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About neilhoskins77

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    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne & Cwmbran, South Wales

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    Bristol.R & Newcastle Utd

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    Kyrgyzstan & Lurgan Celtic FC

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  1. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Wednesday 3rd March 2010 (cont) There was one other small piece of business from Wednesday night, and that was to settle who we would face in the Northern Irish Cup Semi-Final. The answer would be Cliftonville, who defeated Linfield 3-2 in front of a crowd of over 1,500 at Solitude. We would face them in three and a half weeks time, Saturday 27th March, with the match taking place at The Oval in Belfast. We'd be aiming for a place in the Final of the Northern Irish Cup against the current fourth place side in the Premier Division. We'd also be hoping for a bumper pay day to try and service our debt. As suspected, our League match at home to Portstewart that was scheduled for that Saturday, has now been rescheduled for the following Wednesday, which is the final day of March. Friday 5th March The bookies have zero doubt about who is going to win tomorrow afternoon's League match, as they have us as 1/8 favourites to not only beat Oxford United Stars, but put a potentially fatal wound into their ailing promotion hopes. They sit 7th with 30 points on the board and six matches left to play. Defeat today would leave them needing a lot of luck with sides taking points from each other. We went back in once again for Guinea born, but British passport holding teenage striker, Alex Owen. He once again agrees terms with us very easily, and declares himself delighted to sign a deal to move to Lurgan Celtic later in the year. But once more, the move is veto'ed by the Board. I'm told I have to bring the wage budget down before I can get the deal signed, no matter how highly I rate him as a prospect. Saturday 6th March Northern Irish Second Division Knockramer Park, Lurgan Lurgan Celtic v Oxford United Stars Attendance :- 191. Weather :- Wet, 7c. At this point in his return, Niall Lavery isn't fit enough to play from the start again today after playing on Wednesday evening. I have a couple of options, but not too many. Michael Maguire could step into the midfield, but it isn't a position he is comfortable in, he would be better suited behind the strikers, but that might be a bit too attacking to start the match with. Instead, I give Colm Rooney a rare outing, though he isn't the most comfortable in the centre of the park either, so he will play behind Aidan Sweeney and sit in front of the back four. To try and prevent that from becoming quite a negative formation, both full backs are pushed up into a wing back position. We now have a very fluid and wide 2-3-1-2-2 formation. Lavery sits on the bench. We were nearly picked open in the 7th minute, Barry O'Neill received the ball from Michael McMahon, and tried a beautiful looking through ball into the box for Eoghan Harkin, but fortunately for us, Darren Spence was alert enough to put his foot in the way, and break that one up. Midway through the half, Harkin would have a much better chance, Ryan Carville drove a ball down the middle of the park from just outside his own box, and it split Spence and Glenn Walsh. Harkin had the pace to out run the pair of them, and Stephen Havern had to come off his line to narrow the angle, Harkin kept his shot low, Havern stopped it with his legs. The Stars weren't worried though, and they had no reason to be, as we were causing them little trouble. It wasn't really clicking for us, the passing was off the mark, and the players seemed a little disinterested. We were pretty lucky to get to half time without being behind. I needed a bit more from my players if we were going to come out of this one with three points, but I decided to persevere with the formation and personnel for the time being at least. But it was the Stars who would have the first crack at goal in the second half, with winger Adam Clarke knocking the ball down in the box for himself, and then passing it back outside the box to O'Neill, who let fly from 20 yards out and was so close to giving the visitors the lead. When we finally got into the other half, we won a free kick out on the right, but Aidan Sweeney never really made up his mind if he was crossing or shooting, and in the end, never really managed either. That would turn out to be the start of a strong period of play for us, Conor McAnallen and Stephen Magennis did some good work, and Sweeney threaded a through ball between defenders to get Raymond Fitzpatrick goal side, but Patrick Appleton made a great stop to keep the match all square. At the other end, O'Neill tried again from just outside the box on the hour, Havern having to help that one over the top. By the time we got to midway through the second half, we had two teams who really didn't want to make a mistake, and were playing as such. Harkin got by Spence to create a chance for himself, but Havern did well, reading the strikers intention to try and beat him on his near post, and flashing out a hand to push it away. There were only 20 minutes left on the clock now, and I was considering bench options. David Sinton was becoming very proficient at curling right footed corners from the left onto the target, and he did so again, a defender heading off the line the only thing that prevented us going in front. The respite for the visitors defence would turn out to be brief however, as brief as the next set piece. Gareth Murphy whipped in a free kick from almost on the byline, and Magennis got between keeper and defender, letting the pace on the ball do the work, and he just guided it, past the flailing hands of Appleton, and high into the net. My changes came within minutes, with both wing backs pushed back into the more traditional full back role, and Sweeney, Sinton and Magennis all withdrawn, Niall Lavery, Michael Maguire and Mark Patterson providing us with some fresh legs. We might have been able to add to the lead if Patterson had shown a better first touch a few minutes after coming on. Or, on the other hand, we could have been pegged back on level terms, had Adam Clarke got the response he believed he should have when he considered McAnallen's tackle in the penalty box to be rash. Ref Tommy Fairfield couldn't have been firmer when he waved his hands to show there was nothing doing there. Clarke's frustration may well have still been on the surface a few minutes later when the ball broke to him in the left channel of the box, and he snatched at the chance, firing it right at Havern, who dealt with it comfortably. Not a word you would use to describe our win today. Lurgan Celtic (0) 1 - Stephen Magennis (76) Oxford United Stars (0) 0 Stephen Havern; Darren Spence, Glenn Walsh; Conor McAnallen, Colm Rooney, Gareth Murphy (capt); Aidan Sweeney (Niall Lavery 80); David Sinton (Michael Maguire 80), James McLean; Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis (Mark Patterson 80). Unused Substitutes :- Aaron Meharg, Tommy Strain. Bookings :- None. Possession :- 47% - 53%. Man of the Match :- Gareth Murphy (Lurgan Celtic). Well, it goes without saying that wasn't our finest performance. But they do say it's the mark of successful team that finds a way to drag a victory out of a less than up to par performance. It says a lot about that match that a defender was named man of the match. We remain top of the pile, now with five matches remaining, Police Service of Northern Ireland remain level on points with us, and they have reduced our goal difference advantage from two goals, down to just the single one, by virtue of their 2-0 home win over Coagh United. The pressure continues from behind by Annagh United, who also won at home, 3-0 against bottom of the table Killyleagh. Fourth placed Glebe fell off the pace after drawing away to fifth placed Portstewart. Defeats for Queens University Belfast, as well as Oxford United Stars, make them very unlikely to be able to be considered challengers from this point.
  2. June 2017 The Under-19 squad report to a Bishkek hotel on Saturday 4th June, with the squad said to be cautiously optimistic ahead of their double header. The players know they have few chances remaining to stake their claim for a place in the squad for the competitive action in October. The Senior squad report to the same hotel the following day They are also reported to be in good spirits ahead of their own home double header. The match against Latvia is a good chance to test ourselves against the next level of opposition, while the Qualifying match against Myanmar is not to be taken lightly, a win is essential to keep us on track in that one. Unlike most International Windows, this time we have almost a week between the games, and the Under-19's will get their double header kicked off on Tuesday with a very winable looking fixture against the English speaking East Asian nation of Guam. The relatively young nation have only been members of the AFC for 25 years, and it would be fair to say that they have not made a huge amount of progress since then, sitting in 181st place in the current FIFA World Rankings. It's not hard to see why of course, the population is less than 200,000, and the biggest stadium in the country holds just 1,000. With such a small amount of footballers in the country, any young footballers they do get tend to get parachuted right up to the Under-23 squad, if not the Seniors. They do only have one player of note though, 31 year old utility player Brandon McDonald has 21 caps to his name, and makes a living at a very good level, playing for Cerezo Osaka in Japan's top tier Meiji Yasuda J-League. The beautiful and warm summers in Central Asia are the payoff for the harsh and cold winters. The forecast suggests temperatures in the mid-20's tomorrow, despite the evening kick off. Ala-Too Naryn's centre back Ayzar Akmatov is requested to play no more than a half of the match by his club, who are worried about his recent hectic schedule. His club team mate and Captain of the Kyrgyzstan Under-19 side, right back Danislam Zagidulin tells the media that a side like Guam shouldn't be taken lightly, and that focus was required, complacency was not something they were prepared to allow to creep in. There was a different feeling towards tomorrow night's Senior Friendly International match against Latvia. Expectations on us are not particularly high for that match, though there is a chance to take the scalp of a European nation, and one of a side that are doing very well at the moment too, sitting third in their FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group after a win over Switzerland and a draw away to Hungary. They sit 78th in the World right now, around the area we are aiming to get up towards, and the squad that Latvia are bringing to Bishkek is spread out right across Europe, with players plying their trade in Belgium, France, Poland and Russia amongst others. Part of their improvement is down to the improvement in form of a player that a lot had been expected from in the past, and he had rarely delivered. Now 29 years old, striker Artjoms Rudnevs is finally delivering. Good form back in Latvia earned him a move to Hungary, where a breakthrough season with ZTE earned him a move onto Poland. Two goal laden seasons convinced Hamburg to spend nearly £3m on him, but after a promising first season, his form went south, and he spent time on loan and with the Reserve side. 1.FC Köln signed him last summer on a Free Transfer, and he repaid their faith with nine goals in the Bundesliga. But it was for his country that he has really started to fire. With only two goals in 40 caps before the World Cup Qualifiers, he has now added four in as many matches during this campaign. We'll need to keep a close eye on him in Bishkek. 22 year old midfielder with three caps for us now, Bektur Talgat, tells the press that Latvia would be wise not to underestimate Kyrgyzstan in the upcoming match. He tells them how proud he is of the steps forward the nation has taken over the last year or so, and that things would not be easy for the Baltic side in Bishkek. Tuesday 6th June 2017 - 19:30pm Under-19's International Friendly Stadion Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Under-19's v Guam Under-19's Attendance :- 302. Weather :- Breezy, 28c. The Under-19's play in the big stadium today, and they will also do so next week. The Kyrgyzstani FA hit upon the idea of a ticket promotion, where buying a ticket for this match allows a discount on the following nights Senior game. As you can see from the attendance, it hasn't turned out to be a particularly popular incentive. Guam have brought only 18 players in their squad for this match, while we are fully stocked with a 23 man squad, each as eager as the next to prove himself as a young player capable of representing his nation when the real action begins in the autumn. There are still plenty of familiar names from last years Under-19 side involved, but there are also plenty of new faces who will be looking to take their spots from them. Two of those are given starts today in our midfield, Omurbek Drozdetskiy and Beksultan Islamkulov of the Abdysh-Ata Kant and Ala-Too Naryn clubs respectively. That leaves Azamat Omuraliev and Abdurashit Saydirakhmatov on the bench, and knowing they will face a fight for their spots. They won't be the only ones, as we also have interesting options in particular at centre back, on the wings, and up front. The two new young midfielders started well, combining to dispossess Alfredo Grape. However, Guam got the ball back quickly, and left back William Tambora sent a superb cross field pass to Anthony McDonald. The winger took the ball on and delivered a cross into the centre, where Grape needed two attempts, the second crashed back off the bar before Danislam Zagidulin hooked it clear. Our first two chances both came from Omurbek Drozdetskiy, firstly a shot from the corner of the box that was wide of the mark, followed by a right footed free kick that he curled over the ball, but also over the cross bar. Ernist Batyrkanov would come much closer midway through the half, taking a short pass from Beksultan Islamkulov, and from just inside the box, letting a fiercely struck shot go, Tony Geisel had to produce a diving save to push that one away and keep the match goalless. With the game starting to drift aimlessly, a touch of absolute class finally opened the scoring in the 39th minute, and not at the end you, or certainly I, may have been expecting. Striker Cameron Mendiolas came short to collect a throw in, and quickly sent the ball infield to Ricky Manalac. A look up told him that Georgiy Slavnyi was off his line, and from 30 yards out, Manalac hit his shot, which flew beyond our keeper and found the net via the underside of the cross bar. It was a sublime effort, but that didn't make me any less annoyed that we had fallen behind. My players were cleary aware of the tongue lashing that was only about five minutes or so away, and did their best to make ammends. Vladimir Badalov sent a shot just over the cross bar right from the restart, while Batyrkanov had another go from the edge of the box, this one curling just wide. I made two changes at the break, both in our defence. Ayzar Akmatov had been asked to play no more than a half, so he was replaced by 17 year old Manas Smatov. At right back, Danislam Zagidulin had done ok in the first half, particularly getting forward, but he wasn't in the best of match fitness, so he was also replaced, with 16 year old Kursanbek Akmatov replacing the skipper. The players were told that I was expecting a lot more from the second half, but Manalac must have been told to keep doing what he had been doing, and he let fly two minutes into the second half, this time from 25 yards out, and just barely over the cross bar. I was starting to become a little concerned, though we were having huge swathes of possession, and pinning back our East Asian opponents. Batyrkanov was keen to have another go, this time from a bit further out, but it swerved well away from the target. At the other end, there was what was now becoming a rare foray forward from Guam, and from a free kick by Tambora, keeper Slavnyi needed to hold on with players following up for any scraps. When we reached the 63rd minute, I felt the need to make more changes, but did restrict them to personnel only. Left back Nurtay Kurmantay, midfielder Beksultan Islamkulov, left wing Vladimir Badalov, and striker Kadyrbek Shaarbekov were all brought off, and replaced respectively by Ivan Mambetaliev, Azamat Omuraliev, Ivan Biyaliev and Pavel Tkachenko. While the substitutions didn't directly impact what happened next, I'll happily take the credit anyway. Azamat Omuraliev's cross was headed clear, but Batyrkanov collected the ball with plenty of options in front of him. He declined those, pushing the ball sideways instead to Drozdetskiy. The debutant left his mark, matching Manalac's effort for both distance and quality, curling his shot out of Geisel's reach, and into the top corner to level the match up. With twenty minutes to go, and the game very much there for the winning, Batyrkanov dispensed with his shoot from range policy, and sent a through ball into the path of Pavel Tkachenko, who skipped past one tackle and then let a shot go, but he got underneath it somewhat and sent it high over the bar. So three more substitutes were summoned from the bench as reinforcements, starting with the only remaining starter in the back four, with Ulugbek Salamatov replaced by another youngster, Raul' Urmeev. There was a change on the right wing, with Kanat Yuldashev replaced by exciting young prospect Syymykbek Amanov. The final change would see us go a bit more attacking, with midfielder Ernist Batyrkanov sacrificed and replaced by young striker Zamir Sharipov, who would act as a target man and strike partner for Tkachenko. The newly introduced striker would take only two minutes to show off his prowess in the air as well, Ivan Mambetaliev swung in a left footed cross from deep, and Sharipov got in front of his marker, and rose well to connect with a powerful header, missing only the all important ingredient of direction, as it cleared the angle of upright and cross bar. I made my final outfield change with just over five minutes to go, Drozdetskiy receiving a good ovation as he went off, replaced by Abdurashit Saydirakhmatov. But we would only produce one more chance to win this one, Sharipov taking his target man skills out wide, bringing the ball down on the right touchline, and then sending a cross into the box, Tkachenko rising between two defenders and guiding his header on goal, but it was caught fairly routinely by sub keeper Jake Fulton. Kyrgyzstan Under-19's (0) 1 - Omurbek Drozdetskiy (66) Guam Under-19's (1) 1 - Ricky Manalac (39) Georgy Slavnyi; Danislam Zagidulin (capt - Kursanbek Akmatov 45), Ayazar Akmatov (Manas Smatov 45), Ulugbek Salamatov (Raul' Urmeev 73), Nurtay Kurmantay (Ivan Mambetaliev 63); Omurbek Drozdetskiy (Abdurashit Saydirakhmatov 84), Beksultan Islamkulov (Azamat Omuraliev 63), Ernist Batyrkanov (Zamir Sharipov 73); Kanat Yuldashev (Syymykbek Amanov 73), Vladimir Badalov (Ivan Biyaliev 63); Kadyrbek Shaarbekov (Pavel Tkachenko 63). Unused Substitutes :- Abdulnur Mamytov (GK), Azamat Omuraliev (GK). Possession :- 55% - 45%. Shots on Target :- 6 - 2. Man of the Match :- Omurbek Drozdetskiy (Kyrgyzstan Under-19's). I can't deny that I'm disappointed with the result, as that was certainly a match that we should have won. However, the performance itself was more than a little heartening. There wasn't much we could do about Guam's goal, which was simply superb, but we did plenty of good attacking ourselves, keeping the ball quite nicely for the most part with some nice passing. The new young players settled in quite nicely too, in particular midfielder Omurbek Drozdetskiy, who picked up a goal and the man of the match award. The youngsters will have another chance to put themselves in contention for competitive football when the Under-19's return to the Dolena next Monday, where they will host the youngsters from Moldova. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **You can now find a link to the photos of the stadium we are playing in hyperlinked into the stadium name near the top of the match report. I will do this for each unique stadium we play at. I'm getting the photos from Google searches, so I can only apologize for any inaccuracies that may throw up**
  3. Idiots Abroad, or How Not to Run a Football League

    It was only a matter of time before football corruption reached the Cook Islands. That ref and his assistants were like three blind mice. You got lucky Fuller
  4. May 2017 May doesn't start too well for us, as we lose a player to retirement. 23 year old goalkeeper Marsel' Islamkulov was capped at Under-23 level, and has spent the last three years playing regularly in Kazakhstan with FK-Astana 1964. He could have easily been first choice for one of the sides in the Pervaya Liga, and this is exactly the kind of loss that we want to prevent. Islamkulov has decided to pursue ventures outside of football after being released by his club. The Under-23's quickly lost another potential member of their squad, though this time not permanently. Aldier Kurshab right back Omurbek Joroev has been a regular for his club so far this season in the Top Liga. Unfortunately, the 22 year old has broken his leg in a training session, and will be out for the rest of the year, and maybe struggling to be fit for pre season in 2018. The lad is said to be devastated that this has happened, with the injury coming just two weeks after he scored his first ever Senior goal. We're up one more spot in the May version of the FIFA World Rankings, and we are now in joint 104th spot with Jordan. We're now ahead of nations such as Guatemala and New Zealand, and only just behind nations like Israel, Zambia, Bahrain and Azerbaijan. Another ten place rise from Kosovo once again makes them the nation who have improved the most. The media often highlight the clubs in Kyrgyzstani football that are doing the best job developing players in the Senior National Side, and one side is way out in front of the others. Ala-Too Naryn have been responsible for the development of thirteen current International players in our setup, with Abdysh-Ata Kant following behind with four, and Alay Osh then having three. Neftchi Kochkor-Ata and Dordoy are both responsible for two players. Ahletdin Israilov will be missing from our next chance to improve our World Ranking, and to also bank three more Asian Nations Cup Qualifying points. The 22 year old forward has dislocated his shoulder playing for his Ukrainian club side Cherkaskyi Dnipro Cherkasy against Gelios Kharkiv. He is likely to be out for around two months. He is pretty quickly joined on the missing in action list by 26 year old Alay Osh left back, Sherzod Shakirov. The 17 times capped defender will be out for around six weeks after suffering knee cartilage damage. Kyrgyzstan Senior National Squad Announcement Latvia (78th) - Home (7/6/17 at Stadion Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) International Friendly Myanmar (=178th) - Home (13/6/17 at Stadion Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) Asian Nations Cup Qualifier, Group D | Name | Position | Age | Club | Height | Value | Caps | Goals | | Pavel Matyash | GK | 29 | UiTM (MAS) | 6'6" | £0 | 12 | 0 | | Vakhitzhan Akbaraliev | GK | 27 | Alay | 6'3" | £325 | 0 | 0 | | Maxim Agapov | GK | 29 | Abdysh-Ata | 6'1" | £825 | 5 | 0 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Manas Zhutanov | D (RLC) | 25 | Alay | 5'11" | £1.1K | 12 | 0 | | Valery Kichin | D (LC) | 24 | Yenisey (RUS) | 5'11" | £120K | 24 | 1 | | Azamat Baymatov | D (C) | 27 | Alay | 6'3" | £425 | 30 | 3 | | Shuhrat Rahmonov | D (C) | 29 | Alay | 6'3" | £900 | 3 | 0 | | Tamirlan Kozubaev | D (C) | 22 | Ceres (PHI) | 6'1" | £28.5K | 11 | 0 | | Ulug'beq Mo'minov | D/WB (R) | 32 | Army Utd (THA) | 5'11" | £2.4K | 5 | 0 | | Kursanbek Sheratov | D/WB (L) | 27 | Dordoy | 6'0" | £1K | 4 | 0 | | Vadim Kharchenko | D/WB/M (R) | 33 | Dordoy | 5'9" | £55 | 33 | 1 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Sergej Evljuskin | DM, M (C) | 29 | Kassel (GER) | 5'10" | £40.5K | 12 | 0 | | Bakyt Kashkaev | DM, M (C) | 28 | Kara-Balta | 5'11" | £1K | 4 | 0 | | Ilzat Akhmetov | M (L), AM (RLC) | 19 | Rubin (RUS) | 5'8" | £205K | 3 | 0 | | Anatolii Vlasichev | M (C) | 28 | Alay | 6'0" | £2.6K | 23 | 1 | | Bektur Talgat | M (C) | 22 | Churchill Bros (IND) | 5'9" | £21.5K | 3 | 0 | | Nurkal Sataev | M/AM (RL) | 24 | Dordoy | 5'10" | £1.1K | 0 | 0 | | Anton Zemlianukhin | M/AM (RC) | 28 | Neuchâtel Xamax (SUI)| 5'9" | £160K | 29 | 11 | | Karim Izrailov | M/AM (LC) | 30 | Navy FC (THA) | 6'0" | £18.75K | 12 | 1 | | Edgar Bernhardt | AM (RL) | 31 | Rödinghausen (GER) | 5'9" | £29.5K | 20 | 5 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Tosin Aleriwa | ST (C) | 27 | Abdysh-Ata | 5'8" | £525 | 8 | 6 | | Ivan Filatov | ST (C) | 29 | Minerva Punjab (IND) | 5'11" | £23K | 5 | 1 | | Islam Danabaev | ST (C) | 27 | Aldier | 6'2" | £1K | 0 | 0 | I'm learning that on the International stage, success, or even perceived success, as we haven't had any of the real stuff just yet, breeds expectation. The media, and fans, have an idea of what they want right now and in their opinion, this squad doesn't stack up. They are not happy with the inclusion of right back Ulug'beq Mo'minov for a start. They consider the 32 year old to be 'inept' when it comes to International Football, and that's on top of the fact that he hasn't managed to force his way into the starting lineup at his new club, Army United, who sit 2nd in Thailand's M-150 Championship, which is the second tier. Their next bone of contention is the inclusion of two potential new caps, Dordoy's 24 year old winger Nurkal Sataev, who is a replacement in the squad for the injured Ahletdin Israilov, and 27 year old Aldier striker Islam Danabaev, who has come into the squad in place of Vitalij Lux. The media's argument has fallen down right about here. They claim the inclusion of these two players risks making a mockery of the National Side, yet they said Mo'minov has been picked purely on reputation and not form. These new potenial caps have been picked solely on form, with Danabaev coming in based on his goalscoring in the Top Liga, as opposed to Lux not being able to command any game time in Germany. In fact, Lux is on the phone very shortly after the squad announcement. And great credit to him as well, he wasn't angry or confrontational, he simply asked why he had been left out. I told him that while I don't doubt his ability to score goals for a moment, he hasn't played regularly for a long time at club level, and I'm now in a position to select in form and match fit players ahead of him. He asked what he needed to do to earn his place back in the National Squad. I told him he needs to play regularly, and I don't mind if that's at his current club, or if he moves. He assures me he'll look into that, as he is desperate to continue playing for Kyrgyzstan. In the press conference, I take the chance to correct the media on a few things. They tell me that Ivan Filatov hasn't displayed the kind of form in the I-League of India to justify his selection. I point out that he has 7 goals in 18 games, a record that no one in our domestic Leagues can get anywhere close to. They also announce their delight that Ahletdin Israilov has been dropped. I remind them that he is injured, and as such, hasn't actually been dropped at all. After some pretty heavy and harsh critisism, we're going to need to put some performances in this Window. Kyrgyzstan Under-19 National Squad Announcement Guam - Home (6/6/17 - Stadion Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) Under-19's International Friendly Moldova - Home (12/6/17 - Stadion Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) Under-19's International Friendly | Name | Position | Age | Club | Height | Value | Caps | Goals | | Georgiy Slavnyi | GK | 19 | Ala-Too | 6'4" | £140 | 0 | 0 | | Abdulnur Mamytov | GK | 19 | Alay | 6'5" | £130 | 0 | 0 | | Azamat Omuraliev | GK | 16 | Abdysh-Ata | 6'0" | £325 | 0 | 0 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | Danislam Zagidulin | D (R) | 19 | Ala-Too | 6'0" | £160 | 0 | 0 | | Ayzar Akmatov | D (C) | 18 | Ala-Too | 6'2" | £180 | 0 | 0 | | Ulugbek Salamatov | D (C) | 18 | Ala-Too | 5'11" | £180 | 0 | 0 | | Raul' Urmeev | D (C) | 16 | Kara-Balta | 6'1" | £725 | 0 | 0 | | Manas Smatov | D (C) | 17 | Ala-Too | 6'0" | £425 | 0 | 0 | | Kursanbek Akmatov | D/WB (R) | 16 | Neftchi Kochkor-Ata | 5'3" | £425 | 0 | 0 | | Nurtay Kurmantay | D/WB (L) | 19 | Ala-Too | 5'9" | £200 | 0 | 0 | | Ivan Mambetaliev | D/WB (L) | 17 | Alga-Chuy | 6'2" | £0 | 0 | 0 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | Ernist Batyrkanov | DM, M (C) | 19 | Ala-Too | 6'2" | £300 | 0 | 0 | | Kanat Yuldashev | M (R) | 17 | Aldier | 5'11" | £875 | 0 | 0 | | Vladimir Badalov | M (L) | 17 | Neftchi Kochkor-Ata | 6'1" | £425 | 0 | 0 | | Abdurashit Saydirakhmatov | M (C) | 19 | Alay | 5'9" | £375 | 0 | 0 | | Azamat Omuraliev | M (C) | 19 | Kara-Balta | 5'7" | £200 | 0 | 0 | | Omurbek Drozdetskiy | M (C) | 17 | Abdysh-Ata | 5'7" | £475 | 0 | 0 | | Beksultan Islamkulov | M (C) | 16 | Ala-Too | 5'8" | £475 | 0 | 0 | | Syymykbek Amanov | M/AM (R) | 17 | Aldier | 5'10" | £500 | 0 | 0 | | Ivan Biyaliev | M/AM (LC) | 17 | Ala-Too | 5'7" | £500 | 0 | 0 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | Kadyrbek Shaarbekov | ST (C) | 19 | Ala-Too | 5'10" | £210 | 0 | 0 | | Pavel Tkachenko | ST (C) | 17 | Alay | 6'0" | £700 | 0 | 0 | | Zamir Sharipov | ST (C) | 17 | Aldier | 6'2" | £500 | 0 | 0 | There is no such outcry for the Under-19's squad. In fact, there is no reaction at all. There never is! With competitive football on the horizon, any player now aged over 19 or not inside the elgibility criteria in the eyes of the game engine, is dispensed with. Instead, I start to call up the next generation of players, an encouraging amount of which are playing regularly in our domestic Leagues. Some players who had been regulars in the past have also been left out as they are not playing regularly at the moment. There is one change in the trio of goalkeepers, with 16 year old Mirlan Orozbek dropped, and replaced by Azamat Omuraliev, another 16 year old who has been playing some football and looks to have a bit about him. Deputy left back Muhamedjan Grischenko is out injured, and is replaced in the squad by 17 year old Ivan Mambetaliev, who has played consistently well for Alga-Chuy in the early stages of the season. Ulan Taalaybek is also a casualty of our new found depth, as a lack of football sees him dropped and replaced by Kara-Balta's centre back Raul' Urmeev. There are three changes in the midfield, as we have lost now 20 year old winger and standout player at his age group, Viktor Kelm. His place in the squad is taken by promising looking 17 year old Syymykbek Amanov. There are also changes in the centre midfield area, with Beksultan Kaipov and Aidar Mambetaliev dropped, and the 18 year olds are replaced by 17 year old Omurbek Drozdetskiy and 16 year old playmaker Beksultan Islamkulov. Finally up front, where we have also lost a massive player for us at this level, with goalscorer Almaz Omoraliev now aged 20, and hoping to get into the Under-23 squad. He is joined by Janboto Yrysbek, who has been knocking in goals regularly for Ala-Too Naryn in Zona A. The new pair of strikers called up looking pretty promising too, with Pavel Tkachenko netting four times already this season for Alay Osh, and target man Zamir Sharipov. The focus this year for the Under-19's is to try and find some consistency before going into the Asian Under-19 Championship Qualifiers which are scheduled for late October.
  5. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Saturday 27th February 2010 (cont) While we had been in Cup action, there had been five matches taking place in the Second Division, and things didn't necessarily go as we would have liked. Police Service of Northern Ireland have won 2-0 away, the only good news in that was that it was against Queens University Belfast. There was a goalless draw for Annagh United away to Oxford United Stars, while Glebe won 3-1 at home to relegation threatened Dundela. The other side in big relegation trouble are bottom of the table Killyleagh, and they couldn't help their own situation, as they were beaten 2-1 by Portstewart. As the only non-Premier Division side remaining in the draw, we were assured a Semi-Final against a top tier club, and we also knew it would be at a neutral venue. We were the final club out of the draw, with Newry City drawn to face Portadown in the first Semi, which would take place at Windsor Park in Belfast. We would have to wait until Wednesday evening to find out who our opponents would be, as we were drawn to face either Cliftonville or Linfield, that second Semi would be hosted at The Oval, home of Glentoran, and a 12,000 capacity ground. It was likely of course that our opponents, whichever side we ended up with, would sell many more tickets than us, so there should be a very nice payday in it for us. The Semi-Final would take place in a months time, Saturday 27th March. Monday 1st March March was looking likely to be a busy month for us, though over condensed periods of time. We would play League matches on Wednesday and Saturday of this week, before once again getting a fortnight off. We would then play another League game, before the Northern Irish Cup Semi-Final a week later. We should be in League action that day, and it's expected that League game will be rescheduled for the following Wednesday, which will be the final day of the month. The Board continue to be pleased with the way things are going, and rather predictably, have mentioned that they are delighted with the signing of James McLean, who's form since arriving has delighted the clubs top brass. They are not particularly happy with that home defeat to Queens University, which I can't say I blame them for, but they have been placated by a profit for February of nearly £2,000. Tuesday 2nd March We go into tomorrow night's match against Coagh United in fourth place, and if you believe the bookies, we'll still be there when the match finishes too. They have us as the underdogs against the side in ninth place, maybe once more taking our Cup exploits into consideration, and believing they'll work against us. I pour cold water on the odds, stating that I believe we'll do well when I was asked if our minds will be elsewhere. I state that we won't be able to watch the Cup Quarter-Final match of the evening live, and we'll need to very much put it to the back of our minds for now. The players are very much aware of how important I consider our remaining League matches to be. Wednesday 3rd March Northern Irish Second Division Hagan Park, Coagh Coagh United v Lurgan Celtic Attendance :- 164. Weather :- Dry, 2c. Glenn Walsh's impressive debut on Saturday against Carrick Rangers means he keeps his place in the starting lineup tonight at Hagan Park, though Aaron Meharg is brought back on to the bench in place of Jay Stein to act as cover for the teenager. There is a change required in midfield with Andy Hamilton missing for a little while, so Niall Lavery is brought back into the side, and a very welcome return it is too. Colm Rooney is back on the substitutes bench as a result. Two chances to take the lead early on the road bypassed us, Raymond Fitzpatrick didn't get enough on his shot from around a dozen yards out, while Aidan Sweeney curled a free kick over the wall, but just over the bar as well. By the quarter of an hour mark, United had squared up the chances, Scott McCordick missing the target, while Gary Baird's effort forced a smart low stop from Stephen Havern, with Gareth Murphy having to be quick on his toes to clear the loose ball from danger. Barid would get another go midway through the half after good work in the centre of the park from Simon McWilliams, but once more, he didn't manage to find the net, Havern dealing with his rather weak shot pretty easily. We would have two more chances before we reached half time, and both would come the way of David Sinton, who's inswinging corner would have gone in had it not been headed from under the bar by Baird. He then got onto a pass slipped into the penalty box by Stephen Magennis, forcing keeper Johnny Pollock to save with his legs to keep this match all square at half time. This one was anyone's match going into the second half, and home full back Kevin McElroy was trying his hardest to make it first blood to United, taking a free kick from just outside the corner of the box, his effort swerved violently, and beat Havern, but was too high to open the scoring. Instead, it was ourselves that would strike first. Conor McAnallen was searching for a probing pass from deep on the right, trying first Magennis, and then Niall Lavery. Both gave the ball right back to him, but both also dragged defenders around with them, and McAnallen swung the ball into the box, over the head of Fitzpatrick, and towards James McLean, who had moved into the box in a stealth like manner. He chested the ball down, and moved it away from a defender, Pollock diving for the ball, but failing to get both hands on it, McLean managing to nudge the ball past him and into the net. But United were nearly level straight from kick off, a long ball parting our defence, and Walsh was undone by the pace of sub Aaron Willis, who was on barely a minute from the bench. Willis smashed a shot past Havern, but it came right back off the cross bar. It fell right back to McWilliams near the penalty spot, and he got his head over the ball in an attempt to keep his first time shot down. That one went right back past Havern again, but this one hit the inside of the post, and as the ball came back loose once more, Keegan Smith and Sweeney both went for the ball, it spun up in the air between the two, and Havern finally got hands on it to our relief. That relief would turn to joy just moments later, Murphy's throw in collected by Fitzpatrick, who quickly sent a cross into the box, Magennis using his body to shield the ball and let it run out of the defenders reach, before sending his low shot across goal, and low inside the post to double our lead. That's the 15th goal of the season from the striker, and two in a four minute spell in this match from us has put us very firmly in the driving seat. Ten minutes after that second goal, and comfortable enough with what we had, I made my three changes, taking the chance to give Niall Lavery a rest, and subbing Sinton and Fitzpatrick at the same time, bringing on Colm Rooney, Tommy Strain and Mark Patterson to replace them. We were now attempting to hold United at arms length, but they were still creating some chances, sub Hakeem Araba managed to spin away from two Celtic players and let a shot go, Havern beating it away before Sweeney hooked it out of danger. Seámus Long would try his luck next, the ball falling to him fifteen yards out after a corner had pinged around our box, Long smashed that one inches over the cross bar. McWilliams did the same with a long range shot that seemingly didn't worry Havern at all. He would have more concern with two minutes left on the clock however, McElroy sent a pass down the right touchline, and Adrian Watson did well to prevent the ball going out, before cutting it back towards the edge of the box. McWilliams controlled it, moved it onto his left foot, and then used Darren Spence to block the sight of Havern, curling the ball around the defender and finding the net. We would be presented with an injury time opportunity to make the final few minutes much more comfortable, Tommy Strain showing some fancy footwork to trick his way past Rhys Sharkey, who resorted to grabbing a handful of his jersey and pulling him back. It was a fairly easy penalty for the ref to give, and Murphy would have a chance to increase his own tally for the season, but he sent the spot kick well over the bar, to the delight of the small number of home fans left in the ground. We had plenty of chances to keep the ball to ourselves and put this match to bed, but our players showed a worrying lack of game management, and kept losing the ball. Fortunately, United were just as wasteful as us, and we held on for a much needed win. Coagh United (0) 1 - Simon McWilliams (88) Lurgan Celtic (0) 2 - James McLean (58), Stephen Magennis (61) Stephen Havern; Conor McAnallen, Darren Spence, Glenn Walsh, Gareth Murphy (capt); Niall Lavery (Colm Rooney 71), Aidan Sweeney; David Sinton (Tommy Strain 71), James McLean; Raymond Fitzpatrick (Mark Patterson 71), Stephen Magennis. Unused Substitutes :- Aaron Meharg, Michael Maguire. Bookings :- None Possession :- 48% - 52%. Man of the Match :- James McLean (Lurgan Celtic). Away from home, and in the middle of a busy week, that was a big win for us, and I told the players that I was delighted with their effort tonight, but that they had now set the bar for themselves, and I was expecting much more of the same from them. The media labelled our win as 'fortuitous', which I thought did a bit of a dis-service to our hosts. James McLean put on another good performance, and walked away with another goal, and another man of the match award, his third of each. With an average of well over 7.00 in his five League outings since arriving at Knockramer Park, his contribution has been top notch, and you might struggle to find a better Free Transfer signing in Northern Ireland this season. There was one other League match tonight, a clash from near the other end of the table, Harland & Wolff Welders drawing 1-1 with Tobermore United. Our win takes us back above our rivals, and to the top of the table, our goal difference advantage of two goals enough to edge us ahead of Police Service of Northern Ireland, and a point ahead of Annagh United. With half a dozen matches remaining, there was still sure to be plenty of twists and turns in this promotion race. 2009/10 Northern Irish Second Division Table. Up To & Including Wednesday 3rd March 2010 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Lurgan Celtic | | 20 | 11 | 4 | 5 | 33 | 19 | +14 | 37 | | 2nd | | P.S.N.I. | | 20 | 10 | 7 | 3 | 26 | 14 | +12 | 37 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Annagh Utd | | 20 | 10 | 6 | 4 | 25 | 16 | +9 | 36 | | 4th | | Glebe | | 20 | 10 | 5 | 5 | 29 | 15 | +14 | 35 | | 5th | | Portstewart | | 20 | 8 | 8 | 4 | 31 | 22 | +9 | 32 | | 6th | | Queens University | | 20 | 7 | 10 | 3 | 23 | 16 | +7 | 31 | | 7th | | Oxford Utd Stars | | 20 | 7 | 9 | 4 | 22 | 16 | +6 | 30 | | 8th | | Killymoon | | 20 | 8 | 3 | 9 | 20 | 27 | -7 | 27 | | 9th | | Coagh Utd | | 20 | 7 | 5 | 8 | 27 | 32 | -5 | 26 | | 10th | | Chimney Corner | | 20 | 4 | 9 | 7 | 18 | 24 | -6 | 21 | | 11th | | H & W Welders | | 20 | 2 | 11 | 7 | 17 | 24 | -7 | 17 | | 12th | | Tobermore Utd | | 20 | 3 | 7 | 10 | 13 | 26 | -13 | 16 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 13th | | Dundela | | 20 | 3 | 6 | 11 | 16 | 32 | -16 | 15 | | 14th | | Killyleagh | | 20 | 1 | 8 | 11 | 20 | 37 | -17 | 11 |
  6. An Egyptian in Argentina:A story of fate and luck

    I'm not up to date on this one at the moment mate, however, that is neither here nor there. If you are enjoying the save and writing about it, then you should absolutely carry on, no matter what the pace. Don't pressure yourself to post every day etc, you will quickly stop enjoying it. Don't concern yourself with whether people are posting comments or replies, it doesn't mean they are not paying attention. Your 'views' are always a pretty good barometer, and you are averaging over ten views per post and that's without taking into account that you have a few comments on here as well. So it would certainly appear you have an audience for the story.
  7. April 2017 World Soccer have started to champion our efforts to break the status quo of heavyweight International sides in Asia. They are one of the few that were impressed with our effort in Laos, and they are offering plenty of encouragement to aid our bid to Qualify for a first ever major Finals. The squad are certainly buying into our ambitions, and as we leave to head back to Bishkek, spirits are high, not least those of Ivan Filatov, who is off the mark for International goals. On that flight home, I have a quiet word with Anton Zemlianukhin. I explain to him that not only is he one of the most talented players we can call upon, but he is also regarded as a Senior member of our group, and that I really appreciate his commitment to our campaign, and that he didn't disappear on us. As a token of our gratitude, I've arranged with the FA for the plane to take him on to his destination to get his contract talks done, and fingers crossed, he gets a deal completed and continues to be available to us for several years yet. Our leading all time goalscorer gets a deal done in double quick time too. Swiss Challenge League club Neuchâtel Xamax FCS are entrenched in mid table in the second tier, and won't be going up, or down this season. They are now making preparations for 2017/18, and Michel Decastel very much decided that Zemlianukhin was the man he wanted in his squad to bring a spark to his side. They have ten games left of this season first though, but he can't take part, they are able to sign him immediately as a Free Agent, but the registration window has closed, and he can't do anymore than train and maybe get some match time with their age group side. A two season deal is agreed, taking Zemlianukhin through to Summer 2019 with his Swiss club, by which time, he'll be 30 years old, and hopefully, will have led us on some big International days too. The top level sees it's domestic season get underway, and I'm hoping to see some young Kyrgyz players get their opportunity to shine and put themselves in contention for our various sides, as it's not just the Senior National side that are embarking on competitive football, but also the Under-23's this summer as well. Alay Osh and Abdysh-Ata Kant both get their campaigns off to winning starts in the Top Liga. In the second tier Pervaya Liga, there is a strong early front runner in Zona A in the form of Zhivoye Pivo Kant, who are unbeaten in their opening three games, taking two wins from them. It's much tighter in Zona B, there after two rounds of matches, six clubs have wins on the board, with three of them sitting unbeaten on four points, inlcuding last season's beaten Promotion Playoff side, Shakhter Kyzyl-Kia. We have achieved a new record high FIFA World Ranking under my charge, as April's edition see's us rise up three places to 105th in the Rankings. We're edging so close now to achieving one of our first aims and breaking into the World's top 100 nations. Argentina are still at the head of the Rankings, while the most improved nation is Kosovo, who rise 34 spots from 180th up to 146th. I mentioned that there was plenty of competitive football ahead of us, and there was some more scheduled at the end of the month. The draw has been made for the Asian Under-19 Championship Qualifiers, and our youngest age group side will play some competitive football in October. We're drawn out in the second round, with no obvious seeding system evident. We're allocated into Group A, which by this point, already contained India. The next nation drawn into our Group are Nepal, and things are looking pretty good for us so far. Things would soon take a sharp downhill turn however, as firstly Oman, and then Uzbekistan are drawn to join us. The Group winners will Qualify automatically, as will, I believe, the runner's-up from the six Groups that contain five nations, which includes ours. Finishing second in that Group would be no easy task. But we may well have received a helping hand with that ambition. The day after the draw, it has been decided that we will host Group A. It is great news, though it hasn't given us any say over the Group scheduling. We sit out the first round of matches on Saturday 21st October, and will begin our Qualifying attempt on the Monday in the evening game against Oman. We'll then face an Wednesday early evening date with Uzbekistan, before facing India on Friday, once more in the 5pm slot. We'll finish proceedings on Sunday in a 7pm kick off in the final match of the Group, against Nepal. It's obvious that we'll need to find a way of taking points from the first two games, and then look to win the last two to get ourselves into a position where we could progress to the Finals. While we didn't get any help with that schedule, we did get to choose the venue. I didn't get any say in that myself, but the Kyrgyzstani FA did have free choice. They have chosen the home of non-League and semi-professional club, FC Talas, who last graced the second tier back in 2013. Their home ground is Stadion E.Kutmanaliev in Talas itself. The ground has a capacity of just 750, which the FA assure me will be plenty for the expected interest of these matches. The stadium is in fairly average condition, but crucially for us, does have a very good grass playing surface. So we've gone from zero competitive matches last year, to thirteen scheduled for this year, including the one already played, and another one already in the diary for next year. It's exciting times for football fans in our corner of the World, and the domestic football takes on even more importance as the opportunity to play competitive football for Kyrgyzstan's three National Sides will be there for many players this year.
  8. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Sunday 14th February 2010 The media weren't in a particularly 'loving' mood towards us this Valentines' Day. After summing up that we had lost in the League for the first time in five matches, they now posed the question as to whether this would be simply a blip on our way to a famous promotion for the club, or whether it was the start of our fall down the table, and out of contention altogether for another season. There was a bit of good news, when on loan striker Mark Patterson was declared fit to return to training after missing around three weeks with a twisted knee. Monday 15th February With a couple of weeks without a game, extra training sessions were scheduled. That decision was rued almost immediately, as the news of Patterson's return to fitness was tempered with Michael Hall entering the treatment room to take his place. The right back, who has only been playing regularly while Marc Fegan has been out injured, has suffered a thigh strain in training, and could be out for up to a month. Wednesday 17th February Police Service of Northern Ireland have moved level with us on 34 points in the League after a 1-1 draw at home with Killymoon tonight. They'll play again before we do, and will have to chance to leapfrog us and move into the top three. Saturday 20th February There is just one Second Division match on offer today, and it sees Chimney Corner take the honours with a 1-0 win over Harland & Wolff Welders in a clash between two sides looking to move away from the bottom of the table battle. Very much dealing with life at the other end of the table this season are our Under-18 side. Striker Kevin Downey was the star of the 2-0 win over Oxford United Stars, the 17 year old netting in each half as our youngsters remain top of the Group 2 table with four matches remaining. Friday 26th February Once more we prepare to face a First Division side in the Northern Irish Cup, and this time it's third placed Carrick Rangers who will be the opposition as we play in the Quarter-Finals, dreaming of a place in the last four. The bookies believe we have little chance, making us fairly big underdogs despite our home advantage. Saturday 27th February Northern Irish Cup, Quarter-Final Knockramer Park, Lurgan Lurgan Celtic v Carrick Rangers Attendance :- 477. Weather :- Breezy, Downpours, 12c. With Michael Hall injured, we're down to the bare bones in our back four. Conor McAnallen moves back into our favoured position for him at right back, and it's a huge day for 18 year old Glenn Walsh. The 5'9 centre back is moved up from our Youth side, and pitched straight into First Team action, where he'll make his Senior debut. No pressure. Jay Stein is on the bench as our defensive cover, with Aaron Meharg cup-tied, while Niall Lavery remains on the bench, not yet deemed quite match fit enough to play from the start. Mark Patterson is back in the matchday sqaud, taking the place of Johnny Maguire on the bench. Carrick attempted to show off some set piece proficiency in the early stages, Tyson Gray sending a corner into the near post, Gerard McGranaghan glancing a header that failed to find the target on that ocassion. Their next effort was after a short throw in routine, Ciaran McMullan using Davy Larmour to get the ball back to himself, and then sent in a deep cross that Kyle McDowell headed over the bar after beating Conor McAnallen in the air. Just after the quarter of an hour mark, we had a chance to showcase some set piece skills of our own, David Sinton swinging in a corner which was overhit, young Glenn Walsh chased the ball down to the right flank, but was brought down by Gary Wilkinson as he looked for a way to get a cross into the box. Gareth Murphy came across to send the free kick into the near post, and Walsh hit the floor again, this time aided by a shove from McDowell, and the ref pointed right to the penalty spot. Murphy would get some more set piece practice, this time from the spot. He sent his left footed penalty high to Gregg Shannon's left, the keeper going the right way, but unable to reach it and stop us going a goal ahead. We lost Andy Hamilton to injury in the 21st minute, and he was replaced by Niall Lavery, which was earlier than I was entirely happy with, but didn't seem to hinder us too much. In the 28th minute, we would go to the set piece once more, with Murphy sending in a long throw in from the left. Raymond Fitzpatrick flicked it on towards the edge of the box, and Niall Lavery headed it right back into the danger area. Shannon came off his line, Gary Wilkinson jumped for a header, but neither got anything on the ball as it fell between them, where Sinton was waiting, the winger flicking a header over the stranded keeper, and now we had a two goal lead with less than a half hour on the clock. Before the break, Carrick would have a chance to reduce that arrears, courtesy of a horror show from Darren Spence. What should have been a routine back pass to the keeper midway into his own half saw Spence decide to try a Cryuff turn instead. Our centre half ran out of talent quickly, and Larmour was on him in a flash, taking the ball away from him and sending it through to McGranaghan, who was goal side of Walsh. Our young debutant centre back could do little other than pressure the striker, and he may have done enough, and McGranaghan lashed the ball way over the bar, much to Spence's relief. Murphy being booked was the only event of the final moments of the first half. We were halfway towards a famous victory, and a place in the last four of the Northern Irish Cup, with potential for a good payday to go with it. There wasn't much to say to the players in this situation, just reassure them that they were doing everything we wanted, and to keep up the high level of work in the second half. Carrick made a change, with Gray brought off, and the passing ability of Mark Scott summoned from the bench. But it was us who looked the more likely in the early stages of the second half, Murphy finding Fitzpatrick near the left corner of the box, and our striker spun and played the ball square to his partner, Stephen Magennis, who let a low shot go, Shannon managed to get down and keep that one out. James McLean was the next one to try his luck, the winger stepping off his wing and causing confusion for the Carrick defence as McAnallen's cross from deep came in, then bringing the ball down and shooting on the turn, the effort just went over the top. As far as I was concerned, we were well in control of proceedings here, and as we reached the later stages, I set about making sure there were enough fresh legs on the park, and Magennis was sacrificed to allow Mark Patterson to come on, a striker more capable of holding up the ball and killing some more time off the clock. Carrick were not about to give up of course, a long and high ball down the park caused some momentary confusion between McAnallen and Walsh, allowing sub William Grattan to run in on goal, but Havern was quickly off his line, and blocked the shot, Willie Herron picked up the ball outside the box, but missed the target with the goal unguarded, though admitedly quite a few bodies in between. Herron would have another go as I was preparing my final change, and he once again failed to hit the target. Sinton had run himself into the ground today, and the winger was subbed in the 82nd minute, with Michael Maguire bringing his experience on in the final few moments to see the game out. We did that with very few concerns, Aidan Sweeney picking up a late booking, but Gareth Bond's effort from the free kick was wildly off target, and we had succeeded in delighting the fans who had come in hope to watch us reach the Semi-Final's. Lurgan Celtic (2) 2 - Gareth Murphy (18 pen), David Sinton (28) Carrick Rangers (0) 0 Stephen Havern; Conor McAnallen, Darren Spence, Glenn Walsh, Gareth Murphy (capt); Aidan Sweeney, Andy Hamilton (inj - Niall Lavery 21); David Sinton (Michael Maguire 82), James McLean; Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis (Mark Patterson 75). Unused Substitutes :- Jay Stein, Tommy Strain. Bookings :- Gareth Murphy 45+1, Aidan Sweeney 88. Possession :- 55% - 45%. Man of the Match :- David Sinton (Lurgan Celtic). Wow. It had been pretty much unthinkable that we would get to the Semi-Finals of the Northern Irish Cup, much less to do so in such a comprehensive and reasonably trouble free manner. I tell the players how proud I am of that performance, and that while I can't let them go out and completely let their hair down at this point of the season, that I'm prepared to let them off the leash just enough to enjoy themselves tonight. With over £3,000 banked from today as well, it has been an excellent day all round for the club, with The Celtic now enjoying unprecedented levels of media from this Cup run. The downside of the day was that we would lose Andy Hamilton for around ten days, the midfielder damaged a toe in a tackle, that was going to keep him out of two important League matches in the next week. Niall Lavery will need to make sure his fitness is up to scratch, as he is going to be required. David Sinton was superb today, and rightly claimed the man of the match award. But it would be remiss not to give a mention to debutant Glenn Walsh. There won't be many eighteen year olds who take a first Senior match in a huge Cup game in their stride like Glenn just did. It might only be one game, but maybe we have a player who can put his hand up and save us some Summer Transfer Market effort. The other Second Division club involved were Harland & Wolff Welders, who have bitten the dust after a 2-0 defeat at home to Newry City of the Premier Division. They would be joined in the last four by another top tier side, Portadown. A pair of first half goals saw the three times winners past fellow Premier Division club, Ballymena United. The final Semi-Finalists would not be revealed until midweek, when Cliftonville would play Linfield in a match that had been selected for live TV coverage. The draw would be once made a couple of hours after the matches, and a hush fell over the clubhouse at Knockramer Park, as we waited to learn who our Semi-Final opponents would be.......
  9. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Friday 12th February 2010 After coming home from Cookstown with a haul of League points and a return to the Second Division summit, the bookies have had an about turn, and now have us as overwhelming favourites for our home match with Queens University Belfast this weekend. They say fans are fickle, the bookies take that to a whole new level. I certainly won't be underestimating what Queens are capable of, despite them being without six of their First Team squad due to an injury crisis that is impacting the Newforge Lane outfit. You won't hear any excuses from them though, they are working through the issue, and sit just on the outside of the promotion race in 6th place. With just two points from the last nine available, they will need to improve to move themselves into contention. We can only hope it's not at our own expense should they manage to boost their own hopes this weekend. Saturday 13th February Northern Irish Second Division Knockramer Park, Lurgan Lurgan Celtic v Queens University Belfast Attendance :- 205. Weather :- Dry, 2c. It might be our third game in a week, but I still don't have neither the squad depth, or frankly, the inclination to rotate the squad around, so the starting eleven stays as it is. There is a first involvement in the matchday squad for on loan centre back Aaron Meharg however. He sits on the bench in place of Jay Stein. Queens started well, and Lorcan Fairmichael sent a square pass to David Tumilty who ran the ball a little further up the park, before letting fly with a shot that was just a little higher than he would have liked. Aidan Sweeney tried the same just a few moments later, and achieved only the same result. From that point on, we started to take a semblance of control, Sweeney hooking a cross into our box high up the park, and Raymond Fitzpatrick linked with James McLean as we counter attacked, that one only resulting in a corner. Midway through the half, the two linked again when McLean used his explosive pace to move us up the park quickly. Fitzpatrick took a square route across the edge of the box, and Andy Hamilton would receive the ball and play in David Sinton, who was stopped by Eddie Baird's full stretch save, and the ball then bounced just past the lurking Stephen Magennis. Our next chance would come from range again on the half hour, Sweeney once more taking the shot after collecting a short pass, and this one did have Baird beaten, but not the upright, the ball flying just past it. Instead, we got caught out at the other end. Fairmichael and Tumilty combined and fed the ball to James Wardell. He would send the ball into the box for Mark Prenter, who was in the act of pulling the trigger when Darren Spence put in his tackle to shift the ball away from him. Unfortunately for us, the ball fell right to Tumilty, who guided it between Sweeney and Stephen Havern, and inside the far post. We would be presented with a perfect chance to equalise before the break, Gareth Murphy drifting in a corner kick, and Magennis escaped his marker, but would get far too much on his header, and put it a yard past the near post. I decided not to go in all guns blazing at the interval, as we had undoubtedly been the better side in that opening half. Instead, I encouraged the players to keep their work rate high, and convinced them that their reward would come. Five minutes into the second half, after Paul Smyth had been booked for a foul on the edge of the box, Hamilton tried his luck from a free kick, sending it skidding under the jumping wall, but just past the post. On the hour, Queens had a go at doubling their lead, and a cross into the box from Paul Murphy was intercepted by Conor McAnallen, at least enough to prevent the ball reaching Fairmichael, but Tumilty was on hand once more, sending in another shot, this one requiring an acrobatic save from Havern to keep it out. When Tumilty had another go, sending this one just over the bar without any help, I had seen enough. As we had done against Killymoon in midweek, we would go to the well one more time. I reverted us to just two at the back once again, with Michaell Hall and Murphy substituted, Michael Maguire going in behind the strikers, and Johnny Maguire joining the front two, while Niall Lavery replaced Sweeney. It would be Hamilton who would take over Sweeney's job of shooting from range, and it was a good one too, but it rattled back off the post. It had crossed my mind that one day, this all out approach when things weren't going our way would fail to reap it's dividends, and I would have to face up to that reality in the 72nd minute. Tumilty sent the ball down the right flank, and Mark Bicker chased it down. He only had two players to aim for in the box, but we only had one defender back to cover them, and while McAnallen covered Willie Neill's run, the ball went over both their heads, and Paul Murphy guided his volley into the net to effectively sink us. We had a chance to pull one back almost immediately, Michael Maguire finding Johnny Maguire on the edge of the box, and he turned and sent it across goal, finding McLean, but he pulled his shot horribly wide. That one seemed to be the encouragement our fans needed to call it a day. Bicker could have compounded our misery even more, but his effort back across goal after beating McAnallen was cut too far and went wide, not that it would make much difference today. Lurgan Celtic (0) 0 Queens University Belfast (1) 2 - David Tumilty (34), Paul Murphy (72) Stephen Havern; Michael Hall (Michael Maguire 65), Darren Spence, Conor McAnallen, Gareth Murphy (capt - Johnny Maguire 65); Aidan Sweeney (Niall Lavery 65), Andy Hamilton; David Sinton, James McLean; Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis. Unused Substitutes :- Aaron Meharg, Tommy Strain. Bookings :- None. Possession :- 47% - 53%. Man of the Match :- Paul Murphy (Queens University Belfast). I knew full well that there was always a chance our aggressive tactic selection when losing, or in some circumstances, drawing, could possibly back fire on us. The timing of it happening wasn't great, Annagh United and Glebe both won, as did Portstewart against Oxford United Stars, while Police Service of Northern Ireland drew away to Harland & Wolff Welders. We had lost some ground, and we would now have two weeks to stew on it before we played again. That wouldn't be a League game either, that would be our huge Northern Irish Cup Quarter-Final match against Carrick Rangers.
  10. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Saturday 6th February 2010 (cont) It had been over ten hours since Raymond Fitzpatrick had found the net, and around nine for Stephen Magennis. The fact that both had found the net, and chosen such a big day to do it, was potentially a big plus for our run in. If those two start firing again, we would surely be well positioned to get one of the promotion places from the Second Division. Limavady United were very gracious in their defeat, and the players were informed that both they and the fans were very welcome back to the clubhouse, where all would be fed and watered and able to watch the Quarter-Final draw, which would be shown live during a broadcast of Ulster's sports bulletin on the news. We have five possible opponents from the Premier Division, one from the First Division, and one possibly from the Second Division, who would be Harland & Wolff Welders. After an all Premier Division clash was drawn first (Portadown v Ballymena United), we were the third team to be pulled from the velvet bag. That was great news, as it meant we would be playing at home in the Quarter-Finals. With three Premier Division sides left as prospective opponents, we had the chance of a money spinning home tie to service our debts. That wouldn't happen though, as we were paired instead with the only second tier side remaining in the Cup. Our visitors would be one time winners, Carrick Rangers, meaning we would play yet another First Division side, and have a chance to progress into the Semi-Final. The match against the 1976 Cup Winners would be played at Knockramer Park on Saturday 27th February, and would mean our League match away to Coagh United would be rescheduled for the following Wednesday evening. H&W Welders did get a home tie with a Premier Division side, as they'll host Newry City on the same day. Cliftonville host Linfield in the other all top tier clash. While we were in Cup action, there were four Second Division matches taking place. Only two had any real relevance to us at this point, and both went very well from our point of view. Oxford United Stars were held at home to a 2-2 draw by bottom of the table Killyleagh. In the big League match of the day, Annagh United were travelling to the capital to face Queens University Belfast, in a match that ended 1-1. That meant a win in midweek would see us go top of the table by two points, though Police Service of Northern Ireland would have a game in hand on us. Monday 8th February The 2010 version of Africa's Cup of Nations came to a conclusion yesterday evening, a full house in the Angolan capital city of Luanda saw Cameroon win their fifth Title with a 2-0 win over Mali. Now three nations who were perceived to have under achieved in the Finals are searching for new managers. Both Ivory Coast and Egypt are considered heavyweights of African football, but both finished bottom of their Groups with just a solitary point from their three games. Less obvious were Morocco, who went through their Group unbeaten, but would then lose in the Quarter-Finals on penalties to the eventual Runner's-Up from Mali. I'd love a crack at International Football management somewhere down the line, but I don't think there's a snowball in Africa's chance of me getting a crack at this point. Tuesday 9th February We're back in League action tomorrow night, with a trip to face Killymoon Rangers. They sit ninth at the moment, but clearly the bookies believe that Saturday's exploits in the Cup will count against us, as they have us at 4/1 and big underdogs to get the win tomorrow. If I'd been able to, I'd have had a decent sized bet on us at that price. I was of the firm belief that if our strikers were going to be back amongst the goals, we'd be tough to stop. As it had been last time, a lot of the focus before the match would be centred on my apparent fued with Gerard Kerr and Ciaran McGurgan, players I released almost a year ago now, and both signed for Killymoon last summer after their relegation from the second tier, with Kerr their top scorer this season with eight goals. When asked the question by the media, I told them they were barking up the wrong tree. There was no fued, at least not on my part. I just didn't see either player going any further at Knockramer, and to be fair, from what we've seen this campaign, I wasn't wrong either. Wednesday 10th February Northern Irish Second Division Mid Ulster Sports Arena, Cookstown Killymoon Rangers v Lurgan Celtic Attendance :- 193. Weather :- Dry, 1c. We had been comfortable 3-0 winners over Killymoon when we met them for the first time in my reign back in September, and I was very much hoping for a similar outcome on this cold mid-February night. Despite us playing on the weekend, and there being another game scheduled in for Saturday before another two weeks off, I made no changes to either the starting lineup or matchday squad for this League match. Aidan Sweeney is starting to show some confidence that he can find the net on a more regular basis, and that confidence has led to the midfielder keen to let fly more often. We'll call his first effort more of a range finder, a shot from the corner of the box that curled away from William Massey, but just cleared the cross bar. Dermot McVeigh's first significant challenge in the 16th minute might also be termed a range finder, and he was booked after kicking Stephen Magennis up in the air. Andy Hamilton missed the target with that free kick, before Warren Smith became the second player to have his name taken by the ref. Smith would be involved midway through the half when he stepped past one tackle and got to the byline. He sent the ball back across the goalmouth, Kevin Walsh then sent it back from where it came. Stephen Havern dived for it, Sweeney got in his way, and Mikey Creane tapped the ball home from five yards out. Sweeney would attempt to make ammends for his error a few moments later, chancing his arm from range once more, but again missing the target. Gerard Kerr would twice go close to scoring against his former club and increase the lead, the first one a shot from just outside the box that flew over the bar. The second was a link with another former Celtic player, Ciaran McGurgan, who got in a cross from the left, Kerr stabbed it goalwards, and Havern pushed it away, but not to safety. It was thanks only to our keeper throwing himself at the second effort by Walsh that we weren't two goals down at the break. Winger James McLean became the third player to be booked in the final action of the first half, though he might have been more than just a little fortunate that it was only a yellow, as his challenge on Brian McCone could easily have been deemed dangerous, and he could have been sent off. The half time b******ing was a pretty epic one, as I questioned the players commitment to what we were trying to achieve in the League. I told them that they are clearly picking and choosing their games to perform, and they've placed their emphasis on the Cup, when the League is our bread and butter. I laid it on the line for them, telling them to get their s**t together and sort themselves out in the second half, or I'll use other players for the Cup game at the end of the month. Gareth Murphy found McLean with a throw in, and the winger sent it back to Sweeney who would crack another shot in, this one clipped the top of the bar on it's way over. Ten minutes into the second half, Michael Hall played the ball over the home defence, and Raymond Fitzpatrick brought the ball down. The striker was tackled beofre he was able to get his shot away, but the ball broke for Hamilton, who lost him composure, and lashed his shot high over the top to the delight of the home faithful. Their happy mood would be altered a few moments later however, Hall's cross was part cleared, McLean fed the ball back into the box, and Magennis just managed to stay onside, but Massey spread himself well to thwart our striker. The keeper was helpless to deal with the rebound though, and Fitzpatrick pounced to roll it in from close range and level the match. Killymoon were furious, and insisted that Magennis had strayed offside when the initial pass was played in, their protests earning full back David Gibson a booking. Hall followed him soon after as the game reached the hour mark. As the game headed towards it's final ten minutes, McGurgan would become the sixth player to be booked today, while I decided to roll the dice one more time, and try to steal all the points from the Mid Ulster Arena. Hall's booking made him a prime candidate to come off, and he was joined by Conor McAnallen and Sweeney. That would leave Murphy and Darren Spence to hold the fort in a two man defence, Niall Lavery came on to join Hamilton in midfield, while Michael Maguire would play behind the strikers, of which there would be three now, as Johnny Maguire also came on for the last ten minutes or so. The plan to go attacking has been pretty successful for us when utilised, and it would come up trumps once more here. Magennis won a free kick on the right touchline, and took it quickly, firing the ball into midfield for Niall Lavery, who sent it forward to Michael Maguire. As Killymoon hastily tried to organise themselves, Maguire picked a pass to McLean. The winger dropped his shoulder, showed a pair of defenders a clean pair of heels, jinked inside another, and then turned back outside to put the ball on his left foot, before thumping a shot across goal and high into the far top corner. It was a simply superb effort from our new young winger, and the points looked in the bag. There was still a little bit of work to be done yet though, as McGurgan made a run down the left deep into injury time, and his cross enticed Havern off his line. The keeper failed to collect the ball though, and sub Brian Mulligan headed the ball towards the net, where Murphy was in place to head it clear, our defender ending up in the back of the net, crucially, the ball didn't! Killymoon Rangers (1) 1 - Mikey Creane (23) Lurgan Celtic (0) 2 - Raymond Fitzpatrick (58), James McLean (82) Stephen Havern; Michael Hall (Michael Maguire 79), Darren Spence, Conor McAnallen (Johnny Maguire 79), Gareth Murphy (capt); Aidan Sweeney (Niall Lavery 79), Andy Hamilton; David Sinton, James McLean; Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis. Unused Substitutes :- Jay Stein, Tommy Strain. Booked :- James McLean 34, Michael Hall 59. Possession :- 44% - 56%. Man of the Match :- James McLean (Lurgan Celtic). Killymoon Rangers felt aggrieved after the match, and I can see their point, as James McLean showed his temperamental side and undoubted talent in equal measures tonight. I avoided the questions on the teenagers tackle on McCone as best as I could in the press conference, but when asked, I had to admit that if that tackle had gone in on one of my players, I'd have been expecting to see a red card too. Maybe he shouldn't have been on the park, but there was no doubting the quality of the winning goal from the lad. The agression needs to be calmed somewhat, but the talent is more certainly there. If we don't manage to get promoted, it might be a struggle to keep him happy at Knockramer, as he is a very ambitious player. The win has put us top of the table, for now at least. But we're going head long it another big match on Saturday afternoon, when Queens University Belfast will be heading to Knockramer Park.
  11. ClemB, while pictures are not actually allowed in this section, I'd be happy to link them in the match reports for you. They could be pretty easily embedded as a hyperlink in the stadium name and location near the top of the report.
  12. Glad you're still enjoying the save ED. I do like to put a bit of extra detail into the save, particularly on International games to put a bit of flesh onto the bones. Your kind words are much appreciated, and as mentioned above, regular updates will be back very soon on this one.
  13. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Sunday 24th January 2010 The physio's had to wait for the swelling to come down a little on Mark Patterson's knock, and liase with their colleagues at Cliftonville. Fortunately, they came to the conclusion that the striker hadn't done anything more serious than twist his knee, and he would miss anything up to three weeks. Another of our young players has committed his future to Celtic today. 18 year old centre back Glenn Walsh has signed a two year deal to stay at Knockramer Park. He has been a regular for our Youth Team this season, and is in a similar mould to Marc Fegan, lacking the height you would hope for, but displays all the other qualities required. Many at the club believe that after Nigel Rees' short and not altogether successful spell with the Senior side, that Walsh is next in line to be given a chance. Geordie midfielder Alex Francis' future has been settled, with University College of Dublin pipped to the signature. A late offer from Blue Square Premier mid table side Mansfield Town suited the 20 year old much more, and he has signed for them on a contract till the end of the season, with manager of the club, Gary Brabin, and former player Richard Francis, joining the fans in waxing lyrical about the potential gem of a player Town had signed. Monday 25th January We've identified two defenders, both from the same club, who we believe we'll be able to sign on loan for the remainder of the season without any wages required. Neither is likely to pull up any trees, but as cover, they should be able to help us out. We select the player that suits us best, and Moyola Park have accepted our offer. Now it's down to the player. Tuesday 26th January 21 year old centre back Aaron Meharg has signed for us on loan from non-League side Moyola Park for the rest of the season. He played six times for Park last season when they were relegated from the Second Division. He brings some pace to our rear guard, as he is considerably quicker than the centre backs we already have at the club in our Senior squad. He stands 5'10 tall, and it would be fair to say that he has a better grasp on the mental side of the game than he does the technical aspects of it. Despite us negotiating a deal that allows Meharg to play in Cup ties, he is cup-tied for the Northern Irish Cup, and will not be available for our Sixth Round tie at Limavady United a week on Saturday. Saturday 30th January Our Under-18's play at Knockramer Park, and remain top of the Group Two table, despite losing 3-2 to Ballyclare Comrades today. Tommy Murray found an equaliser after our lads fell behind early on, but unfortunately, we conceded in first half injury time, and then once again early in the second half. Johnny Maguire pulled one back with ten minutes remaining, but the equaliser wasn't forthcoming. The fact that it fell on a weekend made no difference, the Winter Transfer Window would close at 11pm tomorrow evening. A defender, a midfielder and a striker have all received contract offers from us today, though only the defender would join right away if he accepted the contract offer. Accept he did as well, but the Board intervened, and said that the wage budget would stretch no further. I had anticipated that may happen, and called veteran striker Glenn Ferguson to the office, and asked him if he would consider agreeing to a mutual termination of his contract. It would be fair to say that Ferguson was apalled with that suggestion, and wasn't shy about making sure I knew about it to. I calmly told Ferguson that I considered his position untenable at the club now, and released him anyway, freeing up £20 a week in the wage budget. Sunday 31st January Deadline Day, and a final chance to add to the squad this season. The midfielder has rejected our approach, stating the wage on offer was 'insulting'. The young striker, who wouldn't have arrived at the club for a year, another midfielder, and the defender who had agreed to sign yesterday, all accepted their contract offers. The Board veto'ed each of them. I asked them if there was any possibility of increasing the wage budget to allow us to try and improve the squad and achieve promotion this season. Rather predictably, the answer was a firm no. With little that could be done, I called it a day, and headed home. The striker was an excellent find by our Scouting team, and 17 year old from one of Africa's smaller footballing nations, but with a British passport. He could have been someone who would have come in and scored goals at our level. We'll be back for him, you can count on that. Monday 1st February The Board declare themselves pleased with the way things are going, and right now they are particularly pleased with the signing of Andy Hamilton. The finances get a mention again of course, and the club lost a little over £800 in the month of January. Right now, we are a little over £30,000 in debt. The Cup run hasn't made a dent in our debts yet, and promotion is almost a must on a financial basis now. Thursday 4th February Niall Lavery has returned to training tonight after nearly two months out with fractured ribs. It's unlikely that Lavery will be available for Saturday's tie in the Northern Irish Cup, but he might be in contention for next week's League match, depending on how his match fitness has been affected by his lay off. Friday 5th February 13/2. That's the price available at the bookmakers on us rolling over another First Division side and making it through to the Quarter-Finals of the nation's biggest Cup competition. Limavady United sit eighth in the fourteen club First Division that we're hoping to be part of next season. While that may not sound like they're doing anything particularly out of the ordinary, they're only three points behind the Promotion Playoff spot awarded for second spot, and only an additional two points behind the leaders in a remarkably close Division. They have been assisted with over 30 goals in all competitions from three players. But striker Seámus Brown is injured, so they'll be relying on his partner Tony Clyde and midfielder Barry Curran, who is only one short of double figures for the campaign himself. But if United are going to find some success, this season may be their best chance, as Curran is one of a trio of players who have already signed contracts to play elsewhere from next season. Glebe have joined the promotion race in earnest, with a 3-0 home win over Tobermore United this evening, who's place in the relegation fight has been cemented with decidedly less gusto. Saturday 6th February Northern Irish Cup, Sixth Round Limavady Showgrounds, Limavady Limavady United v Lurgan Celtic Attendance :- 329. Weather :- Wet, 7c. It's a wet day across Northern Ireland as the nations flagship Cup event arrives at last sixteen day. No one is expecting very much from us, with the exception of myself and my players. Keep it quiet, but we are a bit confident heading to the First Division side, our Cup form is much better than our League form right now. We go with our best available side, or at least what I believe is our best at the moment. So David Sinton switches back across to the right wing, while James McLean is back in the starting lineup and on the left wing. Tommy Strain is back on the bench, as is Johnny Maguire, the young striker is back with the Senior matchday squad after the injury to Mark Patterson. United would create the first chance in the 8th minute, Tony Clyde moving past Andy Hamilton too easily outside the box, and then pushing the ball into the right channel for Barry Curran. Instead of hitting it with his right foot, Curran cut back on his left, allowing three defenders to get back goal side of him, and crowd him out. We started to make some moves of our own by the time we got to the quarter of an hour mark, Raymond Fitzpatrick and Stephen Magennis both looked lively, the former chasing a seemingly hopeless ball down the channel and forcing a defender into a pass he didn't want to make. Magennis closed down another and blocked his hurried attempt at a clearance, the ball fell for David Sinton, but he volleyed just over the top. Our next chance was only a matter of moments away. Finesse was dispensed with, Conor McAnallen headed the ball up the park, Magennis flicked it on and over the high defensive line, and Fitzpatrick was away and in the clear. He drew Eamonn Gallagher off his line, rounded the keeper, and slotted home to put us ahead, and snap a barren streak that had hit around 615 minutes. United attempted to hit right back, with Clyde again providing the pass, this time for Stephen Lowry, but McAnallen did enough to put him off balance, and Lowry's effort spun off the outside of his boot and missed the target by some way. Sinton had missed a chance that was setup for him a while ago, so midway through the half, he set about creating one of his own, a mazy run that saw him slalom in between challenges from defenders sent him into the penalty box, but he sent his shot across goal and just the wrong side of the far post. It was better luck next time though, Aidan Sweeney intercepting a 38th minute pass in midfield, and he sprung the offside trap with a through ball into the feet of Magennis. The defenders all stood statuesque with arms aloft, appealing for an offside flag that stayed down, as our striker ran on and drove his low shot under Gallagher to double our lead, and break a dry spell of his own that had lasted 540 minutes. United had lost Danny McAlea to injury by this point, and their fans were growing increasingly restless at what they saw. There would be time to inflict yet more damage before the break as well, Gareth Murphy picking out James McLean with a throw in, the ball was centred to Sinton, who's first touch earned him a yard. He fired in a shot that Gallagher parried, but Hamilton side footed the loose ball high into the net to complete a superb first half for us. That really couldn't have gone much better, and United's fans booing their team from the park at the break didn't do our spirits any harm at all. My team talk had essentially been done for me. 'You heard that lads! That's one furious home crowd out there, and you can bet they're hearing about it on the other side of the corridor. You've been brilliant, but I need you to keep your heads in the game to see this one through. If you ever stop to think you've won it, then you haven't!' The lads listened well, and Murphy whipped in a free kick three minutes after the restart, McAnallen meeting it at the far post, his downward header flashed past the post, and the defender held his head in his hands, knowing he had missed a golden opportunity. We were defending stoutly, but you need a little luck sometimes, right? Curran's cross found Clyde, but his first touch took him away from goal and left him with his back to the target. He squared it to the corner of the box, where Lowry hit a first time shot that looped beyond Stephen Havern's reach, and bounced right back off the inside of the upright, over the prone body of our keeper, but Darren Spence was there to mop up. United made the last of their changes, and they were looking for more options up front. We were restricting them to shots from range though, Lowry first firing over, and then centre back Martin Ferry letting a drive go that Havern helped over the top. Even from set pieces, our defence were standing solid. My first change would come in the 72nd minute, McLean replaced with Michael Maguire, which meant David Sinton switching over to the left again. Hamilton hit a powerful free kick moments later, but it just missed the target. Five minutes later and Maguire sent over a corner that Sinton redirected, but the ball was just past the near post. I would try and firm up the midfield with the next change, an 82nd minute sub that saw Sweeney replaced by Colm Rooney. With United's efforts coming more and more from range, sub Neil Campbell with the latest range finder, I decided to give some more Cup action to young striker Johnny Maguire, who replaced Magennis after his best outing for weeks. But United weren't done yet, Lee Patrick dropped the ball into the left channel, Graham Lawlor got there ahead of Michael Hall, and made it to the byline, before cutting the ball back across goal, and Lowry tapped it in to reduce the arrears to 3-1 with a minute and a half left of the ninety. I breathed a sigh of relief that they hadn't found that way through earlier, but the tension returned quickly, as Colm Rooney lost the ball inside his own half from the restart. The ball was spread out wide on the left to sub Paul Owens, and he delivered an inch perfect cross, Lawlor meeting this one with a downward header, sending it back across goal where Havern had just moved from, and suddenly, there was only a goal between the two sides. The stadium would have been getting very noisy had a lot of United's supporters remained in the ground, but they were long gone. Lowry's fifth goal of the season would be as good as it got for the hosts though, as this time we kept the ball much more efficiently from the restart, and didn't give Limavady another chance to bite us. Limavady United (0) 2 - Stephen Lowry (89,90+1) Lurgan Celtic (3) 3 - Raymond Fitzpatrick (18), Stephen Magennis (38), Andy Hamilton (45) Stephen Havern; Michael Hall, Darren Spence, Conor McAnallen, Gareth Murphy (capt); Aidan Sweeney (Colm Rooney 82), Andy Hamilton; David Sinton, James McLean (Michael Maguire 72); Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis (Johnny Maguire 86). Unused Substitutes :- Jay Stein, Tommy Strain. Booked :- None. Possession :- 45% - 55%. Man of the Match :- Stephen Lowry (Limavady United). We'll put that last few minutes down to lack of concentration, and fortunately, it made no difference to us in the end. There were great scenes at the end, with the players celebrating on the park, and then making their way across to the coach load of fans behind the goal who had come to support us, and been rewarded with one of the clubs most historic days. We're into the Quarter-Finals of the Northern Irish Cup! Now we would await the draw, which would take place an hour or so after the game, and we would find out who our last eight opponents would be.......
  14. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Friday 22nd January 2010 Tomorrow we'll be back at Knockramer Park to play, in what will be our final League match for two and a half weeks, and we have a two week gap in the calendar after this one. That will give us some time to focus on the upcoming Winter Transfer Deadline, and see what we can do about further strengthening our squad for the remainder of the season and beyond. We're an unbackble 1/6 to take a win at Knockramer against a Harland & Wolff Welders side that have fallen way short of the run at promotion and Cup Final from last season, and are instead positioned in 11th place this season and only four points above the relegation dotted line with ten matches left in the League schedule. Saturday 23rd January Northern Irish Second Division Knockramer Park, Lurgan Lurgan Celtic v Harland & Wolff Welders Attendance :- 202. Weather :- Dry, 7c. After playing the full ninety minutes in midweek, and joining in the off season of his former club, James McLean isn't currently in a state of fitness to start again today, and he will be on the bench for this one. David Sinton returns to the left wing, while there is a start for Tommy Strain on the right. Michael Maguire replaces Michael Downey on the bench. Despite making a good impression after coming on as a sub at Dundela, I resist the urge to start Mark Patterson, who remains on the bench for this match. A glut of early corners saw Gareth Murphy and Tommy Strain send in a host of crosses that the Welders defenders had to deal with. An early knock for David Sinton was causing us an issue in the 15th minute, but with just ten men on the park, Murphy and Michael Hall were sending in deep crosses that were pinning our visitors back into their own box. That led to an Aidan Sweeney effort which was blocked, but Hall retrieved the ball and sent a square pass back into the midfielders path. From the corner of the box, Sweeney connected with an effort that curled and swerved, and Andrew Fox got nowhere near it. The ball flew inside the near post, and we had ourselves a lead. Sinton was deemed fit enough to continue, and returned to the park, playing in a pass to Stephen Magennis, who curled a shot just over the cross bar. Magennis continued to work hard in an attempt to show he was still worthy of his place in the side now the goals have dried up, and five minutes before the break, he made a mazy run down the right flank, winning a corner. While nothing came of that initially, Sweeney sent the ball back into the right channel, Raymond Fitzpatrick spinning on the ball, and laying it square to Murphy, but his left footed drive was well over the bar, and it was still just the one goal lead when we reached the break. Sinton was taken off at the break, he had been fairly ineffective since taking a knock, so James McLean replaced him at half time. He was given a warm welcome by James Bell, who kicked him up in the air within moments of the restart, and earned himself a booking. Bell would be involved in getting the ball out wide to Calum Botham in the 50th minute, the left winger sending over a cross, Colin Magill rising well to get in a header, but he got underneath it a bit, and it cleared the cross bar easily. Midway through the half, and Sweeney tried to connect with another first time shot, this time from an Andy Hamilton pass. But he got this one all wrong, and the shot never worried Fox in the Welders goal. Magennis was replaced by Mark Patterson in the 71st minute, and in a show of great timing, the Welders pegged us back and levelled the game just moments later. Bell sent a disgonal pass into the box, and Magill was afforded enough time and space to turn by Darren Spence, and he lifted his shot out of Havern's reach, and found the net. That was infuriating to watch, and I punted a water bottle down the touchline, earning myself a rebuke from the fourth offical. We would push forward late on, as I once again sacrificed a defender to try and get more players in the opponents box late on, Michael Maguire coming off the bench to replace Gareth Murphy. But our cause wasn't helped by Patterson limping around in the final minutes, and once more, we had left a couple of points on the table when they were well within our grasp. Lurgan Celtic (1) 1 - Aidan Sweeney (15) Harland & Wolff Welders (0) 1 - Colin Magill (73) Stephen Havern; Michael Hall, Darren Spence, Conor McAnallen, Gareth Murphy (capt - Michael Maguire 86); Aidan Sweeney, Andy Hamilton; Tommy Strain, David Sinton (inj - James McLean 45); Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis (Mark Patterson 71). Unused Substitutes :- Jay Stein, Colm Rooney. Booked :- James McLean 81. Possession :- 57% - 43%. Man of the Match :- Aidan Sweeney (Lurgan Celtic). Welders manager, Colin Stanex, who had been in charge of the side for nearly four years now, was quite frank after the match when he stated that he and his side felt pretty fortunate to come away from Knockramer Park with a point. It was hard to disagree with him. The last few games had been very frustrating, and we were under achieving. Yet, we had actually gotten away with it again to a large degree. Leaders Annagh United were on the end of a shock result, as they lost 3-1 at home to Killymoon. That allowed Police Service of Northern Ireland to leap over us both and take the top spot, as they won 2-0 at home to the Dundela side we tripped over in midweek. The sides with a chance to close up the gap didn't grab their opportunity either, 2-0 defeats for Oxford United Stars at home Glebe, and Queens University Belfast away to Portstewart. So we go into a little break now before we play our Cup match, and we'll do so level on points with Annagh United, ahead of them by virtue of goal difference. We sit just a single point behind PSNI, despite only recording one win in our last five League matches. Surely we can't afford too many more slip ups without being punished in the League table?
  15. (FM'09) - A Chance To Rewrite History

    Sunday 10th January 2010 A second bid to take Mark Hegarty on loan, this time covering around 40% of his weekly wage, has quickly been rejected by Dungannon. That line of enquiry to strengthen our back four now appears to be dead. Our deal for Drumaness Mills winger Conor Toye is ready to be done, however, the Board again step in to say no. I'm not to disheartened this time, I made that offer some days ago now, and we no longer require him, as good a player as he is. Monday 11th January If we're not going to follow up the deal for Conor Toye, then Tobermore United were not prepared to sit around and they have now offered a contract to the winger. We were otherwise engaged, trying to get in some help for the areas where we did still require some more players. Not in defence, which was proving to be a pretty difficult problem to fix, but up front. Cliftonville have agreed to loan us 20 year old striker Mark Patterson for the rest of the season, and crucially, they don't require anything towards his wages. He is 5'10, and was at Glentoran as a very young player, but when he didn't look like making the grade, he was picked up by Cliftonville at the start of last season. He played once in the Premier Division last season to make his Senior debut, and he has repeated that achievement already this season. Very much an all-rounder as a striker, Patterson will be looking to shift either Raymond Fitzpatrick or Stephen Magennis out of the way, both lacking form at the moment compared to the earlier part of the season. Don't write off Johnny Maguire either, the 17 year old showed his confidence in the penalty shoot out on the weekend, and he will be itching to stay involved with the First Team. Tuesday 12th January Our attempt to bring in a midfielder was always likely to be doomed to failiure on this occasion, and so it proved. Gateshead of the Blue Square Premier released Alex Francis, despite the fact that he had played 20 times in the fifth tier after their promotion from the Blue Square North last season. His performances weren't cutting it according to the club management though, and after a bust up with them, he was released. Our offer to him matched what we were offering James McLean, but Francis was looking for close to double that, and turned us down. The former Newcastle United youngster now has an offer from University College of Dublin in Ireland's second tier, with rumours that plenty of other clubs are considering making an offer to the talented playmaker. The players came into training this evening, and after the session, I spoke to both James McLean and David Sinton in my office. I told them that I considered both to be among the best players at the club, but as they played in the same position, I was presented with an issue. I told Sinton that as he was right footed, I would like him to start training to play right wing, that way both could be included in the team together, and with Michael Maguire due to retire in the summer, we may potentially have a gap to fill. Sinton seemed to be at ease with that, and I did mention that if it went well, McLean may be asked to do the same, giving us an option to switch the two during a match, and find new ways to cause problems for our opponents. Sinton starts training for his new role immediately. Friday 15th January Tomorrow we're away to Dundela, who are in 13th place and very much fighting relegation, with some points needed to prevent them from starting to lose touch. We're slim favourites to come away from Wilgar Park in Belfast with three points, and hopefully get our League form back on track. On the day of his 17th birthday, utility player Karl Chambers signs his contract, and then has to focus on a rare Friday night fixture as our youngsters make it a double over Ards within the space of a week, winning 2-1 at the Billy Neill Complex. They came from behind again, man of the match Tommy Murray equalising five minutes before the break, and Gary Patterson won it in Dundonald with just two minutes left to play, meaning the lads consolidate their place of the top of Group 2. The only downside was an injury to Nigel Hagan, the young left back suffering a strained neck while contesting a header. He'll be out for around two weeks. Saturday 16th January Northern Irish Second Division Wilgar Park, Belfast Dundela v Lurgan Celtic Match Postponed due to a waterlogged pitch Rearranged for Tuesday 19th January 2010 Another spell of rainy weather in Ulster has caused our League match with Dundela to be postponed, though it's interesting to note that it was the only match across the three divisions that was called off. It has been rearranged for Tuesday evening, which isn't ideal with us having another Saturday fixture, though the midweek matches are much less frequent on the schedule for us at the moment. Leaders Annagh United were unable to take advantage of our match being rained off, as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Harland & Wolff Welders, who we face next weekend. 1-1 was a pretty popular score at the top end of the table actually, Police Service of Northern Ireland failing to overtake us as they were also held away, this time to Tobermore United. There was also a draw for Oxford United Stars, who drew 2-2 away to Coagh United. That left Queens Univerity Belfast with a chance to close the gap, but they were held at home to a 1-1 draw by bottom of the table side, Killyleagh. Monday 18th January In the press conference for the rearranged League match tomorrow night, I'm asked if a break of ten days is going to help at this point of the season. I tell them that I'd rather that than having to play every couple of days with a squad as small as ours. I also tell them that there is a good feeling in the squad after the Cup victory over Ards. The PSNI squad has been raided once more. This time they have lost Steve Bainbridge, who was superb against us back in December. He has been snapped up by Histon of the Blue Square Premier on a Free Transfer. I can't help but feel that PSNI appear to be throwing away their chance to get promoted this season. Tuesday 19th January Northern Irish Second Division Wilgar Park, Belfast Dundela v Lurgan Celtic Attendance :- 166. Weather :- Wet, 1c. James McLean will start for the first time in a hooped shirt, and he plays on the left wing. That means David Sinton, who is naturally right footed, will move across to play on the right wing, where he has focussed his training for around a week now. Michael Maguire is rested from the matchday squad, while Michael Downey sits on the bench, along with on loan winger Tommy Strain, who will be looking to make his Senior football debut. Another loanee is on the bench, with Mark Patterson replacing Johnny Maguire, who goes back to the Youth side for the time being. Early on, it was clear that our players to looking to exploit the speed on our wings, and get the ball to James McLean and David Sinton as often as possible. In the 5th minute, Sinton skipped away from a defender effortlessly, and swung in a cross. Raymond Fitzpatrick was just goal side of defender Scott Murray, but his first touch was too heavy, the ball got away from him, and Paul Hughes dived on the loose ball. Fitzpatrick claimed Murray had a handful of his jersey, the referee didn't agree, though he did whistle down a foul by Charlton Davies a few minutes later, and showed the Dundela player a yellow card. Davies would have the hosts first effort at goal in the 10th minute, but his shot from distance was drawn across goal and went harmlessly wide. Within moments, we were in front. Michael Hall drifted in a corner, which was cleared only to the edge of the box. Aidan Sweeney had to win a tackle to earn a chance to shoot first of all, and he got plenty behind the shot, forcing Hughes to parry it rather than catch it. The ball sat up nicely for McLean, and on his first start for us, the new winger thumped the ball on the rise into the roof of the net to open his account in a Celtic shirt. It could have been two just five minutes later, Andy Hamilton just a whisker wide of the target with a free kick that Hughes wasn't getting across his goalmouth to reach. Hall wouldn't play any further part in the game after taking a knock in the 20th minute, and with limited options, Jay Stein would be called into action out of position at right back. McLean was showing well on the left, and after scorching the already booked Davies for pace, he sent a short cross to Fitzpatrick, who instead let it run on for Stephen Magennis, but our striker had just strayed offside. Sinton was next to find his name in the book in the 27th minute, cautioned for a foul just outside the box on Chris Mason. We were starting to go through a bit of a rough spell, and it cost us a frustrating 28th minute equaliser. Gary Kelly spun on the ball in the centre circle, and then squared the ball to Davies. He was allowed to stride forward, and his through ball was perfectly into the run of Darren McKay, who drew Stephen Havern out, and then slotted the ball past him and into the bottom corner. It was a annoying goal to concede, but the damage could have been repaired late in the half, just after Sweeney had become the third player cautioned in the match. Again the danger came from the wing, Sinton once more doing great work down the right, and finding a cross to match, which Fitzpatrick used his head to guide on to the target. Hughes threw himself at the ball, and got enough on it to keep it out, while full back Scott Hill was at absolute full stretch to get a toe on the loose ball and nick it away from the fast arriving McLean. At the break, I was utterly convinced that we would go on to win this game, we had most certainly been the better side in that first half. Not so much at the start of the second half though, where Damien Kelly's shot from distance was only just wide of the upright, while Davies shot from just as far out took a huge deflection, which would have left Havern very much helpless had all the sting not been taken out of the shot. Keen to get my side back on top and in front, I made changes midway through the half. Hamilton had taken a knock, and he would come off, replaced by youngster Tommy Strain, he would play on the right, with Sinton moving into the middle. Mark Patterson would come on for Stephen Magennis, while Jay Stein was switched across to left wing with McLean behind the strikers as we switched to three at the back to try and push the issue. It would almost have an immediate effect too, Patterson charging down an attempted clearance, the ball spinning across the goalmouth, but Fitzpatrick was unable to bring it under control. Murray earned himself a booking with a silly shirt pull in the 73rd minute, while Patterson was showing well, putting himself about up front, and causing a nuisance to the defence. Murray in particular was starting to struggle with both him and McLean to deal with, and the pair targeted him to combine for a chance that Sinton volleyed just wide. Fitzpatrick would have the next chance, his low effort saved by the legs of Hughes. With just over three minutes of the ninety remaining, Murray lunged into an ill advised tackle on McLean on the left touchline. The winger was sent sprawling, and the ref booked Murray for a second time, condemning Dundela to finish the match with ten men. With the points up for grabs, we would now have just two at the back, as Conor McAnallen moved up into midfield, and Sinton joined Fitzpatrick and Patterson up front. Sweeney overhit the free kick though, and we would create nothing in those final moments, so we'd have to settle for a point today. Dundela (1) 1 - Darren McKay (28) Lurgan Celtic (1) 1 - James McLean (14) Stephen Havern; Michael Hall (inj - Jay Stein 20), Darren Spence, Conor McAnallen, Gareth Murphy (capt); Aidan Sweeney, Andy Hamilton (inj - Tommy Strain 68), David Sinton, James McLean; Raymond Fitzpatrick, Stephen Magennis (Mark Patterson 68). Unused Substitutes :- Colm Rooney, Michael Downey. Booked :- David Sinton 28, Aidan Sweeney 43. Possession :- 42% - 58%. Man of the Match :- James McLean (Lurgan Celtic). Too many draws last season saw us miss out on promotion to Wakehurst. While that hasn't been the case so far this season, the goals have started to dry up badly over the last month or so, especially from Raymond Fitzpatrick and Stephen Magennis. We really need to get back on track to make sure our season doesn't start to crumble over the coming weeks and months. Fortunately, the results on Saturday had gone largely in our favour, and we would sit in second place going into the weekend.