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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


Who am I and why am I here?

Hi, my name is Bart. Yes, like Bart Simpson. About one year ago a friend of mine first introduced me to FM12 and awoke my interest in the FM-series. In general, the more complicated a game, the more I like it, and since FM looked quite complicated and I love football I decided to give it a try. A couple weeks later I bought a copy of FM13 and guess what … I discovered the true meaning of the word failing. Failing badly. Failing beyond my wildest nightmares of failing. But that would not stop me. I started reading the articles, forums, web-pages, guides and here I am: entering the world of FM13 lower league management.

What is my vision?

First of all: when you are a complete beginner the game is just so big and complicated, that you don't really know what to do. You think about it, read some guides, try this and that but still – you struggle. After reading the 999'th guide for newbies I felt like that is not what I'm looking for: I don't like buying players/staff that other guys discovered, downloading tactics other players created and so on. This is not how I would like to play the game. Instead, I came up with the idea – or vision so to speak – to create my own guide for newbies. Yes that's right. I'm gonna play the game based on my intuition, stuff I've read and your feedback!

How is this going to work?

In my posts I will try to cover every single decision in-game, report the matches, share my ideas and explain my thought process. You on the other hand will – hopefully – make comments on my managing, like/dislike my ideas, explain why so, perhaps give advice on stuff I don't bring up and influence my decision-making.

How am I going to report?

I will do my best to report regularly: every week or every second week. Since my playing style is rather slow (already started and watch every game full length) this is not gonna be like 1 post – 1 season. Per post you should not expect more then 2 weeks in-game.

What is my team and why?

I have started a save with Oxford City. Why? I like the idea of LLM. But why Oxford City? Well because I like their history. No, that's a lie. Because they have potential. Yeah right … potential problems ahead. The thing is I don't know much about English football below PL but when I play fifa on PS3 I usually pick Oxford United – for no good reason. Going through the list of BSN teams in FM13 I discovered Oxford City and immediately thought like … I wanna fight my way up to league 2 and give United hell in the derby. This was my sole reason for picking City. Good one, no? Once I get there I will reevaluete my motivation – it's a long shot but whatever :D

Ok I think that's it for the first post. If you already have some questions or suggestions – shot!

Current BSN league table and upcoming matches

Table of contents


August 2012


BSN: Oxford City 1 - 3 Chester
BSN: Gloucester 0 - 4 Oxford City
BSN: Solihull Moors 0 - 1 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 3 - 0 Worcester

Monthly report #1

September 2012

BSN: Halifax FC 1 - 1 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 0 - 1 Boston Utd
BSN: Oxford City 3 - 0 Altrincham
BSN: Harrogate 0 - 0 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 1 - 1 Corby
FA Cup: Paulton 0 - 3 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 3 - 0 Guiseley

Random announcements #1

Monthly report #2

October 2012

Addendum to the monthly report #2

BSN: Hinckley 0 - 4 Oxford City
FA Cup: Chalfont St. Peter 0 - 4 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 3 - 0 Workington
FA Cup: Oxford City 1 - 2 Newport County
BSN: Vauxhall 0 - 1 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 0 - 1 Stalybridge
BSN: Bishop's Strotford 1 - 2 Oxford City

Monthly report #3

November 2012

BSN: Colwyn Bay 3 - 0 Oxford City
FA Trophy: Oxford City 2 - 0 Wimborne
BSN: Corby 2 - 2 Oxford City
FA Trophy: Oxford City 1 - 1 Hinckley
FA Trophy: Oxford City 0 - 2 Hinckley

Monthly report #4

December 2012

BSN: Oxford City 1 - 0 Droylsden
BSN: Bradford PA 1 - 0 Oxford City
BSN: Chester 2 - 4 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 1 - 0 Histon
BSN: Brackley 1 - 1 Oxford City
BSN: Boston Utd 1 - 0 Oxford City

Monthly report #5

January 2013

BSN: Oxford City 2 - 0 Brackley
BSN: Oxford City 4 - 0 Vauxhall
BSN: Oxford City 0 - 0 Halifax FC
BSN: Guiseley 2 - 2 Oxford City
BSN: Stalybridge 1 - 1 Oxford City

February 2013

BSN: Oxford City 0 - 0 Hinckley
BSN: Workington 0 - 1 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 0 - 0 Gloucester
BSN: Histon 1 - 2 Oxford City

March 2013

BSN: Altrincham 0 - 0 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 0 - 0 Gainsborough
BSN: Oxford City 0 - 0 Bradford PA
BSN: Colwyn Bay 1 - 1 Oxford City
BSN: Oxford City 2 - 0 Solihull Moors

Next results coming soon...
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


A view of the Oxford City FC gates inside Court Place Farm Stadium. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/The FA via Getty Images

Hello everybody!

I guess it's time for the first proper post. Today I'm gonna cover the pre-season step by step. Originally I wanted to split this into 2-3 posts and go into detail with the friendlies but I don't like the idea anymore because I'm already 2 fixtures into the season and don't want to be chasing it too much.

Assessing the staff

So I started of by checking the staff and what I found was rather suboptimal. Oxford City comes with an assistant coach, one coach, one goalkeeping coach, one physio and a chief scout. Unfortunately only the goalkeeping coach is worth keeping. In fact, I think Alan Judge is a true gem for a BSN team:

goalkeepers 17
technical 9
determination 11
motivating 10

His 8 at working with youngsters is so-so, 7 at level of discipline also does not blow my mind but the guy is only £100 per week and his scouting knowledge includes Wales so I'm rather happy with him on board.

The assistant coach – Stuart Peace – has his pluses on the mental side but with these coaching skills he might just as well go ahead and coach badminton or curling. No … curling he could not because his tactical knowledge is a 3 and his tactical coaching is a 4. Without a doubt he has to go.

The other coach – Andy Sinnot – also does not look too good. Yes, he has 10 at attacking, 11 at determination but that's just about it. Anything below 7 is rather unacceptable I think.

The physio – Alan Simpson – has 5 at physiotherapy and if you calculated the average of his other “skills” you would probably land somewhere close to 2 so there is no way I can keep him.

My scout – Colin Miller – must be a mental sibling of the physio: 4/4 at judging tells me that he has no idea what his job is about, and the average of the rest of his “skills” is like 1,5 so on your bike and back to wherever you're from.

Terminating the contracts ranges from £3k to £4.5k a piece – for a BSN club this is a hefty chunk of money but it's well spent money. When searching for new staff I was looking for free agents and judging them by the same criteria I used to assess the original staff. The people I found might not the brightest stars in the sky over Oxford but they seem to have at least some idea about what they are doing. In the spoilers below you will find some charts that will help you compare the before/after teams. Should you be interested in particular stats please let me know.

Assessing the team

To check the quality of my team I referred to the team depth chart. What I found was no defense, some room for improvement in midfield and the striking department:

In general I'm really happy with the results. The first to wins where no surprise – I sent out my two strongest teams and they delivered. Against Hendon I gave some newcomers a try – again, it's all about match fitness - the result was a really disappointing defense and 3 goals against me. I was not too worried though because we also had plenty of chances, hit the woodwork like twice and did not get thrashed too bad. The loss against Oxford City Nomads goes into the same category albeit it was 50% of disappointment and 50% embarrassment. The second half of the friendly campaign I tested the 4141 formation with good/really good results. Especially keeping Coventry at bay at their own stadium was an impressive achievement. We perhaps never really had a chance to score but neither did Coventry and to be honest – 0-0 against a League 1 side is way more important then any 4-0 against weaker teams. We closed the campaign with a walk against RC Warwick.

The team works – I can not wait for the first BSN match against Chester! Should you be interested in other details please let me know, I will be happy to answer all your questions.
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited

18th of August 2012
Match report #1

Oxford City 1-3 Chester


Welcome everybody to the first Oxford City FC match report of the BSN season 2012/2013. We got to inaugurate the season home against a 442 by Chester. My first impression of the opposition was that we'll really have to bring up our A-game to fight them because in general their players are way stronger than our guys - especially midfield and up. This also reflects in their wages – only the midfield 4 and 1 striker earn more per week than I'm allowed to spend on my entire squad. Which brings us right to their biggest threat and striker Nathan Jarman. This guy might not have to most impressive physical stats but a work rate of 17, a determination of 18, aggression of 19 and finishing of 13 spell a lot of work for my defenders. To this you can add a very solid midfield lead by a really talented and creative 20 year old CM Antoni Sarcevic. I consider them the heart and liver of Chester.

To be frank with you, I was not sure how to approach this game. It was the first match of the season, the morale of my guys were really good, no injured players, some journalist favoring us ... hell, even the weather was good. In the end – perhaps a little bit overenthusiastic – I choose to go with a 442 consisting of:


The plan was to come out gunning really aggressive for the first 30 minutes and snatch an early goal from a hopefully surprised Chester side. After that I could bring in a DM for Felipe Barcelos and try to keep the opposition at bay with the same tactic that worked so well against Coventry. That being said we started the game really nervous – as did Chester. The first 15 minutes were a display of misplaced passes, long passes out of bounds and both sides struggling to keep possession longer than 5 passes. Perhaps the most annoying thing was our long passing out of defense – just horrible to watch, no plan whatsoever.

In the 15th minute we had our first chance: Barcelos played a quick one-two with our DLF, ran into the box, was merely touched by the CM and decided it was not the time for his high acceleration and pace but for a dive. Ball goes behind the line, the reff is running towards the box, I'm grabbing popcorn and a coke for the penalty ... and we get a yellow card. Ooooohhh that's a BINGO!

Just 5 minutes later something rather unexpected happened. Following a freekick by their goalie Chester got to push the ball back and forth in front of my box, then they went to the right and thanks to a complete black out of my FB put their winger into action. After 3-4 steps he decided to make a low sharp cross to the near post. There my – considered to be rock solid – CB Paul Stonehouse did not really feel like running and got overtaken by Jarman who is good enough not to miss from 5 meters - 0-1 in the 20th minute of the match. For a couple of minutes I was shocked by the collective break down of my defense.

Luckily that did not really impress/depress the guys as much as me. We kept on fighting for supremacy in the middle of the pitch, limited Chester to shots from long range and well – struggled to create anything useful in front of their goal. By the 30th minute the long passes from deep started really annoying me so I issued the play out of defense shout which worked pretty good I guess. For the next game I think I should consider limiting the entire defensive line to short passing.

The last semi-highlight of the first half came in the 41th minute when after a long pass from deep Stonehouse cleared the ball with his head right in front of Chesters Scott Phelan who decided to put his finishing of 3 and first touch of 8 into action. The volleyed ball put a dent into the woodwork and landed behind the goal. The mistakes of my defense – especially by Stonehouse – started to worry me. Since I have not seen anything useful from Barcelos I subed him for a more ball playing atacker Ashan Holgate.

During the brake I explained to the team that this mustn’t go on and that everybody expects much more in the second half. I also decided not to sub Stonehouse just yet but to give him a little private feedback on his performance which he accepted with a positive response.

We started the second half a little bit better than the first half. During the first 10 minutes way less balls were lost due to useless clearances OOB albeit sometimes even the most easy and short passes resulted in loss of possession. At that point I really started to regret I did not send out a 4141.

Then came the 54th minute. Another misunderstanding between my wide midfielder and CM ended in loss of possession and a Chester run on the right flank. After running down to the line Dave Hankin put in a cross and again my defense failed miserably. The ball went past 1, 2, 3 defenders to a lonely McGinn standing next to the far post who had no problem scoring into an empty goal, making it 0-2. Another incredible fail of my defense.

After that we had 35 more minutes to repair the damage so I decided to give the attacking mentality a try.

In the 64th minute we got to see a silver lining in the clouds. My guys were attacking from the left side, a cross went into the box and after clearing landed in front of my CM Callum McNish who scored from 25 yards, making it 1:2 – after all we were still in the game.

In the 73rd minute I subed a fatigued looking newcomer Max Lonsdale out for a fresh Albi Skendi and went for all or nothing with the overload mentality.

My team managed to put pressure on Chester with a couple of attempts on their goal but ultimately it was Chester who sealed the outcome of the match. In the 82nd minute we lost possession another time and got punished for the lack of concentration. Over 2 stations the ball went to Tony Gray who did not hesitate and did the Ibrahimovic - beating our goalie with a attempt 25 meters away from the target. Again Stonehouse kind of failed fulfilling his duties as CB and looked more like an uninterested spectator.


That really sealed the outcome of the fixture. Was it a bad game? Well the result certainly was. Apart from that I can not really blame it on the team. While Paul Stonehouse certainly put in a really disappointing performance and played his part in 2 goals against us, the rest goes on my plate I guess. Apart from setting up a 442 I also sent out Max Lonsdale who just recently joined us and perhaps needs a little bit more time to really blend into the team. The rest of the guys played an ok game so I'm not too worried about the result. If it was us to score the second goal we could have probably saved the draw and snatched one point from an obviously superior team. So what does that tell me? Well – first of all, follow your guts and use the 4141 in the next game. The next important lesson is not to send out players who still need to work on their match fitness.

Below you can find the match facts.

[spoiler=Overview and match stats][/spoiler]
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited

21st of August 2012
Match report #2

Gloucester 0-4 Oxford City


Welcome to the pre-match section of today’s BSN Oxford City match report. After a very disappointing loss against Chester we were to play against Gloucester. As this was the second match of the season there already was some information on the opposition – they took a nice little beating, away against Gainsborough, loosing 4-0. How come such a bad start into the season? Well the answer seems to be the 6 injured players. That's right – six players fell victim to the pre-season friendlies. To make this even more funny 4 out of 6 injured players are strikers. For me this was a “fist-pump yes” – especially with the poor defence against Chester still on my mind. But what's left of Gloucester? Well, certainly their bull of a CM – Lewis Hogg. I haven't seen him in-game but a strength of 19, a stamina of 18, natural fitness of 16, work rate of 15, teamwork of 17, determination of 19, bravery of 14, aggression of 17 and ok passing, tackling,finishing and dribbling ... what is he actually doing here? Apart from him I could not really find other reasons to be to scared.

After the last game I re-evaluated my team and tactics. What really did not work that day? Certainly, my defence did not have their best day. After the match I had a talk with Paul Stonehouse and was assured that something like this will not happen again. So far so good. Then of course – playing out of deep. We had way too many losses of possession because of the long passes going everywhere but where they were supposed to land. The first measure to tackle this problem was setting the central defenders to limited defenders. As for the full backs I decided to let them asses the situation themselves – ballsy – and ordered automatic FB duties. My go to left full back – on loan from Gloucester – was not allowed to play, so I decided to move Stonehouse to his original position and give Mills a try. Now the first big difference – we went for 4141 – so there was a DM. This position was given to Barry Quinn. He might not be Sergio Busquets but does have really solid physical and mental skills and could maybe show as good as he did against Coventry in the friendly. My midfield consisted of the staple players Stanley, McNish and Malone with Holgate on the right WM position, attacking mode. My only striker this day was Jamie Cook. Below you can find the formation:


The match started how I expected it to start – with lots of control on our side and next to no aggressive actions from Gloucester. My defenders would not misplace as many passes as they did in the last game and there was way more concentration in offensive passing. Keeping the opposition out of our half and seeing them struggle to create anything useful we kept on pressing for the first 30 minutes.

The first semi-highlight of the game was again an early yellow card – this time for the Gloucester defender Chris Holland who barged our striker in the back.

Our offensive efforts would not let us wait for results to long. In the 30th minute the opposition goalie threw the ball to his left FB who – like we did so many times against Chester – decided to clear it away with no idea where it's gonna land. Luckily the ball went straight to our DM who decided to head it to our striker Cook. About 25 meters in front of the goal Cook went for a first touch pass into space between the opposition defending and midfield line. There the ball was received by our offensive minded WM Ashan Holgate who cut to the middle and after a couple meters passed it back to Cook, who – with his back facing the goal – decided it was gonna be a one-two and put Holgate in the perfect position to score his first goal in this season and for Oxford City, just from outside the box. Beautiful! Very nice play!

The last 15 minutes of the first half went really good for us. Gloucester had perhaps one attempt on goal but failed miserably. Going into the break between halfs I was really happy with my team – not only because of the lead, but because of well organised and calm football. I gave them a calm pep talk and instructed to go ahead with the same attitude.

The second half started with a more fresh Gloucester – they must have been given one hell of a speech in the break! While they still struggled to create anything dangerous in front of my goal, they would tackle really rough and for 10 minutes or so all our attacks ended with freekicks, freekicks and more freekicks.

As my team would become somewhat less and less attacking I decided to go for a substitution. Since Holgate was really active and having a good day I decided to switch him with Cook, who in the 51st minute went off and got replaced by our go-to right WM Declan Benjamin. 10 minutes later I subbed a tired Callum McNish against Albi Skendi . My hope was to score another goal, just to make the lead more comfortable.

Holgate would not disappoint me. After missing his first attempt – a clear cut chance, incredible miss – he knew better in the 78 minute. Our goalkeeper kicked out to CM Skendi who headed the ball to our fresh WM, Declan Benjamin. He saw a gap in the defensive line of Gloucester and sent the ball into the area. Holgate immediately knew what was going on, charged into space and fired it from just outside the box to give us the well deserved 0-2. I really like how he took advantage of the position switch and paid back with this not so obvious goal.

After that we switched to a counter tactic and just 4 minutes later had another shot at Gloucesters goal. This time it was also our goalkeeper who started the action after another ball out of bounds. The long ball to the right flank was headed into space in the middle and there received by charging Malone. Due to being closed down by two players, he decided to pass it back to Skendi in the middle. Skendi saw Holgate running past his marker and decided to lob the ball into the box. Holgate went for goal but the ball deflected of the goalie just outside the box where Malone was already waiting for his chance - 0-3 for Oxford City! Great consequence by Malone and amazing overview by Skendi!

That was not our last word though! In the 88th minute Skendi intercepted a misplaced pass on our side of the pitch. Since the area was heavily crowded he passed the ball to Stanley who did not hesitate and played a long pass behind the oppositions defending line – and there – again Ashan Holgate. The Gloucester goalie saw another clear cut chance coming, rushed out and cleared the ball ... to the middle!!! Malone put in another run and volleyed it from 30 meters to score the well deserved 0-4. What an incredible mistake by Thompson! Amazing ten minutes of direct, fast and vigilant football!


After the game the team probably could not wait to hear my words in the changing room. I praised their performance with passionate words and tapped myself on the shoulder – great decisions, very good result! I think this game and the friendlies won in the pre-season fixtures tell us a lot about this team: when we are better than our opposition we don't stop after one goal and we win when we have to. That being said there is no reason to overvalue the result. Just like we did not deserve to lose 1-3 in the first game, we certainly are not the team that is gonna embarrass home sides 0-4. After all Gloucester definitely suffers from not being able to send out 6 players – I don't even wanna think about what it means to have 6 injured players that early into season. Also I don't like the fact that we had only 9 attempts on goal – we will have to work on that. For the next fixture we will give the 4141 another try and take it from there. Ah, of course – man of the match goes to Ashan Holgate with an impressive 9.3 and 2 goals to his name!

[spoiler=Overview and match stats][/spoiler]
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited

25th August 2012
Match report #3

Solihull Moors 0-1 Oxford City


After a long brake me and my Oxford City are back with the 3rd match report – this time we played against Solihull Moors. Let's start with Solihull’s performance in the first two fixtures of the season. In the first game they suffered a 0-2 away lose against Colwyn Bay, to come back with a 1-0 win home against Corby – that does not say much. The journalists favour a draw, so I presume an open game with points to earn. To achieve this I decided to stick with the 4141:

This formation should not be a surprise to anybody. I have decided to put Paul Stonehouse back on his favourite position – perhaps, he will be able to contribute to our attacking efforts down the left flank. Also Asham Holgate got another chance as WM on the right side. Frankly I'm not too happy with the right WM situation. Except for Felipe Barcelos we lack pacey wingers, who could fill this gap. His skills on the other hand – textbook poacher - are not really versatile but the guy is only 18 years old and has some future potential. Our opposition went with a 433 so I am pretty confident, that we will be able to overcrowd the danger area and surprise them with some counters attacks. Let's not lose any more time and go over straight to the game.


The game started really good for us – from the first whistle the guys kept a well structured formation and limited the opposition to very nervous attacks that would not cause any danger … not even chances. And we did not even have to wait too long for the results of their nervous play – after an unnecessary foul in the 5th minute we were given a freekick from about 35 meters. Nick Stanley sent the ball into the middle of the box occupied by many possible receivers – very confusing for the goalkeeper – and Basham went for a header to the long end of the goal – resulting in an early lead 0-1 for Oxford City! So far – so good!

The next attack worth mentioning also featured Basham – this time on a counter attack. After an opposition throw-in we started pressing really strong and Paul Stonehouse managed to win the ball on our half. He passed it first touch to McNish, who saw Malone charging up the pitch. The ball went to Malone who did not stop running – putting the opposition CM in a tough spot – should he cover our striker Steve Basham, who was running at the goal or attack the ball playing Malone? He decided to attack Malone but in the same moment the ball was already played behind the defensive line, where Basham was one on one with the Solihull goalie. He fired it from 16 meters but unfortunately hit the goalie, who deflected it out of bounds. A 0-2 in the 28th minute would have been really sweet but not this time.

And then the game started to be really boring – boring in a positive way, because Solihull did not exist for the next hour. We even had some 5 minute periods, where the entire team was on the oppositions half, looking for that one pass – extraordinary control, really impressive.

The same applies to most the second half. We had tons of possession, pushing the ball left, right, up and down the pitch, occasionally firing it but with no result. Solihull on the other hand remained in shut down mode, never really threatening our clean sheet except for in the 86th minute, when after 50% of an attack Stanley headed it out of the box straight to Solihull’s Bennett who blasted the ball against the woodwork – what a shocker!

With 5 more minutes to go I decided to give my – so far – disappointing striker Cook some minutes on the pitch. And yes – he got his chance. In a situation very similar to our attempt from the 28th minute Paul Stonehouse charged into the box and played the ball to Cook, who got it 10 meters from the goal, in central position, with only the goalkeeper between him and glory … and still – not clear cut enough for him – straight into the goalkeepers hands. What a disappointment … This was his time to shine and to seal the outcome of the match!


What is there to say … 0-1 for us and anther 3 points to our name. All in all it was a good performance. Steve Basham proved once again that he is a reliable force in the striking department and Paul Stonehouse did not hide on our side of the pitch but made 2-3 really good runs down the flank – perhaps I can use him as a WM next game – who knows! The only player who gives me serious headache is Jamie Cock. I don't know what to do with this guy … how can a striker waste 3 must score situations in what … 50 minutes of play? This is really unacceptable. Football on this level is about scoring 1 more than the opposition does and if he misses out on the easy 0-2's or 0-3's I can not depend on him scoring the important 0-1's, 1-2's and so on. This is something I need to figure out – what should I do with him?

[spoiler=Overview and match stats][/spoiler]
Wow mate, a lot of text to go through, but even from just skimming through it I can tell that this will be a great read.

I'm looking forward to get a look into your thoughts about LLM.
Just discovered this topic and I have to say it made me read through the whole thing even though I don't really follow any stories for years.

Excellent presentation and formatting, and the way this story is told is extremely helpful and fun for people to learn from. I consider this a bright example of how a story should be done.

Keep up the great work and good luck getting promoted :)
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


a_esbech: Thank you very much for the first reply in my manager story! I hope my reports will not disappoint you. In your blog I have found an article on defensive midfielders – this will definitely come in handy here!
Stam: Hey thanks for your interest! I will try to make this as fun, useful and insightful as possible – I hope you guys will help keeping it interactive. Promotion is the goal because playing in the BSN doesn't keep the mansion running :D

25th August 2012
Match report #4

Oxford City 3-0 Worcester


And we are back again with another Oxford City match report! It's beautiful Monday evening, perfect football weather and a whooping attendance of 301 at Court Place Farm! 301 means that one person has no chair to sit on – I hope he/she will get some goals for his/her money instead. Today we are up against Worcester – so far they suffered two losses and won once, scoring 4 goals, receiving 6. While their overall performance is so-so at best, we still need to give 100% in order to send them home with empty hands. To achieve this I employed my standard 4141 consisting of:

As you can see there is some rotation involved – big time! Today I sent out only six out of my standard 11: Harris, Learoyd, Willmott, Benjamin and – of course – Basham. Cook got himself another chance, this time as left WM. I made this choice to see how he performs attacking out of midfield. This is something I'm not really happy to do because I don't trust him but the guy is on my salary list and therefore I need to find a way for him to pay back somehow – that's my job. Skendi and Lonsdale are both very young but talented players and since my go-to CM's are a bit exhausted after the last game I am more than happy to see my young guns in action. Gunn and McDonald are also solid substitutes for Quinn and Montgomery so I guess this selection is just fine. Experimental but fine.


The first 5 minutes were a joy to watch. We came out gunning really strong, pinned the opposition to their goal and had two really good chances to show who was the boss. If only all the games would start like this! And if only our finishing was a little bit more clinical!

After the initial avalanche of attacks the game dynamics went back to normal with lots of misplaced long passes out of the defensive lines and the midfielders fighting for supremacy in the middle of the pitch. Our CM's were on top of their game and so it was an even fight with us slightly better.

Slight supremacy is dangerous though because it can blind your senses and cause surprises. And that is exactly what happened in the 23th minute. After our goalkeeper kicked out another ball he collected from behind his goal it went directly to Worcesters CM Tom Thorley who decided it was time for a long run towards our goal. He ran down all the way to the box, where two of our guys closed him down but that was already to late – he passed the ball to his CM partner Reece who fired it just wide enough to miss the goal – that was the alarm bell ringing!

After that the game became a little bit more pacey and we finally took charge of the action. We exploited the flanks really good but where unable to execute accurate long passes but since the ball went dangerously into the box the defenders did not take chances and headed it out twice, offering us 2 corners. The second one in the 40th minute almost resulted in a goal: Cook hit the ball to the near post where Learoyd was already waiting but his header was deflected by a defender covering the long post. Nevertheless a good situation and the momentum on our side.

Just 2 minutes later came the next highlight. After a build up that started on our side of the pitch Basham and Benjamin caught the opposition defence off-guard with only 3 players in front of the goal. They passed the ball back and forth and when Basham noticed that his defender made two steps back he did not hesitate and fired it from 14 meters to score the important 1-0 for Oxford City and 301 spectators – this time all on their feet!

Just 2 minutes later the result of the first half changes again. This time Cook passed the ball to Basham who was about 25 meters away from the goal and being covered by a central defender and a full back decided to push the ball into the box and perhaps overtake the two defenders. This attempt failed badly because the central defender was way quicker but his full back slided in only to mow down my striker and the referee did not hesitate a second to dictate a penalty! Basham executed it himself and gave us a 2-0 just seconds before the ref send both sides away for a break. Perfect timing!

After the brake the match lost some of its pace – the late goal must have really hit Worcester. I decided it was time to give Cook another chance to score his first goal and subed Basham with Stonehouse and let the two switch positions. After this we had some useful chances from long distance but they all went wide – shoot at sight works just fine.

In the 74th minute we picked up the ball after a really bad corner by Worcester and it was played really far to the feet of Cook, who – on the right sight of the pitch – was alone with two defenders against him. I did not expect too much to result from this but then I noticed that the rest of Worcester's defence fell asleep and Paul Stonehouse charging at goal on the other half of the pitch. Cook kept the ball for 20 meters and then whipped it into the box where Stonehouse decided it was his time to shine and volleyed it first touch into the back of the net to make it 3-0. Sensational goal – I should really start uploading the goals on youtube!

The last 10 minutes where all about controlling the scoreline and bringing it home. I have decided to bring in a fresh Jack Mills for the exhausted Andrew Gunn and not to push any more – setting the mentality to counter and advising my team to take a breather.


After the game I was really pleased with my team. While we kept a really tight defence - Worcester were allowed only 3 attempts – our attackers were really on top of their game. I'm especially happy with Paul Stonehouse – his efforts in WM were underlined today with a spectacular goal. Jamie Cook is still a big question mark … yes, he made one important assist but except for that he was not really visible. My young midfield proved that they are ready to go and I guess it's time to figure out a good rotation system in order to offer everyone their share of time on the pitch.

This ends the first month in the BSN. Was it a good month? It was a spectacular month with us achieving way beyond our expectations. In the next post I will do a little summary on my tactics, the players, managing my team and the situation in the BSN. I hope you will like it.

[spoiler=Overview and match stats][/spoiler]
Nice two results there, can we have a league table screenshot pls
good luck for promotion
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


captainbrickarms: Hey thanks! Promotion is the goal.

31st of August 2012
Monthly report #1


After 4 games it's finally time to write down the first monthly report. We will begin with the league table:

If you have followed the match reports you already know, that we did very good and dropped points only away against Chester:

And the top scorers table:

So far I'm really satisfied with our results. The first game was a little bit of a cooler but that was the result of multiple known factors not working together. And even if it's a loss we still scored one goal and received the third one only after going overload so I would say a draw was achievable and we just had to learn the lesson. Then there was our little hot streak of three wins, that made us one of the most successful BSN teams in August. The really interesting part about this are the statistics. While we really thrashed Worcester and the result reflects that, the other two games where somewhat strange – the results don't go together with the stats. It almost looks as if they were switched :)

Statisticians and strategists corner

If you break it down so far about 21% of our chances result with the ball in the net, so in order to score we need 5 chances – which is really good I think. On the other hand our opposition score only in 12,5% of their situations, so it takes 8 attempts to score against us, while on average we allow only 6 chances per match – considering who we are this is a sensational result if you ask me. These figures are based on league matches only and will definitely change soon but it's interesting to compare these things. These numbers might help us squeeze out an even better goal difference in the future.

How were the August goals scored? To answer this question I will use two graphics:

As you can see 4 assist came from out of the box, 2 assists were made inside the box and exactly zero, zip, none from the flanks. This is not really a surprise. I believe I have mentioned this in one of the match reports: I have switched the standard 442 against a 4141 due to a lack of pacey wingers who could deliver crosses into the box. Seeing this I'm asking myself: so what are your WM doing? How do they contribute to the game? Well I guess we have this kind of Barcelona thing going, where the WM control the ball, push it up the pitch, then at a point stop and play it back to more central players. By this we achieve two things:

we push the defence back and keep them busy on a part of the pitch where nothing dangerous really happens,
we stretch the defence wide and open up space for passes from the middle into/inside of the box.

This is also somewhat visible on the following graphic:

Is there an alternative way I could set up my formation? Well I was thinking about a more aggressive formation against weaker teams:

[spoiler=Possible 2nd formation][/spoiler]

I like the idea because Jamie Cook has ok dribbling skills, his passing and technique are absolutely fine on this level and he could try a long shot from time to time, especially that he is an experienced player and has the mental capability to influence our game. The same applies to Holgate although I see him in a more supportive role. Anyway, this is an idea I would like to develop for future use ... say in October, when I will already have a better idea against whom and where I could use it. I will definitely have my reserves team play like this in September and I guess … we will take it from there.

Music corner

I think it's a good thing to start a tradition of featuring some fun stuff in the monthly reports too. I'm very much into football but nothing will top my love for music, so from time to time I will post some videos, that reflect my state of mind about how things are running with this save. This month it even involves a stadium ... a stadium ... THE stadium!

Words of football wisdom

And another fun section. Here I will post my own translations/interpretations of football wisdom. Today it's gonna be a funny yet very true thing Gyula Lóránt once said, so brace yourself :D

Gyula Lóránt:
The ball is round. If it was angular it would be a game of dice.

Stuff to work on in September

I definitely need to figure out a good rotation system, because I have a tendency of playing it safe (in other words: picking the best guys game after game) and if I keep doing this by November most of my players will be in the hospital or dead :D

Implementing the tweaked 433 in the reserves matches. How much is it going to influence our defensive performance? While I like scoring more goals I value clean sheets more...

I was thinking about uploading goals from the match reports on youtube. What do you think about that? English is not my mother tongue so maybe I am not capable of verbally recreating the level of sheer awesomeness my team sometimes rises up to.
Excellent start.

There is a lot of text but it’s well written and interesting stuff.
I find it easy to burn out when writing that detailed about every game.

But if you can keep it up this have potential to be great.
BartS's avatar Group BartS
10 yearsEdited


Northwood: Hey thanks! You certainly have a point there, in the long run writing with a high level of detail might cause creative burn out. I will address that problem in the next monthly report!

01st September 2012
Match report #5

FC Halifax 1-1 Oxford City


Hello again! After a very successful August it's time for the September campaign and for us to proof that we're not running on luck but deserve some credit. So far we have not only been blessed with good results but also managed to go through the first games without any injuries. In the last monthly report I have mentioned the idea of going 433 – this is not going to happen until the 12th of September, when our reserves will welcome the Peterborough reserves at Court Place Farm. Unfortunately in September we will only have 2 occasions to test the new formation, so our first team is definitely not going to utilize it until mid October. I will definitely keep you up to date with the progress in this matter.

Today we are playing away against the Halifax football club. Although their start into the season was not really lucky, this is a side we are definitely not going to underestimate. For the last 3 years they are on a wild ride climbing up from Northern Premier D1N to the BSN where they finishing 3rd in their first season! I also have to mention that so far they have been up against ok/strong teams - Bishop's Stortford, Workington, Bradford PA and Colwyn Bay – so we have no reason to believe, that this is going to be a walk like the last 3 games. Nevertheless the goal is to bring back points and for this task I have assigned the following group of players:

As you can see again I'm not taking any chances here. I defense we have Harris, Learoyd, Willmott and Montgomery, with Andrew Gunn in defensive midfield. After a really good performance in the last match Paul Stonehouse got another chance to proof his value as WM. McNish and Malone are obvious choices and Holgate ads to our offensive power on the right side of midfield. Our only striker – as always – Steve Basham. Statistically speaking FC Halifax have more quality but so far the momentum has been on our side so let's see if we can prolong our hot streak!.


We usually start our games without any inferiority complexes and so began this game. After the kick-off we went ahead looking for chances, building up a strong presence in the midfield and rock solid wall in front of our goal. I am really happy to say, that with every single game the guys become more and more concentrated in the first minutes of the game, not allowing the opposition to slowly control the ball. While the midfielders and strikers always start pressing really strong, my defense remains well structured and picks up most of the misplaced balls and often enough gives the signal for fast, pass-based counter attacks.

And this is exactly how we approached the first 10 minutes of the game. After a throw-in for Halifax on our side of the pitch they really struggled to withstand our pressing and when Learoyd finally took control over the ball he went for the long pass to Steve Basham who received it exactly in the middle of the pitch. Noteworthy of this situations was, that even though Halifax had 3 defenders not taking part in their unsuccessful attack, none of them was anywhere near Basham, so he had all the time in the world to get the ball under control and to figure out his next step. My midfielders went into a collective attacking mode and within a second it was 4 attackers against 3 defenders. The ball was sent to Stonehouse who immediately passed it to Malone who was up against only one defender. He could have gone for an attempt from about 30 meters but instead decided to put Holgate into action, who came in charging on the right side of the pitch. After entering the box he fired it but the goal was denied by the Halifax's Glennon. A really good piece of counter attacking football, with very good teamwork and effective switching from defense to attack. I guess it was obvious that we meant business today.

Just 6 minutes later we had another good chance to score. After winning the ball in midfield it was again Basham who got to distribute the ball. Again our attacker and midfielders had much space because they were positioned exactly between the defense and midfield. After a sequence of 3 short passes on the left side Andrew Gunn pumped it into the box where Steven Basham was already waiting. He went 2 more meters and hit it really sharp to the near post but Glennon once again made the safe, deflecting it with some trouble. I guess the Halifax defensive department knew that it's gonna be a long day especially that we were only 11 minutes into the game.

We kept on gunning for it and had another really good chance in the 29th minute. This time it was Malone who saw Stonehouse charging into space between defense and midfield and that is exactly where he sent the ball to. Stonehouse left the stunned left full back Corbett behind and fired it from 20 meters – and again Glennon made a great safe, deflecting the ball out of bounds. By this time I was positive that the 3 points were up for grabs, especially with such a poor defensive performance by the Halifax 4.

While Halifax were struggling to create anything remotely dangerous we kept on pushing and were given a corner in the 36 minute. Malone put the ball in position, took a deep breath and sent it to the long corner where Willmott jumped higher than anybody else and managed to put a lot of pressure behind his header but once again we were denied a goal by the sensational Glennon. Halifax were really lucky to have such a good goalkeeper in their team – it it was not for him the result could have easily been 0-3 for us.

In the 40th minute Halifax had their first attempt at goal. The Halifax striker Gareth Seddon received the ball out of nowhere just about 25 meters away from Ingramm's goal and hit it really strong but just wide. For a moment I was angry with our team because neither Willmott nor Harris – yellow carded in a situation 15 minutes before – made a solid effort to attack the striker who is good enough to score from such a position.

And that ended the first half of the game. As you can see we were really in control of the situation, not allowing Halifax more than 2 shots and really killing them in the midfield. We could have put the icing on the cake by scoring 2-3 goals but on such a day you really have to give 110% to beat the opposition goalie.

And finally the 48th minute brought a goal – but not for us. And it did not come without controversy because after breaking up a Halifax attack the ball was taken away from Malone with a a really harsh tackle – if u ask me obvious foul – and then everything happened really quick: two passes, two stickers, one shot from just about 13 meters and the ball is in the net – an undeserved 1-0 for Halifax FC by Andeele Martins!

The 0-1 must have been a wake-up call for Halifax because their defensive game became a little bit more up to the task after this. Also they did show some more creativity in attack, with more shots on goal but nothing dangerous. In the 50th minute I have decided to bring in some fresh legs and went for a double substitution, replacing Holgate and Basham with Benjamin and Cook. Later in the 69th minute I also replaced McNish with Lonsdale – it's really risky to go for broke with the substitutions already in the 69th minute of the game but I was not in the mood to travel back to Oxford without at least 1 point.

While Max Lonsdale really contributed to the game, putting his teammates in action, the other two did not really rise up to my expectations. Benjamin did what he is best at – blasting the ball out of bounds by a wide margin and Cook picked up a knock just 10 minutes after entering the pitch. I was really furious about how stupid it was to send him out once again but damage was already done and I had to go attacking and hope for a late equalizer.

Luckily in 84th minute the god of football did lend an ear to my prayers and decided it was time for a corner. This was a task for Benjamin who so far did not have his best day. He decided to whip it rather short to Learoyd who – don't ask me why – was completely alone just steps away from the post. He made a turn and stumbled it over the line to bring and end to the Halifax goalkeepers perfect day. It may have not been the most beautiful goal in the history of the game, but it was the most important one for us this season. These are the goals we are after: well deserved and important!

After that I have decided to call it a day and stay defensive until the final whistle. Sure, we could have kept attacking but the team was really exhausted, Cook injured and well … 1 point away in the bag is certainly better than a loss due to stupid ambition. After all a draw away is nothing to be ashamed for, isn’t it?


After the first monthly report you probably know that I favor the statistical approach to the game so I will put it like this: we were on the wrong side of variance today. The first half was a display of creativity, hard work and the entire team contributing to all aspects of the game. Sure – we could have scored 2-3 goals – easily – but sometimes that's just the way it is, no matter how good you play, how many times you put the goalkeeper to the test – you just will not score. And if the referee decides that it is ok to mow down a guy from behind then yeah … you will be chasing the draw! In the second half we opened up a little bit in midfield – replacing a defensive CM with an attacking one – so Halifax FC got their 4 chances but still – they have never really been a threat in front of our goal while we kept pushing and eventually got our draw. In the end it was another really good match we played there and I am sure that if we keep playing like this 4 out of 5 games we're gonna win.

My God! Your updates are pure quality! I'd never have the patience to write all of this! Keep it up man!
great levels of detail here mate! keep it up and this will be great! Another idea might be; having the key facts about the match in a heading type thing; score, scorers, w/l and MotM, and putting the report in a spoiler? Just incase there's people who don't wanna read in great detail? Although if they don't its their loss, your writing is incredible
Hey BartS,

Great posts here. I am actually playing as Gloucester City in the Skrill South (FM14) and I agree with you about: making your own tactics, finding your own players etc. I don't begrudge anyone who does, it just seems more of a challenge to me.

I play a 4-4-1-1 with the "Bull" - Hogg as the most advanced midfielder. I think it's all about having a solid and reliable tactic in these lower leagues. A tactic that doesn't over complicate the players and stuff that also your coaches can handle!
Keep up the great work mate. Will love to see how you progress through the season.

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