SSMFL,DD: Honor looks back on the Ath Development’s 2017-18 season

Buckingham Athletic Development manager Jake Honor has looked back on his side’s 2017-18 season in an interview with Sports Shots.

Ben Townsend and Jake Honor (right)

How the season panned out?

Overall I’ve been quite happy with how the season has panned out, we had a top half finish in the league and we made it to the semi final of the development trophy eventually losing to the winners, Harpenden Town.

We also had a disappointing County cup , however we were already knocked out of this when myself and Ben took over the team.

After Larry left, there were a few months before Christmas which were a little rocky. The team changed around a little bit and we had a few players which played 1 or 2 games and then didn’t come back. However once 2018 hit, our fortunes certainly changed and we finally started to turn good performances into results. We had Nathan Skelton and Rory Busby drop down from the first team and these two players become very important in our attacking play both contributing a number of goals with Skelly ending up our top goalscorer. We also added Stu Ironmonger from Twyford to our defence along with two u18’s, Harry Byron & Luke McAndrew becoming more regularly available it really added some stability to the back four. These additions in attack and defence added more depth to our already talented squad and they helped us have good second half to the season and steadily rise up the league.

Lessons learned?

This has been my first season managing at this level and it has been a really good experience for me. Having joined the club firstly as assistant I felt it gave me the perfect opportunity to learn from Larry but obviously things didn’t initially go to plan and the manager position became vacant in October. After speaking to the committee and the confidence they showed in myself and Ben we decided to step up and take control. We’ve both learned a lot this season about ourselves, each other and we feel that knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses has helped us to work successfully as a coaching team. Most importantly we’ve learnt a lot about the players that put on the shirt week in, week out.

Learning our strengths and weaknesses has been important as we look to improve on this next season. We hope to retain a large number of the current squad, add a couple of new additions ourselves and with Neil bringing in some players of his own for the first team, the development will be in a stronger position come the start of the season.

Key performances

There have been some games that I won’t forget for a while this season, both good and bad. The first game isn’t the fondest of memories and it was shortly after I took over as manager. It was a patchy part of the season with availability and players registered. We were away to league winners Dunstable and on the end of an embarrassing 8-0 defeat, but I could see from that performance the players that really wanted to play for the club and were willing to fight to the end even when the result was already decided. The next two performances that stood out for me ended in much better performances and better results.

The first was the local derby against Winslow, coming away 4-1 winners at Elmfields Gate, it was a great feeling and it gave us our 5th win
in the last 7 games. There was a really good feel around the development team after this point and I feel that the team had finally clicked together to work as a unit. We only went on to lose 2 of the next 7 games to finish our season in a good league position.

The third game that really stood out was Harpenden’s visit to Stratford Fields. We ended up drawing 1-1 but we had 2 goals disallowed and our performance that night was the best I’d seen us play all season, I was extremely pleased with our performance on and off the ball.

Firstly I would like to thank Larry Woodward for giving me the opportunity to join him as assistant manager at the beginning of the season and then another thank you to the committee at the club for giving me the chance to step up and take charge when Larry left.

Another thank you just go to my head coach Ben for joining me in the dugout all season, John McAndrew for joining us and helping out towards the end of the season and a massive thank you to all the players this season. Obviously I can’t manage a team without players and the lads around at the end of this year have really made it an enjoyable one.

Finally a thank you to Sports Shots for the coverage of the development team this season. The work you do for local sport really is appreciated by everyone involved in the development team.

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