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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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    Ayr United FC (FM'09), Iceland (FM'09)

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  1. Sunday 5th October 2008 We're continuing to prepare for a very busy International Window. While the Under-19's will take part in their first competitive football of the year, the Seniors will continue their quest to try and Qualify for a debut World Cup, and the Under-21's will mirror their fixtures. Seven fixtures will be played by various Iceland squads in the space of a week. *Squad Announcement* Senior Squad vs Holland (A) - Sat 11/10/08 @ De Kuip, Rotterdam, Holland & vs FYR Macedonia (H) - Wed 15/10/08 @ Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík, Iceland. FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, European Zone Group 9. | Name | Position | Club | Height | Age | Value | International Status | | Árni Gautur Arason | GK | Odd (NOR) | 6'2" | 33 | £525K | 66 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Kjartan Sturluson | GK | Valur | 6'5" | 32 | £1.9M | 6 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Stefán Logi Magnússon | GK | KR | 6'4" | 28 | £130K | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | Reynir Leósson | SW, D C | Valur | 6'1" | 29 | £675K |17 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals| | Auðun Helgason | D RC | Fram | 5'11" | 34 | £150K | 35 Senior Caps/1 Goal | | Hjálmar Jónsson | D LC | IFK Göteborg (SWE) | 6'0" | 28 | £700K | 20 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Indriði Sigurðsson | D LC | Brann (NOR) | 6'1" | 26 | £275K | 39 Senior Caps/1 Goal | | Hermann Hreiðarsson | D LC, WB L | Portsmouth (ENG) | 6'3" | 34 | £375K | 76 Senior Caps/5 Goals | | Atli Þórarinsson | D C | Valur | 6'0" | 28 | £2.4M | 8 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Kristján Örn Sigurðsson | D C | Brann (NOR) | 5'11" | 28 | £1.2M | 20 Senior Caps/2 Goals | | Ragnar Sigurðsson | D C | IFK Göteborg (SWE) | 6'2" | 22 | £1M | 9 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Grétar Steinsson | D/WB R | Bolton (ENG) | 6'2" | 26 | £4.1M | 30 Senior Caps/3 Goals | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | Brynjar Gunnarsson | D C, DM, M C | Reading (ENG) | 6'1" | 32 | £220K | 62 Senior Caps/5 Goals | | Davið Þór Viðarsson | DM, M LC | FH | 6'1" | 24 | £2.2M | 7 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Joey Gudjonsson | DM, M C | Burnley (ENG) | 5'8" | 28 | £425K | 36 Senior Caps/1 Goal | | Stefán Gíslason | DM, M C | Brøndby (DEN) | 6'4" | 28 | £1.8M | 24 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Baldur Ingimar Aðalsteinsson | DM, AM RC | Valur | 5'10" | 28 | £1.7M | 4 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Kári Árnason | M RC | Esbjerg fB (DEN) | 6'3" | 25 | £1.4M | 17 Senior Caps/1 Goal | | Eyjólfur Héðinsson | M C | GAIS (SWE) | 6'1" | 23 | £600K | 3 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Ólafur Páll Snorrason | AM RLC, F C | Valur | 5'11" | 26 | £1.3M | 3 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Emil Hallfreðsson | AM L | Reggina (ITA) | 6'1" | 24 | £2M | 6 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Veigar Páll Gunnarson | AM/F C |AS Nancy Lorraine (FRA)| 5'9" | 28 | £3.2M | 18 Senior Caps/2 Goals | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ | Eidur Gudjohnsen | AM/F C | At. Madrid (SPA) | 6'1" | 30 | £2.4M | 48 Senior Caps/18 Goals| | Björgólfur Hideaki Takefusa | ST | KR | 5'10" | 28 | £1.2M | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Garðar Jóhannsson | ST | Stabæk (NOR) | 6'3" | 28 | £800K | 3 Senior Caps/2 Goals | | Marel Baldvinsson | ST | Breiðablik | 6'3" | 27 | £850K | 15 Senior Caps/0 Goals | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ After the superb performance of the last International Window, there is good reason to keep the changes to a minimum for the most part. Fram keeper Hannes Halldórsson is out with an injury, and his place in the squad goes to Stefán Logi Magnússon of KR in the only change amongst the three keepers. Likewise, there is just one change amongst the defence as well, with Arnar Þór Úlfarsson left out without having made his International debut, replaced instead by the older and very experienced Auðun Helgason of Fram. The theme continues into the midfield and wingers, with one change made there, which is more of a reversal really. Baldur Bett didn't manage to get on the park for a first International outing last time, and he is now left out as Denmark based midfielder Kári Árnason returns to the squad after missing out last time through injury. The final change comes up front, and this is the most surprising one, at least for the media. Queens Park Rangers striker Heidar Helguson is dropped from the squad. The 38 times capped thirty one year old is not getting a regular game at Loftus Road, which is impacting on both his form and fitness. In to take his place for the first time in my tenure is 27 year old striker and 15 times capped, Marel Baldvinsson. He made his debut back in 2001, and has played club football in both Belgium and Norway. But a return home with Briðablik has seen an upturn in form for the 6'3 front man, who is averaging a goal every other game this season. *Squad Announcement* Under-21's Squad vs Holland (A) - Fri 10/10/08 @ Gelredome, Arnhem, Holland & vs FYR Macedonia (H) - Tues 14/10/08 @ Gróttuvöllur, Reykjavík, Iceland. Under-21 International Friendlies. | Name | Position | Club | Height | Age | Value | International Status | | Óskar Pétursson | GK | Grindavík | 6'1" | 19 | £5K | Uncapped | | Trausti Sigurbjörnsson | GK | ÍA | 6'0" | 18 | £3K | Uncapped | | Valdimar Valdimarsson | GK | Augnablik | 6'2" | 19 | £1K | Uncapped | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Heimir Einarsson | SW, D C | ÍA | 6'1" | 21 | £65K | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Þórir Hannesson | D RLC | Fylkir | 5'11" | 22 | £65K | 2 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | | Arnór Aðalsteinsson | D RL, M LC | Breiðablik | 6'1" | 22 | £120K | 7 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | | Eggert Jonsson | D R, M C | Hearts (SCO) | 5'11" | 20 | £900K | 3 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Bogi Einarsson | D LC, DM, M LC | Grindavík | 5'7" | 20 | £4K | 3 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | | Hallgrímur Jónasson | D LC, DM, M C | GAIS (SWE) | 6'0" | 22 | £50K | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Guðmann Þórisson | D C | Breiðablik | 5'11" | 21 | £70K | 3 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | | Frans Elvarsson | D C, DM, M C | Breiðablik | 6'0" | 18 | £12K | Uncapped | | Ari Skúlason | D/WB L, AM LC | GIF Sundsvall(SWE)| 5'8" | 21 | £200K | 5 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Hjörtur Valgarðsson | D L, M LC | FH | 6'1" | 20 | £100K | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Þorður Steinar Hreiðarsson | D/M RC | Þróttur | 6'0" | 21 | £75K | Uncapped | | Björn Orri Hermannsson | D/M C | Fram | 5'9" | 19 | £18K | Uncapped | | Guðmundur Kristjánsson | DM, M C | Breiðablik | 5'11" | 19 | £65K | Uncapped | | Bjarni Viðarsson | M C | FC Twente (NED) | 6'1" | 20 | £2M | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Birkir Bjarnason | AM RLC | Viking (NOR) | 6'0" | 20 | £400K | 5 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | | Rúrik Gíslason | AM RL, F C | Viborg (DEN) | 6'0" | 20 | £65K |13 Under-21 Caps/3 Goals | | Hafþór Ægir Vilhjálmsson | AM L | Valur | 5'9" | 22 | £110K | 3 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals | | Teddy Bjarnason | AM LC | Lyn (NOR) | 5'10" | 21 | £450K | 3 Senior Caps/0 Goals | | Arnór Smárason | AM/F C |sc Heerenveen (NED)| 6'1" | 20 | £250K | 3 Senior Caps/0 Goals | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Ásgeir B. Ásgeirsson | AM/F C | Selfoss | 5'10" | 21 | £22K | Uncapped | | Alfreð Finnbogason | ST | Breiðablik | 5'9" | 19 | £18K | Uncapped | | Arnór Davíðsson | ST | Þróttur | 5'11" | 19 | £20K | Uncapped | | Guðmundur Pétursson | ST | KR | 6'1" | 21 | £100K | 2 Under-21 Caps/2 Goals | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Under-21 squad was arguably the most difficult squad to select due to some injuries, some players no longer being available, some being moved down to the Under-19 squad to play in the competitive football in Belgrade. An injury has forced a change in the goalkeeper selection, though the age of Jóhann Sigurðsson may make it a permanent change, as 18 year old Trausti Sigurbjörnsson of ÍA replaces him. In defence, Þorfinnur Gunnlaugsson is now too old for the age group side, while Ellert Pálsson of non-League club KFS has now been dropped. In their place is just the one replacement, is in form Frans Elvarsson who could get his first taste of International football. Ari Skúlason and Þorður Steinar Hreiðarsson can fit into either the defence or midfield category, both players equally comfortable covering multiple positions. Now too old for the Under-19 squad, another player capable of playing in several positions is brought right up to the next age group squad, Hjörtus Valgarðsson has already played for the Senior's too. Haukur Páll Sigurðsson is now too old for this side, while Aron Gunnarsson and Gylfi Sigurdsson have both dropped to the Under-19's this time around. Their replacements are uncapped Björn Orri Hermannsson, and a pair who have each played three times for the Seniors, with Norwegian based Teddy Bjarnason returning to the International fold, and Arnór Smárason stepping up from the Under-19 squad that the sc Heerenveen forward is now too old for. Up front, our quartet have been pretty much decimated. Reliable FH striker Matthías Villhjálmsson and Heiðar Geir Júlíusson are both injured, while Hilmar Emilsson is now also too old to play for the Under-21's. Thankfully, for now at least, the Under-21's do still have Guðmundur Pétursson, who has been superb at this level since making the step into the squad. Joining him will be a trio of players all looking for their first taste of the International scene. All have been playing regularly, and scoring with different levels of consistency for clubs in Iceland. At 21, Ásgeir B. Ásgeirsson is the oldest, and most promising, though not the most prolific as he plays a slightly deeper role for his club. The pair of 19 year olds in Alfreð Finnbogason and Arnór Davíðsson have both found the net with impressive enough regularity to earn their first chances, beneficiaries of the unavailability rate.
  2. How many of these Leagues do you think it's safe to run without any other expansion Leagues from the Workshop, and no other editing apart from cosmetics? Great work to do all this, can't even imagine the amount of time it all took.
  3. Wednesday 17th September 2008 It was, at least in my eyes, entirely reasonable to expect a pretty decent uplift in our FIFA World Ranking for September after colecting four out of six points from our opening pair of Qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. But even I was a bit shocked by just what kind of uplift we were given today, as we shot up a mammoth 47 spots, jumping up to 55th place in the latest issue of the Rankings. We find ourselves in front of nations such as Wales, Hungary, Finland, Switzerland, Japan and even Belgium. We're right behind South Korea, and closing in on Denmark and Serbia. We are behind Albania though, the highest movers after a 59 place improvement with wins over Sweden and Malta. FIFA World Rankings, Up To & Including Wednesday 17th September 2008 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 45th | Norway | -3 | 634 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 46th | Angola | -2 | 629 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 47th | Serbia | -7 | 629 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 48th | Denmark | -7 | 613 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 49th | Albania | +59 | 610 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 50th | Burkina Faso | +11 | 598 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 51st | Canada | +8 | 596 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 52nd | Honduras | +2 | 591 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 53rd | Zambia | +7 | 583 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 54th | South Korea | -1 | 570 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 55th | Iceland | +47 | 568 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 56th | Zimbabwe | +14 | 565 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 57th | Japan | -14 | 564 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 58th | Slovakia | +13 | 561 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 59th | Belgium | -11 | 543 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 60th | Peru | -14 | 533 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 61st | Costa Rica | -3 | 520 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 62nd | Switzerland | -11 | 513 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 63rd | FYR of Macedonia | +3 | 504 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 64th | Guatemala | +26 | 498 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 65th | Finland | -13 | 493 | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| Friday 26th September From the euphoria of the Senior squad, and right to the frustration of the Under-19 side. With just over a week to go before the squad is named for their first competitive action of my reign, disaster strikes, with striker Kolbeinn Sigþórsson suffering a groin strain in training, and he is ruled out for up to a month. He now will not be available when the squad is named next Saturday for the UEFA Under-19 European Championship Qualifiers in Belgrade against Montenegro, England and Serbia. Tuesday 30th September Despite being called up last time for the Senior squad, goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson hasn't yet made his debut for Iceland. That won't happen against either Holland or FYR Macedonia now either, as the 24 year old Fram stopper has broken a finger, ruling him out for up to six weeks. Friday 3rd October The Under-21's have now also lost a goalkeeper, and it's the first choice keeper up to now. Jóhann Sigurðsson has damaged a foot in training, and is out for three weeks. Now aged 22, there are very few matches that Sigurðsson will remain eligible for at Under-21 level, so it might be the last we see of him for a while. Saturday 4th October *Squad Announcement* Under-19 Squad vs Montenegro (N) - Wed 8/10/08, England (N) - Fri 10/10/08 & Serbia (A) - Sun 12/10/08 @ Stadion Marakana, Belgrade, Serbia. UEFA Under-19 European Championship First Qualifiying Round, Group 7. | Name | Position | Club | Height | Age | Value | International Status | | Árni Ólafsson | GK | ÍA | 6'0" | 17 | £3K | Uncapped | | Ingólfur Helgason | GK | KR | 6'1" | 17 | £85K | Uncapped | | Ögmundur Kristinsson | GK | Fram | 6'5" | 19 | £9K | Capped at Under-19 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Sigurjón Sverrisson | SW, D C | Víkingur | 6'3" | 16 | £70K | Uncapped | | Marteinn Einarsson | D RL | Þór | 5'3" | 17 | £40K | Uncapped | | Eggert Einarsson | D RC,DM,M C | KR | 6'1" | 18 | £75K | Capped at Under-19 | | Gísli Helgason | D RC, M R | Þór | 6'1" | 17 | £70K | Capped at Under-19 | | Jón Fjóluson | D LC | Fram | 6'4" | 19 | £18K | Uncapped | | Kristján Ómarsson | D C | Þór | 5'9" | 17 | £30K | Uncapped | | Runólfur Sigmundsson | D C | Víkingur | 6'2" | 19 | £5K | Capped at Under-19 | | Hólmar Eyjólfsson | D C,DM,M C | West Ham (ENG) | 6'0" | 18 | £700K |4 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals| | Vigfús Rúnarsson | D/WB/M R | FH | 5'9" | 16 | £325K | Capped at Under-19 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Guðmundur Gunnarsson | D/M L | GAIS (SWE) | 6'0" | 19 | £50K | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Kristinn Halldórsson | D/AM R | Fram | 6'0" | 19 | £14K | Capped at Under-19 | | Andri Alexandersson | DM, M C | KR | 5'11" | 16 | £275K | Capped at Under-19 | | Aron Gunnarsson | DM, M C | Coventry (ENG) | 5'8" | 19 | £325K | 1 Senior Cap/0 Goals | | Victor Pálsson | DM, M C | Liverpool (ENG)| 6'1" | 17 | £350K | 1 Under-21 Cap/0 Goals| | Gylfi Sigurdsson | M C | Reading (ENG) | 6'0" | 19 | £120K |4 Under-21 Caps/0 Goals| | Sigurbergur Elísson | AM RC | Keflavík | 5'10" | 16 | £130K | Uncapped | | Kristinn Steindórsson | AM RL, ST | Valur | 5'8" | 18 | £75K | Capped at Under-19 | | Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson | AM L, ST | AZ (NED) | 5'9" | 17 | £140K | 1 Under-21 Cap/0 Goals| | Atli Sigurjónsson | AM C | Þór | 5'8" | 17 | £60K | Uncapped | | Einar Orri Einarsson | AM C | Keflavík | 5'10" | 18 | £20K | Uncapped | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Björn Sigurðarson | ST |Lillestrøm (NOR)| 6'0" | 17 | £70K | Uncapped | | Þór Egilsson | ST | Grindavík | 6'3" | 17 | £85K | Capped at Under-19 | | Viktor Illugason | ST | Valur | 6'1" | 18 | £40K | Uncapped | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Some changes are made to our Under-19 side as they prepare for their first competitive football since I took charge. Some of the changes are forced, some are not, while some are made because there is competitive football to be had at this level. There are at least no changes in the three goalkeepers selected, but the changes to the defence more than balance that out, as several changes are made. Skúli Friðgeirsson and Hjörtur Valgarðsson are both now too old to play for the Under-19's, and have to be left out. Ómar Siguðarson, Kristinn Sveinsson and Daði Sigurðsson are all younger members of the last squad and are left out for either form or lack of fitness. Sigurjón Sverrisson now represents the younger lads in the lowest age group, the 6'3 centre back 16 year old is a very capable passer of the ball, which will help us. Kristján Ómarsson is more of a powerful centre back, despite his lack of height, while Marteinn Einarsson is a full back capable of playing either side of the back four. Jón Fjóluson is the last new member of the defence, a 19 year old left footed 6'4 centre back who has broken into the Fram side this season and accquited himself pretty well. There are changes in the midfield as well, mostly for the better I believe. Another pair of sixteen year olds are left out of this squad, winger Einar Pétursson and attacking midfielder Ívar Albertsson replaced with some experience that has been dropped down from the Under-21 squad. English based pair Aron Gunnarsson and Gylfi Sigurdsson are brought in from the older age group side to add a little something to this squad for a tricky match and two very tough ones in Belgrade next week. Up front, it's all change for this squad. We already know Kolbeinn Sigþórsson is out with an injury, and Arnór Smárason joins him as he is now too old to be considered for this squad. That only leaves 16 year old Arnar Garðarsson, who has not been getting recent game time for Leiknir and is also left out, and Þór Egilsson, who does remain in the squad. He has two new strikers accompanying him to Belgrade, 18 year old Viktor Illugason, who's brief time with Reading in England didn't go well, and he's now back in Iceland and in scoring form for Valur. Also included is pacy 17 year old Lillestrøm hitman, Björn Sigurðarson. He's scored enough goals for their Reserve side to start to getting consideration for the First Team.
  4. Wednesday 10th September 2008 The big day has finally arrived, and Reykjavík is awash with our ridiculously optimistic home fans, and the always present travelling Tartan Army. It's been a while since the city has seen an build up to a match like this, and there isn't a spare ticket left to get into Laugardalsvöllur tonight. FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, European Zone Group 9 - 19:30pm Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík, Iceland Iceland v Scotland Attendance :- 9,734. Weather :- Dry, 11c. Referee :- Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain). After the good showing in Oslo, I see no reason to make any changes, so both the starting eleven and substitutes remain the same, heck, they even wheel out the same referee! As for the Scottish, they are almost entirely reliant on players from south of the border, as nine of the starting eleven ply their trade south of the border in England, while the remaining two, Steven Smith and Steven Naismith both play for Rangers, leaving Celtic without representation in the lineup, with just one of their players on the bench. A quiet and tense opening ten minutes saw nothing to trouble either keeper, including Steven Naismith's free kick which was well off the target. But it was notable for Scotland losing Darren Fletcher early on, the Manchester United midfielder replaced by Steven Whittaker, not the worst news he could have had. The first save would be made by Craig Gordon in the 13th minute, Grétar Steinsson making a powerful run to the corner of the box after cutting across the park, and then backheeling it into the path of Indriði Sigurðsson. The left back set the ball up nicely for Joey Gudjonsson who drove the ball at goal, Gordon helping that one over the top. Scotland went right back up the other end moments later, the two James' combining down their left, Morrison holding up the ball before sending it to McFadden, his cross picked out debutant Scott Robertson who got above his marker, but placed his header wide. He would do better with his next effort in the 22nd minute, Tottenham Hotspur full back Alan Hutton galloping down the right past two tackles, and then picking out Robertson around eight yards out, the Middlesbrough midfielders rising shot giving Árni Gautur Arason no chance, and finding the roof of the net to put Scotland in front. We were almost quickly two down, Brynjar Gunnarsson losing the ball to Naismith right from kick off, the Rangers forward curling a shot from range that nestled only into the side netting. To our credit, we pushed right back against our visitors, Eidur Gudjohnsen slipping the ball wide to Ólafur Páll Snorrasson who couldn't get a cross in but did buy a corner. That one would not produce anything, but a 38th minute set piece would yield a better reward, Sigurðsson whipping in an inswinging free kick from the right, and Garðar Jóhannsson rose in the centre to power his header past a helpless Gordon to level the match back up. The game settled back into a bit of a midfield battle, with Naismith producing the last effort of the first half, weaving his way through our defence before shooting from the edge of the box, Arason easily collecting that one. Gudjonsson had taken a knock in the first half, and while he might well have been okay to go on, I decided not to take the risk of having him lame in our midfield, replacing him with Davið Þór Viðarsson. The second half began as the first half had ended, with neither side taking too much in the way of risks. Just before the hour, McFadden spun away from his marker down the left and sent the ball into midfield for Steven Whittaker. He played a through ball between our centre backs, and Naismith got into the box before shooting, Arason stood strong and made the save, Whittaker retrieving the ball but failing to get it back into the centre. At the other end, Jóhannsson flicked on a high ball upfield, and Gudjohnsen raced onto it, getting past Kirk Broadfoot and into the box, but the usually reliable forward fluffed his lines, trying to pick out the top corner and lifting his shot just too high. Chances were now starting to come quickly, and mostly to the Scots, another try by Naismith blocked by Hermann Hreiðarsson, and Morrison sent the loose ball well wide of the goal frame. When Whittaker brought a superb late stop out of Arason with around twenty minute left, I decided to try and stem the flow, replacing a spent and booked Gunnarsson with Stefán Gíslason, but at the same time pulling skipper Gudjohnsen into a deeper role as he would play behind the now lone striker. Sensing that we were now looking to have what we held, the Scots attempted to force the issue, switching to three at the back by replacing Steven Smith and Andy Webster with Stephen McManus and Barry Ferguson. But the tables would be dramatically turned on the Scots with just six minutes left to play. Steinsson threw the ball short to Snorrasson, and the Scots stood off expecting him to pass it right back to the Bolton full back. But he didn't. Instead he spun away from two white shirted Scots and set off down the right wing, before slinging a low cross into the box, the ball arriving quickly at Gudjohnsen and bouncing off his shins somewhat. But he reached the loose ball just in front of Broadfoot and Jóhannsson, firing a quick shot that Gordon got a hand to, but could only help on it's way inside the near post and into the near corner of the net. It's been a long time since Laugardalsvöllur had heard a roar of noise like that, and admidst the frenzy, I tried my best to get my new instructions heard. They were primitive, defend for your lives, and smash that ball up the park every time it's within kicking distance. With two minutes left I sacrificed winger Emil Hallfreðsson, replacing him with Baldur Ingimar Aðalsteinsson, who would sit in front of the back four in a bank of three with Gíslason and Viðarsson, while Snorrasson and Gudjohnsen would be midfielders. If the Scots had brought a kitchen sink, they would have chucked it at us, and it might have been more effective. Morrison crossed when he should have shot, and when it looked like Kevin Thomson was going to get on the end of it, goal hero Gudjohnsen of all people got in front of him and stretched out a boot to get the ball to a team mate, and watch it be hoisted clear. Anywhere would do. The Scots wished they were anywhere but here, as the final whistle blew, and the frenzy started all over again! Iceland (1) 2 - Garðar Jóhannsson (38), Eidur Gudjohnsen (84) Scotland (1) 1 - Scott Robertson (22) Árni Gautur Arason; Grétar Steinsson, Kristján Örn Sigurðsson, Hermann Hreiðarsson, Indriði Sigurðsson; Brynjar Gunnarsson (Stefán Gíslason 69), Joey Gudjonsson (inj - Davið Þór Viðarsson 45); Ólafur Páll Snorrasson, Emil Hallfreðsson (Baldur Ingimar Aðalsteinsson 88); Eidur Gudjohnsen (capt), Garðar Jóhannsson. Unused Substitutes :- Hjálmar Jónsson, Kjartan Sturluson (GK), Ragnar Sigurðsson, Heidar Helguson. Bookings :- Brynjar Gunnarsson 33, Grétar Steinsson 69 Possession :- 48% - 52%. Shots On(Off) Target :- 3(1) - 5(5). Man of the Match :- Eidur Gudjohnsen (Iceland). 'Smash and Grab' the media called it. I went with 'heroic' instead in a triumphant press conference. I told the media that we had targeted this game since the draw, and more importantly, we would now need to prove that this wasn't a fluke. With the three points safely on the board, I told the assembled press that the Scottish side were nowhere near as good as either they or the Rankings suggested they were, while we were a much better side that people thought we were. We had shown it in Oslo, and now we had confirmed it here. And we would continue to show it each and every time our opponents thought they would have an easy night against us. That was our goal. 29 year old Captain and winning goalscorer, Eidur Gudjohnsen declared this as a very proud moment for him. 'We are finally ready to step out of the shadows of our more illustrious and successful Scandinavian neighbours. It's been frustrating being an Icelandic football fan over the years, but maybe, just maybe, now there are some genuine reasons to start believing. We have achieved nothing yet, but we're going to try and correct that too'. It was quite the party in Reykjavík. And why not too? For now, we sit on top of Group 9 at the quarter point of our Qualification process. As expected, the Dutch had won in Skopje, and won well too, a 4-1 victory had it's origins in the first half with goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder, the latter adding another in the second half before Goran Pandev secured a consolation goal. We would face both of those nations next month, facing the Dutch first in Rotterdam, before returning home, where expectations would be at an all time high that we could earn another win, this time against FYR Macedonia. FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, European Zone Group 9 Standings. Up to & Including Wednesday 10th September 2008. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Iceland | | 2 | 1 | 1 | 0 | 2 | 1 | +1 | 4 | | 2nd | | Holland | | 1 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 4 | 1 | +3 | 3 | | 3rd | | Norway | | 1 | 0 | 1 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 1 | | 4th | | Scotland | | 2 | 0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 2 | -1 | 1 | | 5th | | FYR Macedonia | | 2 | 0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 4 | -3 | 1 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  5. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Wednesday 10th August 2011 (cont) Tonight see's an poorly arranged schedule, with both UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Phase First Leg matches and 2012 UEFA European Championship Qualifiers scheduled. It clearly affected Turkish side Fenerbaçhe more than it impacted on Celtic, as the Hoops won the First Leg 3-0 in Istanbul. First half goals from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Scott McDonald already had the home fans in a bad mood, but a second from McDonald in the 90th minute sent them over the edge, and the scenes that followed in the Sükrü Saraçoglu Stadium were not pleasant to watch. Scotland were unfortunate that the Spain side was barely weakened at all, and they would go down to a 1-0 defeat at Hampden Park. They were not helped by Ross Wallace being shown a straight red card in the 18th minute. By the time he was joined by Stoke City defender Darren McCormack for two yellow cards in the 42nd minute, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres had already netted what would prove to be the winning goal. That leaves the Scots sat 5th in Group F, with just seven points from their eight matches, and twelve points from a Playoff place with only twelve points to play for. Game over. Thursday 11th August We're into the Fourth Qualifying Round of the UEFA Europa League, and Scotland has a third entrant at this stage, with Aberdeen joining Falkirk and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. They were rewarded with easily the best draw of the three Scottish sides too. They started at home with a 2-0 victory over Croatian club Slaven Belupo in the First Leg, getting off to a flyer thanks to Venezuelan International striker Miku's 8th minute goal. They would be aided with visiting skipper Bojan Vrucina collecting two quick yellow cards before the break, and new signing Lewis Alessandra scored in the second half to give The Dons a two goal advantage for the away tie. The news was not as good for the two clubs who had needed to fight their way through to this stage. Falkirk took the lead in Rome's famous Olimpico against Lazio thanks to a Christian Nadé first half goal. But two goals in as many minutes early in the second half from Fernando Cavenaghi from the spot and Julien Quercia meant that Falkirk would need to win the Second Leg. The draw was no kinder to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, as they also travelled in the First Leg to face Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen. A goal in each half from South American pair Diogo Rincon and Jefferson Farfán gave Thistle a tough job for the return in the Highlands. Friday 12th August Tomorrow will present us with an opportunity to get a first League win of the season on the board, as we play host to East Stirlingshire. The scouting report on them suggests that they will pack the midfield and look to stifle us before playing on the counter attack. That actually might suit us to a certain degree. We are a side that likes to have possession of the ball, and are comfortable passing the ball around and looking for the gap and the weak spot. Could be an interesting one. The bookies have us as heavy favourites at 4/6. Our Under-19's got off to a winning start in their opening game last weekend, and they open their home fixtures with a goalless draw at Somerset Park against Montrose, where Jimmy Ferguson had another superb outing down our left flank, though he was beaten to man of the match by the Montrose centre backs, Craig McLennan given the award ahead of team mate Scott Graham. Saturday 13th August Scottish League Second Division Somerset Park, Ayr Ayr United v East Stirlingshire Attendance :- 968. Weather :- Downpours, 18c. Of the new signings that played in the midweek win here against Clyde, none are currently at peak fitness and capable of playing from the start again today, so Olafur Örn Bjarnason and Lee Matthews drop down to the bench to be replaced by David Partridge and Sean Fitzharris, while Marcus Hall is left out of the squad altogether, with the intention being to give him a run out with the Reserve side tomorrow. Aidan O'Kane returns to start at left back, with Arsenio Halfhuid back on the bench and hoping to make his Senior debut. This game wasn't quite going how I expetced, with East Stirlingshire the side pressing and creating the early chances, Luke Duffy and Brian Graham both missing the target with shots from range. It took them fifteen minutes to get a shot on target, and we gave them a helping hand with that, Ciaran Foy's pass to David Partridge was awful, though the centre back didn't help himself much either. Anthony Mason strode in on goal, and picked his spot, Stephen Grindlay saving the day with a superb reaction stop low near his feet. That would prove to be the catalyst for an absorbing period of play where the action would flow from end to end, though without either side managing to create a quality chance, thanks in the main to some great tackling. We had been playing more than half an hour when we finally created something, Ryan McStay showing his amazing range of passing by picking out Peggy Lokando on the right wing with a pass from the centre circle with the outside of his boot, but the winger's cross wasn't up to scratch. He did a much better job moments later, electing this time to cut inside his marker, and then pick out Daryl Fordyce in the box, the striker finishing with a low shot into the corner, but he hadn't even come close to holding his run long enough to stay onside. We were now starting to come forward a bit more, leaving our visitors to play on the counter just like we were told they would. It was clear they preferred that as well, Jamie McCallum sent over a free kick from the right, Barry McGrory sent it back across goal from the far post, and full back Rossi Jarvis applied the finishing touch, and just like that we were a goal behind. A goal down at the break, and there were some harsh words in our changing room as I told the players that they hadn't come even close to hitting the standards I expect in that first half, especially from a home game we were expected to win. I told them to sort themselves out, and gave Partridge the hook, replacing him with Olafur Örn Bjarnason. The talk and change clearly had a huge impact, as we looked like an entirely different side in the second half. Aidan O'Kane sent the ball down the left, and James McLean headed it infield to Sean Fitzharris, who quickly squared it to Fordyce. The striker spotted Lokando's run, and the winger angled his run across the path of a defender to prevent him from making a tackle, and then took his shot as Duffy slid in, the ball taking a slight deflection off the defender that looped it over Tom Woodhead's dive, our winger credited with the equalising goal. McStay almost made it a turnaround within two minutes, he placed a shot past the keeper's dive, but saw it come back off the upright. He'd been denied his first goal for the club, but we wouldn't be denied the lead for long, Lokando returning the favour to Fordyce by sending the ball into the strikers path, and he turned it in to put us ahead. We were saving our best for last though. Midway through the half O'Kane sent over a corner, and Andrew Hageman found enough space and time to be able to chest the ball down in the middle of the box, and then slot it home. It wasn't the kind of goal you expect from a big centre back, and everyone celebrated with the Irishman. Convinced that our visitors wouldn't be able to come back from that quarter of an hour spell, I brought on Ryan Stevenson for James McLean down the left. We could have had another when Woodhead left his goalmouth to deal with a long ball, beating Sean Fitzharris to the ball, but then giving it right to Fordyce who tried a first time shot from 35 yards out, but missed the target. With a bit under ten minutes left, I brought on Arsenio Halfhuid for his Senior debut in place of Aaron McElwee, and asked him to sit in front of the defence as we protected our lead, Stevenson joining McStay in midfield, Fordyce and Lokando playing just behind lone striker Fitzharris as we shut up shop and earned our opening three pointer of the League campaign. Ayr United (0) 3 - Peggy Lokando (50), Daryl Fordyce (53), Andrew Hageman (67) East Stirlingshire (1) 1 - Rossi Jarvis (37) Stephen Grindlay; Ciaran Foy, David Partridge (capt - Olafur Örn Bjarnason 45), Andrew Hageman, Aidan O'Kane; Ryan McStay, Aaron McElwee (Arsenio Halfhuid 82); Peggy Lokando, James McLean (Ryan Stevenson 72); Daryl Fordyce, Sean Fitzharris. Unused Substitutes :- David Meyler, Lee Matthews. Bookings :- David Partridge 45 Possession :- 52% - 48%. Man of the Match :- Andrew Hageman (Ayr United). A cracking second half for us after a fairly mediocre first half. We have remained unbeaten for the opening three matches of the League season now, and are sat in fourth spot in a Division where everyone has at least a point, and no club has managed to keep a 100% record. I was given a lot of credit for the half time team talk, surprisingly by David Partridge, who went as far as admitting he'd had a poor game himself. Andrew Hageman's second goal of the season was a particular highlight as well, though his goal was rather unkindly labelled as a freak goal by some of the media. We'll be hoping to continue our good start to the season next weekend when we play host to the other side relegated from last seasons First Division, as Airdrie United visit Somerset Park. They haven't had a great start to their season in a lower level, winning one and losing two so far.
  6. Tuesday 9th September 2008 The atmosphere is starting to build on the small volcanic island that over 300,000 people call home. Thankfully, that atmosphere is not one of molten rock and lava being chucked a mile or so into the air and cancelling the holiday plans of people across Europe. No, this atmosphere is being caused by a promising start to their National football teams campaign for World Cup Qualification after a goalless draw away to Scandinavian rivals, Norway. Now the Scottish have arrived after also drawing their opener, and should Holland open with a win in Skopje, then Iceland's football fans know that a victory over the travelling Tartan Army would send them top of the early Group 9 table. The Scottish are firm favourites, and the home media have assessed Iceland's chances and concluded that we'll need to be at our best, with key players on top form if we're to have a chance today. It's also noted that we'll need to keep a watchful eye on Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher if we are to find any success tomorrow night, with the 24 year old identified by the press as the Scots dangerman. Not a view shared by AS Nancy attacking midfielder Veigar Páll Gunnarson. Personally enjoying a blistering start to his career in France with the unfashionable Ligue 1 side, he states confidently that there is nothing to be intimidated about from the 20th ranked nation in the latest FIFA World Rankings, and in fact, the confidence in the camp was high that they could get a win on the board. There was another night of football to negotiate before tomorrow nights match however, as we return to the Akranesvöllur for the conclusion of the Under-21's campaign, as they face Romania in front of a considerably bigger crowd than the one that was in the ground last night...... UEFA 2009 Under-21 European Championships Qualifier, Group 7 Akranesvöllur, Akranes, Iceland Iceland Under-21's v Romania Under-21's Attendance :- 2,096. Weather :- Gusty, Wet, 11c. Referee :- Ante Vucemilovic (Croatia). I'll tell you something that you won't hear from me, 'Well, it doesn't matter, a win wouldn't matter to us anyway!' I absolutely want to win this match. I know I'm not the one responsible for this campaign on the whole, but I still have my name against the final two matches. A win today will mean that we can carry on with our project knowing that the Under-21's are on board and will carry at least a little bit of confidence into their future matches. From the Friendly win over Georgia, there is a change in the back four as Guðmann Pórisson is replaced at centre back by Þórir Hannesson. In midfield, there is a slight surprise as Gylfi Sigurdsson is dropped to the bench, with Bjarni Viðarsson selected in his place to partner Aron Gunnarsson. We couldn't have started any better. Eggert Jonsson received the ball back from Aron Gunnarsson after a short throw in and then sent it down the line into the right channel for Matthias Villhjálmsson. The striker shifted the ball as if he was going to cut into the box himself, but then cut it back and found Rúrik Gíslason, who sidefooted it inside the near post to put us in front with just 62 seconds on the clock. In front of a crowd that had turned up in good numbers, we were turning on the style early, and they responded by cranking up the volume. Unfortunately, we then lost our way somewhat, and would be punished in the 22nd minute. Midfielder Stefan Bãrboianu was clever with a free kick, shaping to shoot, but then lifting it over the wall and towards the far post, where Monel Cârstoiu had moved back from his marker to create a yard, and then place his half volleyed shot past Jóhann Sigurðsson to level the match up. We were not about to crawl back into our shells on the basis of one little setback though, Aron Gunnarsson won a midfield battle and got the ball to Gíslason, but his cross was just behind striker Guðmundur Pétursson. Then seconds later another cross went into the Romanian box, this time from the left by Hafþór Ægir Vilhjálmsson, Gunnarsson connecting with a header that rattled the cross bar after beating Costel Pantilimon. That phase of play actually saw striker Villhjálmsson take a knock that he would try and run off during a particularly good spell of pressure from us, a superb run by Gíslason down the right resulting in a cross that Vilhjálmsson brought down after coming off the left wing, and shot low, Pantilimon managing to stop it, but had to rely on Silviu Ilie getting to the loose ball before Pétursson, who would have had an open goal to shoot at. There was still time left in the half for Romania to have chances to go in front too, left back Sepsi got into a very advanced position, and his cross came all the way through to Bãrboianu at the far post, his shot back across goal had too much on it and went wide of the far post, the midfielder holding his head in his hands. There was a better effort from striker Robert Elek after a lofted ball forward caught our defence flat footed, but Sigurðsson flung himself to his right to keep that one out. It would probably have looked doubtful that Villhjálmsson was going to return to the park for the second half, but the striker insisted he was fine to continue. Romania continued their assault from late in the first half, Claudiu Codoban sent a free kick into the box, centre back Stefan Mardare powered in a header, Jonsson kicked the ball off the line at the far post. The closest we would manage would also be from a free kick, Bogi Einarsson sending one well wide of the post. With the match now halfway through the second half, it was clear that the knock was starting to slow Villhjálmsson down, and he was replaced by Hilmar Emilsson, while at the same time Einarsson went off for Ari Skúlason as we looked for more attacking options down the left, Skúlason certainly has the qualities to do that. A set piece was starting to look like the most likely method if either side was going to snatch this match, and Iulian Tãtaru launched his attempt with a 70th minute free kick that curled around our defensive wall, but also around the goal frame. Our next effort would be from open play, Pétursson knocking the ball down for Bjarni Viðarsson, who sent his shot over the bar. That was his final contribution, and Gylfi Sigurdsson came on to replace him with just over five minutes to go. Chances continued to be exchanged into the final moments as both sides pressed for the win, Cãrstoiu glancing a header over the bar from a cross by Srdjan Luchin. With seconds to go, Tãtaru found Mardare, and he curled a shot past Sigurðsson's dive, but it curled away from goal. With the match now into injury time, Vilhjálmsson jinked his way towards the left edge of the box, but his cross was too deep. Gíslason retrieved the ball and managed to win a very late corner for us. Vilhjálmsson trotted across to the far side to take it himself, and he sent in an inswinger, beyond the reach of even Pantilimon, and Pétursson jumped higher than Luchin at the far post to head home a winner our fans had been waiting for all campaign! Iceland Under-21's (1) 2 - Rúrik Gíslason (2), Guðmundur Pétursson (90+2) Romania Under-21's (1) 1 - Monel Cãrstoiu (22) Jóhann Sigurðsson; Eggert Jonsson, Heimir Einarsson, Þórir Hannesson, Bogi Einarsson (Ari Skúlason 68); Bjarni Viðarsson (Gylfi Sigurdsson 84), Aron Gunnarsson (capt); Rúrik Gíslason, Hafþor Ægir Vilhjálmsson; Matthías Villhjálmsson (inj - Hilmar Emilsson 68), Guðmundur Pétursson. Unused Substitutes :- Þorður Steinar Hreiðarsson, Valdimar Valdimarsson (GK), Guðmundur Kristjánsson, Birkir Bjarnason. Bookings :- Eggert Jonsson 86 Possession :- 54% - 46%. Shots On(Off) Target :- 3(6) - 6(6). Man of the Match :- Rúrik Gíslason (Iceland Under-21's). Yes!! At last, we finally have that elusive win on the board right at the end of the campaign. I'm delighted for the lads and the staff, and also for myself as well. It's huge to get that win in this campaign and not have everyone making it an issue going into our next competitive matches. Ahead of their Senior match tomorrow night in the Faroe Islands, the manager of Romania, a mister Victor Piturcã was at the match tonight, running the rule over four or five of the Romanian players with an eye to calling them up for future Romania Senior squads. What he got to see was his nations eldest age group side overtaken by the Czech Republic as they comfortably beat Kazakhstan 4-0 in Ostrava. Fortunately for the visitors though, their performance in the Group was enough to secure the third of the four available places for the Second Placed Nations to earn a spot in the Playoffs. UEFA 2009 Under-21 European Championships Qualifiers Group 7, Final Table. | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | Pl | Czech Republic | | 8 | 5 | 2 | 1 | 12 | 1 | +11 | 17 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | Pl | Romania | | 8 | 4 | 2 | 2 | 10 | 4 | +6 | 14 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Albania | | 8 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 9 | -5 | 11 | | 4th | | Kazakhstan | | 8 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 6 | 12 | -6 | 10 | | 5th | | Iceland | | 8 | 1 | 1 | 6 | 4 | 10 | -6 | 4 | ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  7. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Sunday 7th August 2011 Our Reserve side are due to play for the first time in several seasons, as they get their Group 3 campaign underway this afternoon. As well as the players already in the Reserve side, I have also made available a selection of players on the fringe of the First Team who I don't intend using for the midweek match with Clyde. The Reserve match takes place at Station Park, where we play the second string side of Forfar Athletic. Our strong side asserted themselves more and more as the game progressed, and Alex Owen finally found a way through with ten minutes remaining. His goal was then added to in injury time by Adam Vickers. A good performance, and some very useful match time for a host of players. Monday 8th August Aidan O'Kane is the only Ayr United player named in the Second Division Team of the Week, which saw no club manage more than two players named. Tomorrow night sees us continue our campaign in the Scottish League Challenge Cup, as we welcome Clyde to Somerset Park for a Second Round tie. They were a Premier Division side last season, but they are struggling to adjust in the early days of their return to the First Division, drawing away at Dundee before losing at home to Morton. They did manage a home win against Stenhousemuir though, which put them through to this tie with ourselves. Despite their very average form, they are odds on favourites to win this one and progress into the Quarter-Finals. Neither side has achieved a better finish than Runner's-Up in their history in this Cup. Tuesday 9th August Scottish League Challenge Cup, Second Round Somerset Park, Ayr Ayr United v Clyde Attendance :- 876. Weather :- Breezy, 26c. I was looking forward to seeing my side test themselves against a club from a higher level, and didn't make too many changes from the weekends draw at East Fife. The first swap is a good one, with Olafur Örn Bjarnason starting in place of a disappointed David Partridge, who had just been a little too inconsistent in the early weeks of the season. There is also a debut for Marcus Hall tonight, with Aidan O'Kane rested, though available on the bench should we need him. Aaron McElwee is back in the midfield, with David Meyler also dropped to the bench, while Lee Matthews gets a first start up front in place of Sean Fitzharris. Maybe Ryan Stevenson deserved to start this one, but frankly, I think he's more effective coming off the bench. Clyde have some really good players, not least new striker Luke Rodgers and midfielders Stephen Clemence and Ruari MacLennan. So it was a bit of a surprise just how dominant we were in the early stages of the match, Daryl Fordyce curling his 4th minute shot just over the bar. With plenty of the ball, we were passing it around effortlessly, but not quite managing to get into the danger zones enough to cause major alarm bells for Clyde, though new skipper Olafur Örn Bjarnason showed off his skill with a sweeping cross field pass right into the path of Peggy Lokando. Our visitors did manage to create a chance in the 20th minute, but John Bostock snatched at it a little, and Stephen Grindlay easily turned that one away. We were continuing to pass our way through the black shirted Clyde team rather easily, some superb one touch passing allowed Lokando to let a shot go, David Hutton turning that one aside, before he had a more straightforward save to make, Fordyce not really getting enough power on his effort. We always had our old faithful to fall back on, and with five minutes to play in the first half we won a series of corners, before Fordyce sent one into the near post, and Bjarnason powered home a header from the edge of the six yard box, notching his first goal for the club. That worked really well, so there was no reason not to try it again just moments later, Fordyce sending this one to the far post as Bjarnason dragged several defenders with him as he made a near post run, Marcus Hall was able to arrive late at the far post and head home a debut goal to give us a 2-0 halftime advantage. There was very little about that first half that our fans wouldn't have enjoyed, and at half time I asked my players who were the side who were in the Second Division, and who had just dropped out of the Premier League, cos I certainly wouldn't have got the right answer if I had walked in to watch the match and not known any better. There was every reason to expect a Clyde backlash early in the second half, but a Daniel Jones free kick eight minutes after the restart was poorly hit enough for Grindlay to not even bother raising an arm to wave it wide. Jones did decidedly better with a cross moments later, picking out an unmarked Ruari MacLennan six yards out, but he headed it against the foot of the post, and we breathed a sigh of relief at not getting caught out. With twenty minutes remaining, we would have to grit our teeth in defence once more, firstly sub Paul Boertien managed to step past Andrew Hageman, and sting Grindlay's hands with a shot that he stopped, then Luke Rodgers tried to sweep the loose ball home, Grindlay stopping that one with his legs while still on the floor. I had no intention of watching Clyde claw their way back into the game, so I turned to my bench to bring on some fresh legs, Hall, Ryan McStay and James McLean replaced by Aidan O'Kane, David Meyler and Ryan Stevenson. That was enough to even the flow, and Stevenson spun away from a tackle with ten minutes to go, passing to Fordyce, who in turned laid it off for McElwee, who struck a shot that took a huge deflection off a defender, leaving Hutton stranded, and relieved, as it spun just wide of his post. Things were going our way, and that was shown clearly when Daniel O'Donnell hoofed the ball up the park from a corner, and allowed Stewart McAllister to go one on one in a foot race with Ciaran Foy. Despite the winger having a headstart of several yards, Foy not only got back level, but read the bouncing ball expertly, throwing himself into a slide to catch it as it dropped, and knock it well clear of danger, much to the delight of those in the stand behind the dugouts. Impressive stuff from my players. Ayr United (2) 2 - Olafur Örn Bjarnason (40), Marcus Hall (44) Clyde (0) 0 Stephen Grindlay; Ciaran Foy, Andrew Hageman, Olafur Örn Bjarnason (capt), Marcus Hall (Aidan O'Kane 71); Ryan McStay (David Meyler 71), Aaron McElwee; Peggy Lokando, James McLean (Ryan Stevenson 71); Daryl Fordyce, Lee Matthews. Unused Substitutes :- David Partridge, Sean Fitzharris. Bookings :- None Possession :- 50% - 50%. Man of the Match :- Marcus Hall (Ayr United). There was nothing not to like about that performance, not a thing. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that was our best performance in my time at Somerset Park so far. We had, frankly, made a side from a higher level look very ordinary, and at times, made them chase us around the park like headless chickens. The press labelled it as a 'triumph for tactics over talent'. Maybe a little unfair, I wouldn't swap too many of my players for theirs. In the press conference, many of the questions were about veteran debutant Marcus Hall, who had an impressive first game for the club, capping it with a goal. I told the press how pleased I was with Hall's outing, and when he spoke to the press later, he reciprocated, stating that he was already enjoying himself at the club, and was looking forward to seeing what the season might bring. For Aidan O'Kane, it now means a battle for the left back spot, one which the Ulsterman says he is also happy about. The last news of the day is from our two players away on International duty. It was a night to forget for Paul Dummett, the left back was booked and had a pretty poor game for Wales Under-21's as they lost to a pair of first half goals in Sofia to Bulgaria. It was slightly better news for Laurence Gaughan though. While the centre back didn't start for the Republic of Ireland's Under-21's, he did come on as a substitute with a little over quarter of an hour to play, and did a good job as the Irish secured a 0-0 draw in Almaty with Kazakhstan. Wednesday 10th August There was no doubt about the main event of today from an Ayr United viewpoint. The draw was made for the Quarter-Finals of the Scottish League Challenge Cup, and we came out of the hat first, meaning a home tie. Our opponents would be Division rivals East Stirlingshire, who we hold a win and defeat against since I arrived at the club. It's a draw that certainly gives us a decent shot at a Semi-Final berth, with the match scheduled for Saturday 3rd September at Somerset Park. We'll have a chance to get a good look at our last eight opponents, as we face them this coming weekend too.
  8. Sunday 7th September 2008 We prepare to move from the Iceland Senior side who are at the start of their campaign, to the Under-21's, who are at the very end of theirs. And what a horror show of a campaign it has been too, as we go into Tuesday's final Group 7 match against Romania with just a single point on the board from the seven matches played so far. We could yet have a say in the outcome though if we can earn a first win in this match, and we certainly have no reason to do the Romanian's any favours. We do have to make a change to the named squad today though, as Þróttur midfielder Haukur Páll Sigurðsson has been ruled out for a month with fractured ribs. Called up in his place as a late addition to the squad for the match is 21 year old Fjölnir midfielder Haukur Lárusson, who could make his debut at the International level. Monday 8th September There is one more match to negotiate through before the competitive football resumes however, and that's tonights Under-19 International match against Scotland in Akranes. While our youngsters were losing in Norway last Thursday, the Scots were demolishing FYR Macedonia Under-19's by a score of 4-0 in Skopje. Amongst the stars in their squad are Rangers defender Danny Wilson, a midfielder at Liverpool by the name of Gary Mackay-Steven, and David Goodwillie, a promising young striker who plays for Dundee United. Under-19 International Friendly - 19:30pm Akranesvöllur, Akranes, Iceland Iceland Under-19's v Scotland Under-19's Attendance :- 272. Weather :- Breezy, 29c. Referee :- Jochen Drees (Germany). Despite a serious urge to do so, I decided not to make any changes from the side that played in Norway last Thursday, electing instead to give this selection another chance to gel together and improve in their final chance before next months competitive matches, with the Under-19 European Championship Qualifiers scheduled to take place in Serbia. The player most in need of a rest perhaps was AZ Alkmaar striker Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, who was a little bit jaded, but I did go ahead and start with him. We started well, and didn't seem to have too much fear of the young Scottish side. Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson made good ground down the left in the 7th minute, before squaring the ball towards the edge of the box, where Arnór Smárason drove a low shot at goal, Ross Marshall had to show good handling to keep hold of it. Smárason was doing some nice work, dropping deeper to win the ball as well, and one such piece of play led to a shot at goal from Skúli Friðgeirsson, and Marshall had to show quick reactions to push the ball away. Our next attack in the 21st minute was much more rewarding, the ball was passed from the left wing and square across the park through the midfielders. Victor Pálsson sent the ball into the feet of Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, who showed a great first touch which allowed him to spin away from Steven Saunders and then crash a shot right past Marshall and into the top corner. Superb stuff from the AZ Alkmaar striker. Buoyed by that success, we pushed forward with intent, Kristinn Halldórsson clipped a cross into the middle, and Pálsson appeared between the two centre backs, showing fantastic technique to keep over the ball and catch a volley that brought a superb save out of Marshall, who possibly hadn't bargained on having this much work to do in this match. It took the Scots half an hour to create a chance worthy of the description, Paul Henderson ran well down their right, and then angled a pass into the box for David Goodwillie, who in turn angled his run in towards the near post, but Ögmundur Kristinsson positioned himself well and refused to be beaten at his near post. We had just the man to show the Dundee United striker how it should be done ten minutes before the break. Guðmundur Gunnarsson lifted the ball down the left flank for Guðmundsson to chase, and he sent a low cross into the box for his club team mate Sigþórsson, who produced an entirely different finish from his first goal, sliding this one under the advancing Marshall's dive, and into the bottom corner. It had been a very pleasing first half performance indeed. In a morale boosting exercise, I made sure my players knew how happy I was with that first half showing, and they set about impressing early in the second half, Friðgeirsson sending a cross to the far post that Guðmundsson caught on the half volley, Marshall making another good save, unaware that our winger was offside by quite some way. Gary Mackay-Steven set about trying to get our visitors back into the game, the Liverpool player set up Jamie Ness, but the midfielder couldn't keep his shot down. The Scots were starting to have a go now, Ryan Jack's effort was wide, Nicky Clark's was on target, but not too much of a problem for Kristinsson. The keeper would have a much bigger problem in the 65th minute, Mackay-Steven managing to get in a low cross from the left channel of our box, Jack unable to get a connection to it, but the ball spun wickedly, and when Runólfur Sigmundsson tried to clear it, the ball simply spun off his boot and beyond a helpless Kristinsson to halve our lead. I reacted quickly, and at the next stoppage in play I switched us to a 4-1-2-2-1, with Smárason taken off and Andri Alexandersson brought on to play in the holding role, and Friðgeirsson replaced by Hjörtur Valgarðsson. The Scots took that as an invitation to attack, but the closest they would get would be a effort from range by full back Keith Watson that just went over the angle of the goal frame. With the threat quickly muted, I made more changes, Pálsson, Halldórsson and goal hero Sigþórsson replaced with a little under ten minutes to go as we retreated a little more. With the ninety almost up, I gave a pat on the back and a show of faith to teenage prospect Vigfús Rúnarsson, who was held to blame by the media for Norway's winner last week. This time he didn't put a foot wrong in the final five minutes, and even showed compusure and a little bit of skill to work his way out of a tricky situation late on, as we closed out the match pretty comfortably. Iceland Under-19's (2) 2 - Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (21,35) Scotland Under-19's (0) 1 - Runólfur Sigmundsson (65 og) Ögmundur Kristinsson; Eggert Einarsson (Vigfús Rúnarsson 89), Hólmar Eyjólfsson (capt), Runólfur Sigmundsson, Guðmundur Gunnarsson; Victor Pálsson (Gísli Helgason 81), Skúli Friðgeirsson (Hjörtur Valgarðsson 65); Kristinn Halldórsson (Kristinn Steindórsson 81), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson; Arnór Smárason (Andri Alexandersson 65), Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (Arnar Garðarsson 81). Unused Substitute :- Ingólfur Helgason (GK). Bookings :- None Possession :- 47% - 53%. Shots On(Off) Target :- 5(2) - 5(4). Man of the Match :- Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (Iceland Under-19's). Ahead of next months very tough European Under-19 Championship Qualifiers, that was a very pleasing win and performance from the young lads. They played some great football in the first half, and then produced a very mature second half performance to hold the Scots at arms length, with the exception of a slightly unfortunate own goal that won't be held against anyone. Tomorrow night the Under-21's complete their European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers, and the squad were in attendance tonight to watch their International colleagues play. It shows the great spirit that we are starting to create that it wasn't too long at all before the Under-21 squad members were around the dressing room area to congratulate the younger lads on their win. Hopefully it will have inspired them into putting in a performance tomorrow night, while I was also hoping that the Scottish Senior side had taken notice of the strides we were already starting to make. They would have to deal with our Seniors in just forty eight hours time.
  9. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Thursday 4th August 2011 (cont) The day ended with good news all round for the club, as two of our younger players have been selected to represent their nation at Under-21 level. Paul Dummett and Laurence Gaughan are in the Wales and Republic of Ireland squads respectively for August 9th away Friendlies against Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. Friday 5th August The Second Round draw for the Scottish League Cup takes place at lunchtime today, and we are unseeded for this round which features the Scottish Premier League clubs who are not taking part in European competition. We come out midway through, and it will be a derby match that the fans will be looking forward to, as we'll take a trip to face fierce rivals Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Tuesday 23rd August. There was still time to bring in a fourth new player this week before our next match as well. He might now be a veteran at 35 years of age, but former age group England International player Marcus Hall is still quite a catch for a club such as ours. With 400 Senior appearances to his name, the former Coventry City (twice), Nottingham Forest, Southampton and Stoke City player has returned north of the border after leaving Partick Thistle to sign for Dorchester Town in January. A left footer who can play at left back or cover in the centre of defence, he has signed a two year deal to play at Somerset Park, and will bring some more experience to our squad, plus allow Aidan O'Kane a bit of a rest. Saturday 6th August 15 year old left winger Jimmy Ferguson is starting to thrive in our setup according to the backroom staff, and this morning he got his first chance to prove it. He didn't waste any time either, as he found the net just four minutes into the match against Arbroath at Gayfield Park. 18 year old striker Simon McAllister added a second later in the first half, and a late goal from Colin Caldwell would prove to be merely a consolation, as our Youth Team open with a 2-1 win. Scottish League Second Division New Bayview, Methil East Fife v Ayr United Attendance :- 844. Weather :- Dry, 24c. After his near game costing error on Tuesday night, Zannetos Mytides has been sent to the Reserves, leaving Stephen Grindlay to patrol our goalmouth once more. Mytides wasn't the only one to have a poor night, David Partridge also turned in a poor showing, but he does remain in the side with Olafur Örn Bjarnason not yet fit enough to start the match. New signing David Meyler comes straight into the side to allow Aaron McElwee a rest, while Peggy Lokando reclaims his spot on the right wing in place of Shea Campbell. Up front, late goal scorer Sean Fitzharris starts with Daryl Fordyce, with new signing Lee Matthews taking a spot amongst the substitutes. I'd have loved to be able to tell you all that this was a sparkling example of the kind of superb match that Scottish fans feast on week in and week out. Alas, it was instead absolute dross, with only Chris Templeman's shot on the run ten minutes in providing any early noteworthy action, and even that was some way off the target. Aidan O'Kane and Nathan Taggart were holding their own private battle down our left, Taggart getting the better of their mid half encounter and setting up David Muir, who's curling effort was only just wide of the target. Templeman's late first half header wide of the goal frame again showed the poor quality finishing that was on show. But at least East Fife were creating chances, which we took almost an hour to achieve. New signing David Meyler lifted a superb diagonal lofted pass into the left channel, Sean Fitzharris squared it for Daryl Fordyce, and the striker returned it to Meyler who buried it into the net, regretably from an offside position. At the other end, Ciaran Foy was in the right place at the right time to prevent Templeman's cross from reaching either Darren Smith or Adam Pepper, our right back managing to get in front of both and knock the ball behind. A Ryan McStay ball over the top sent Fordyce away from the home defence with twenty minutes to play, but his lack of pace forced him wide, and when the ball was recycled for Peggy Lokando to cross, McStay just missed the target with a driven shot. That would signal a trio of changes, including a debut for Lee Matthews, and the subs at least livened the game up late on. Richard Overment forced Stephen Grindlay into an outstanding reaction save, and Matthews held up the ball on halfway before sending Ryan Stevenson down the left wing. He was brought down when he cut infield, and the ref had a decision to make, deciding to show Muir only a yellow card, believing that there was sufficient cover for it to not be classed as a legitimate goalscoring opportunity. Stevenson would make another great run with five minutes to play, this time successfully getting into the box, but Glyn Garner denied him a moment of glory by pushing his shot over the bar. It wasn't likely to be top of the show on Scotland's Match of the Day, but points away from home in each of our opening League matches wasn't to be sniffed at. East Fife (0) 0 Ayr United (0) 0 Stephen Grindlay; Ciaran Foy, David Partridge (capt), Andrew Hageman, Aidan O'Kane; Ryan McStay, David Meyler (Aaron McElwee 72); Peggy Lokando, James McLean (Ryan Stevenson 72); Daryl Fordyce, Sean Fitzharris (Lee Matthews 72). Unused Substitutes :- Olafur Örn Bjarnason, Arsenio Halfhuid. Bookings :- None Possession :- 46% - 54%. Man of the Match :- Chris Templeman (East Fife). A clean sheet away from home is never a bad thing, and in what could be a League where everyone is capable of taking points from each other, two points from two away games will hopefully stand us in good stead when we finally get a chance to start playing home League matches from next weekend. We showed a bit of grit too, and we'll need that during this season, particularly if we're going to pick off some larger sides in the Cups. We will get our first chance to do just that in midweek as well.
  10. This is absolutely the kind of game we should be looking to win. The Scots appear to be in a false position at the moment, as they are ranked 20th in the World Rankings going into the match. There appears to be little justification for them being that high. As noted at the time of the draw, we were pretty happy to get them out of Pot Two. Thanks for reading, I hope you're enjoying the save,
  11. Friday 5th September 2008 As I said, that match was merely the appetiser. The main course is set for tomorrow afternoon, when Iceland gets it's 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign underway. It would be fair to say that the fans have never been so excited for the beginning of a Qualifying campaign. The media however, not so much. Doubtless, they have heard all the rhetoric about new beginnings and golden genrations many times over. While the fans have travelled in unprecedented numbers for this match, so do the media outlets, but they are not nearly as optimistic when I face them in the press conference. 'Many people expect this campaign to be a struggle for Iceland, how do you rate the chances of success?' was followed by 'Surely a defensive approach will be needed to get anything from the opener in Norway!' and 'Are you sure the players you've selected for this double header are up to the job of getting Iceland off to a good start?' Wow. And people say the press in the UK are negative! At least the players were in positive mood. Centre back Kristján Örn Sigurðsson lives and plays in Norway, currently contracted to the Brann Bergen club who lead the Premier Division. He is set to win his 19th cap tomorrow, and is as well placed as anyone to comment on our chances. He told the press conference that while the squad had plenty of respect for Norway, they saw them as a beatable side, and there was a confidence around the squad that they could get off to the perfect start. Saturday 6th September FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifiers, European Zone, Group 9 - 15:00pm Ullevål Stadion, Oslo, Norway Norway v Iceland Attendance :- 25,037. Weather :- Dry, 23c. Referee :- Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain). We may have performed well last time out against Paraguay, but the intensity is about to take a huge step up, and some changes are made for today's crucial Qualifier. Those changes start in goal, with Árn Gautur Arason back to earn his 65th cap after missing the Friendly with an injury. The midfield pairing is also changed, as I elect for a more combative and experienced duo, with Brynjar Gunnarsson and Joey Gudjonsson selected, Kári Árnason missing out through injury, and Veigar Páll Gunnarsson left out of the matchday squad today. There is a very early surprise, and that is that Norway, the odds on favourites and home team have set themselves out much more defensively than we have, as they go with a 4-1-4-1, utilising a holding midfielder and one striker, as opposed to our wide 4-2-2-2. That was good news for us, as it gave our centre backs the option to focus more of their attention on dangerman and striker, John Carew. But it was Tarik Elyounoussi who was causing us the early issues, the right sided winger picking up a loose ball and forcing a good opening save from Árn Gautur Arason in the 8th minute, by which point home centre back Vegard Forren had already picked up a booking. Not that it stopped him being a nuisance, as he connected with a low shot from a corner that took a deflection and needed to be kicked off the line by Grétar Steinsson. We hadn't just come here to make up the numbers though, and twice in quick succession Norway required Tore Reginiussen to head away dangerous balls into the box. A goalless first half suited us just fine though, and there were plenty of positives to take from that first half. I was expecting a much more fired up Norway side to emerge in the second half, and there was a glimpse of that when Elyounoussi again caused us an issue, popping up on the left this time, and dragging Steinsson with him as he drifted further and further infield with the ball, before making the unwise choice to shoot himself, Arason holding that one comfortably. With just one goal in 34 caps before today, Joey Gudjonsson isn't exactly known for being a prolific goalscorer, but that wasn't going to stop the Burnley midfielder chancing his arm, and Jon Knudsen had to keep a close eye on his 49th minute shot from distance that was only inches over the top in front of the face painted Icelandic travelling support. There was a closer effort at the other end moments later though, Fredrik Strømstad sent in an outswinging corner to the far post, and Forren connected with a header back across goal that had our keeper beat, but fortunately for us was just wide of the upright. Meanwhile, Gudjonnson was going by the motto of 'if it at first you don't succeed.....' this time going with a dipping effort that wasn't as threatening. Third time lucky maybe? This time he collected a short pass from Steinsson and tried a swerving shot that Knudsen had to deal with, managing to push it to safety. By this point, Norway had used all their changes, the threat of Carew had been seen off without too many issues, but now we were facing the slightly different challenge of Thorstein Helstad, who also had a bit more support in the shape of Daniel Braaten. As our subs were warming up, Brynjar Gunnarsson sent a cross field ball into the path of Ólafur Páll Snorasson, who controlled it expertly and moved into the right channel of the box, the already cautioned Forren had to get his challenge just right, and to his credit, he did just that. With just under 15 minutes to play, I was happy to have what we held, and sacrificed skipper Eidur Gudjohnsen, bringing on Davið Þór Viðarsson to play in a holding midfield role, and taking off Gunnarsson for the fresh legs of Stefán Gíslason in midfield. We immediately won a corner, and Snorasson curled it in, Indriði Sigurðsson beat sub Jon Inge Høiland in the air, and his header thumped the underside of the Norwegian cross bar before being hooked clear by Strømstad. So close! With our golden chance gone, I made a final change late on to shut up shop, left winger Emil Hallfreðsson withdrawn and Baldur Ingimar Aðalsteinsson came on to make it two holding midfielders as we went narrow and defensive for the final few moments. Norway (0) 0 Iceland (0) 0 Árni Gautur Arason; Grétar Steinsson, Kristjan Örn Sigurðsson, Hermann Hreiðarsson, Indriði Sigurðsson; Brynjar Gunnarsson (Stefán Gíslason 76), Joey Gudjonsson; Ólafur Páll Snorrason, Emil Hallfreðsson (Baldur Ingimar Aðalsteinsson 90); Eidur Gudjohnsen (capt - Davið Þór Viðarsson 76), Garðar Jóhannsson. Unused Substitutes :- Hjálmar Jónsson, Kjartan Sturluson (GK), Ragnar Sigurðsson, Heidar Helguson. Bookings :- None. Possession :- 43% - 57% - Shots On(Off) Target :- 3(2) - 2(2). Man of the Match :- Hermann Hreiðarsson (Iceland). I'd have happily taken a point before the match, but I can't tell a lie, if you had told me that we would keep a clean sheet, I'd have said we would have three points on the board. I really believed going into this match that we had a goal in us, and but for a few extra coats of paint, we would have done, as Jon Knudsen was getting nowhere near that header from Indriði Sigurðsson. After the game, Eidur Gudjohnsen spoke to the press, and told them that his side had shown everyone exactly what they were capable of against a nation sixty places higher than themselves in the World Rankings. He went on to say it was satisfying to prove wrong the doubters who had suggested that Norway would win comfortably, and that there was now no reason why Iceland couldn't move forward with a heightened sense of optimism. Finally, he thanked all the fans who had travelled to Oslo, and told them he hoped they would have another good performance to cheer on Wednesday evening in Reykjavík. I agreed with every word my Captain said, and there was an extra reason to be pleased too, as Scotland had been held to a goalless draw in Skopje by a FYR Macedonia side who had played the entire second half with ten men after the first half stoppage time dismissal of Alexander Vasoski for an elbow on Steven Naismith. The hosts would remain in Skopje where they would meet a Holland side opening their campaign in midweek, while the Scots would travel to Iceland to meet us, in a game we had been targeting since the draw was made as a winnable one, and an early chance to show we mean business!
  12. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Monday 1st August 2011 August will be a very busy month, with five League matches scheduled and at least two Cup games in the fixture list as well. It's only my opinion of course, but that schedule is too hectic for this early in the season. The Board give no hint in the slightest that I'm under any pressure at the club, confirming that they are satisfied with how things are going at the club. Interestingly, they still consider Peggy Lokando to be our stand out signing, but they also warn that there are concerns over his recent performances. The club made a profit of almost £100,000 in July, leaving the club sitting on a current bank balance of around £305,000. It's right back into Cup action tomorrow evening, as we travel to face another Third Division club. Elgin City will be our opponents this time in the Scottish League Cup First Round, a competition that the Board expect us to progress in, with the Second Round the target. We're odds on favourites to pick up the win at Borough Briggs. Tuesday 2nd August Scottish League Cup, First Round Borough Briggs, Elgin Elgin City v Ayr United Attendance :- 332. Weather :- Dry, 27c. I make a couple of small changes for this League Cup tie, giving Zannetos Mytides another shot in goal, and bringing in Shea Campbell on the right wing in place of Peggy Lokando. There is also a change up front, Archie Campbell dropped from the matchday squad and sent to the Reserves to sharpen up, with Adam Vickers getting his debut for the club, and Sean Fitzharris coming into the squad to sit on the bench. After dealing with Rory McAllister on the weekend, we would need to deal with namesake Craig today. He would have the first shot at goal after a quarter of an hour, twisting and turning before getting in a strike that Zannetos Mytides pushed away. He would have had a better chance moments later after Ryan McStay was booked for a foul and the resulting free kick found McAllister, but he was flagged offside. But midway through the half, David Partridge was judged to have wrestled Matty Tymon to the ground after he controlled the ball in the box. It was another pretty soft one from my point of view, but I could only watch on grim faced as McAllister placed his shot high into the roof of the net to put us a goal behind. By that point, Elgin had already had to make a change when Carl Preston had sustained an injury, and after falling behind, we started to assert ourselves, a series of corners failed to produce a way through, while at the other end, Tymon only just missed the target with a free kick that curled around our wall but cleared the bar. Then in first half injury time, Aidan O'Kane sent in an inswinging corner that evaded everyone, and found the net just inside the far post. O'Kane continues to be a superb asset from corner kicks, and he has pulled us level in this one. O'Kane's first goal for the club had changed the nature of my team talk, as I now tried to coax a winning goal from my team. The right wing seemed our best bet, with both Shea Campbell and Ciaran Foy finding plenty of space on numerous occassions, though neither was able to produce a cross dangerous enough to create a clear cut chance. An O'Kane corner did find Daryl Fordyce about 15 yards out, but his low driven effort was bravely blocked by an Elgin defender. With only a little more than quarter of an hour to play, and Partridge having a bit of a nightmare in our back four, I decided to ring the changes. Olafur Örn Bjarnason and Sean Fitzharris both came on for club debuts, while Ryan Stevenson was also brought into the action, Partridge, Adam Vickers and James McLean were the replaced players. The fresh legs were a good idea, particularly as Elgin had a couple of players carrying knocks. Stevenson in particular was relishing running at a tired team. But then, with just two minutes left to play, it all fell apart for us. Bjarnason's backpass to Mytides was fairly routine, but the keepers first touch was appalling, the ball going way too far in front of the youngster, and Tymon raced in, taking the ball from him, and sliding it into an unguarded net. With little time to retaliate, I had to get instructions on quickly to push players up the park and make the team understand that we were now going route one. We would have the ball in the opposite net within a minute, O'Kane's cross was expertly volleyed home by Stevenson, but the sub was flagged for offside. We only had the three minutes given for injury time to get this fixed now, Fitharris' low drive parried away by Craig Holloway around midway through that alloted time. But we hadn't quite given up yet, Stevenson played the ball short to O'Kane, and with everyone expecting a cross, he picked out a short pass to Fitzharris, who used a defender as a wall, and curled his shot expertly into the far corner, his first ever goal on his Senior debut, and right in the nick of time. As is often the case, a late goal to force extra time sees a huge momentum shift, and Fitzharris sent a shot just over the bar only moments into the extra half hour spell. Stevenson would have the best chance of the second half of extra time, as he went for power with a free kick that beat the wall, but then rattled the top of the bar on it's way over. With neither side able to find a way through, Fitzharris again shooting over after collecting Fordyce's knock down, it would go down to penalty kicks to decide who would progress into the Second Round. That matter would be settled early, unbeknown to everyone at the time however, as Paul Arnison sent Mytides the wrong way with City's first kick, but could only watch as it thumped back off the upright, in contrast to Stevenson, who had already blasted his spot kick home, before the sides settled into a procession of matching each other. Bjarnason, McAllister, O'Kane, Jack Metcalf, Ryan McStay, and then crucially, Ben Morris. That would leave Ciaran Foy to step up and take our fifth kick, knowing that scoring would put us through. Fearless Foy did just that, picking out the bottom corner, with a very relieved Zannetos Mytides the first to congratulate the full back. Elgin City (1) 2 - Craig McAllister (24 pen), Matty Tymon (88) Ayr United (1) 2 - Aidan O'Kane (45+4), Sean Fitzharris (90+2) (after extra time, Ayr United win 5-3 on penalties) Zannetos Mytides; Ciaran Foy, David Partridge (capt - Olafur Örn Bjarnason 73), Andrew Hageman, Aidan O'Kane; Ryan McStay, Aaron McElwee; Shea Campbell, James McLean (Ryan Stevenson 73); Daryl Fordyce, Adam Vickers (Sean Fitzharris 73). Unused Substitutes :- Arsenio Halfhuid, Noel Anderson. Bookings :- Ryan McStay 21, David Partridge 44 Possession :- 40% - 60%. Man of the Match :- Aidan O'Kane (Ayr United). That was a close call wasn't it? A goal late in each half saved us from an embarassing result, and meant Zannetos Mytides huge mistake didn't prove fatal to our League Cup progress. Once more a penalty decision against us was a bit dubious, though this time I did keep my mouth shut speaking to the press. At least when it came to our turn from the penalty spot, we were absolutely clinical, and booked our spot in Round Two, meaning we have achieved our first Board target of the season. We would now be waiting for Friday, when the draw would take place and we would find out who our next opponents would be. It's been widely reported that Bury manager Alan Knill was sat in the stands at Borough Briggs. He is said to be interested in signing Daryl Fordyce, and was running the rule over the striker. Apparently, Notts County, Stockport County and Morton are also interested in our former Northern Irish Under-21 striker. Wednesday 3rd August We have a new arrival as I continue to try and make improvements to our squad. 32 year old Welsh midfielder Danny Williams has signed a one year deal on a cheap as chips deal. A former Liverpool youngster and Wales Under-21 International, he has gone on to play for Wrexham (twice), Kidderminster Harriers, Bristol Rovers, Shrewsbury Town and AFC Wimbledon during his career that has seen him play over 300 Senior matches. Williams has a real bit of the bulldog midfielder about him, capable of shutting down an oppositions engine room, and then letting the more talented players get the play moving the other way. Celtic play the Second Leg of their UEFA Champions League tie with sc Heerenveen tonight, taking a 3-1 lead into Celtic Park. A crowd getting up towards the 60,000 mark would feel the tension when Ghana International forward Matthew Amoah gave the Dutch side the lead midway through the first half. It would be a Dutchman who would settle the tie seven minutes into the second half, but he didn't play for the Dutch club, as Hoops striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink netted to send Celtic into the next round. Thursday 4th August Today brings two more arrivals into the club. The first is another midfielder, one who can pass the ball well, but also do a job when it comes to trying to win it back as well. As well as those qualities, 22 year old David Meyler has proven to be quite profficient when it comes to taking set pieces. The Cork born man was plucked from his hometown club by Sunderland in the summer of 2009, but only played some First Team football when he went out on loan to Blyth Spartans. He rejected an offer from Coca-Cola League Two side Wrexham to move to the West of Scotland. Also brought in today on a cheap one year deal is 32 year old English striker, Lee Matthews. Born and raised in Middlesbrough, he was on the books of Leeds United as a youngster, and made a handful of Premier League appearances for them before loan spells with Notts County and Gillingham. His career never really picked up until a move to Bristol City though, but after a promising start, he ended up taking loan spells across the city with Rovers, as well as Darlington and Yeovil. Spells at Port Vale, Crewe and Bury didn't go as well as he would have liked, but he found a career reprieve with Blue Square North club, Hednesford Town. He has found the net 27 times in 46 matches over two seasons with them, before they took action to reduce their wage bill. At 6'1, and adept both in the air and with the ball at his feet, he could thrive with a club playing with advanced wingers.
  13. Thursday 4th September 2008 (cont) Under-19's International Friendly - 19:30pm Levermyr, Grimstad, Norway Norway Under-19's v Iceland Under-19's Attendance :- 203. Weather :- Dry, 9c. Referee :- Wolfgang Stark (Germany). The appetiser for the main event. As Iceland's football fans look forward to the start of competitive football, and what they hope will be one of those always talked about 'exciting new era's', the Under-19's take to the stage, as is customary when neither nation has any competitive age group football scheduled in. The side features multiple changes from June's victory over Georgia, with only five of the starting eleven from that match beginning this game. Amongst the changes, West Ham United player Hólmar Eyjólfsson captains the side from centre back, and Liverpool midfielder Victor Pálsson also starts. Amongst the stand out players for Norway are midfielder Vegar Landaas, who plays for AS Monaco in France. It was a fast start for the Norwegians, as a corner was allowed to go right through our penalty box before Thømt Jensen sent it back to the edge of the box, Marcus Pedersen hit his shot, which took a huge deflection off Skúli Friðgeirsson, and would have been heading wide, but Peter Orry Larsen was on hand to tuck it home, played onside by a defender late coming off his post. Behind inside ninety seconds, it was starting to look like it could be a long evening, especially when Orry Larsen shot from distance and this one also took a deflection, but fortunately did end up going wide. Slowly, we started to claw our way back into the match, though invariably when chances did come, they would fall the way of the Norwegians, Kristian Brix's cross picked out Orry Larsen, but he headed wide, with Runólfur Sigmundsson doing just enough to put him off. It would take us over half an hour to cause our hosts any real issues, Guðmundur Gunnarsson crossing low from the left, Friðgeirsson shanking his attempted shot off the outside of his boot, but Frode Larsen able to smother it before Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson was able to get a shot away. We would have another go at erradicating that Norway lead, this time going route one, Gunnarsson sending a curling pass over the defence, and Kolbeinn Sigþórsson caught it with a well struck shot that Frode Larsen did well to turn over. After that poor start, you would have probably got very good odds on us only being a goal down at the break, where I made a change, Friðgeirsson replaced in midfield by Hjörtur Valgarðsson. You'd have got even better odds on what happened at the start of the second half. Kjetil Lundebakken struck a shot from range that had Ögmundur Kristinsson beat, but it flew just wide of the target. And we would go right back down the other end, Hólmar Eyjólfsson winning a header on halfway before getting the ball right to Kristinn Halldórsson. The winger played it into the path of Arnór Smárason, and he struck a bullet shot across goal, and just under the bar into the far top corner to bring us level at 1-1. That goal stung Norway, who suddenly started losing the little battles they had been dominant in for the majority of the game. That said, they did almost go back in front, Lundebakken reaching a through ball first, lifting it over Kristinsson, but it hit the cross bar, and sub Marius Boldt smashed the rebound wide. Instead, it would be ourselves who would take the lead. Gunnarsson sent Guðmundsson into space down the left, and his cross picked out Sigþórsson. The striker had his back to goal, and instead of trying a low percentage shot, he rolled it into the path of quickly arriving sub Valgarðsson, who picked his spot inside the post and out of Frode Larsen's reach. It had been a superb comeback to get the lead, but regrettably, it would last only moments. Pedersen took a throw in down and spun away from Gunnarsson before skinning Victor Pálsson. He then sent a great cross into the middle, and unsure whether to come or stay, Kristinsson didn't really do either, sub Bjørn Lidin Hansen squaring the game back up with a guided header. I had seen enough from two of my players, and Eggert Einarsson and Pálsson were both substituted a little while later as we tried to steady the ship and make sure we at least had what we held, youngsters Vigfús Rúnarsson and Andri Alexandersson providing us with fresh legs. Kristinsson did well to stop a shot from Orry Larsen with his legs as Norway chased another goal, and we appeared to have rode out the storm when he sent a hopeful volley from range way off target. No such luck however, as with seven minutes to go, Øyvind Elstad Bekken escaped the attention of Gunnarsson and curled a deep cross to the far post, where teenager Vigfús Rúnarsson's lack of strength left him unable to cope to with Kjell Rune Sellin, and the sub guided his half volley beyond our keeper to put Norway back in front. I threw a pair of extra forwards on very late in proceedings to try and salvage something, as we went narrow and attacking, but it wasn't to be today. Norway Under-19's (1) 3 - Peter Orry Larsen (2), Bjørn Lidin Hansen (69), Kjell Rune Sellin (83) Iceland Under-19's (0) 2 - Arnór Smárason (52), Hjörtur Valgarðsson (63) Ögmundur Kristinsson; Eggert Einarsson (Vigfús Rúnarsson 75), Runólfur Sigmundsson, Hólmar Eyjólfsson (capt), Guðmundur Gunnarsson (Kristinn Steindórsson 90); Victor Pálsson (Andri Alexandersson 75), Skúli Friðgeirsson (Hjørtur Valgarðsson 45); Kristinn Halldórsson (Arnar Garðarsson 90), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson; Arnór Smárason, Kolbeinn Sigþorsson. Unused Substitutes :- Gísli Helgason, Ingólfur Helgason (GK). Bookings :- None Possession :- 49% - 51%. Shots On(Off) Target :- 7(11) - 3(0). Man of the Match :- Peter Orry Larsen (Norway Under-19's). That wasn't the worst result or performance in the world, and it could be argued that if I hadn't made the decision to bring on a couple of younger players, we might well have got a draw out of that game. In a competitive match, I would take critism like that squarely on the chin. But in a Friendly age group International, with nothing on it, I felt it was right to give two of our brighter young prospects a taste of the action. Maybe Vigfús Rúnarsson was at fault for the winning goal, but he is only just 16, and he will get over it. He's a tough kid. Tomorrow is another day.....but the day after is a really big day.......
  14. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Friday 29th July 2011 The bread and butter of the League season begins tomorrow afternoon, but we are huge underdogs for an opening day win as we prepare to travel to relegated side, Partick Thistle, the Title favourites for 2011/12. It was interesting to read in the build up that I was described as Ayr United's 'under pressure' manager. It was certainly news to me, and there was nothing to support that wording at all at this point. I would be surprised if tomorrow had a big bearing on it either, as we were 4/1 to take the points from Firhill. During the summer, Thistle had peformed quite a major squad overhaul, but they had certainly managed to bring in some quality players. In my press conference, I lied through my teeth, and told the media that I was very content with the way our summer and build up had gone. Saturday 30th July Scottish League Second Division Firhill, Glasgow Partick Thistle v Ayr United Attendance :- 1,592. Weather :- Dry, 29c. Stephen Grindlay returns to our net after his suspension, replacing Zannetos Mytides who did nothing wrong in his debut for the club last weekend. That change is the only one I have made from the Challenge Cup victory in Dumbarton a week ago. Thistle have three debutants today, and another two sitting on the bench, while we also have three players making their League debuts for the club, with four more sitting in the dugout. Thistle get the kind of crowds that our Board would love to see us achieve, though we'll see if they continue at this level when winter bites in a few months time. The hosts play three at the back, and then five across midfield, and it was causing us some early problems, as two debutants linked up. Jonathan Hayes curled the ball down the left channel, and Nicky Ajose showed a clean pair of heels to Ciaran Foy, but the angle was too sharp for him, and Stephen Grindlay easily kicked it away from his near post. Another debutant would also test out keeper in the opening ten minutes, Rory McAllister letting go of a snap shot from just outside the box, Grindlay turned that one over the top. But we then started to get to grips with their five man midfield, and Archie Campbell missed the best chance of the game so far in the 25th minute, heading over from five yards out when Peggy Lokando picked him out with a cross. A few minutes later though, we had the lead. Aidan O'Kane sent over a corner to the near post, and midfielder Gary Harkins lost his bearings completley, trying to head the ball back behind the goal, and instead watching as it flew into the top corner of his own net. That was a bit of a surprise, and we looked to capitalise on it by getting a second, Aaron McElwee letting a long range effort go, his shot beating David Forde but just missing the target. We continued to turn the screw, Daryl Fordyce stinging Forde's hand with a shot from the edge of the box, before failing to test the keeper at all with a better chance from closer range. We would pay for our wastefulness too, as in first half injury time, McElwee and Steven McKeown clashed in our box as a corner was being delivered, and the ref awarded a penalty, David Partridge booked for his protest, while I just shook my head on the touchline. It was a very soft decision. McKeown ignored the goings on around him, and with the clock showing the fifth minute of injury time, he dispatched the penalty low into the bottom corner to level this match up. 'You had them on the ropes, and you let them out of the corner. Put them back there, and we can make a real statement today!' It didn't look like it was quite going to go that way early in the second half though, Danny Mills sending in a through ball, and McAllister lashed the ball into the bottom corner, but the assistant raised his flag, McAllister hadn't quite held his run long enough. Thankfully, our boys tightened up the defence considerably after that let off, and they showed they weren't afraid to put in some tackles as they closed down Thistle at every opportunity, both McElwee and Fordyce getting a little over zealous, and seeing their names added to the ref's naughty list. We had to make a change to our back four with just over twenty minutes left, David Partridge taking a knock, and replaced by debutant Laurence Gaughan. Ten minutes later I would have to summon more replacements, Ryan McStay took a knock, and McElwee was walking a fine line with the ref, they were replaced by Noel Anderson and Ryan Stevenson. It was clear that Thistle weren't prepared to risk much to go for the three points, and when Archie Campbell and James McLean both passed up late chances to cross the ball into the box, it was clear we had settled for a point as well. Partick Thistle (1) 1 - Steven McKeown (45+5 pen) Ayr United (1) 1 - Gary Harkins (29 og) Stephen Grindlay; Ciaran Foy, David Partridge (capt - inj - Laurence Gaughan 69), Andrew Hageman, Aidan O'Kane; Ryan McStay (inj - Noel Anderson 79), Aaron McElwee (Ryan Stevenson 79); Peggy Lokando, James McLean; Daryl Fordyce, Archie Campbell. Unused Substitutes :- Arsenio Halfhuid, Adam Vickers. Bookings :- David Partridge 45+4, Daryl Fordyce 62, Aaron McElwee 73 Possession :- 45% - 55%. Man of the Match :- Nick Phinn (Partick Thistle). I'll happily take a point from a very tricky opening to our League fixture list. On another day, we could have left Glasgow with all three points, or maybe just with a different striker. Daryl Fordyce has netted nine in nineteen in all competitions since he arrived at the club. It's not a shabby return by any means, but with the chances he has missed, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that his return should be even greater. Then there was the penalty award. When questioned about it, I told the press that while I knew I shouldn't be answering the question, I have to say that I thought the ref got the decision wrong. Predictably, it landed me a warning from the Scottish FA, and I was told that they don't expect to have to tell me again that they don't take kindly to managers critisicing referee's decisions in the public domain. Sunday 31st July A day of rest, and of good news. The ticket office have confirmed that the club have sold 797 season tickets for the season at a cost of £142 each. The number is a decent increase on the 750 we sold last season considering that there has been no real increase in our reputation or status. The other piece of news is that new Club Captain and Icelandic International centre back Olafur Örn Bjarnason, will return to training tomorrow following his knee injury.
  15. neilhoskins77

    (FM'09) A 'United' Front - A Chance To Rewrite History Part II

    Saturday 23rd July 2011 Scottish League Challenge Cup, First Round Strathclyde Homes Stadium, Dumbarton Dumbarton v Ayr United Attendance :- 457. Weather :- Dry, 27c. If ever there was an indication that I wasn't quite sure about all the pieces to the big jigsaw I have brought in, it was the selection on the bench for this match of Ryan Stevenson, who didn't play a single minute of our Pre-Season schedule. Stephen Grindlay is suspended today, which means a debut for the club for goalkeeper Zannetos Mytides. The injury to Olafur Örn Bjarnason means that David Partridge and Andrew Hageman are teamed together at centre back. I do really like my midfield duo of Aaron McElwee and new signing Ryan McStay, who debuts against his former club today, though I do worry that there may be a lack of steel there. Despite some severe new competition for his place, Peggy Lokando keeps his spot on the right wing. I still consider the strikers berths to be my problem area, and today we're going with Daryl Fordyce paired with one of our new signings, Archie Campbell. We got a bit of a lucky break very early on, as Dumbarton were forced into a change inside two minutes, with influential midfielder Matt Somner injured. From there on in, there was an air of it being our day. Ryan McStay only missed out on a debut goal by inches when he drove a shot across goal, but they couldn't keep us out for long, Aidan O'Kane drifting in a corner, and Andrew Hageman powered home a header for our opening goal of the day and the season. When we continued to attack, and both Archie Campbell and Aaron McElwee only narrowly missed the target, it was starting to look like a question of how many. Daryl Fordyce would waste a prime chance to extend that lead, getting one on one with his marker in the box, and making room for a shot, but firing right at Gavin Harty. And we would suffer our own injury issue just after the half hour mark, with Peggy Lokando going off, replaced by Noel Anderson, who would play in the middle with McElwee moving out to the right wing. But after Dumbarton wasted a glorious chance to equalise when Anthony O'Shea failed to capitalise on a long ball over our defence, we would punish them in injury time. It would come from a corner again, O'Kane sending this one to the far post, Will Grocott and James McLean both went for the ball, it spun away from them, and Fordyce lashed it into the top corner with a superb finish. As starts to the season go, I was particularly happy with how we were dealing with this potential banana skin, especially considering our sketchy form in Pre-Season. Things continued to go very much our way in the second half, starting with what would have been the most spectacular of own goals, as Harty had to tip the ball over his own cross bar after Darren Kelly hugely overhit a backpass from the halfway line. The home keeper would have to earn his money again midway through the half when Archie Campbell chased down a long ball and then twisted and turned to knot up a defender, before hitting his shot that Harty turned over the bar. Right after Noel Anderson just missed the target in the 73rd minute, I used my second change, McLean replaced by Ryan Stevenson, last seasons skipper asked to play out on the left wing. I then used my final change in the 84th minute, with McElwee replaced by a debutant in Dutch utility player Arsenio Halfhuid, with both wingers withdrawn into wide midfielder roles. That wouldn't stop us getting another goal though, as with a minute left on the scoreboard, Fordyce intercepted the ball and picked out Stevenson. The sub worked hard to keep the ball with a pair of defenders around him, and then moved it onto his right foot on the edge of the box, before picking out the corner with a curling shot, his first goal for us since I arrived at the club. Dumbarton (0) 0 Ayr United (2) 3 - Andrew Hageman (7), Daryl Fordyce (45+2), Ryan Stevenson (89) Zannetos Mytides; Ciaran Foy, David Partridge (capt), Andrew Hageman, Aidan O'Kane; Ryan McStay, Aaron McElwee (Arsenio Halfhuid 84); Peggy Lokando (inj - Noel Anderson 31), James McLean (Ryan Stevenson (73); Daryl Fordyce, Archie Campbell. Unused Substitutes :- Laurence Gaughan, Adam Vickers. Bookings :- None Possession :- 47% - 53%. Man of the Match :- Andrew Hageman (Ayr United). That really could not have gone much better for us, and the news that Peggy Lokando took nothing more than a stinger was the cherry on the cake, an ice bag on the bus home would be all that the Congo International winger would require this time. The Board don't consider this competition as particularly important, but the fans have a different point of view when it comes to the Cups. They have seen their club win just four cup ties in the last three seasons, which isn't a lot when you consider they have entered three Cup competitions in each of those seasons. The fans would love a Cup run, and I've got some pedigree for Cup runs from my time in Northern Ireland. Sunday 24th July It's expected that things will be considerably tougher for us next Saturday, when we begin our Second Division campaign with a trip to the favourites for promotion, Partick Thistle, who were relegated from last seasons First Division after a poor performance in their Relegation Playoff. And when the draw was made for the Second Round of the Scottish League Challenge Cup later in the day, we were pitted against another relegated side. Clyde had really struggled in the Premier Division, and their spell in the top tier would last just the one season. They are still dealing with the fall out from that relegation, and they will travel to play us on Tuesday 9th August, which will become our first home game of the campaign now, and it will be the start of a welcome run of four home matches after four successive away matches. After overcoming an attempt to put us on the end of a giant killing, we now have the chance to try and perform one of our own. Monday 25th July We miss out on a chance to improve our centre back options, as Portuguese defender Filipe has rejected our offer after he failed to agree new terms with Darlington. He has instead opted to join Coca-Cola League One side Leyton Orient, who are rebuilding after they were relegated from the Championship last season. Their offer to the 26 year old left footer was nearly three times what we could put together. We were however more successful in managing to increase the Scottish contingent on our playing staff. 19 year old centre midfielder Shaun Smith was one of the two former Dundee players who we were keeping an eye on at the Scottish Trial match, and now he has agreed to join us. He played eleven times over three seasons with the Dens Park club, and might be able to help us with adding a bit of steel and aggression to the middle of our side as well, without compromising our skill levels too much. He is assigned to our Reserves to start with at least, he needs to build up his fitness after missing Pre-Season. Once again, Gary Teale and the fans express their delight at our success in bringing another quality young player on board. Wednesday 27th July With the club doing quite well from a financial standpoint, I have no qualms about offering the players an improved bonus scheme to win the League this season when sitting around the table with the squad representatives. The Cup bonus remains at a normal level. Celtic begin Scotland's assault on the UEFA Champions League this evening as they enter the competition in the Second Qualifying Round. They don't get the easiest of draws, as they are paired with the surprise Runner's-Up from the Dutch Eredivisie, in the form of sc Heerenveen. It didn't seem to go too badly in the Abe Lenstra Stadion though, as Celtic raced into a 3-0 lead inside 52 minutes, Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink netting the third. Matthew Amoah pulled one back late on for the home side, but it would be a shock to see The Hoops chuck this one away now. Thursday 28th July The second of the former Dundee players we were interested in has also now signed for us. This one will provide increased competition for Peggy Lokando's place, as it's right winger Chris Maxwell who arrives at the club. Also 19 years old, he rejected a move to Sligo Rovers of the Irish Premier Division to join us. Unlike Smith, the winger failed to make a Senior debut during his time with Dundee, he did however make an International bow for Scotland's Under-19 side. The only thing missing from Maxwell's game is a lack of some top notch pace, however, with our wingers playing further up the park, that may not be too much of an issue. He is tricky, an excellent crosser and dribbler, and he can score when the chance presents itself too. Against the odds, both of Scotland's current representatives have progressed into the next stage of the UEFA Europa League. After winning the First Leg 2-1 in the Highlands, there was a real danger of Inverness going out on away goals after László Bodnár levelled the tie a few minutes before half time. But the 40 times capped Hungarian defenders goal wouldn't be enough for Austria Vienna, as Jordan Robertson netted in the 76th minute in front of nearly 8,000 to move Calley Thistle into the next round. That was nothing compared to the performance Falkirk put in on their trip to Romania after losing the First Leg by the odd goal in three. Daniel Gordon levelled the tie on the half hour, and then six minutes later Dutch defender Gerard Aafjes put the Scottish side in front overall. They weren't done there though, as Leigh Griffiths and Carl Finnigan notched two minutes apart early in the second half to see 'The Bairns' through to the next round in impressive fashion.