2014/15 Season review: the First Team
28 May 2015
Article: Rob McPherson
Photos: Steve Joyce
The first team was under new stewardship for the 2014/2015 season as Sam Connell took over the reins from the departing Jason McAuley.
With the club going on a recruitment drive over the summer and obtaining a few new players there were positive sounds coming out of the club that the team could have a strong season. But despite the season starting well, a mid season slump saw the team drop down the league. It looked like the season was going to peter out into a run of the mill mid-table finish but a strong league run in from PWC saw Village drop into the bottom two - the relegation places – and therefore go down to Division One.
The season kicked off on 7 September with Village defeating South Manchester 4-3 with Mooney and Fairbrother’s goals added to with a Wilson brace. The following week saw the team keep their unbeaten start to the season going with strikers Bolgar and Mooney getting one apiece in a 2-2 draw with Saints. They could not make it a whole month unbeaten though as they went down 4-2 to Lawds despite Bolgar’s two goals.
Maccabi were next up and Bolgar got another brace and this time it was good enough to get the victory with Village emerging victorious with a 2-1 scoreline. A 4-0 loss was next up as AFC Flixton – who would end the season as champions – proved too strong for Village. October was rounded off with the club being knocked out of the Robinson's Brewery County Cup in the first round by a rough Denton CC outfit in a 5-1 loss at Oxford Park, Ashton – Bolgar with the consolation.
November and December were poor months for the team as they only claimed one point from 15 available and got knocked out of the Handi-Cup. Another Bolgar double (bit of a theme developing here!) gained a draw against rivals Mace in the first Sunday game of November. Sunday 16 November saw Village lose 8-3 to Manchester Villa in the Handi-Cup – the opposition’s two goal lead as per the rules of the competition not making much of a difference. It was Reece’s turn to get a brace but Bolgar still managed to find his way on to the score sheet with a goal! A 3-0 loss against Miam Miam Celtic was then followed by a 1-0 defeat to South Manchester in the unfamiliar surroundings of the GM Police Sports & Social Club.
There was no festive joy in December as the team had to forfeit the return game against AFC Flixton due to being unable to field a team and the calendar year was rounded off with a close 3-2 loss to Maccabi – goals from Mooney and Leech.
2015 started with a 3-1 loss to Miam Miam Celtic – Bolgar with the goal – but the team finally stopped the rot with a competitive 2-1 victory over Deloitte – Wilson this time joining Slovakian Bolgar in finding the back of the net. Bolgar 2 and Mooney 2 continued the feel good mood the following week as their goals saw them do the double over Deloitte. The month ended however with a heavy 5-0 defeat to a reinvigorated PWC.
Village got revenge on Lawds in February as (that man again!) Bolgar scored twice in a 2-1 victory. The following week the team were on the wrong end of a seven goal thriller as goals from Bolgar, P Jendov and Baker were not enough to beat Mace.
March started off amazingly for the team as they beat Nexus 10-0 in the MAFL Knockout Cup preliminary round. An Archer hat-trick and doubles from Bolgar and P Jendov were added to by goals from Clayton, Fairbrother and J Zhendov. The club was dumped out of the cup the following week though as they went down 5-2 to Chorlton FC - a result that wasn’t helped by a needless red card for P Jendov. The Bulgarian’s brother spared some of his brother’s blushes by scoring, along with Bolgar, in wet and muddy conditions.
So the season came down to two final games in April. Once Village had played these games they would have to wait and see how others got on as they had managed to get through their fixtures quicker than many of the other teams. The penultimate game of the season was a game against PWC and the result could go a long way to sorting out who would end up in the relegation zone come the end of the season. And unfortunately for Village, the opposition were just a lot more clinical and a 4-1 loss – the consolation from Baker – was a hammer blow for Village’s hopes. Still, a victory against Saints in the final league game could see them safe. But a 5-1 defeat, guess who getting the goal (Bolgar for the avoidance of doubt!), was not what the doctor ordered and it meant that Village would be sweating on other results in the following weeks to learn their fate.
Village would be safe if PWC struggled in their remaining two games but a win and draw were enough to take them above and clear of Village by two points – leaving Village ninth out of 10 teams.
It was a disappointing end to the season as Village never really looked in trouble until the final few weeks of the season - but the lack of picking up points in vital games and in games just before Christmas came back to hurt the club.
It was unfair on the team as manager Connell, who played through the pain barrier numerous times, had put together a good squad. Older players such as Ure and Clayton showed that they still had it, Wilson, McNaught, Edwards and Baker (along with many other regular players) put in strong performances and were complemented with the new injection of energy from players like West, Fairbrother and McGivern. And it is disappointing that the plethora of goals that Bolgar contributed were not quite enough.
Despite the disappointment of going down, and Connell’s subsequent resignation, there is cause to be optimistic. There is the nucleus of a good team, there should be more additions over the summer and the new manager will bring new ideas which will help encourage and further develop the work that the hard working and determined Connell started.
We would like to thank Sam Connell for all his work as first team manager and club coach this year, and to all the players who donned the first team kit this year.