Sutton Earn Historic Maiden EFL Win over Stevenage

12/09/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer

A 5-minute double from Sutton United’s Richie Bennett earned the home side their maiden EFL win over the 10 men of Stevenage. Elliott List had given the Hertfordshire side the lead, before Bennett levelled just 3 minutes after List’s opener, with the Sutton man smashing home the winner from 12 yards when Terrence Vancooten was adjudged to have handled inside the box and was dismissed for his troubles.

In their first game since the heart-breaking EFL home opener against Oldham, Sutton manager, Matt Jay gave opportunities to Richie Bennett, Tobi Sho -Silva and Alistair Smith to look to earn Sutton a historic first ever EFL win.

The opening to the encounter was tough, as the sun shone down on the VBS Community Stadium pitch both teams were trying to find their rhythm early on. Bruno Andrade of Stevenage had the first chance midway through the first half, inches away from connection to a Ben Coker cross from the by-line. Stevenage keeper, Joseph Anang then had his gloves stung for the first time in the afternoon, as Richie Bennet took aim, but the Stevenage stopper held onto the effort. Tobi Sho-Silva then had a guilt edged chance to put Sutton Infront, but his header was straight at Anang.

Just after the half-hour mark, Stevenage had probably the best chance of the half. Coker got to the by-line yet again and hung a cross up to the back post, with Luke Norris connecting to the cross, but Dean Bouzanis tipped the ball onto the crossbar to see Sutton survive the scare. Bouzanis was called into action to again deny Norris at the end of the first half.

Half Time – Sutton United 0-0 Stevenage

The second half got underway with Enzo Boldewijn and Richie Bennett beginning to feature more prominently for the hosts, with the former being denied by Anang, while the latter was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Terence Vancooten. Sutton were on top and applying the pressure onto Stevenage, but the visitors quickly turned on the style on the break. Chris Lines threaded the ball through to Elliott List who smashed the ball home to put the visitors ahead. Sutton weren’t to be behind for long however, as Joe Kizzi surged down the right and his cross was met by the head of Richie Bennett to haul the hosts back level, just three minutes after going behind.

Sutton had their tails up and when Vancooten was adjudged to have handled in the box and received his marching orders, Bennett placed the ball down on the spot and the entire ground, well at least the Sutton United fans and everyone associated, took an entire collective deep breath. Bennett remained ice cool and slotted his penalty away to send Sutton fans into raptures and completely turn the game on its head.

Stevenage were working hard as the game ticked into its final half hour to get back into the encounter, with James Reid and Jamie Daly being introduced as the Herts side faced an ever more uphill battle to get something from the encounter. It was Daly who thought he had put the visitors back level with fifteen minutes remaining, but his celebration was short lived as the linesman on the far side raised his flag.

That was to be the last action and when the referee blew his whistle, a moment of joy for Sutton United and the players, after they recorded the club's first ever, English Football League win.

Blades Take On Posh In Search Of First Championship Success

11/09/2021 - Championship

By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer

Sheffield United host Peterborough in a 3 o’clock kick off at Bramall Lane on Saturday. The Blades are yet to win in the league this season and are sitting second bottom with just 2 points from their first 5 games. Fellow strugglers Peterborough travel up to Sheffield just 3 places and 2 points ahead of their hosts. United will view this game as a huge opportunity to show their quality against the newly promoted side.

As for team news, mystery surrounds whether new Blades number 1, Robin Olsen, will be available for selection. During the pre-game media the Blades boss said “it’s new rules on the Covid situation and Brexit I can not give you an answer on whether I can use him in my team”; Olsen was not on the EFL squad list released by the Blades during the week so it is unlikely he will feature this weekend. However, Jokanovic’s side will receive a boost from being able to call upon the services of other summer signings Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White to make their Blades debut as they add their quality in the middle of the park. Other selection problems include David McGoldrick who is recovering from a calf strain and both Ben Davies and Sander Berge coming back from COVID isolation.

The visitors will be without their skipper, former owl Mark Beavers, and striker Ricky Jade Jones for the trip up north both missing out through injury.

Last time out, the Blades drew with 0-0 Luton at Kenilworth Road and have lost both home games at the start of this season to Birmingham and Huddersfield respectively. Whereas the visitors conceded a crushing 94th minute header as they went down 1-0 at the hands of West Brom. The Posh have also lost their first two games on the road, so whatever the result may be one or both teams' run of form must come to an end.

My prediction is a 3-1 Blades win as they shake off the early season malaise, hopefully coming back from the international break revitalised and with fresh ideas to put in a strong performance in front of the home support.

Owls fly south for Plymouth clash

10/09/2021 - League One

By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer

Sheffield Wednesday return to League One action this weekend as they face 14th place Plymouth Argyle at 3pm on Saturday.

Following defeat to Morecambe last time out in the league, Darren Moore will be looking for a reaction at Home Park where The Owls will don their brand new pink away strip for the first time this season.

Wednesday’s opponents have made a steady start to the league campaign, winning two of the first five matches and losing just once, with that only defeat coming on the opening day away at Rotherham United. Like The Owls, The Pilgrims saw last weekend’s game rescheduled due to international involvement so will feel refreshed ahead of Wednesday’s visit. Saturday’s hosts remain unbeaten at home so far this season after a 1-0 win over Gillingham, a 1-1 draw against Cambridge and then another 1-1 draw with Fleetwood Town in their last league fixture.

The Argyle manager, Ryan Lowe, will be excited ahead of the clash against his former club, with the Ex-Owls striker scoring eight times during Wednesday’s 2011/12 League One promotion season. The Hillsborough faithful hold pleasant memories of the Liverpudlian who has been linked with the Wednesday job on multiple occasions in the past.

Sheffield Wednesday’s loan goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was nominated for the League One player of the month after he was voted as Wednesday’s best player for August, and the 24-year-old has been catching the eye again on international duty with Northern Ireland, saving penalties against Lithuania and Switzerland. The man on loan from Burnley has now faced four penalties this season without conceding whilst only letting in one goal since joining the Yorkshire club. Saturday will prove to be another stern test for The Owls’ defence as they face a strike duo of Luke Jephcott and Ryan Hardie who both have three goals so far this term.

Darren Moore has plenty of strike power in his own armoury following the deadline day addition of Ex-premier league forward Saido Berahino. The 28-year-old made a highly reported move to S6 just over a week ago and could be in contention for the trip down South. Another name back in the mix for Wednesday is that of Olamide Shodipo who is back in full training following his injury in the Carabao Cup first round exit. After decent outings in the Papa John’s Trophy last week both Theo Corbeanu and Sylla Sow also have a case to start making this Darren Moore’s biggest headache so far this season.

Despite the long journey, The Owls come into this one as favourites with just 15 points for correctly predicting an away win whilst should the hosts continue their fine home start there’s 20 points up for grabs. With both teams looking dangerous going forward, there may be a few goals in this one especially with Bailey Peacock-Farrell only recently returning to the Wednesday camp following Northern Ireland heroics. I’ll go with a 2-1 Wednesday win scoring 100 points should it come in. Head over to the ‘play’ section to have your own say…

Second coming of Crist-iano Ronaldo

10/09/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer

At his pre-match press conference, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has confirmed that Cristiano Ronaldo will definitely make his second debut for the club this weekend.

Ronaldo arrived at Carrington on Tuesday after being released early by Portugal due to a one-match suspension.

Jadon Sancho was the only casualty of the international break, but he has since been training with his United teammates since his withdrawal from the England squad.

Solksjaer said: "Jadon has come back in and trained the last couple of days. He's disappointed he couldn't play for England but determined to be fit, and he's available. That's a positive."

Alex Telles and Scott McTominay have been training this week as they up their fitness upon returning from their injuries.

"Alex is not 100 per cent," said Solksjaer. "He's still a few weeks [away]. Scott has recovered very quickly from the operation, so, if he's going to play or not, I'm not sure."

Dean Henderson and Phil Jones have also been trying after their respective absences.

Eric Bailly returned from his Ivory Coast to work at Carrington on Wednesday, but fellow Ivorian international Amad remains injured.

Raphael Varane is in line to make his home debut for the reds after coming back from international duty with France unscathed.

Fred's availability is up in the air after FIFA's ruling, making Brazilian players unavailable to their clubs.

This came after Brazil complained that several of their players from the Premier League did not report for international duty.

Premier League clubs didn't allow their Brazillian's to go due to Brazil being a red list country and having to quarantine upon return to England.

However, Newcastle manager and former red Steve Bruce has confirmed that Miguel Almiron will be available after Paraguay followed suit of their South American compatriots and complained to FIFA that he didn't report to their training camp.

Bruce also confirmed Callum Wilson is out with a thigh injury, while Ryan Fraser is also unavailable after picking up an injury while on international duty with Scotland.

Martin Dubravka remains sidelined, along with Jonjo Shelvey and Paul Dummett.

Meanwhile, Isaac Hayden is closing on full fitness.

Foxes host Citizens in a swift rerun of the Community Shield final

10/09/2021 - Premier League

By Tyler Khan, Leicester City writer

Leicester City host the current Premier League champions Manchester City this Saturday, in their first match back after the international break. The Foxes will be looking to make it two wins in two against City this season after Kelechi Iheanacho scored an 89th minute penalty in the Community Shield just over a month ago.

Leicester City have had an okay start to the season with two wins over Wolves & Norwich, but they also suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to West Ham. 

Leicester sit 9th in the table and will be looking to push up a few more positions over the next few games.

Brendan Rodgers will be reminding the squad that they do have a chance of taking some points from the City game, after beating them just over a month ago - with the 5-2 victory at the Etihad last September still in their minds too.

Although Rodgers will be reminding the players of the previous encounter, he will also not be naive in thinking this game is going to be similar to the game that they played in the Community Shield. In this fixture we could see Pep Guardiola putting out one of- if not the strongest starting lineup he has available to him; compared to his weakened side in early August.

While Man City do have a strong backline, we have seen Jamie Vardy find ways to exploit it over the years - and this is why he must turn up on Saturday. Leicester won’t see much of the ball and they will have to take the little opportunities they get, so I can see Leicester opting with the strategy of looking to play in Vardy when they get a chance as this will be their best chance of scoring in this game.

It sounds as though it may be too early for Ademola Lookman to start the game this weekend, but the new signing could be on the Foxes bench as an option for Rodgers to exploit a tiring City defence with some electric pace.

Rodgers looks like he is going to stick with the newly adopted 442 formation. It could be a defence of Caglar Soyuncu, Daniel Amartey and Ricardo Pereira, with Luke Thomas also starting again on the left-hand side. Rodgers will be banking on his midfield four of Barnes, Ndidi, Tielemans & Albrighton; and expect the same system as the Norwich game, with Vardy and James Maddison starting up top.

Man City are the favourites going into this game, as they are in 99% of the games they play, however as I said before I do see Leicester potentially taking a point from this game if Rodgers can set his team out in the right way.

Footrace has Leicester available at 50 points, with my prediction of a draw worth 34, and - if you want to side with the favourites - Man City are available for 5 points.

Stoke welcome early-season promotion rival

10/09/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Michael O’Neill’s side returns from the international break having a good track record in the league but with their most recent game being a loss against Championship leaders Fulham.

They’ll be looking to get back to their pre-Fulham form against a Huddersfield side that sits level with the Potters on points and only one ahead in goal difference.

Huddersfield, however, come into the clash on the back of a 4-0 routing of Reading and will look to continue this run. Carlos Corberán’s team will be aiming to keep pressure on the top spots as they sit only one point behind Queens Park Rangers in third.

Corberán’s side has received a boost this week with the reported returns of Aaron Rowe who will provide competition for the wide positions, and Josh Ruffels who could slot in either at left-back or midfield. Harry Toffolo has started the last two games at left-back, and Ollie Turton has featured on the right, so there will be plenty of choices to be made ahead of Saturday’s game.

Stoke have also been handed a boost with goalkeeper Adam Davies set to return after having been pulled out of the Wales international squad due to contracting coronavirus. Though Davies has only featured in the EFL Cup so far, he may return this weekend to O’Neill’s side.

The Potters are hoping to turn their form around after the poor display at Fulham, hoping to jump ahead of Huddersfield in the table with three points at the weekend. Huddersfield have won three straight Championship games since their loss to Fulham in their second match.

Stoke will need to lead from the front and keep an energised Huddersfield side that is on good form. Michael O’Neill’s side will look to continue the prolific nature of Nick Powell and Sam Surridge in front of goal, building on their form so far.

Spurs must cope without several first team players as they travel to Palace

10/09/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

The Premier League is back after what felt like an incredibly long international break, I think it felt longer than usual due to the great position Tottenham find themselves in after three games, sitting top of the table with a 100% winning start. I was eager to see Tottenham continue this great form especially with fixtures such as England v Andorra being the alternative.

Thankfully Spurs are back and are the lunchtime kick-off, travelling to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace, the Eagles always make it a tricky affair for Spurs and dont expect this match to be any different. Palaces last outing resulted in an entertaining 2-2 draw against in-form West Ham, no doubt this result will have given them confidence and I expect them to bring it against Spurs, defending compactly and looking to release Zaha on the counter.

It will be very interesting to see what team Nuno chooses tomorrow, Tottenham are without Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez, following the mess of Covid-19 protocols for players in South America. Worryingly, Son Heung-min is another doubt after injuring his calf on international duty. These absentees could see Tanguy Ndombele get some minutes for the first time this season or even deadline day signing Emerson Royal coming in for a debut.

I see this being another cagey affair for Tottenham so I am going for another 1-0 win for Spurs making it four in a row in the Premier League, Footrace are offering 70 points for this result. Footrace is offering 35 points for a Palace win, 27 for a draw and 8 for the overwhelming favourites Tottenham Hotspur.

Sutton's long awaited return to action as Stevenage come to Gander Green Lane

10/09/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer

After an extended COVID and injury enforced break from their last fixture, Sutton United are back in EFL action this weekend as 12th placed Stevenage visit the leagues basement side, with their first visit to the Ground since a Nationwide Conference game in 1999.

This fixture kicks off a run of three games in seven days for Sutton, who after the visit of Stevenage, welcome Hartlepool United on Tuesday night, before hitting the road and making the long journey down to Devon, to face Exeter.

Before those two assignments though, attention turns to Stevenage in what is the clubs first League match in two weeks since their heart-breaking loss to Oldham Athletic on August 28th. The form of visitors Stevenage, has stuttered a bit since winning their first three games of the season in league and cup, with the Hertfordshire side now winless in their last five matches. Sutton United assistant manager, Jason Goodlife will be very familiar with the opposition, having made over 150 appearances for Boro, along with two management spells.

The home side will have Omar Bugiel available after his international exploits with Lebanon over the break. The players that are currently injured, or COVID confined could be in line for a return too.

In terms of Footrace points for the fixture, if you fancy Sutton to bag their first ever EFL win, it’ll get you 20 points, with one more available for the draw with 21 up for grabs. If you fancy the Hertfordshire side, then a Stevenage win will earn you 15 points in your set of predictions.

The FootR8: Ronaldo returns, happy Harrogate & Champions challenge

10/09/2021 - General

By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer

Harrogate Town vs Newport County

Harrogate Town had a successful first season in league football, finishing 17th and ensuring another season at this level. Fast forward to today, the Sulphurites sit top of the League Two after five matches, with a game in hand on Forest Green who are second. Harrogate have won their last two games 3-1 and are the second highest scorers in the league.

Newport on the other hand have made a decent start, sitting in 15th after the disappointment of a play off final defeat at the back of last season. The Exiles have made a mixed start to the campaign, but will be looking to gather some form in hopes of emulating, if not bettering, last season’s finish.

On paper there is not a tougher place to do that than at the Envirovent stadium, with the hosts being unbeaten at home so far. Newport however have had more success on the road so far this campaign, which could be a leveller in this clash.

Arsenal vs Norwich City

If before the season someone had said that this game would be a bottom of the table clash, I don’t think many people would have believed you. Or maybe you would? This doubt is a sad indictment of Arsenal’s fall over the last few years, with the club adopting a younger transfer strategy that will no doubt take time to come to fruition, the situation is precarious currently for the Gunners.

Like their visitors, Norwich are also without a win in the league but have been handed a tough start to the campaign. Having played Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester in their opening four games (with Newcastle being the opener). In those games, the Canaries have only netted once, a penalty converted by Teemu Pukki.

This is one more goal than the Gunners have scored in the league this season, a stat Arsenal will be desperate to change against the recently promoted Canaries.

Manchester United vs Newcastle United

There is a return to Old Trafford for a certain Manchester United legend on the cards when the Red Devils take on Newcastle on Saturday.

Steve Bruce sits in the opposition dugout this time...of course I mean CR7 himself, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s ‘homecoming’ will no doubt dominate proceedings, but there is debate surrounding the Portuguese player’s level of impact considering his age. However, I’m sure his introduction will be a huge boost to a club already with a good feeling around the place.

This is not good news for Newcastle, who have not tasted victory since the opening day, and suffered a 4-1 defeat in this fixture last season. This, combined with Ronaldo’s homecoming could be bad news for the Magpies.

Leicester City vs Manchester City

Two teams who have won the Premier League in the last five years face off at the King Power on Saturday, as Leicester play host to Manchester City. It has been a mixed start to life for the Foxes so far this season, losing defender Wesley Fofana in pre-season and 4-1 loss to West Ham is balanced by two victories out of three. A result against Manchester City would certainly have a good chance of being a catalyst for the Foxes, with their Europa League campaign beginning on Thursday.

After a disappointing opening day defeat at Spurs, Manchester City have responded in almost perfect fashion, with consecutive 5-0 wins over Norwich and Arsenal. It will certainly be some feat if Pep Guardiola’s side were to continue that scoreline streak on Saturday, but if any team is capable, it is this City side.

Blackpool vs Fulham

Fulham have made a barnstorming start to the Championship season, not losing since the opening day. The Whites are the top scorers in the league, boasting a plethora of exciting attacking talent. Marco Silva’s men are also prudent at the back, being the division’s joint tightest defence with Birmingham, only conceding three goals.

Blackpool are winless in the league so far, with Fulham being a tough fixture to arrest that slide. Blackpool will be hoping to do better than their fellow League One campaigners last season, Hull City, who were defeated 2-0 by the West London outfit. With Fulham’s form and Blackpool’s slow start to the season, it could be a long afternoon for the Tangerines.

Sunderland vs Accrington Stanley

The Stadium of Light plays host to a top of the table clash between the Black Cats and Accrington Stanley.

Sunderland top League one and have a game in hand on the visitors. The Black Cats have only tasted defeat once this season, and are unbeaten in their last three in all competitions.

Stanley have made a good start to the campaign, winning three in a row during August. All but one of Stanley’s games have been won or lost by one goal, so it could be a tight affair on Saturday afternoon.

Home advantage plays in Sunderland’s favour, but Accrington are a team in form who could spoil the party at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

Chelsea Women vs Everton Women

Both teams going into this one will be looking to correct their opening day results, with both sides tasting defeat.

Emma Hayes’ side lost to Arsenal last Sunday, whilst Everton were defeated by Manchester City 4-0.

Each team endured a tough opening fixture, with current WSL holders Chelsea being the favourites. Chelsea should win this one, but that opening day defeat could show signs of a blip in West London outfit’s form.

Leeds vs Liverpool

Two teams who love to throw men forward and play on the front foot take each other on at Elland Road on Sunday. 0-0 guaranteed then.

Leeds are without a win so far in the Premier League, and it will take a perfect performance you’d imagine for that to change against Jurgen Klopp’s side. The possible absence of Raphinha could also be a big blow for the Whites in what will be a challenging game.

Liverpool however come into the game on form, winning twice and drawing once so far this campaign. The Reds’ previous game was a frustrating one, with the side unable to break down a 10-man Chelsea team. Leeds will be a tough test for Liverpool, with the sheer energy and pace they bring to the game. Will Liverpool get a taste of their own medicine?







Blades add 4 in the summer

09/09/2021 - Championship

By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer

On deadline day much was promised, and many were linked with the Blades. It began with links to two wide players, Barcelona youngster Alex Collado and Parma winger Yann Karomah both deals were reportedly close, with Callado’s supposedly 99% complete before reportedly falling through due to money disputes between the player's representatives and the club. However, 4 players did join the Blades: Ben Davies, Conor Hourihane, Morgan Gibbs-White and Robin Olsen all on loan.

6 players have also left Bramall on a permanent basis the biggest being Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal for £25 million. Club legends Phil Jagielka and Simon Moore were released by the club and have joined Derby and Coventry respectively. Midfielder John Lundstram was also released and has joined Rangers, defensive duo Jack Rodwell and Kean Bryan also saw their contracts run out and haven’t found a club since leaving S2.

2 fringe players departed on loan, promising young striker Dan Jebbison joined Burton as he sought tutelage from former great Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Max Lowe joined Nottingham Forrest on a season long deal.

The first signing of the window was centre half Ben Davies from Liverpool. The left footer joined United on a season long deal and will be looking to bolster the fragile Blades backline. United struggled to fill the void left by Jack O’Connell after his injury and will be hoping Davies can solidify the backline and be a mainstay within the team over the course of the season.

The Blades then left it until the second last day of the window before the next addition arrived through the doors. Experienced midfielder Conor Hourihane joined United from Aston Villa. Formerly of Barnsley, Hourihane has superb set piece delivery a great range of passing whilst having an eye for goal. He will provide competition for the current midfield three and has a wealth of experience to call upon at this level.

Morgan Gibbs-White was the third fresh face to join the Blades. The England Under 21 international is an attacking midfielder who usually slots into the number 10 role, or the Duffy role as it is commonly known within the Blades fanbase. Gibbs-White spent the first half of last season out on loan at Swansea where he made 5 appearances scoring one goal on debut before an injury stopped him in his tracks. He was recalled to Wolves in January, featuring in 11 games before the end of the season.

The final signing of the window came at the 11th hour of deadline day with Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen brought in from AS Roma as a replacement for Aaron Ramsdale. Olsen made his first foray into English football last season when he joined Everton as back up to England number 1 Jordan Pickford. Despite being signed as cover, Olsen did briefly replace Pickford as Ancelotti chose to rotate his keepers. Olsen is Sweden’s number 1 and has 48 caps to date. 





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