Season Review – Men’s 1st Team Head Coach

Tuesday 24 March 2020

I think prior to every new season as coaches we always look to work towards progression. Sometimes that comes in a matter of ways through different successes, may it be league points, cups or player developments across the programme. We were no different in the Mens 1st Team after 8/9 players graduating it was a rebuilding process with what we knew and working on what players were available at the level we needed. Pre Season allowed us to consider a number of objectives not only Squad selections but also ambitions and development of the program and having a fairly competitive squad across all teams.
The ambitions for me were mainly to be competitive and look to compete in all competitions and hopefully reach latter stages of competitions. The 1st Semester I think we probably leaned more towards what we knew and probably carried extra bodies based on previous years experiences with injuries, suspensions, and competition within the squad. I think this at various stages had it’s advantages along with several disadvantages. We as a group of players probably had a yoyo effect in games, starting reasonably well at home to Herriot Watt in a game we drew but were worthy of the 3 points, then again a very good performance which should have given us victory at home to Strathclyde but errors within the team meant we lost the game 3-2. This was followed up with an extremely poor performance away to Dundee after beating them convincingly in the Varsity.
We continued into October with similar results an excellent 3 nil away victory over Glasgow followed by a draw at home to Napier in a game again we controlled but errors cost us the 3 points. The beginning of Nov we seen some cup competitions and we beat Strathclyde men away 4 Nil with an excellent team performance and went someway to avenging the earlier league defeat, instead of kicking on from that the return game against Napier we started poorly with a 2 nil defeat again in a game we created 6/7 real opportunities and were punished. We followed this up with another excellent away day to Glasgow Caledonia who would go onto winning their respective league we won 1 nil with a resolute bit of defending and some excellent counter attacking play. We finished up the 1st Semester with a hugely disappointing away defeat to Herriot Watt who would win 2a we lost 4 Nil in a game we had several injured players but we didn’t compete at all.

Summing up the 1st Semester you can see the yoyo effect with some excellent games and victories, with some games we played well and controlled by never converted to wins and several poor performances.

The 2nd Semester we returned early for Winter training because we wanted to work on more specific shapes, tactics, formations and with a smaller group of players, this meant we had to make some very difficult choices but ultimately one in which it was to only benefit players and allow them to play in other groups and a combination of promoting to the 1st team to get the right balance. As a coach and discussing with the Director these are decisions that aren’t taken lightly and we mulled over most but it was to get the balance required for the programme.

Training went very well and we started with some friendlies and Fife League games which gave us a competitive edge, working with the smaller group gave us more competition and a better togetherness. Our first competitive game at home to Dundee produced a controlled 4 nil victory and one in which the pressure was on, we followed this up with an equally impressive 3-2 victory at home to Glasgow, despite controlling the game and being comfortable we did switch off for a 15 min period to allow our opponents back into the game. In a unique setting and it would come back again later in the season we played Glasgow again at home in the cup in which we had shown good play and victories, the game was made harder with the wind but we never really reached the heights of the previous week. This meant the game we were a goal behind fairly early and gave Glasgow something to hold onto, a combination of poor finishing, rushed passes meant it was a hard night but our determination and workmate was at the levels we demanded and we managed to equalise in the last minute. We won the resulting penalty shoot out which over the piece we just deserved.
That game set us up for a future Semi Final against our mens 2nd team which assured we would have a representation in the final. The QPS shield we were again going about our business and making things difficult we played the best team in the Northern Conference in Stirling, we knew the magnitude of the game but we also were not there to make up numbers. The game was a fantastic showing of hard work, guts, defending, attacking and discipline in our shape, tactics and attitude. It was probably the highlight of the campaign and a fantastic showing of the squad and the improvements during the 2nd semester.

We went into the Semi Final against the 2nd team knowing that if we applied ourselves, did the basics, and competed then we would have a very good chance of progressing. We scored early enough but didn’t add the second until the late in the 1st half, but we conceded right after half time and that gave the 2nd team a bit more belief. I was glad of the reaction because as a team we stepped it up again and created opportunities and were ruthless in front of goals and ran out comfortable 5-1 winners and into the Final we went to be held at St Andrews.

We had another Semi Final the week after at home to RGU the 2nd best team in the Northern league in fact that week would see us play 2 games in less than 36 hrs. The RGU game we competed very well and created chances, on the night our opponents were clinical and capitalised on some defensive mistakes so it was a sore one but it was an excellent display and one to be proud off. We played Strathclyde in the final BUCS game away and ironically would play them a week later in the final, we were running on empty with injuries and fatigue, after making a few changes to try freshen things up we eventually lost 3-1.

The Final was game we thoroughly deserved to be in and the second semester was much better and more consistent i our victories and play. The game I think we started fairly nervously and Strathclyde controlled much of the possession and without really creating much were always on the front foot. After around 30 mins we took over and started to play, passing, creating and playing 10 yards higher all over, this led the opening goal. The second half we continued how we finished and created chances and eventually scored a excellent goal through Flynn to make it 2 nil, we could have added more but were never in any real danger and ran out 2 nil victors and a proud moment for all connected to lift silverware.

Summing up the 2nd semester I think there were pivotal moments in games and how we competed and won games both by dominating and being resolute, the work rate was much much better along with the squad dynamics. Yes we lost 2 games in that period a Semi Final against the 2nd best team in the Northern and away to Strathclyde which in a way was always on the cards due to the workload and availability we had on the day, but taking nothing away the player set a bar in fitness levels, work rate, attitudes and togetherness and it bodes well as we look toward the 2020/21 season.


Phil McGuire

Men’s 1st Team Head Coach

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