Mission Accomplished!!! Following last weekends magnificent 2-1 away victory at bogey side Oxford United we are officially safe.
Credit must be given to James Beattie and his staff on what is another superb achievement, keeping my tiny club in the football league for another year. I must admit in September I really did think we where doomed. No win, 4 draws and 8 losses in the opening 12 games left us planted at the foot of the table leaving us almost 10 points adrift.
After Saturday’s 3-2 home win against Wimbledon we ended up safely in mid-table in a nice 15th position, our highest all season. In fact if the season actually started in October we would have ended up 7th, which is quite a remarkable statistic if there ever was one!
So what changed??
I just think it was a little belief from the lads that got them going, especially in late September with the first wins against Bristol Rovers and Morecambe.
Central defender Tom Aldred who has been absolutely magnificent all season said the Wimbledon away game was a turning point. Down to 10 men for 50 minutes we held on for a superb 1-1 draw and showed real battling qualities.
I think coupled with the form of Aldred and fellow central defender Dean Winnard we really did have a good base to build on. Aldred played every game of the season and apparently is a wanted man by a number of clubs.
Thankfully he already has a deal here for next season, meaning a nice fee would be payable if he was to move on. Young Fulham loan goalkeeper Marcus Betinelli was simply brilliant all season and I’m praying we can get him back again next year, make no mistake he is at least a Championship keeper of the future.
Rumour has it Beattie and the staff where planning on next years contracts a few weeks back, which is good to hear. We already have 10 players signed up for next season, which must be some sort of record for us.
I remember a few years back we actually had a grand total of 1 player signed up on the first day of pre-season training! Unfortunately it looks like most if not all the loan players have gone, im just hoping there is a chance we can get one or two of them back. Young defender Adam Buxton on loan from (Wigan Atheltic) and Stanley crowd favourite Lee Molyenux (Crewe Alex) would be the first on my list. They both offer a huge amount to the club and side as a whole.
I must also mention young midfielder Josh Windass who had a great finish to the season along with striker James Gray. Both have flattered to deceive throughout the year with a quick cameo here and there, but not really looking up to the job of League football. How that all changed in the last few games with both looking the real deal. Fingers crossed they commit to us for next season. Young Windass particularly caught my eye with a superb show away at Oxford last week and after a year of development could be an essential starter next season. It must have been frustrating spending a large part of the season on the bench, but the way he conducted himself has been superb, well done Josh.
Roll on next season.
On Stanley On.