loris Roy equalised for the visitors on 43 minutes' netting after Quentin Beunardeau could only parry a shot to the attacking midfielder

Either side of the hour we put the game to bed though. First in the 59th minute, Serge Aka literally surged into the visitors penalty area before thundering a shot home for his first of the season. Then almost immediately we scored again, Soro scoring with a confident finish after a cute dinked pass by Amadou Coulibaly had split open the defence. Another confident finish by Soro sealed the deal three minutes from time.

After the exertions of the Coupe De France game, our next game was away to lowly Béziers. However the hosts belied this with a goal after just three minutes play when Kévin Benoit netted. However, the team rallied and levelled in the 22nd. Tounkara scoring from the spot after Enzo Barreau had been obstructed in the penalty area. We huffed and puffed but couldn't get the go ahead goal. It was evident that we were missing Mechmache (suspended) and Soro (back injury).

The month ended with another game at home, this time against a Créteil side who have gotten the better of us in previous encounters. In pouring rain, we were ahead in the 25th minute when Grégory Aubert scored with a nice finish at the near post after Tounkara had fashioned the opportunity for the loanee. The points were secured in injury time at the end of the second half when Sharly Mabussi crossed from the left and visiting left back Wesley Moustache (yes that's his real name) could only head it out to Aka who cracked home a superb volley into the roof of the net. A massive win.

So this is the end of November standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/jdwxqZgn/Le-Mans-Table-End-Nov2022.png

So we remain second after 16 games. Grenoble continue to stay strong and are four points clear at the moment. We're just waiting for them to wobble, surely that's on the horizon right?
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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 4 December 2022 at 11:30

THE DREAM IS OVER

https://i.postimg.cc/63ZFW0W5/lecoupedefrance.jpg

https://i.postimg.cc/ZYyrTdQq/Coupe-De-France-2022-R8-Result.png

The dream is over as we exited at the eighth round stage at Ligue 2 and local rivals Angers.

We didn't make the best start as Gabonese midfielder André Poko scored as early as the sixth minute, sweeping the ball into the net from Chris Gunter's pass. Two goals either side of the halfway point in that first half then put the game beyond as we tried to cause a giant killing. First of all, Edgar Salli scored in the 22nd minute and then Vincent Pajot added the third three minutes later.

Backed by 750 noisy away supporters, we reduced the arrears in the 56th minute. Latching onto a loose ball when his initial cross was headed out to him; left-back Sharly Mabussi hammered in a shot that beat the Angers keeper at his near post. It was his first goal of the season. Yet any hopes of getting back into the tie were dismissed seven minutes later when Poko scored his second goal of the tie.

We couldn't get back into it after that so the dream ends here.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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https://i.postimg.cc/CLzFLmww/lechampionnatnational.png

December 2022 Review

Two games which take us to the halfway point of season 2022-23 in Le Championnat National.

https://i.postimg.cc/bNWWZkyF/Le-Mans-Dec2022-Results.png

Only two games played in December before the league shuts down for a month, might play a behind closed doors friendly against the Reserves to keep the team fitness ticking over.

We were back in league action just six days after the cup exit, playing bottom of the table Vannes live on television. Could we keep the unbeaten streak of winning live on national television? I certainly hoped so as we kicked off in Brittany. Predictably we controlled the game from start to finish but at times it felt like we couldn't finish our dinner never mind chances in front of goal. One of those wasteful chances happened in the 13th minute when a very below par Oumaré Tounkara sliced a penalty kick horribly wide. Shades of his miss in the Coupe De France seventh round. You felt that it was going to be one of those days.

However three minutes after the restart, we breached their defences to score the opener. After some short passing, Serge Aka picked out an unmarked Mabussi who had the simple task to placing a low finish into the net for his second goal in as many games. Jordan Henry equalised for Vannes in the 67th minute; perhaps our wastefulness was going to cost us? Thankfully we got back straight back on the horse and scored the winner almost straight away, Kévin Rimane with a well flighted corner kick and the unpredictable Amadou Coulibaly headed it into the back of the net. Probably the hardest three points of the season so far.

We served up 45 minutes of absolute dross in our other league game against Tours at the MMArena. They scored four times in the first 25 minutes and sucked the life out of the stadium to be honest. Jordan Tell scored a brace whilst Simon Clement and a penalty from Romain Bayard did the damage. I gave them an absolute rollocking to try and garner a reaction out of their crestfallen faces. Well it seemed to work as Wassim Mechmache scored after 48 minutes to reduce the deficit. Comeback on? Er, not quite. We did get a second in the final minute when skipper Mamadou Soro latched onto a Grégory Aubert pass to score his ninth of the season. But it was too little, too late. The only consolation was that Grenoble lost 4-2 to Pau.

So this is how we stand going into the second half of the season:

https://i.postimg.cc/tJgwxzn8/Le-Mans-Table-End-Dec2022.png

Still holding onto second and now only a point behind once runaway leaders Grenoble. However, Tours are starting to click into gear and are proving to be the serious threat to possibly winning the title. Huge effort needed to stay in contention right?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Unfortunately some things never really change....

https://i.postimg.cc/Hx3smBCN/World-Cup2022-Final-Result.png
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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Unfortunately some things never really change....

https://i.postimg.cc/Hx3smBCN/World-Cup2022-Final-Result.png

An own-goal and two stoppage time goals, I'd hate to be them!
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European Qualifiers draw made

Last Updated: 04/01/2023 11:00am

The draw has been made for the next batch of the European Under 21 Championship qualifiers.

https://i.postimg.cc/Fs95M6mg/Wales-U21-2023-Qual-Group.png

It appears that the footballing gods have been kind and Wales Under-21 boss Mark Duell is more than happy with the teams his young charges will face:

"I must say I am delighted with that draw indeed.

It's a more than winnable group, and one that we can definitely make some progress from. We're the highest ranked side of the nations involved so people will be expecting us to sail through qualification with no problems. But football has a habit of springing surprises when you least expect them so we know we will have to be at our best to ensure we do indeed live up to the expectations.

What the nation expects, we have to deliver. Make no proverbial bones about it."

The qualifiers begin on 6 September 2023 when the young Welshmen travel to Greece who are expected to be their biggest threat for top spot. Meanwhile the FAW have confirmed that the Under-21 side will face a trip to the Netherlands on 8 June 2023 and then host Poland six days ahead of the latest Finals tournament which they are in for the first time this year.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
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https://i.postimg.cc/05zYxCRs/lemansfcweb2.png 5 January 2023 at 11:30

MID-SEASON FRIENDLIES SUMMARY

https://i.postimg.cc/SKXfJmLL/Le-Mans-2022-23-Mid-Season-Friendlies.png

To keep the fitness levels high during the winter break, the team played a couple of friendlies.

The first one was a behind closed doors game between the first team and the reserves, played at the training complex. The scoring was opened after just a couple of minutes play, Amadou Coulibaly crossing from the right and Oumaré Tounkara planted his header into the corner of the net. Just after the half hour, the same two players combined for 2-0: Coulibaly teeing up Tounkara to sidefoot home. The senior side went 3-0 ahead in the 51st minute when Amin Bennani poached home after a spot of pinball in the reserve team's penalty area.

After 67 minutes, the seniors were 4-0 up when half-time substitute Enzo Barreau drilled in a fine finish from twelve yards out. The nap hand was complete two minutes afterwards, Abdoulaye Koté crossed and Grégory Aubert with the strike into the net. The reserves did manage a consolation five minutes from the end when central midfielder Ibrahim Doucoure scored. All in all a decent workout.

The other friendly was at Championnat 2 side Beauvais. Rather than give the first team a full workout, some of the fringe and reserve team members were given the chance to impress the manager. Benjamin Vénté gave the home side a fifth minute lead but the much changed line up equalised in the 32nd; Vincent Créhin crossing for Ludovic Wacouboué to head in off the post. However, we would go into half time 2-1 behind when Evens Joseph struck in the second minute of time added on. With the rain continuing to lash down, we equalised in the 54th minute when Wassim Mechmache steered home a low shot with was his first touch of the ball since entering the pitch as a substitute just moments earlier.

Four minutes later, we were 3-2 ahead when Kévin Rimane flighted in a corner which Ugo Tessier headed down for Zoran Bassong to fire into the net. A third goal in just nine minutes followed after 63 minutes, Serge Aka with the finish. Despite Ibrahima Baldé scoring the hosts third goal with 12 minutes to go, we held on. Another good workout for the squad, and no doubt some food for thought for the manager with Tessier particularly looking useful on the left flank.

Attention now moves forward to 13 January when we resume our league campaign, away to 16th placed Dunkerque.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

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