Welcome back! Catch up with how our pre-season went here. We kick off the season as well as our first experience of being in a European competition. It is going to be another long hard season as we look to beat the drop. I am not expecting much from our European adventure as I’m sure we will come up against bigger teams who will end our adventure pretty swiftly, as long as we don’t embarrass ourselves I will be pleased for our first attempt. Our league campaign isn’t any easier as we play both Celtic and Rangers in the opening couple of weeks!
We continue to slowly increase our fan base and continue to sell season tickets and we have sold 5 more season tickets than what we did last season!
Our season gets off to a shaky start against Dundee as we struggle to a draw. Anthony Elanga opens the scoring as he follows up a shot which is pushed away by the keeper to tap in. The lead didn’t last long as Tony Chalmers shot from inside the area takes a slight deflection to go past Nick Townsend. Jordan McGhee turns it around as he head in a free kick across Nick Townsend into the bottom corner. Early in the second half Dundee go down to ten as James Bree is shown a second yellow. Dundee looked to have done enough to get the win but Jamie Clarke didn’t agree as he rescues a point for us with a rocket shot which goes in to the top corner to rescue a point.
Our adventure in Europe begins and Genk have a great chance to open the scoring after they win a penalty in the first half. Patrik Hrosovsky steps up and tucks it into the bottom left corner to take a deserved lead. We pull level just before half time after a long ball over the top by Glenn Hancock finds Layton Stewart to slot it under the keeper. We take the lead against the run of play when our subs combine in the second half. Will Waters beats his man down the right before crossing to Jay Stansfield at the back post to fire home. Genk are back level late on after the ball bounces around the area and Nick Townsend can’t keep hold of a shot leaving Paul Onuachu to tap in to an open goal.
After a strong start against Celtic they eventually took control and scored late in the first half. A cross from Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain finds Scott McKenna unmarked in the area to head past Nick Townsend. They double the lead soon after when a corner isn’t cleared and Callum McGregor fires it in to the bottom corner through a crowded area. Minutes in to the second half and its 3-0 as Steve Bond’s free kick flies in to the top left corner. Anthony Elanga pulls one back late on as he arrives at the back post to score a first time cross from Will Waters. Despite us dominating the game Genk get the win and their opener comes after Nick Townsend not being able to hold Benjamin Nygren’s shot as it bounces across the line. Alfa Semedo seals their qualification with a rocket in to the top corner from about 30 yards out! Paul Onuachu makes it 3 late on as he taps in a corner at the back post.
Once again Celtic are given a soft penalty just before the hour mark of our Betfred game. Shaun McDonald tucks it in to the bottom left corne to put them in front. Lee O’Connor doubles the lead with a header at the front post from a corner minutes later. Lee O’Connor gets a second and again a header as he heads home a free kick. Iain Tait gets us on the score sheet as he heads home a corner at the front post. Aiden Marsh gets us a second as a cross from Daniel Harvie on the left and Aiden Marsh’s shot beats the keeper in to the bottom corner. Another tough game followed as we played league leaders Rangers. Joel Andersson puts them in front after beating his defender on the right and firing past Nick Townsend at his front post. Joe Aribo doubles the lead minutes later after Nick Townsend spills a free kick in to his path for him to tap in. Ruaridh Porteous gets us in the game when he curls a free kick past the keeper and in to the top corner. Claudio Ojeda gives them a two goal cushion again as he is free in the area when the ball falls to him to score. Gavin McInnes runs the length of the pitch as no one is able to catch him before he fires it across Nick Townsend in to the far corner. Caludio Ojeda gets his second of the game after Morgan Gibbs-White plays him in on goal to fire across the keeper. We end the month at home to Hibernian and we narrowly lose 1-0. Hibernian take the lead just after half hour when Jordan Moffat rises highest and heads a cross past Jamie Baldock.
Transfers – One player I believe I forgot to mention was Lee Do-Kyoon who joins on loan from Japanese side Okayama FC. This was a DoF signing and it may also help our growth in Asia. We have also got Robbie Williams in on a free transfer. On Deadline Day we managed to bring in two more players and see 3 players leave on loan. James Husband joins from Hibernian for £33k, we have been tracking him for a couple of seasons and Connor Barber has been injured a lot since joining so he will be solid competition. Iain Mason joins on loan from Arsenal for the season to try and help make our defence stronger. Adopted Gretna boy Steven Caldwell joins League 1 side East Kilbride on loan, Chris Hay joins Championship side Raith and Giancarlo Cancelli joins Lowland League side Kelty Hearts after his adventures in Europe.
We kick the month off with our first win of the season away to Hearts. We get a perfect start as Anthony Elanga puts us in front inside the opening 2 minutes with a header at the back post from a Josh Emmanuel cross. Timmy Abraham gets Hearts back on level terms after he is played in on goal and slides it under Nick Townsend. Jordan Shipley puts us in front late on as he curls it in to the bottom corner from the edge of the area. We narrowly lose to Aberdeen on a windy Monday night in front of the TV cameras. The only goal of the game came in the last 15 minutes when Lee Harkin is played in on the left of the area and squeezes it past Nick Townsend at his near post.
Kilmarnock take the lead inside 20 minutes after a shot is pushed away by Nick Townsend in to the path of Jack Aitchison to tap in from 5 yards. Mohammed Diallo gets his first goal for the club as he powers a header home from a corner late on to rescue a point. Kilmarnock end the game with 10 men after Liam Lund was shown a second yellow for a late tackle in injury time.
We got a much needed win against St. Mirren with Anthony Elanga putting us in front against with a calm finish across the keeper after Glenn Hancock switches the ball to him on the left. Our lead doesn’t last long as a route one goal kick finds Jack Marriott in space who shoots from 30 yards out and beats Nick Townsend. Will Waters puts us back in front after a cross from Connor Barber finds him at the back post to side foot past the keeper. Anthony Elanga gets his second of the game after we counter from their free kick and a cross from Josh Emmanuel finds Anthony Elanga to head in off the bar. Jamie Clarke makes it 4 after Anthony Elanga turns provider a nods a cross down for him to fire in to the bottom corner. We get our first back to back wins of the season as we beat Motherwell. Aiden Marsh gives us an early lead against as he heads home a free kick from Ruaridh Porteous. He doubles his tally in the second half after Glenn Hancock slides him on goal and he puts it past the keeper at his near post from a tight angle.
Our good run of form continued as we narrowly beat ex affiliates Partick Thistle and we take the lead in the opening half hour. Jordan Shipley makes the breakthrough after he robs the ball from a defender leaving him one on one and after his first shot was saved he followed it up to tuck past the keeper. We go unbeaten for the month after we beat bottom of the league Dundee United. Aiden Marsh gives us the lead shortly before half time when Will Waters puts a low ball in from the right and Aiden Marsh fires it across the keeper in to the bottom corner. The lead lasted a matter of minutes as Jordan Davies equalisers with a rocket shot which beat Nick Townsend in to the bottom corner. Aiden Marsh restores our lead with his second of the game after their defender misses a long ball by Connor Barber leaving him free to tuck past the keeper. Will Waters seals the win late on with a header at the back post from a flick on by Mohamed Diallo.
A tough month as in our three games this month we play both of the top two in Rangers and Celtic. Once again another game against Celtic and again they are given a soft penalty, I feel a conspiracy! Curtis Jones steps up and fires it in to the bottom right corner to give them the lead. Graham Dodds doubles the lead as he turns his defender on the edge of the box and rifles it past Nick Townsend. We get in to the game early in the second half as a free kick is nodded back across the goal and Mohamed Diallo heads it past the keeper. We have to endure the final 15 minutes with ten men as Iain Mason goes off injured after we had used up our subs. Takefusa Kubo makes it 3-1 as he is given space in the area to curl it around Nick Townsend. Aiden Marsh pulls a goal back for a nervy ending after Josh Emmanuel’s long ball plays him in on goal and he fires it under the keeper.
We bounce back from a narrow defeat to Celtic with a dominant win over Dundee. Ruaridh Poretous puts us in front against struggling Dundee after he plays a one two with Anthony Elanga in the area before rifling it past the keeper at his near post. Anthony Elanga then turns goal scorer after he receives the ball off Aiden Marsh and he runs straight through the defence before firing it across the keeper and in to the bottom corner from outside the area. Aiden Marsh makes it 3-0 in the second half after Glenn Hancock slides him in on goal unmarked to slot past the keeper. Anthony Elanga gets his second of the game late on after a cross from Josh Emmanuel finds him the area and with a sweet finish he hits it across the keeper in off the far post. We hold Rangers to a draw after Will Waters give us a shock lead against the league leaders early on. Our goal comes after Anthony Elanga gets to the byline and knocking it past a defender before finding the incoming Will Waters with a cross for him to head home. Jonathan Leko gets Rangers back on level terms after he is played in on goal and he slides it under the rushing Nick Townsend. Moments later they complete the turn around and it’s Jonathan Leko again who heads home at the front post from a Xavier Amaechi cross. We went in to the break level as Aiden Marsh heads home a corner from Ruaridh Porteous from a couple yards out.
We kick the month off with a defeat to surprise league leaders Hibernian. We win a penalty early on which Connor Barber fires in to the bottom right corner to give us the lead. Hibernian are back level minutes in to the second half after Samuel Diallo beats two players before hitting a rocket past Nick Townsend at his near post. Hibernian then complete the comeback after a deadly counter from our corner which meant Declan Glass was open in the area to side foot past Nick Townsend. Substitute Mohamed Diallo pulls us level with a header from a Jordan Shipley corner which finds the bottom corner. Hibernian get a late winner after they get a penalty of their own which Sidnei Tavares tucks in to the bottom right corner. Aberdeen get the perfect start as the lead inside the opening 10 minutes. Lee Harkin gets the opener after finding space in the area and side footing a cross from Kostas Zeniou past Nick Townsend. Aberdeen then win a penalty just before half time which Nick Townsend saves after diving to his left. Lee Harkin gets his second of the game early in the second half after a throw in finds him in space in the area and he fires it past Nick Townsend at his front post. Aiden Marsh gets us in the game as he is played in on goal by Ruaridh Porteous and beats the keeper at his near post for a nervy final 15 minutes.
Chris Long puts Motherwell in to an early lead after he turns his defender and curls it past Nick Townsend on the edge of the area. Chris Long then gets his second just after the half hour mark as he heads home a cross from close range. Robbie Williams gets his first for the club after a cross falls to him and drills it in to the bottom corner. Liam Donnelly punishes us after pushing forward after a cross finds him on the right to cut in and slots it under Nick Townsend. Struggling Hearts take the lead in the second half when a corner falls to Harry Cochrane and he fires it through a crowded area and past Nick Townsend. Lee Do-Kyoon gets his first for the club after the keeper parries a shot from Anthony Elanga in to his path to tuck home and rescue a point. We take an early lead against Partick Thistle when Lee Do-Kyoon goes on a mazy run in to the area and tucks it past the keeper at his near post. The lead didn’t last long as Sam Smith pulls them level when a free kick is cleared to him and he fires it in to the bottom corner. Glenn Hancock puts us in back in the lead after a corner is pulled back to him to fire across the keeper in to the far corner. Once again we cant hold the lead as Levi Colwill whips a ball in to Lyall Cameron who heads past Nick Townsend at the front post. We go in to the break in front after a free kick by Ruaridh Poretous finds Aiden Marsh at the back post to tap in. Sam Smith then gets his second of the game after Anthony Elanga tries to pass back to Nick Townsend but Sam Smith intercepts and tucks it under Nick Townsend to get a share of the points.
We are currently sitting in 7th and somewhat safe from the drop after a slow start to our season. Compared to this point last season we are 3 places worse off and 7 points worse. When you look at our start to this season that isn’t to bad. We should be good enough and get enough wins to be safe for another season. Our main aim is survival and so far we are achieving that target. You couldn’t have asked for a tougher opening than the big two in your first three games of the season! This is the kind of form I was expecting since last season and has been a much harder challenge that what last season was.
I feel some of our slow start was down to the new boys still settling in and the squad was completely gelled. Once we clicked we have looked much better which has shown as we went the whole of October unbeaten. I will take the blame for that with the amount of signings we made over the summer. There are still a couple of players I am unsure of and not sure if they will stay here beyond this season. One example is Nick Townsend who seems to be making far too many mistakes which result in us conceding and dropping points.
For our very first appearance in Europe we travelled to Belgium to play Genk in the first leg and 10 fans travelled to watch us play, 10! We put up a good fight against Genk after I thought they would win comfortably. Had we have got past them we would have played Swedish Side Malmo or Icelandic side Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur.
The draw for the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup will see us play ex affiliates Partick Thistle away. Hopefully we can get to the semis again and if we finish high enough sneak a spot for a place in Europe again next season.
We have had a number of job interviews come our way over the season, the funniest was Motherwell offering an interview the day before we beat them 2-0. We have also received interviews from Kilmarnock, Swansea and Stoke, all which got rejected.
We reached another milestone while in charge of Gretna as our game against St. Mirren was our 300th game in charge and we celebrated it with a 4-1 win! We are also in somewhat of a bad situation in terms of finances as we are in a bit of debt and the board are starting to implement restrictions and have also cut the wage budget down. We may have to start selling off our better players in the next couple of windows to help keep us going. A couple of cup runs domestically and a run in the European cups would have been nice, or a takeover would also be a nice thing to happen other than being rumoured every other week! We are also in negotiations with selling a couple of players in the January window which will hopefully put much needed money in to the bank.
We are now on our small mid season break. Once we are back we have cup action against Partick Thistle. We have some winnable games in January as we play the likes of St. Mirren, Dundee, Dundee United who are all below us in the league and a tough game against Rangers to end the month on.
Thanks for reading and I hope you are enjoying the journey!