In the last article, OTT FC hit a dead-end in terms of performance as the 4-3-3 that was used so effectively in their title-winning season just wasn’t clicking in the Premier Intermediate League, and after experimenting with tactics in a few friendly matches during a gap in the calendar, I have reverted back to the 4-3-3 but with one major change – we now have a defensive midfielder and two centre-midfielders instead of the three centre-midfielders in the middle.

A quick update as to how the other leagues above us are getting on. In the Dankse Bank Premiership Linfield lead the way, with Carrick occupying the bottom spot. In the Bluefin Sport Championship, Newry City are currently leading with Dundela struggling down in 12th.

The first game of this article was an Intermediate Cup tie against Rathfriland Rangers, a team that we should be beating, but performances have not been great as of late. It will come to no surprise to you that OTT FC went 1-0 down thanks to Graeme Edgar after Michael McKenna ignored all instructions set on him to boot the ball back down the pitch and forget to mark the opposing striker. Joe Finlay made it 2-0 after 39 minutes, causing me to switch to a 4-4-2 in order to try and get back into the game.

The 4-4-2 formation seemed to work, with OTT dominating possession and found themselves with a penalty on the stroke of half time. Rory Patterson stepped up and scored to make the score 2-1 to Rathfriland. But despite the dominate of OTT FC, it was Rathfriland that went through, despite the referee bellowing the whistle a whole 45 seconds before the end of added time.

I am just not sure what is going on with the tactics and how despite there being a jump in quality between the leagues, the players are just not finding their feet and are struggling. It could be the turnover of players, so I am going to go back to a team that was with us last season and got us promoted, minus the few players that have left. I also streamlined those tactics so it was with a simple higher tempo, more urgent pressing, counter-attacking set-up.

Before OTT FC play their 4th round tie in the Irish Cup, there were two league games that needed to be played. These went as follows:

vs Limavady United (H) 1-0 – Goal: Arafa 7’

vs Lisburn Distillery (A) 0-3 Goals: Lavery 19’, Smyth 73’, Best 91’

The performances in both these matches were very good, and it looks like the team is starting to get back to their winning ways, and with these results, it also moves us back up the table to fifth place. The next game, however, was going to be tough: it was the Irish Cup 4th round tie against Comber Rec.

Comber Rec took the lead through Paul Hunter in the 55th minute before Oisin Smyth equalised for the Writers in the 80th minute. The ended 1-1 so extra time was to be played. Jordan Dougherty gave Comber the lead in the third minute of extra time, putting OTT FC on the back foot yet again. Shane Boyle then put OTT FC back on level terms in the 108th minute to make the final 12 minutes very important for both sides.

Just two minutes later Jordan Dougherty headed Comber back into the lead, with the injury to Richardson and the suspension of Arafa really showing, Adam Brown scored a dramatic last-minute equaliser for OTT FC, putting the game into extra-time. It was the Writers who saw themselves come out on top, winning 5-3 and putting them into the fifth round of the Irish Cup, where we will face P.S.N.I.

Two players have arrived at the Ronnie Dog Arena. Josh Boyd joins from Crusaders on a free transfer, while Grant Hutchinson joins from Dungannon Swifts. Both these players will go straight into the starting XI for our next match.

Between now and the end of December there were three more matches, which went as follows:

vs Bangor (A) 1-1 – Bangor Goal: Dunlop 54’- OTT Goal: Lavery 90’

vs Queens University (H) 2-2 – OTT Goals: Boyle 2’, Boyd 40’ – Queens Goals: Jones 32’ McCready 33’

vs Moyola Park (A) 0-1 – Goal: Brown 26’

So that is going to bring to an end of part four of season two in my journey to the Irish Premiership with Over The Turnstile FC. In part five we continue both our league and cup campaigns as we start the see in the new year.