News

The Football League Comes to Gander Green Lane

27/08/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer

At long last, it seems the day Sutton United fans have been waiting for would never come, but League Football descends on the VBS Community Stadium, for Sutton’s first ever home Football League fixture of their entire 123-year history.

Sutton come into this encounter having had a week break from their last game, a 1-1 away draw v Scunthorpe United in which Donovan Wilson’s sublime backheel, reminiscent of Danny Welbeck’s famous goal for England at Euro 2012, secured Sutton a point.

Their visitors, Oldham Athletic, have had a similarly less than convincing start to the season. While the off-pitch ownership issues and protests took the headlines in their midweek cup encounter against Accrington Stanley, on the pitch, Dylan Bamboula is the only player to hit the target for Oldham in the League this season, something the Latics will be hoping changes quickly.

The visitors went through in the EFL Cup this week v Accrington, beating the League One side on penalties, to set up a draw with Premier League side Brentford in Round 3.

Sutton have a clean bill of health heading into this game, in which it will be interesting to see whether manager, Matt Jay will look to add to the 16 players he has used so far in the league this season.

Ben Wyatt’s injury sustained away at Scunthorpe isn’t as serious as first feared, so he’s available along with Rob Milsom and Louis John in contention for a return to the XI.

By contrast, The Latics have used the most players of any League 2 side this season, using 23 players so far this campaign.

In terms of the points available for the fixture, home advantage is with Sutton as a home win earns you 12 points, if you feel a draw is on the cards, then you can add ten to the Sutton total, with 22 points coming your way if the teams hold each other. Finally, an away win gets you a mammoth 25 points.

The VBS Community Stadium finally hosts Football League Action on Saturday, will it be Sutton or Oldham who come away victorious?

Tottenham handed massive Kane boost ahead of 2nd leg against Paços de Ferreira

26/08/2021 - Europe

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

“I will be staying at Tottenham this summer and will be 100% focused on helping the team achieve success”- Tweet from Harry Kane 25/08/2021

I think this has to go down as one of my top ten tweets of all time, alongside Wayne Rooney publicly offering Rio Ferdinand a lift to training of course.

Kane has finally put an end to an ever so long transfer saga by declaring his loyalty to Tottenham, (for the summer at least) citing the reception he got from Spurs fans at Wolves as a factor in staying. I think it may be more to do with the fact Levy is a nightmare to deal with and City wouldn’t pay what would be required for Levy to part with his prized asset.

Either way Kane is staying and that can only be a positive thing for Tottenham’s season, and Kane may be required tomorrow to bail Spurs out of their first leg defeat. Tottenham were dreadful last week against Paços de Ferreira, Nuno took the blame during his post-match press conference, stating he played a disjointed starting XI that had hardly played together.

So will Nuno stick with young players or play a more recognisable Spurs team. I imagine he will bring in a few more senior players, but I doubt he will want to go full strength if he can avoid it. His hand will be forced in a few areas as Romero, Son and Carter-Vickers are sidelined with injuries.

My prediction is a 2-0 win for Spurs which would see them qualify to the group stage, this would top of a great few days for Tottenham and set them up nicely for the game against Watford on Sunday.

COYS!

Wigan knock Bolton out on penalties

26/08/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic progress to the third round of the Carabao Cup after beating local rivals Bolton Wanderers on penalties under the lights at the DW Stadium.

After 90 minutes of football, the game remained goalless at the DW Stadium sending an already very nervy match to a penalty shootout.

It was Latics who endured success in the shootout, after Nathan Delfouneso sent Bolton’s final penalty flying over the bar meaning the spot-kicks ended 5-4 to the home side.

As predicted, both sides made a host of changes to their starting line-ups with Leam Richardson making seven Wigan changes while Ian Evatt made eight for Bolton.

The home side had the first real opportunity to take the lead when Tendayi Darikwa linked up well with Stephen Humphrys who was able to shoot from inside the area and force Matt Gilks to pull off a decent save in the Bolton net, his stop fell into the path of James McClean who should have scored but his effort went wide of the post.

Wigan had another good chance shortly after as Humphrys controlled the ball well on the edge of the area and so no surprise he took the resulting shot on himself from the same position, but his effort glanced just wide of the goal.

Wigan came out fighting at the start of the second half in an attempt to start converting some of their shots to goals and they almost did when McClean whipped in a free kick on the edge of the area, but his effort wound up in the hands of former Wigan keeper Gilks.

Chances for Bolton to try and steal the game followed when substitute Gethin Jones picked up a loose ball on the right side and forced Jamie Jones to make an important save. Another chance arose for the visitors when Dapo Afolayan hit a half-hearted shot on the edge of the area, but it proved an easy save to make for Jones in the Wigan net.

Thelo Aasgaard came close to opening the scoring after Max Power kept McClean’s corner alive but his shot on the volley went straight into the gloves of Gilks.

Jones pulled off another great save to send the game to penalties when he pulled off a solid stretching save to deny Alex Baptise’s header.

Penalties were taken in front of the empty South stand at the DW Stadium and Power, Aasgaard, Tom Naylor, Humphrys and goalkeeper Jones all converted for the Tics, while Jordan Jones had his attempt saved by Gilks.

For Bolton, Eoin Doyle, Antoni Sarcevic, Afolayan and Josh Sheehan all converted from the spot, but Kieran Lee had his penalty saved by Jones and Delfouneso fired his shot over the bar to send Wigan through to the third round.

Cup success midweek for The Potters

25/08/2021 - EFL

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

On Tuesday night Stoke City played host to League One side Doncaster Rovers in the EFL Cup. Stoke came into the clash unbeaten and left unphased by the Rovers who have continued their run of no wins to the start of the season.

The game saw Stoke line up with an entirely new starting XI compared to Saturday’s win over Nottingham Forest. This saw the first start for Romaine Sawyers who has joined the side on loan from West Bromich Albion, as well as starts for youngsters like Adam Porter in midfield, Alfie Doughty out wide, and Christian Norton upfront.

Tom Ince and Sam Surridge were both given starts, with both finding the net as Michael O’Neill’s lads looked comfortable throughout the contest seeing the Rovers only hitting the target once in the game.

Ince’s goal came first in the 38th minute after a shot from Morgan Fox was stopped by Doncaster keeper Louis Jones was turned in at the near post. A classical example of making a run to be in the right place at the right time. The young Rovers keeper could have done better to keep the shot from going towards the Stoke winger but did impress throughout the rest of the game keeping out shots, stopping the Potters from running away with 4 or 5 goals. This was Ince’s first goal for the Potters in over 12 months.

Rover’s only shot on target throughout the game came shortly after from Charlie Seaman just at the edge of the 18-yard line, producing an excellent save from Stoke back-up stopper Adam Davies as he kept a clean sheet.

Surridge managed to put the game to bed with a goal shortly after halftime in the 48th minute, taking down a beautiful cross from Alfie Doughty and slotting the ball into the bottom right-hand corner past Louis Jones in the Rovers goal.

The two frontmen were replaced in the 66th minute, Steven Fletcher coming on for the goal-scorer Surridge, and Jacob Brown replacing Norton. Mario Vrančić came on less than ten minutes later for Adam Porter. All three substitutes linked up well putting the side in for a few more chances, kept out by the side netting and Louis Jones once again.

All round a solid performance by Michael O’Neill’s side who will look to continue their run of form this weekend against high-flyers Fulham.

Crewe Look to Cause Upset on Premier League Leeds

24/08/2021 - EFL

By Ben Brown, Leeds United writer

Leeds United will be looking to put their cup hoodoo to rest as they welcome Crewe Alexandra to Elland Road in the Carabao Cup second round. The hosts have bowed out at this stage on their own turf in the previous three seasons, losing on penalties to Hull City and Stoke City as well as an embarrassing 2-0 home defeat against 10 man Preston. That dismal record is something head coach Marcelo Bielsa will be keen to get rid of and given the relative resources of the two sides may feel confident that tonight will be the night.

Crewe come into this one after a poor start to their League One campaign, having only accrued one point during their opening four fixtures, albeit two of them losses coming from 1-0 score-lines. Add to that a resilient 1-0 victory in the first round against Hartlepool United where they played 80 minutes with 10 men away from home and it suggests they will provide a stubborn test for a likely rotated Leeds United XI.

Adam Forshaw was not involved at all during an U23’s defeat against Tottenham having been regularly involved previously during his comeback after an extremely lengthy absence. He will likely start alongside the likes of Charlie Cresswell and Crysencio Summerville who were both only given 45 minutes in the aforementioned 4-2 defeat. Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood, Cody Drameh and Lewis Bate are the other academy names most likely to be involved.

Crewe will be without defender Luke Offord after his red card against Accrignton at the weekend whilst a lengthy injury list of Chris Long, Owen Dale, Will Jaaskelainen, Callum McFadzean and Donervon Daniels will all be assessed prior to kickoff. Ex-Leeds midfielder Luke Murphy is also expected to start against a side he made over 100 league outings for.

Leeds are unsurprisingly overwhelming favourites on the site, with a measly 3 points available for successfully predicting a home win. If you’re feeling lucky however, Crewe will earn you a minimum of 90 points if they successfully pull off an away shock.

 

Alli penalty the difference as Spurs narrowly overcome Wolves 1-0

24/08/2021 - Premier League

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

Spurs appear to be marching on this Premier League campaign. Two games against good opposition has seen a return of two goals and no goals conceded - not a bad start for new manager Nuno Espírito Santo.

More important than the results is the sense of team cohesion he has brought to this squad, in particular to Dele Alli. Rightly or wrongly the England man only got seven Prem-ier League starts last season and I had started to question if we would ever see the Alli that scored 37 Premier league goals over three seasons again. This is a make or beak season for him and thankfully so far he is performing excellently.

Nuno has given him a deeper role just in-front of Skipp and Højbjerg and he is thriving in his new position. That hunger he possessed when he first arrived at Spurs is starting to creep back into his game, Alli covers so much ground, breaking up play in midfield and linking up with the Spurs front three. What I loved about his performance against Wolves was his runs from deep, in particular his run that led to the penalty.

Alli’s superb run was met by a wonderful Sergio Reguilón pass, which to split the home de-fence. José Sá rushed off his line in an ill-advised attempt to get to the ball, but Alli cleverly poked it away from Sá who instead took him out. Alli got up to send Sá the wrong way.

As much as I want to praise Spurs for this performance it wasn’t convincing at the best of times. For large chunks of the game Spurs were encamped in their own half defending for their lives. Tanganga, who probably thought he had faced his toughest opponents last week, was ran ragged by the powerful and damn right scary Adama Traoré, who did eve-rything but score. Spurs are currently linked with the Spanish winger and it is easy to see why after that performance, admittedly he should have scored a least once but his pace and directness is something to behold. Tottenham if you are reading this, pay the money.

Wolves were undoubtedly the better side and if they had a fully fit Raúl Jiménez they would have at least come away with a point. Lloris on his 300th Premier League appear-ance for Tottenham pulled off some wonderful saves and the entire back four remained solid throughout. It wasn’t a pretty victory but a victory nonetheless and with this mentality Spurs have every right to be aiming for a top six finish this season.

Further up the pitch Bergwijn had a brilliant game, encapsulated by a wonderful bit of skill to dance past two Wolves players and set up Harry Kane, who should have scored. Yes you did read that correctly, Kane was back on the pitch for Tottenham, the England cap-tain came on as a second-half substitute to put in an average performance. The fans were pleased to see his return with the usual cries of ‘he’s one of our own’ filling the Molineux Stadium. Hopefully this puts an end to speculation around his future and he can get back to doing what he does best, assisting Son and scoring goals.

Wolves look a handy side under new manager Bruno Lage and I think they will get results against good sides this season. With that in mind it was a great scoreline for Spurs and it should give them confidence knowing they weren’t at their best but still came away victori-ous.

COYS!

Chelsea and Lukaku produce dominant performance against Arsenal

23/08/2021 - Premier League

By Louis Pantziarka, Chelsea writer

Chelsea strolled to victory against Arsenal on Sunday, securing a comfortable 2-0 win without ever needing to get into top gear at the Emirates.

The Blues started impressively, dominating the ball and opened the scoring just 15 minutes into the first half after some neat interplay between goal-scoring debutant Romelu Lukaku and Reece James. After laying on the first goal, James then netted the second just 20 minutes later, smashing a first time finish past Bernd Leno into the top corner.

All the build-up to the game focused on Chelsea’s new record signing Lukaku and the powerful forward didn’t disappoint as he put in a man of the match performance on his first appearance since returning to London. He was a menace throughout and showed his strength to hold up the ball nicely before playing it back into midfield for the first goal. From there he made a lung-busting run through the centre, brushing aside Pablo Mari as if he wasn’t there, to tap home James’ driven ball across goal.

Lukaku was involved in the second goal too, dummying an Alonso pass inside to create space for Mason Mount. With Kieran Tierney dragged inside, James was open to receive Mount’s ball in the penalty area and drill home.

Arsenal improved in the second half and Rob Holding might have done better from a corner, but in truth this was always comfortable for Chelsea. They saw the game out with 65% of possession and would have had a third had Leno not produced an astounding save to deny Lukaku from point blank range.

Thomas Tuchel was clearly impressed by his new signing, as he told BBC Sport after the game: “What a start for Lukaku. In the beginning he struggled to touch the ball at a little bit. Then he was very well integrated. He proved his value for the squad already, he linked really well with Mason and Kai up front and gave something to the game that we did not have already”.

With a week until their next game, Chelsea look in ominous form – a victory against Liverpool on Saturday and this title charge could be well underway.

Manchester United's fast start hits the brakes as they stalled at St Mary's

23/08/2021 - Premier League

By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer

The Reds failed to make their chances count and almost paid the ultimate price but instead, perhaps luckily, left St Mary's with a point.

Southampton had the first big chance as their set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse forced David De Gea to tip the ball past the post from a long-range free-kick.

Within minutes, the away side should have had the ball in the net at the other end.

Bruno Fernandes curled his free-kick towards a diving Victor Lindelof, who missed his header.

The looping bounce of the ball put the ball on a plate for either Harry Maguire or Paul Pogba, but they got in each other's way as the ball found its way onto the bar.

Anthony Martial headed the rebound back towards the goal, but the ball was scrambled clear.

Pogba struck well on the half volley from a Luke Shaw free-kick, but Salisu (as he did all game) threw himself in front of the shot and turned It behind for a corner, which Pogba headed over.

Momentum switched back to the Saints to end the half and, after Jack Stephens had robbed a dawdling Fernandes in the United half, Che Adams released a tame effort at goal, down to De Gea's right.

However, Fred's desperate, outstretched boot deflected the ball the other way, wrong-footing De Gea as it squirmed its way into the bottom corner to make it 1-0 to Saints.

Ole's men pressed hard in search of an equaliser from the start of the second half.

They found it before the hour courtesy of Mason Greenwood after some fantastic interlinking build-up play by Pogba and Fernandes.

Pogba exchanged passes with Fernandes in the area before poking the ball to Greenwood, who got his shot off through the traffic in the box and under the goalkeeper. 1-1.

Backed by a thunderous away crowd, Solskjaer's side kept their feet on the gas.

First, Pogba's tidy footwork saw him beat a number of Southampton defenders surrounding him on the edge of the box, but he slid his shot just wide of the post.

Then Greenwood nodded over from inside the area from a chipped Fred cross.

Entering the final phase of the game, a loose pass by Maguire sent Adam Armstrong bursting through on goal, 1v1 with De Gea, who spared the United captain's blushes with a sensational save.

As the game limped to a close, and Southampton looked to settle for the point, they had one final dangerous opportunity to come away with more than they were playing to secure.

When Ward-Prowse stepped up to try his luck with one of his trademark free-kicks, but De Gea took no chances as he calmly punched the ball out of danger.

Colwill's stoppage time winner sees Town claim another three points

23/08/2021 - Championship

By Lauren Whitehead, Huddersfield Town writer

 

Huddersfield Town got their second win of the season this weekend as a result of Levi Colwill’s 94th minute winner at Bramall Lane.

The Terriers took the lead when Josh Koroma drove the ball past Wes Foderingham in the 75th minute.

However, Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp found an equaliser in stoppage time before Colwill put Town back in front two minutes later.

The visitors dominated possession early in the game, however, a slip from Naby Sarr gave former Terrier Oliver Norwood a chance on goal.

Several shots came shortly after for the home side, however, Lee Nicholls performed exceptionally well to deny all three, with Oli McBurnie’s header going just wide.

The Blades continued to pile on the pressure until Lewis O’Brien was able to break down the wing and secure a corner for Town.

Sorba Thomas’ delivery was as excellent as ever, however, nobody in the box was able to meet the cross.

Rhian Brewster found the end of Sander Berge’s ball into the box but couldn’t quite make the connection to head it past Nicholls as he had hoped.

The half an hour mark saw Foderingham forced off his line in a scramble that brought Sarr down but still did not manage to break the deadlock.

However, it was then Nicholls who was tested following a close range shot by Brewster.

A slight error by Matty Pearson in the 36th minute saw Ollie Turton shown the first yellow card of the game and Sheffield United awarded a free kick from the edge of the box.

Colwill was next to receive a booking just four minutes later for a foul on Chris Basham.

A 42nd minute throw in  found Brewster who was able to sprint down the wing and saw Sarr’s outstanding defending block his efforts.

On the stroke of halftime it was Nicholls’ exceptional goalkeeping that was able to stop McBurnie’s impressive overhead kick which was on its way into the bottom left corner.

Both teams remained unchanged at the beginning of the second half, and the Blades came back with determination.

Both Colwill and O’Brien made vital challenges to keep the scoreline clean, with the 56th minute seeing a frantic scramble inside the box for United but amounting to nothing.

Carlos Corberan made two substitutions with half an hour to go, seeing Fraizer Campbell replace Danny Ward and Harry Toffolo replace Scott High.

Five minutes later, United’s Billy Sharp was brought on for Brewster.

Town began to come alive when Josh Koroma’s effort went just wide of the post in the 67th minute and was followed by two chances from Campbell.

However, the deadlock was finally broken when Koroma smashed the ball past Foderingham in the 75th minute.

A sensational pass from Thomas saw Koroma’s original shot saved until it fell back at his feet and he was able to put his team 1-0 up.

Rhys Norrington-Davies and John Fleck were substituted off for Ben Osborn and David McGoldrick, alongside Álex Vallejo replacing Koroma with just 10 minutes to go.

A moment later Nicholls made yet another crucial save to stop a close range shot from Sharp.

The Town goalkeeper then received his own yellow card for time wasting with only three minutes remaining.

Stoppage time saw United fighting to find an equaliser, which Sharp gave them as he ran around his marker in the 92nd minute and put the ball away.

However, two minutes later Colwill scored his first league goal and restored Town’s lead.

The striker latched onto the end of a cross from Toffolo – who got away from United’s defence superbly. – and slotted it past Foderingham right in front of the travelling fans.

A sensational finish saw the Terriers run away with all three points, claim two consecutive wins, and climb to the 10th spot in the Championship table.

With significant improvements on the last performance, hopefully, the only way from here is up.

 

Lancashire derby for Wigan in the cup

23/08/2021 - EFL

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic take on local rivals Bolton Wanderers in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening at the DW Stadium.

With just eight miles separating the two North West clubs, Tuesday’s cup tie is set to be a thriller as both sides look to get one over on their local derby.

In the previous round of the competition, Wigan beat Hull City at the MKM Stadium in a thrilling penalty shootout which ended 7-8, after initially drawing the game 1-1.

Bolton also secured their place in the second round through a penalty shootout which they won 5-4 after their game against Barnsley ended in a goalless draw.

Both teams have had a solid start to the League One season, but it’s the Trotters who have picked up the most points after winning two and drawing two of their opening four games. The Latics on the other hand have won two, drawn one, and lost one of their opening league matches of the season.

Both managers will be keen to progress into the third round, if not for the local bragging rights that comes with it, but they may have to do so by resting a few players with both teams’ primary focus being on the league.

One player who will be eager to start will be James McClean who was linked with a move to the University of Bolton Stadium before he made it clear his preferred destination was at Wigan Athletic. Bolton manager Ian Evatt had a different view on the situation, but either way it has certainly added fuel to the fire of an already highly anticipated second round derby.

There are 10 points available for a Wigan win, while a win for Bolton will score you 30 Footrace points, whichever you decide to opt for you can be sure it will be a very intense and competitive fixture for either side.

 

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