End of season report card for Potters Bar Town
PUBLISHED: 11:46 13 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:55 13 April 2020
©2019 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved
With the football season over for all non-league club from step three down, Potters Bar Edition sports reporter Neil Metcalfe reviewed the season for Potters Bar Town. Here’s his end-of-year report.
Team name: Potters Bar Town
Division: Isthmian Premier
Final position: 13th (32 of 42 games played)
FA Cup: Fourth qualifying round (lost 3-1 to Barnet in a replay)
FA Trophy: Second qualifying round (lost 1-0 at Cinderford Town)
Season grade overall: B
The first year at step three had ended in a relegation battle, one they were keen not to repeat.
That was something manager Lee O’Leary said was the goal when I spoke to him in pre-season.
Speaking in July he said: “I’m ambitious and the management team are ambitious.
“Everyone knows what the resources are like at the club but I’m not going into the season with staying up as the main aim.”
They ended solidly in the middle of the pack, well clear of relegation, and with the FA Cup run a natural highlight, this season delivered in a lot of areas.
Game of the season: Bishop’s Stortford (away) - October 1
Don’t worry, we’ll get to the big FA Cup clash soon enough but for me the game of the season came four days prior to the third qualifying round tie at Ware.
It was a very rainy Tuesday night in east Hertfordshire but the performance from Lee O’Leary’s men in the 4-1 success was pure champagne football.
It took a little while for them to stamp their authority on the contest but once they did Stortford had no response.
Josh Hutchinson, Brad Sach, George Craddock and Ben Ward-Cochrane got the goals and there could have been more as the Bar Army chanted “it’s just like watching Brazil”.
O’Leary said afterwards: “The boys were excellent in and out of possession. The momentum is there and it is a really good dressing room but we’re keeping our feet on the ground and just taking it slowly.”
There was no slowly about it on this night, however.
Most pleasing player: Ben Ward-Cochrane
This seemed like a breakthrough season for the lively forward.
He found it difficult to get into the squad early on, so good was the form of Josh Hutchinson and Brad Sach, but he took his chance when it came along, finishing the year with 14 goals, 12 of them in the league.
There were two hat-tricks, the second in what turned out to be the final home game of the year, a 3-1 win over Corinthian Casuals, but the first was back in October at Bognor Regis Town, just after the Stortford game and a week prior to the big clash with Barnet.
It proved the making of him, restoring any damaged confidence, and setting him up for hopefully an even better campaign next time.
Moment of the season: FA Cup games versus Barnet
Had to be didn’t it? The two games against Barnet were simply wonderful, so good in fact that even if they had won through to the first round proper and faced Fleetwood Town, I’m not sure it would have been the same.
I’ve often wondered how clubs like Potters Bar would cope when face with big crowds and huge games. The answer is with flying colours, although that is down to an incredible amount of hard work by the committee and an army of volunteers.
The early kick-off plus the sunshine helped make the day fantastic, with the clubhouse still bouncing when I left at around 5pm.
From a personal point of view it was huge fun. From the build-up and through the first game to the replay, everything was a joy.
And even though there is an unwritten rule that you show no emotion in the press box and remain entirely neutral, I make no apology for punching the air in delight when Andy Lomas fired in that late, late equaliser.
Mid-table again will likely be the minimum wanted but I’d like to think that with a couple of new signings there is no reason the Scholars can’t make a concerted push for the play-offs.
Yes, they don’t have the money to spend some in the league have but they are not far away squad-wise, maybe just a handful of players.
Lee O’Leary has now had one year in the dugout and will have learned a lot about management and about himself and his players.
He already has many years of experience on the pitch but being the boss is different.
However, his contacts should be extensive enough that he can get the right quality of player in that adds to the quality and gives them that vital boost.
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