Taking A Bath - City To The Top


May 10, 2018
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So here I am with a new story...yes I know I've been through a few already and we're still only on the BETA for FM19. Unfortunately, the game and I just haven't clicked so far this year and I've had very little success! However, I'm not ready to give up just yet and am determined that I can find a way to enjoy a save on this year's version of the most addictive game I've ever had the pleasure of playing!

This save will be based on something I haven't done since about FM 2014 and that is taking one team from the bottom to the top of English football! I was inspired by coolmcool's Truro save and story last year and thought I'd have a go myself (I'm still hoping he'll come up with something similar himself once his Manchester United save becomes boring). There is a theory behind the idea for me as well....all my other saves have been starting unemployed and then coming into a job when decisions/signings have already been made and I've joined the party a little late. I therefore thought I might find more success if I'm there from the very start and I make all the decisions from day one! And if I don't have success, then I don't have anyone to blame but myself....no excuses this time!

The team I have decided to take this challenge on with is Bath City in the National League South. A couple of reasons behind that choice, but the first is that Bath is one of the most charismatic cities in the entire country...a place of real beauty. Plus it is a city with plenty going on and I'm hoping as I move up the ranks with Bath, the location will appeal to players from around the world as I convince them to join our club...yea I know I'm getting a bit ahead of myself but you've gotta think about these things right?!

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For anyone that doesn't know, the city of Bath is based in the county of Somerset and their beloved football club was formed in 1889, making them well over 125 years old! Despite that, the club's long history is entirely non league and they have never made it to the football league proper...something I'm hoping to change!

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As far as trophies go, they have a total of 5 titles to their name. All regional competitions from the lower leagues of English football. They have made the 3rd round of the FA Cup on six different occasions, but their best runs in recent years saw them knocked out in the 2nd round by Peterborough in 2004 and Forest Green Rovers in 2009.

Bath City play their home games at Twerton Park, a little ground that can hold up to 8,840 fans, catering for just over 1,000 seated!

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Now I'm not playing this save with any aliases or created managers....simply, it's just me, Chris Ball - a Gillingham fan from Tunbridge Wells in Kent....although I'll now be moving to Bath for obvious reasons! My experience and coaching badges were chosen by FM based on becoming manager of Bath City, so I start as an ex Sunday league footballer with a National B License.

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The aim of the save is simple. Take Bath City to the very top. To the Premier League, maybe even to the Champions League! Win as much as we can along the way and increase the profile of the club as we go, expanding the stadium (and hopefully one day building a new one), improving the training and youth facilities! Hopefully we'll produce some decent youth as we move up the leagues and bring some players through as well....that's the aim anyway! Here we go!

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Will be following, i think though you should have done what i do pick a decent team to get used to FM! Its always going to be tough when you start a new FM so why not help yourself out a bit, think im going to do a lower team save in a few weeks and go for my first FM love Limerick FC, Looking forward to this
Will be following, i think though you should have done what i do pick a decent team to get used to FM! Its always going to be tough when you start a new FM so why not help yourself out a bit, think im going to do a lower team save in a few weeks and go for my first FM love Limerick FC, Looking forward to this

Cheers for following mate...hoping I've had enough practice now that I can make a real good go of this! Part of the reason I picked Bath as well is because they are not expected to get promotion in first season, so should be less pressure and no sacking as long as I don't get drawn into a relegation battle!
First Day On The Job


Day one in the new job and after a meeting with the chairman, he sends over the club's history/background. I reply with an email stating "Let's not worry about the past shall we. Chris Ball has arrived, it's all about the future now."....He doesn't reply!

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Next up, I meet with my staff. I won't be getting rid of anyone just yet, but I do need to add a few new faces to the backroom team as I currently have no physios or scouts. A fitness coach might be a good shout too!

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The staff give me an overview of the current dynamics of the squad and although the match cohesion and dressing room atmosphere needs some work, I'm pleased that the players are at least on board with my appointment.

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No natural leaders in the squad is a worry! Guess all their inspiration will need to come from me on the sidelines!

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Next I take a look at my squad. First thing of note is the lack of numbers here...we only have 15 players in the first team squad, so will need to do some recruitment over the Summer.

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My best goalkeeper is 36 year old Ryan Clarke, a recent arrival from Torquay. I'll be looking for him to make the difference between the sticks this year!

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My assistant manager rates my defenders and I look like I have 3 decent players at centre back! I'm in desperate need of an out and out right back though and will be looking to add someone in that role ASAP. 22 year old, Jack Batten, is the best of the bunch and looks like a good player for this level. Being relatively young, he can still improve as well!

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Of my midfield players, it seems that my strength is out wide. With the defensive midfield options I have, it may be worth sitting deep in the middle whilst utilising the attacking players out wide to go forward. I'll have to see. Sean Rigg is the best of my midfield players and can hopefully create plenty from the left side for us!

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Now this is where the real suckerpunch comes in. I only have two strikers and Ryan Brunt is without a doubt my best player in the whole squad. And he is injured....for the entire season!!! Gutting or what?!

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I'll have 6 pre season friendlies to get my tactics right and get things ready for the start of the competitive fixture list!

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July 2018


July 2018

The board agree to look for a senior affiliate, to enable me to hopefully bring in some decent loan players without the cost of their wages.

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I quickly rectify our right back situation, as in that we didn't have one! Sanchez Ming joins on a free transfer from Dulwich Hamlet. He'll slot straight into the first team!

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Being that I'm a Gillingham fan, you can imagine my delight when the board returned them as an option for our senior affiliate!

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There were two youngsters from the Gills that I went after straight away and I'm delighted to have snapped them both up on season long loan deals! The first is striker, Noel Mbo! The 19 year old is an absolute beast at 6ft 7" and I think he will be a handful for any defenders in this league and has potential to be our top scorer this season.

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The second player I went straight for is centre back, Jack Tucker. Another big lump at 6ft 2", he will be a great addition to my defence. A centre back with good defensive stats, but he also has the ability to bring the ball out and play decent passes into the midfield as well as a ball playing defender. It's rare to find a player that can play that role down at this level!

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The bookies make is 3-2 for promotion this year and predict us a 6th place finish. Initially, when I took over we were predicted 8th, but with the signings we have made, expectations have obviously risen!

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Despite Ryan Brunt being injured for the next 7 months, he is still 45-1 with the bookies to be top goalscorer this season!! Not sure what that says for all the other strikers in the division?! Or is Brunt that good, they expect him to bang in 25 goals in the last month or 2 of the season?

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Two wins and two draws in pre season so far. Plenty of goals scored which is encouraging! Would you believe we were 4-0 up in the Salisbury game...I'll be livid if that happens in a competitive match this season!

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Two more friendlies to get out of the way at the start of August before the league campaign begins. It's a pretty hectic start to the season as well with 5 games in the space of 17 days!

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Following this closely as im doing the same but with woking
Been following the stories you've been putting up since FM19 came out, such a shame you haven't managed to get into it yet. If it makes you feel any better, I didn't start off the best way with my Betis save but being patient and trying out a few of the tactics presets actually have really helped me! Now I'm doing a lot better :) similar to what someone said on your previous story as well I have the AM take care of training and press conferences and everything and that seems to have worked out for me so far... nevertheless, will be following this story as well wish you the best of luck!
In FM18 I was also inspired by coolmcool's Truro City story and I used a good tactic to take them up to Championship by 4 seasons!!!
August 2018 Part One

jt8604 - "I've been following your Woking story and will continue to as well! Thanks for following mine!"

Linecoigne1998 - "Thanks for following as always mate. Yea I've had some pretty rotten luck so far, but being at a club from the outset rather than starting unemployed could make the difference. Also, thanks for the advice on use of the assistant manager"

MWPlayz - "It was a great story. Hoping I can emulate his success from FM 2018"


August 2018 (Part One)

Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke gets the captain's armband for the upcoming season! He was a natural choice as he will play virtually every game (barring injuries or suspensions) and at 36 years old, should be able to provide some good guidance to the rest of the lads this year!

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We finished our pre season campaign unbeaten, scoring loads of goals in the process.

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Player of Pre Season
John Mills

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The 28 year old striker had a wonderful pre season, banging in 8 goals in 6 games. Mills will be expected to carry the weight of Ryan Brunt's injury this season, and has already shown me that he is more than capable of stepping up!

Just before the league campaign kicks off, let's take a look at the season preview. None of my players make the media dream eleven, which does feature players from a number of clubs...Billericay (3), Torquay (2), Concord (2), Hemel Hempstead (1), Chelmsford (1), Eastbourne (1), Hungerford (1). A few new managers have joined the division alongside myself, including the likes of Gary Johnson at Torquay and Steve King at Welling!

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Hopefully, the first game of many!

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This will be the lineup for the opening day of the season. After tinkering throughout the pre season friendlies, a pretty basic 4-4-2 is what I've settled on! There's one pretty clear aim, get the ball out wide and focus our attacks down the wings. This is where our best players are and I'll be looking to them as our main source of creativity. In the box, we'll have the big man, Noel Mbo who should be able to win the headers and score goals or win the knock downs for his strike partner. I have slightly more defensive and attacking variants of this for when we need to protect a lead or when we need a goal late on in games.

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On the morning of matchday 1, the board send over a reminder of their expectations for the upcoming season. Considering the bookies predict us to be in the playoff mix, the board have taken it easy on me demanding only a top half finish. I'll be looking to do as well as we can in both the cup competitions to try to bring some additional revenue to the club!

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And only hours before kick off, I confirm another signing for the club. Jordan Sangha joins us on a season long loan from League One side, Charlton. I was keen to add another central midfielder to the squad to enable me more options for squad rotation in the middle of the park and Jordan is a great extension to our current crop of players! He's more attack minded than my other central midfielders and offers me something different!

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Saturday 11th August 2018
Vanarama National League South
Gloucester City vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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A solid start to the season with a 1-0 away win. Pleased with the clean sheet and to be honest, Gloucester never looked like scoring! John Mills picked up where he left off in pre season, with an opening day goal!

275 season tickets sold for the season.

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August 2018 Part Two


August 2018 (Part Two)

Tuesday 14th August 2018

Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Wealdstone
Formation: 4-4-2

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Not exactly how I wanted to start at home, but I walk away from this game wondering just how we lost it! We were on top throughout and it's our strikers who have let us down today, Mills and Mbo missing numerous good chances that they'd have tucked away on another day.

With the game against Eastbourne coming up, it's obvious who their main threat is. Dean *** is an outstanding coup for them and it still shocks me that he is playing down at this level now. I remember only a few seasons back, he was the standout player for Leyton Orient when they nearly got promoted from League One to the Championship!

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Saturday 18th August 2018
Vanarama National League South
Eastbourne vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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Dean *** was kept quiet and we record our 2nd away win of the season. The game wasn't very entertaining in all honesty, but I'm pleased we've managed to come out on top in a relatively tight affair.

Saturday 25th August 2018
Vanarama National League South
Slough Town vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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A game of 2 solid defences. Neither side really created a clear cut chance as both teams looked well organised at the back. A 0-0 draw was a fair result based on that!

Tuesday 28th August 2018
Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Welling Utd
Formation: 4-4-2

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Welling are one of the stronger sides in the division so this was a really good win and a statement of intent from us early on in the season! Everyone put a shift in today and we were sensational in attack! Jordan Sangha rounded off the scoring late on with his first goal for the club! Danny Mills had scored 4 goals already this season, so we knew he was the danger man...I asked the players to show him on his left foot and not mark him tightly (because of his pace) and it proved a good decision as he had an awful game.

August Review: A decent start to the season with 3 wins from our opening 5 games. Three clean sheets as the defence looks to be doing a decent job and the Welling game showed we can score plenty of goals when we want to as well. It leaves us 5th in the league, with Truro leading the way after winning all 5 of their games! Hungerford are the only team in the league without a point.

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Player of the Month
Anthony Straker

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Straker has been ultra consistent at left back this month, turning in 4 really good performances. His tackles to tackles won coversion rate is extremely impressive and he has done a great job of stopping opposition attacks down the right wing.

Loads of football coming up in September, with 6 league games scheduled as well as our first cup game of the year (draw still to take place). Hopefully, we can continue our good start and cement our status as one of the top teams in this league!

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September 2018


September 2018

Saturday 1st September 2018

Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Hungerford
Formation: 4-4-2

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After we'd completely dominated the first half without scoring, it was then Hungerford who came out and took an early lead in the 2nd half! However, it wasn't long before we were back on terms with Noel Mbo's first goal for the club and from there it looked like there would be only one winner. But we left it late to grab the winning goal as it wasn't until the 94th minute when substitute Andy Watkins rounded the Hungerford keeper to seal all 3 points for us and leave our opponents rooted to the bottom of the table.

The fierce rivalry with Chippenham is expected to bring the fans out to play. 400 travelling away fans for us is impressive at this level!

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After Chippenham boss, Mark Collier, tries to play down the importance of our fixture, I make sure I stress just how much it means!

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Saturday 8th September 2018
Vanarama National League South
Chippenham vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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A penalty a piece and we share the spoils with our biggest rivals. John Mills had a golden opportunity to win the game for us in the 88th minute when he found himself with an open goal gaping, only to put his strike into the side netting!

We'll take on Merthyr Town in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round.

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Tuesday 11th September 2018
Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Torquay Utd
Formation: 4-4-2 (Changed to 4-5-1 on 75 minutes)

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I'll take the point here. Torquay were the best team we've played so far this year and look like they'll be a force this season. I tried to change to a 4-5-1 late on in order to protect our lead, but it didn't quite work under Torquay's relentless pressure!

Andy Watkins has been a great utility player already this season, covering the right wing and striker roles, so it's disappointing to lose him for the next 3-4 months through injury!

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Saturday 15th September 2018
Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Hemel Hempstead
Formation: 4-4-2

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We were 3-0 up and cruising at half time, but Hemel came out with much more intent after the break and when they'd pulled it back to 3-2 by the hour mark, I feared we were going to throw it away! But the lads, gathered themselves well and we started to take control again. John Mills put the game to bed in the 80th minute and we continue our good run of form!

After the injury to Andy Watkins, it was important I quickly added another player to the ranks. With nobody catching my eye on the loan market, I moved to sign 20 year old striker, Brandon Griffiths on a free transfer. He takes us over the wage budget but I didn't feel I had a choice. Like Watkins, Brandon is a player who can cover down one of the wings as well.

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Saturday 22nd September 2018
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Bath City vs Merthyr Town
Formation: 4-4-2

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Despite the stats making this look like a pretty even game, we actually made light work of our lower league opponents and the result was never really in any doubt. Brandon Griffiths came off the bench at half time and bagged a debut goal late on and a man of the match award as well.

Tuesday 25th September 2018
Vanarama National League South
Dulwich Hamlet vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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I'll take that result! Despite only coming up last year, Dulwich are already seen as one of the best teams in this league and are fully expected to be challenging for automatic promotion this season! So getting a point at their place is a decent result.

We'll take on Poole Town in the next round of the FA Cup next month. Another home draw and I'll be expecting us to progress.

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Saturday 29th September 2018
Vanarama National League South
Oxford City vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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Everything that could go wrong, went wrong! Before the game had even started, Sean Rigg (ML), Ross Stearn (MR) and Jordan Sangha (MC) had all picked up minor injuries and missed this game, meaning I had 2 players in Ming and Griffiths on the wings who were not natural in those positions. To make matters worse, Ming then picks up an injury and has to go off, leaving me only Joe Raynes to come on (promoted to the bench from the U23s for this game). Then, I'd made all 3 subs when centre mid, Frankie Artus goes off injured, leaving me down to 10 men! With all that going on, we were never going to win this game!

Sanchez Ming's injury is another one that will see me lose a first team starter for over 2 months!

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Our injury list is now being described as a crisis!

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September Review: All in all, it wasn't a bad month for us, losing only one game in a match where we seemed destined not to get a result! We drop a couple of places in the league to 7th, but are still holding our own. Only Truro and Billericay maintain unbeaten records in the division, although it's Dulwich who top the table on goal difference. Hungerford earned their first points of the campaign this month and relegate Eastbourne to bottom! Progression in the FA Cup was a highlight as we look to put together a bit of a cup run.

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Player of the Month
Frankie Artus

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Frankie is quickly becoming one of my favourite players at the club as I've noticed how much of our play is dictating by him in the centre of midfield. He acts as the main link between defence and attack and he's picking out up to 4 key passes a game for us!

We kick off October with the next qualifying round of the FA Cup against Poole. Four league games follow that and I'll be looking for a minimum of 7 points from the games we have coming up.

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October 2018


[FONT=&quot]October 2018

A new sponsorship deal is announced at the start of October.

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Chairman elections? I thought that was a foreign thing...

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Saturday 6th October 2018
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
Bath City vs Poole
Formation: 4-4-2

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We were always up against it when left back, Anthony Straker was sent off only 15 minutes in! Poole went on to dominate possession and chances after that and soon raced into a 2-0 lead! A goal from Mbo at the end of the first half gave us hope and the lads tried hard to get back on level terms in the 2nd 45 minutes but to no avail and our FA Cup run is over for this season!

Anthony Straker is fined 2 weeks wages for his dismissal in the FA Cup game.

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Tuesday 9th October 2018
Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Hampton & Richmond
Formation: 4-4-2

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We should have won this game. We were the much better side and created a lot more chances and their goal was a bit of a soft one that I felt Ryan Clarke should have saved. 3 league games without a win now!

The current chairman will be stepping down come December!

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Saturday 13th October 2018
Vanarama National League South
East Thurrock vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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East Thurrock are not a good side and this is a terrible result for us! If it weren't for a cracking last minute strike from Mbo, we would have lost as well!

I was only saying that Frankie Artus was becoming one of my favourite players at the club...but now the little ******* is trying to lead a revolt against me!

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Tuesday 23rd October 2018
Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Dartford
Formation: 4-4-2

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**** it! 5 minutes of added on time and the bastards score a winner on 95:42!! Our winless run is becoming a worry now!

Saturday 27th October 2018
Vanarama National League South
Chelmsford vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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After going 1-0 down and being completely outclassed in the first 45 minutes, the lads came out and did me proud in the 2nd half, turning the game on its head and getting our first win in 7 games!

Amazing what one win can do...Frankie Artus is apparently happy again!

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October Review: It's been a tough month and how badly did we need that win against Chelmsford at the end! It ensures we stay in the playoff places...just!! We really need to kick on from that result and string some good results together now, hopefully we've now had our blip for the season! Despite our poor run of form, we can still take solace in the fact we have only lost 3 games in the league all season - only the top 4 have a better record than that! Truro are now the only team still undefeated!

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Player of the Month
Noel Mbo

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The loanee striker was the only player to maintain a decent level of form this month and found his shooting boots, weighing in with 3 goals!

It'll be nice to have a bit of a break in November, with a much easier schedule of only 3 league games.

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November 2018

November 2018

Saturday 3rd November 2018

Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs Concord
Formation: 4-4-2

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So much for pushing on after beating Chelmsford in our last game! We were 4-1 down at one point in this game...at home...against a **** team! And then my team decide to wake up and make a game of it! Too little, too late bell ends!

Saturday 17th November 2018
Vanarama National League South
Bath City vs St Albans
Formation: 4-4-2

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That's more like it lads! A quality performance at home results in our 2nd 4-0 win this season! The wide men, Rigg and Stearn, were brilliant today and the St Albans full backs simply couldn't deal with them! The only downer on the day was the last minute red card for Frankie Artus.

Artus takes his fine on the chin following his sending off against St Albans.

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We'll take on St Albans again in a couple of weeks after being drawn against them in the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

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Saturday 24th November 2018
Vanarama National League South
Woking vs Bath City
Formation: 4-4-2

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A single Woking goal in the opening 40 seconds was enough to win them the game, which hurts as we didn't deserve to lose this one! We created much better chances throughout, but just couldn't find the back of the net. Ross Stearn came closest for us when his free kick cannoned back off the crossbar!

Top goalscorer, John Mills, will miss the next 4 weeks of action.

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Apparently, the jury is still out 20 games into my management career. I'm just warming into it guys, that's all!

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November Review: Only 1 win from our 3 games this month and it sees us drop out of the playoffs and down to 10th. Only 18 games in and Hungerford fans are already gearing up for a long, hard season by the looks of things! Is the writing on the wall for them already?! At the top, Truro have finally lost their unbeaten record.

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Player of the Month
Ross Stearn

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Stearn followed up his amazing performance against St Albans with another solid game against Woking!

We kick off December with our FA Trophy qualifier against St Albans, before a busy league schedule kicks in for the festive month, during which we'll face both the top two in the division.

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I ******* hate this game!

Per the headline above, I think you know what's happened to me AGAIN! I've never struggled so much with a version of football manager so much in my life but this year's game is giving me an absolute ******* nightmare! Sacked AGAIN....made it to the end of January...didn't win a single game in December or January, went out of the FA Trophy to St Albans, score a total of 2 goals in 11 games, picking up 1 point with a single 1-1 draw! Dropped to 17th in the table and fired!

It's lucky I'm addicted to this game otherwise I think I'd have given up by now. I just wish I knew what I was doing wrong. This save I tried leaving all my oppositions instructions/training/team talks to my assistant (based on advice) and that didn't work either. I tried to keep consistent with the tactics and didn't chop and change too much....that didn't work! I had a good squad with Bath and should have been challenging for playoffs! I just don't understand it! If I hadn't been sacked, I'd have carried on, but I don't see much point in continuing the save, when the purpose of the story was to take Bath to the top, not move around clubs.

I don't know what type of game to go for next...I'm kinda running out of ideas if I'm honest! I might **** it off to Asia and try the minor leagues out there and see if I can have any success out there....clearly Europe is not for me at the moment on this game as I've now failed in Scotland, England and Sweden already!​