Aston Villa’s European Cup

Aston Villa was always in the shadow in the 1970’s and early 1980’s of their more illustrious English Champions Liverpool under a conveyor belt of managers starting from the irrepressible Bill Shankley, through Bob Paisley et al while Nottingham Forest had the mischievous genius in Brian Clough.

Continue reading “Aston Villa’s European Cup”

Orient’s Biggest Wins

With Leyton Orient currently in a dire position placed 91st of the 92 teams in the football league and the very lowest English side in the leagues I thought it would be of interest to see how Orient had done against a team currently at the top of the third division. That jewel in the crown currently belongs to Yorkshire’s Doncaster Rovers or Donny as the locals prefer to call them who are flying high at the top of the fourth tier of English football and look a decent bet for promotion if not as Champions then as runners-up in the division in 2017. Continue reading “Orient’s Biggest Wins”

Leyton Orient 2 Notts County 3 February 18th 2017.

The O’s Lose Important Relegation Scrap.
Orient were in their second 5 goal thriller of the week against relegation rivals Notts County but this time they were on the receiving end of a 3-2 defeat.

Continue reading “Leyton Orient 2 Notts County 3 February 18th 2017.”

Orient Secure Shock Win Away At 2nd Placed Plymouth

Orient managed to nab a 3-2 victory over high flying Plymouth Argyle with two last minute goals down in Devon on Wednesday night to gain a desirable 3 points in their hopes for league survival and to dent Plymouth’s automatic promotion hopes.

Striker Gavin Massey who at last looks like scoring a few goals towards the end of the season scored an 89th-minute leveller and then he set up Sandro Semedo’s stoppage-time winner as Leyton Orient won 3-2 at second-placed Plymouth Argyle in League Two. Continue reading “Orient Secure Shock Win Away At 2nd Placed Plymouth”

O’s revel in ‘fantastic’ support ahead of crucial Notts County clash

Danny Webb lauded Leyton Orient’s “fantastic” travelling support, after 156 fans cheered the O’s on to a stunning win over second placed Plymouth at Home Park.

The 3-2 comeback victory, inspired by a brace from the in-form Gavin Massey and completed by Sandro Semedo’s stoppage time winner, gives us a massive boost ahead of the upcoming home matches with Notts County and Cheltenham Town.

Gavin Massey is 2.25 on EnergyBet to score his fifth goal in five league matches

Unfortunately, Notts County picked up a point against Exeter City to keep us in the drop zone ahead of Saturday’s Brisbane Road encounter. Kevin Nolan’s side completed a remarkable comeback of their own, scoring two goals in stoppage time to rescue a draw against 10-man Exeter.

The two sides go into the match in 23rd and 21st place, on 29 and 30 points respectively. 22nd placed Cheltenham have a ‘winnable’ match at home against 16th placed Yeovil, while Accrington Stanley in 20th take on play-off hopefuls Colchester United.

If Cheltenham lose, or ‘Stanley’ are beaten by three or more goals, Orient would move out of the bottom two by avoiding defeat against Notts County. However, the confidence gained from Tuesday’s victory should drive us on to a first home victory since Boxing Day.

Back Leyton Orient to avoid defeat against Notts County at 1.44 on EnergyBet

No team in League Two has kept fewer clean sheets than Notts County, or failed to score in more matches. The O’s will be confident of emulating the 3-1 win in last season’s corresponding fixture.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Leyton Orient 2.50 | Draw 3.30 | Notts County 2.55

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Home win or draw (double chance) @ 1.44
  • Massey to score anytime @ 2.25

The O’s head to Plymouth for ‘free hit’ on the south coast

The O’s travel south to take on promotion chasing Plymouth, a few days after Gavin Massey’s late equaliser at Yeovil kept us within touching distance of the teams just outside of the drop zone

We might still be in 23rd place, just two points off the bottom in League Two, but we have a massive opportunity to climb a few places in the coming weeks. The match at Home Park is more of a ‘free hit’ ahead of the home clashes with Notts County and Cheltenham on the next two Saturday’s.

Similarly, the Pilgrims are probably eyeing this weekend as a chance to move level with Doncaster at the top of the table. Darren Ferguson’s Rovers’ side face a tricky looking trip to third placed Carlisle.

Plymouth have responded in fine style after a sticky period in mid-November where they lost to Grimsby, Barnet and Morecambe across a seven-day period. They have won seven of the last ten league matches, which included breaking Exeter’s seven-match winning run last weekend.

Despite Massey’s late strike at Yeovil, we are still without a win since beating Crawley Town on Boxing Day. However, we have tightened up at the back since the most recent managerial change; we have shipped four goals in three matches under Danny Webb, compared with 11 in the final four matches of Andy Edward’s brief reign.

Show your belief in an improved O’s rear-guard by backing under 1.5 home goals @ 1.90 on EnergyBet

The home side will go into the match as clear favourites, but there is renewed hope around the Orient camp after last weekend, which also marked the return of striker Paul McCallum from a knee injury.

McCallum is 2.80 on EnergyBet to register his seventh goal of the campaign

With Notts County playing in-form Exeter and Accrington facing a Mansfield side chasing a fifth successive victory, there is every chance that the two sides directly above us will fail to pick up any points. The O’s should feel liberated in their pursuit of a fifth victory away from Brisbane Road.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Plymouth 1.65 | Draw 3.65 | Leyton Orient 4.85

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Plymouth to score under 1.5 goals @ 1.90
  • McCallum to score at any time @ 2.80

Leyton Orient Heroes

The first in a series of profiles of key Leyton Orient players over the years. In this article we focus on one of the ‘O’s best ever forward’s, the prolific Carl Griffiths,

Carl Griffiths

Carl was born in England in 1971 (he’s now 45) but played for both Wales under 21 team and Wales B team. A strange occurrence really considering he actually never played for a Welsh football club team in his entire life.

The Oswestry born striker was surprisingly only five foot nine inches tall, which is remarkable considering how many headed goals the player scored.

He started his career at Shrewsbury Town where he enjoyed an exceptional five year spell playing 143 games for the Shrews and amassing a superb 54 goals. In 1992/93 he scored 27 league goals in his 42 games in the third division and 31 goals in all competitions. So good was his strike rate that in 1993 aged 22 Manchester City came in and paid half a million pounds for the striker. However chances were few and far between at Manchester City and he played only 18 games in the Premier League scoring just 4 goals. It was no surprise that just two years from joining City he moved onto the south coast where he joined Portsmouth in the first division for a fee under half of what City had bought him for initially. So the 95/96 was looking bright for Carl but again game time was at a limit for the then 24 year old and he moved to Peterborough United for £225,000 in the 96/97 season but his goal scoring touch deserted him and at the end of the season Tommy Taylor then managing the ‘O’s bought him in on loan for 5 games in which he scored 3 goals which was more than he imagined in the entire season with Peterborough. This was enough for Taylor to sign him permanently and between 1997 and 1999 Carl notched an impressive 36 times in his 85 games for the club while Orient remained in the third division throughout although he was the divisions 5th top scorer in 97/98 with 18 goals. The following year Orient reached the play offs although Carl was not a part of the team as he already been on loan at Wrexham under manager Bryan Flynn.

In March 1999 Port Vale were rebuilding a team under Brian Horton and he lashed out £100,000 for the player however Griffiths was unable to find his golden boots and come December the same year Carl was once again back at Brisbane Road plying his trade and he scored a hat trick in an away match against Chester City in a ruthless 5-1 win in December. He was back with a bang the following season though as he found the net 18 times in 43 appearances including 14 in the league. In July 2001, he was sold to Joe Kinnear‘s Luton Town for £65,000. He achieved the remarkable feat of scoring a hat trick of headers in a 5–1 win over Torquay United at Kenilworth Road on 22 September 2001. Sadly injuries limited him to just ten appearances in 2001–02 although he did manage to find the net on 7 appearances, a very decent strike rate and Carl made just three appearances in 2002–03. Griffiths then moved into non-league football with Harlow Town, Brentwood Town and Braintree Town. In November 2010, at the age of 39, Griffiths was still playing, and scoring, for Barkingside of the Essex Senior League he also was their assistant manager for a time following one season managing Brentwood Town. His final Management role was at Aveley who he took control of in 2010 however within one year he had left the club.

In all Carl Griffith’s played 118 matches for the ‘O’s in the league (always in the third division) and amassed exactly 50 goals, a goal for Orient for every two and a half games he played. Including the cup competitions he played 139 games and scored 58 goals with his most prolific days at Leyton Orient.

His career total was 334 league matches with 124 goals and he generated £1,300.000 in transfer fees during his career. However he will always be one player that the fans can relate to as a real cult figure.

 

 

Aston Villa – Manager Profile Steve Bruce As A Player

Steve Bruce has been known in footballing circles for almost 40 years now as a player for his time with Norwich City and Manchester United where as Captain he lifted various trophies and of course his career in management. As a manager he has been employed for a variety of clubs to the point where he now manages Aston Villa as of 2017.

Steve took over the role of Aston Villa Manager in November 2016 with the team vanquishing in the bottom half of the Championship following their relegation from the Premiership in May 2016 and already there has been a steady improvement in both the results and the hope around Villa Park.

However as those of us with longer memories will know Steve had a wonderful 20 year playing career with trophies galore and caps for the England under 23 team and the England international B team (in the days when such a team existed) although he never bizarrely received a full international cap.

Steve was born on 31st December 1960 and initially played over 200 games for Gillingham which was a long way from his roots in the very north of England in County Durham. He initially started out as a midfielder but was put into central defence in Gillingham’s reserve team where in his first season with the club he was the reserve’s top scorer (remember at centre back!) with a phenomenal 18 goals. He made his first team debut in August 1979 against Luton Town and went on to win Gillingham’s Player of the Year in May 1980.

Unfortunately he broke his leg with a dreadful tackle on Tommy Tynan in a match against Newport County in April 1983 and was out injured for almost seven months but he recovered enough by 1984 to play a part in two fabulous draws against the then mighty Everton. These two games bought him into the spotlight of the teams in the main two divisions and it was just a question of time and whom he’d go on to sign for.

He went on to Norwich City where he helped the East Anglian side to the league Cup in 1985 after only playing one season for the club. To be honest he didn’t start his playing career in the most auspicious of starts for Norwich City scoring an own goal in the very first minute of his debut against Liverpool. Beat that Lionel Messi! However by the end of the season he was Norwich City Player of the Year and was named man of the match in the April 1985 League Cup Final. For Norwich a small club with limited finances this was a remarkable achievement for a club outside of the usual top 6 and cemented Bruce’s role as a pivotal central defender.

Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed enough to take Steve to Old Trafford in December 1987 for a fee believed to be £825,000 where he had a prestigious career with Manchester United winning everything from the European Cup Winners Cup, the Premier League, the FA Cup and again winning the League Cup for a second football team.

Strangely Steve never played for England at full international level much like other talented players such as Liverpool’s Jimmy Case although he did win a solitary B international cap against Malta’s international first team where he was made Captain. Many thought that one of the reasons was that Bruce always looked slightly overweight and would not be suitable for the pace of many international players but he was to prove them wrong winning a truckload of trophies particularly after Ferguson had signed Middleborough’s Gary Pallister in 1989 to accompany Bruce in the centre of the United defence. By this time Bruce was 29 but their partnership was rock solid in the middle of the United back four as at long last United won the main league in this case the first ever Premier League in 1992/93 with both Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce receiving the trophy. This was as much to do with usual Captain Robson out for half the season with an array of injuries and stand in Captain Bruce leading the Red Devils to major success. This was the first league title for United since 1967.

The following season saw Bruce as Captain of United and the first man in the 20th Century to win the title again and the FA Cup as well in the same season earning Manchester United the coveted English double.

After being dropped for the following season’s FA Cup Final for Manchester United allegedly due to a slight injury Bruce left United at the age of 35 for pastures new but he was dogged by injuries the following season playing for new club Birmingham City where he had been signed by Trevor Francis. Various offers came in again for Bruce and he was offered the player managers job at Sheffield United but only played 11 matches before finishing as a player at the tail end of 1998 following a game against Sunderland ironically as this was one of the teams that as a youngster in his local area, the Black Cats had turned him down as a player in 1978.

All in all as a player he made a whopping 926 professional appearances and scored a very credible 113 goals – not bad as a stalwart at the heart of defence in most cases.

In fact in 1990/91 Bruce played 50 matches in total for the reds across all competitions and scored a mind boggling 19 goals. He always appeared very much like John Terry 20 years later to just pop up for free kicks and corners and cause turmoil for opposing defences either scoring himself or helping with assists for the Reds and you’d never want to mark the man for an opposition’s corner kick!

Since his first Manager’s job with Sheffield United from 1998 bar a few months off here and there, Steve has been an almost ever present as a manager in the top two English leagues but his playing career is more than worth putting into perspective here.

The O’s kick off crucial block of fixtures at Yeovil

Danny Webb insists ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel’ for Leyton Orient, despite watching his side fail to pick up any points in his first two matches in charge.

The O’s stayed in the bottom two after a 20-yard strike by Morecambe’s Paul Mullin consigned us to a sixth successive defeat, during which time we have managed just three goals.

Saturday’s opponents Yeovil have experienced goal troubles of their own this season, highlighted by their run of one goal in five matches between 10 December and 2 January.

However, they have since upped their scoring exploits by netting twice in two of their last four matches. They had scored two or more goals in only five of the previous 25. Back them to revert to type on EnergyBet, with favourable odds of 1.67 for under 1.5 home goals.

The match at Huish Park marks the start of a crucial block of fixtures for Orient, as we take on fellow strugglers Cheltenham, Notts County and Newport County within the next month. We should also be confident of beating a Yeovil side that has slipped from 6th to 15th after recording just one win in the last 10, even though the solitary win came against 2nd placed Plymouth.

Given that no team has failed to score in more home matches than Yeovil, you might be tempted to back Orient to keep a clean sheet at odds off 3.80 on EnergyBet. If we can’t stop them scoring, it’s encouraging that we’ve scored two or more goals in five of 13 matches on the road, compared with just twice in 16 outings at Brisbane Road.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Yeovil 1.84 | Draw 3.35 | Orient 4.10

EnergyBet Expects:

  • Yeovil to score under 1.5 goals @ 1.67

 

Bruce backs new signings to spark Villa revival

Steve Bruce has assured Villa fans that his January recruits are good enough to ‘take the club where it wants to get to’. Villa signed Scott Hogan, Sam Johnstone, Henri Lansbury, James Bree, Birkir Bjarnason, Jacob Bedeau and Conor Hourihane during a busy transfer window.

However, Hogan and co failed to prevent a last-minute loss at the City Ground last time out, which left us in 14th place, 13 points off the play-off places. We are without a win in six league matches since a Boxing Day victory over struggling Burton Albion.

On Saturday, we are back at Villa Park to entertain 16th placed Ipswich Town, who are one of three sides level with us on 36 points. The Tractor Boys are on a similarly poor run, having taken just two points from their last four matches, although they will take confidence from an improved display and a point against third placed Reading last weekend.

It is a huge match for Villa, as another defeat could dispel the buzz created by the January window. Despite our encouraging home form, the reality is that we’ve recorded nine losses against just eight wins, with four of those losses coming since the turn of the year.

This is an opportunity to balance that record at nine apiece, and extend our unbeaten run at Villa Park to 14 matches. Outside of the top six, only Derby have conceded fewer home goals than our 12, while Ipswich have only managed 10 in 14 matches away from Portman Road. This suggests there is value in EnergyBet odds of 1.68 for under 2.5 goals.

We have added much more firepower to our side since the two teams played out a 0-0 draw in September. Show your support by backing a Villa win to nil @ 2.55 on EnergyBet.

EnergyBet Match Odds:

Villa 1.76 | Draw 3.45 | Ipswich 4.75

EnergyBet Expects:

 

  • Under 2.5 goals @ 1.68
  • Villa to win to nil @ 2.55

Premier League – 4th-5th February 2017

Chelsea Savage Arsenal As Blues Nearly Out Of Sight In Title Race

Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 to move Chelsea twelve points clear on top on Saturday as Arsenal could find no answer to Chelsea’s midfield power.

The Blues outshone, outsmarted and outclassed an Arsenal team that were below par in a game where Chelsea’s midfield rearguard of Matic and Kante were insatiable winning almost everything that came their way and Eden Hazard was simply sensational with one of the goals of the season following a mazy run from the halfway line beating four Arsenal players before racing into the penalty area and with 5 Arsenal players around him managed to strike the ball past helpless keeper Petr Cech.

Chelsea dominated throughout the match and had swathes of important possession as Arsenal were outgunned in all areas of the pitch. It was like watching men against boys as Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger looked down from high up in the stands following his touchline ban for pushing a refereeing official last month and it must have been difficult viewing as his team were torn apart.

As early as the 13th minute Chelsea took the lead as Victor Moses and Pedro combined beautifully down the right with Pedro sending in a pinpoint cross to Premiership leading scorer Diego Costa. His vicious header came looping back off the crossbar and there was Marcus Alonso who’d left his marker Theo Walcott for dead and headed into an empty net although the unfortunate Victor Bellerin so often berated at least went up for the challenge in the wake of Walcott being ten metres away from Alonso and was caught nastily in the head. Bellerin was stretchered off and the entire Arsenal team could have joined him as they failed to make any inroads into the game.

In the 53rd minute it was basically game over. Costa won a header on the halfway and Belgium international Eden Hazard picked it up and went on a dazzling run leaving Arsenal defenders outwitted on his way, shrugging of the challenge of Coquelan and leaving him in a heap on the floor. Carrying on his run into the box he danced around two defenders and hit in a low shot past Cech that the international goalkeeper had absolutely no chance with.

Cech was unfortunately at fault for the third when he made an uncharacteristic mistake mishitting a back pass entirely and allowing Cesc Fabregas only recently on as a substitute with an open goal from 25 yards. The former Arsenal hero beat ironically the former Chelsea hero with a relaxed and competent finish that emphatically sealed the victory for the Pensioners.

There was still time for Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud to get on the score sheet and get a consolation goal for the Gunners as he headed in a super cross for Monreal. Unfortunately it was far too little too late for the red and white shirts.

Despite Arsenal having 57% of the possession at Stamford Bridge and more corners and set pieces in total you would never have known that from watching the game as the Blues were stunning and at times sheer class and utterly ruthless.

Is the title sewn up for Chelsea, on this outing, yes. They are simply too good for the rest of the chasing pack, the consistency is outstanding and the midfield breathtaking. With players such as Marcus Alonso, Victor Moses and Pedro seemingly coming out of the woodwork this season and players under Jose Mourinho now rejuvenated under Conte such as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa it would be a brave man to bet against the Blues regaining the title.

Weekend Premiership Round Up

Game of the day had to be at Goodison Park where Everton beat Bournemouth in an absolute thriller of a match. Romelu Lukaku scored four as the Blues made the South Coast team look all at sea. Yet once again Bournemouth gave the game a real go even when trailing 3-0 at half time. They attacked Everton from the outset of the second half and King netted a double to bring the game back in Bournemouth’s reach at 3-2 before Lukaku’s 3rd and 4th of the afternoon put the game out of their reach. Arter still was able to get a consolation goal in the last minute for 5-3 only for Ross Barkley to nab a sixth goal for the Merseysiders. A cracking scoreline to a cracking game.

Sunderland would argue they were the team of the day as they destroyed Crystal Palace 4-0 at Selhurst Park and few would argue with them. David Moyes men opened the lead after just 9 minutes when Kone scored and it took until the 43rd minute for Sunderland to tear Sam Allardyce’s team to shreds whereby Jermaine Defoe scored an excellent brace after Ndong had made it two nil. So big Sam would have hoped to have gone in at half time just the one goal down those three goals in as many minutes 4-0 was just too much. Palace it has to be said were woeful while for Sunderland there was a glimmer, just a glimmer of hope for the rest of the season.

Talking of glimmers of hope Hull City beat Liverpool 2-0 thanks to goals from N’Diaye and Niasse with six minutes left on the clock to condemn Liverpool to yet another defeat and leave their title hopes in tatters as manager Jurgen Klopp has had a dreadful 2017 so far.

Southampton lost at home again this time 3-1 to West Ham as Andy Carroll notched again and the only positive for the Saints was debutant Gabbiadini scoring his first goal for the club and being pretty sharp throughout the match.

While others fell away in the title charge Spurs at least concertinaed the gap to Chelsea back to 9 points after a Harry Kane penalty was enough to beat an at times breathtakingly boring Middlesbrough 1-0 at White Hart Lane.

Watford were back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Burnley while James Morrison’s 6th minute goal was enough to edge West Brom over Stoke City. Manchester City beat Swansea 2-1 and Leicester lost 3-0 at home to Manchester United to leave Swansea and Leicester in a 6 team battle for relegation.

 

 

Burkino Faso Secure Bronze Medal With Spectacular Goal

Alain Traore scored with a stunning strike for Burkino Faso as they took third place from Ghana with a one nil victory in the last minute of normal time.

From 20 yards out Traore hammered a free kick that gave Burkino Faso the bronze medal and condemn Avram Grant’s Ghana team to their third fourth place finish in the last four competitions.

In a lively game that Ghana had made hefty changes the Black Stars looked more dynamic and creative in a first half where they went close on a couple of occasions. Burkino Faso had kept the majority of the team that had gone out on penalties to Egypt and to be fair they looked battle weary and tired for large chunks of the match.

The much changed fresher Ghana had more space in the midfield areas and had more chances including a total of 15 shots to Burkino Faso’s 12. The Black Stars also dominated set pieces on corners with 8 with their opponents 2.

Yet they were unable to find a way past Burkino Faso goalkeeper Kouakou at the Stade de Port-Gentil in Port-Gentil as once again the dreadful state of the pitch played a hand in ensuring that both teams weren’t playing on a level playing surface in more than one way!

Jordan Ayew was all over the pitch but both dangerous and wasteful in equal measure as Ghana attacked from the off and had one attempt bounce back off the bar. Despite looking tired Burkino Faso were soaking up the pressure and did look dangerous on the counter attack.

A stalemate at half time your money would have been on Ghana but as Ghana attacked higher up the pitch the game opened up totally allowing Burkino Faso to come forward on the break and it set the game up for a fascinating last quarter.

Traore blasted one over the bar for Burkino Faso before some all round pinball in the Ghana area allowed the Black Cats to shunt the ball away. Dayo at the back almost scored an own goal for Ghana while trying to clear the ball while on the counter attack Burkino Faso had a great chance that Ofori parried away before on the same attack Traore shot wide with a decent effort outside of the penalty area.

Coulibaly who had a fantastic competition for Burkino Faso fell awkwardly and was stretchered off with just over ten minutes to play surely giving Ghana the impetus to wrap up the game but it wasn’t Ghana that continued to press as Nakoulma was almost in on 83 minutes after slipping through two defenders but the keeper Ofori came out well to save as the ball ran away from the striker.

In the last minute Burkino Faso gained a free kick two yards out on the right hand side of the penalty area and Traore struck it beautifully to win the game for Burkino Faso.

In stoppage time Ghana threw everything at their opponents as firstly Mensah went close and from a corner with the goal gaping for him Amartey somehow headed wide and it was all over.

 



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