News

Beer drills and beer fountains: the potential outcomes of Tracey Crouch’s alcohol plans

28/09/2021 - General

By Maurício Alencar, Footrace Football Expert

My dad’s biggest pet peeve: half-time binge drinking. After getting up from his seat to let the dizzy drunken man shuffle past just as half time is approaching, he starts cursing loudly and violently, albeit in Portuguese. Missing precious seconds of a football match sends him the wrong way. The English fan’s matchday habits of leaving seats early, or arriving late from the concourse, so that they can grab a pint at half-time has its collateral damage. 

Last week, Tracey Crouch, who is leading the “fan-led review” of football governance, said in an interview with Matt Lawton of The Times that the government could lift the ban on drinking alcohol inside football grounds “in view” of the pitch. This ban has existed for 36 years due to the extent of hooliganism in the country. The new age of beer might be coming our way. 

The sit-down-stand-up choreography, which is English football’s reluctant alternative to the Mexican Wave, is a famous routine, well known and excellently rehearsed by all fans who regularly attend matches. This routine may be happening a whole lot more often if the drinking ban is lifted. Why wait till half time to grab a drink? Very soon, you might be able to get your pint in midway through the first half. Cue the friendly yet frustrated chants of “is this a fire drill?”.

Supporters are allowed to drink at the cricket or the rugby “in view” of the pitch. With all due respect to cricket and rugby, football’s instants of excitement are often rarer, shorter, more dramatic, manic, adrenaline-fuelled, action-packed, moment-of-truth-charged, g’wan-silence-yeaaaah-defined. Football’s crazy. There are no tea breaks. There is no courtesy, or least any sign of respect, shown to an opposition player lining up their penalty kick.

When your team scores, the full pint in your hand might be up in the air, soaking all those around in warm, stale beer. Can you imagine the scenes: a thousand men dancing and singing under golden showers? If they’re selling Darkfruit Strongbow in the concourses, it won’t just be splashes of gold flying about in the stands, but also pink and purple. Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams, will surely be known as the Theatre of Drinks. Getting drenched in beer may be enticing for the young football mavericks, but it’s certainly not for all match attendants. There’s Boxpark on an England matchday for that. 

Tracey Crouch makes the point that half-time drinking means “we kettle people into drinking quickly”. There are compromises to be dealt with though when it comes to football and drinking. It would perhaps be too harsh on English football fans to introduce Scottish football drinking rules, which would mean that all alcohol is forbidden in a football ground. On the other hand, it would most likely be far too permissive to let stands across the country once again turn into beery water parks, and let stadiums’ staircases turn into sticky slip n’ slides. 

There is also a strong sentiment among the British public that football fans simply can’t be trusted. As shown on the recent documentary series Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League, The Times wrote that football in the 1980s was a “slum sport played in slum stadiums and increasingly watched by slum stadiums”; many people believe that the culture of these darker times survives today; many perceived the scenes on Wembley Way in July to be the manifestation of this. 

At first, the ban would only be lifted at lower leagues,so that data could be collected. Tracey Crouch’s main reason for lifting current restrictions on drinking was to help the lower league clubs, whose beer sales account for much of their annual income. Though it may be hypothetical to say so, mix beer with a sore defeat, and the pint cup could become an effective weapon for the football fan. You could see pint cups flying like arrows onto the pitch when the opposition scores, much like what the abusive Hungarian fans did against England. Matchday incomes earned might quickly be offloaded on FA fines and other policing costs. Then again, with that in mind, we could see more Declan Rice-inspired celebrations, where opposition players pretend to chug beer from cups. Surely, those celebrations would be so iconic that EA Sports would have no way of not including them in PEGI 3-rated FIFA games by 2024. 

Booze seems set to return to football. The nature of this new age in drinking- a consolidated revival of hooliganism or the nativity for carnival atmospheres in football grounds?- will certainly be one to look out for. 

Latics look to make it six wins in a row against Wednesday

28/09/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic take on Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night as they look to keep their seven game unbeaten run alive.

The Latics currently occupy the top spot in Sky Bet League One, having not lost in the league since the opening day of the campaign.

On Saturday, Wigan tallied their fifth win on the bounce with an impressive performance against Cheltenham Town.

Wigan manager Leam Richardson appears to have already found his strongest starting XI, after bringing in 15 players in the summer transfer window, and he will be reluctant to change the team selection on Tuesday night.

Richardson may be forced into dropping Jack Whatmough for the visit of The Owls after he appeared to pick up an injury during Saturday’s game, so Curtis Tilt could make his first league start for Latics since rejoining the club on deadline day.

The visitors to the DW Stadium on Tuesday night are a Sheffield Wednesday side that currently sit in 11th place in League One.

The Owls have had a decent start to life in the third tier of English football, having won three, drawn three and lost two of the eight games played so far.

Most recently, they drew 1-1 to Ipswich Town after a goalkeeping blunder from Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the closing stages of Saturday’s match.

Ex-Wigan defender Chey Dunkley will be amongst the travelling squad on Tuesday night for his first visit back the DW Stadium since leaving the club during administration last summer.

If you back Sheffield Wednesday to put an end to Wigan’s impressive unbeaten run there are 25 footrace points available, while there are 12 on offer if you back Wigan to secure their sixth win in a row.

 

Good results, but not good performances - a closer look at post-international break Chelsea

28/09/2021 - Premier League

By Louis Pantziarka, Chelsea writer

Before the international break, Chelsea were in fine form. They recorded impressive wins against Arsenal and Crystal Palace and fought for a point at Anfield while reduced to ten men. The squad jetted off to their respective international camps in good spirits, confident that their great start to the season would be continued on their return.

In a sense that has happened. Since reconvening, the Blues have recorded 3-0 wins against Aston Villa and Tottenham in the Premier League, beat Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 in the Champions League and progressed to the next round of the Carabao Cup.

Delve a little deeper though and the cracks started to appear long before Chelsea’s limp 1-0 loss to Manchester City this weekend.

The first fixture back from internationals was a challenging looking trip to Villa Park. Aston Villa nearly cost Chelsea their place in the top-four at the end of last season, when their dominant performance earned them a 2-1 victory. This time around Villa weren’t nearly as bad as the result suggested, but after making a raft of changes in response to the players’ international commitments, Thomas Tuchel’s reaction was to take the win and move on.

And move on they did – to their Champions League opener against Zenit. On a whole, the performance in that game was poor. Chelsea laboured to a 1-0 win, didn’t create a great deal of chances and relied on Romelu Lukaku’s clinical finishing. They were slow on the ball, loose with possession and were lucky not to concede a late equaliser.

The Blues then made the trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with four goals scored, none conceded and six points from their last two games. Morale was high despite the uneven performances and the Blues were clear favourites. In that first half though, the Spurs press caught them out.

Tuchel brought N’Golo Kante on for the second half, replacing Mason Mount in a move he described as a “sign from the talk (at half-time) I was not happy with the energy“. And the statement worked, with an excellent 15 minute spell after the interval putting the game beyond Tottenham’s reach.

Next it was Aston Villa again, with the Villains making the trip down to Stamford Bridge for the Carabao Cup. Both teams made a host of changes, but Chelsea looked a lot worse for it. They went 1-0 up, but were pegged back with a goal that took the game to penalties. The Blues got through, once again plastering over a poor performance.

That brings us to City this weekend. Tuchel was hampered by an injury to Mason Mount, but chose to stick with the Kante-Jorginho-Kovacic axis that had performed so well at Spurs. The result was a tepid performance and a poor result. Chelsea never looked like scoring and could, and maybe should, have conceded more than one goal.

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m not criticising Tuchel. The German has done an unbelievable job since replacing Frank Lampard, but the performances have started to drop off and it looks like the honeymoon period is finally over.

Yes, Chelsea lost to an incredibly good side, with an excellent manager, who were on top form on the day. They’d beaten City in the three previous encounters and were always going to come up against a highly motivated group of players. It was the manner of the performance though, that was so disappointing.

Chelsea sat back and defended, which in itself is no problem. It was the lack of threat they posed on the counter attack that was worrying. Chasing the game from 1-0 down, there was little to suggest the Blues were capable of scoring an equaliser.

Since the international break, good results have covered poor performances and this result could be the wake-up call the players need. There’s no need to rip up all the hard work that’s gone in so far. There’s no need to even necessarily change the system.

So to Wednesday’s Champions League game against Juventus. In many ways it’s the perfect fixture – despite winning their last two games, the Italian giants have had a terrible start to the season and don’t look capable of keeping a clean sheet.

The game’s being player in Turin, but Chelsea are the holders and should go out and grab the game by the scruff of its neck. Back them to do that and you’ll get ten points, with a decent looking 25 on offer for a draw. A Juventus win will get you 30 points, reflecting the balance of power in this one.

Whatever tactics Tuchel chooses to implement, the Blues need to control the game. If they don’t, and they fall to another defeat, questions could start to be raised. Play well and win though, and it all goes away.

In form Potters travel to mid-table Preston for a midweek clash

28/09/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Two wins out of the last five league games isn’t quite the form Stoke were hoping for in their push for promotion, but with a win over Premier League side in the cup the team is flying high.

On top of cup triumph, the Potter’s comfortably beat Hull City in the league continuing their unbeaten run at home. Preston on a similar note are unbeaten in eight games, though four of these have been draws.

Stoke arrive at Deepdale on Tuesday evening occupying a playoff space and will be looking for all three points to keep this push going. However, Preston has been on form at home taking seven out of their ten current points at Deepdale.

In terms of starting lineups and team news, the Lilywhites will definitely be without Connor Wickham who has a hamstring injury, and Liam Lindsay that is still suffering from a knee injury.

Stoke on the other hand will still be without Tyrese Campbell despite his having featured for the Under 23’s.

The travelling side will also be without Morgan Fox and Steven Fletcher who have yet to recover. Joe Allen could feature given his return to training after a toe injury but is unlikely to get a start.

Tommy Smith will return after serving his three-match ban for the red card against Barnsley. O’Neill could pick the winger as a replacement for Demeaco Duhaney but that will be down to tactics for the day.

Both sides will be looking to make headway in their league campaigns with all three points, but given the form of Stoke in front of goal it seems likely the visitors could walk away with the goods.

Messi reunion, struggling Reds and banana skin for Spurs - Footrace Round 16 preview

28/09/2021 - General

By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer

Paris Saint Germain vs Manchester City

Financial heavyweights PSG and Manchester City lock horns in the second group stage match of this season’s Champions League.

PSG made a disappointing start by their standards, being pegged back by Club Brugge to draw 1-1 with the Belgians in the opener. Brugge had more shots, and shots on target, than their Parisien opposition, which included none other than a certain Lionel Messi.

City on the other hand were on the right side of a nine goal thriller in their Champions League opener, as they beat RB Leipzig 6-3 at the Etihad. There were five different scorers for City and an own goal from Leipzig defender Nordi Mukiele.

The availability of Messi is a big enough factor to swing a result of any game, and with the Argentine’s fitness a doubt for the game on Tuesday evening, it could certainly be a big boost to Pep Guardiola’s plans.

This matchup is of course a repeat of the previous season’s Champions League semi final, in which City were victorious in both legs. In the away leg, City left Paris with a 2-1 aggregate lead.

Since the opening Champions League game this season, PSG have won every game, showing signs of improvement and maybe a chance that the new recruits are starting to settle in under Mauricio Pochettino. Since the RB Leipzig game, City have won two and drawn one, with the most recent being that impressive victory at Stamford Bridge.

The good form of both sides makes this difficult to predict, especially with the question marks over such a huge player like Lionel Messi. The attacking talent on display could allow for a goal-fest, but both sides possess coaches who can adopt a very prudent style of football built to win football matches.

The Footrace points available suggests that City are favourites for the clash, with 12 points being awarded if Guardiola’s side can leave France with a victory. A draw is the next likely result according to Footrace, with 22 points on offer if the sides can’t be separated, and 25 points are available if Pochettino’s side emerge as winners.

Footrace verdict: PSG 1-1 Manchester City
Footrace points available: 65

 

 

Wigan Athletic vs Sheffield Wednesday

From Paris to Wigan we go, (basically the same thing anyway), as the table topping Tics take on an Owls side in much need of a league victory.

A fifth straight win for the hosts against Cheltenham on Saturday kept Wigan top of League One, whilst a late equaliser for Ipswich on Saturday denied Darren Moore’s men all three points, extending their winless run to four games.

The Latics have the division’s best defence so far, only conceding five goals in the eight games played so far. Seven points separate the two teams in the league table, with form lending itself to a Latics win. Another statistic that favours the Latics is the pair’s last meeting, where a late Jamal Lowe winner meant Wigan beat Wednesday by a scoreline of two goals to one. The last time the Owls tasted victory at the DW was in February 2017.

The form favours Wigan, and the Footrace points demonstrate that with 12 points being on offer for a Latics win compared to 25 for a Wednesday win. A draw will give you 22 points.

Footrace verdict: Wigan Athletic 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
Footrace points available: 90


Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest

With just two wins between the sides this season, Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest is very much a game between two sides low in confidence.

Barnsley currently lie 20th in the Championship, winless since August 14th, where a Dominik Frieser goal was enough to sink the Sky Blues.

Forest are deeper in trouble as it stands, sitting 22nd in the table and are three points worse off than the Tykes. The appointment of Steve Cooper should provide a glimmer of optimism for Forest fans, a manager who has provided success for England’s U17s and Swansea City. Barnsley fans will know all too well about Cooper’s credentials, with his Swansea side defeating Barnsley over two legs in last season’s playoffs.

Barnsley have won the last three meetings at Oakwell between the sides, with the last coming in November 2020, after late goals from Callum Styles and Cauley Woodrow made it 3 out of 3 for Valerian Ismael in his first three home games as Barnsley boss.

In their last game, the Tykes were defeated on the North West coast in Blackpool by one goal to nil, with Forest drawing at home to Millwall 1-1.

A goal fest is not to be expected in this one, with both sides struggling at the bottom end of the table. Home advantage could play a part for Barnsley, but Forest’s only win so far this season came on the road, in Yorkshire in fact, when they defeated Huddersfield Town 2-0.

The new manager bounce could be beginning to take effect at Forest, along with the prospect of making it three unbeaten for Forest, it could be a tough match for Barnsley.

Twelve points are on offer for a home win, with 22 points on offer for predicting for the spoils to be shared. An away win offers the highest points value however, with a win for Cooper’s side offering 25 points.

Footrace verdict: Barnsley 1-1 Nottingham Forest
Footrace points available: 65

 

 

West Ham vs Rapid Vienna

High flying West Ham are loving life right now, after making an excellent start to the Premier League season and in the League Cup. The Hammers haven’t started badly in their Europa League campaign either, beating Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in Croatia a couple of weeks ago.

The opposition this time are Rapid Vienna, who have made a poor start to their domestic campaign, currently lying second bottom of the Austrian Bundesliga. The Austrian side have started in similar vein in the Europa League, losing at home by one goal to nil against Belgian side Genk.

It is the first competitive meeting between the two teams, but on paper it looks like a game West Ham should be winning. However, after already having one game on the continent, will the demanding Europa League schedule begin to take its toll on the Hammers squad? Or will the first home European game under the lights this season at the London Stadium be enough to get David Moyes’ side over the line?

Michail Antonio’s form this season has been a big factor behind the Hammers’ success so far this season, and if the forward is firing, it will certainly be a big help towards a perfect start in the Europa League which is very achievable on Thursday evening.

Just four points are available for a West Ham such is the expectation of the Hammers coming through this one, with 41 points available for predicting a draw. If Rapid Vienna do pull off the unlikely, 60 points are on offer for any brave Footrace players wishing to predict on that outcome.

Footrace prediction: West Ham 3-1 Rapid Vienna
Footrace points available: 110

 

 

Tottenham Hotspur vs NS Mura

Spurs will be hoping to get Sunday afternoon out of their minds as they face Slovenian side NS Mura at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in the Europa Conference League.

Mura are currently fifth in Slovenian’s top division and have not tasted victory in the Europa Conference League group stages so far. In their opener Vitesse won 2-0, leaving Mura with no points so far.

Spurs are also yet to win in the competition, but did manage to get a 2-2 draw with Rennes two weeks ago. Coming into the game off the back of the North London derby defeat, there will be much pressure on Nuno’s men to deliver a convincing win against a side on paper should not cause Spurs any problems, with all respect to NS Mura of course.

Tottenham will be NS Mura’s first English opposition in European competition, and are the Slovenian outfit’s ‘biggest’ opposition they have faced so far. Previous encounters on the continent for Mura include PSV Eindhoven, with the Dutch side winning 5-1. That game was last season in the third qualifying round for the Europa League.

Just two points are available for predicting a Spurs win. If you think Spurs may be suffering from a North London derby hangover and that NS Mura can get something, 65 points are available. If you’re an Arsenal fan who fancies a laugh, you can earn big points for predicting a Mura win, 120 to be exact.

Footrace verdict: Tottenham Hotspur 5-0 NS Mura
Footrace points available: 140

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tottenham produce woeful display against Arsenal

27/09/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

Against Crystal Palace there were players unavailable due to quarantine rules following the international break, against Chelsea we put up a fight but were deservedly beaten by the better side with huge resources at their disposal. But on Sunday there were no excuses for Tottenham's dismal display against their arch-rivals Arsenal. I could go into great depth about how Nuno got his tactics completely wrong, the midfield was non-existent and they invited Arsenal's youngsters to fly forward with little resistance, but it simply came down to Tottenham's lack of desire to be competitive.

Players were walking about after losing possession, nobody looked like they wanted the ball, which forced the defence to boot the ball long which consistently failed. There were no leaders on the pitch, Tottenham were 3-0 down within 33 minutes and nobody looked bothered. It was without a doubt the least competitive Spurs side I have ever seen play, no identity at all. It was only a few years ago that Alli, Kane and Son were up there with the best attacking trios in Europe - yesterday they looked like they had never kicked a ball together before.

We made Arsenal, who are an average team and won't get anywhere near the top four this season, look like the invincible side of 2004, highlighted by Aubameyangs celebration after scoring Arsenal's second goal that was reminiscent of the great Thierry Henry.

Following the game yesterday I saw several Tottenham fans go into a full meltdown on Twitter, calling for Nuno's departure. However, this is far from his fault, this is without a doubt at the door of Daniel Levy.

He is the man who decided to sack Pochettino, the best manager we've had in 40 years for the novelty appointment of Mourinho who was undoubtedly past his best. This was then followed by a completely embarrassing hunt for a new manager where Levy settled for his sixth choice Nuno Espírito Santo, who clearly does not want to play attacking football, which is what the fan base are desperate to see.

This isnt the time for Tottenham to sack their manager but if Nuno doesn't at least get the team playing at a competitive level again soon he will be gone. At the moment I am struggling to see where the next Premier League win is going to come from, with Aston Villa up next, I doubt it will be this weekend.

Tottenham welcomes NS Mura in the Europa Conference League next on Thursday, they must at least win this game to stop the club becoming a total embarrassment.

COYS!

Potters continue their promotion push with a win over Hull City

27/09/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Stoke City welcomed Hull this weekend to the Britannia Stadium, with Stoke having won midweek in the cup against Premier League side Watford, hopes were high.

In terms of lineup, Adam Davies retained his place in goals after a good performance midweek against Watford. Harry Souttar came into the back three in place of Danny Batth.

The midfield was changed from a four to a five, with Romaine Sawyers coming into the side in place of Jordan Thompson, Mario Vrančić in place of Sam Surridge, and Sam Clucas getting a start.

Nick Powell and Jacob Brown were rewarded with starts up top again after an impressive performance in the cup. Hull on the other hand only made three changes from their side that lost 3-1 to Sheffield United last week.

Hull City started the game strong with a chance glancing back off the post from right-back Lewie Coyle.

Stoke hit back hard with Romaine Sawyers feeding the ball through to Mario Vrančić who turned two defenders and kept his balance to smash the ball into the roof of the net. The goal saw the Bosnian open his scoring for the campaign as a Stoke player, giving the home side a 35th-minute lead going into half-time.

Hull’s fortunes did not change much after the break with Mallik Wilks going over the trailing boot of a Stoke defender in the box, but much to his frustration the referee waved play on.

Up the other end of the pitch, Stoke won a free-kick around the 25-yard mark with Nick Powell standing over the ball there was only one outcome on its way. Matt Ingram stood no chance as the ball rifled over his head into the top of the net.

With the game put beyond Hull City, Michael O’Neill’s men marched on to secure all three points.

 

Blades make it five unbeaten in the league

27/09/2021 - Championship

By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer

Sheffield United left it late as they required an 89th minute penalty to beat bottom of the league Derby County.

The Blades went into the game in good form having won 2 of their last three league games scoring 11 goals in the process but struggled to break down a resolute Derby side, who entered administration during the week. The first real chance of the match would fall to United, a lofted through ball from full back George Baldock landed on Billy Sharp’s foot who brought it down but could only fire his effort over the bar into the traveling fans in the Bramall Lane end. Derby hit back shortly after, Phil Jagielka heading against the crossbar from a Louie Sibley corner.

United dominated the ball but couldn’t find a way through and it was Derby who had another great chance to score inside the first half. Tom Lawrence’s volley deflected off Rhys Norrington-Davies and found its way to Sam Baldock waiting at the back post however he could only shoot wide of Olsen’s far upright.

Both sides probed but neither showed the necessary quality to break down the opposing defences at the beginning of the second half, until Ollie Norwood played one of his trademark passes over the top of the County backline. The race was on between Rams stopper Roos and Blades skipper Sharp, the striker got there first flicking the ball round the keeper and taking the hit from Roos, a red card for the keeper and now surely the Blades would break the deadlock.

United used the extra man to their advantage, getting down the sides of their opponents and delivering an abundance of crosses into the area, the experienced pair of Curtis Davies and Jagielka defending superbly well to head the majority of the balls away. The frustration inside Bramall Lane was tangible as United wasted many good attacking opportunities, with efforts from outside the box flying into the Kop and attacks breaking down on the edge of the area through misplaced passes and holding onto the ball for too long.

In the 89th minute substitute Conor Hourihane swung in a threatening ball towards the far post, it hit Curtis Davies’s upstretched arm and a penalty was a certainty. A brain fade from the defender handed a golden opportunity to Billy Sharp to do what he does best, score goals. That he did, smashing his penalty into the back of the net and sending Bramall Lane into raptures.

The win moves United up to 11th place with 12 points on the board. Opponents Derby remain rooted to the foot of the table on minus two points, nine away from safety. United will be pleased as they were able to win when they weren’t at their best, showing the fans that they can beat any team in this league especially if they perform much better than they did yesterday.

Up next for United is a Tuesday night trip up the A19 as they take on Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough side.

Wigan make it five wins on the bounce against Robins

26/09/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic stay top of Sky Bet League One for another weekend after a convincing win over Cheltenham Town at the DW Stadium.

Callum Lang opened the scoring just eight minutes into the match on Saturday afternoon, before Charlie Wyke doubled Latics’ lead two minutes into the second half.

Wigan dominated the opening stages of the match and they were rewarded with a goal in the eighth minute. A long ball from Max Power found Wyke who timed his pass into the box to perfection for Lang to slot home Wigan’s first of the afternoon.

Another opportunity broke for Latics shortly after when Will Keane picked up a loose ball and found Lang in the area once again, but his effort was saved by Scott Flinders in the Cheltenham net.

Tom Naylor had Wigan’s next chance to further their lead when good hold-up play from Wyke set him up to have a shot from distance, but his effort was just over the crossbar.

Just two minutes into the second half Wigan doubled their lead when Wyke grabbed his third goal in two league games. Power threaded a great ball through to Lang who picked out Wyke in perfect space to slice the ball into the back of the net.

At the other end of the pitch, Ben Amos was forced to make a save when Alfie May took a shot on himself from just inside the area but it proved no real danger for the Wigan keeper.

Wigan captain Tendayi Darikwa had the next chance for Latics when he linked up well with James McClean to force a decent save from Flinders.

The visitors tried to find a way back into the game but with no avail. Kyle Vassell looked to control of a deep ball on the right side, but his effort on goal glanced just wide of the post.

The win for Wigan means they have now produced their best start to a league campaign for over three decades; the Latics are now seven unbeaten in the league with five wins on the bounce.  

4 goals, 3 points – Sutton’s perfect Saturday

26/09/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer

Sutton must have left any ghosts of their missed chances to Exeter firmly at the entrance to Gander Green Lane today as The U’s hit Carlisle for four, keeping a clean sheet in the process and shooting them above their visitors in the table as Sutton now sit 14th in the table.

Alistair Smith bagged a brace, while an own goal and a David Ajiboye strike consigned the visitors to a defeat on a dayw where they never really got going in South London. Tobi Sho-Silva was missing from the days starting eleven with injury, so in stepped Donovan Wilson, looking to add to his two goals so far this campaign.

The clock had just ticked onto the three-minute mark when Sutton and Ajiboye sprang into action. The winger exchanged passes with Richie Bennett before the former fizzed a teasing cross into the near post and Donovan Wilson, but the ball cannoned off Corey Whelan past his own goalkeeper and gave Sutton the dream start Ajiboye was the key to unlocking the Carlisle defence and his effort smacked the outside of the post after Boldewijn fed him the ball after a superb counterattack.

Dean Bouzanis was a busy man though in goal for Sutton while Carlisle stepped it up a gear, a smart save from Jon Mellish and a good, strong hand to claw away an in swinging free kick from Callum Guy. Sutton had managed to soak up the pressure and a throw from Rob Milsom was flicked on by Bennett to Donovan Wilson who laid the ball off to Ali Smith, who hit a low, rasping drive past Magnus Norman, to put Sutton two goals up going into the break.

Something Carlisle manager, Chris Beech said at Half Time must’ve worked a treat as Jon Mellish engineered some superb shooting space for himself, forcing Bouzanis into a fine stop. Manasse Mampala joined the action for the visitors and almost immediately clattered into Joe Kizzi which saw him enter the referee’s notebook and pick up a yellow card, as well did Ben Goodliffe and Brennan Dickenson after the resulting flare up.

Sutton started to flex their muscles and almost extended their lead superbly. Eastmond broke up a visitors attack and set Ajiboye away and the form he was in, nobody could catch him. His effort was superbly tipped over by Norman, Joe Kizzi turned over from the resulting corner. Eastmond was the next to be denied after he sent a crashing volley towards the goal, but Norman superbly tipped the ball away.

Isaac Olafoe was introduced midway through the second half, and he made an immediate impact, spinning away from Corey Whelan and his cross eventually found Smith who slid the ball home for his second and Sutton’s third. Mampala’s cameo this afternoon was over 18 minutes after he appeared off the bench as another reckless challenge on Kizzi earned him an early bath. The cherry on top of the Sutton cake was placed there by David Ajiboye who got his thoroughly deserved goal, picking up the ball and darting between two defenders before placing the ball past Norman to cap off his perfect afternoon and finally seal the three points for Sutton.

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