Review of Season

Lee Duxbury’s first season as Eccleshill United's head coach proved both very interesting and quite successful.

Eccleshill came within two victories of gaining promotion back to the Northern Counties East League Premier Division and their cup exploits wrote a whole chapter.

The former Bradford City and Oldham Athletic midfielder enjoyed the campaign but, despite twice leading his team out in prestigious finals at Valley Parade, he was left disappointed.

Duxbury desperately wanted to take the club back into the top tier of the NCE League, and he came so close to achieving it.

They got off to a bad start, losing 3-2 at home in their opening game, but they dropped just two points in their next eight league matches.

Their run of seven wins and a draw was ended by a 2-0 home loss to Shaw Lane Aquaforce, who did go on to earn promotion.

The Eagles soon put a six-game unbeaten run together, however - but that was also ended by a 2-0 defeat to Shaw Lane in the reverse fixture.

Duxbury knew a difficult spell was looming as the turn of the year approached.

Many of the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy (RIASA) students that make up the Eagles’ squad would be going to their various home countries for the Christmas and New Year period.

Despite that, Duxbury galvanised his home-based players and the RIASA students who stayed for the full season, many of them being joined for the holidays by their parents and families.

One defeat and one draw over a four-game spell stalled the Eagles’ progress but did not wreck their bid for promotion.

The end of January and most of February were frustrating because of the number of postponements they suffered, but then every club went through that.

They failed to hit the ground running after that period, however, and three draws and one defeat followed in the next four league games.

Duxbury’s men finished strongly by winning eight of their final ten league games but the two defeats in that period dealt a fatal blow to their late challenge for a place in the top two.

* See next Saturday’s T&A for a full review of Eccleshill’s cup runs