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[FM15] Raising Cain

The story of a failed young manager's attempt to resurrect his career ... and his life.
Started on 1 September 2015 by tenthreeleader
Latest Reply on 12 August 2016 by zappo137
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My very favorite kind, sir!
___

The results were just as good elsewhere.

Northampton played a goalless draw at Sixfields against Luton as eighth-place split the points with sixth. Stevenage lost 2-1 at Burton, which continued to play well. And Tranmere lost 2-0 at home to AFC Wimbledon.

The table now looked a lot different. Oxford was back to ninth place – and only two points behind seventh-placed Tranmere with seven matches still to play.

“I think we have to be considered playoff contenders now,” Kyle crowed after the match. “I thought we were pretty good today and I don’t guess anyone would disagree.”

Vic couldn’t, and Churchill couldn’t either, so neither of them did. The rest of the regional media acted like they hadn’t seen Oxford play all season, which was a bit odd since a few of them actually had. They weren’t used to seeing anything like this, though. They were surprised.

“It looks like your season will be determined by the matches against Northampton and Stevenage,” Vic said.

“That would be my guess, but if we don’t take care of business in our other matches they won’t matter by the time we get to that part of the fixture list,” Kyle answered. “Now is the time we need everyone in the team to stand up and be counted. We are in as good a form as anyone at this point in time and now we need the players to show what they have left in the tank after a long season.”

“The fans were brilliant today too.”

“I would love it if more people would come out to see what we’re doing,” he said. “We are in a race for the playoffs and the fans have been brilliant but the players wouldn’t mind seeing a few more of them.”

That was the sound of a big win talking and so Kyle’s mood was understandable.

The changing room was obviously a very active place after such a big win – and so was the team of the week, which featured no fewer than nine Oxford players when it was released two days later.

Of the eleven starters, only Ashdown, who had kept a clean sheet, and Whing, who had scored a goal, weren’t named to the team. Goalkeeper Luke McCormick and midfielder Bobby Reid, both of Plymouth, were the only non-Us to earn weekly honors.

That made for some more good moods as the team prepared to take on Wycombe in a very big match indeed.

It was good to have everyone on the same sheet of music, and it was even better to see Joe Skarz and Johnny Mullins on the training pitch that day as well.

Skarz had missed nearly four months with a hip injury, though the loanee Potts had played very well in his place, and Mullins had missed significant time as well. But even that was tempered by another injury – as Godden sprained his ankle in a reserves match against Peterborough, badly enough to end his season.

Skarz and Mullins both played 70 minutes without setback in that match, though, so there was optimism they would be back soon. Both players were still a week or two away from being able to feature, but with two games in three days coming up, could have been considered for the bench in the event of dire emergency.

Godden’s loan contract was cancelled and he was returned to Ebbsfleet Town with access to the Oxford medical staff, but he would play no further role in the season.

With Hylton still not quite ready to return, that again put Oxford into a striker crisis with Hoban and Hoskins the healthy players and James Roberts of the youth team the third option, along with Callum O’Dowda as an emergency choice.

Yet O’Dowda was needed on the wing, so once again Oxford was running on fumes in a key area of the team.

That brought about All Fool’s Day and the monthly board meeting, where Kyle was called to appear.

Representatives of all the club departments were there – including Moore, who was reporting on behalf of marketing and promotions. Kyle entered the room and looked at her near the end of the table. He nodded, and sat at the opposite corner.

Eales, sitting next to Moore, noticed but said nothing.

“Welcome, Kyle,” he said, motioning to the manager as he took his seat. “We’ve just gone over the financials. The club lost £89,000 this last month, and you know the reasons behind that. We are happy with your control over wages and we will be fine until the end of the season but we will be looking for you to make cuts in playing staff at the end of the season.”

“We have planned for that, as the board knows, Mr. Eales,” Kyle said. “We’ve informed nine players they will not be tendered at the end of the season and we will be looking to make prudent replacements within budgets.”

At that Moore bristled. She hadn’t been told that, of course, as a business concern, and that was something she didn’t appreciate.

“Results have been excellent and we are very happy that we are playing meaningful matches this late in the season given our state when you arrived here,” Eales said, and Moore couldn’t look at Kyle this time. He could tell, because he was now looking for a reaction from her.

There was none.

“My thought is that for the Northampton match maybe we could do something in the community or outside the stadium,” Kyle said, taking a page from Moore’s book. At that, she bristled.

“The events staff have that well in hand, I assure you,” she said, now glaring at Kyle.

“Just trying to help,” he said with a smile.

“What is your legitimate assessment on the possibility of playoffs?” Eales asked.

“Hard to say,” Kyle said. “On balance, our form is acceptable but we are heading into that stretch of the season where willpower matters as much as anything else. Our run-in is not easy but neither is it for the clubs we are chasing. The matches against Northampton and Tranmere will probably decide our fate.”

“Excuses for failure, Kyle?” That was Moore, and she was out of line.

Eales moved to speak, but Kyle cut him off.

“Ms. Moore, I don’t make excuses,” he said. “Football is a hard game and you don’t always win. We’ve done very well since I came here, the players believe they can get the job done and if for any reason we don’t make it, then we’ll all take responsibility. We are a team. I’d prefer that you be a part of it instead of looking for reasons to jump on me.”

“I agree,” Eales said. “That kind of talk needs to stop immediately. Am I clear?”

Moore realized she had gone too far, and apologized for the first time ever in Kyle’s presence.

“I didn’t mean to offend,” she said. “Of course we’re all behind the team. It just sounded like you were preparing us for bad news.”

“If that were the case, Ms. Moore, I’d say so, and in so many words,” Kyle responded. “I don’t need you to interpret for me, thank you.”

He turned to Eales. “Anything else you need from me, Mr. Chairman?”

Eales smiled.

“No, thank you, Kyle, please resume your duties. Well done.”

# # #
tenthreeleader's avatar Group tenthreeleader
5 yearsEdited
My very favorite kind, sir!
___

The results were just as good elsewhere.

Northampton played a goalless draw at Sixfields against Luton as eighth-place split the points with sixth. Stevenage lost 2-1 at Burton, which continued to play well. And Tranmere lost 2-0 at home to AFC Wimbledon.

The table now looked a lot different. Oxford was back to ninth place – and only two points behind seventh-placed Tranmere with seven matches still to play.

“I think we have to be considered playoff contenders now,” Kyle crowed after the match. “I thought we were pretty good today and I don’t guess anyone would disagree.”

Vic couldn’t, and Churchill couldn’t either, so neither of them did. The rest of the regional media acted like they hadn’t seen Oxford play all season, which was a bit odd since a few of them actually had. They weren’t used to seeing anything like this, though. They were surprised.

“It looks like your season will be determined by the matches against Northampton and Stevenage,” Vic said.

“That would be my guess, but if we don’t take care of business in our other matches they won’t matter by the time we get to that part of the fixture list,” Kyle answered. “Now is the time we need everyone in the team to stand up and be counted. We are in as good a form as anyone at this point in time and now we need the players to show what they have left in the tank after a long season.”

“The fans were brilliant today too.”

“I would love it if more people would come out to see what we’re doing,” he said. “We are in a race for the playoffs and the fans have been brilliant but the players wouldn’t mind seeing a few more of them.”

That was the sound of a big win talking and so Kyle’s mood was understandable.

The changing room was obviously a very active place after such a big win – and so was the team of the week, which featured no fewer than nine Oxford players when it was released two days later.

Of the eleven starters, only Ashdown, who had kept a clean sheet, and Whing, who had scored a goal, weren’t named to the team. Goalkeeper Luke McCormick and midfielder Bobby Reid, both of Plymouth, were the only non-Us to earn weekly honors.

That made for some more good moods as the team prepared to take on Wycombe in a very big match indeed.

It was good to have everyone on the same sheet of music, and it was even better to see Joe Skarz and Johnny Mullins on the training pitch that day as well.

Skarz had missed nearly four months with a hip injury, though the loanee Potts had played very well in his place, and Mullins had missed significant time as well. But even that was tempered by another injury – as Godden sprained his ankle in a reserves match against Peterborough, badly enough to end his season.

Skarz and Mullins both played 70 minutes without setback in that match, though, so there was optimism they would be back soon. Both players were still a week or two away from being able to feature, but with two games in three days coming up, could have been considered for the bench in the event of dire emergency.

Godden’s loan contract was cancelled and he was returned to Ebbsfleet Town with access to the Oxford medical staff, but he would play no further role in the season.

With Hylton still not quite ready to return, that again put Oxford into a striker crisis with Hoban and Hoskins the healthy players and James Roberts of the youth team the third option, along with Callum O’Dowda as an emergency choice.

Yet O’Dowda was needed on the wing, so once again Oxford was running on fumes in a key area of the team.

That brought about All Fool’s Day and the monthly board meeting, where Kyle was called to appear.

Representatives of all the club departments were there – including Moore, who was reporting on behalf of marketing and promotions. Kyle entered the room and looked at her near the end of the table. He nodded, and sat at the opposite corner.

Eales, sitting next to Moore, noticed but said nothing.

“Welcome, Kyle,” he said, motioning to the manager as he took his seat. “We’ve just gone over the financials. The club lost £89,000 this last month, and you know the reasons behind that. We are happy with your control over wages and we will be fine until the end of the season but we will be looking for you to make cuts in playing staff at the end of the season.”

“We have planned for that, as the board knows, Mr. Eales,” Kyle said. “We’ve informed nine players they will not be tendered at the end of the season and we will be looking to make prudent replacements within budgets.”

At that Moore bristled. She hadn’t been told that, of course, as a business concern, and that was something she didn’t appreciate.

“Results have been excellent and we are very happy that we are playing meaningful matches this late in the season given our state when you arrived here,” Eales said, and Moore couldn’t look at Kyle this time. He could tell, because he was now looking for a reaction from her.

There was none.

“My thought is that for the Northampton match maybe we could do something in the community or outside the stadium,” Kyle said, taking a page from Moore’s book. At that, she bristled.

“The events staff have that well in hand, I assure you,” she said, now glaring at Kyle.

“Just trying to help,” he said with a smile.

“What is your legitimate assessment on the possibility of playoffs?” Eales asked.

“Hard to say,” Kyle said. “On balance, our form is acceptable but we are heading into that stretch of the season where willpower matters as much as anything else. Our run-in is not easy but neither is it for the clubs we are chasing. The matches against Northampton and Tranmere will probably decide our fate.”

“Excuses for failure, Kyle?” That was Moore, and she was out of line.

Eales moved to speak, but Kyle cut him off.

“Ms. Moore, I don’t make excuses,” he said. “Football is a hard game and you don’t always win. We’ve done very well since I came here, the players believe they can get the job done and if for any reason we don’t make it, then we’ll all take responsibility. We are a team. I’d prefer that you be a part of it instead of looking for reasons to jump on me.”

“I agree,” Eales said. “That kind of talk needs to stop immediately. Am I clear?”

Moore realized she had gone too far, and apologized for the first time ever in Kyle’s presence.

“I didn’t mean to offend,” she said. “Of course we’re all behind the team. It just sounded like you were preparing us for bad news.”

“If that were the case, Ms. Moore, I’d say so, and in so many words,” Kyle responded. “I don’t need you to interpret for me, thank you.”

He turned to Eales. “Anything else you need from me, Mr. Chairman?”

Eales smiled.

“No, thank you, Kyle, please resume your duties. Well done.”

# # #
Moore seems like a piece of work :/
She is. ... but to those who are reading this work, please re-read the previous post. The entire piece did not post and I have added the remainder to make a complete post. So do please read the previous and then this one, in order. Apologies.
___

The runup to the match at High Wycombe was interesting.

Kyle was asked about facing the new Manager of the Month, Gareth Ainsworth. The 41-year old player-manager had been voted best in the league for March – with Kyle second – and Kyle did the duty, praising his opponent.

“He’s fourth, we’re ninth,” Kyle had said. “Gareth has done a great job.”

Ainsworth responded by not merely dismissing Kyle’s kindness, but also by slating Ryan Clarke, which was something no one in Oxford colors appreciated.

Clarke wasn’t going to play against Wycombe, but the personal criticism of one of his players didn’t sit well with Kyle, who the next day responded with a not-so-subtle missive that the newly-minted Manager of the Month might want to mind his own business when discussing players.

As such, the manager was not in the best of moods during the interim – but Allison changed that the next night.

She showed up at the office for the first time, which Kyle liked and didn’t like at the same time, and dragged him out for dinner. Well, not dragged, but it might have been easier to say she had to take him by the hand and gently pull him out from behind his desk.

“You are going to go out and have a good time whether you like it or not,” she smiled. That made sense to Kyle, who was thinking along the same lines but didn’t dare say anything.

Booth had been as good as gold at training over the preceding few days and things had quieted down between Kyle and Jenna as well. The two of them had a series of talks and Kyle got the father’s frustration out in the open while she responded with the emotions of someone expressing their first love.

To Kyle, that was fine. He had had those feelings as well with Stacy. It was his second love that got him into trouble, so he let Jenna wax poetic. But he also told her that he was going to have a friend, and that nothing was going to shift him from that.

“You can tell your mother if you like,” he said. “It’s not going to go any farther than that, I’m not drinking buddies with any of my coaches for obvious reasons and I’m going to enjoy Allison’s company. You can even tell your mother her name if you want.”

“Why would I do that?” Jenna asked.

“Because she is going to ask,” Kyle answered. “I know her, she will want to know. And I’d love to know the name of whoever she’s with, but that’s all right. My solicitor will figure it all out when the time is right.”

Jenna sighed. “So this is what happens when love goes wrong,” she said, brushing a lock of hair from out of her eyes.

“It can, and I’ve accepted my share of responsibility for that,” Kyle said. “But I also am going to try to enjoy life – with a friend. That isn’t something I’m going to negotiate. I get to do that. You get to have your life, I get to have mine.”

So, Jenna did as Kyle suggested – she texted her mother and told her what Kyle was doing. As he knew she would.

She told her mother everything. As Kyle knew she would.

On the other end of the text connection, Stacy leaned back in her chair and sighed.

Boyd looked at her from across his living room – she was spending more and more time there these days – and asked what was wrong.

“Kyle,” Stacy said. “Jenna says he’s found someone.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time, love,” he said, turning to the Times financial section.

“I know, I know,” she said. “Jenna says they’re just friends, those two, but …”

Her voice trailed off and she leaned back in the chair and looked at the ceiling.

“…really, I’m no different,” she whispered. She felt their baby move within her and looked down at her abdomen, which seemed to be getting bigger with each passing day.

A tear rolled down her cheek.
# # #
4 April 2015 – Wycombe Wanderers (21-8-10, 4th place) v Oxford United (17-9-13, 9th place)
Sky Bet League Two Match Day #40 – Adams Park, High Wycombe
Referee: Carl Boyeson

It was a quick trip down the M40 to the ground – under thirty miles – so Kyle and the players got a good night’s sleep before making the trip in the morning.

There was enough bad blood generated between the managers to make the match interesting from the outset, but from the very start both teams assumed a defensive posture.

Kyle knew Wycombe was fourth for a reason. Ainsworth knew that Oxford had scored in every match they had played with Kyle Cain as their manager. They, and the rest of League Two, were well aware of the threat Oxford posed in attack.

Oxford earned a corner in the first minute of the match but really, not a lot else after that. Ashdown was forced into a save on Shamir Fenelon a few minutes later but Wycombe didn’t fully climb into the match until midway through the first half.

That said, they did put on a lot more pressure than Oxford in the first half but the Us were defending well and, for a change, Kyle seemed content to let his team absorb the pressure and try to counter. That was a posture not yet seen from his side in any great measure, so he thought it would give Ainsworth something else to think about.

Sido Jombati wound up in the book for a very rash challenge on O’Dowda, with referee Carl Boyeson not shy about giving the player a warning for good measure. He was perhaps a bit lucky to stay in the match, but it was a simple thing to send play in his direction and hope he did something else that might add up to a second yellow.

Whing got a measure of revenge for the physical stuff with a robust challenge on Hogan Ephraim in twenty-five minutes that Boyeson judged to be too rough, and so the cards were even. Then Jombati himself limped off with a dead leg after the half hour, after a knee-on-knee collision with with O’Dowda that was frightening to look at and somehow didn’t result in a more serious injury to either player.

Tom Barkhuizen had a solid chance for Wycombe in the 35th minute but contrived to shoot over when it would have been easier to score, and the teams slogged through the remaining ten minutes of the first half with no further hostilities. Boyeson’s whistle gave Kyle a chance to praise his team for a highly praiseworthy defensive effort.

“I like it, gentlemen,” Kyle told them when everyone was seated. “You’ve come a long way in the last four months. Now it’s time to show the entire league that you can learn from your start and figure out a way to get a quality win away from home. You can absolutely do this if you will only believe that you can. Derek, give them their report cards.”

He turned the meeting over to Fazackerley and, instead of going to the visiting manager’s office, he opted to stay in the changing room to watch the team’s mood – which was very good. Coming off such a big victory in their prior match, he was watching for signs of frustration over being outchanced and to a large extent outplayed in the first half.

He saw none. That meant a lot.

They hadn’t been fancied by the bookmakers before the match and to have held Wycombe through 45 minutes was a solid achievement. That is, for a team with no ambition.

Kyle felt his players were better than that, so he then challenged them to find a way to win the match.

Fred Onyedinma celebrated Kyle’s ambition by nearly opening the scoring for Wycombe six minutes into the second half, but Ashdown was equal. Then it was Barkhuizen breaking through two minutes later, leading Kyle to think about the wisdom of his approach in getting away from the ‘patient’ style of play. They had been carved open twice in three minutes and only Ashdown had kept the match scoreless.

Then it was Barkhuizen again. Then Shamir Fenelon. It was like a parade of Wycombe players to the Oxford goal, with the central defense swamped and Whing not offering a lot of help in support.

Kyle was up and onto the touchline after the fourth chance, unable to stand any more of this kind of viewing without starting to pace.

Dunkley came close for Oxford in their first chance of the second half and then Ainsworth raised Kyle’s eyebrows by taking off Fenelon, who had been a thorn in the Us side for the entire second half, replacing him with Matt McClure.

Then MacDonald got into the match. In the wrong way.

He hip-checked Ephraim to the floor and drew a yellow card from Boyeson – his tenth of the season, meaning an automatic two-match ban.

Kyle knew it was coming. He just didn’t know when. The Scot was perhaps the team’s most influential wing player but he was prone to cards – and now was not the best time to have him out of the team.

MacDonald had to play. He couldn’t be held out simply because he had nine cards. Oxford wasn’t the same team without him, but now they’d have to find a way.

The teams soldiered on – and Potts was next into the book in 79 minutes for a challenge on the unfortunate Ephraim, while Meades and Ssewankambo settled into the match as substitutes for the tiring O’Dowda and Whing respectively.

There was a goal there someplace, Kyle thought. He just couldn’t be sure which way to go, and he wasn’t yet ready to play for a single point by switching to one striker. But then Jake Wright decided for him.

The captain stood in the middle of the Wycombe penalty area and struck a looping header from a Meades cross that arced just over the despairing reach of Matt Bloomfield and home with 89 minutes and 30 seconds on the clock.

After eight years without a goal, the skipper now had two this season, and that fact wasn’t lost on anyone.

The Oxford bench went wild and Kyle was up to the fourth official to use his final substitution, Grimshaw in as a second holder for Maddison as the match ticked on into added time.

He called for 4-2-3-1 and waited for the inevitable Wycombe storm. It came, of course, as Wanderers surged forward looking for an equalizer at the death.

The fourth official had signaled for two minutes’ added time, and Kyle noted its passage, yelling at Boyeson to blow for full time as Wycombe moved the ball into the Oxford half. He got no response.

The clock kept ticking. Fifteen seconds late. Thirty seconds late. Forty-five-seconds late. The Oxford fans were whistling as Wycombe built up down the left – and then they were screaming as McClure worked down the left and crossed for Barkhuizen – who scored.

It was a “Fergie Time” goal – scored a full minute after added time was supposed to have ended – and it had cost Oxford dearly.

Shocked, Kyle numbly walked to the home bench to shake hands with Ainsworth, who looked like the cat that had just eaten the canary. His chin beard was stretched wide with the size of his grin, and Kyle’s glare indicated that perhaps that might not have been the most appropriate reaction.

Yet, Kyle had gotten a point his team had probably deserved – though losing two through the largesse of Carl Boyeson.

Oxford United: Ashdown: Bevans, Dunkley, Wright (captain), Potts, Whing (Ssewankambo 77), MacDonald, Maddison (Grimshaw 90), O’Dowda (Meades 77), Hoban, Hoskins. Unused subs: Clarke, Ruffels, Ashby, Roberts.

Wycombe Wanderers 1 (Tom Barkhuizen 90+3)
Oxford United 1 (Jake Wright 90)
H/T: 0-0
A – 6.908, Adams Park, High Wycombe
Man of the Match: Jake Wright, Oxford (MR 8.1)
GUMP: Jake Wright


# # #
ouch :/
1
This one was decidedly unpleasant.
___
“It’s too bad Christmas isn’t for nine months.
I’d like to buy Carl Boyeson some new batteries for his watch.”

Kyle knew he was riding the ragged edge of sanction, but he felt hard done by, and who wouldn’t have?

“That’s a hard way to lose two points, but you have to play to the whistle,” Churchill opined.

“You do, and conceding late is something we have to get better at preventing because it’s not the first time this has happened to us,” Kyle said. “And to be fair, Wycombe was arguably the better side for long portions of this match so a draw is surely at least a fair result. But we needed better, we put ourselves in a position to get a better result and then we didn’t finish the job. That’s annoying and we have to fix it right sharpish or we aren’t going to the playoffs.”

However, once again results had favored Oxford, which now stood two points behind Tranmere and level with Northampton with six matches to play.

“Now, though, you have to turn right around in two days and play York,” Churchill said.

“We’d have to play them sooner or later but honestly, we’d rather not have to play twice in three days when the matches mean so much,” Kyle responded. “It’s a bit odd that on this particular Saturday we are the only match in the league and we then have to turn right around and play again on the Monday. But we will do what we can.”

“You’ll need to rotate some players.”

“I don’t see how we can avoid it. The players are in good condition and we were lucky to not get anyone hurt today but we’re going to get a serious test of our squad depth if certain players aren’t ready to go.”

“Anyone in particular?”

“No one I’m telling you about, that’s for sure.” Kyle hadn’t forgotten.

But in the main, Kyle was pleased with a point away from home. As far as he was concerned, there was only one more ‘must-win’ match away from home, and that was Tranmere. There was really no way around that. A playoff spot went through them and three points were vital.

As a result, Kyle was pleased but displeased as the team coach prepared to head back to Oxford. They’d be home by dinner time after this trip and Kyle brooded all the way home.

Allison’s commiserating text had meant much – she had traveled to the match but not approached the team coach afterwards for obvious reasons – but she wasn’t happy either and chose a rather unusual way to tell him.

Maybe tell the captain that even though he’s scored, he needs to bloody well track back and put a body on Barkhuizen,” she texted, and that brought a smile to Kyle’s face. Of course, she had been exactly right.

Wright had his moments – but then he had his moments, and those were frustrating. In essence, he had scored at both ends – getting forward to put Oxford in front, but he was the man responsible for Barkhuizen in the area, and the man was open at the critical moment. Wide open, in fact.

And so Kyle had decisions to make before the York City match. MacDonald wouldn’t be available but most everyone who had played at Wycombe would be knackered for York – a home match which was vital in more ways than one.

The eleven was going to look very different.

As he thought it through, he got another text from Allison.

Now I can tell all my friends that I’ve the manager’s ear,” she teased.

Don’t you dare,” Kyle texted back, trying and failing to suppress a smile.

The next text Allison sent plastered the smile on Kyle’s face.

It was a selfie. And Kyle had to hide it. It left plenty to the imagination, but the sheer flirtatiousness of the message made him feel emotions he had thought were impossible to regain.

Despite the disappointment of the day’s result, at least the smile stayed on his face.

# # #
Women :))
1
tough to take a last minute draw man, but you're still in the fight!
1
It stung. But this team has come a very long way and I'm hopeful.
___

Guy Barry was becoming a revelation of sorts.

The 16-year old whiz netted twice more for the u-18s, this time in the presence of the manager, in a 3-0 win over Woking u-18s. That made six in five matches for the youngster and the numbers were making people sit up and take notice.

Kyle had seen video of the trialists’ match where he had scored the hat trick against his present u-18s and Kyle ordered him signed on the spot. The kid seemed to just intuitively get positioning, movement off the ball – and finishing. Those were three things you couldn’t teach a striker – but most of what he needed to learn could be taught.

His nod of approval as Barry left the field was enough for the lad, whose face lit up like a Christmas tree at the sign of favor from the senior team boss. He was one to watch.

That evening he was going through the scouting report for York and wondering how he was going to cobble together an XI for the next day’s match when his phone rang.

It was Stacy.

“So, Kyle, Jenna tells me you’re moving on. How nice.”

“I didn’t start it, and I’ve decided it’s okay for me to have friends of the opposite gender,” Kyle answered. “So, how’s your boyfriend treating you these days?”

“That’s what I wanted to talk with you about,” Stacy said. “That, and whoever this Allison Austin is.”

“She’s my friend. That’s all you need to know. So what’s the name of this fellow you’re seeing according to the papers, Stacy? You decide you wanted some extra publicity for the divorce, or what?”

“That’s not fair, Kyle.”

“The hell it isn’t, Stacy. Now suppose you cough up his name, because it’s going to come out in court.”

“I’ll decline that gracious offer, Kyle,” she responded coolly. “Jenna told me that you had come to her asking for permission to date Miss Austin.”

“I didn’t say it like that,” Kyle said. “I asked her if she minded if I had a female friend. And that’s what Allison is. I should also say I’ve been a lot more forthright about this than you have.”

“It’s not a contest,” Stacy answered. “But honestly, I’ve been thinking about this and I wonder if it’s even possible for us to have one last chance.”

Kyle pulled his phone away from his ear and stared at it, like it had tried to bite him.

“Did I hear you right?” he asked. “You’re the one in a relationship, you’re the one who talked about filing papers, and you’re asking me if there’s one more chance?”

“Well, Kyle, this is hard for me to say, but I’ve been just as wrong as you were.”

That missive hit Kyle like a bolt out of the blue. His face lost color and expression as he absorbed his wife’s words.

Finally, he recovered his poise.

“His name, Stacy,” Kyle said. “Now.”

“He doesn’t deserve the scrutiny,” Stacy answered. “He hasn’t done anything wrong.”

“Evidently, he’s slept with my wife,” Kyle answered. “If you said you were wrong, why isn’t he?”

“It was my idea. I wanted revenge.”

Kyle’s head started to spin.

“Did you plant the newspaper article?”

“No, I didn’t,” Stacy answered. “That would have invited talk that I didn’t want, and which I don’t want. But Jenna’s letter got me to thinking. It hurt me when you did what you did with that Weber woman. The thought of you doing it again, even though you surely could after a divorce, hurt me again.”

Kyle frowned.

“So this is all about you,” he said. “You know, I’m getting kind of tired of having to live my life to suit everyone else.”

“That’s because you lived it to suit yourself before,” Stacy answered. “So you owe us.”

“I’ve done my penance,” he replied. “And if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do. When you’re serious, and when you’re ready to tell me who it is that’s sharing a bed with you, I’ll be here. In the meantime, I’ve got a life to lead and work to do. Good night.”

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Caught up on this story and I must say it is absolutely epic, I am following mate!

I will catch up on the other story another day but right now its 3:43am and you have kept me awake long enough haha!
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Thank you for the kind words! Nice to know that you're following along and the writing is appreciated!
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6 April 2015 – Oxford United (17-10-13, 8th place) v York City (10-14-16, 19th place)
Sky Bet League Two Match Day #41 – The Kassam Stadium, Oxford
Referee: Mark Clattenburg

“Life is not being told that the man has just waxed the floor.” – Ogden Nash

It was an important day, and a nearly completely revamped Oxford squad was ready to take the pitch for the match against York City.

Ashdown had kept his place but there were numerous changes as some players simply weren’t ready to play again on such a quick turn, and with the small squad size there were few other options.

Three of the four defenders were changed out. Grimshaw, Mullins and, for the first time, Ssewankambo were in the back four to go along with Potts, who kept his place while Skarz continued to gain strength. MacDonald missed through suspension and would also miss the next week’s match at AFC Wimbledon, Ashby replaced Maddison who had made the substitutes’ bench, and O’Dowda recovered sufficiently to play the left wing position – which was great news. Young James Roberts made his first start for Oxford in place of Hoban, pairing with Hoskins, who was trying to grit out a second match in three days.

The positive side was that the bench was very strong, so if the match was left late, there would be relatively fresh legs of talented players waiting to play. Skarz made the substitutes’ bench, and that gave a lift to everyone except Potts, with Maddison, Hoban, Dunkley and Wright also waiting in the wings.

There was a very businesslike attitude in the changing room before the match and Kyle was quick to exploit it.

“Where you want to go, a match like today’s is a match that needs to get won,” he said. “You’re playing a team beneath you in the table, with sixteen defeats, and they are in your way. I want you to relish the challenge of beating them. You can do this. There is enough talent in this room to win this match and set up the rest of your season and beyond. Now, go and do it.”

The makeshift XI took the park against a rested York outfit that included former Aston Villa trainee and Falkirk keeper Robert Olejnik, and the smallish crowd was vocal in cheering on the home team regardless of whom the visitors had in goal.

Whing tested Olejnik in the first minute, but the keeper collected the stand-in captain’s long drive with some ease. The keeper sent Josh Carson away with a long throw, and he went coast-to-coast to earn a corner while the Oxford defense tried to figure out who was marking whom.

That was one of the issues with such a changed XI – Mullins and Ssewankambo had hardly played together even in training, and now they needed to forge an understanding with Dunkley and Wright on the bench, not recovered sufficiently to start the match.

Chris Long shook free of Ssewankambo in the penalty area and Ashdown had to be quick to save from his rising shot, which gave Kyle a sense of foreboding. York was looking much brighter, and to an extent that was to be expected, but Long getting free in the area a second time, in twenty minutes, was downright alarming.

Ashdown had the answer there too, but it was only through the keeper’s brilliance that the match was still scoreless.

It took 36 minutes for the first decent chance for Oxford, with O’Dowda forcing Olejnik into a save from the left flank. But that was, in essence, all that happened. Meades launched an effort that nearly cleared the roof of the Mail stand just before half, but that was it.

Kyle had been afraid of this, but it still would take only one goal to win the match and since Oxford always found a way to score, he wasn’t worried.

“Just keep working, it will come for you,” he assured the players. Kyle knew he was about twenty minutes away from being able to put his bench players out there for impact and if his team could hold out that long, Oxford’s chances were much better.

However, Hoskins had gashed his leg on a studs-up challenge just before the interval and had to come off after it was determined that he needed stitches. That was a significant issue – tied with Hoban for the club lead in goal scoring with 14, his was a loss Oxford could ill afford.

Hoban came on to front Roberts and the second half began.

It took four minutes for Kyle’s plans to be ruined, as Jake Hyde wormed his way through the central defenders and beat Ashdown along the floor to put York in the lead.

Robert Burns wrote that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” but while Kyle wasn’t exactly a literary fan, the sentiment was surely one he could appreciate.

Now his depleted team had to chase the game, but by the time Kyle had issued new instructions to the team for erasing the deficit, Hyde worked a perfect wall pass for Long in the Oxford area and the striker had made it 2-0.

There was nothing anyone on the bench could say. Two quick-fire goals had put York into a commanding position and Kyle’s team was squarely up against it.

Though down two, he felt his team could climb back into the match – and he showed calmness on the touchline, trying to inspire his men.

Another, more famous individual had once said that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. While divine intervention wasn’t quite necessary at that point, the man who had uttered those words was an authority on miracles. And Oxford needed one, with a youth striker, two untested central defenders, two other loanees and an 18-year old central midfielder on the park.

They got more possession in the ensuing minutes, with Meades earning a free kick on the hour that he then put over the crossbar. Maddison, who hadn’t scored all season despite his prowess in dead-ball situations, was on the bench watching but Meades did little better.

At that point Kyle went to Maddison, putting him on in place of Ashby with his second substitution, with the team needing goals and half an hour to find them.

Josh Carson then came close to a third for York, with Ashdown clawing the ball around the post. He was playing very well – but he was the only one.

Long had two more chances and Josh Lelan a third for York before Kyle couldn’t stand it any more. Roberts, for all his energy, was overmatched and needed to come off. He put on Skarz, out of desperation as much as anything else, asking for ten minutes of magic at left midfield while O’Dowda moved up behind Hoban as an emergency striker.

Skarz got a nice hand from the faithful as he came on for the first time in nearly four months, but even that bit of lift didn’t help.

Oxford had been blanked for the first time in Kyle Cain’s tenure – at home, to a team eleven places below them in the table at the start of the match, but only ten spots behind at its end.

From the point of view of playoff chances, this loss was borderline devastating. Oxford couldn’t handle two matches in three days, and had won one point from six at a vital point in the season.

Oxford United: Ashdown: Grimshaw, Mullins, Ssewankambo, Potts, Whing (captain), Meades, Ashby (Maddison 59), O’Dowda, Roberts (Skarz 82), Hoskins (Hoban 45). Unused subs: Clarke, Dunkley, Wright, Rose.

Oxford United 0
York City 2 (Jake Hyde 49, Chris Long 54)
H/T: 0-0
A – 4,890, The Kassam Stadium, Oxford
Man of the Match: Femi Ilesanmi, York City (MR 8.0)
GUMP: Jamie Ashdown

# # #
Tough tough loss, it will be interesting to see the reaction in the next update
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This one was tough. No doubt about it. Not quite a deep enough squad to handle two matches in three days.
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“I can’t fault the players, they did all they could. We just didn’t have enough legs and York were fresher than we were. Fair play to them, they deserved it today. We did our best but we just couldn’t match them for those five minutes in the second half. They took advantage.”

The mood in the changing room had been difficult. The players were devastated. Running out of time in the fixture list, they were indeed chasing playoff dreams and the setback, at home, had seriously hurt their chances.

Tranmere had beaten Luton 3-1 at home and that was the worst news. Northampton drew 1-1 at Sixfields against Cambridge – still a future Oxford opponent – and that meant the Us had dropped to ninth place, five points out of the playoff places with five matches to play.

There was worse news. Hoskins’ cut was bad enough to require seven stitches and two weeks on the sidelines, at exactly the worst possible time.

So for Kyle, who had bought in to the playoff dream just as much as his players had, it was a particularly difficult media session after the match.

York wasn’t going anywhere. They had entered the match 19th and left it eighteenth. But they had come dangerously close to turning Oxford’s hopes into a smoking wreck.

Kyle was wondering what he was going to do for strikers, with Hoban the only healthy true senior striker backed up by Roberts. The news on Hylton was getting better by the day and the word was that he might be ready for the bench by the Wimbledon match if everything worked out right, but again Oxford was wafer-thin up front. O’Dowda was the next option at striker but his wing play was sorely needed, especially with MacDonald suspended for the now-vital clash with AFC Wimbledon.

But then, at the end of a long season everyone is battling injury and that’s that. You just deal with it, and Kyle knew it.

Find a way. If you want to get anywhere in this game, it’s the only option.

Deep in thought and disconsolate, Kyle headed back to his office. He arrived to find a darkened room, illuminated only by the television screen he had forgotten to switch off before heading to the changing room before the match.

He flipped on the light and saw a newspaper clipping sitting in the middle of his desk.

He crossed the room, sat in his chair and read what had been placed in front of him.

"William (Bill) Weber, 75, Fordham Road, Hemel Hempstead, passed away on the 2nd April 2015 after a long battle with cancer.

Mr. Weber was a manager at British Petroleum until his retirement in 2004. He worked for the company for 39 years and was active in many local clubs and service organizations. He was a passionate fan of Hemel Hempstead Football Club and was a longtime Tudors season-pass holder.

He is survived by his wife of fifty years, Margaret, and two daughters: Charlotte Weber of Hemel Hempstead and Diana (Moore) Weber of Oxfordshire.

Arrangements through Neville Funeral Service, Hemel Hempstead. A celebration of life is scheduled for Wednesday, 8 April from 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Memorials preferred."


And, just like that, Kyle Cain understood why Diana Moore hated him.

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Well... there it is, we can only assume who put it on the desk...

You are reading "[FM15] Raising Cain".

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