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[FM13] Oxford City - The DIY guide to lower league management

Current league table and linked match reports in the first post
Started on 9 March 2014 by BartS
Latest Reply on 8 June 2014 by Arch Mon
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BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


Josh_MU: Hey thanks! I have checked your blog and I really like how you work with photos – this is something I should definitely incorporate in my writing! As soon as I find the time I will read your ManU story and leave a comment!

TodayAtTomorrow: Thank you for the reply and your suggestions! How about this … from now on I will put the basic match facts into a spoiler and keep the text where it is. Those who are not interested in the detailed match reports will be able to quickly check the spoiler and those who enjoy reading my reports will not know the result until they read the whole thing. Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn't it?

Lowelife23: Hey thanks for your reply. Indeed DIY is more challenging but at the same time it's also very satisfying when it actually works. I always feel kinda like Tom Hanks in Cast Away: “Yeaaahhh, look what I created! I have made fire … I … have made fire!” hahaha. Good luck with Gloucester City!

04st September 2012
Match report #6

Oxford City - Boston Utd


Hello guys! I am more than happy to welcome you at Court Place Farm, where we will take on Boston United. While the weather does not really spoil us today – breezy, 15*C – 335 spectators decided to spend their Tuesday evening rooting for their favorite team – that's 10% more than last week, when we really dominated Worcester and scored 3 goals against them. Today we are not aiming any lower – we are the superior team, we enjoy home advantage and have the momentum on our side – anything but 3 points will be a serious disappointment. This is exactly what I explained to the team – fans who come to the stadium on a rainy day deserve to see wins and it is our job to deliver. After all the club prosperity also heavily relies on our success, because winning is the only marketing strategy in this business!

Once again I have decided to mix up the formation a little bit and drafted the following eleven to start the game:

Midfield and up does not really need too much explanation. Lonsdale and McNish are perhaps my youngest pair of CM's but they are very ambitious and work together just fine. Declan Benjamin might not be my first choice for right WM but his determination and work rate make him a very visible player when he gets to play, so I never regret sending him out … except for when his long passes and attempts on goal hit our supporters in the front row instead of the goal. Jamie Cook does not really have that problem – he still has not scored this season but takes pride in the highest percentage of completed passes, so I will support him in finding his mojo. The defensive 4 is standard and so, without further ado, let's jump right into the action!


I guess my team got the message from the pep talk because they immediately took control of the action. After just 3 minutes we intercepted a poor long pass by Boston Utd on our half and it took us only 6 seconds and two passes for Benjamin to have and attempt on goal from about 25 meters. His shot went wide but once again we made a nice transition from defensive to attacking football, with one touch action and very good overview.

In the 7th minute Benjamin had another chance to score – this time it must have been surprising even to him. After a throw in he got the ball back and went for a long pass into the box. Once again his aim was off but instead of going out of bounds the ball curved towards the far post. The Boston goalkeeper Haystead only just managed to tip it over the bar. The corner did not cause any immediate threat but seconds later resulted in the strangest attack I have seen so far. After the ball went back to Cook on the left flank he passed it to Steven Basham who was charging at the near post with no defenders between him and the goal but instead of taking his chance he … passed it back to Cook?! I don't know what happened there but it does not resemble the Basham I know, so I assume this was a complete black out and won't happen again.

The next attempt resulted from a slow paced attack in the 14th minute. After pushing it around without much plan Lonsdale got himself together and went for a run towards the right corner where he pumped it into the box, aiming for Steve Basham. Unfortunately that did not work because the goalie saw the danger and deflected it out of bounds for another corner. Boston managed to head it out of the box but that is exactly where my DM usually wait for sloppy clearances and boy did Quinn hammer it at goal … but again past the right post. So far this has been our best situation and the miss made me really angry because chances don't come much better …

Just 4 minutes later we had another good chance that started on our part of the pitch. After a throw-in Harris went for the long pass to Basham, who saw Lonsdale in the middle and no defender next to him, so he made the direct header into space. Lonsdale ran towards the right corner, passed it to Benjamin and after passing by his defender got the ball back just 15 meters from the goal. Unfortunately his shot was rather poor and Haystead managed to punch it out of the danger zone. Once again, good pace, good set-up … very disappointing finishing.

After two more attempts in the 23rd and 27th I started thinking that I did not like where this was going. We had a good amount of chances – including two big ones – but our finishing has been awfully poor, exactly like in the last game. If you don't use the edge you created, you open the door for a lucky punch.

Here we go again … 36th minute, throw-in for Boston Utd. Mayo takes a long run-up and throws it into our box, where B. Devyne is already waiting for it. Luckily C. McNish sees what's happening, overtakes the attacker and, in order to reach the ball, goes for a slide. Out of the blue Devyne falls … and Boston get a penalty! How is this even possible – how do you tackle somebody who stands behind you!? I have analyzed the situation through an through and still can not find a reason for this ruling here but I guess that is not my job. I will however address this in the post-match press conference. Unbelievable … After the yellow card for C. McNish, Newsham executed the penalty and put his side 0-1 ahead. It's not easy to be up against 12 players …

After that the game went into stand-by mode and it looked like my team wanted to hide away in the dressing rooms, except for they forgot one thing – I was waiting for them. I don't exactly remember what I said but I did not mince words, that's for sure. It just can not be, that we have 10 attempts and don't go ahead … not even when the goal is presented to us on a silver platter …

I don't know if it was my yelling at the team or if they were shell-shocked after the penalty but in the second half we remained in complete shut-down … It is amazing but the extended highlights don't show one single situation … I have tried substitutions but all that did not help and yeah … that's exactly how the game ended … like there never was a second half.


This was definitely our worst game so far. We really gave away the penalty and did not even challenge Boston in the second half. I was deeply disappointed with how we just gave it up … this is unacceptable. While I don't understand the lack of spirit I will admit that my decision-making was probably not at it's best here. In the future I will make sure to send out a more experienced starting eleven, plan my substitutions ahead and maybe try to control my feelings a little bit more because putting pressure on 18-20 year old players is very borderline and ranting at the press conference will eventually result in a fine – this time the FA decided to issue a warning. Lesson learned

BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited

08th September 2012
Match report #7

Oxford City - Altrincham


After a humiliating loss against Boston Utd it's time to come back to Court Place Farm and erase the bad impression we have made on our home-crowd just 4 days ago. After putting it under careful consideration I guess I have to take responsibility for our poor performance, especially in the second half. Not only did I fail to motivate the team, but I also stuck with the 4141 that - yes - creates a lot of situations, but it does not force attacks, especially with the right WM situation. I had the option open to go 41221 with Barcelos on the left and Cook on the right, putting lots of pressure on the Boston defense, but so far we have not used it for 1 minute and that's probably what kept me from taking it under consideration. This brings us to the most important tactical conclusion I have come to so far: when being behind don't lose time on sticking to a solid game plan, that has potential flaws in it's attacking department. Don't get me wrong – I still think our standard game plan and pragmatic approach in general is killer, but in certain scenarios you just have to go balls to the walls and this is what I have missed. Instead of gaining 40 minutes of 41221 experience, possibly winning the game and boosting morale I just … yeah, I did not do anything to change the situation. Not only did we lose, but also we have not gained any new experience and this is perhaps the biggest loss – not the one point but 45 minutes of senior squad time and money thrown out the window.

Nevertheless today is a new day and we have a chance to prove that the 0-1 was just a minor slip. The opposition is Altrincham, who so far have won 3 and lost 3 – I will be very happy to add to the second figure, especially that 2 losses where put to them when away. I have decided that the following group of players will start the game:

The first and most important difference here is Paul Stonehouse back on the left side again and I will not repeat the mistake of putting him in LD ever again because it's a waste of his abilities. This is especially true since we have enough central/limited defenders to rotate through. The other difference is bringing in some more experience in midfield – Liam Malone – and a dedicated WM – Nick Stanley – instead of Jamie Cook, who should be put to action in a more advanced position. Let's see how that works out!


Both sides started the game really up to the task and for the first 10 minutes it was all about taking supremacy in midfield. While we kept our side of the pitch clean by outnumbering any attack, Altrincham kept really good formation and didn't give us any space for passing between defensive and midfield lines. At first it looked like we had to keep pushing over the flanks to have Altrincham drop deeper but that would not work because of the opposition doubling our WM.

We remained in the deadlock for the next 15 minutes. After that, in 16th minute, we had a goal kick and it went to D. Benjamin who headed in to B. Quinn standing on the right side of the mid circle. This was the first time when Altrincham allowed some more space between the lines where S. Basham was in very good position to receive a pass but actually it was not only him – there were many passes possible but Quinn went for the most attacking one – first touch to S. Basham. This resulted in both midfield lines running at the Altrincham goal, but is was ours – with C. McNish in particular – that ran faster. Then the Altrincham central defenders made a serious mistake, both attacking Basham and leaving a huge gap open for McNish to run into. Basham – now in possession of the ball – turned right, saw McNish running into the open space and sent the ball to him and from there it was only a split second for McNish to score the early 1-0 in the 16th minute. While the attack was very good structured and consistent with our tactic, the right Altrincham CM certainly contributed to our success.

Later the game went on in the same fashion as before. Neither side created a serious advantage or threat near goal but slowly it was us to build up advantage in midfield. In the 36th minute we were again attacking: after the ball was sent to Paul Stonehouse the game shifted to the left side of the pitch and L. Malone followed the action, leaving his Altrincham counterpart behind. When Malone got the ball he was already so much up the pitch that the right Altrincham CM – Danny Hall – felt it was his time to take charge of the situation. Once again however his covering left an Oxford attacker – S. Basham – alone in the danger zone and after the ball was passed to him he put it passed the goalkeeper to score the 2-0 for us. Again great consequence in punishing Altrincham for their defending mistakes … I don't know the exact player roles but it looks like Danny Hall was in charge of covering our attacker and the other defender – Gianluca Havern – in staying behind and taking care of anything that went past. Obviously Altrincham had serious problems in filling out the resulting gap and we kept punishing them for it.

The next situation occurred already in the second half – precisely in the 55th minute. After a corner from the left the ball was cleared out of the box but not out of danger, because S. Basham was already waiting for it. After taking control of the ball he fired it towards the right side of the goal but it was deflected and turned to the left side of the goal, leaving the goalkeeper in no position to keep us from scoring the 3-0 for Oxford!


After the third goal the win was in the bag and we brought it home. What is weird this time we had only 6 attempts at goal and limited Altrincham to 2 attempts – eventful is certainly different. This is also reflected by the possession stats – Altrincham did a good job in keeping us away from their box but when they failed to do so, it always resulted in very good chances that we took – so what a come back after the loss against Boston hmmm? The only negative thing from this match is that now we have our first injured player - Aynsley McDonald who is not coming back until November, currently undergoing treatment for a sprained ankle. Thank you for your interest, see you next game!

BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited

15th September 2012
Match report #8

Harrogate - Oxford City


Hi there, how is your life today? Today we are playing away again and our opposition are Harrogate. After the last couple of games I have drawn some conclusions regarding the starting eleven and so I sent out the following group of players:

So we have Janes as right WM, my staple CM's and Paul Stonehouse on the left – set to attacking mentality. Unfortunately – and I have noticed it just now – I forgot to put the bench on that pic: Tittcomb, Skendi, Stanley, Gunn and Holgate. I give myself the following options: Skendi (more attacking) and Gunn (more defensive) as CM, Gunn also being able to jump in for DM and LD. Then there is Holgate as an option for both Basham and Janes, Tittcomb as substitute for both FB. And finally Stanley who in case of injury can come in for Stonehouse. As usual we start standard and rigid and depending of the match dynamics will go counter or attacking. Enjoy!


Surprisingly, the game started really intense but it was not us to attack! For the first 15 minutes Harrogate pinned us to our box and they managed to build up 65% of ball possession. Every time we got the ball, they would attack furiously to regain it but except for one ball hitting the bar in the 8th minute, they somehow struggled with the finishing. Nevertheless I was shocked by this … force of nature and immediately went for counter attacking. The plan was to survive the first minutes and then take over control of the situation. Impressive start by Harrogate.

After the initial storm the game settled a little bit. However Harrogate were doing a good job in keeping us from attacking. They were going after Stonehouse like crazy and won lots of balls kicked out by our goalie. It was clear that we will have to be very careful in defense (especially when Harrogate were attacking over the flanks) and put the button on taking their energy by gaining possession and having them run after the ball.

In the 19th and the 21st minute Harrogate launched two very similar and dangerous attacks over the flanks. After sending the ball to the middle it was Allan who headed it at goal – once wide and once into the hands of Ingramm. We on the other hand remained harmless in front of their goal but slowly kept building presence in midfield. The only time when Oxford City were somewhat dangerous was in the early 30ies, when after an unlucky attack by Basham, we had two corners – unfortunately none of them would seriously threaten the score.

The positives from the first half were, that we kept them from scoring, and came back to 53% ball possession. While the stats indicate, that we had more than twice as many attempts on goal as Harrogate, the home team was much closer to scoring, so the pressure was still on us.

After making some changes in the team (see match facts above) we kept getting better and that was especially due to Albi Skendi, who kept collecting long passes in midfield. One of this situations resulted in a long range attempt by Paul Stonehouse (67th minute), that went just wide of the left post – finally it was us to dictate the tempo. Harrogate were way less dangerous in front of the goal but they kept on tackling like there was no tomorrow and I guess they got what they wanted – Albi Skendi injured and of the pitch. After the game was over it turned out, that his injury is very serious and that he will not be coming back for at least half a year. Fantastic … now I actually have my first injury problem.

Since that made me really angry I have decided to go for a … kind of childish reaction: I set tight marking, closing down and hard tackling on the two yellow carded Harrogate players who put my players health at jeopardy. The goal was to pay back in the same fashion or to get them red-carded. Unfortunately neither one goal was reached.

After Skendi went off the game came to a halt for both sides. There were two more situations: a freekick for us (72nd) and a positional attack (78th) for Harrogate but neither side was able to get it on target. For the last 2 minutes of the game I went for attacking mentality, because Harrogate had one player off the pitch due to a minor injury but that did not help us to create a good situation and so the game ended 0-0.


After all I'm satisfied with my teams performance. We managed to withhold a storm of attacks in the first half and later got back really good. Our attacking efforts were once again mediocre but when assessing this you have to see the circumstances – Harrogate were really aggressive and did not care for health – I don't know how the FA puts up with this but to me there is a difference between strong challenges and sending somebody to hospital for half a year. If a player can not control his aggression … well then he should get fined. I mean seriously, when I am aggressive at the press center nobody is getting hurt and they still issue warnings, so what is this? Double standards? Coming back to the game I will say this result is rather positive, 0-0 away is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when it's the home side who gives so much action. Hopefully we will be equally determined as Harrogate, when it's time to play our next game at Court Place Farm.


The amount of writing is immense, such detail! Good Luck with trying to get them to the Prem!
This is really good so far, keep it up! The amount of detail is incredible.
Wow, this is really good! This deserves more comments than it's getting!
The amount of detail in this story is amazing! The quality of writing is brilliant as well!
Absolutely immense writing here mate, how you put so much time and effort into your updates is beyond me!
Just read this! I cant believe how amazing this is! Some really really good work here!
If only I could write like this :O
This is awesome. Hope to get to read more of this :)
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


tallery1164: Thank you for your reply! I will try my best to finish the season in the top5. It's gonna be a hard job, because right now it's only me trying, the team really isn't :D

Jonaldinho: Thank you for your reply :D

AlexTHFC: Thanks for the reply! You are not really from Vanuatu, are you? :D

Jack: Hey thanks! I will do my best to keep it that way.

JoshMU: Hey, nice to see you again! Well, it's not exactly pure joy when the team is under-performing but the positive feedback helps a lot!

AS4: Hey thanks!!! I'll do my best to keep the Oxford City board satisfied, because it's them who decide about how long this thing will be rolling :)

18th September 2012
Match report #9

Oxford City - Corby


And it's another glorious day in the history of Oxford City! After the last 4 matches I think it's time to finally get back on the winners track in the BSN and is there a better team to win against than Corby? This year their performance has been rather average, with 3 wins and 3 defeats, we on the other hand slipped only twice, produced some impressive scores and are the dark horse of the competition. Ahhh and there is another good reason to bring back the momentum: this week the FA held the FA Cup draw ceremony for the second qualifying round and we were matched with … Paulton. Who are Paulton? I don't have a clue. When is it gonna happen? In four days. Where? In Paulton which is somewhere in the Bath area. What's the stake? Advancing in the FA Cup and winning 4.5k – this is big time! After this a win in the next round is good for 7.5k … just think about it!

Ok … let's not go there just yet. First we have to thrash Corby and to achieve this I will send out the following eleven:

And once again I forgot to put the bench into the picture. It consists of P. Stonehouse, M. Lonsdale, N. Stanley, A. Gunn and F. Barcelos. As u can see I keep all my options open here and there is even a chance that my formation will end in 41221 – all the resources are there! The goal is really dominating Corby for 90 minutes, scoring more goals than the opposition and adding 3 more points to our name – nothing more/less. So without further ado, let's jump to the action!.


And it's another game, another first 10 minutes and another time I'm happy to see that we are really up for the task – keeping the opposition at bay like it was nothing. While we sometimes fail at scoring, the defending part always works incredibly well – the same today.

27 minutes into the game we created the first useful situation: after intercepting a long pass on our side of the pitch A. Learoyd went for a long kick-out. The ball went went over the mid-line and landed on A. Holgate's head, who passed it to my young advanced playmaker M. Lonsdale in the middle. Somehow Corby managed to bring both defense and midfield back to their side of the pitch, not allowing us too many options (5 against 8) but Lonsdale saw L. Malone passing by his right and sent the ball to the other CM who went for the direct pass to A. Holgate in front. Unfortunately our long range specialist failed to aim at goal and so … Corby where given a throw in hahahahaha. Yes that's right: attempt from 20 meters ends with a throw in.

After that the game went on just as well as it started. Corby were limited to some possession in midfield and no space at all in front of our goal. Just as in the last game our finishing was really poor – Holgate put another ball wide in the 35th minute – but at this point I was quite confident, that we would eventually get there, especially with overwhelming supremacy in midfield.

And my team would not fail in surprising my – with Oxford City it's always something. In the 37th minute the Corby right WM R. Semple apparently lost his mind and went for a long shot from the mid-line. I'm not sure what this was supposed to be - pass or attempt on goal - but the ball went nice and gently straight into the arms of M. Ingramm and … most surprisingly also out of his arms! Yes, he failed to lock it. While that alone was not a problem, the opposition striker few steps in front of him certainly was and that escalated quickly to another real problem – a goal for Corby, putting them 0-1 ahead. What a joke … seriously. And I thought I ate enough doodoo the last couple games, with the Skendi injury, all the controversial referee decisions and missed clear cut situations – now this!

Again a strange but well-known situation: way better, way more possession, way more attempts and still – chasing the draw. We kept pushing with some nice attempts by A. Holgate in the 40th and 43rd minute but the curse of missing when it really matters … well, it looks like that is a permanent state.

Just moments before the brake D. Benjamin surprised me – this time not by putting it wide but by finishing a counter attack really sharp, aiming for the near post. Unfortunately the opposition goalie did not sleep and deflected it out of bounds. What a surprise – Benjamin actually is able to hit the target. After that we got two corners but did not profit from the chances.

Again I have to say that the first half was a huge disappointment. When you have 67% possession, when you allow he opposition only one attempt, and when you shoot 11 times but still lose 0-1 … seriously, you would rather be at the dentists. I just don't know how to comment on that, so I will jump to the measures I took to bring us back. Long story short, it was time to go into relentless attacking mode, so I tweaked my formations to this:

in the hope that we will keep on gunning hard in the second half.

The substitutions turned out to be a good idea. Corby were more than satisfied with their one goal lead and did not even try to fight for more so the second half was all about us building up and attacking – not a single Corby attempt on goal.

In fact I will keep the second half report fairly short, because I still can't take the pain. The first highlight or THE highlight of the 2nd half took place in the 50th minute. After an „emergency tackle” just outside the box - I am talking millimeters here - we were given a freekick. B. Quinn hit it, the ball deflected from one of our players, who was standing in front of the wall (??), turned left and landed on J. Harris running path, who SCOOOOOORRRRREEEEEEED! Finally! So imagine: 50th minute goal, lots of time to go, everybody goes bananas and suddenly the referee blows his whistle for offside. What offside? Where? Go ahead, have a look:

So this is offside. Here I captured the moment when the ball made it's last contact with one of my players, before it went to Harris. Please correct me if I'm wrong but what offside? Where? Seriously … this is not an in-game situation – it's a freekick!!! How do you make such a mistake in a static situation? Is there a „bribe referee” option in FM13 that I'm not aware of?

We kept on pushing really hard, Corby kept on defending really hard and finally we got another freekick in the 67th minute. This time A. Holgate executed it and scored the equalizer for 1-1. After that we kept 5 players in attacking mode but failed to score and so the game ended 1-1. %&#*$!!!!!!


You can probably imagine how furious I was after the game. I just don't understand how we sometimes squeeze out 3 goals out of 6 situations in one game and than – in the next game - miss 19 out of 20 times. Then there is also the refereeing … don't get me wrong: when you miss so many times you should not complain about a decision by the referee but it's the 3 wrong/controversial decision against us in the 4th game and I feel like we were robbed 4 points. When we win, we do so by 2 or 3 goals so it does not matter but why does it always has to happen when for some reason the game is really tight or when we struggle to beat a bum? I just want to forget about this match … so bad. The only good news is, that we kept attacking in the second half, so the formation with two IF works.

Another great update and that is definitely not an offside :P
This offside situation reminds me of a fantastic video I have seen on youtube. Since it's a similar spot - stakes a lil bit different though - I would like to share it with you guys:

Tell me ... whyyyyyy :D
Wow, I think the refs are either biased or blind, some serious justice needs to be dished out. Also out of interest have you got a parent club as that can help bring in some extra funds.keep up the great detail :)
Hello Bart, half way done reading your story, or what exists of it so far. But I must stop for the moment and extend my first impression. I like how you go into great detail of the thinking behind your decisions for line up, tactics, etc. And you have opened my eyes to a whole new world of analytics that I ignored in the game previously. I must compliment you for your writing as well, especially after I realised that English is your second language. I'm very impressed and will be following your Oxford City exploits diligently. Keep up the good work!
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


captainbrickarms: Yeah, that was a really baffling decision against us. There really should be a protest in-game to the ref/post-game to the FA option. I have tried to find another parent club (Oxford City comes affiliated with Oxford United) but unfortunately my board was not able to find another club interested in such a deal. I will elaborate on this topic in the next monthly report!

Arch Mon: Wooow, I am really proud and happy that my writing actually helps you to better your game. Whenever I read comments like yours I immediately wanna sit down and write the next match report :)

Random announcements #1
Picture taken from Lower League Management - The spiritual home of mediocrity at the forums

Hello guys! It’s just two more games and September is over:

A FA Cup qualifying round against Paulton. This one I have already played and I think the match report will be really cool because I have decided to mix it up a little bit and … forget about it, no spoilers! I will however say this: it’s gonna be more than just highlights commentary!

A BSN fixture against the lions from Guisley. After a couple of disappointing results this one is really important to me and the team. A win would boost our self-confidence and put us in a top league table position, while another draw or defeat could mean a serious set-back in the competition and give me severe anxiety attacks.

As you can see the next two games are crossroads and will have a big impact on our season, so brace yourself! Right now I am on holidays at my parents place, my PC is about 400 km away and so the next match report is not going to be up before Thursday I think. I will however use this time to write some material for the next monthly report and therefor would like YOU to give me some suggestions on what topics I should elaborate. Also, if you have a good idea for another section in the monthly report (now we have results, statisticians and strategists corner, the music corner, words of football wisdom and stuff to work on in …) please let me know. Also if you don’t agree with stuff I have brought up please let me know, because, next to failure, calling something into question is the best path to progress … and I don’t want to fail :)

Stuff I’m planning to tackle:

PrtSc of all first team player informations and some comments,
strategies for writing in deep detail,
parent clubs in LLM.

Thanks in advance for your input!

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