Under The Lens Part 5: A Surprising November

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We start November by welcoming 9th placed Amiens SC to the north of France. We went into the bonfire night clash as favourites and after seeing Valenciennes and Stade Brestois 29 drop points ahead of us it was a perfect opportunity to jump back to 2nd place. Unfortunately though we were without big Kermit for this game as he was still nursing a groin strain, in comes Habib Habibou to partner the youngster Bari.

So we followed suit and dropped points like everyone else…Despite missing a few crucial chances the loss isn’t bad as it could’ve been as we stay in 3rd. Please come back Cristian and Kermit!!!

Looking to get back to winning ways we had our French Cup 7th round tie against French National side ASM Belfortaine. We had Cristian back which was a good sign but Kermit wasn’t quite ready for game time. Even though we went into this as favourites I wasn’t too confident after our back to back losses so if we lose this game I might have to move back to the 4-4-2 of earlier in the season.

It wasn’t comfortable but we’re through to play Valenciennes in the 8th round. The only real positive that came from the game was Bilal Bari’s – who was promoted from the under 19’s a couple of weeks ago – first senior goal for the club, a neat finish in a one on one situation.

In the interim between our next match we were drawn to play US Orleans in the 4th round of the Coupe de la Ligue who we beat 2-1 earlier in the league this year so hopefully we can repeat that and get into the quarter finals.

Back to Ligue 2 and we had a meeting with AC Ajaccio, the side who sat rock bottom of the league. Hopefully this would prove to be the much-needed confidence boost that we need to kick on in the hunt for promotion. After a few questionable performances, we’ll be reverting back to 4-4-2 to see if that works a bit better.

We didn’t win but there were some positives to take from the game. Mathias Autret came back into the side after weeks of not fitting into the 3-4-1-2 system and showed me just why he should be playing, causing havoc down the left wing and we’re actually scoring more than once which is always nice. It was a free kick that pegged us back to a point which saw us drop to 4th on goal difference…maybe it was time for a team meeting.

The players seemed to respond well to a passionate talking to telling them to really kick on so hopefully they deliver in the coming weeks.

In search of that ever more important W, we played 14th placed Stade Lavallois Mayenne. Kermit Erasmus finally makes a return to the starting line up so it’s back to the normal partnership of him and Cristian who are both on 8 goals at the moment.

Somehow we managed to win that. For most of the game we were just trying to survive but thanks to a Cristian header along with Appiah scoring within a minute of coming on, we’re back up to 3rd spot. The winning goal came after a switch back to the 3-4-1-2 formation which has got me thinking again about which of the two to use but we’ll see what best suits our next opponents. Unfortunately the game also saw Autret pick up a foot injury that’ll keep him out for 12 days.

Well that was unexpected. Luckily the performances so far have seen the board take quite a liking to me. Their expectations for the season were just to finish in the top half and we’re definitely on course to do so, but I’m hoping that we can push on for an automatic promotion spot.

Back to the football though and we had a trip back to Tours who we beat 1-0 earlier in the season, this time we face them in the league, to fit Appiah into the team after his 4 goals in 2 games I’ve moved back to the 3-4-1-2, playing him as a shadow striker.

So Appiah did get on the scoresheet but silly mistakes cost us the game. From Cristian hitting the post twice to Abdoul Ba, who is now out for 8 weeks, not clearing his lines after our goal was a disaster.

November wasn’t very impressive but we’re still in the running for promotion to Ligue 1 in 4th place (behind 3rd on goal difference) so hopefully we can push on before the winter break. The month also saw Appiah win Player of the Month having scored 5 goals in 4 games.