Exeter made the trip up to West Yorkshire in ambition to destroy any hopes of another impressive cup run from the Bantams, this is how it went.
The game started positively for the Bantams, after showing some strong possession the visitors were unable to gain any momentum in the early stages.
Exeter got a grasp on the clash after quarter of an hour was played, Paudie O’Connor was forced to make a sliding block to deny Jake Caprice's shot from testing O'Donnell.
The Bantams were very close from taking the lead on the halfway-point through the first half. Charles Vernam wanted to impress on his return to the starting 11. He cut in from the right-side and aimed his bending shot into the bottom-left corner, the strike was narrowly wide.
The hosts created another strong chance immediately after, Theo Robinson was played into the 16-yard box as he attempted a unique finishing strategy which dipped onto the bar from close range.
Robinson made up for his missed chance earlier as he opened City’s FA Cup account for the season, it was a sensational cross field pass from Vernam that sent the forward one-on-one, the finish was calm and composed as it sneaked underneath the goalkeeper.
Cameron Dawson pulled out a great save to stop City from gaining a second. Vernam decided to test the keeper from a wide position with a powerful strike aiming for the far post, a diving save was the crucial touch to push it wide.
The West Yorkshire side started the second half as they ended the first. A smart pass from a free kick sent Robinson free down the left-wing, he attempted to pick out Alex Gilliead inside the area but slightly overpowered his pass and sent the ball out of bounds.
City were pushing for their second and nearly achieved it again. Levi Sutton recovered a rebounded ball from a corner and struck it on the volley which impressively arrowed against the post with power.
Lee Angol made his much-anticipated return to Bradford’s side following a long-term injury, he marked his appearance with an immediate impact from the bench. The pacy forward was played in-behind before slotting the ball towards the back post, Threlkeld met the pass but couldn't finish past an outstretched Dawson.
Moments later the visitors fought back some of Bradford’s dominance, O’Donnell was forced to make an acrobatic save as Exeter’s effort from the penalty spot was cleared of any danger.
Everyone inside the Utilita Energy Stadium believed that the Bantams had claimed their much deserved second goal. Cooke set up Watt for a strike from range, the effort rebounded into the path of Threlkeld but his shot was smashed into the side netting from close-range.
Derek Adam’s side paid the ultimate price for not converting the many chances they’ve created as the visitors snatched a late equaliser. Josh Key did some tremendous skill down the right side and set up Sam Nombe who tapped home from inside the 6-yard box.
That was all this great FA Cup first round wrote, the Bantams will be heartbroken not to be advancing into the second round following a fantastic performance filled with many chances, a rematch in Devon awaits...
Tomorrow the Bantams are opening their 21/22 FA Cup campaign in hope to reach similar highs the 14/15 FA Cup unveiled as Premier League champions were defeated 4-2 by Bradford.
Derek Adam’s side come into the fixture off the back of a solid 1-1 draw against Sky Bet League Two league-leaders Forest Green Rovers, Andy Cook’s powerful headed granted City the lead early in the first half and eventually was crucial in sharing the points. Exeter secured a 2-1 victory against Salford City, boosting their unbeaten streak to 13 games in a row. Matthew Taylor’s side currently sit fourth and five points off the top.
The visitors captain, Matt Jay has been a dangerous force up-front so far this campaign. The agile-striker is the league's top scorer after recording nine goals so far with also one assist. Jay scored on the most recent game week and will be motivated to open his FA Cup account.
The Bantam’s currently have 2 first-team candidates injured, Lee Angol and Abo Eisa are still not expected to be featured despite being involved in training.
This clash is set up to be an end-to-end game of football between two attacking-focused sides.
Antonio Conte is the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. Who saw this one coming? I certainly had my reservations until the official announcement came through and even then I still had to pinch myself.
When Conte was originally linked to the Spurs job back in the summer I was incredibly excited at the prospect of a proven world-class coach coming to Hotspur way, it almost sounded too good to be true given the sorry state the club was in. Conte also demands a hell of a lot of financial investment from his chairman, he left Chelsea and Inter Milan because of it. Daniel Levy, notorious for keeping his cheque book tucked away, seems like a match made in hell for Conte.
Unsurprisingly the deal broke down and after approaching every other manager in Europe Tottenham settled on the low-key appointment of Nuno and normal order felt like it had resumed.
Four months later Nuno managed to make Tottenham play some of the most boring football I had ever seen, culminating with a 3-0 loss to Manchester United, which reportedly made sporting director Fabio Paratici so enthused with rage that he left his pitch side seat early just to call Conte to persuade him to reconsider.
Paratici must have used all his powers of persuasion for Conte to even consider taking over such a toxic role, the players look dejected and unenthused to do a job millions of people around the world could only dream of and for an extraordinary amount of money.
Despite this Conte agreed to take the role, so why? Conte is a serial winner and that is his motivation, so at a glance you would expect him to take over sides that are ready made to win silverware like Pep Guardiola has done with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and currently Manchester City. Tottenham are not that caliber of club, far from it, but at closer inspection Conte likes a challenge.
When he took over Juventus in 2011 they had not won Serie A since 2003 he then led them to three consecutive Serie A titles, when he took over Chelsea in the 2016-17 season he had to clean up the mess Jose Mourinho had left (sounds familiar), which had resulted in them finishing 10th in the Premier League the previous season, their lowest finish since 1996. During his first season with Chelsea he not only won the Premier League he also set a new Premier League record for the most wins in a single season, with 30 league victories out of a possible 38.
His CV is a work of art, he takes teams to a level that even the players didn’t know they could go to. His only downside is he doesn’t stay anywhere for very long and this certainly isn’t a long term appointment, evident by his 18 month contract, but right now that doesn’t matter.
For a number of years the football at Tottenham has not been put first and the fans have suffered for it. Yes we have had the training ground and the stadium but since the Champions League final the football has suffered, no squad investment and poor managerial appointments has left Tottenham a shadow of the side they were under Pochettino.
This appointment is the quickest way to get back to winning ways even if it is just in the short term, Levy has got this one right. Conte will get players like Kane and Son firing again before they finish their prime years. It’s a very welcomed statement of intent from Tottenham and fans should be thrilled with this signing.
Conte's first job is to get Tottenham’s Europa Conference League back on track against Vitesse who they lost to 1-0 in the reverse fixture. Conte’s only injury concern is Bryan Gil, it will be very interesting to see what side he puts out.
Blades travel to the City Ground
Sheffield United take on Nottingham Forest tonight at the home of the two time European Champions. Both sides have struggled early on this season and have exactly equal records with regards to wins draws losses and goal difference this season.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s Blades side have been very inconsistent this season and are struggling to find a winning formula, especially in recent times. The Serbian boss has acknowledged the Blades struggles and has admitted he needs “to find a solution” to improve United’s fortunes going forwards. United fans are growing increasingly frustrated at the moment and this has led to some fans questioning the managers methods and suitability for the role on social media.
Regarding team news, United are set to be without Ben Davies after he went of with an injury during the 1-0 loss against Blackpool on Saturday, this could open the door for Jack Robinson to return to the side on his former stomping ground, despite being out of the matchday squad for much of the season, with the manager seemingly favouring the left footed defenders to play alongside John Egan. Lys Mousset also hobbled off at the weekend however Jokanovic has said he “will be available”. United are still without Sander Berge and Jayden Bogle. Former Forest players Luke Freeman and Ollie Burke have also been out of the squad for a while but are believed to be nearing full fitness. As for Rhian Brewster, who has been left out of the last three Blades matchday squads, it is unclear whether he is carrying an injury or being left out for another reason however, the £23 million mans poor form since joining the Blades is likely to be the reason as an injury hasn’t been reported during the managers press conference.
Nottingham Forest became the first Championship side to change their manager this season after sacking Chris Hughton in September. However, their decision has been proved right as new boss Steve Cooper has only lost one of his first seven games in charge, a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of second placed Fulham. Forest are without three defenders in summer signing Rodrigo Ely as well as Jordi Osei-Tutu and Loic Mbe Soh.
The disappointing loss against Blackpool saw the Blades spurn chances and waste good attacking areas failing to score for the 5th time this season. Despite dominating large periods of the game a defensive lapse of concentration allowed Keshi Anderson in behind to score the winner. The last time the Blades were on the road on a Tuesday night was a 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough so the signs aren’t great. Despite this the players are surely wanting to put on a good performance to reward their sold out travelling support after they were booed off on Saturday. However on current form I can’t see the Blades winning and I am sadly predicting a 3-1 loss.
Manchester United made their first stride forward in putting last weekend's disappointment behind them with an emphatic 0-3 dispatching of Spurs.
The victory moved The Reds up to fifth in the table, only missing out on being in the top four on goal difference.
Tottenham took control early, and the games' first chance was Son Heung-Min's when he cut inside and took a shot from long-range, which deflected off Fred as he lunged in front to block.
Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire found themselves on yellow cards early in the game, with the latter giving Harry Kane a free-kick in a dangerous area. United dealt with it before Son skied a close-range opportunity at the near post.
Around half an hour in, and the ball was in the United net. A Tottenham corner was flicked on and met by centre-back Cristian Romero's body as he bundled it over the line.
The linesman, however, correctly raised his flag for offside.
At the other end, Fred almost scored a wonderful goal from distance, only for the sprawling Spurs captain Hugo Loris to get an outstretched glove to the ball.
Another darting run in behind from Shaw began the pinball that created the Reds' first goal.
The hosts failed to clear their lines numerous times and, in the end, Fernandes picked up the ball outside the box and clipped an excellent through ball over the top, to the back post, where Cristiano Ronaldo had peeled away into space to meet the ball with an exquisite volley into the far corner.
Ronaldo thought he had scored again early in the second half as he broke free to run onto a perfectly weighted pass into his path from Scott McTominay, thumping home, leaving Lloris glued to his spot.
But United's no. 7 must have known what was coming, as he had one eye on the linesman during his celebrations and the replays showed he was narrowly offside.
Fernandes stole possession from young Oliver Skipp before shifting the ball to Ronaldo, who played it forward for the impeccably timed run of Edinson Cavani.
The 'King of Uruguay' then lifted the ball over the onrushing Lloris to double his side's advantage in front of the travelling United faithful.
A few minutes before the final whistle, substitute Marcus Rashford wrapped up the game, scoring his third goal in four since his injury.
Played in by fellow sub Nemanja Matic, Rashford placed his shot into the bottom right corner to seal victory for Solskjaer's side in North London.
Next up for Ole’s men is a trip to Bergamo, Italy, to play the reverse fixture against Atalanta in the Champions League group stage.
No new injury concerns arose from the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, giving the manager a full squad from which to choose his team.
Paul Pogba’s is available to play, as his suspension is only in domestic competition, meaning he can play in Europe on Tuesday night.
A win would go a long way to seal qualification to the last-16 for United.
They currently sit on six points, having defeated Atalanta and Villarreal at home, but were beaten in Bern by BSC Young Boys.
By Finley Chung - League Two Editor.
Sitting a lowly 19th place in EFL League 2 at the time of writing, things on the pitch look bleak for Colchester United. 3 wins, just nine goals and only 14 points from 13 matches, the on-pitch form has been way below par. Off the pitch however, things seem even more disjointed for the Blue and White Army.
On the 22nd of October 2021, Robbie Cowling, Colchester United chairman, Robbie Cowling issued his latest statement which hasn’t gone down well with the U’s folklore. In the statement, Cowling touches on attendance figures which have not been where either fans, or Robbie Cowling would like. 1,075 season tickets have been sold for the current season, listing COVID restrictions, strictness on matchday tickets and the effect of midweek games all impacting the attendance, according to Cowling.
Also in the statement, the ‘matchday experience’ and the atmosphere at games also come under scrutiny from the chairman, often using the phrase “It’s not as bad as it’s been made out to be”.
This hasn’t gone down particularly well with Colchester supporters. I spoke to some fans to really gauge what they think of the current off pitch issues at the club.
I spoke to Colchester fan, Lauren (@CufcLauren04) about the situation and she started off her comments by looking back at the good times as a Colchester fan. “Having been a season ticket holder of 5 years and a regular home and away follower of The U’s, it really gives an insight of to what goes on in and around the club. It has left me and plenty of other fans stunned as to how we’ve gone from beating Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace on the way to a League Cup game at Old Trafford, to being in a relegation dogfight in League 2 in the space of a season”.
The cup run that Lauren was referring too was of course, in the curtailed 2019/2020 season which was heavily disrupted by the outbreak of the Coronavirus. However, things on the pitch that season and indeed off it, looked very rosy for The U’s, thrilling League Cup triumphs over Swindon Town and then two penalty shootout wins against Crystal Palace and 2019 Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur set up a Round 4 tie with Crawley Town, which The U’s were victorious and then came the big one, a cup quarter final at Old Trafford to face Manchester United. Unfortunately for Colchester, they came unstuck and succumbed to a 3-0 defeat. This cup run that had provided so many memories, coupled with a place in the League 2 playoffs after the table was settled on a PPG basis saw Colchester destined for the high times to continue, it was about to get a lot worse for them however, with the second leg defeat in the playoff semi-finals to Exeter City, the catalyst to the alarming downward trajectory.
Lauren herself also touched on the attendance issues that Colchester have faced this season, with their highest recorded attendance at the time of writing, this campaign at home a total of 3,013, in their recent home encounter against Sutton United. “Our attendance levels have dropped significantly and will probably remain lower than before the pandemic for a long period to time…”.
Cowling then issued a statement on the 28th of October 2021, just a few days after a 3-1 home defeat to Sutton, in which most of the home crowd made their displeasure towards Cowling known. Cowling used this statement to remind supporters of the clubs Sanctions policy, after abusive language and chanting was launched in his direction during the Sutton game.
Lauren left with a parting comment, saying that “it is up to us for us to motivate the team as much as possible to drive us on up the table. All we want on our Saturdays is to be felt valued by the higher powers within the club”.
Having just come off the back of a 2-1 home victory against Scunthorpe on October 30th, things on the pitch may have finally turned the corner for Colchester, however off the pitch, the fans are still disgruntled at what they are seeing, with Lauren perfectly summing it up, “We all love this club so much, we’re just trying to voice our opinions before it’s too late”.
The Blades scored three second half goals to defeat South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley 3-2 at Oakwell. An early second half double from Lys Mousset and a 72nd minute strike from Ben Osborn were enough for United to beat struggling Barnsley despite the late fightback from the hosts.
Four changes to the side that lost against Millwall during the week saw Oli McBurnie, Lys Mousset, George Baldock and Ollie Norwood return to the side in place of Billy Sharp, Conor Hourihane, suspended Morgan Gibbs-White and injured Jayden Bogle. The Tykes also made 4 changes to their line up in an attempt to stop their recent slump with Liam Kitching, Victor Adeboyejo, Dominik Frieser and Toby Sibbick coming in.
In the first half there was very little quality shown by either side. Only one shot on target was registered in the first 45 minutes, Cauley Woodrow’s effort ending up safely in the grasp of Robin Olsen. Despite the dreary first half performance Lys Mousset’s willing running in behind the Barnsley back line provided a constant threat and an outlet ball for the Blades.
Whatever Slavisa Jokanovic said at half time worked, as after the break United improved massively and Lys Mousset got his rewards for his efforts. Just 6 minutes into the second period Ben Osborn played the ball into the feet of Lys Mousset just outside the area in the left half of the pitch, Mousset cut inside and unleashed a curling right footed effort into the far bottom corner. Just two minutes later the Blades scored again Ben Osborn, doubling his assist tally, drilling a ball across the face of the goal and Lys Mousset latching onto the cross and finishing into the roof of the net to make it 2-0. However, it wasn’t all good for Mousset as he was replaced just after the hour mark with a suspected calf injury.
Ben Osborn added a goal to his two assists in the 72nd minute tucking home George Baldock’s low cross past Brad Collins into the bottom corner, this looked like the final goal especially as their opponents hadn’t scored in the second half of a game since the opening day of the season. However, in typical Sheffield United fashion of course it couldn’t be that easy.
Substitute Devante Cole controlled Callum Style’s cross on his chest took it round Ben Davies and thumped his volley into Robin Olsen’s top corner in the 78th minute. Then just four minutes later Markus Schopp’s side had their second through Aaron Leya Iseka. Weak defending from United allowed him to bundle his way around Baldock and Fleck to smash his finish into the roof of the net. Despite the late fightback from the Tykes they were unable to get a point from the game and remain rooted in the relegation zone three points adrift of Cardiff in 21st, whereas the Blades move up to 14th now three points of the play off places.
By Finley Chung - Sutton United Writer
A brilliant free kick from Tyrese Shade midway through the second half saw Walsall take the three points back to the West Midlands on Saturday. This result leaves Sutton with two back-to-back home defeats, as the hosts missed the chance tighten their grip on a place in the playoffs.
Jon Barden was another name on the Sutton treatment table after their trip to Colchester in midweek, Rob Milsom had to start the game in midfield with Ben Wyatt starting at fullback, with Enzio Boldewijn dropping to the bench, in place of Will Randall. The Saddlers had some good early chances too, with top marksman George Miller slicing over after getting in behind the Sutton defence and Dean Bouzanis saving well to deny a Brendan Kiernan low volley.
The remainder of the first half yielded Sutton chance after Sutton chance as the home side looked to turn the screw, Ali Smith turned an effort just wide from a David Ajiboye cross after some great work from the winger, while Ben Goodliffe met a Milsom cross with a superb header which looked destined to find the back of the net, only to ht one of the desperately diving Walsall bodies Infront of the effort. Ajiboye was at the heart of the creative efforts again, setting up Will Randall who’s curling effort went wide and with the final chance of the half, Sutton were agonisingly close to the opener, when Joe Kizzi headed the ball back across, Goodliffe and Omar Bugiel both flew in, but neither could get a touch and Walsall managed to clear their lines. This got The Saddlers through to half time, having weathered much of the Sutton storm.
Half Time – Sutton United 0-0 Walsall
Walsall toughened up after the break, becoming more resolute and not giving anything away, not letting Sutton have any room whatsoever. Joss Labadie was tussling and battling with Rob Milsom throughout the game and the former went down under challenge from the latter on the edge of the area, with referee Carl Boyeson ruling that Labadie had been fouled. Tyrese Shade, who had been introduced as a substitute seven minutes earlier, stepped up and curled his free kick past the scrambling Dean Bouzanis into the near post to put The Saddlers one up.
Sutton huffed and puffed for the remainder of the second half, trying desperately to get their elusive equaliser. David Ajiboye produced another darting run, beating three Walsall players but his shot clipped the top of the crossbar on the way over. Coby Rowe then sent a shot wide of the mark and with the final chance of the game, Enzio Boldewijn sent the ball across the face of goal, with Tobi Sho-Silva agonisingly close to getting a touch, but the ball just wouldn’t go in for Sutton as Walsall weathered yet another storm, to earn themselves three vital points.
Full Time – Sutton United 0-1 Walsall.
“We are going to make you proud” were the words of Nuno Espírito Santo the day he was appointed as manager of Tottenham Hotspur football club. Four months and seventeen games later, far from making anybody proud he leaves at the head of a tenure everybody will quickly want to forget.
Let’s start with the game that was the final nail in the coffin for Nuno, the 3-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday. Fittingly this was the worst performance of the Nuno era, both sides started poorly, looking petrified to concede. The first-half was decided by a world class Cristiano Ronaldo goal, Bruno Fernandes’ wonderful pass found Ronaldo at the back post, who sensationally volleyed the ball across Lloris to give United a 1-0 lead.
The second-half got even worse, United doubled their advantage just after the hour mark, Ronaldo turned provider putting Cavani through to exquisitely dinked the ball over the onrushing Hugo Lloris to make it 2-0. Tottenham looked shell shocked after another world class finish had undone them, and they failed to respond with any clear cut chances. The victory was confirmed five minutes from time when Marcus Rashford broke beyond the Spurs defence to easily slot the ball into the bottom corner to give Ole a much needed victory.
Tottenham failed to register a single shot on target at home against a Man U side void of confidence, the game was summed up 54 minutes in when Lucas Moura, who had been the best player for Spurs up to that point, was subbed off for Steven Bergwijn. This was met with a chorus of boos by the onlooking Spurs supporters, shortly followed by the chant ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’.
Tottenham supporters had clearly had enough of Nuno and therefore it was no surprise that the following day stories started to circulate about the possibility of his exit. Some may see it as harsh - four months is really no time at all to stamp your authority on a team.
This dismissal must have been the result of a realisation from Chairman Daniel Levy and Managing Director Fabio Paratici that the appointment they made in the summer was an incredibly poor one. If reports were to be believed Nuno was ninth choice for this position and it is clear to see why, he has been out of his depth since day one, the team has had no style stamped on the team and to only score nine goals in ten premier league games is unforgivable.
Make no mistake whoever is to be appointed next has a monumental task on their hands. This is a two year culmination of a squad in decline. Pochettino did an unbelievable job with the resources he had and he took them as far as they could by reaching the 2019 champions league final, Levy then refused to give him the squad investment he needed to kick on and challenge for titles. That was on Levy not Pochettino. Mourinho was then bought in as a purely egotistical appointment and unsurprisingly that ended in tears.
Since Pochettino has left the team looked tired and unenthusiastic, Kane and Ndombele wanted to leave in the summer they have stayed and been inconsistent, the likes of Dembele, Eriksen and Walker have never been replaced.
The most likely name being thrown around at the moment is Antonio Conte, everyone knows what he requires to take over a role. So if this appointment does go through, does this mean Levy is committing to splashing the cash on the squad. Levy has one more roll of the dice if this appointment fails Spurs fans will be calling for his head, Nuno will take the blame this time, but there is no hiding the fact he is responsible for this two year car crash.
The last four months has been a complete waste of time, Nuno was clearly not the right fit for Tottenham and it is crazy that he was every appointed. Now Levy returns to negotioations with Conte after they failed only six months ago, so what has changed now? Tottenham are desparate they can't have another farcical six month manager search, they will have to give Conte everything he wants. Conte will no doubt steady the ship but it will be interesting to see if he turns out to be a good long term appointment.
Coming back of a crucial 3-1 victory against promotion candidates Swindon Town, the Bantams had league-leaders Forest Green to overcome at the Ultilia Energy Stadium.
City started off the tie in great fashion, some great spells of possession and attacking intent put the visitors under pressure instantly.
Moments later Derek Adam’s side found themself leading, Andy Cook converted Elliot Watt’s corner with a powerful header which looped into the far-side of the goal.
The hosts nearly added a second shortly before the break, Cook could’ve doubled his tally from another corner, but McGee denies him with a quick reaction save.
Forest Green were desperate to level the scores before the break, wing-back Nicky Cadden looked to bend an effort into the far-left corner but was marginally wide.
Levi Sutton produced a moment of magic which pushed the Bantams to another strong chance, the agile-midfielder sprinted past the majority of Rob Edward’s side before being fouled on the edge of the area. City deserved a goal from his individual performance and they were close to! Watt’s free kick was deflected into the path of Cook which he smashed wide of the post.
Half time halted City’s impressive performance against the league leaders, great defensive organisation and some dangerous attacking spells forced the visitor into some panic.
Forest green started the second half strongly and equalised, a very controversial decision gave the visitors the room to launch a counter attack which ended in Jake Young scoring from close range.
City looked to regain their control over the fixture, Watt's ball into the box was met by Canavan who's smashed his header onto the crossbar.
The Bantams created another chance in quick succession, Robinson struck the ball from the right-side of the area which forced a crucial diving save to deny the journey-man striker of his second goal in Bradford’s colours.
The rest of the half was a tightly contested fixture which was intense for both sides and included some entertaining end-to-end moments. City will feel unlucky not to have claimed all three points this afternoon after a positive performance.
MY MOTM: Has to be Levi Sutton, his attacking runs and overall work rate today was absolutely superb and was crucial to creating multiple chances which could’ve boosted City to claiming all three points.