Shocks Aplenty As FA Cup Drama Goes Into Overdrive

Wolves put out Liverpool, Sutton toppled Leeds, Lincoln stunned Brighton & Hove Albion, Fulham destroy Hull City and Millwall outfought Watford as the weekends FA Cup came alive with all the drama you would hope for in the world’s most followed football Cup competition.

There were shocks and upsets galore as two non league teams made history by overcoming league opposition in startling style while unfancied teams outshone their more illustrious opponents.

Non league Sutton came through with a sparkling 1-0 home victory against a Leeds United team that simply weren’t at the races. The same could be said for Championship leaders Brighton and hove Albion who played poorly as they slipped to a 3-1defeat by the other non league team Lincoln City. They both go into Mondays 5th round FA Cup draw with dreams of playing someone of the caliber of Chelsea or Manchester United.

United made their 4-0 win against Wigan look very pedestrian as Schweinsteiger played a rare match and scored his first ever goal for United with an acrobatic scissor kick into the corner. I still think this guy has another season in him at a top level club.

Fulham haunted Hull as the Tigers put in a ghost like performance as they were destroyed 4-1 at Craven Cottage with Hull even having the embarrassment of 2 missed penalties. Championship football for Hull I think next season and this performance and result backs up my theory no end.

Steve Morison sent League One Millwall into the last 16 of the FA Cup as his 85th-minute volley knocked out Premier League Watford. Morison met Shane Ferguson’s angled cross to shoot through the legs of substitute keeper Heurelho Gomes. It was no more than Millwall deserved – they hit the bar through Lee Gregory after just 17 seconds and forced two fine saves from Gomes.

Watford, who managed to get to the semi finals last season, managed just one shot on target. Gomes, meanwhile, kept out volleys from both Gregory and Morison, before the latter landed the decisive blow. Millwall are on yet another impressive cup run.

Jurgen Klopp made another uncharacteristic mistake as Liverpool manager by putting the kids out again but Championship side Wolves held on to stun Liverpool and reach the FA Cup fifth round with a deserved victory at Anfield. Richard Stearman put the visitors ahead after only 53 seconds, left unmarked to head in Helder Costa’s free-kick. Costa then set up Andreas Weimann to round Liverpool keeper Loris Karius and double Wolves’ lead before the break. Divock Origi scored late on to set up a frantic finale but a largely subdued Liverpool failed to find an equaliser.

The result is the second defeat in cup competition in four days for Jurgen Klopp’s side after they lost to Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, and a third home defeat in a week and guess what? Next up is tomorrows home Premiership match with Chelsea.

Talking of Chelsea Premier League leaders easily beat west London neighbours Brentford to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup. The Blues made nine changes to their starting XI but still had far too much for their Championship opponents who looked outclassed throughout.

Chelsea’s second goal effectively killed the game in 21 minutes with Pedro finishing a sweeping move after Willian’s free-kick had put them ahead.

The third was scored on the break by possible transfer window target Branislav Ivanovic, who was later fouled to allow Michy Batshuayi to add a fourth from the penalty spot as the match became a walk in the park for the Blues and a Stamford Bridge too far for Brentford.

A quick round up of some other games as a slick Burnley team defeated Bristol City 2-0, Blackburn beat Blackpool 2-0 at Ewood Park and Middlesbrough edged past a resistant Accrington Stanley by the one goal.

Man City were too good for a dire Crystal Palace team at Selhurst Park as they slumped to yet another defeat with Sam Alladyce at the helm. A miserable 3-0 surrender at home this time as City said thank you very much with Sterling, Sane and Toure all improving their goal scoring statistics on the way.

Oxford sprung a delicious 3-0 home victory over Newcastle United who even saw a Newcastle penalty saved by keeper Simon Eastwood. Huddersfield mullered Rochdale 4-0 away from home.

The two north London rivals progressed through to the next round but both in completely contrasting fashions. Arsenal were to hot to handle for Southampton with a 5-0 win including two from Danny Welbeck and a great hat –trick from Theo Walcott meanwhile over at White Hart Lane Spurs looked on their way out to lowly Wycombe but two goals in the last couple of minutes saw them overcome a 3-2 scoreline to win it in a thriller 4-3.

In Friday’s only game Derby County and Leicester City fought out a decent 2-2 draw.

India Defeat England Amid Umpire Furor

Cricket Report England v India 2nd 20/20 Game 29 Jan 2017

India beat England by 5 runs in a last ball thriller that was as much down to diabolical umpiring than anything else in a pulsating 20/20 game.

Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets in the final six balls while Ashish Nehra picked up 3 for28 as India held their nerve to clinch a nerve racking bums off seats five run win to level the series at 1 game apiece with a final match to be played later this week.

With England only requiring a minimal 8 runs in the final over Jasprit Bumrah stepped up to the plate by removing both Joe Root and Joss Buttler the former given controversially out LBW when in fact he had hit the ball with a nick on the inside of the bat. England were furious with some dreadful umpiring decisions throughout as Bumrah only conceded a miserly 2 runs in that last over.

England looked to be all but there as India reached a disappointing score of only 144 for 8 in their allotted 20 overs. Jordan had both openers out Kohli for 21 and Rahul caught by Ben Stokes but not before Rahul had smashed scintillating 71 off of only 47 balls with six four’s and two almighty sixes.

By the time he was out he’s already seen Rashid capture Raina for 7 and Moeen Ali get the better off Yuvraj LBW for 4.

Pandey hit 30 off 26 balls before Mils bowled him outright while Jordan captured his third wicket nabbing Dhoni for only 5. Jordan who was having an excellent match ran out Pandya for two while another run out saw Mishra back in the pavilion for a duck without even receiving a ball.

Jordan was the pick of the England bowlers with 3 for 22 off his 4 overs while Moeen Ali snared 1 for 20 off his allocation of 4 overs. Dawson was expensive as his 2 overs went for 20 runs while Mills was also expensive with 1 for 36 off his 4 overs.

In reply England’s openers Jason Roy and Sam Billings both fell cheaply with Nehra getting both scalps to catches. Roy was caught by Raina while Bumrah did the honours for Billings. Joe Root hit a run a ball 38 and after a slowish 17 from Captain Morgan a quick fire 38 from Ben Stokes put England into the driving seat as Buttler contributed 15 from his 10 ball innings.

The Indian bowling was more disciplined than England’s with Bumrah’s 2 for 20 outstanding as was the bowling from Nehra with his 3 for 28. Mishra took 1 for 25 in a tidy performance too.

It was down to the wire for the tourists as England needed 24 from the last two overs, but were looking good thanks to the late hitting of Buttler, who took 12 from Nehra’s final three balls, complete with a huge six to the fence.

It was left to right-armer Bumrah to defend eight runs off the concluding six balls, which began with a slice of fortune that saw Root adjudged leg before, despite an inside edge, departing for a run-a-ball 38. It was never out and you could hear the nick of the bat but not according to the umpires as Root begrudgingly walked off.

From there, Bumrah confused England with a full length and changes of pace and sadly the tourists only laid bat on one of the last five deliveries, and even that was a Moeen Ali miss hit for a single.

When a swiping Buttler was bowled, England’s best hope went with him. So it was left to Moeen Ali but he failed to make contact when a six was needed off the final ball.

A close match yet again in an enthralling contest although Eion Morgan later blamed the poor umpiring decisions.

He said “That decision didn’t go our way and it swung momentum in the opposition’s favour,”

“It has a huge effect, particularly on this wicket, where coming in and starting is extremely difficult.”

Morgan later said England would by making their views known to match referee Andy Pycroft.

“We have an opportunity to do so before the next game. There’s always feedback given through the match referee on our report,” he added.

Tennis Australian Open Men’s & Women’s Open Finals

Roger The Old Codger Too Hot For Nadal

Roger Federer rolled back the years with a vintage performance with a 6-4. 3-6, 6-1 , 4-6, 6-3 over Rafael Nadal in an enthralling five set encounter at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

It was great to see the pair in a Championship final after the two had both been decimated by injuries over the last few years and in addition seen the phenomenal rise of Andy Murray and Djokavic not to mention the under rated Stan Wawrinka and a posse of young pretenders with a tennis racket attempting to overthrow the old guard. Well it didn’t happen in Australia 2017 as the two totaling 65 years between them put on a delicious buffet of all round tennis.

In a hard fought first set Federer nicked the set after breaking in the seventh game as the two heroes of tennis over the years battled hammer and nail to outgun the other in a captivating match that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. It was the only break of the first set as Federer won it 6-4.

Some smart serving from both players, some superb returning, some great smashes and extended rallies ensured the paying Melbourne public as well as the millions watching on television were to see the old foes meet in the final of a centre court battleground possibly for a final time and give their absolute all.

It should be remembered that Nadal after coming back from a plethora of injuries was only seeded 9th and his Swiss opponent after 6 months out himself was seeded a lowly 17th.

Having dropped the first set Nadal came roaring back into action with a point to prove and prove it he did, playing wonderful shots and lulling Federer into a false sense of security. Nadal won the set 6-3.

Despite their ages, Federer is 35 and Nadal is 30 they both lunged around all four corners of the court like teenagers at a nightclub in spite of the near stifling heat and humidity. At one stage during a game break there was an amazing shot of Rafael Nadal with sweat just dripping off him as if someone had turned a tap on.

You couldn’t turn up the heat any more and the crowd were loving this box office spectacular.

The third set went back to Federer as the Swiss star made easy meat of his illustrious Spanish opponent winning this one by 6 games to 1 and after Nadal’s energy zapping semi final it was he of the two veterans that looked tired.

As well as some great tennis and superb winners there were also a lot of unforced and unexpected errors from the pair particularly in the 4th set from Federer that Nadal won by 6 games to 3. It appeared the tide was turning towards Spanish waters.

This led to a firecracker of a fifth set with the 8th game on Nadal’s serve having more deuces than a soft drinks convention.

The two stalwarts of tennis were like two heavyweights in the ring, slugging it out punch for punch with an epic 9th game with Federer calling two line calls and Nadal calling one. On Federer’s second match point Nadal’s return to Federer’s serve barely made it over the net as Federer swung his racket hard at the ball and the ball tantalizingly clipped the edge of the sideline. Federer thought he’d got it but Nadal called a review but to the delight of Federer the ball hit the line and Federer’s celebration were those of a man winning his first grand slam rather than his 18th.

Both players were humble and full of gratitude afterwards as the legendary Rod Laver presented them with their respective trophies.

A fitting tribute to a great final and to two legends that once again proved why they are so popular. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer provided an incredible match whereby the main winner was tennis.

Australian Women’s Open Final

Serena Clinches 7th Australian Title With Victory Over Sister

Serena Williams beat her sister Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 to record an amazing 23rd Grand Slam Singles Title and her seventh Australian title.

Serena, 35, passed German maestro Steffi Graf in the all-time list of major winners since the Grand Slams accepted professional players in 1968.

Venus put little sister under pressure at the beginning with some long hitting forcing Serena into a number of unforced errors but slowly Serena forced herself back into the game as Venus started to slow.

With Venus serving in the seventh game Serena got on top and broke the 36 year old American with a whacking great forehand that Venus could do nothing about to lead 4-3 and following this the set went to serve 6-4 to Serena.

The second set saw the pressure mount on Venus and Serena was playing some attractive and decisive tennis once again breaking in the seventh game to lead 4-3 once more and closed the match out by 6 games to 4.

For Venus this was believe it or not only her second Australian Final and has never won the Australian Open Title but she belied her 36 years to put up a brave performance against her superior sister on this style of court. In fact this was Venus’s first major final for 8 years.

Incredulously all four players in the men’s and women’s finals were over 30 years of age and even more shocking three of the four were over 35 and this is supposed to be a young person’s game?

 

 

Kodjia returns for rested Villa at Griffin Park

Steve Bruce’s side need to take advantage of the ‘free weekend’ of preparation for Tuesday’s Championship match at Griffin Park.

Meanwhile, Dean Smith’s 16th placed Brentford will have just over 72 hours to recover from their 4-0 FA Cup fourth round defeat against Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Both sides will go into the match on a difficult run of form. We are without a win in four after throwing away a 2-0 lead against Preston North End last weekend. Brentford’s 3-1 win at St Andrews on 2 January was their only win in the last six league matches.

Despite our unbeaten home record in the Championship, we are languishing in 13th because of our poor form on the road. In fact, Jonathan Kodjia’s winner at QPR on 18 December was the only goal we have scored in the last five away matches.

Fortunately for Bruce, Kodjia is available for Tuesday’s match after Ivory Coast’s surprise early exit from the African Cup of Nations. His return is particularly timely given that Bruce has insisted that Ross McCormack won’t be picked until his ‘attitude towards training improves’.

Kodjia is 2.19 on EnergyBet to add to his tally of nine league goals at Brentford.

We may have only scored seven league goals in 14 away matches, but with Kodjia back in tandem with Albert Adomah and new signing Henri Lansbury, we are ready to reignite our play-off push with a strong performance from the start.

Every time we have scored on the road it has been the opening goal of the match, while Brentford have only kept a single clean sheet since a goalless draw with Wigan Athletic on 1 October.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Brentford 2.50 | Draw 3.30 | Villa 2.75

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Kodjia to score anytime @ 2.19
  • Villa to score the first goal @ 1.97

 

DIMOCO AND ENERGYBET ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP

Carrier billing enables the quickest and easiest payment option for today’s mobile gambling consumer

VIENNA and MALTA – 30 January 2017 – DIMOCO Carrier Billing and EnergyBet today announced their partnership to provide the vast iGaming sector the same easy payment opportunity that many other digital entertainment industries already thrive on.

The partnership between EnergyBet, the award-winning sportsbook and casino operator, and DIMOCO, a leading payment institute for carrier billing, enables online gambling customers to tap into carrier billing to experience the easiest and most efficient mobile payment option. Players can use smart phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and connected TVs, securely identified via their carrier networks, to instantaneously participate in the iGaming experience.

Carrier billing offers an unmatched convenience and customer satisfaction compared to traditional payment methods, such as credit or debit cards. The result is a significant increase in customer retention and conversion rates for providers, such as EnergyBet. Leveraging DIMOCO’s direct billing connectivity to the major telecoms networks, such as Vodafone, 02, EE and Three, EnergyBet will gain billing reach to more than 70m UK mobile numbers, in a market worth more than £4.6bn, according to the UK Gambling Commission.

Players are shifting to an increasingly mobile world, consuming a wide range of digital services, such as iGaming, on their mobile devices. The online gaming customer is not typically sitting at his laptop or PC, but rather walking down the road to place a bet at their local betting shop, while accessing their mobile device. This partnership provides users with a simple, hassle-free and quick payment option that everybody literally already holds in their hands.

Consumers are likely to be already familiar with the concept of carrier billing. It is one of the top three payment methods at Facebook, providing the recognition factor with a large swathe of any gambling operator’s potential audience. This payment option brings significant opportunity to service providers, including EnergyBet, due to the direct connectivity to the billing platforms of the major telecoms networks.

“DIMOCO’s extensive European presence and FinTech philosophy position the company at the forefront of mobile technology,” said Marcin Sapinski, CEO of EnergyBet. “DIMOCO is the natural partner to further enhance EnergyBet’s market position as the innovative and award-winning sportsbook.”

“After two years of European-wide development, DIMOCO is officially activating carrier billing within the iGaming industry, with only the locally regulated iGaming operators having the opportunity to take advantage of this payment method,” said Rafal Nowak, program director, iGaming at DIMOCO. “We selected 10 markets for initial tests with the most innovative iGaming operators and decided to kick-off our initiative in the homeland of online gambling – the UK. With EnergyBet as our inaugural partner, this is the first time carrier billing will be integrated and activated with a serious international iGaming operator and licensed in multiple territories across Europe.”

About DIMOCO

Launched in 2000, the Fintech Company DIMOCO is a European-wide regulated payment institute for carrier billing and holds a payment service act license from the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) since January 2016, as its license was passported to all 28 EU member states. As a trusted partner of local and global mobile networks it enables almost 1 billion European subscribers to purchase goods and services from merchants and aggregators with their mobile devices which are charged via the operators’ billing system.


”Main Photo: Rafal Nowak, Program Director, iGaming at DIMOCO”

More information:                     dimoco.eu

Blog:                                       blog.dimoco.eu

 

O’s fans hope for home blank at Field Mill

On Saturday, the O’s will be looking to put an end to the poor run of form that has seen us collect just a point from the four matches since our Boxing Day victory over Crawley Town.

Andy Edwards takes his side to Field Mill to face a Mansfield Town side that are unbeaten in five matches, having recorded three wins and two draws to move from 17th up to 12th in League Two.

The Stags also boast the best home defensive record in the league with just 10 conceded from 14 matches. However, we should take heart from their susceptibility to a home blank. They have failed to score in 5 of the 14, which included a 1-0 defeat to struggling Morecambe.

We have only failed to score in three of our 12 away matches, although two of those have come in the last three. In fact, Gavin Massey’s equaliser at Portsmouth on 14 January was our first away league goal since Callum Kennedy opened the scoring at league leaders Doncaster Rovers on 26 November, which suggests there is value in EnergyBet odds of 1.65 for under 2.5 goals.

Fans of Mansfield might think that the fixtures have fallen nicely for them to make a move on the play-off places this weekend; seventh placed Colchester are not in action until next Saturday, while Barnet and Exeter face testing trips to Carlisle United and Portsmouth respectively.

However, two of our four away victories this season came against Colchester and Grimsby, who are both above Mansfield in the latest table. Basement boys Newport County have a winnable home game with Hartlepool United, so it could be tight at the bottom unless we dig out a result of our own.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Mansfield 1.77 | Draw 3.55 | Orient 4.45

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.65
  • Massey to score anytime @ 3.35

 

 

Wenger Throws Toys Out Of Pram As Arsenal Win

Arsene Wenger got a little agitated with some poor decision making in a game that saw the Gunners have a player sent off and three penalty decisions of which two were wrong. To the extent that the Arsenal Manager pushed the 4th official at the end of a highly contentious match.

Mustafi opened the scoring on 59 minutes for the Emirates team before a penalty for Burnley 3 minutes into stoppage time saw Gray convert and seemingly give Burnley a decent point following their march back into the game following Xhaka’s red card in the 65th minute. However 8 minutes into stoppage time Arsenal were given a penalty and Sanchez scored to give the Gunners all 3 points. By this time Wenger had lost his rag and thought he was in the stands with the fans (he might well be next week) and it Burnley’s turn to get furious.

Referee Jon Moss made some awful decisions that changed the whole face of the game and maybe he should have stayed in Culture Club.

In the third game on Sunday Southampton beat Leicester 3-0 in a match both teams needed to win with form and confidence from both going downhill fast. Saints were 2-0 up at the break and didn’t look back as they stopped the rot of their recent run of poor results.

The late game on Saturday saw two of the season’s front runners Spurs and Manchester City go into battle for what was a fascinating game with one main contentious issue.

It was a game of two halves with city controlling the first half but Spurs reigniting after going down 2-0 and showing real strength of character although it was a huge error of judgment by the referee that changed this match that was a brilliant game to the neutral observer.

Sane gave City the lead after only 4 minutes of the second half and Kevin De Bruyne who still looks like he just needs a satchel and he should be off to school notched the second after 54 minutes to extend the City lead. Hugo Lloris was at fault for both goals which was uncharacteristic of the French international.

Dele Ali poached one back for Tottenham before a shocker of a decision. Ref Andre Marriner completely ignored Kyle Walker’s blatant push on Raheem Sterling which was a sure fire penalty in almost anyone’s books.  It’s a while since we’ve seen such a cock up from a Premiership referee but Andre didn’t let us down although he let down the City faithful who were baying for his blood shortly afterwards as substitute Son leashed a shot past Bravo into an empty net to give the travelling fans something to shout about.

Pep Guardiola gave another post match defensive interview, funny enough it was more defensive than his players have been this season at times. He doesn’t appear at all a happy man and I wouldn’t be surprised if he can’t get out of his present mind frame that he might even walk come the end of the season.

On Saturday afternoon, West Brom beat a lackluster rudderless Sunderland 2-0 at the Hawthorns but it could have been a lot more if David Moyes hapless wonders didn’t hang on by their coat tails to ensure they didn’t endure a heavier defeat. David Moyes appeared to throw in the towel at the beginning of the season and the white flag is flying high for the red and white army. You have to feel hard for the dedicated supporters, they don’t deserve this. Defoe apart it’s like watching a deflated lower half Championship team with nothing to play for which realistically could be where Sunderland may be this time next year. I’m not sure where Moyes will be.

 

Hull Get The Blues As Mason Fractures Skull

Premiership Sunday 22nd January 2017

Chelsea beat Hull 2-0 in a match that will be remembered more for the horrendous injury to Ryan Mason where he fractured his skull in a collision with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill.

No blame could be attached to either player as a clash of heads brought both players crashing to the ground and medical staff raced onto the pitch. Cahill was up and about albeit groggy after a couple of minutes but Mason lay on his back as he was given oxygen by the doctors before being stretched off to hospital. Hull confirmed in a statement that the midfielder a former Spurs player had broken his skull but was now at least talking.

Hull played very well after the 9 minute stoppage for Mason’s injury and certainly showed a lot of resolve although their attacking menace was minimal. Chelsea played within themselves and didn’t really bring much to the table with dozens of square and backward passes. Still there was enough time in the first half for Diego Costa back after recent issues and an alleged bad back that broke the deadlock with Chelsea’s second penetrating attack of the half. The first was after ten seconds of the match when Costa went close but his goal in the 7th minute of injury time had the home fans delirious and chanting his name.

Hull missed the injured Robert Snodgrass but still showed some deft touches but it was all over  when Cesc Fabregas sent a free kick over for a completely unmarked Gary Cahill to nod into an empty net. 2-0 for Chelsea and despite the Spurs blip a couple of weeks ago the Blues rollercoaster continues on its unstoppable path. Hull will take a few positives away from this and we wish Ryan Mason a speedy recovery.

 

Liverpool Stunned By Clement’s Swansea

Premiership Saturday 21st January 2017

Swansea removed the noose from around their necks to record a stunning victory over Liverpool at Anfield with a 3-2 win.

This was great football played with full on entertainment value although if you’re a Liverpool fan alarm bells will be ringing as Liverpool failed to gain ground on leaders Chelsea.

The early lunchtime kick off was fantastic ways to start the days Premiership play with the Swans marauding the Reds.

Liverpool fans will be scratching their heads though as 7 or 8 games ago they were looking the full Monty. Full of confidence, full of panache and full of inspiration and appeared to be genuine title contenders. All those attributes have fallen to the wayside in the last few weeks however and the train quite simply has come off the track. Possibly not helped by Klopp putting out a second team in the FA Cup against lowly minnows where they needed a second game to scrape through. Klopp is talking a good talk as to the why’s and how’s of Liverpool’s recent poor form and it could be just that, a barren spell of poor form that will see Liverpool firing on all cylinders in the coming months. The only problem with that is it doesn’t win you titles at the end of the season. Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United have all had the same problem this season with bad spells and all have suffered as a result. There’s a big but here, Chelsea had a few poor games right at the beginning and changed their system, formation and style of play within a few games. The result, they are 8 points clear at the top of the table and catching up with them, let alone beating them is going to be a hard hard task for the chasing bunch.

If we take Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson as an example United would win matches at the death, in injury time or Fergie time whatever takes your fancy. They would dig out victories from the clutches of defeat and it didn’t matter what the score was as long as they won. The last manager to do tat was Jose Mourinho two years ago when he won the Premiership for Chelsea. Entertaining drooling football until Christmas before grinding out one goal margin victories (usually by a goal to nil) from January to May, it may not be pretty to watch but that does win you titles. So maybe by observing Mourinho’s current run we can see he is bringing back that Ferguson mentality back to the team and next season could be where United really make a dash for the title.

So what happened at Liverpool? Well the first half there were chances both side but no one could capitilise on each teams defensive frailties. In the second half it was a completely different matter altogether culminating in a thrilling win for the Welsh wonders and providing Swansea with their first ever away league win at Anfield.

Llorente opened the scoring for the Swans on 48 minutes only to be pegged back by Firmino’s equalizer just three minutes later. Llorente restored Swnasea’s lead barely a minute late with his second and not to be outdone Firmino grabbed a second to draw Liverpool level on 69 minutes. Luckily before it could turn into the Llorente and Firmino show which just sounds like a ludicrous Chinese Italian comedy farce Sigurdsson scored the winner in the 74th minute for Swansea and record Paul Clement’s first triumph as the Swans manager.

This priceless if somewhat unexpected win took Swansea off the bottom of the Premiership and out of the relegation zone as results around them favoured the Welsh team.

Saturday Premiership Round Up

That man Wayne Rooney ran himself into the record books with a Manchester United club record 250 goals overtaking the legendary Bobby Charlton in the process. He managed the feat in a 1-1 away draw with a buoyant Stoke City side playing some wonderful football at the moment. They would have won all three points Scooby if it hadn’t been for that pesky Rooney firing over a free kick that eluded everyone and swept into the top of the right of the net.

Bournemouth and Watford played out an exciting 2-2 draw down on the South Coast where manager Eddie Howe will be disappointed not to grab all three points despite coming back with a goal in the 82nd minute from Afobe to give them a point.

Watford as I mentioned are on a pretty horrific run and in some relegation trouble if they don’t watch out. Talking of pretty horrific runs come on down Crystal Palace who have self destructed since big Sam and recently little Sam took charge of the South Londoners. Palace were dreadful yet again, where’s the urgency, where’s the camaraderie, more importantly where’s the fight gone! Seamus Coleman’s 87th minute late strike was enough to bag the points for Ronald Koeman’s men. Sam Allardyce needs to start talking to a few agents to get his team out of trouble. Oh I forgot that’s what happened to him last year. Palace are now 16th so in the relegation zone.

Another team that has to look over their shoulder towards the relegation zone below them are Middleborough. The North East club lost at home and are on a poor run at the moment. 3-1 at home to West Ham with Andy Carroll in exhilarating form with two goals and running the defence ragged.

 

 

 

 

 

Tennis Australian Open Women’s Singles

The big story from the women’s singles was the loss of top seed and world number one Angelique Kerber. Kerber lost to Coco Vandeweghe in both the great name for a tennis player stakes and in the fourth round of the women’s singles. Kerber seemed distracted and not at all at the top of her game as she lost to the 25 year old American 6-2, 6-3 and for a neutral observer it would have been difficult to tell which of the two players was the world number 1. Vandeweghe’s reward is a quarterfinal meeting with Garbine Muguruza (honestly I’m not making these names up) who defeated Sorana Cirstea the Romanian 6-2, 6-3.

Venus Williams is through too as she got the better of Mona Barthel although this was an up and down match with the American outflanking her German opponent in a decent tussle in the Melbourne heat. The 36 year old won the encounter 6-3, 7-5 but the match was closer than the score line might suggest as the oldest player in the women’s singles progressed and with more fashion taste than little sister Serena who seems to be making Theresa May look trendy so bad are some of her outfits. Incredibly Venus has never won the Australian Open and only appeared in the final once and that was 14 years ago when she lost to her sister, although her first appearance in the last 8 was a mammoth 19 years ago.

Serena was playing the Czech right hander Barbara Strycova and won the match 7-5, 6-4 with 28 winners to her opponents 9 to progress to the same stage as her sister. Strycova on leaving the court threw one of her rackets into the crowd such a distance that she should also consider the discus at any future Olympics. Serena appeared to be dressed as a skeleton rather than like the Christmas tree outfit she wore in an earlier round but make no bones about it she is hungry for more success in Melbourne.

 

Murray Out, Evans Out As Swiss Army Knife Through Opponents

Tennis Australian Open Men’s Singles

Andy Murray and Dan Evans the last British hopes in the men’s singles in the Australian Open were both defeated while the Swiss army of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are both on the march after victory put them both into the quarter finals.

Murray ranked number one surely had his best shot at a maiden Australian victory but his hopes came crushing down when he was beaten by 50th ranked German player Mischa Zverev in the fourth round to leave the new ‘Sir’ surprised as well as deflated.

In a terrific tussle Zverev deservedly came out on top winning 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 at the Rod Laver Arena. A bitter pill for Sir Andy Murray to swallow particularly when considering that his arch nemesis Djokavic was already out of the tournament following his defeat 24 hours earlier. If Djokavic looked out of sorts then so did Murray.

This was almost a throwback to the Murray of old who looked tired and jaded as his opponent played the game of his life to hold off the battling Brit. Murray never imposed himself on the German and lost his own serve a staggering 8 times. Zverev threw everything at Murray and the Scotsman was simply unable to hold off the tenacious 50th seed. When Murray’s head goes down so does his will power and he starts muttering under his breath or worse above it. The clarity, the vision, and the sheer vigor of seeing off his less well known opponent just wasn’t there. Murray didn’t deserve to progress and this was his worst defeat in a long while.

Zverev goes on to play Roger Federer who is back after a six month lay off and seems in buoyant mood on and off the court. His victory over Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 was a return to the Federer of old playing some wonderful stroke play and mixing it up beautifully against his courageous Japanese opponent. This was Roger’s 49th time he has reached the quarterfinals and the Swiss is a decent bet to win another grand slam following defeats for his higher ranked rivals.

Another British player who won’t be joining Roger Federer in the quarterfinals is Dan Evans who despite enjoying a wonderful tournament was knocked out by 12th seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga. Evans won the first set 7-6 on a tie break and you could be forgiven for thinking another upset might be on the cards but Tsonga was too strong for the Englishman and came through in four sets 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. For Evans he wilted towards the end of this match but this will hold him in good stead for the rest of the year and will deservedly move up the rankings after a super Australian Open.

Another Swiss player to make it to the quarterfinals is Stan Wawrinka who beat the unseeded Seppi from Italy in straight sets 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 so if tie breaks are your bag this was the match to see.

England Win Nail biter Against India

Cricket Report England v India 3rd ODI 22 Jan 2017

England beat India in the third and final one day international in a pulsating game by a slender 5 runs to lose a fascinating series by 2 matches to 1.

The tourists won an absolute belter that went down to the last ball to salvage some pride against an India team high on confidence and ability. Following annihilation in the test series, the problems on this Asia tour against Bangladesh and two straight losses in the first one day internationals this game at least proved England have some spine.

On paper the England team is excellent, batting they seem superb, the fielding is adequate but the bowling is way below par. Again England batted first in Kolkata amassing a very credible 321 for 8 wickets in their allotted 50 overs. This was the third time in the three limited overs matches that England had passed 300 so without doubt England have a strong batting unit and in my view one of the top three in the world and so they proved this once again at Eden Gardens.

Their opening partnership of Jason Roy and Sam Billings put on a rejuvenating 98 for the first wicket before Billings was caught by Bumrah off the bowling of Jadeja for 35 runs. The highest English opening partnership of the series. Roy followed him 12 runs later this time clean bowled by Jadeja. Bairstow in for the injured Alex Hales looked in great form on his way to 56 and Captain Morgan chipped in with 43 off only 44 balls. Although Buttler was out cheaply for 11 one of Pandya’s three wickets on his way to a superb three for 49 off his ten overs England still had plenty more in the tank. Ben Stokes 57 off only 39 balls was crucial to putting up a decent score on the scoreboard more than ably assisted by the under rated Chris Woakes with 34 off only 19 balls with a strike rate of almost 179. Stokes innings was a gorgeous ball smash around the ground and fun to watch to boot. Pandya and Jadeja were the pick of the Indian bowlers and 321 for 8 was a third decent total on the bounce for the England batsmen. Would it be enough?

India started their innings poorly not for the first time this season as both openers were out cheaply. Ruhane was bowled by Willey for just a single and Rahul who looked like he was going to take the initiative to the England bowlers with a huge six and a four from his 11 runs but Jake Ball who bowled better in this match snared his man with Buttler taking the catch.

Kohli 55 from 63 balls and Singh 45 from 57 balls brought India right back into the game but the difference from the English bowlers was simply discipline. At times they looked to be bowling too full on and Morgan’s tactics were debatable but England hung in there. Dhoni was out for 25 when Jake Ball picked up his second wicket with Buttler taking his third catch of the game for a prize wicket. Then a Jadhav onslaught and England looked in deep trouble, his 90 off 75 balls an excellent effort but then England changed and bowled full and although it wasn’t pretty it was partially effective in keeping India just behind the run chase. Pandya’s 56 off 43 balls bought India closer to victory but India were losing wickets now.

Ben Stokes with the ball still has his failings with giving too many runs away to the opposition but he can get the wickets like today when needed and his 3 for 63 was his best return in the series and Jake Ball bowled better. Again discipline is the key for both bowlers when they give too many silly runs away with loose balls almost at will.

Ball was given the penultimate over with India requiring 23 from two overs but conceded only 7 runs in his final over to leave India needing 16 from the last over and the excitement overwhelming for some fans. Chis Woakes rather than Ben Stokes was given the responsibility for the final over and a six off the first ball followed swiftly by a four left India only requiring 6 runs from 4 balls. The tide had turned in India’s favour but Woakes however was up to the task and followed with two dot balls leaving India wanting 6 runs from 2 balls. Woakes presented Jadhav with a wide full ball and the Indian star let loose but found Sam Billings in the deep to leave India requiring 6 off the last ball. Poor Bhuveneshwar Kumar not content with having a difficult enough first name to spell had the indecent pressure of trying to smash one ball, the only ball he was going to face out and over the ropes for six. No pressure then Bhuveneshwar! Sadly for him Woakes placed a great delivery down the track and the ball was going nowhere. England won by 5 runs in another thrilling match and a real pity it wasn’t a best of five match series.

Still the 20/20 matches start later this week and if the entertainment value is anywhere near this then that will also be a humdinger of a series.

 



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