What do elves get for Christmas? And where did December go?
I have been on a wee break through the month of December. How do I mean? I have been working a lot and therefore I have had little time to be creative…. Some would say no change there!
The time away from the keyboard for this platform has been a difficult one mentally as this is a great cathartic medium for myself to write rubbish and allow my brain to do other things outside of the norm.
I had left you part way through season one (2018-19) where TS Sports Fc had been at the mercy of the fixture list and the club Chairman who also has a licence to drive the coach. We had spent more time on the M1 northbound aka Woodall Services than I would have ever imagined. I’ll be honest the KFC diet whilst sitting above the Northbound carriageway was starting to become a habit for one or two lads.
So, what happened next?
The Ashington match in the Preliminary round of the FA Cup (the last match in the previous Update) was the spark for the entire season. In my eyes I do not think what happened next would have happened if Jon Davies and more importantly Eddie Beans had scored goals and increased their confidence from that match.
The next match along with an important addition to the playing squad were vital to our increase in positivity.
Connor Coventry a youth team player for West Ham Utd joined use back on the 17th of August. The midfielder was keen to play men’s football and get the game time we could provide. For me Connor would provide the much-needed competition for the more attacking central midfield role, when we played with a 4141. He would give Vic Penn a much-needed rival for that playing role.
The first match in September was at Newhall Park against local rivals Matlock. And the new boy didn’t take long to impress. 28 minutes to be exact, Connor coolly slotted home a shot from outside of the box into the top right corner of the goal. We go on to win 2-0 with Johnny Starr scoring the other goal.
The next three matches are played at home. First Burgess Hill in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Rnd (We win 2-0). Then a league match against Nantwich (We win 3-1, a goal hungry Karl Wright bags a brace, with Beans bagging the other.) And then another match against Matlock, this time in the Lower league cup. We win 7-0 in a contest that has been written as the Jon Davies match of the month. The boy scored five in an astonishing 1st half display that left Matlock and the crowd stunned.
September ended with a trip to the North East where we visited South Shields and the trip to Northwich to play against Witton. We won 4-0 and 3-0 respectively with right winger Johnny Starr proving the star factor in both matches.
October saw the “Youth Team” play nine matches. The new-found belief saw use win all nine. Starting the month with a 5-1 home win in the league against Gainsborough. And finishing the month with a 4-1 away win in the lower league Cup against Prescott Cables.
October also saw the team progress in the preliminary rounds of the FA Cup with an away win against Hungerford Town (3-1). And then a 4th qualifying win against former league opposition in Leyton Orient. We won a very tight game 3-2 “Starr-Man” Johnny Starr scoring a hattrick and clinching the tie by sealing a last-minute penalty.
November, The month of fireworks. And TS Sports did not fail to show their spark. The month saw the team win all five of their league games. The most satisfying was the 5-0 away win against Buxton. Which was played just one day after Bonfire night. Jon Davies scoring four and Ben Hinchcliffe scoring the other in the one-sided match.
We also got to play in the FA Cup first round (Proper) in a tie against Eastleigh. The home match went entirely our way with the local support providing the hostilities and Wright, Sticks, Beans and Penn all providing the goals. We won 4-0 in a very convincing performance against a side two levels above us.
December, the time for hard work and pulling together. We continued our outstanding form in the league with five wins out of five. The highlight (yes, another local derby) the 3-0 home win against Mickleover Sports.
Yet the beginning of the month would bring the most important match of the club’s history to the fore. The 1st of December saw little TS Sports play hosts to Crewe Alexandria, the club that TS are trying to model their “youth player” philosophy. The match was a dull affair, with Crewe content to breaking up our play and not making much of their own possession. Vic Penn scored just before half time with a fantastic strike from out side of the box to beat their keeper. This goal would prove to be enough to win the match and put TS Sports in the hat for the 3rd round of the FA Cup.
January, baby it’s cold outside or are TS Sports as cold as ice?
The January sales came and went. The only ins were two loans. First there was Alfie Egan, a central midfielder from AFC Wimbledon, and secondly there was Jack Rodwell from Blackburn. (No Picture of Jack due to him retiring from the game after he rejected our contract offer of three Curly Wurly’s and a chomp each week along with travelling expenses and KFC lunch at Woodall Services).
The only outgoing was Niall Wright who went out on loan to AFC Sudbury.
January 2019 would see out league form continue further. With victories against Scarborough, Hyde, Whitby and Matlock. It would also be the month that we play in four cup matches.
The first was our well earned 3rd rnd FA Cup tie against league opposition, Wycombe. Peter Shilton had drawn us out of the hat for a home tie. And that luck was also used in the match. We had our backs to the wall from the off when Wycombe scored through Israeli striker Scott Kashkett. The ref then helped our cause by offering us a soft penalty on 29 minutes. Jon Davies doesn’t miss from there. And he didn’t. The second half saw me tweak things by changing up from a 4141 to a 442. The changes saw us dominate and take the match to Wycombe. When Eddie Beans was fouled in the box for us to receive another penalty. Jon Davies stepped up and scored again. On 82 minutes left winger Karl Wright sealed our feat and put us through to the Fourth round of the FA Cup.
The second cup match in January was the Buildbase second round tie against Eastleigh. A team National League team we had beaten in November. We won 4-2 in a match that saw Eddie Beans score a 33-minute hattrick. Billy Bose scored the fourth. With Eastleigh score two late goals as the boys completely lost focus during the last 15 minutes of the match.
The third cup match was the lower league cup match quarterfinal against Trafford. A match that we dominated by using a 442. Behringer and Beans both grabbing a brace with Stamp scoring a typical defender’s header from a sweeping corner to complete the scoring.
Our fourth cup match would be the 4th Rnd of the FA Cup. Rio Ferdinand drew us at home and Michael Owen pulled out Mark Hughes’ Southampton for our biggest match in the club’s history….so far. The ticket sales were good, and a full Newhall Park would see the match in a game dubbed David Vs Goliath.
The match stats would show a very close tie. For me the sending off and ill-discipline of Micky Inchcliffe on 38 minutes would be the sole reason why we lost. The game was even in the passing stats and infact we were slightly ahead with, tackles, headers and even possession across the whole match. The gulf in quality only really showed when we began to tire, and Gabbiadini would score the only goal of the match on 73 minutes. The support was amazing from the locals. And Mark Hughes also applauded us for the way we played throughout the whole match.
Our dream was now over but the memories of such a fantastic cup run will be etched in the club’s history. And one day it’ll probably be folklore how it took top flight opposition to stop us in the FA Cup.
With the amazing distraction of the FA Cup out of the way it meant we would get to concentrate on league matches during February.
I had expected a loss in confidence following the loss to Southampton, instead we finished January with a win at Matlock. Then continued like nothing had happened with four victories in February. The 3-2 home win against Workington was the pick of the bunch. We asserted ourselves into a three-nil lead within 15 minutes, but rather than keep the throttle at full we put our feet off the gas and somehow let Workington in to the match. They score on 24 mins then added a second courtesy of a Ben Strong Own Goal. The last ten minutes were a nail biter, as we just struggle to up our game, yet we were still somehow too strong to completely lose the lead we had created.
The last game of the month saw us play away against Hartlepool in the Buildbase FA Trophy Qtr Final. The trip up norf was a tough one, and unusually the boys struggled in the opening exchanges. Hartlepool scored on 10mins through Jake Cassidy. Winger Lee Sticks then sparked the revival by scoring four minutes later. He then provided the cross for Stamp to score a powerful header to take the lead. For Johnny Starr to score a third right at the death of the match.
March, the upturn in warmer weather finally came back. And we were at the mercy of the fixture list again. This time we would see eight matches in four weeks.
The five league games saw us continue to our outstanding form. From away victories against Gainsborough, Bamber Bridge and Hednesford. Along with home wins against Buxton and South Shields.
The other three matches were an impressive lower league cup win against Basford United. We won 7-1 in a match that could not have been anymore one sided. Beans bagging a 30-minute hattrick in the opening 30 minutes, with Strong, Wright, Inchcliffe and Stamp all contributing on the scoresheet.
Our other two matches were the first and second leg Semi Final matches of the FA Trophy. In a nutshell Barnet won the tie. They won the first leg two-nil in a match we never got started in. This was the first time I had seen the boys frozen in the headlights. The second leg was a different affair. The boys threw the kitchen sink at the Barnet goal but unfortunately, we could not find a way through. Where we lost the tie, I found the performance in the second leg very satisfying and given a bit of luck we could have seen a different outcome.
April showered with victories with four of them in the league. And the Integro Doodson League Cup Final. The lower league cup final.
We headed towards Birtley to play in the Robinson Heating and Plumbing Stadium. We were up against Marske United. With the 6000 capacity stadium and only 1600 attending fans due to the final being held on a Wednesday. The 800 TS fans were not left disappointed. We won 3-0, Karl Wright Scoring inside 12 minutes. With Harness and Davies scoring in the second half.
May, the final month of the season. We finished the season in style with four games and four clean sheets.
Our final match of the season saw us away at the Don Amott against Mickleover Sports. An early injury to Connor Coventy, saw Vic Penn take his place and then show why he should have been playing from the start. Vic scored after a few minutes, then sealed the victory late on with a goal on 89 minutes.
We were crowned Champions of the EVO-STIK Northern Premier League. With a record breaking season in the league. We also managed to do an “invincibles”. We were able to sustain against the rigors of the modern game and not lose a single league match.
With season one wrapped up we now have these beauties in the padlocked – high-tech security trophy cabinet. In fact, I think Dave sleeps with the league trophy every night!!!
Thank you for taking the time to catch up with TS Sports. Fingers crossed now Christmas is out of the way I can hopefully get back to producing updates on a more regular basis. Cheers ducky!