2022/23 season

(updated monthly as we go along – links to external websites on match summaries may expire over time)

Bards now managed by Dean Holdworth renewed the contracts of several regulars from the previous season, but it was disappointing for many that Jordan Williams had moved away from the area. Also departing were Jimmy Fry (to Bromsgrove) and Kynan Isaac after 4 seasons. Paul McCone and James O’Neill were signed to form the central defence, with Josh Endall to play on the left side. Josh Hawker (central midfield) and attacker Dexter Walters also joined before the start of the season as did Jamie Molyneux returning to the club after 9 seasons away. They joined Will Grocott for a 7th season, Dann Vann (4th season), Ashley Sammons and Will Dawes for a 3rd season and keeper Liam O’Brien, Jack Storer, Dan Lafferty and Jack Turner all returning for a second season.

With Banbury Utd and Peterborough Sports (play-off winners) promoted into the National League North, there was a reshuffle with Mickleover and Basford transferring from the Northern Premier League step 3 across to our ‘Central’ division. Biggleswade (who beat us 7-1) and Lowestoft (the furthest away) dropped out of the league replaced by Bedford and Ilkeston (step 4 winners in their leagues). Barwell remained in the league on PPG compared to other bottom 3 sides at step 3. Kings Langley also returned after nearly being relegated from the Southern Section to make up the numbers to a full set of teams again (22). In theory, a slightly easier division than last year, Town were 20th favourites to win the league at 66/1. Let’s hope the bookies get it wrong.

Off the pitch, newly refurbished outside classrooms were constructed alongside the 4G pitch, and a new drive alongside the classrooms for extra car parking – the board fully backing the full time education programme giving youngsters an opportunity to learn alongside being coached and playing for Academy sides and invested a considerable amount of money into the programme and the infrastructure that goes with it.

Town announced 2 new directors – Paul West and Steve Sykes and a new man on the mic Stuart Morse who announces the 50/50 winners

Town had their usual pre-season fixtures against sides below them, football league select XIs and National League sides. All 10 friendlies scheduled for the whole of July were at home and started on the 2nd when The Bards hosted an Open Day to witness the 2 new seated stands by the dugouts, a new ‘fanzone’ and our only friendly victory – a 5-2 win over Coventry Sphinx. As usual there were plenty of trialists on show and apart from a 2-2 draw v lower-level Daventry all other friendlies were lost, some by considerable margins, although as they say it’s more about fitness!

AUGUSTBards in mid-table and according to the bookmakers, the league table is upside down!

The Bards6231911-2910thWDWDLD

The Bards lay in 10th place in the table with 2 wins, 3 draws and a heavy defeat at St Ives in their 2nd game. If we had managed to hold on when winning in the last few minutes of those 3 draws, then we would be sitting pretty near the top of the table. As it is Bards were a couple of points off the top 5. Apart from the St Ives game (when going down to 10 men early), the results show The Bards have been competitive in the rest of the games and have played some good football at times particularly v Bromsgrove, the highlight of the month.

Bedford, who had been promoted from step 4, came to The Arden Garages Stadium for the first game of the season. Bards grabbed the lead against the run of play on 26 after Josh Hawker intercepted the ball and ran through to score. In the second half, clearances off the line from Grocott and Hawker kept the score to 1-0. Bedford, who according to Rod had twice as many goal attempts (20) as Bards, equalised on 88 firing in from close range. Bards had 11 attempts, 9 on target – Bedford had 8 on target so maybe a draw was a fair result. (Youtube highlights)

A heavy defeat at St Ives followed in the first away game of the season on one of the hottest days of the year. Former Bard, Nabil Sharrif bagged a hat-trick with another ex-Bard Kaziboni causing problems for the Bards defence. The first 2 goals for the home side came from the penalty spot in the first 20 minutes with the first on only 5. 7 minutes later, Storer was sent off and The Bards were up against it. 2-0 down at half time, it was 4-0 after an hour. St Ives made it 5 after missing a penalty. Stratford had the chance for a consolation but Grocott had his penalty saved on a day to forget

At Redditch Utd, 2 days after St Ives, Bards threw away a 2-goal lead in the last 7 minutes. Bards were on top with 2 goals from Hawker smashing in a rebound and a Grocott free kick going straight in, in a 5-minute spell midway through the second half. Redditch scrambled the ball in after 84 and another close range goal inninjury time denied Bards all 3 points. “We must see the game out”, said Dean again. (Youtube highlights). Again, Rod’s stats showed Redditch had more attempts 9 with only 3 on target. Bards had 4 on target from 7

Our only clean sheet came in our first win in our 4th game, a 1-0 win v Hednesford with an Ash volley on the half hour. Hednesford pushed for an equaliser, but O’Brien was largely untroubled.- (post match reaction).

Bank Holiday Saturday saw The Bards go to Kings Langley. “This was beyond doubt the most disappointing result this season for The Bard and a massive missed opportunity in a game of 2 halves.” stated the website. In another frustrating game, Bards failed to capitalise after the home side went down to 10 men after 35. They eventually took the lead on 88 through Rooney poking home after 88 but Kings Langley scrambled the ball home with the last kick of the game. The post match reaction talked about game management and scoring when on top.

As August drew to a close with the highly entertaining 4-2 win v Bromsgrove, at 2-2 with 10 minutes to go v Bromsgrove, who included 6 ex Town players and an ex-manager, the game could arguably have gone either way but 2 late goals from Town for a change – Paul McCone’s header and Dexter’s breakaway goal sealed the points. Bromsgrove took the lead on 15 through Ex Bard Jimmy Fry but and Josh Hawker slid in our first a minute later. Another Ex-Bard, Dan Sweeney scored from the spot just before the hour but 2 minutes later, Michael McGrath netted for The Bards slicing a cross into his own net. Both sides had 7 shots on target (Bards had 13 attempts to 11) according to Rod, but Bards had to defend 15 corners. “It was a credit to the boys that 48 hours after that tough game against Kings Langley, to come and do what we did today was outstanding and I’m immensely proud of them.” said Gav. Highlights on Youtube (Bromsgrove Sporting)

Town seem to have a settled team – Liam, the central defence and midfield, with 8 players making all 6 appearances, Jack Turner (5) and Adam Rooney starting the last 3 games up front. This time last year we had 9 points from 5 games and were 5th. Josh Hawker leads the goal scoring charts with 3.

League Table  in a turn up for the bookmakers and their odds at the start of the season, Nuneaton Borough (66/1) are the early pace setters with 5 wins out of 6 having struggled last year, taking over from Coalville Town who led the way until losing their last game. 2 of the teams who The Bards have played, Kings Langley (100/1 and strugglers last year) and St Ives are also in a play off position sandwiched between TamworthAt the other end, Rushden and Diamonds (18/1), Hednesford (8/1), Stourbridge (8/1) and much fancied Ilkeston (5/2 favourites!) have yet to win a game. Bards’ opening opponents, Bedford have conceded the most goals (17) in their 6 games (not helped by losing 8-1 v Tamworth).

Players In  Adam Rooney (“probably the biggest signing this football club has ever had”), winger Chris Lait (who played for us in 2012 and then in 2013 was part of the promotion-winning team under Carl Adams), Ryan Inman (midfielder returning from United States), the versatile Taylor Morrison (who was with The Bards in 2018 and scored at Needham Market on his only appearance before playing for Alvechurch, Redditch and Tamworth) and Felix Miles (attacking midfielder) and Brennan Denness-Barrett (pacey attacker) who both joined after being released by League One side Cheltenham Town

SEPTEMBER – Bards in mid table 2 points off the playoffs but are out of the FA Cup

The Bards93421314-11310thLDW

The Bards started off the month well with a 4-0 victory in The FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round at Cleethorpes. We’re told via the club website “it was an epic cup tie against formidable cup opponents, that had everything from an [Adam Rooney] hat-trick, disallowed goals, balls kicked off the line, balls hitting the post and the inevitable squabble.” “The goals we scored were brilliant” said Dean. Sounds well worth the trip! Cleethorpes, a step below Stratford, had started their league fixtures with 4 wins out of 4. Highlights on Youtube – (Owls TV)

The draw in the next round wasn’t favourable with a home game against 2nd in the Nationwide North Banbury Utd and in front of another large crowd at The Arden Garages Stadium, The Bards had plenty of chances to get something from the game but were beaten by a spectacular goal just before half time. Leon Phillips on loan from Alvechurch had a fine debut making some good saves. A day after it was announced Dean Holdsworth had stepped down as joint manager.

In the league The Bards started with 1 win and 1 draw to go 6 games unbeaten to lie just outside the top 5 but lost at Ilkeston to fall back to 10th, still only 2 points outside the playoffs. The Ilkeston game sounds like a bit of a nightmare with injuries during the warmup and 2 during the first half including what sounded like a nasty injury to Jack. All the goals took place in 7 minutes – despite taking the lead through Adam, the re-shuffled Bards quickly conceded 2 at the other end. Despite losing to a team below us, Ilkeston were the favourites for promotion and have picked up since changing managers including a recent impressive 4-1 win at Coalville. “it’s a tough pill to swallow” said Gav

September’s league games were delayed with the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll. After a minutes silence and singing the national anthem, Dan Vann’s header after 3 minutes at the back post from a corner gave The Bards a flying start in a new dark blue kit v Rushden and Diamonds. A 2nd through Dexter Walter’s tap in in the 2nd half from another Grocott assist sealed the game. Credit to Louis and the defence for a clean sheet after Liam was withdrawn before the game started. “I felt from minute one tonight the lads were in control” said Gav. Highlights on Youtube – (AFCRDTV)

The Bards then faced their toughest league test of the season at home to Nuneaton. We rode our luck at times in front of another large crowd but it was an excellent point in another entertaining game with Dan Lafferty getting our equaliser and Nuneaton again missing a penalty against us. Another excellent performance by Leon our loan keeper and Dexter had a fine game causing the Nuneaton defence problems down the wing so much so they were reduced to 10 men.

Players – Will Grocott and Josh Hawker have been ever present in midfield so has Jamie Molyneux (1 as sub). Jack Turner and Ashley (some as sub) and Dexter (some as sub) have only missed 1 game. The injury to Paul McCone in the last game ended the impressive season long partnership with James McNeill at the back. Josh Hawker tops the league scoring charts with 3 followed by Dexter Walters and Adam Rooney with 2.

League Table  9 games in and the league is fairly tight – Tamworth top and Nuneaton have 20 points followed by last year’s play off finalists Coalville (19) Needham Market (16) and Leiston (15) completing the play off positions. With 13 points, the unbeaten at home and winless away Bards lie in 10th 2 points behind 5th placed Leiston. At the other end Hednesford (2 points) now under Steve Burr have yet to win a game, Rushden and Diamonds (5) and Stourbridge (7) are in the relegation spots with 1 win each – Rushden losing 7-0 in their last home game v Coalville. Ex Bard Daniel Creaney is the first to double figures with 11 goals so far for Tamworth.

Players In  21 year old goalkeeper Leon Phillips and Lewis Wilson. Leon on loan from Alvechurch – more on the league website who has been impressive in goal and the versatile Lewis Wilson who came on as sub v Banbury. Lewis first joined the club at the start of the 2018/19 season and returned every year apart from the brief 2020/21 season.

Players Who Departed – Will Dawes to Yeovil Town

OCTOBERA month of 5 goalkeepers, 4 league defeats, average 3 goals conceded – 2 goals minimum per game, 1 win

The Bards144461929-101618thLLWLL

The Bards clearly missed Liam this month and used 5 goalkeepers in his place conceding 15 league goals some of which were very soft and it was noticeable at times needing to use different goalkeepers affected the defending. We won’t win many points conceding an average of 3 goals per game and a minimum of 2 although we did manage to score 4 v Needham Market in a somewhat surprising result against the best defence after 5-0 and 4-0 league defeats. Despite being in 18th, Bards are 7 points off a play-off spot or 7 points from an automatic relegation spot and the game v Hitchin summed up how close the league is as The Bards went from 7th to 16th in their 13th game in the space of 23 minutes. Bards appointed a new technical director Simon Hollyhead at the start of the month. He was Assistant Manager at Malmo and Stevenage.

It is said there are 3 certain things in life – death, taxes and The Bards failing to beat Rushall Olympic. This time it was another thumping 5-0 defeat this season which ended our unbeaten home league record in emphatic style. It’s now 6 defeats out of 7 and 21 goals conceded against them! Jed apologised to the supporters after the game on behalf of himself and the players and it did seem some players were playing with knocks. Five goals of absurd simplicity stated the website, the 2nd was hotly disputed for a foul on Leon after a goal direct from a corner and the third past a clearly injured Leon resulted in his substitution by Callum Monaghan.4-star entertainment (Non-League Paper) it was not for The Bards fans! Rushall had 10 shots on target from 13 attempts to Stratford’s 5 from 9 attempts according to Rod but Bards never looked like threatening to end the hoodoo against them. “a really bad day at the office” said Gav – “conceding silly goals must stop’ was the headline in The Herald.

FA Trophy – losing 2-1 to Royston for the second successive season, The Bards exited the competition at the first stage for the fourth year running. Despite the Royston keeper having a busier time than our debutant youth keeper Luke Bell, The Bards only goal came from a fine finish from a Royston defender 3 minutes (on the new scoreboard clock) into the game under no pressure from a cross. Bards conceded another soft goal just before half time with maybe the aid of a deflection. A tap in for the visitors with 15 to go saw the Bards exit. Still, it was good to see more first teamers back maybe some not fully fit yet and it has been acknowledged the service to the front 3 needs improving. “We’ve switched off in both boxes and it’s cost us our cup run” said Gav. The new 40-page online programme included an insightful look at how sports clubs in the district are going to face the increasing energy costs with The Chairman, and an update on the club’s Academy.

After a 5-0 defeat in the league, The Bards shipped 4 at Stourbridge without reply at another unhappy hunting ground for The Bards now losing their 4 games there at this level conceding 14 Niall Maher became the 6th goalkeeper to be used by The Bards who were 2-0 down at half time – moving swiftly on…According to Rod, Stourbridge ha 11 shots on target to Stratford’s 4.

After 2 crushing defeats and no league wins in 4, against the meanest defence in Needham Market, Stratford scored 2 in quick time after a fairly even first 25 minutes with Jack Storer and Andre Wright opening their accounts for the season to make it 2-0 at half time. The Bards are still conceding sloppy goals and after we lost the ball in possession near the halfway line, Needham Market reduced the arrears. The Bards, however, hit back straight away to regain their 2-goal advantage – Storer finishing in the box again from a cross, one of many fine moves throughout the game. Once again, a sloppy goal was conceded but another fine individual effort from Andre won the game 4-2. Special mention to Will’s magnificent volley from outside the box which would have made the Goal of the Season shortlist had it not been for the offside flag! Many Bards fans were impressed with the slick passing moves throughout the game and there were a number of Man of the Match candidates – Dan Lafferty (tannoy), Andre (club award) and Jack Storer (Non-League paper). Sam Wilding also had a fine debut providing much needed defensive midfield duties. The front 2 benefitted from much improved service (compared to sometimes the striker(s) being isolated in previous games). According to Rod, Bards had 9 on target from their 14 attempts, Needham managed 4 on target from 11. The online programme had Articles by Martin Kenny on memorable games at Masons Road and an interview with The Bards new Business Development Manager Mick Parsons

Next up, playing Hitchin Town who were without a win in 6 and the 2nd lowest scorers gave The Bards fans hope of another victory under the new brighter floodlights. Jack Storer’s fine control and shot looked to have given Bards the lead after half time only for the offside flag to be raised late and after consulting the assistant, the referee disallowed the goal. Dan Lafferty’s pile driver on 58 minutes after another fine move did put us ahead and moved The Bards close to a play-off position. But another defensive mix up (the sort of goal that makes the Christmas ‘blooper’ DVD’s with defender heading past their own keeper after a punt upfield) drew Hitchin level. Hitchin scored their 2nd with 10 to go – they only had 2 on target from 5 compared to Bards 5 on target from 8 according to Rod. There were a couple of scrambles in the Hitchin box and what looked like a foul on Sammons in the area waved away by the ref as frustration grew with Bards also collecting 4 bookings. Hitchin held on as the game neared the 100th minute and leapfrog us scoring from both their shots on target. As Gavin said – “As a Manager I was really happy in how we played, how we created and how we kept our shape but if you’re not clinical in both boxes you won’t win a game you won’t even draw a game. For 85% of the game we dominated the game and played some great football but we beat ourselves“. On-line programme

In their final game of the month, Stratford again lost to a side below them at Barwell . It was encouraging Liam was back on the bench but with just 2 minutes gone, another ‘calamity in defence’ saw indecision from the keeper leading to Barwell nipping in and opening the scoring. That said, Louis made some fine saves in the game. The game began to swing after Jack Storer came on and Andre Wright drew the Bards level with a crisp shot outside the box with fans now expecting a win. That lasted 2 minutes as Barwell scored a winner after slack marking. “If you’re not clinical in both boxes you won’t win football matches.” said Gav in what was becoming a recurring theme. According to Rod, the shots on target were fairly even, Bards 9 from 18 attempts to Barwell’s 8 from 15 attempts.

Players – James O’Neill and Will Grocott have been ever present, Sammons and Molyneux (sometimes coming on as sub) have missed 1 game. The 3 goals Andre Wright scored in his first 3 games mean he is now joint top league goal scorer alongside Josh Hawker.

League Table  Tamworth, winning their last 9 games, have opened up a 10-point sizeable gap at the top of the table with 35 points after Nuneaton (25 points) failed to win their last 3 games including a surprise defeat at Rushden and Diamonds. Leiston join Nuneaton on 25 points with both having a game in hand, Redditch (24) and Coalville (23 with 2 games in hand) make up the play off positions. Leiston had the biggest win of the month, 7-1 at Bromsgrove. Bards are 18th with 16 points but Alvechurch (15) below us have 3 games in hand. The bottom 2 are Hednesford (8) and Rushden and Diamonds (9 points and with a minus 26 goal difference). Hednesford beat Rushden 5-0 for their only victory so far. Bards have kept their only clean sheets in the wins against the bottom 2 sides. Kings Langley (13) are in the relegation play-off spot. Needham Market still have the meanest defence in the league conceding 12 goals with 4 coming v The Bards. Ex Bard Daniel Creaney is top of the scoring charts with 18 goals (half of Tamworth’s total) – Ex Bard Leroy Lita is joint 2nd with 10 goals out of Hednesford’s 18. The 2 promoted sides last year Banbury (2nd at the start of the month) and Peterborough Sports are mid table in step 2.

Players In  goalkeeper number 5 Niall Maher after Leon was injured after replacing the injured Liam. Goalkeeper number 6 Luke Bell also signed the same week. Andre Wright was brought in up front to replace Adam Rooney. Andre has bought in much needed presence up front, linking up play well and scoring fine individual goals. Former Sunderland Under 23 captain defensive midfielder Sam Wilding also joined and the league website announced Jesse Akubuine joined from Rushden and Diamonds.

Players Who Departed – Adam Rooney left to go to Brackley Town after the FA Trophy game.

NOVEMBER – 3 draws and 1 league defeat in November sees us now winless in 6

The Bards184772637-111918thDDLD

At the start of the season, Bards had lost just one of their opening 8 league games and were near a play-off place. Fast forward to November, The Bards are nearer the relegation zone with only 1 win in the next 11, gaining just 6 points. November saw 3 draws and 1 defeat – maybe we didn’t get the rub of the green in some of those games, but simple goals are still costing us. Bards are still winless away in 8 league games this season.

Jimmy Fry came back to the club after scoring against us for Bromsgrove. He previously spent 5 seasons here and has joined as coach.

Basford (h) – For the 2nd game running Bards conceded a goal virtually from the kick off, 42 seconds was all it took for Basford to attack down their right and a cross was headed in with ease. It was 0-2 when a low cross was tapped in unchallenged after 14. It took 75 minutes for the Basford keeper to make a fine save from Sammons’ piledriver as the game was spent mostly in the Basford half with the away side not really threatening after going 2-0 up. 5 minutes from the end, a magnificent volley from James O’Neill (after a great chip from Will setting him up) led to the proverbial throwing ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ at the visitors. Liam came up for corners, Wright’s header was cleared off the line and with the last attack of the game, Hawker chested the ball from a headed clearance and drove the ball low into the corner of the net to loud cheers from The Bards faithful as he became our top league scorer with 4. 2 seconds from the restart the final whistle below. A point was deserved through the tremendous fight and passion The Bards displayed especially towards the end – Some weren’t sure it was 4-star entertainment stated by The Non-League Paper but the last 15 minutes were enthralling – as the club website stated a ‘roller-coaster’game. “I think it’s what we deserved to be honest” said Gav. According to Rod’s stats, Bards had 17 attempts (9 on target) compared to Basford’s 4 attempts (3 on target) On-line programme here  Highlights here courtesy of Basford.

Coalville (a) – I think many would have taken a point before the game. Those that went said we put a shift in, grafted well, there was a good debut for Dickinson, who looks strong and vocal tightening up the back 4. Loads of aerial battles were won when Coalville went long ball and other than the penalty on 78, we never looked like conceding. McCone put Bards ahead with a tap in from Will’s corner on 28. Rod’s stats showed it was equal for both sides with 11 goal attempts, 6 shots on target, 5 corners, 2 offsides, 2 yellow cards each, 1 goal apiece with 1 less foul from Barwell (10). Highlights on Youtube. We were ‘camped in’ in the 2nd half said scorer Paul McCone

The Birmingham Senior Cup game saw a West Bromwich Albion Under 23 side run out comfortable 4-0 winners at The Bards who included plenty of ‘fringe’ players. It was fairly even until a goal just before half-time and 4 minutes after effectively won the contest. The 3rd and 4th coming right at the end from swift counter-attacks with the away side using their pace and power up front. Despite all the rain we had in the week and on the day, the pitch looked in excellent condition for the game against the current Premier League Cup winners (a competition run for under 23 sides). According to Rod’s stats, Albion had twice as goal attempts (14) with 8 on target compared to The Bards.

Mickleover (a) – would have been a good point after equalising on 85 minutes through Mikey but another very late goal meant a 4-3 defeat. Those that went said they could not believe we did not get something out of the game – we had shots blocked on the line, but we conceded bad goals again. Mikey Taylor was man of the match in the Non-League Paper and good to see him back on the scoresheet. Akubuine had a fine debut off the bench, was very pacey and MOTM from our STISA correspondent. We had a new formation with 5 at the back and wing-backs – Mickleover had youth and pace, which they used to their advantage after only 4 minutes with the opener from a through ball. A header at the back post from Martin Riley brought us level after 16 but a goal after 40 and a direct free kick around the wall in injury time saw The Bards go in 3-1 down at the break. Will fired home after good work by Mikey 6 after the break as Stratford dominated but had to wait until 85 for our third – Mikey twisting and turning before drilling home. Bards went for the win but were caught on the counterattack with the winning goal coming from a break from the halfway line. According to Rod’s stats, Mickleover edged the game with 13 goal attempts (7 on target) compared to Stratford’s 8 attempts (5 on target). Highlights on Youtube

The Tuesday night game against Redditch was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Royston (h) – The last game of the month saw Royston visit The Arden Garages Stadium. “Silly errors are costing us” was the headline in Gav’s column in the programme – The Bards conceded another seemingly avoidable goal on 26. A misjudged bounce in the penalty area was seized upon by the Crows who made it 1-0 with a low finish from a pull-back. That was one of their 2 shots on target all game. The Bards had the better of the play up till then and Taylor appeared to be fouled from behind in the penalty area on 15 as he advanced through on goal but the referee, who caused frustration during the game for both sides on and off the pitch, waved the claims away. A leg injury to the goalkeeper on 35 saw Royston defend even more resolutely and wind down the clock as much as possible with presumably no sub keeper on their bench. Bards continued to dominate in the 2nd half against the away side, but were susceptible on the break and were lucky Royston didn’t double their lead. The Royston keeper made some good saves (according to Rod’s stats 10 of our 17 attempts were on target) but frustration was growing that The Bards were failing to beat the injured keeper struggling to move. Finally, Mikey volleyed one home from close range out of the reach of the keeper with 18 to go. There was no more scoring after despite chances at both ends.

Bards Eye View – Jed said he believed the Southern League has changed this season and the successful teams have a more direct and physical approach with The Bards needing to adapt. Also, an interesting stat from the club that 5 of the top 7 had plastic pitches although for me football is far better on grass with our pitch looking superb.

Players – Will Grocott is the only player to start all our league games, Ashley Sammons has also appeared in all the league games coming on as sub on occasions. Josh Hawker with 4 goals is our top league scorer followed by Andre Wright on 3.

League Table  Tamworth (38 pts) have had their 10-point lead at the start of the month cut to 1 by Leiston who have 2 games in hand. After winning 9 successive games, Tamworth have collected the same number of points (3) as The Bards in their last 5 games after The Lambs had a tough month including playing the 3 clubs below them, losing 2-1 at Leiston. After winning their last 5 games, Leiston now have 37. Nuneaton (36 points), Rushall (32) and Coalville (31) make up the top 6. Bards are 18th with 19 points but Alvechurch (15 points) below us have 6 games in hand. The bottom 2 are Hednesford (8) and Rushden and Diamonds (12 points and with a minus 30 goal difference). Kings Langley (16) are 4th from bottom, 3 points behind us having played 1 more game.

Leiston are top scorers with 44 from 17, Coalville have scored 42 from 16. Needham Market still have the meanest defence in the league conceding 18 goals but are slipping down the table. Ex Bard Daniel Creaney is top of the scoring charts with 18 goals – Ex Bard Daniel Sweeney is 2nd with 13 goals. Nuneaton 1 Tamworth 1 drew a crowd of 1424 and Ilkeston had 1200 v Kings Langley.

The 2 promoted sides last year to step 2 are in the top 10 – Banbury are back up to 7th and Peterborough Sports 9th.

Players In – Mikey Taylor returned and defender Martin Riley signed at the start of the month. Carl Dickinson  experienced defender – a “vocal player noted for his commitment, hard work and dedication” signed the week after. The club announced a double signing on Friday 25th November – going for experience again – a welcome return of Ahmed Obeng, back after leaving for Tamworth and defender James Mace on a dual registration from Leamington FC

Players Who Departed – Jack Storer and Dexter Walters – Jed stated in Bards Eye View that ‘it was difficult seeing good players leave but all players have to abide by rules and respect the club’. Dexter joined StourbridgeJimmy O’Neill has gone to Stafford Rangers.

DECEMBER – 3 league defeats leave us 3rd from bottom – our lowest ever position at step 3

The Bards2147102847-191920thLLL

With 3 defeats from 3 games played in December, Bards winless run is now 9 games and only 1 win in 14. We are now averaging less than a point a game – in the 2 completed seasons in the new Central Division, teams have needed to average over a point a game to be above the bottom 4. Sides above the relegation zone this year are currently averaging over 1.2 points a game compared to Bards 0.9 – Bards are 7 points adrift from 6th bottom Barwell and 3 adrift of Alvechurch who have played 5 games less.

Ex-Hednesford boss Keenen Meakin-Richard was appointed as new Assistant Manager and Head Coach in the middle of December leading to the departure of coach Jimmy Fry.

Hednesford (a) 0-2 – it was extremely disappointing to read about a lack of desire from The Bards in this ‘six pointer’ with the one bright spot Will Dawes returning on loan. Hednesford had already hit the bar before taking the lead with a header from a corner after 25. They had numerous other chances before unmarked Leroy Lita made the game safe, tapping in the 2nd after 87 to give Hednesford only their 2nd win of the season – Highlights here courtesy of Hednesford. Steve Burr left Hednesford after failing to win the next 2 games – they are onto their 3rd manager in 5 months.

Bards then went to Alvechurch and lost 4-2 on a Tuesday night on their sloping pitch. Although Alvechurch were below The Bards, they had 5 games in hand due to their impressive FA Cup run to the 2nd round. Any hangover Church may have had after their cup defeat at Forest Green were quickly dispelled when they went into a 2 goal lead within the first 16 minutes. The first on 5 when Church rounded O’Brien with the defence appealing for offside – the 2nd a low deflected free kick. The Bards had their chances – Rod’s stats showed we had more shots on target (7 out of 12) than Church who had 5 on target from 9 – but a 3rd from Church from another through ball on half time gave Bards a mountain to climb. The Bards pulled one back on 56 from Lafferty when Grocott’s freekick was spilled by the keeper but Alvechurch made it 4 on 72 with a low shot from close range. Grocott pulled another one back 5 minutes later with a shot from Dawes’ (who hit the bar earlier) cross as The Bards slid into the relegation zone Highlights here courtesy of Alvechurch

The following away game on the Saturday at Bedford (who were 3 points above us at the time) was postponed due to a frozen pitch. Since that game they have appointed ex-Bard Paul Davis as their new manager. Paul was at Hemel Hempstead after leaving Bards.

The following day saw 3 inches of snow and temperatures of -12 and -10 at the ground in midweek which saw the Saturday game at home to St Ives postponed.

Tamworth (h) 0-4 – a first home game for a month, the match followed a familiar pattern of goals conceded early on and then the need to chase the game. Tamworth seemed fairly comfortable after going 2-0 up with a low bobbling shot from the edge of the penalty area (again a goal was conceded whilst we were counting up the 50/50 takings) and a simple tap-in after a woefully short back pass. Liam was still the busier of the keepers after making several saves to keep the score down and there was another man of the match performance from Will Dawes, who had one of the few efforts to really test the opposition keeper. 2 penalties scored emphatically for Tamworth in the last 5 minutes ended the scoring – the first of which most supporters around me were unsure why it was awarded – followed by another for a foul in the area – goals courtesy of Tamworth.

After the game, everyone was saddened to hear of the loss of Cody Fisher

Players – Will Grocott is still the only ever present in the league, with Andre Wright making 12 consecutive appearances (the first as sub) since joining. Josh Hawker still leads our league goal-scoring charts with 4, Dan Lafferty, Will Grocott and Andre Wright have 3.

League Table  Tamworth (48 pts from 23) are 3 clear of Nuneaton who beat Leiston 2-1 to move a point ahead of them although Leiston have 2 games in hand. Rushall (41) are 7 points clear in the play offs, 5th placed Coalville on 35 have 4 games in hand. Kings Langley (22 from 23) Bards (19 from 21), Hednesford and Rushden and Diamonds both 12 from 23 make up the bottom 4 positions. 3 sides above the drop zone have 26 from 20. Alvechurch are 3 clear but have played at least 5 games less.

Tamworth are top scorers with 53 aided by ex-Bard Daniel Creaney who is top of the scoring charts with 21 goals – ex-Bard Daniel Sweeney is 2nd with 14 goals for Bromsgrove. Leiston have scored 51 from 21. Despite being in the lower half of the table, Needham Market have the best defence conceding only 23 goals. Rushden and Diamonds have scored the least (20) and conceded the most (59). Stourbridge had a bumper crowd of 1263 for their Boxing day game against Bromsgrove and Ilkeston had 1,000 against Basford.

The 2 promoted sides last year to step 2 are in their top 10 – Banbury are 7th in a play off spot and Peterborough Sports 11th. The sides relegated last year, Biggleswade Town are mid-table in 10th in Division One Central and Lowestoft moved to the Isthmian League North where they are in a play- off position.

Players In – Will Dawes was back from Yeovil, who he joined in September, on a three-month loan deal that is subject to an immediate recall

Players Who Departed – Ashley Sammons, Sam Wilding, Jack Turner (loaned out) and James Mace (on-loan) all departed the club the week before Christmas.

JANUARY – Still 3rd from bottom but a first win away

The Bards2457123353-202220thLLW

With the weather again affecting 3 games, Bards did win their last game of the month at bottom Rushden and Diamonds, after losing the previous 2, to give us some hope of escaping the relegation zone.

The away game to Bromsgrove on 2nd was cancelled in respect of Cody Fisher

Kings Langley (h) 1-2 – a disappointing defeat in a ‘six pointer’ – at half-time The Bards were 1 point from safety – at the end of the game, Bards were 7 points adrift after conceding 2 in the last 10 minutes. After being on top but missing chances, Bards had the ball in the net with a wind assisted in-swinging ‘cross’ from Josh Hawker going straight in on 45 and then immediately after, Mikey rattled the bar. Akubuine had a 1 on 1 chance on 57 but had his shot saved as The Bards remained on top but the game changed after subs were made up front. The visitors came more into the game as Bards sat deeper and levelled on 80 with a curling shot low into the corner. The winner coming from ex-Bard Ken Feyi with 3 to go after Bards fail to clear. More on the club match report – photos (including pre-match and 23rd minute) in club gallery

Royston (a) 2-4 – the home side went into a 3-1 lead using the wind in the first half. Bards went 2-0 down after 24 minutes but an attempted clearance on 34 cannoned off skipper Paul McCone into the net to reduce the score to 2-1 but the home side restored their two goal advantage right on half time. Jamie Molyneux set up a grandstand finish for the final seven minutes plus injury time but a last minute breakaway goal by Connor Furlong sealed the game for Royston and left the Bards rock bottom in the form guide.

The next 2 home games against Leiston and Redditch were postponed due to the weather

Rushden and Diamonds (a) 2-0 – the last game of the month saw us do the double 2-0 over Rushden and Diamonds on a very soft pitch. Youngsters Callum Ebanks started and Adulai Sambu and Jaylan Wildbore came on as substitutes. As per the club website it was First away league win of the season, First Stratford Town goal from a corner with a first goal for Carl Dickinson on 31 and First Bard penalty conversion by Grocott on 75 after Mikey was brought down by the keeper in the box. Also First red card for Dan Lafferty somewhat controversially – Highlights on Youtube

Players –

League Table  Tamworth (57 pts from 27) are 5 clear of Nuneaton (52 from 26). Leiston are a point behind but have 2 games in hand. Rushall (50 from 27), 5th placed Coalville on 44 have only played 22. Kings Langley (26 from 27) Alvechurch (25 from only 20) Bards (22 from 24), Hednesford (16) and Rushden and Diamonds (15) are rooted to the bottom having played 28.

Tamworth are top scorers with 68 aided by ex-Bard Daniel Creaney who is top of the scoring charts with 25 goals – ex-Bard Daniel Sweeney is 2nd with 14 goals for Bromsgrove. Leiston have scored 59. Despite being 6th from bottom, Needham Market have the best defence conceding only 25 goals and have a +5 goal difference! Rushden and Diamonds have scored the least (23) and conceded the most (65). There were 1320 at Ilkeston v Rushden, 1100 Redditch v Bromsgrove, 1050 Coalville v Tamworth and 1050 Tamworth v Alvechurch. Tamworth scored 9 v Hednesford and Leiston scored 6 v Basford

The 2 promoted sides last year to step 2 are in their top 10 – Banbury are 9th in a play off spot and Peterborough Sports 13th. The sides relegated last year, Biggleswade Town are mid-table in 12th in Division One Central and Lowestoft moved to the Isthmian League North where they are in a play- off position.

Players In – Defender Hamilton Bunga from Rushden and Diamonds, Youngsters Callum Ebanks and Adulai Sambu have joined on loan from Cheltenham. Jaydan Wildbore and Joseph Nyawema from Burton’s under 18 team joined in latte Jan. Jack Turner is also back – also see our squad list

Players Who Departed – Will Dawes back to Yeovil – then loaned to Weymouth – see where are they now

FEBRUARY – 7 points from last 3 games give Bards fans hope

The Bards31710144563-183119th1.00WDWLDLD

Ilkeston (h) 1-1 – a penalty from Will right in the corner secured a point for The Bards after going behind deep in first half injury time to a wicked deflection. There was some encouragement in the 2nd half performance and the game could have gone either way with goal-line clearances and the woodwork hit. Maybe 3 points were there for the taking but a game we could have lost.

Nuneaton Town (a) 0-1 – from our STISA correspondents, Bards were the better side in our best performance in a while but lost to a back post header against the run of play – their fans stating it was their only bit of quality. Missed chances cost us and there was some criticism of our set pieces. Lewis Ison had a good game when he came on and looks a good addition to the team. According to Rod’s stats Bards had more goal attempts 13 to 9 but had 1 less than Nuneaton on target with 3

St Ives (h) 3-3 – Somewhat disappointing to draw 3-3 in a game where we were leading 3-1 early in the 2nd half and the usual ex players scoring against the team they used to play for – Nabil Shariff and Jordan Williams denying the Bards a much needed all 3 points! Lewis Ludord-Ison’s long throw saw Bards open the scoring with McCone scrambling the ball home. However, St Ives equalised on 25 with a 25 yarder that bounced past Liam. On 44 Bards went into the break 2-1 up when a low cross was cleared onto the chest of Andre who smashed the ball home. Early in the 2nd half, a low cross was fumbled into the net at the near post by the St Ives keeper. However, quickly after, Shariff again scored against us, this time turning and volleying home. Man of the Match Lafferty hit the bar with a thunderous effort with 15 to go but after 80 minutes, Jordan Williams rose to send a looping header over Liam to deny Bards a much needed win. The defending again at times was poor, maybe there is a lack of pace to hit teams on the break. Too many long balls were launched as we regularly fail to win the 2nd ball. Highlights on Youtube. According to Rod’s stats, goal attempts were 13-11 in favour of The Bards with 8 on target compared to 6

Rushall (a) 3-4 – a cracking first half saw The Bards go in 3-3 at half time after clawing it back from 3-1 down. Goals from Turner from the rebound after Ison’s header hit the crossbar, a 20 yard cracker from Andre and Ison heading in. However, as always v Rushall they had the final word with a winner on the break in the 2nd half. A battling performance again, but we come away without a point after a hat-trick in the first half from Andre Carvalho-Landell and a cool finish from Alex Cameron on 75 winning the game as mistakes were heavily punished today. According to Rod, half the shots on target from both teams went in – Off target it was 11 shots to 10.

Bedford (a) 3-0 – Bards went into half time 1-0 up after scoring on 37 in this six-pointer – good work down the right saw Molyneux convert. 4 minutes into the 2nd half, the Bedford keeper had a bit of the Enckelman’s after a backpass rolled underneath his foot into the net under no pressure. The game then became a bit fiesty and Bards went 3-0 up from another neat passing move down the left hand side which saw Wright slotting home on the edge of the penalty area. Highlights on Youtube

Stourbridge (h) 1-1 – It was a good game with little goalmouth action in the 1st half. Early in the 2nd half, a shot from Will Grocott took a huge deflection and looped in the net. Bards then dominated the game and were certain to double the lead but for 2 last saving blocks on the line. However, a free header at the back post on 68 saw mid table Stourbridge come more into the game after not really threatening. The Bards had the better of the game overall and chances to win but had to settle for a share of the spoils. Ison and Bennett had good games and have proved to be excellent additions but we have more of a hill to climb as Bards are now 5 adrift of safety after Kings Langley won. At half time, we presented a £1,000 cheque for the Cody 23 fund

Bromsgrove (a) 1-0 – It was a very evenly matched first half, with both teams having a few half chances including a clearance off The Bards line. The game was stopped on 23 minutes to allow a tribute to Cody. Just after the 2nd half, a speculative shot bounced off the post, off the keeper’s head and out for a Stratford corner. From the corner Paul McCone nodded home. Bards enjoyed most of the possession and had chances to put the game to bed. According to Rod’s stats, Bromsgrove had 7 shots on target compared to our 3, with both sides having 4 off target. . Highlights on Youtube

Players – Will Grocott (32) and Paul McCone (30) have made the most appearances – Josh Hawker has picked up the most yellow cards with 7. Bards top scorer are Wright with 6, Grocott, Hawker and McCone have 5

League Table  Tamworth (70 pts from 33) are 7 clear of Leiston (63) and 8 clear of Nuneaton (62) although both sides have a game in hand. Coalville with 60 from 28 could mount a challenge for the top. Rushall (60 from 32) are 5th in the last play off spot.

Bards (31 from 31) are in the final relegation spot, 2 points adrift of Kings Langley who have played a game more and 4 adrift of Needham Market who we play next. Bedford with 5 defeats in 5 slip into the relegation zone with 30 from 33, Hednesford (21 from 34) and Rushden and Diamonds (15 from 31) are rooted to the bottom.

Tamworth are top scorers with 77 aided by ex-Bard Daniel Creaney who is top of the scoring charts with 29 goals, Will Davies (Leiston) has scored 23 of their 70 goals. Rushden and Diamonds have scored the least (24) and conceded the most (74).

2126 saw leaders Tamworth play Nuneaton 3rd – sadly the game had to be abandoned due to crowd trouble. There were only 14 goals in the 11 games on the last Saturday. Rushall had the biggest win of the month, 7-2 v Redditch,

The 2 promoted sides last year to step 2 – Banbury are 12th and Peterborough Sports 17th. The sides relegated last year, Biggleswade Town are mid-table in 10th in Division One Central and Lowestoft moved to the Isthmian League North where they are in a play- off position.

Players In – Lewis Ison has signed for the Bards from Hednesford Town where he was captain. Also coming in from Hednesford is experienced midfielder Kyle Bennett and was their vice captain. 3 new signings were made on 28 Feb – Kieron Dawes, Morgan Owen and Josh Waite – also see our squad list

Players Who Departed – Mikey Taylor departed and has gone to Sutton Coldfield – see where are they now


The Bards36912155066-163918th1.08LDWDW

Bards went 4 more unbeaten but lost their final game of the month. Bards also added a third captain to the squad

Needham Market (a) 1-0 – Bards took the lead against one of the meanest defences with a 25 yard shot from Josh Hawker which took a wicked deflection to become our joint highest scorer with 6. 1-0 at half time and Bards held on – a disciplined and spirited performance despite lots of 2nd half pressure.

Leiston (a) 1-1 – Bards winning streak on the road came to an end but few were complaining after a draw v 2nd placed Leiston. A penalty save from Liam kept the score 0-0 at half time. Bards though did fall behind after a volley just after half time. From those at the game it was a bit scrappy but we were a bit unlucky especially with the disallowed goal from Ison. Right at the end a cross from the right was turned in by new signing Charlie Williams. Though with Kings Langley winning and Needham Market drawing we are back in the relegation zone 1 point from safety but we have hope being 5 unbeaten.

Alvechurch (h) 2-0 – Bards beat Church (who were 5 points above them) to climb back out the relegation zone. There were plenty of man of the match candidates including Liam who made some fine saves to keep a clean sheet, including from the penalty spot for the 2nd game running with Bards 1-0 up. Both goals were scored from close range through Callum Ebanks after 8 minutes and Kyle Bennett on 31 sweeping the ball home to make the score 2-0 at half time. Bards came closest in the 2nd half with Banks hitting the post after being clean through as chances came at either end in this entertaining game.

Leiston (h) 1-1. Bards hit the woodwork on 3 occasions (2 from Charlie Williams thunderbolts) in the driving rain. Callum Ebanks did score after 25 minutes from a Bennett through ball with Leiston players appealing for offside. 1-0 at half time but it could have been 2 or 3. Leiston were much improved in the 2nd half against the strong wind and they scored midway through the 2nd half with a glancing header from a free kick. Both sides had chances to win as the game went from end to end with both sides going for much needed 3 points. There were a few fiesty challenges being made on the slippery surface and fair play to the ref for being consistent when challenges were mis-timed despite the protestations.

Hitchin (a) 0-1 – unbeaten in 7 playing at a team without a win in 10, hopes were high travelling to Hitchen. A poor game by all accounts saw Bards lose after a soft goal was given away – a speculative shot from 30 yards was spilled and the rebound put in. Bards came more into it in the 2nd half but ended up losing the game with luck not on our side.

Players – Will Grocott has been ever present in the league sometimes coming on as sub. New captain Paul McCone (35) now has the most starting appearances. Josh Hawker has picked up the most yellow cards with 7 and Lafferty has 6. Bards top scorers are Wright and Hawker with 6, Grocott and McCone have 5

League Table  Tamworth (76 pts from 36) have been caught by Coalville who still have a game in hand. Leiston (73) having played a game more than Tamworth are 3rd, Rushall (69) and Nuneaton (65) make up the top 5 with an 8 point gap to the team in 6th.

Bards (39 from 36) are 1 point out of the relegation spot having a game in hand over Kings LangleyBedford with 8 defeats in a row have 30 from 36, Hednesford (24 from 37) and Rushden and Diamonds (20 from 36) are rooted to the bottom – Rushden being the first team relegated. It looks like the bottom 3 will drop.

Tamworth are top scorers with 80 aided by ex-Bard Daniel Creaney who is top of the scoring charts with 30 goals, Will Davies (Leiston) has scored 27 of their 78 goals. Coalville 34 and Tamworth 35 have the best defence. Relegated Rushden and Diamonds have scored the least (28) and conceded the most (80).

1017 saw Nuneaton v Colville.

The 2 promoted sides last year to step 2 – Banbury are 18th sliding down the table and Peterborough Sports 12th. Telford are rooted to the bottom and Leamington have slipped into the bottom 4 in the last relegation place, The sides relegated last year, Biggleswade Town are 6th in Division One Central and Lowestoft moved to the Isthmian League North where they are in a play- off position.

Players In – Charlie Williams attacking midfielder signed from Burton Albion youth. Experienced right back Lee Vaughan also joined having captained Stourbridge – see our squad list

Players Who Departed – Mikey Taylor departed and has gone to Sutton Coldfield – he then joined Carl Adams at Rugby – see where are they now