EMLEY AFC
1998/99 Review
Summary by Ian Mason 

 

Michael Reynolds has been amazing us for a couple of seasons with his skill, along with amazement that no professional club had signed him.  His contribution to the winning goal at Hyde United was typical of how we depended on his speed and flair.  He had been taking some stick from the home crowd, who were frightened of him, when in the last minute he made a mazy run and turned the ball into Steve Smith to pinch a winner.   Soon afterwards Ayr United plundered our talent again, signing 'Jelly' for 60000.

With those players gone our attacking edge was severely dented.  The FA Trophy run was a triumph for grit and determination, but Cheltenham were just too good for that to overcome them.  The remaining players did their best, none more so that the excellent Paul David, who just seems to get better each season, despite his advanced years!   The defence was as solid as ever, with Nicky Wood and Robert Tonks maturing as players to supplement the seasoned talent of Lacey, Thompson and Jones.  Mark Wilson struggled to get over the effects of his first-match injury, but filled in up front to good effect when we had run out of strikers. 

Ian Banks' continued to give his all in his last season, despite his reducing pace.  He still showed flashes of brilliance and his dead ball skills will be hard to replace.  The youngsters who filled in from time to time, and especially at the end of the season show that we may not have to look too far for new talent.

 

Unibond League

The League campaign started brightly with Emley proving hard to beat, and despite too many draws that should have been wins and the occasional reverse, Emley were well placed and among the League favourites, when the Cup campaigns began.  During October and November Emley played 11 cup games out of a total of 14 matches and this success took the sting out of the push for the League.  Once we were out of the Trophy the number of matches and the lack of fire power took their toll.  At one time we even had relegation concerns.

The final position of 13th is probably the most disappointing aspect of the season, but is the price of success in the cups and the consequence of a small squad.

 

FA Cup

The Qualifying rounds of the cup threw up three tricky ties against fellow Unibond teams.  The Second round tie at Colwyn Bay was a battle of attrition, and was settled by a single Bambrook goal.  The home tie against Marine looked easier, given our home record against them, but our home form wasn't great all season and we had to travel to Merseyside after a draw.  The 4-1 win at Marine was one of the best performances of the season, particularly Ian Banks' free kick, bent inside the near post.  Gateshead presented very tough opposition, and the 2-0 away win in the replay was probably the toughest win of the season.

We should have beat Rotherham in the first game at Oakwell.  Certainly Emley were far and away the better team in the first half.  Had Jelly scored early in the second we would probably have progressed to a second round tie at Rochdale.  The lack of protection for Jelly from a weak referee also worked against us, but we can have no complaints about the result of the replay.

 

FA Trophy

The Trophy started slowly with low-key games against Whitley Bay and Shepshed.   The tie at Guiseley however was memorable.  With PD and Willy up-front we looked like we might lack fire power, but Emley put together one of their best performances of the season, and definitely the best in the second half of it, to dominate the game and win 2-0.  The win over Whitby had a certain amount of good fortune, as we were second best for most of it.  However the game is about scoring goals - we got two, and they got none.

Cheltenham Town went on to win the Conference and will play in the Third Division next season.  The 1-0 scoreline they gained in the Quarter-final against Emley looks close, but Cheltenham always played within themselves.  It was in this game that our lack of attacking options was shown up most strongly.  Had Reynolds and Bambrook played we might have turned them over.  But it is the lack of pace, invention and finishing power, exposed by their departures, that Emley need to address for the start of the 1999-2000 season.