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neilhoskins77

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  1. Was this new story inspired by a tough weekend by any chance Mr Wilson? ;-)
  2. Welcome dtown. Definitely an interesting looking start. Best of luck with this one.
  3. Monday 1st February 2016 February will bring a mix of League and Cup football for us this month. We'll start with a pair of away trips, first to Limavady United for a place in the last eight of the Northern Irish Cup, followed by a trip to Carrick Rangers in the League. That's followed by a pair of home games, with Distillery visiting in the League before we then host Oxford United Stars in the Quarter-Finals of the Intermediate Cup. Should we beat Limavady in the opening game of the month, we could then be playing a fifth game at the end of the month for a place in the Semi-Finals of the Northern Irish Cup. Gerard Doherty takes his usual and predictable place in the First Division Team of the Week, where he is joined by left winger Matty Robson. There is no award for me this week, as I'm beaten to the January Manager of the Month Award by Carrick Rangers boss Stephen Small after his club won all four of their League matches to open 2016. There is some good news, with the Board declaring themselves 'pleased' with the way things are going at the club, as we edge closer each week to a return to the top tier of domestic football. There is a loss of £13,000 in January, with the club now £331,000 in debt. We have now made a loss of over £100,000 this season so far. I hope the prize money for getting promoted is ridiculously extravagant..... Friday 5th February Tomorrow isn't just Northern Irish Cup Sixth Round day, but it's also Derby Day in our part of the world. Our record against near neighbours Limavady United is excellent during the history of this save, with three wins and two draws from five meetings. We're heavy favourites to make that a half dozen without defeat to our rivals tomorrow afternoon, despite the last two meetings ending in 1-1 draws. It's too late for either to be considered for tomorrows game, but there is good news on the injury front for our rearguard today as well, with both Stewart Devine and Ryan Young able to return to training today after groin and thigh injuries respectively. Saturday 6th February Derby Day and Cup Sixth Round day all rolled into one. And the day gets off to a cracking start as well, with our Under-18 side thumping Linfield's youngsters 4-0 at The Showgrounds, thanks in no small part to Darren Doyle netting a hatrick in the Group 1 clash that sees our lads now just five points from top and sat in fourth place. Doyle had a new strike partner today in the form of Joseph Nixon, who scored the fourth. The usual duo of Doyle and Martin Friars were split up, with the latter moved into the Senior Squad for today's main event. Northern Irish Cup, Sixth Round The Limavady Showgrounds, Limavady Limavady United v Coleraine Attendance :- 562. Weather :- Gusty, 7c. Club Captain and midfielder Keith Steenson is dropped for this one, relegated to the substitutes bench to allow Gavin Whelan to return to the starting lineup and partner with Michael McCartney who was man of the match last time out in the win away to PSNI. Young first year striker Martin Friars is called up from the Under-18 Squad today, and sits on the substitutes bench, as he did when he made his Senior Debut in a League match earlier in the season. United play with a five across the midfield that has historically caused us some issues in breaking down. But they very nearly broke us down very early on, Martin Dickey playing David Cleary clean in on goal in the box, but he pulled his shot wide. Speaking of pulling something, young left back Lee Mooney looked like he did just that in the build up of a passage of play that led to Andy McMillan sending a shot whistling past the top corner. Mooney is the cover for Stewart Devine, and with no natural replacement on the bench, Michael Hassan is called upon to play out of position at left back. There was still a Mooney involved in the game though, Sean Mooney's eyes would have lit up when Denny Ford's corner delivery drifted towards him, but Gerard Doherty came off his line in commanding fashion and took the ball with both hands from the forwards head. Before the break, Tony Jones had to make a perfectly timed challenge just inside his own box on John Lamb to stop the midfielder breaking in on goal, before Paul Anderson, one of the leading scorers in domestic football, was played into space in the box, but he made a mess of the chance, failing to hit the target. With our usual pass and possession game being thwarted by United's number in midfield, I make changes to try and find a way through, moving us to three centre backs, the wingers less advanced than usual and with Jones playing on the right flank, and Chris Johnston going up front with McMillan and Gerry Nixon just behind the front two. But it was still United creating the best of the chances, a Cleary throw-in was hooked goalwards by Mark Bain, scraping the far post on it's way through the goalmouth. Anderson then missed the target with chances either side of the hour mark, before a cross through our goalmouth from the United right was dealt with by Jones who steered it away from a waiting Sean Brennan. At the other end, Gavin Whelan went close twice from range within minutes of each other, both efforts not quite dipping enough to trouble keeper Jonathan McDowell. I made another change with less than ten minutes to play, Nixon brought off for Keith Steenson, who would move into the midfield and allow Whelan to move into the area behind the strikers which is a pretty natural position for him. With seconds remaining of the ninety minutes, Matty Robson persuaded Chris Parkinson to foul him unnecessarily near the corner flag, Whelan sweeping a cross towards the far post where Johnston thought he was being held unfairly, the ref waving play on, and we would head into an extra half hour of play to find a winner. Bain blew a shot high and wide early in the extra session after bring setup by a knock down from sub Aaron Windrum, but we had bigger problems to worry about. We had already lost one defender to injury today, and now we were another down as Declan O'Hara was unable to continue. My substitution selection was bold, moving Tony Jones into a back three that now only had one specialist centre back, Johnston out to the right wing, and young Martin Friars coming on up front for us. Within in a minute we were in trouble, Richard Mason sending a drifted pass from the left wing to the far side of the box, and Simon Turkington brought the ball down, Andy Dickinson managing to slide into his sight line just enough to distract him and he sent the shot wide of the target. As time started to ebb away, not many people beat McMillan in the air, but the striker was beaten to a beautiful Robson cross that was just begging to be headed home. There was still time for Windrum to blast a shot goalwards that Doherty had to get a strong hand to and keep out. When we got a free kick late on near the left corner of the penalty box, Jones would infuriate his team mates by resisting the calls to cross the ball, and instead scooping a shot high over the bar. Penalties it would be then...... United were up first, and Turkington went for power, blasting his spot kick high into the roof of the net. For us, it was regular penalty taker Jones first, and he took a different route, keeping his shot low and right inside the post to leave McDowell with no chance. Brennan was next, left footed, and right in the corner giving Doherty no chance either despite diving the right way. Gavin Whelan replied, throwing caution to the wind and lashing his shot into the top corner right under the cross bar. 2-2. Substitute Chris Parkinson was next, getting some luck as he scuffed his shot somewhat, but Doherty had already gone the other way and it rolled in. Robson was next, our winger coolly picked out the opposite top corner to Whelan while taking a less powerful approach, going for accuracy and nailing it. Round four, and Mason and Johnston traded successful spot kicks, each picking out the opposite bottom corner. Into the final round then, and a miss at last, Mooney sending his penalty well over the bar. That meant that a successful next spot kick would send us into the last eight. Michael McCartney scored his first goal for the club last time out, and now he had another chance to be a hero. Not this time though, as his effort left McDowell stranded, but came back off the foot of the upright. Sudden Death time then, and Bain calmly picked his corner to heap the pressure onto us this time, and the Club Captain was next, Keith Steenson. He looked visibly nervous as he stepped up, no worries though as his shot wasn't quite in the corner, but had enough power to beat McDowell's dive. The pressure moved back to the other side then, and too much for another substitute, as Windrum pulled his penalty wide with Doherty already diving in the other direction. A second match point then, and this time in the hands of centre back Andy Dickinson. Safe hands indeed, a low left footed strike into the bottom corner, and the penalty marathon was over, and we're in the draw for the Quarter-Finals! Limavady United (0) 0 Coleraine (0) 0 (after extra time - Coleraine win 6-5 on penalties) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara (inj - Martin Friars 110), Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney (inj - Michael Hassan 9); Michael McCartney, Gavin Whelan ©; Chris Johnston, Matty Robson; Gerry Nixon (Keith Steenson 82), Andy McMillan. Unused Substitutes :- Robert Donaghy, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 44% - 56%. Man of the Match :- Richard Mason (Limavady United). So a close game, on a day when not one of the eight Northern Irish Cup Sixth Round matches was won by more than a single goal. Only two third tier teams remained in action, and both pushed Premier Division visitors all the way today. Tobermore United lost 2-1 against Glenavon, while Oxford United Stars went even closer to causing a huge upset, only losing to current Cup holders Glentoran on penalties. One non-league club remained, and they are now also out, no disgrace for Ballyclare as they are beaten 1-0 away to Distillery. There were defeats for two First Division clubs away to top tier opposition, Carrick Rangers and Donegal Celtic losing to Portadown (1-0) and Dundela (2-1) respectively. There was one other all-First Division contest apart from our own, and home advantage saw Bangor squeeze past Armagh City by a 1-0 scoreline. The final tie was the only all-Premier Division tie, and saw my old side Lurgan Celtic crash out 1-0 away to Dungannon. The cost of progress to the Quarter-Finals of the Cup? Pretty high. Declan O'Hara has pulled a hamstring, and the veteran centre back who has helped to shore up our defence this season is now on the sidelines for five or six weeks, meaning he will now miss some crucial games as we attempt to secure the Title. Also out for a spell on the sidelines is 16 year old left back Lee Mooney, who has settled nicely into the First Team picture, but will miss around three weeks with a less severe groin strain. This means our hopes of being able to ease the returning Ryan Young and Stewart Devine back into action are out of the window, and both will be required sooner rather than later. On the plus side, I am told that 23 year old Scottish striker and our top scorer this season, Stuart Shaw, will be ready to return to training on Monday. The final act of a pretty busy Saturday is the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Northern Irish Cup. And it's not a draw that is kind to us. We're last of the eight involved clubs to be drawn, which immediately tells you that we're going to be heading away from home again. This time, we've drawn one of the big guns, as we will be headed into Belfast and The Oval to face twenty five times domestic Champions and twenty times Cup winners, including last seasons competition, Glentoran. We have played each other three times in Cup Finals alone, but our record against them in the history of this save is poor, with only two wins over them in 22 attempts. The game has been set for a Wednesday evening in early March. Elsewhere Distillery will host Dundela, while Bangor travel to Portadown in the other First Division v Premier Division ties, while there is also one all-top tier matchup, Glenavon with host Dungannon. Tuesday 9th February No time to rest up after that Extra Time session on the weekend, as we're pitched right back into action again tomorrow night, and another road trip too. It's just over an hour South East and from the North Coast to the the North East costal town of Carrickfergus, where we will be hosted by fourth placed Carrick Rangers. In nine historical meetings between the clubs, we have five wins and two draws, though that doesn't necessarily act as a form guide. We have played them three times already this season, and won all of them, including a 1-0 win away to them in the Second Leg of our League Cup Second Round tie. As always, we'll be the favourites again for this trip. My early attempt to get a jump on the summer goalkeeper market has failed today. 27 year old Nottingham born and former Forest youngster, Paddy Gamble, is underpaid and underappreciated by his current employers, Braintree Town. Out of contract in the summer, and his club unwilling or unable to offer their keeper the wage he wants, I offered him a deal to cross the Irish Sea and potentially play top tier football next season. He's declined that offer, which is a shame, as he has been outstanding this season in the Blue Square North, and has helped his club top the table with clean sheets in almost half of his game, and an average rating well over the 7.00 mark. Wednesday 10th February Northern Irish First Division Taylor's Avenue, Carrickfergus Carrick Rangers v Coleraine Attendance :- 243. Weather :- Dry, 7c. Changes are needed after that extra time and penalty effort in the Cup on the weekend, and the injuries that we suffered. Stewart Devine is forced back into action only days after returning to training, and starts at left back. Ryan Young isn't risked from the start, though he is on the substitutes bench along with Stuart Shaw. So at centre back today with Andy Dickinson is the skipper Keith Steenson, who edges out Robert Donaghy to earn the start. There is one other change too, and that's at left wing, where Ryan Twist gets a rare start in place of the tired Matty Robson. Young left back Jason Campbell is called up from the Youth side to provide cover at left back from the bench. We put Carrick under immediate pressure in this game, particularly from set pieces. Gavin Whelan whipped in a free kick from near the corner flag on the left that Jason van Matre didn't deal with so well, his header could have gone anywhere, fortunately just clearing his own goal frame. From that corner, Whelan struck a vicious low half volley from the edge of the box that struck Evan Moran and deflected away for another corner. At the second time of asking though, Stewart Devine found his man, picking out Keith Steenson around eight yards out who got goal side of van Matre and powered home a downward header for his first goal of the season in the 9th minute. Immediately after the goal, the complexion of the game changed, with Rangers on the front foot. Scott Winton's cross just missed his strikers, Gary Nelson's long range drive was ambitious, but not too far away from the top corner. The same couldn't be said of Jim Magee's poor shot from 25 yards out. The fact they were shooting from that far out was good news though, and we successfully got to the break with our early lead intact. Rangers made a change up front at the break, and the pattern that had formed since our goal would continue into the second half, Winton's dipping shot didn't dip enough to trouble Gerard Doherty. Winton was getting himself involved though, and the hosts thought they should have had a penalty when his cross was headed clear by Michael McCartney, who they believed committed a foul getting ahead of one of the Rangers strikers. We got another warning shot just after the hour when two subs combined, Matt Stedman heading the ball down to Paul Wilson who struck the bouncing ball from 25 yards out that thumped back off the cross bar. The warning wasn't heeded though, and in the 65th minute a long throw into the box from Jim Arthur saw Steenson outmatched against Stedman, and while our skipper got his head on the ball, he only managed to flick it on towards the far post, where we were mismatched again, Winton climbing above Devine and sending a header inside the near post to square the game back up. Winton continued to cause us trouble, a cross dinked to the far post from the right picked out Moran, who's first touch thankfully wasn't good enough and Doherty smothered the ball at his feet. I didn't like the way things looked, and brought on fresher legs, Matty Robson and Stuart Shaw replacing Ryan Twist and Gerry Nixon. The pair immediately got into the game, and Dean Dixon had to tip over a swirling cross from Robson that may have found it's way into the top corner. Devine was substituted off in the 82nd minute, the returning left back visibly starting to tire, and Jason Campbell would take his place. But Carrick would themselves be too tired to take advantage of our weary legs, and the spoils would be shared here this evening. Stuart Shaw would limp off early in injury time, but thankfully there didn't appear to be any lasting damage for the Scotsman. Carrick Rangers (0) 1 - Scott Winton (65) Coleraine (1) 1 - Keith Steenson (9) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Keith Steenson ©, Andy Dickinson, Stewart Devine (Jason Campbell 82); Michael McCartney, Gavin Whelan; Chris Johnston, Ryan Twist (Matty Robson 70); Gerry Nixon (Stuart Shaw 70 - (inj - 90+1)), Andy McMillan. Unused Substitutes :- Ryan Young, John Robertson. Bookings :- None. Possession :- 47% - 53%. Man of the Match :- Keith Steenson (Coleraine). Our unbeaten League run stretches to eleven games, and Limavady United were the only ones to take advantage of our dropped points, as they won 2-1 at home to Ballymena United to move by Distillery and away from Carrick up into second place, eleven points behind us with nine matches still to play. If we can keep pushing on and win the Title and the single automatic promotion spot early, there is going to be an almighty scrap for second place and the Promotion Playoff spot that comes with it. We will play our last League game for three weeks this coming Saturday, as we host Distillery at The Showgrounds, and attempt to get ourselves back to winning ways before we return to Cup action.
  4. Wednesday 1st December 2010 We head into the last month of the year, and it is not exactly the full festive Christmas fixture list that most clubs in the UK have to deal with. There are just two fixtures for us this month, on consecutive weekends in the middle of the month. Both are winnable games, and we are hoping that if we can win both, we can head into the New Year top of the pile. The Board are very happy with how things are going at the club right now. And why wouldn't they be? We are certainly in the running to get promoted, and our bank balance has swelled to close to a quarter of a million pounds thanks to a few successful days at the bookmakers, and the stadium selling out every time we play a home match. Friday 3rd December -------------------- THE BET nPower Championship Burnley v Millwall - Home Win - 4/7 nPower League One Peterborough United v Carlisle United - Home Win - 4/7 nPower League Two Bury v Barnet - Home Win - 4/5 Treble Odds - 3.44/1 Stake - £30,000 Balance After Bet Placed - £215,133 Total Returns (Including Stake) - £133,347 -------------------- The first bet of December, with quite a few Leagues now on their Winter Breaks and despite mixed results when betting domestically, I've plumped for three home bankers in the Football League. Two of them are top of their Divisions, Burnley and Peterborough United. Two are playing teams much further down the League than themselves. Burnley are probably the toughest of the trio, with Millwall sitting seventh, though they have been drawn specialists, while Burnley have won five of their last six. A good sized bet at £30,000, and a return of over £100,000 profit if the bet lands. Saturday 4th December BET RESULT Burnley 3-2 Millwall Peterborough United 2-0 Carlisle United Bury 3-1 Barnet WIN That's a great way to kick off December. Bury had us worried early on when Barnet took an early lead. But it was all square by the break, and a pair of second half goals did the job. It was slightly more comfortable in the East of England, where a pair of goals around the half hour mark settled the outcome early on at London Road, as Carlisle never looked likely to cause Peterborough too many problems. It was far from comfortable at Turf Moor though, where we were made to sweat it out for the bet. Burnley went in front early, only for Millwall to equalise midway through the first half. But midway through the second half, it was Burnley back in front, only to see Millwall to equalise again with only four minutes to go. Fortunately, the heads didn't go down from Eddie Howe's side with our bet very much in the balance. And with only seconds to play in the ninety minutes, they found a goal to break Millwall hearts, and give our bank balance a big lift! Monday 6th December We already have one of the best defences in the Division, but an attempt to bring in a player that would likely have improved our options has failed. 18 year old Canadian Youth International centre back Derrick Bassi was released by Middlesbrough in the summer, but as a British passport holder he has stayed in the country. He rejected amateur contract terms from both ourselves and AFC Totton, and remains a free agent player. Friday 10th December A quiet week, and we're back in action finally tomorrow afternoon. An away trip to face Hayle in the first of back to back weekend games to complete our 2010 calendar of matches. Predictably we are heavy favourites for the 25 mile trip down the coast. I tell the press that I'm hoping we can continue to see an improvement in our form, but don't answer any questions about my tactical plans for the match. -------------------- THE BET Belgian Pro League AA Gent v Charleroi - Home Win - 4/7 nPower Championship Norwich City v Preston North End - Home Win - Evens German Bundesliga Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim - Home Win - Evens Treble Odds - 3.94/1 Stake - £30,000 Balance After Bet Placed - £318,480 Total Returns (Including Stake) - £148,163 -------------------- I'm taking a bit more of a risk this week. None of the three teams I'm betting on have won any of their last two matches. All are playing in games that they should really win, but because of their defeats or draws in their recent form, I'm getting better odds than I would normally get on them. It's a risk that if it pays off, would put our bank balance up close to the half a million mark. For me, a risk worth taking for sure. Saturday 11th December South West Peninsula League, Division One West Trevassack Park, Hayle Hayle v AFC Newquay Despite being away from home, I switch us to the narrow 4-3-3 tactic that we finished the game with last time out a few weeks ago against Camelford. That leaves an odd man out in the midfield, which is Lewis Oliver, who is dropped from the starting lineup to allow Kasper Hansen to join Steve Magee and Michael Smyth up front. In pouring rain and a heavy winter pitch, Ross Linney fired a low percentage shot from range well off target as we approached the quarter of an hour mark of a game that started very quietly. There would be almost half an hour on the clock before the next chance came along, this time at the other end of the park. From just inside the Hayle half, Jimmy Harte dissected the home defence with a perfectly played diagonal through ball that picked out Steve Magee. The striker made a great first touch too, but keeper Matt Johnson is credited for getting off his line very quickly, taking away the angle and blocking the attempt to slide a low shot beyond him. It looked like that would be all the goalmouth action for the first half, but Harte sent a shot in from 25 yards that was right down the throat of Johnson, before Kasper Hansen jumped on the ball when a defender got it stuck around his feet, the Danish striker drawing the keeper out before firing at goal and just missing the top corner. With weather conditions not really suiting our style of play today, I encouraged my players to be a little more direct if necessary to try and break down our hosts. That immediately saw us have some chances, Tom Murray and Lee Hales having shots blocked before Hansen hooked an effort wide of the target. We weren't having things all our own way however, and Lee Oakes whipped in a 55th minute free kick to the far post, picking out the completely unmarked centre back Ashley Welsh, his header powered at goal and bringing out a reaction save from keeper Elliot Jackson. They would pay for missing that chance just moments later, James Ives receiving the ball right back from Michael Smyth following a throw in, and launching a cross into the box that found Magee, who glanced a downward header past Johnson and inside the far post to put us ahead. Things looked to be going our way, with the game quietening down again in much the way it had started. But then an Oakes cross was blocked behind by Danny Howard for a corner, and the defender was so proud of himself that he forgot to follow up that work by picking up a man to defend the corner. Connor Friend sent the ball into the near post, and Linney slid in front of Howard across the soaking turf, and half volleyed the ball past a helpless Jackson to square the game back up with only a little over five minutes remaining. I made a pair of quick changes to get some fresh legs onto the park, but we failed to create the chance to win this one, and once more we have left points on the table. Hayle (0) 1 - Ross Linney (83) AFC Newquay (0) 1 - Steve Magee (58) Attendance :- 292 Elliot Jackson; James Ives, Joe Kennedy ©, James Taylor, Danny Howard; Jimmy Harte, Tom Murray, Lee Hales (Ollie Harrison 84); Kasper Hansen (Martin Prince 84), Michael Smyth, Steve Magee. Unused Substitutes :- Ferhat Selvi, Russell Sampson, Sam Farrell, Matthew Evans, Lewis Oliver. The fans are disappointed that we couldn't see the job through there, and they are not the only ones. Once more we have failed to pick up a three point haul that was well within our grasp, and all while leaders Mousehole found a late goal to win 2-1 at Callington Town who we host next week, and they have now extended their lead at the top of the table to four points with next weekend marking the halfway point of the campaign. It's not only the fans that are a bit miffed, the bookies have pushed out the odds dramatically now on us winning the Title this season, and it's hardly surprising with our inconsistent form. The media, who have given us plenty of coverage this season due to our new world way of making our finances, have also started to suggest we may be coming apart a bit, and are questioning if this project will continue should we fail to earn the promotion that everyone assumed would be a given this season. BET RESULT AA Gent 3-0 Charleroi Norwich City 1-2 Preston North End Bayern Munich 1-0 Hoffenheim LOST Our hopes of pushing our balance up close to a very healthy looking half a million pounds were ruined at Carrow Road, where Norwich City lost to Preston North End in a bad tempered game. The Canaries went a goal down very early, but equalised just after the halfway mark of the first half through the now 36 year old former Arsenal and France forward Sylvain Wiltord. But the damage was done just before the break, Andy D'Urso awarding Preston a spot kick that Paul Hayes netted for his second of the afternoon, before Norwich centre back Andrew Davies was shown a straight red card after appearing to throw an elbow, the second time he has received his marching orders in a Championship game this season. A losing bet caps a pretty disappointing weekend.
  5. Best of luck with this one Vossenoren. Great to see some newcomers to our little corner of the Boards.
  6. Being placed in a headlock by the other lads is one of your fond memories?! Man, your childhood must have sucked ;-)
  7. A new CFuller story makes it a good day on FMS. Great to have you back writing Chris. Best of luck with this one.
  8. Sunday 1st March 2015 Chelsea players take the top two spots in the Premier League Player of the Month for February stakes, with Xherdan Shaqiri edging our Oscar to take the award. And it's made a double when José Mourinho, who was said to be close to the sack not so many months ago, takes a second consecutive Manager of the Month honour. If March is as kind to The Blues as February was, then there could be more serious silverware on it's way to West London. Monday 2nd March The opening game of the month on Monday Night Football doesn't go Chelsea's way though. It looked like it would be their night on the South Coast at St Mary's Stadium, as Diego Costa and Xherdan Shaqiri had them two up inside twenty minutes against Southampton. But their lead wouldn't last, as Papiss Cissé halved it before the break, and then Shane Long levelled the game up just before the hour. Those dropped points mean Chelsea have been overtaken by Liverpool this match week, and they drop to fourth spot. Friday 6th March After Monday Night Football for Chelsea, it's now the Friday Night variety in South Wales for Cardiff City. There was another start for Davide at centre back as he edged closer to his big pay rise, and a vital three points for City to boot, though they absolutely tried their best to throw it away. Kim Bo-Kyung scored twice, with Kévin-Théophile-Catherine also netting in between the South Korean strikers efforts at home to Watford. With a three goal lead and a bit over half an hour to play, City should have been home and dry, but The Hornets started to swarm. Cyril Théréau scored just a minute after Bo-Kyung's second, and Zach Clough got another in the 77th minute. They couldn't quite find an equaliser though, and Watford dropped out of the Playoff places, while City jumped up into 19th place, and five points clear of the relegation zone. Saturday 7th March It's FA Cup Quarter-Final day, and in West London it's Chelsea who run riot at Stamford Bridge against near neighbours Fulham to take a spot in the last four. Diego Costa opened the scoring, with Oscar quickly adding a second, The Blues earning a two goal lead inside twenty minutes for the second time in less than a week. And the lead was threatened once again when Kostas Mitroglu pulled a goal back, only to see their team numbers shrunk when David Meyler was shown a straight red card just before the hour mark. Costa got his second from the spot less then five minutes later, and Eden Hazard wrapped up the win with a quarter of an hour to go. There was no Danilo in the squad today, and the youngster will need to force his way into the matchday squad if he is to secure a major honour should Chelsea go on to lift the Cup this season. Monday 9th March The draw is made for the FA Cup Semi-Finals this evening, and The Blues are paired to face Hull City next month for a place in the showpiece Final. In the other Semi-Final, we know that Blackburn Rovers will play in the last four, as they await the winner of the Quarter-Final Replay between West Bromwich Albion and Peterborough United. Wednesday 11th March Chelsea's busy schedule continues, and after progressing to the last four of the FA Cup, tonight in Germany they aim to progress in the UEFA Champions League as well. And things wouldn't go all their way in front of the famous Yellow Wall in Dortmund. The outstanding form of Xherdan Shaqiri continued as he opened the scoring in the 10th minute to extend The Blues aggregate lead out to two goals. The German giants would come roaring right back though, quickly through Ilkay Gündogan, and then early in the second half through Henrikh Mkhitaryan. All square, and into Extra Time we would go, where André Schürrle would put Chelsea back in front on aggregate six minutes in, also giving them the away goals advantage as well. An advantage that Dortmund could not overcome, even after John Terry was sent off in the second half of Extra Time, a late goal from Kevin Großkreutz levelled the tie, but Mourinho's men progress on the away goals rule. There was no less drama back in the UK, or Ewood Park in Blackburn to be precise. The home Rovers side are caught in no mans land as the season winds to a close, unlikely to be dragged back down into the relegation scrap, but too far away from a realistic hope of making the Promotion Playoffs. Tonight they hosted a Cardiff City side who would consider no mans land to be a success right now. City led early through Federico Macheda, only to see Jordan Rhodes fire an equaliser right on half time. Kim Bo-Kyung scored to put City back in front right from the restart, but Rhodes levelled things up once more, this time inside a minute. When Kévin Théophile-Catherine scored with just under twenty minutes remaining to put the visiting Bluebirds ahead for a third time, they were hoping this time it would be for keeps. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the case, as Rovers levelled once more through Tom Cairney with only six minutes to play, and the spoils were shared here. Saturday 14th March Cardiff City's luck didn't improve this afternoon as they travelled once again, this time to Reading. Unlike Blackburn, there is a still a strong possibility of Reading being involved in the Playoffs, and more so after they earned a 2-1 win in this match today. Davide was left on the bench to watch on as Kim Bo-Kyung scored in the opening sixty seconds to put the visitors ahead. It was a lead that lasted less than five minutes, as Nick Blackman fired an equaliser, and Welsh International striker Hal Robson-Kanu turned the game on it's head before the break with his sixth League goal of the campaign to earn Reading a win that leaves them 8th, and only three points outside the Playoffs. It's a different story for City, who are left 19th, but only two points above the drop zone as the pressure starts to ramp up on Sam Allardyce once more. Sunday 15th March Chelsea are still fighting on a few fronts for silverware this season, but the Premier League Title won't be theirs this year. Today their hectic schedule seemed to catch up with them a little bit, and they were held to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road by Leeds United. A goal early in the second half by Belarussian International forward Vitaliy Rodinov for the home side was cancelled out shortly afterwards by a curling strike from Oscar. The result sees The Blues remain in fourth, but they are being hunted down by the North London duo of Tottenham and Arsenal, with the latter having games in hand, and their top four spot could be under threat. Friday 20th March The next International Window is upcoming, but Danilo won't get the opportunity to add to his two Full International Caps for Wales. He has been left out of Chris Coleman's squad selection for the European Championship Qualifier away to Georgia and a home Friendly with Spain. Instead, he will get a chance to increase his Cap total for the Under-21's, where the double header is a pair of Friendlies, firstly at home in Swansea against Iran, followed by trip to Denmark. As well as International Squad Announcements, today is also the day of the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Champions League. You would imagine that José Mourinho and his Chelsea squad will be pretty happy with the outcome, as they are paired with French side Olympique Marseille. They'll certainly be happier than the other remaining English side in the competition, Manchester United, who face a tough task against the Italian giants of Juventus. The other two remaining ties see Atlético Madrid face AS Roma, while in perhaps the tie of the round, Bayern Munich will lock horns with Paris Saint-Germain. Saturday 21st March Chelsea may need to win this years Champions League just to be in the competition next season, as at a crucial point of the campaign, their form is starting to wane slightly. Crystal Palace were the visitors to Stamford Bridge in todays lunchtime kick off, and James McArthur gave Palace an early lead, which was wiped out by a Diego Costa goal close to half time. With just under ten minutes to play, Palace went ahead once again, Swedish striker Marcus Berg finding the net this time. The Blues would need to be rescued once more, and it was André Schürrle who provided the magic to earn them a draw with just four minutes left to play. Arsenal and Tottenham meet on Monday evening, and a Gunners win would leave them just a point behind Chelsea with two games in hand. Italy have today announced their Under-21 Squad for the Friendly at home to Portugal at the end of the month. Davide is included, giving him the chance to add to his six caps at that level. But that was the only real good news for him today, as despite playing very well from the start and edging closer to earning his big pay rise, his Cardiff City side were soundly beaten 3-1 at home to Nottingham Forest this afternoon. The Forest goals all came in the first half, and a very late Aron Gunnarsson consolation came long after many of The Bluebirds fans had left the Cardiff City Stadium. The result sees Forest move into an automatic promotion place, while City remain just two points outside the drop zone with seven games remaining. Tuesday 24th March Finally, there is a win for Cardiff City that will ease the pressure on them in their relegation scrap. There is no Davide in the matchday squad as he is away preparing for International Duty with Italy, but a goal in each half, firstly from Joe Mason and then after the break from a free kick by Magnus Wolff Eikrem, got the job done at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. It turned out to be a vital result, as several other clubs around them also picked up wins, and with six games now to play, they have moved on to 45 points, but are still only two points outside the drop zone. Thursday 26th March Danilo wins his fourth cap for Wales Under-21's at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea this evening. The 18 year old attacking forward played 68 minutes of the 2-1 win over their counterparts from Iran. The opener came from George Williams, who is contracted with Fulham but is currently on loan with Hamilton Academical in the Scottish Championship. The Iranian equaliser came fairly quickly, but Wales got their winner twenty minutes from time through another Fulham player, Jordan Evans. The Welsh team had to hold on in the dying minutes when Everton centre back James Graham was sent off with a few minutes to play. Monday 30th March The month ends in the South Western Italian town of Battipaglia, where the Italy Under-21's side take on Portugal. They come out of this Friendly with a 1-0 win, thanks to a very early goal from Parma's 18 year old striker Alberto Cerri, who scores on his debut at this level. There was only a cameo appearance for Davide, who came on in the 78th minute to earn his seventh cap at this level of International football. Things were the opposite way around for Danilo, who won his fifth cap as he started for Wales Under-21's and played 78 minutes of their 2-0 defeat against Denmark in Farum. The goals for the Danes came from Bayern Munich youngster Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Lasse Vigen, who is on the books at Southampton but is back on loan in his homeland with AC Horsens.
  9. Thursday 1st January 2009 So into the New Year we go, and a month that would see us play five League matches, including two against the teams above us in the table, games that would be crucial to us. One of the players from the top two clubs is Montrose full back Stephen Thomson, who has edged out our on loan striker Mark Archdeacon to be named Scottish Third Division Young Player of the Month for December. Over the last month, the Board have lost some faith in the job I'm doing at the club, and while my job is not considered to be under any threat at this point, the heavy loss against East Stirlingshire in November, combined with only one win through the month of December has led to a mood shift in the Boardroom. A big January is needed to get us back on track. Friday 2nd January Ross Clark has blown hot and cold for us this season. He has undoubted talent though, and I had no intention of letting the midfielders contract run down. The former Queens Park and Alloa Athletic man has inked an extension for another year at the club. This is all despite constant rumours that we are negotiating to bring in a new midfielder. We'll start our January schedule with a home game against a Cowdenbeath side who have been cast adrift from the top five who seem to be in play for the top four spots, at this point at least. They have lost their last three games, leaving us as the favourites for this one. Kieran McAnespie has returned to training today, but is not likely to be considered for selection this soon after his back injury. Saturday 3rd January It's the morning of the match, and we're informed by Morton that Kieran McAnespie is the subject of a contract offer from Dorchester Town. It was nice of them to let us know, they weren't obliged to do so as the offer is to sign him on a Free Transfer when his contract is up in the summer, and we're not even currently contributing to his £400 per week wages. We can't afford to sign him, and to be honest, he hasn't really shown us much to suggest he's worth the price tag. Dumbarton v Cowdenbeath Scottish League Third Division Strathclyde Homes Stadium We revert back to our regular 4-2-2-2 wide tactic, with Mark Canning moved back into the midfield, and Paul McLeod partnering Mark Archdeacon up front and Ross Clark on the bench. That lineup lasted less then five minutes, as a dead leg forced centre back Ben Gordon off after just three minutes, Guy Melamed coming on to replace him. And we should have been in front five minutes later, Archdeacon volleying the ball into the box, McLeod catching it on the half volley but pulling the effort wide. He would have another chance moments later after a great run by Ryan McStay, hitting the target this time only to see David Hay push the low shot around the post. John Gemmell blasted the ball well over the bar when Stephen Murray made the mistake of letting the ball bounce, and McStay picked up a booking as we remained goalless into the second half. Neat play on the left saw the ball moved just outside the box into the centre, where Gordon Lennon walked onto it and struck a curler with his weaker left foot that grazed the bar on it's way over. At the other end, Dave McEwan was forced into action to tip over a Marek Tomana drive from range, before the goalmouth action became secondary news. Graeme Brown sprayed a pass into the box, and McStay got there late. Not stupidly late, but too late for someone who'd already been booked, and our midfielder received his marching orders. That wouldn't stop us trying to pinch a goal though, despite McLeod being withdrawn for Clark and us going with one up front. Darren Barnard's inswinging corner was aimed at Archdeacon, who appeared to be wrestled to the turf by Jay Shields, the referee deeming there was no foul, and Murray was left to shoot, his shot blocked by Hay. No goals to be seen here on a frustrating day at the office. Dumbarton (0) 0 Cowdenbeath (0) 0 Dave McEwan; Gordon Lennon ©, Darren Barnard, Ben Gordon (inj - Guy Melamed 3), David Armstrong; Mark Canning, Ryan McStay (Sent Off 63); Derek Carcary, Stephen Murray; Paul McLeod (Ross Clark 64), Mark Archdeacon. Attendance :- 640. I'm not one hundred percent sure we got a fair shake there from referee Des Roache, I don't mean the sending off, Ryan McStay made a bad decision and was rightly given a second booking, and has been warned about his future discipline. But the failure to award a penalty a little later on when Mark Archdeacon was fouled was a poor decision from the ref. Fear of receiving a sanction or touchline ban meant I couldn't make any comment on this in the after match press conference. Montrose drop points too, as they are also held to a goalless draw away to Annan Athletic. But East Stirlingshire earn a 1-0 win in the Borders against Berwick Rangers, extending their lead to five points over Montrose in the process. We face both of the top two over the next fortnight. Now four games without a win, Ryan McStay will be suspended for next weekend's trip to Montrose, and Ben Gordon will be doubtful with a dead leg. And we won't have the new signing we were chasing either. 19 year old Icelandic Under-21 International centre midfielder Steinn Gunnarsson is out of contract at KA, who continue to pay him on a week to week deal. He was offered a chance to quadruple his wages by joining us, but he doesn't believe a move to the lower Divisions of Scottish football is the best move for his career at this point. Monday 5th January Kieran McAnespie has agreed a summer move from Scotland down to the South Coast in England, as he has signed for Dorchester Town, currently of the Blue Square South, but very much embroiled in a relegation fight, effective from the 2009/10 season. Wednesday 7th January So we know that McAnespie won't be here next season, and it's looking likely that 21 year old left wing back Patrick Boyle will be moving on as well. Shifted from the First Team picture by the arrival of Welsh veteran Darren Barnard, and without a contract offer to remain at the club beyond this season, he has now received an offer from Scottish Second Division club Alloa Athletic. Friday 9th January It's a big day tomorrow, as we travel to face rivals Montrose. As we move into the second half of the season, we have a four point deficit to overhaul on the Links Park club, who have already beaten us twice this campaign. Another defeat to them tomorrow would leave our automatic promotion dreams in tatters, and have us concentrating on making the Playoffs at best you would think. The bookies have this one as too close to call. Saturday 10th January Montrose v Dumbarton Scottish League Third Division Links Park, Montrose Ben Gordon failed a late fitness test, and Guy Melamed is brought in to replace him, while there is a new duo starting in midfield, with Don Hutchison and Ross Clark teaming up there. Darren Barnard drove a 10th minute free kick just wide of the mark, before Stephen Black's inswinging corner needed to be dealt with by Dave McEwan, the keeper touching the ball over the cross bar. Mark Archdeacon then missed the target with a driven shot that was aimed at the top corner. He would have a better chance at the end of a goalless first half though, Stephen Murray finding him in the box, and a low shot was blocked by Tony Bullock who was off his line quickly to give the striker nothing to aim at. We'd had the better of that first half, and started the second half on the front foot when Ross Clark curled a free kick around the wall, but just wide of the target. We did almost get caught on the counter attack though, Robbie Kelleher played in between our defenders and lifting his shot over McEwan, but also just over the bar. Archdeacon dragged another shot wide when Clark played him in on the hour, before Conor Devine lashed an effort high and wide at the other end. With fifteen minutes to play and two home players on bookings, Derek Carcary finally got a chance to stretch his legs down the right, but he couldn't pick out Murray in the box with the winger unmarked. McEwan would need to make another smart stop when sub John Maitland found the ball at his feet late on, while the man we hoped would be our own super sub, Jean-Pierre Papin, didn't get a sniff. A second consecutive goalless draw, this one more pleasing than the previous one though. Montrose (0) 0 Dumbarton (0) 0 Dave McEwan; Gordon Lennon ©, Darren Barnard, Guy Melamed, David Armstrong; Don Hutchison, Ross Clark (Mick Dunlop 82); Derek Carcary, Stephen Murray; Paul McLeod (Jean-Pierre Papin 82), Mark Archdeacon. Attendance :- 507. Guy Melamed put in a man of the match performance on a day when several scouts from south of the border were at the ground to watch Montrose's on loan left back Gordon Pope, who's performances during his spell at Links Park from Dundee United have English clubs queuing up to sign him. Now Melamed has also attracted some attention, with AFC Bournemouth and Mansfield Town both interested in the Israeli centre back. Two goalless draws to start the new year, and we are looking more difficult to beat than we have in previous weeks. But it is still now five League games without a win, and we go into next weeks clash with league leaders East Stirlingshire eight points behind them, and they now also have a game in hand on us.
  10. Monday 1st December 2008 December has five League games in the diary, including two in twenty four hours over the Christmas period. Hopefully a few wins this month will see us end 2008 in a better position to challenge for a Playoff spot at a minimum. A double strike from Jonny Howson at Northampton last midweek is enough to secure him a spot in the Coca-Cola League One Team of the Week. The club we are negotiating with to try and purchase my first new signing at the club have not had any other offers for their player. So they do the logical thing and try and squeeze us for a bit more cash. I raise my offer to meet their asking price this time, but I tell them not to come back asking for any more. The draw is made today for Round Three of the FA Cup. We are pulled from the velvet bag quite quickly, and at home. And we land ourselves a Premier League club as the visitors too, and a struggling one at that, as 16th placed West Bromwich Albion will travel to Elland Road on the first Saturday of the New Year. If it wasn't for the goals of on loan French striker Marc-Antoine Fortuné, they'd already be all but relegated. Tuesday 2nd December A coaches report tells me that 22 year old left back Alan Sheehan has been working hard on the training ground, and is now close to becoming considered a set piece expert. The former Republic of Ireland Under-21 International has been used in rotation this season after the arrival of Emiliano Insúa on loan from Liverpool. It is the hope of Sheehan that his set piece skills could give him the advantage over his Argentine team mate. Sheehan could yet have a new team mate soon too. Our bid to bring in a new player has been accepted by the club, or more specifically the Chairman at the club. They have intervened above the head of the clubs Manager, and accepted our offer of £60,000, not something I'd be very happy about at all if it were done to me. Personal terms with the player are agreed very quickly, but there is a stinger in the tail. He has been made aware of interest from another club in the country he currently plays in, and he seems to be keen to talk to them should they have an offer accepted by his current employers. Wednesday 3rd December Two clubs from the Blue Square North, namely Stalybridge Celtic and Harrogate Town, have both asked to take 19 year old centre back Ross Wilkinson on loan for three months. The North East born youngster is out of contract in the summer, and this will give us a better idea of whether it is worth continuing his development at the club. Thursday 4th December Wilkinson has picked Harrogate Town, and will spend three months at the Playoff contending club who also already have a winger on loan from Burnley. Friday 5th December Speaking of wingers, I'd very much like to introduce you to someone. He's our new signing. On Halloween of this year, my Go Ahead Eagles side defeated Telstar at home in the second tier of Dutch football. But we spent the evening dealing with Ghanaian left winger Richmond Bossman. And from January he will be strutting his stuff at Elland Road, as FC Utrecht decide against making an offer for the 23 year old Dutch passport holder, and he becomes our new signing for a fee of £60,000. Bossman can also play on the right wing or behind the strikers if needed, and I'm very much looking forward to the arrival of a player who I believe could become a star at the club. We shouldn't need a Bossman tomorrow, when we host Bristol Rovers at Elland Road, one of the clubs who are just outside the relegation zone, and seem likely to be looking at staying up as a priority this season. We are heavy favourites to pick up three more points as look to move into the top half of the League One table, but will have to wary of the threat posed by Rovers striker and leading scoring, 26 year old Rickie Lambert. Saturday 6th December Coca-Cola League One Elland Road, Leeds Leeds United (0) 0 Bristol Rovers (0) 1 - Darryl Duffy (47) Attendance :- 22,934 Casper Ankergren; Seamus Coleman, Rui Marques ©, Lubomir Michalik, Alan Sheehan; Fabian Delph, Jonny Howson; Niall McGinn, Robert Snodgrass; Mike Grella (Tom Elliott 74), Jermaine Beckford. Unused Substitutes :- Richard Naylor, Emiliano Insúa, Jonathan Douglas, Andy Robinson. Bookings :- None | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 10th | | Leicester | | 19 | 8 | 5 | 6 | 25 | 19 | +6 | 29 | | 11th | | Oldham | | 19 | 7 | 6 | 6 | 28 | 25 | +3 | 27 | | 12th | | Swindon | | 19 | 7 | 6 | 6 | 25 | 27 | -2 | 27 | | 13th | | Stockport | | 19 | 8 | 3 | 8 | 19 | 24 | -5 | 27 | | 14th | | Carlisle | | 19 | 7 | 5 | 7 | 24 | 25 | -1 | 26 | | 15th | | Leeds | | 19 | 7 | 3 | 9 | 26 | 23 | +3 | 24 | | 16th | | MK Dons | | 19 | 5 | 8 | 6 | 25 | 25 | 0 | 23 | | 17th | | Hartlepool | | 19 | 6 | 5 | 8 | 20 | 22 | -2 | 23 | | 18th | | Cheltenham | | 19 | 6 | 5 | 8 | 24 | 31 | -7 | 23 | | 19th | | Tranmere | | 19 | 5 | 6 | 8 | 24 | 25 | -1 | 21 | | 20th | | Bristol Rovers | | 19 | 6 | 2 | 11 | 21 | 32 | -11 | 20 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- When I took this job, I was made aware of the clubs poor home record, and whispers that I was inheriting a squad that didn't relish the pressure of playing in front of a boisterous home crowd at Elland Road. This afternoon, those whispers turned into shouts, as an expectant crowd of almost 23,000 turned into an angry audience when we capitulated in front of our own supporters once more, this time to a relegation threatened side who were given no chance by pundits and bookmakers alike. Could it be true? Do we have some rotten apples in the Squad upsetting the balance in the team? Seamus Coleman replaced Frazer Richardson at right back in the only change to the starting lineup from the win at Oldham in the Cup. We created enough chances to win the game comfortably, Jermaine Beckford working Mike Green twice early on, while namesake defender Ryan Green got a vital touch on a Coleman cross to keep the ball away from an unmarked Mike Grella. Even our bread and butter of set pieces failed to find us a way through when a string of corners went to waste. Darryl Duffy of the visitors was the only player booked in the first half. Early in the second half he became the only player with his name on the scoresheet too! We didn't even get to touch the ball, Rovers passed their way through us down the park, Rickie Lambert flicking the ball on to Duffy who spun away from our centre back pair and sent a shot across Casper Ankergren and inside the far post. From that point on, we dominated possession and territory, but we were unable to find a way through Rovers massed ranks at the back. Beckford twice spurned chances to shoot, electing instead to pass with defenders in close attendance and the chances would be lost. During the last quarter, Tom Elliot would replace Grella and we could go more route one, creating our best chances of the half. Beckford hit the bar with a lob effort, before Robert Snodgrass cut in from his wing and unleashed a curler that beat Green, but whistled past the far post. A fifth goal of the season had cost us a chance to move into the top half and pressure the teams in the Playoff spots, and helped Rovers get some breathing space from the relegation zone. Tuesday 9th December Despite the poor performance against Rovers at Elland Road on the weekend, I continue to be linked with jobs on the continent. This time it's a potential return back to Holland, as I'm made the favourite for the job with struggling Eredivisie club NEC Nijmegen. They sit in 12th place, and have sacked Mario Been after a home defeat to Roda JC on the weekend. A trip to Ajax this coming weekend would be a baptism of fire for any new boss appointed this week. Friday 12th December It might be a good thing that we're away from home this weekend. We travel to face 21st placed Crewe Alexandra. I could of course peddle you some lines about how much they're struggling and provide some statistics to back that up. But hey, I did that last time out against Bristol Rovers, and look what went down there....... Saturday 13th December Coca-Cola League One The Alexandra Stadium, Crewe Crewe Alexandra (0) 2 - Billy Jones (79), Byron Moore (86) Leeds United (2) 4 - Niall McGinn (15), Tom Elliott (39), Jermaine Beckford (68), Mike Grella (75) Attendance :- 4,414 Casper Ankergren ©; Seamus Coleman, Richard Naylor, Lubomir Michalik, Emiliano Insúa; Fabian Delph (Jonathan Douglas 69), Jonny Howson; Niall McGinn, Robert Snodgrass (Andy Robinson 76); Tom Elliott, Jermaine Beckford (Mike Grella 69). Unused Substitutes :- Paul Huntingdon, Alan Sheehan. Bookings :- Emiliano Insúa 73 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 7th | | Brighton | | 20 | 11 | 2 | 7 | 30 | 22 | +8 | 35 | | 8th | | Southend | | 20 | 9 | 7 | 4 | 27 | 22 | +5 | 34 | | 9th | | Colchester | | 20 | 10 | 3 | 7 | 31 | 34 | -3 | 33 | | 10th | | Leicester | | 20 | 9 | 5 | 6 | 28 | 20 | +8 | 32 | | 11th | | Stockport | | 20 | 9 | 3 | 8 | 21 | 24 | -3 | 30 | | 12th | | Leeds | | 20 | 8 | 3 | 9 | 30 | 25 | +5 | 27 | | 13th | | Oldham | | 20 | 7 | 6 | 7 | 29 | 28 | +1 | 27 | | 14th | | Carlisle | | 20 | 7 | 6 | 7 | 25 | 26 | -1 | 27 | | 15th | | Swindon | | 20 | 7 | 6 | 7 | 25 | 29 | -4 | 27 | | 16th | | Cheltenham | | 20 | 7 | 5 | 8 | 25 | 31 | -6 | 26 | | 17th | | Hartlepool | | 20 | 6 | 6 | 8 | 20 | 22 | -2 | 24 | Can we play you every week? Heck, we don't mind who we play, as long as it's away from home seemingly. Richard Naylor and Tom Elliott came into the side to replace Rui Marques and Mike Grella as we dominated proceedings from the outset in Crewe. We had already come close through Jermaine Beckford and a Fabian Delph strike that hit the bar, before finally taking the lead a quarter of an hour in. Niall McGinn's effort from Seamus Coleman's short throw in was absolutely a cross, but it found it's way in off the far upright. A similar route provided number two before the break. McGinn collected the ball from Coleman's throw in again, and this time he sent it across the edge of the box to Emiliano Insúa. The Argentine left back failed to control the ball, but recovered it and beat two defenders before lofting the ball back into the middle, where Tom Elliott powered home a close range error. I made the mistake of telling the team I was pleased at the break, and they were slow from the restart, allowing Crewe to create some chances. Neil McGregor's volleyed effort was too high, and Shaun Miller's deflected shot had Casper Ankergren scrambling across his goalmouth, and he managed to turn the ball away. We showed them how to finish midway through the half. Beckford was about to be withdrawn after a quiet afternoon, and he probably knew it too as he buried the ball from two yards out after McGinn's corner had been met by Richard Naylor and flicked on further by Elliott. It was Mike Grella who replaced Beckford, and he got in on the action himself in the 75th minute, scoring the best goal of the day. He collected the ball from Jonny Howson, pushed it through the legs of a defender and into the right channel of the box, and then when everyone expected a cross he smashed it into the roof of the net. Unfortunately, we were then guilty of switching right off, Byron Moore found full back Billy Jones in acres of space, and he passed a low shot inside Ankergren's near post, before Moore scored himself late on, meeting sub Kenny Lunt's diagonal ball across the box and finding the bottom corner. We do need to stop these lapses of concentration when the game is considered won, as better teams will take advantage and steal points back. But for today, it's a place in the top half, but with two more home games of the three remaining in 2008.
  11. Sorry I missed the Annual Awards night, I've been out to the ice hockey this evening. Congratulations to all the winners, in particular Mark for his Hall of Fame induction, and Jon for a fabulous first year. And also thanks to all those who voted for 'The Gambler' in the English Story of the Year category, with a new post for that story in the works as we speak.
  12. Sent and Claimed, with thanks as always for the work you do for this annual event.
  13. Best of luck overhauling the Old Firm. Always a challenging task, but particularly so with a smaller club than their traditional rivals.
  14. Monday 24th November 2008 And we're right into it. First job after the press conference to announce me as the new Manager at Leeds United is to decide what to do about Club Captain going forward. Frazer Richardson is the current holder of the armband, but with no guarantee of a place in the First Team for the 26 year old career United player, I decide to go in a different direction right now, with the role given to Angolan International centre back and fourth year United player, Rui Marques. The Portuguese passport holder is one of the most popular players at the club, and the decision is unanimously well received, with Danish goalkeeper Casper Ankergren remaining in his role as Vice-Captain. That's a decent start. A decent start is exactly what I'm after tomorrow evening when we travel to face Northampton Town in my opening game in charge. They are currently sat in the relegation zone, and the away form is far from being one of the main problems at Leeds. In fact, to date the club have picked up more points on their travels than they have at Elland Road. Do we have some players who are crumbling under the pressure of playing for a club with such a reputation? If so, they'll soon be weeded out and moved along. With the expected pick up that often comes with a change of Manager at the club, the bookies have us as short price favourites for a three point haul at Sixfields. Tuesday 25th November Coca-Cola League One Sixfields Stadium, Northampton Northampton Town (0) 1 - Adebayo Akinfenwa (88) Leeds United (0) 3 - Jonny Howson (50,70), Tom Elliott (90+1) Attendance :- 3,345 Casper Ankergren; Seamus Coleman, Rui Marques ©, Lubomir Michalik, Emiliano Insúa; Fabian Delph, Jonny Howson; Niall McGinn (Neil Kilkenny 75), Robert Snodgrass (Alan Sheehan 75); Mike Grella (Tom Elliott 75), Jermaine Beckford. Unused Substitutes :- Richard Naylor, Jonathan Douglas. Bookings :- Lubomir Michalik 45 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 8th | | Millwall | | 18 | 9 | 3 | 6 | 23 | 20 | +3 | 30 | | 9th | | Colchester | | 18 | 9 | 3 | 6 | 28 | 30 | -2 | 30 | | 10th | | Oldham | | 18 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 27 | 23 | +4 | 27 | | 11th | | Stockport | | 18 | 8 | 3 | 7 | 19 | 20 | -1 | 27 | | 12th | | Leicester | | 18 | 7 | 5 | 6 | 23 | 19 | +4 | 26 | | 13th | | Leeds | | 18 | 7 | 3 | 8 | 26 | 22 | +4 | 24 | | 14th | | Swindon | | 18 | 6 | 6 | 6 | 22 | 25 | -3 | 24 | | 15th | | Hartlepool | | 18 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 19 | 19 | 0 | 23 | | 16th | | Carlisle | | 18 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 22 | 24 | -2 | 23 | | 17th | | Cheltenham | | 18 | 6 | 5 | 7 | 23 | 29 | -6 | 23 | | 18th | | MK Dons | | 18 | 5 | 7 | 6 | 25 | 25 | 0 | 22 | ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Seamus Coleman and Emiliano Insúa are selected in the full back roles in the biggest selection dilemma's of the day. An early opportunity fell to new skipper Rui Marques, his header from Niall McGinn's corner caught by Gareth Ormshaw. At the other end, striker Stéphane Calce sent a shot from range inches over the top corner, before both Sean Armstrong and Liam Dolman sent headers from set pieces wide. Armstrong rounded off a fairly mundane first half with a free kick just over the bar, as we struggled to cause too many problems to our lowly hosts. Calce sent a shot on the turn from the edge of the box wide as Northampton continued to create chances. But we soon found the accelerator ourselves, and five minutes after the restart Mike Grella's cross attempt was blocked, but at the second attempt he picked out Jonny Howson on the penalty spot, who got goal side of Luke Guttridge and powered in a header to put us in front. We put our foot to the floor, Lubomir Michalik had a header blocked, Jermaine Beckford took too long to get a shot off, and Robert Snodgrass curled an effort just over the top. But the second was on it's way, Emiliano Insúa's long throw cleared to Seamus Coleman, and he tee'ed up Howson, who walked onto the pass 25 yards out and crashed the ball into the top corner for his second of the evening. Howson passed up a chance to shoot for a potential hatrick before sending one over the bar. I made all my changes, but the game wasn't quite over yet, as with two minutes to play, and right after Rui Marques had sent a header over the bar, sub Liam Davis cut us open with a diagonal through pass that Adebayo Akinfenwa sidefooted home from 8 yards out. No panic from the players though, and in injury time Alan Sheehan whipped in a corner that teenage striker Tom Elliott finished with a bullet header into the top corner in front of the travelling Leeds fans, his first ever Senior goal! That's a win that nudges us up closer to the top half, which is a good start. Wednesday 26th November There isn't much money to spend on new players, but I have identified a player that I'd like to bring in and that we can afford. His club are not going to make it easy for us though, they've decided to stall on our offer that meets his current valuation, waiting to see if any of the other interested parties come in with a better offer. Friday 28th November Tomorrow is FA Cup Second Round day, and we're heading across the Pennines divide and into the Greater Manchester area, where we will face Oldham Athletic, a team three points ahead of us in League One and who we'll meet twice in three weeks with a League date scheduled against them soon as well. They have some recognisable names in their squad too, with 32 year old striker Lee Hughes classed as a veteran, but he's got plenty of years on 39 year old Dean Windass who is on loan for the season from Hull City, but is rolling back the years with three goals so far this campaign. But it's 21 year old Matty Wolfenden who is really catching the eye at Boundary Park, the home town lad is having a career season at the club with nine goals in all competitions so far. They also have Kelvin Etuhu at the club for the season from Manchester City, a current Welsh International in defence with Neal Eardley, and a former Welsh International and another veteran in goal, Mark Crossley. The bookies still have them pegged to be beaten tomorrow though. I've been in this job less than a week, but I'm still getting linked with jobs elsewhere. This time it's Eastern Europe, and Romanian First League new money club FC Arges Pitesti. It's a no from me. They're 100 odd miles away from Bucharest where all the action is, and they're struggling to attract quality players and keep the ones they've got. They could well be relegation cannon fodder this season. Saturday 29th November FA Cup Second Round Boundary Park, Oldham Oldham Athletic (1) 1 - Dean Windass (14) Leeds United (2) 3 - Jermaine Beckford (28,78), Mike Grella (32) Attendance :- 6,038 Casper Ankergren; Frazer Richardson, Rui Marques © (inj - Richard Naylor 59), Lubomir Michalik, Alan Sheehan (Aidan White 81); Fabian Delph, Jonny Howson; Niall McGinn (Andy Robinson 81), Robert Snodgrass; Mike Grella, Jermaine Beckford. Unused Substitutes :- Paul Huntington, Jonathan Douglas, Neil Kilkenny, Tom Elliott. Bookings :- Lubomir Michalik 1, Jermaine Beckford 24 Neither Seamus Coleman or Emiliano Insúa are permitted to play in Cup games under the terms of their loans, and both are unavailable to us today. Deposed skipper Frazer Richardson and Irish left back Alan Sheehan are both called up, while we also bring up 17 year old first year professional left back Aidan White from the Reserves, the Leeds born teenager joined in his promotion by 29 year old utility winger Andy Robinson, the former Swansea City man is in first year at the club but fell out of favour a while before I arrived at Elland Road. The referee would stamp his authority early in the game, booking Lubomir Michalik inside the opening minute, and four players in total in the opening quarter of the game. By that point we were a goal behind, and it could have been more. Matty Wolfenden had already sent a gilt edged chance over the bar by the time Oldham counter attacked us at pace after clearing a free kick and Lewis Alessandria picked out Dean Windass on the edge of the box, the veteran striker sweeping a shot high into the net. They had the ball in the net again shortly after through Stephen Carson, but he was offside, and we were soon back in the game. Niall McGinn's throw in, Jermaine Beckford's flick on, Mike Grella's route to goal blocked, but he put it into Beckford's path and the striker slammed home an equaliser. Moments later, we had turned the game right around, another McGinn throw in, Beckford again flicking the ball on, and this time it ran between the goalkeeper and a defender, Grella left with a tap in. Windass missed a chance to bring Athletic level again, his glanced header from a Richard Clarke cross missing the target. We still led at the break, despite our hosts putting us under some pressure before the break. But we soon lost our new skipper Rui Marques, the centre back injured trying to break up an Oldham attack, and having to be substituted near the hour mark. McGinn missed a great opportunity to put us out of reach, latching onto a Robert Snodgrass cross but sending his shot across goal and wide. But with twelve minutes to go we got the goal that would put us in the Third Round, a long curling through ball by Frazer Richardson would utilise the pace of Beckford as he got between the defenders, into the box, rounding Mark Crossley before slipping the ball inside the near post for his second of the afternoon. We were comfortable enough to bring on the two players brought up into the Squad today, with Aidan White making a Senior Debut at 17 for his home town club, and Andy Robinson allowing Niall McGinn to rest up for the last part of the game. Round Three here we come. That result nets us a modest prize of £30,000 for progressing into Round Three. I say modest, if the club felt inclined to add it to my Transfer Budget it would increase my spending funds by 30%. Sounds unlikely though. Hopefully we can get a plum tie when the draw is made on Monday evening for the Third Round. The Board have set a target of the Fourth Round for this season, though I suspect that I'm not being judged on any of the targets as I've only just got here. There's no doubt about the star of the squad. Jermaine Beckford isn't quite ready to hit his prime years yet at 24, but he showed his class with two great finishes in that game. He's up to eleven goals in all competitions this season, including five in five in Cup ties. The Londoner is rated at almost £1m now, and is said to be frustrated at the clubs underachieving campaign so far. Hopefully a bit of a move up the League One table will convince him that we can match his own personal ambitions.
  15. Tuesday 15th December 2015 Our exit from the World Cup Qualifying process hasn't damaged our FIFA World Ranking too much, as we drop just two places from 108th down to 110th. Friday 1st January 2016 Happy New Year from India. Not 100% sure if it's the day that it's celebrated out there on the sub continent, but the football fans of the second most populous nation on the planet will likely be happy to see the back of a year that promised so much, but ultimately delivered so little. The Best Eleven for India in 2015 has been selected, and with seven games played in the year it made the selection a little more difficult than the previous year. Of those selected, centre back Jose Paul is the pick of the bunch, scoring twice in six caps, and posting an average rating of 7.17 over those half a dozen games. Subrata Pal, Ajay Bailleux, Jose Paul, Gumpe Singh, Paramjit Kumar, Raheem Alibhaï, Amit Singh, Yadwinder Khan, Sanjay Singh, Ranty Martins, Sunil Chetri. Subs :- Arindram Bhattacharya, Adil Kundu, Francisco Reja, Aman Verma, Sabri Gharbi, Reisangmi Vasum, Joseph Pereira. There's an improvement on last year's induction into the nation's Best Ever XI, with seven of this years Best Eleven selected for the Overall Team. That now means that all eleven of those in the Best Ever XI are players that have been capped during my tenure, with another five of my lads named amongst the substitutes. Only two retired players from before my time now remain from outside my selections, with the recently retired Joseph Pereira the only other selection no longer playing. Friday 22nd January Disaster is the wrong word to use, but it's certainly more than just bad news today when we're told that Cyprus are no longer able to fulfil their fixture with us in New Delhi for later this year. That now leaves us with just one fixture in the calendar for this year, a game in Belfast against Northern Ireland. With no ability to add anymore fixtures into the diary at this point, it is now a nervous wait for March to come around and find out if we are to be involved in the Asian Cup Qualifiers this time around ahead of the 2019 Finals of the Tournament, which will this time be held in Australia for the first time. Saturday 30th January A quick look around the National Pool shows there hasn't been too much movement around from players who are regularly involved with the Senior National Team, but it could yet be a summer of Transfer movement for some of my players. We already know that Ashish Morje is the latest to move overseas, with the striker set to ply his trade is Thailand with his new club BEC Tero Sasana when the new campaign gets underway in South East Asia. While they are not a big club in that country, it is still likely to be a step up in level for the highly rated 23 year old striker. The rest of the nations footballers have spent January doing the usual round of pre-summer agreements for moves later in the year. Some are doing it for their pay rise, some are doing it to get more football. As is very much the norm for this country, many are moving from smaller regional clubs up into the Professional ranks, where they will compete with more established players for a squad place. Many who made that very move this time last year are now making the opposite move back after discovering how hard it is to be one of the chosen few for the relatively small amount of clubs in the National Football League. Of all those players, only one looks set to make a potential move away from Indian domestic football. 27 year old attacking midfielder Sabri Gharbi has had a crack at football in Europe before. The Belgian passport holder was only a kid when he tried his luck at both Lierse and FC Brussels, before hopping over the border into Holland spending a season with NEC Nijmegen. With no Senior football in any of those three seasons, he packed his bags, headed back to India, and has carved out a career that has seen him play in the NFL in each season apart from this current one with Bengal Mumbai, see clubs spend over £30,000 in transfer fees to sign him (not a small sum in terms of Indian football), and earn 14 International Caps to add to his 125+ Senior League Appearances. Now Europe could be calling him for another try as he hits the peak of his career. A handful of clubs from Bulgaria's Second Tier have targeted the cultured right footer with excellent passing ability, and with his contract running down, it could be a chance for him to prove himself at a higher level of football, and join the ranks of players who have impressed enough over the last few years for India to earn a shot at playing in a League outside of the domestic game.
  16. Cheers as always Oche. Yeah, a very frustrating Window. I suspect you're right about us having enough to get promoted, but I think this Window may well be a sign of the frustrations we are likely to experience in the Summer as we try and strengthen for the Premier Division with a financial situation that continues to become more precarious, but still seems to be bothering no one at the club.
  17. 2015/16 Northern Irish League First Division Table, Up To & Including Sunday 31st January 2016 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Coleraine | | 16 | 13 | 2 | 1 | 29 | 13 | +16 | 41 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | Distillery | | 16 | 7 | 8 | 1 | 22 | 12 | +10 | 29 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 3rd | | Limavady Utd | | 16 | 7 | 7 | 2 | 33 | 23 | +10 | 28 | | 4th | | Carrick | | 16 | 7 | 7 | 2 | 14 | 7 | +7 | 28 | | 5th | | Wakehurst | | 16 | 7 | 5 | 4 | 21 | 16 | +5 | 26 | | 6th | | Ballymena Utd | | 15 | 5 | 8 | 2 | 23 | 16 | +7 | 23 | | 7th | | Donegal Celtic | | 16 | 6 | 5 | 5 | 18 | 16 | +2 | 23 | | 8th | | Annagh Utd | | 15 | 4 | 9 | 2 | 23 | 18 | +5 | 21 | | 9th | | Ards | | 16 | 5 | 2 | 9 | 14 | 21 | -7 | 17 | | 10th | | Armagh | | 16 | 3 | 4 | 9 | 19 | 27 | -8 | 13 | | 11th | | Bangor | | 16 | 2 | 6 | 8 | 18 | 24 | -6 | 12 | | 12th | | P.S.N.I. | | 16 | 3 | 3 | 10 | 12 | 25 | -13 | 12 | ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 13th | | Banbridge | | 16 | 2 | 6 | 8 | 10 | 28 | -18 | 12 | | 14th | | Queens University | | 16 | 2 | 4 | 10 | 13 | 23 | -10 | 10 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  18. Thursday 14th January 2016 Our seventh win in a row is a new club record. Friday 15th January An effort to bring in Stockport County defender Mark Heath on loan till the end of the season, and help us out with our defensive injury issues, has failed. 17 year old Heath, who has made a dozen career appearances in Coca-Cola League Two for County, has instead decided to spend the rest of the season with mid table Blue Square North club Alfreton Town. The knock backs continue too, with Free Agent midfielder Nathan Fairhurst rejecting our offer of a deal to join us right away. The former Preston North End, Greenock Morton and Derry City man is instead holding out for an offer from a better club, with Rotherham United said to be interested. This one hurts, it really shows how low our reputation is right now. Sunday 17th January With our Senior Squad starting to get stretched to the limit, we may have no choice but to rely on our young players. Colin Canning issues a timely reminder as to what he can do, the 17 year old right winger putting in a man of the match performance with an assist and the final goal in a 3-0 win away to Donegal Celtic Under-18's, a Group 1 game that was played in a snowstorm, and temperatures that dropped to -5c during the afternoon. Left winger Stuart Wilson and free scoring defender Paul McMaster score the earlier goals for our age group side. Tuesday 19th January We continue to be unable to convince players to move to The Showgrounds. Today we have missed out on long term goalkeeper target Stephen Calder, who has decided to move to Irish League side Athlone Town. Also deciding his future lies south of the border is defender Matthew Lowton, the former Sheffield United youngster opting to reject a deal with us to move instead to Wexford Youths, a deal that has delighted the fans of their club, while dismaying me as we once again miss out on a long term target that would have been able to help us improve our fortunes in the Premier Division should we manage the promotion that we've put ourselves in a great position to achieve. Wednesday 20th January We continue our hunt for options to give us that last push towards promotion. An English defender who has been playing in Ireland is our next target as he is now out of contract. But immediately he receives offers from around 20 other clubs, including Lurgan Celtic, and our expectations of a successful transaction now have a very low percentage. Thursday 21st January Our goalkeeping options have reduced yet further. 19 year old out of contract youngster Trevor Smyth has suffered a sprained ankle in training, and will now be out for up to two months. Friday 22nd January This weekend is game week fifteen for the majority of the Division, and a quirk of fate in the fixture schedule has made it an important one. The top five clubs are all facing clubs that lie in the bottom five, making it a must win fixture for those at the top, and a bit of a bonus opportunity for those at the bottom. For us, it is a home tie with Bangor, who are three matches unbeaten at the moment, but still lie in 13th place going into this match. This fixture was once a regular in the schedule of the Premier Division, but since the save began, Bangor have managed just one win in a dozen attempts against us, and have lost each of the last three matches between the clubs. We're the overwhelming favourites to beat them again this time around, despite our injury worries. Saturday 23rd January Northern Irish First Division The Showgrounds, Coleraine Coleraine v Bangor Attendance :- 239. Weather :- Dry, 7c. Two changes are made from the win in the capital against Queens University last time, both changes forced through injury. The biggest decision is at left back, where the regular Stewart Devine is out, and we don't have a Senior specialist left back to replace him. Deciding against breaking up the centre back partnership, and leaving Declan O'Hara where he is instead of moving him out to left back, there is instead a call up from the Youth side for Lee Mooney, a first year player and local lad, who will get his Senior debut this afternoon. The other change is up front, with Gerry Nixon brought in to replace the injured Stuart Shaw. There is one change amongst the substitutes, with centre back Robert Donaghy brought into the matchday squad. Two early chances came our way, Matty Robson sending in a swinging free kick that just missed the target, before a nice team passing move saw Andy McMillan play a square pass to Gerry Nixon, but the striker sent his shot high and wide. Nixon would then miss the target with a header from a Michael McCartney free kick midway through the half, before finally managing to get a shot on target, a well struck effort from the edge of the box that stung Ryan Brown's hands, but the Bangor keeper managed to keep that one out fairly easily. The visitors would finally show some attacking intent just after the half hour mark, Kyle Ralph was an early substitute when Lee Kelly was injured, but his attempt to hit the top corner was off target. We continued to push for an opening goal, and a set piece remained the most likely route, Robson sending a low free kick into the box that found its way past everyone and right through the box, before being sent back in from the other side by Chris Johnston, the cross finding Andy Dickinson who sidefooted an effort wide. The first half remained goalless. I told my players to remain patient, and that the golden chance would come, but it was Bangor who had the best chance created so far and a chance to go in front in the 52nd minute, Keith Steenson leaving a short pass towards Dickinson too short, and Tony Stewart nipped in to round the centre back, but couldn't get his shot past keeper Gerard Doherty, who made a good save to keep the striker out. Full back Tony Jones tried to catch Brown out at the other end, whipping in a free kick that everyone expected to be sent into the middle, but instead tried to catch out the keeper at his near post, the plan being undone by Jones inability to keep the ball down. Jones was once again involved as the mid point of the second half approached, down his normal right side this time, he managed to get by two Bangor players to get to the byline, before standing a cross up into the middle, Nixon getting his head to it, but his effort came off the top of the bar on its way over. Nixon kept trying, this time played in by a Declan O'Hara header from halfway that was over the visiting back four, but Brown tipped over the Scottish strikers shot. At this point I turned to my bench, Nixon, along with Johnston replaced, as Pat McIlroy and Michael Hassan came on in their place. And within seconds of the changes, we had broken the deadlock. Robson sent over a free kick from the right that swung in towards the near post, and Dickinson timed his jump perfectly to get above the defence and glance a header home from six yards out! That was us in the driving seat, and prompted Bangor to use their two remaining changes, including replacing their earlier change Ralph. Ten minutes later, forward Marvin Hyam drifted in a Bangor corner, and near the penalty spot there was a coming together between Jones and Neil Smart, the referee blaming our Scottish defender for that one, and pointing to the spot. Mark Treanor stepped up, and slammed his penalty kick down the middle as Doherty picked his side, and the game was all square to leave us back where we were. But with Bangor now back in an ultra defensive setup for the remaining minutes, we would not be denied. Jones would make amends for giving away the penalty, sending over a free kick from the left near the corner flag, and picking out the head of O'Hara, the veteran centre back redirecting the ball into the net via the underside of the cross bar with just seconds remaining of the indicated injury time. We'd left it late, but we had got the job done! Coleraine (0) 2 - Andy Dickinson (73), Declan O'Hara (90+2) Bangor (0) 1 - Mark Treanor (84 pen) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney; Keith Steenson ©, Michael McCartney; Chris Johnston (Michael Hassan 72), Matty Robson, Gerry Nixon (Pat McIlroy 72), Andy McMillan. Unused Substitutes :- Robert Donaghy, John Robertson, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 49% - 51%. Man of the Match :- Andy Dickinson (Coleraine). Our prolific nature from set piece situations has once more bailed us out, and it looked all afternoon like it would be from a set piece that we would find a way through. Despite already being eleven points clear, it was a crucial win too. Not just as it got us our eighth consecutive League win, but also because the four other teams in the top five all managed wins today as well. The chasing bunch continue to pursue us, but we are eleven points ahead still, and now there are just eleven games to go. And there is more good news too, as Gavin Whelan is declared fit to return to training next week. The 32 year old attacking midfielder with three goals to his name so far this season in all competitions, has recovered from his foot injury. He is also sitting on a contract offer to extend his stay at The Showgrounds into next season. Monday 25th January Gerard Doherty is of course included in the First Division Team of the Week, joined this time around by the goalscoring centre back pairing that sit in front of him, Andy Dickinson and Declan O'Hara. We're right back into action tomorrow night, with another home game. No visitors from the bottom end of the table this time though, as we will host Wakehurst. They are very much in the running for the Playoff spot, coming into the match in fourth place. And they are hoping a win at The Showgrounds will have them aiming for the top spot. They were unbeaten against us in a pair of games in the last calendar year. But the bookies don't fancy them to repeat that feat this year, as we are pegged as convincing favourites to extend our winning run. Tuesday 26th January Northern Irish First Division The Showgrounds, Coleraine Coleraine v Wakehurst Attendance :- 227. Weather :- Breezy, Downpours 2c. It's a filthy weather evening near the north coast of Northern Ireland, with cold temperatures exasperated by a stiff wind and some very heavy downpours. There is just one change to the side from the late, late win over Bangor here on the weekend, with Pat McIlroy brought into the starting lineup, replacing Gerry Nixon who take his place on the bench. Andy McMillan had the first chance of the game, the striker using his strength with his back to goal, rolling his marker and sending in an effort from the edge of the box that cleared the cross bar. By the time the ball went into the Wakehurst box again in the 5th minute, we had been forced to revert back to the lineup from the weekend, with Pat McIlroy forced off with an injury, Gerry Nixon coming on in his place. It didn't stop us nearly taking the lead though, Tony Jones sending over a free kick from the left that found it's way to Chris Johnston on the far post, the winger striking a controlled volley aimed inside the near post, keeper Josh Pelling turning the shot aside. At the other end of the park, dangerous striker Gary Stockley followed McMillan's lead with a shot on the turn, that one was also over the bar though. Then midway through the half, a loose ball from Dil Chagger saw Keith Steenson pinch possession and pick out Nixon. The striker played a one-two with McMillan before trying a speculative curling effort that ruffled the side netting on it's way wide. Moment later we were ahead, and it came from a familiar route, and an increasingly familiar source, Andy Dickinson getting on the end of a Matty Robson corner delivery and powering a header into the near top corner. Nick Welsh's effort to find a quick leveller at the opposite top corner was just off target, with Lee Mooney doing his best to make things difficult for the Wakehurst forwards. The visitors were much more involved in the game now though, with Junior Wells missing the target from a long way out. Still 1-0 in our favour at the break. It would be the visitors who would be in control early in the second half, Stockley again chancing his arm with no luck when he again missed the target. But he wouldn't miss next time. Michael McCartney left his feet to make a challenge and missed, leaving Welsh able to find overlapping winger David McConnell. His deep cross picked out Chagger, who knocked it down for Stockley, the striker this time picking out the far top corner and knotting this game back back up ten minutes into the second half. But their parity would be brief. A series of mistakes and missed chances to clear from down our right allowed the ball to find Johnston, and our winger angled his low cross diagonally and perfectly between the Wakehurst defence, and picking out the superbly timed run of opposite winger Robson, who added to his earlier assist with a goal, drawing Pelling off his line, before dinking his shot over the keeper and into the net! Once more though, with the lead in our hands, my players were guilty of losing their shape, and dropping back deeper than I would want them too. Mistakes started to come too, Steenson losing the ball in midfield and Ben Gate found Wells, his shot taking a huge deflection off Declan O'Hara, who was relieved to see Gerard Doherty get across goal and push the ball to safety. They were gaining in confidence, and made attacking changes, Welsh denied from ten yards out by an outstanding point blank save by Doherty. Another miss from Wells did nothing to dent their confidence, and with just under twenty minutes to play we were sliced open. Gate and sub Joe Herron did the leg work down the right, before Chagger picked out Stockley in the box. The striker got past Mooney too easily, the young defender couldn't get back goal side and stop the striker blasting a shot inside the near post, Doherty unable to get enough on it to keep it out, and once more the visitors had got themselves level. My big problem now was that my players were unable to regain the shape we had when we started the match, and it was still Wakehurst who were looking the most likely, substitute David North blasting over the best chance they would create with only two minutes remaining. I made another change, a defensive one. McMillan came off, Robert Donaghy came on as we would go to five at the back, and two protecting them as well. There was still a twist to come in this game yet though. Already well into injury time, we won a free kick in an advanced position of the park. Despite being asked now to operate defensively, several players took it upon themselves to arrive late in the box for the Robson delivery from the right, and that caused chaos. The ball was cleared, but only as far as McCartney, who got it right back to Robson. As he sent in an inswinging cross, at least three of my players were stood offside. But one of them was not Nixon, who arrived at the far post with perfect timing and sent a sidefooted shot past a helpless Pelling and high into the roof of the net! There was an agonizing few seconds where everyone seemed to wait for the flag to go up, but it never did. And for the second time in four days, we had fished a win out of dead cert looking draw. Coleraine (1) 3 - Andy Dickinson (25), Matty Robson (58), Gerry Nixon (90+1) Wakehurst (0) 2 - Gary Stockley (55,71) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney; Keith Steenson ©, Michael McCartney; Chris Johnston, Matty Robson; Pat McIlroy (inj - Gerry Nixon 4), Andy McMillan (Robert Donaghy 86). Unused Substitutes :- Michael Hassan, John Robertson, Ryan Twist. Bookings :- None Possession :- 49% - 51%. Man of the Match :- Gary Stockley (Wakehurst). Gary Stockley is one of the leading goalscorers in Northern Ireland this season, and visiting Manager today Rodney Crawford may well be rueing his decision to bring off his striker with eight minutes to go and his club looking set for a share of the spoils at least. It's hard to suggest the 19 year old former Arsenal youngster didn't deserve Man of the Match, but with a goal and two assists, surely Matty Robson should've been the rightful recipient this evening? Pat McIlroy was the recipient of a particularly nasty gash on his leg in this game, and the striker joins our injury list, with him likely to be out for around three to four weeks while that wound heals. It's not all bad news though. We have extended our winning run to a new club record of nine wins, and with Limavady United held to a draw away to Bangor, it is now Distillery who take up the mantle as our nearest challengers, with our lead extended out to twelve points with thirty left to play for, and Cup football about to move back into our main focus. 32 year old midfielder Gavin Whelan has signed a contract extension that will take the Irish playmaker through to the end of last season, agreeing to a small pay drop from £180 a week down to £150 per week as well. It's all relative of course, a lot of these players who have agreed to take drops in salary will be clawing that money back should we get promoted, with contracts that entitle them to a 25% increase should we move up into the Premier Division. One such player who won't have to worry about that is Derby County goalkeeper Nicholas Furlong, the nineteen year old has refused to accept a loan offer that was agreed to by his employers for him to move over to us for the remainder of the season. Friday 29th January It was on the cards when it was clear we were not the only club interested in Steve Robinson, but today confirmation arrived. The 21 year old 6'4 Cleethorpes born centre back is indeed moving to Northern Ireland, but has rejected offers from both ourselves and my former employers Lurgan Celtic amongst others, and will instead sign for Crusaders, making it a distinct possibility that we could come up against him next season. We'll worry abut that when the time comes. For now we have Cup football matters to attend to. Our final game of January will see us travel into Belfast to face Police Service of Northern Ireland in the Fourth Round of the Northern Irish Intermediate Cup, the Cup for clubs outside the top tier. And we're involved in the only all First Division tie, not that the bookies believe this will be much of a contest. PSNI are on a terrible run of form, and haven't won in the First Division since mid-September, with their only success' coming in their three matches in this competition, and one of them came via a penalty shoot-out. Neither the bookies or anyone else in the media fancy their chances tomorrow afternoon. Saturday 30th January The final matchday of January, and it's a double header day of action. The opening part of that takes place in Belfast as well, with our Under-18's hopefully setting the tone at the Grove Park Stadium as Crusaders Under-18's are swept aside 3-0. Young striker Martin Friars opened the scoring inside quarter of an hour, and then added a second right from the restart after half time. The scoring was rounded off in the 73rd minute when free scoring defender Paul McMaster found the net once again, this time from the penalty spot. Our lads are 4th in Group 1. Northern Irish Intermediate Cup, Fourth Round Newforge Lane, Belfast Police Service of Northern Ireland v Coleraine Attendance :- 159. Weather :- Dry, 1c. With Pat McIlroy joining the injured list, Gerry Nixon comes back into the side after getting the winner in midweek. That leaves us short on strikers though, and this time I decide not to bring in someone from the Reserve or Youth pool, instead bringing fit again and newly contracted Gavin Whelan into the matchday squad on the substitutes bench. With him able to cover the right wing, it allows me to effectively make winger Chris Johnston our back up striker. Clearly PSNI were set up to counter attack when the chance arose, but outside that they were only interested in defending and keeping us out. That counter attack mentality almost got them going inside ten minutes, Michael McCartney dispossessed deep inside their half by John Paul Gallagher, and some quick passing play allowed Murray Gamble to take a shot from a long way out, his effort clipping the cross bar on it's way over. Tony Jones was a lot closer in when he took a 15th minute free kick, the Scottish full back curling his shot over the wall, only to see it crash flush against the cross bar. Midway through the half we created our best chance so far, Matty Robson making ground down the left, and then pulling the ball back to McCartney. The midfielder couldn't find room for a shot, but did find Gerry Nixon, the striker aiming a low shot inside the near post, but was foiled by keeper Gordon O'Brien making a smart stop. The left flank was proving to be our most popular route, with even teenage full back Lee Mooney having some joy there and sending over a few nice crosses that PSNI defenders had to deal with. Ten minutes before the break, PSNI got behind our defence, Gamble taking a free kick quickly and playing in Gallagher down the left channel, but he fluffed his lines, torn between crossing and shooting, and eventually blazing a shot well over the cross bar. And they would be punished for missing their chance, Jones whipping in a corner that O'Brien came off his line to punch. The ball made it only as far as McCartney just outside the box, and he didn't even look up, lifting his curling shot over the players in the box and O'Brien, and finding the top corner to give us a lead with his first ever goal for the club. That goal just before the break gave our hosts little option but to rethink their plan of counter attacking their way to a victory. And that left gaps in their defence that you could drive a sightseeing bus of Belfast through. We got a bit bold ourselves though, and Glenn Rolston blasted a shot at goal that was just high and wide of the top corner he wanted to hit. We were passing the ball around the park beautifully, and it scored us a lot of set piece opportunities, an area where we thrive. And it would come up trumps in the 78th minute, literally with two substitutes stood on the touchline waiting for the ball to go out so they could come on. Jones sent over another set piece from the left, and as the ball came through a crowd of players at a strange height, McMillan had to improvise, unable to get his head down quickly enough to meet it in the more traditional way, the striker used his chest to redirect the ball and the power already on it gave it just enough to direct it into the bottom corner and give us the breathing room we wanted. The centre midfielders were changed before the restart, McCartney and Keith Steenson replaced by Gavin Whelan and Michael Hassan. Inside the last ten minutes, Ryan Twist got some rare game time too as he replaced Robson while the game fizzled out into it's conclusion, and we would take our place in the Quarter-Finals. Police Service of Northern Ireland (0) 0 Coleraine (1) 2 - Michael McCartney (43), Andy McMillan (78) Gerard Doherty; Tony Jones, Declan O'Hara, Andy Dickinson, Lee Mooney; Keith Steenson © (Michael Hassan 78), Michael McCartney (Gavin Whelan 78); Chris Johnston, Matty Robson (Ryan Twist 82); Gerry Nixon, Andy McMillan. Unused Substitutes :- Robert Donaghy, John Robertson. Bookings :- None Possession :- 40% - 60%. Man of the Match :- Michael McCartney (Coleraine). That was a pretty routine win, and sees us safely through into the last eight of the Intermediate Cup. This is not a glamour competition by any means, but it's been a long time since I've won any silverware, and I won't pass up an opportunity to put a pot in the cabinet. I'm hoping it will be more than just one this season actually. And this one is starting to play very much our way. Of the eight clubs left, half including ourselves are First Division teams. The remaining four contain one Second Division club, and three non-League outfits. When the draw is made for the Quarter-Final round, it isn't a seeded draw, but it comes out that way as the First Division clubs all avoid each other. We're drawn at home to Oxford United Stars, the third tier club who are midway down the League, and far from being out of the promotion race at this point. The real prize for us outside promotion this season would be the Northern Irish Cup. The Sixth Round tie in that competition is our next game, and we are travelling to face fierce rivals and fellow promotion contenders Limavady United next Saturday. So why is this Cup one of our main aims? Well apart from it being a much more prestigious event, it is a potential route into Europe, which is probably our best bet of clearing our debt in a hurry. It's a long shot, I'm prepared to admit that....... Sunday 31st January Despite it being a Sunday, it's still the last day of January, and therefore the last day of the Winter Transfer Window. I wasn't expecting much to happen from our end. In fact, I told the media just that early in the day. But early in the afternoon an unexpected opportunity arrived, and I was offered the chance to sign Lü Xin, a very quick and skilful left winger who was born in Larne, but the 22 year old has lived in China since a very young age. A British passport holder, but declared for China, he has spent some time in Europe, playing in the Czech Republic for two seasons. I was led to believe we could sign him on a Free Transfer. So the matter came to an abrupt close when I was then informed by his current club Sanshan University that the asking price was £30,000. There was time yet for another opportunity to arise, as this time we were offered Glebe Rangers left back Aaron Moore. I did check this time that there would be no fee, and when given the green light, I made my move for the relegation threatened Premier Division side's 24 year old six footer. Everything was signed and done, but the hours had ticked down and time would get the better of us. The deal to bring him in as Senior cover on a short term basis for the rest of the season had gone, and the Window slammed shut with only Michael Hassan's arrival at the club in January.
  19. South West Peninsula League Division One West League Table, up to & including Tuesday 30th November 2010 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | Mousehole | | 10 | 7 | 1 | 2 | 30 | 17 | +13 | 22 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | AFC Newquay | | 10 | 6 | 2 | 2 | 22 | 15 | +7 | 20 | | 3rd | | Penryn Athletic | | 10 | 5 | 2 | 3 | 21 | 14 | +7 | 17 | | 4th | | Truro Reserves | | 10 | 5 | 1 | 4 | 20 | 15 | +5 | 16 | | 5th | | Dobwalls | | 11 | 4 | 3 | 4 | 24 | 19 | +5 | 15 | | 6th | | Godolphin Atlantic | | 10 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 18 | 15 | +3 | 14 | | 7th | | Foxhole Stars | | 10 | 4 | 2 | 4 | 20 | 21 | -1 | 14 | | 8th | | Holsworthy | | 10 | 3 | 5 | 2 | 15 | 16 | -1 | 14 | | 9th | | Okehampton Argyle | | 10 | 4 | 1 | 5 | 19 | 29 | -10 | 13 | | 10th | | Callington Town | | 10 | 2 | 6 | 2 | 17 | 16 | +1 | 12 | | 11th | | Porthleven | | 10 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 15 | 23 | -8 | 9 | | 12th | | Hayle | | 10 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 12 | 21 | -9 | 9 | | 13th | | Camelford | | 11 | 2 | 1 | 8 | 12 | 24 | -12 | 7 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  20. Wednesday 17th November 2010 We've missed out on the left winger that I hoping to sign, Basingstoke Town's speed merchant Jide Ogunbote has opted instead to sign for Chippenham Town of the Southern League Premier Division. You can hardly blame the 22 year old Londoner who was formerly on the books of Fulham, Aldershot and Woking, as he will receive £120 per week, something we can't do anything to match at the moment. Friday 19th November -------------------- THE BET Belgian Pro League Anderlecht v KV Mechelen - Home Win - 1/2 nPower League 1 Swindon Town v Oldham Athletic - Home Win - Evens Taca de Portugal 4th Round Naval v Penafiel - Home Win - 4/6 Treble Odds - 4/1 Stake - £20,000 Balance After Bet Placed - £167,166 Total Returns (Including Stake) - £100,000 -------------------- I'd have took this Treble if they were all 1/6 on. Frankly, I'll be stunned if this bet doesn't land. Anderlecht are without their first three choice Senior keepers and a few outfield players too, reducing what would normally be a higher second number to their odds this weekend, despite being unbeaten at home this campaign. My second choice was going to be Peterborough United, leaders of the third tier and home to the bottom of the table side. That bet was 1/6, but second place Swindon at home to the bottom but one side was Evens after Swindon's run of League form has seen them win only one of their last four. In Portugal, mid table Naval are holding their own and keeping well out of danger in the top tier. They're home to a free scoring Penafiel side who would be much higher up the second tier if they could sort out their leaky defence. I'm banking on Naval finding their way through that defence and winning us a tidy sum. While those games are going on, we'll be competing at Simmons Park against Okehampton Argyle as we look to continue our push towards a promotion that is the clubs singular goal this season. Argyle have started to add some Senior experience to their squad since the season got underway, and while they are struggling to find any consistency right now, they are capable of being a problem. Their defence could do with someone of the calibre of Irish 20 year old defender Graham Dowling. But he won't be joining Argyle, he'll be arriving at the Mount Wise Stadium in the New Year. With no new contract offer coming from the St Patrick's Athletic side of the Irish Premier Division, who's 'A' side he has turned out for 23 times this season, he has agreed to jump across the Irish Sea and join us on an Amateur deal. Saturday 20th November South West Peninsula League, Division One West Simmons Park, Okehampton Okehampton Argyle v AFC Newquay One change to our starting lineup this afternoon, with Martin Prince dropping out of the lineup and matchday squad, Michael Smyth brought into the lineup and Danish new signing Kasper Hansen selected amongst the substitutes. A quick start would've been ideal today, and we almost got just that when Steve Magee whipped in an opening minute curler from the edge of the box that was just wide of the post. The tide quickly turned against us though, a Jamie Murray cross was met by a Paul Douglas downward header that was just wide. We were becoming our own worst enemies as we constantly gave the ball away with misplaced passes and players trying to do too much, Jimmy Harte guilty of doing just that as he tried to round keeper Andrew Johnson when a shot was a much better option. At the other end, a Joe Hunt free kick got past the wall only to come back off the base of the upright. We were less lucky in the 29th minute, Sam Farrell giving the ball away in his own half, and Mick Thurgood easily got by Danny Howard and sent in a cross that Jason Johnson headed back across goal and into the net. An immediate attempt to equalise failed, Lewis Oliver's cross was met by Michael Smyth with a header that clipped the top of the cross bar on it's way over. Hunt would just miss the top corner with another free kick effort, before Harte sent in a cross at half time that Charlie Clapham needed the help of Thurgood to keep away from Magee just before the break. That would be Magee's last contribution, as I highlighted my half time annoyance with a change, bringing Danish striker Kasper Hansen into the fray for his AFC Newquay debut. Still, we were struggling to get on top of things here, Hunt clearing the bar with another free kick effort before Thurgood turned Howard too easily again, and then sent in a shot that only found the side netting. Oliver picked up a booking as we tried to turn things around, getting closer to doing that just after the hour mark when a free kick into the box was cleared only as far as Harte, who's shot beat Johnson only to come back down off the underside of the bar. Ferhat Selvi and Lee Hales were taken off right after Thurgood sent another effort across the face of goal, James Taylor and Ollie Harrison coming on in like for like swaps as we keep the same basic system while trying to press further up the park and get more bodies at the sharp end of the park. With five minutes to play James Ives whipped in a corner, Joe Kennedy trying to get his head to it but being manhandled by Nicky Chapman en route, the ref not seeing enough to award a spot kick despite our players protests. Instead we only got another corner, Harrison sending is over from the other side, Smyth heading it against the bar from six yards out. That would turn out to be our last chance, Harte taking a late booking for the team by tugging a shirt as Argyle set off on a counter attack that could have made things worse still. Okehampton Argyle (1) 1 - Jason Johnson (29) AFC Newquay (0) 0 Attendance :- 589 Elliot Jackson; James Ives, Joe Kennedy, Ferhat Selvi (James Taylor 76), Danny Howard (inj 87); Lee Hales (Ollie Harrison 76), Sam Farrell ©; Jimmy Harte, Lewis Oliver; Michael Smyth, Steve Magee (Kasper Hansen 45). Unused Substitutes :- Russell Sampson, Tom Murray, Matthew Evans, John Costa. Well that didn't go to plan at all, and our spell at the top of the table would be a brief one on this occasion, as we are toppled from the summit and back down into third place after our first defeat in the League in six games and our second in the campaign. A win over bottom of the table Camelford means it's Mousehole who go top, with Penryn Athletic also moving past us on goal difference despite being held to 1-1 home draw with Dobwalls. Our fans have got used to us winning, and they have been quick to express their disappointment at the result, and particularly our failure to test their keeper regularly. That might not be entirely fair, we did crack the frame of the goal a few times. Fine margins. BET RESULT Anderlecht 3-2 KV Mechelen Swindon Town 3-2 Oldham Athletic Naval 1-0 Penafiel WIN That was closer than I would have liked, particularly in Belgium, where Anderlecht had to score twice in the last fifteen minutes to turn things around after KV Mechelen had done the same when they went behind around the half hour mark. Swindon also went behind at the County Ground, but they turned things around quickly and were in front by the mid point of the first half and 3-1 to the good midway through the second. By the time Oldham got one back, it was too late for them to have serious ambitions of salvaging a point. So it would come down to the Cup game in Portugal, and Naval scored in the 26th minute and held second tier Penafiel at arms length from there out, the visiting team failing to register a shot on target, and winning us a nice six figure sum while they were at it. £100,000 has been added to our coffers, and we are now up over the quarter of a million mark in the bank account. We're suddenly being more successful at the bookies than we are on the park. Friday 26th November -------------------- THE BET Croatian First Division Hajduk Split v NK Zadar - Home Win - 1/3 nPower Championship Middlesbrough v Barnsley - Home Win - Evens Greek Superleague PAOK Salonika v Asteras Tripolis - Home Win - 4/7 Treble Odds - 3.19/1 Stake - £25,000 Balance After Bet Placed - £242,416 Total Returns (Including Stake) - £104,762 -------------------- This one looks as good as last weeks bet to me. A return to Croatia, which was good to us early in the season with Slaven Belupo, but they let us down second time around. They've started to drop down the table now, in part down to the rise to form of Hajduk Split, who we're backing this weekend for the first time. This is our third time backing Middlesbrough, and they are two from two for us, so there's no real trepidation over backing the North East club for a third time. We've bet on the Greek Superleague successfully before this season as well. That was backing Panathinaikos, but with them matched with bitter rivals Olympiakos this weekend, that one is left well alone. Our money is on the current second placed incumbents, PAOK, as they host an Asteras side that are currently pinned into the relegation zone. While there is no relegation zone from our League, if there were, Camelford would be well and truly entrenched in it. They've been bottom of the Division One West table for the large part of the season so far, and have one of the worst defences in the League. Their fortunes did start to improve in mid October for a period when they brought in a new Manager and some Senior players. But once several other clubs around them in the League matched their recruitment drive, they have since suffered two defeats to clubs nearer the sharp end of the table. We are hoping to make that a hatrick of such defeats tomorrow afternoon. Saturday 27th November South West Peninsula League, Division One West Mount Wise Stadium, Newquay AFC Newquay v Camelford There are two changes to the starting lineup from the defeat against Okehampton last time out, Ferhat Selvi replaced at centre back by James Taylor, while Tom Murray comes in for Sam Farrell in the midfield. In front of another home full house, we got ourselves off to the perfect start. Keeper Elliot Jackson played the ball out to James Ives, who in turn sent it forward to Jimmy Harte. The wide midfielder made his way infield, and found Steve Magee absolutely unmarked on the edge of the box, the striker sending a powerful low shot under the dive of John Mills and giving us a third minute lead. We almost quickly earned a second, a Harte corner met at the near post by Lewis Oliver, but his angled header found only the side netting. At the other end midway through the half, a Sam Ellis free kick was partially blocked by the wall and the ball was sent spinning towards goal, fortunately Jackson was in perfect position and fielded the ball easily. Moments later Magee missed a similar chance to the one he had already netted, Mills coming out feet first this time, and the shot hit the keepers legs. Within minutes a poor pass from Ives let William Brough in on our goal, and Jackson repaired some recent damage to his reputation with a great block save to keep us in front. That repair job lasted mere moments, as ten minutes before the break Brough brought the ball down from a throw in, and played a pass to Ellis, who unleashed a low, but not especially powerful shot that Jackson was too slow to get down to, and the ball beat him inside the far post to bring Camelford level. That was frustrating, and with only one more chance produced before the break, Harte sending a left footed curling effort wide of the mark right before the players headed off for their half time cuppa, we'd have to consider that frustration at the break. With a warning of changes to come if they couldn't get the job done ringing in their ears, my players headed back out to the park, and tried to get themselves back in front, with one change already made at the interval, Lee Hales replaced by Ollie Harrison. It was Michael Smyth that had first crack at that, striking a bouncing ball that dipped just over the cross bar. It was quiet, too quiet, both on the park and in the stands. A 65th minute Harte free kick wasn't cleared properly, and the ball fell to sub Harrison, who's well struck shot was met with a superb reaction tip over by Mills. We continued to press, Harte receiving the ball back on the right after a corner was recycled back to the original taker, his floated cross picking out Oliver, but he couldn't get enough power on his header and Mills easily caught the ball. By now there are just over twenty minutes to go, and we are in complete control. Magee drops out wide to assist Oliver, the strikers attempt at a cross is blocked, but comes right back to him, and his powers past the defender and strikes at goal, Mills well beaten, but the ball thumps off the cross bar and over the top. I sense the growing frustration from the crowd behind me that we are unable to break down this team, and I make a bold call. With a little over quarter of an hour to play, off comes right back Ives, and on in his place comes striker Kasper Hansen. With Danny Howard pinching in, we're now three at the back, and three up front as well. Bingo! Camelford are suddenly over run, and when Smyth drops in close to pick up the ball from a throw in, two visiting defenders go with him as confusion reigns over who should be marking who. Smyth slips the ball between them and into the near post, where Danish striker Hansen is waiting, unmarked, and he buries the ball into the net with a quick shot inside the near post to delight the fans. The work has to start all over again for Camelford if they are to rescue a point at least, skipper George Moises-Garvey sending in a shot from distance that bounced right in front of Jackson, who takes no chances and pushes it to safety rather than catching it. But a third goal looked more likely than an equaliser, Harrison sending a screamer just over, before being played in again by a superb reverse pass by Hansen, the curling shot across goal just the wrong side of the far post. With seconds left to play of the ninety minutes, Hansen waltzed through the defence himself, but just like Harrison he missed the target with his shot. Tempers threatened to boil over during injury time, Howard and Roger Reay both booked for an incident on the touchline that resulted in a fracas. But no one else got involved enough to be punished, and no one would stop us getting back on the winning trail today! AFC Newquay (1) 2 - Steve Magee (3), Kasper Hansen (76) Camelford (1) 1 - Sam Ellis (35) Attendance :- 3,500 Elliot Jackson; James Ives (Kasper Jansen 74), Joe Kennedy ©, James Taylor, Danny Howard; Lee Hales (Ollie Harrison 45), Tom Murray; Jimmy Harte, Lewis Oliver; Michael Smyth, Steve Magee. Unused Substitutes :- Ferhat Selvi, Russell Sampson, Sam Farrell, Matthew Evans, John Costa. Have I been making this difficult for ourselves by overthinking the tactics? Are we good enough to just get through this Division by simply deciding we'll score more goals than our opposition can manage? Would believing that attack is the best form of defence at this level be naïve, or a stroke of genius? I guess there's only one way to find out, and I have to admit to being sorely tempted. Kasper Hansen's first goal for the club, and his first ever in Senior football got us over the line today, and the Danish signing will now be pushing for a starting spot. His goal certainly delighted our fans, who's expectations will rightly be increasing, but they are as happy as me that we got the victory today, citing the amount of chances we created and the teams willingness to fight for the win as their main plus points. It's a win that sees us move back up into second place, past Penryn Athletic who are well beaten away to Foxhole Stars, but still two points behind Mousehole, who thrashed our next opponents Hayle today, recording a 6-1 win. We visit them in a fortnight, the first of consecutive weekends of League games against lowly opposition, fixtures which make up our only scheduled dates for December. BET RESULT Hajduk Split 1-0 NK Zadar Middlesbrough 2-5 Barnsley PAOK Salonika 2-0 Asteras Tripolis LOSS Routine victories in both Croatia and in Greece, a goal in each half in a game that PAOK dominated in the latter, while in Croatia an early goal had Hajduk in charge, and they then proceeded to miss a huge amount of chances to make the game much safer and improve their goal difference into the bargain. But it was in the North East of England that this bet hit the skids. There were only three minutes on the clock at the Riverside Stadium when left back and former England Youth International player Andrew Taylor was shown a straight red card for a professional foul. But that wouldn't prevent Boro from still taking the lead in the 11th minute through French forward Hassan Ahamada. But just one minute later Senegal International midfielder Mickaël Tavares conceded a penalty that was converted by Uruguayan midfielder Diego Arismendi, and before the quarter of an hour mark Goran Lovre and Jay McEveley had both also netted for Barnsley to make it 3-1. And that was all before Tavares earned a second booking before the half hour mark, and Boro are down to nine men. A quickfire double from Frank Nouble and Jim O'Brien had Boro 5-1 down at the break, as well as two men down. Our bet was long gone, and it meant very little to us when Leroy Lita pulled a surprise goal back for Boro in the second half, it certainly didn't put any money in our pockets this week. Sunday 28th November The final League game of the month is played this afternoon at Treyew Road in Truro, where the Truro City Reserve side miss the opportunity to close in to within a point of us, after losing 3-2 against visitors Holsworthy. The second string side of the one of Cornwall's largest clubs had twice evened up the game after falling behind, their second equaliser coming from former Premier League and Jamaican International striker, Barry Hayles. During the course of that second half, Hayles' side were reduced down to nine men. And they would be unable to hold out, with Abubakar Kareem scoring Holsworthy's winner three minutes into injury time. There were ten cards shown in this match.
  21. Sunday 1st February 2015 The January Transfer Window is about to close, and there seems no danger of either of the cousins making a move at this point. Eden Hazard has beaten Swansea City full back Ángel Rangel and Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero to the Premier League Player of the Month Award for January. And in quite the turn around, his boss José Mourinho has gone from the verge of the sack to being named the Manager of the Month, his side winning five on the spin in the Premier League after an early New Year defeat. He pips Manuel Pellegrini of City and Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool to the award. Tuesday 3rd February Cardiff City start the new month with a home win that will slightly ease their Sky Bet Championship relegation fears, as they defeat mid table Blackpool at the Cardiff City Stadium. It's another superb outing from Davide at centre back, but he is beaten to the Man of the Match award by Irish International forward Joe Mason, who nets in the 51st and 83rd minutes to reach ten goals for the season, and City only had a few moments of worry near the end when Tomasz Cywka netted for The Seasiders with only two minutes remaining. The result leaves City five points clear of the relegation zone. Wednesday 4th February The FA Cup Fourth Round Replay is played tonight at Stamford Bridge. An own goal from Thibaut Courtois had Arsenal in front almost midway through the first half on a snowy night in West London. It would take Chelsea an hour to level things up, Loïc Rémy finally finding the net for The Blues with just nine minutes left to play. And the French striker would net the winning spot kick after Extra Time failed to provide a winner, Arsenal putting in a poor display from twelve yards out as both Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck missed, allowing Rémy to net Chelsea's fourth spot kick and put them out of reach, setting up a Fifth Round tie against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. With a lot of Barclays Premier League sides now out of the FA Cup, the consensus seems to be that Mourinho's team are the favourites for the competition from the remaining sixteen clubs. Saturday 7th February Chelsea's strong run of form continues in Stoke this afternoon, and didn't they just revel in that form. The game was all but over inside ten minutes as Chelsea scored three quick goals, a Diego Costa penalty, followed by strikes from Oscar and Xherdan Shaqiri. They added another early in the second half through Ramires, and while The Blues are too far adrift to think about the Title, but there could yet be a race hotting up for second. It's not something that Cardiff City are going to have to worry about any time soon. One step forward last time out, two steps backwards for The Bluebirds today as they're beaten at the Cardiff City Stadium by a Bolton Wanderers side who move out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win thanks to an accurate first half strike from Mark Davies. The gap between the bottom three and City is now reduced to four points, though almost all of them have a game in hand on The Bluebirds. It was a fifth League appearance today for Davide, and the next outing will be his tenth in all competitions. Our boy is starting to make himself a fixture in the First Team, and when he reaches fifteen League Appearances, his weekly wage will double from £4,100 per week right up to £8,250. Monday 9th February Davide is tonight asked to travel down to Worthing with the Cardiff City Under-21's for their Group 2B clash with bottom of the table Brighton & Hove Albion. He put in a Man of the Match performance in the young Bluebirds 1-0 win that lifts them up to third in the table. Tuesday 10th February It's a huge night at Stamford Bridge as Manchester United travel into London to face The Blues in a battle between two sides who are jostling for position behind Manchester City. Tonight United will travel back north to Manchester with 'the blues', as a 50th minute powerful Diego Costa header is enough to secure a win for Mourinho's men, making it seven without defeat in the Barclays Premier League, and nine in all competitions. Friday 13th February For quite a while, it looked like it was going to be a fantastic Friday 13th for Cardiff City in East London, as The Bluebirds travelled into the English capital to face West Ham United. It was just before the half hour mark when Kim Bo-Kyung put City ahead, and for an hour it looked like they would leave Upton Park with a valuable three points. Unfortunately, Carlton Cole had other ideas, as he came off the bench to fire an equaliser with just four minutes remaining with his sixth goal of the season. Saturday 14th February A Loïc Rémy hatrick at Selhurst Park sees Chelsea progress in the FA Cup, but that doesn't come close to telling the story, and how close The Blues came to being knocked out. They were ahead at the break thanks to a Rémy goal, but strikes within ten minutes of each other from Owen Garvan and Marouane Chamakh had Crystal Palace in front. With ten minutes left, Rémy scored an equaliser, and he added another just three minutes later, with André Schürrle scoring Chelsea's fourth a minute later to confirm their path into the Quarter-Finals. Sunday 15th February The draw is made for those Quarter-Finals this evening, and it will be an extra West London Derby in the diary for The Blues, as they are drawn at home to Fulham in the last eight. And it's a last eight where Chelsea are undoubtedly the star turns, with only two other Barclays Premier League clubs remaining outside the West London pair. Of those, Hull City are drawn away to Charlton Athletic, and West Bromwich Albion will be at home to Peterborough United. There will definitely be at least one non-Premier League club in the last four, as Huddersfield Town host Blackburn Rovers in an all-Sky Bet Championship match to complete the line-up. Tuesday 17th February The games are piling up for Chelsea, and they're in action again tonight at the Bridge, as the European season resumes with the First Knockout Round of the UEFA Champions League. With home advantage in the First Leg against Borussia Dortmund, all was going beautifully for Mourinho's side with a Xherdan Shaqiri goal in the first half and an Oscar free kick on the hour mark. But a strike in the last ten minutes from German International winger Patrick Herrmann changed the whole complexion of the tie, and with the Second Leg in front of the Yellow Wall, there's likely to be a tough night in the German Ruhr coming up for The Blues. Saturday 21st February In a dress rehearsal for their upcoming FA Cup Quarter-Final date, it would be victory for Chelsea at the Bridge against Fulham in a West London Derby that had Barclays Premier League bragging rights. The Cottagers are looking for another win or two that should keep them out of reach of the sides currently in the bottom three, but no joy with that here, as a beautifully executed finish from The Blues in form striker Diego Costa on the half hour mark was enough for the points here, and Chelsea remain third, hot on the heels of Manchester United. Further west outside of the English capital and into the Welsh capital, nerves will very much be jangling for Cardiff City as they suffer another defeat today. They had made the trip up into Yorkshire to face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, and they return with nothing after a 2-0 loss. There was a recall for Davide, but he didn't have one of his better games as goals in the opening quarter from Eric Dier and Michael Higdon ensured The Blades would clip the wings of The Bluebirds, becoming the latest team to leapfrog them a bit further from danger and leaving them perilously close to the dotted line, just a point better off than Charlton Athletic, and with only Scunthorpe United between the two as a buffer with a dozen matches left to play. Tuesday 24th February Chelsea's fabulous run of form continues in the Midlands, as they produce the required second half performance to defeat West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns and continue to make fools of those that claimed their hectic schedule would be their undoing. Once more it was Diego Costa who put The Blues in front, though Albion would find an equaliser before the break through their veteran French full back Anthony Révillère. But The Baggies couldn't hold on to their parity for too long, as Oscar scored ten minutes after the restart, and Nathaniel Chalobah wrapped up the win with ten left to play. Chelsea now sit three points behind Manchester United, though they have also played a game more than The Reds. Saturday 28th February The final day of the month, a month that has so far produced just one solitary Cardiff City victory. It's not a record that improves today either, as The Bluebirds are held to a 1-1 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium against Millwall. It was a return to the old habit of conceding early goals for City, as they saw Yaya Sonogo put The Lions in front with less than a minute on the clock. The equaliser came just before the half hour mark through Federico Macheda. There was no Davide today, left on the bench for the duration. City finish the month in 20th, now two points and places above the relegation zone that Charlton Athletic have just climbed out of, with Scunthorpe United now taking their place in the bottom three. The knives are starting to come out for Sam Allardyce, who has only a 25% win rate and a negative goal difference since arriving at the club twenty matches ago. March will be a crucial month for Big Sam and City.
  22. I've enjoyed spending a little bit of time catching back up with this one. The rebuild of EDC seems to have gone well. Your boys could be putting the spark into the C-League........(sorry, couldn't resist)
  23. Welcome to the Boards, Keane_Mandles. Looking forward to seeing how your first venture goes. Best of luck.
  24. Narrator C, Welcome to our little corner of the Boards! This already looks like a very interesting start, and I'm looking forward to seeing what yourself and your Director of Football can do here. If she's found in the Boardroom telling the Chairperson (Wife) that you're not up to the job, then you know the pressure is on!
  25. 2008/09 Scottish League Third Division Standings, Up To & Including Wednesday 31st December 2008 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | 1st | | East Stirlingshire | | 19 | 11 | 7 | 1 | 41 | 23 | +18 | 40 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 2nd | | Montrose | | 19 | 11 | 4 | 4 | 26 | 13 | +13 | 37 | | 3rd | | Dumbarton | | 19 | 9 | 6 | 4 | 39 | 26 | +13 | 33 | | 4th | | Forfar | | 19 | 7 | 7 | 5 | 28 | 24 | +4 | 28 | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- | 5th | | Albion Rovers | | 19 | 7 | 7 | 5 | 20 | 20 | 0 | 28 | | 6th | | Cowdenbeath | | 19 | 5 | 5 | 9 | 18 | 23 | -5 | 20 | | 7th | | Berwick | | 19 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 20 | 33 | -13 | 19 | | 8th | | Elgin | | 19 | 2 | 11 | 6 | 18 | 20 | -2 | 17 | | 9th | | Stenhousemuir | | 19 | 2 | 10 | 7 | 21 | 31 | -10 | 16 | | 10th | | Annan | | 19 | 3 | 4 | 12 | 15 | 33 | -18 | 13 | --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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