It’s time for a new update on how OTT FC are doing in the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League. The last part of this series ended as September came to a close, and that is where I pick up the save file.
We currently sit fifth in the table on nine points after six matches have been played. Queens University leads the way on 13 points with Banbridge sitting bottom in 11th on three points.
The opening game of October was against Newington YC at home, with the Writers probably the favourites going into the match with Newington predicted to finish seventh. I went with an unchanged starting XI: D Smyth, Richardson, Arafa, Boyle, Hamil, Taylor, O Smyth, Keenan, Mackie, Wilson, Patterson.
Despite the favourites tag, it was Newington that found themselves 1-0 up after 39 minutes, with Michael Edgar putting them into the lead. This was the only goal in the opening 45 minutes, which was tightly contested with OTT FC just ahead on possession 55 to 45. Tiarnan Mulvenna then made it 2-0 to Newington in the 77th minute, with OTT FC looking down and out. Tiarnan Mulvenna then made it 3-0 just three minutes later with a wonder strike from outside the box. A minute later Robbie Hume made it 4-0 to give Newington a massive win over OTT FC.
After the horrid defeat against Newington, I made some tactical changes ahead of the match against a yet unnamed opponent in the first round of the Intermediate Cup. There was a player that joined us from Ballymacash Rangers and has the surname of that is instantly recognisable in Northern Ireland: Best. I’m not sure if there is any connection to George, but he is going straight into the starting XI after impressing in the reserve side.
The first-round draw for the Intermediate Cup was done and we will play host to Suffolk FC who play in the Northern Irish Amateur Division 1C, four tiers below where OTT FC currently are. Before we played that match, Ben Mitchell was quite unhappy with the lack of game time, so in order to give him that and not disrupt his progress, I decided to release him on a free.
The starting XIs for the Intermediate Cup 1st Round tie against Suffolk F.C were as follows:
There was a number of changes going into this match, with Nathan Best making his debut. Michael McKenna and Adam Brown also came back into the starting XI to replace Tarek Arafa and Dylan Wilson, while Nathan Best replaced Kyle Mackie. After 47 seconds, OTT FC was given a penalty which was taken by Rory Patterson. He placed the ball into the bottom left corner of the net to give the Writers an early lead. Nathan Best then scored his first goal for the side after 13 minutes with a great strike from outside the box.
At half time it was 2-0 to OTT FC, in a game where they already had 12 shots. Adam Brown made it 3-0 after 50 minutes after great link-up play between Patterson and Best which left the Suffolk defence panicked. Suffolk then got one back seven minutes later, when Shane Boyle put the ball in the back of his own net, however, this goal was disallowed as Boyle was pushed. A let-off for OTT FC, despite being 3-0 up. Best got his second of the game with another brilliant strike outside the box in the 83rd minute, with OTT FC controlling the game until the referee brought the proceedings to an end.
The following game was against Armagh, with the first half being lively, but neither side was able to break the deadlock. Tiarnan Rushe gave Armagh the lead a minute into the second half before substitute Paul Smith equalised for the Writers in the 87th minute. Armagh scored in the 93rd minute to put the hosts 2-1 up, with the game ending this way.
After yet another defeat, it was time to experiment with formations. I was considering going with a 4-4-2 but instead went for a 5-2-1-2. With almost a month before the next match, I decided to arrange a few friendlies to try out this new formation.
The friendlies went as follows:
vs Moyola Park (H) 2-1 – OTT Goals: O Smyth 34’, McCreery 79’ – Moy Goals: King 64’
vs Banbridge (A) 1-1 – Ban Goal: Wallace 35’ – OTT Goal: Smith 67’
vs PSNI (H) 0-2 – PSNI Goals: Hutchinson 21’ Pen, Stewart 68’
vs Strabane Ath (H) 0-0
After these disappointing friendly matches, I went back to the original formation, but with one slight change. Luke McKee will now play as a defensive midfielder with the full-backs being attacking full-backs, and McKenna put on defensive centre-back instead of cover.
That is going to bring to an end part three of season two, with it being quite a disappointing run of games for OTT FC. Hopefully, we can bounce back in the next part, and with the January transfer window approaching, hopefully, there can be a few improvements made to the squad.