The season couldn’t have got off to a much worse start with only 2 points picked up from our first seven league games, scoring only 4 and conceding 15. Only two late goals by Tom Elder at home to Tipton and from Keith Rostill away at Boldmere spared us a whitewash. Only positive came with a 2-1 FA Cup win at Tividale.
With no league games this month, it was down to FA Cup and FA Vase action. After drawing 1-1 at home v Eccleshall in the FA Cup Preliminary round, we beat them 3-2 away in the replay. We then went back up to Stone and beat them 1-0 in the FA Vase, before being put out of the FA Cup 6-2 at Chasetown. The month ended miserably with a 1-0 defeat at home to Midland Combination neighbours, Pilkington XXX.
Things finally seemed to turn around with our first league win 2-1 at Atherstone. We then followed up with an emphatic 4-1 win away at Highgate in the League Cup. A day to remember for all the wrong reasons with a 1-0 defeat at home to a strong Rocester side, with us having 4 players sent off. A creditable 2-2 draw away at Kirby Muxloe, followed by a penalty defeat to Birmingham City in the Birmingham Senior Cup. The month continued strongly with a 0-0 home draw to then second placed Causeway United, before a great 2-0 away win at Ellesmere with a threadbare side.
With only that 1 league defeat with 7 men v Rocester in 5 league matches on October, November started with an emphatic 6-0 win at home to Malvern in the Worcester Senior Urn. Second placed Coventry Sphinx visited Lye Meadow and came away with a 2-1 win curtsey of a dubious late penalty. A poor display at local rivals Studley saw us dumped out of the league cup 3-1, but the side responded brilliantly, beating top of the table Westfields 2-1, without a recognised goalkeeper and then having him replaced by another. After another well won point 1-1 at home to a strong Dunkirk side, our form turned again, losing 4-0 away at Heath Hayes with two players sent off for fighting each other, and then ending the month losing 4-1 at home to Coleshill Town.
With straight defeats away at Loughborough, Tipton and Studley, that makes it 5 defeats on the bounce, scoring only 2 and conceding 14.
The New Year got off to a good start with a 0-1 win at Bridgnorth, but followed by 2 defeats, 1-0 at Heather St John, with both Rob Freeman and Sam Wills picking up their 2nd and 3rd red cards respectively, and then 1-2 at home to Boldmere St Michaels. We got through to the WFA Senior Urn Final after beating Lye Town 1-0 in the semis and then ended the month with a hard fought point at home to league leaders Westfields, drawing 1-1.
The weather took hold of the first half of the month, but a narrow 1-0 defeat at Coventry Sphinx was followed by our first home victories of the season, smashing Highgate 5-1, Heath Hayes 2-0 and Kirby Muxloe 1-0.
We continued our good form beating Stratford Town 2-0 to record our 4th consecutive home win, before losing our 5th, 0-2 to champions elect, Gresley. We bounced back, picking up a late equaliser at Rocester in a 2-2, followed by a strange game at Willenhall, eventually winning 4-6. Just when we think we’ve got this league cracked, we have a disappointing 0-0 at home to Atherstone, followed by a crushing 2-0 defeat at Highgate and a narrow 1-0 defeat at Tividale. However, we complete the month on a high, beating whipping boys Willenhall 4-1.
A magnificent 2-3 win at high flyers Causeway was followed by a 3-3 derby day point at home to Studley on Easter Monday, coming back from 0-2 and 1-3. Another valuable 3 points was earned in a 1-3 win at Dunkirk, before finally achieving MFA safety with a 2-1 win at home to Ellesmere. An injury time winner robbed us of a point v Tividale in a 2-3 defeat, before our final game when we travelled to champions Gresley and came away with a brilliant 2-4 victory.
WFA Senior Urn Final v Bewdley Town @ Kidderminster Harriers.
Very disappointing end to the season. After taking a deserved lead we didn't threaten much more and were deservedly beaten 3-2. We obviously missed Joe Wright up front, but instead of making a straight like for like change, we accomodated another midfielder and changed our formation which we never looked comfortable with.
Secretary Steve Denny summarised “We started the season with a new management team in place, optimistic, but realistic. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have got off to a much worse start. After a couple of decent cup results in September we then settled down, and October was a good month. Followed by good performances against Coventry Sphinx, Westfields and Dunkirk, there was cause for optimism. However, after that, we lost five on the bounce and ended 2011 knowing we are in a relegation battle, with only 14 points from 20 games.
Despite winning our first game in 2012, 2 more defeats left us in deep trouble. However a WFA Senior Urn semi final win, a creditable draw to Westfields and an unlucky defeat at Sphinx, saw our seasons fortunes turn. Four straight home wins followed, before losing to Gresley and then picking up a valuable point at Rocester. We had a crucial period in mid March where we played our relegation rivals, but despite beating Willenhall twice, we lost a crucial 2 points v Atherstone and a devastating defeat at Highgate. However we finished our season in style, winning 5, drawing 1 and losing only 1 of our last 7 games, to finish in 14th place on 51 points.
With 37 points in 2012, it has been a great turnaround and one, if we had produced the same kind of form in 2011, would have put us 4th in the league. Adding Joe Wright to the team, was, for me, the turning point, as although himself, has scored 12 goals in 16 appearances, he also brought Andy Nicol to life, who had a great second half to the season. Along with Elliot Nash, we started to look like a team that could hurt opponents, which before, we hadn’t. We have a solid defensive base with Scott Smith and Tom Elder and a competitive midfield with Robbie Freeman. With a few more ‘quality’ additions, I’m sure we can pick up from where we left off and compete strongly in this league next season.
May I, on behalf of my fellow directors, thank you all for your support, in what has been another difficult season. Hopefully we can improve and challenge up the other end next season. Enjoy your break and see you all back in July for pre-season.