Author Archives: LuisFigo

Forest Green v Tranmere Rovers – Vanarama National League Play-Off Final

The battle to reach the Football League climaxed yesterday with Forest Green trying to get into league football for the very first time. Whilst Tranmere were trying to get back to where they still believe they belong after two years now in the Vanarama National League.

There was certainly plenty at stake before kick off, with the new money and ambitious boys of Forest Green in one corner. The team from Nailsworth in Gloucestershire have lost around five million pounds in recent years chasing the promotion dream of league football and having lost the final last year to Grimsby were desperate for that not to happen again this year.

As for the Tranmere themselves, they have all their history and of course traditions of an old-fashioned club of 133 years. Where back in the day but many years ago had three attempts and appearances in the play-offs to get into the Premier League. It wasn’t to be though and now they’re were they are after relegation after relegation over the years. This was also their first Wembley visit for 17 years after losing 2-1 to Leicester City in the League Cup Final.

This season Tranmere and Forest Green respectively finished easily second and third behind the best team in the league in Lincoln, so going into this they both had the belief they could win this massive game! Managers Mark Cooper and Nicky Mellon had done their bit too and now it was down to the players to perform and handle the pressure on the pitch at Wembley Stadium.

Forest were at full strength at kick off whereas Tranmere had about seven or eight injuries so the despite finishing nine ahead of them, the Green Army knew they had a chance and it didn’t take them too long to score. In the eleventh minute after slow build up play, a long-range effort from Kaiyne Woolery took Tranmere keeper Davies by surprise to give them the lead.

Doidge put Green back in front just before half-time

Connor Jennings wasn’t messing round though as he got Tranmere level just ten minutes later with a brilliant strike in front of his own fans to bring the game level. It was probably undeserved at the point as they had been poor but the goal got their confidence up and soon chances were coming for both teams. None more so than on 36 minutes when Marsh-Brown brought the ball down superbly and chipped Davies from a tight ankle but the keeper moved his feet back quickly to claw it off the line.

Davies though, couldn’t do anything about Doidge’s strike five minutes later as he smashed in a great shot which was very similar to Jennings’ earlier. The goals didn’t stop there because just when you thought it was going to be 2-1 at half-time to Forest Green, they made it 3-1 after an awful defensive error. Ridehalgh miss controlled a bouncing ball and Wollery was in again and he took his time as he slotted the ball passed Davies once again for his second of the day.

Woolery’s second Wembley goal of the day made it 3-1 and that’s how it finished

That is how finished in the end too. Tranmere tried to get back into it in the second half but they never really put Forest Green under too much pressure. And with a two goal lead, Mark Cooper’s team saw out the game after getting the job pretty much done in the those few late minutes in the first half. Which means they can taste league football for the first time ever very soon. They will be relishing the day when their new fixtures for next season come out. Very well done.

Manchester Saturday Amateur Cup Final

It was recently the Bank Holiday weekend and Easter time. Gone are the days of back to back double Premier League games over one weekend because of television scheduling. That is not great, but unlike the Premier League, most leagues still have a full schedule. Like the lower leagues whom have full on fixtures but are just about done. Therefore my plan was to watch Trafford FC vs Colwyn Bay in the Evo-Stik-First-Division-North, but unfortunately due to family reason I couldn’t make it.

 

Lincoln City v Ipswich Town – FA Cup 3rd Round replay

FA Cup giant killings were in full swing in the end last night then, with both Lincoln City and Sutton United doing non-league football proud.

Ahead of Lincoln’s game against Ipswich last night, there was a fitting tribute by everyone inside Sincil Bank for Graham Taylor who sadly passed away last week age 72. Taylor who had nine years at Lincoln, four as a player where he finished his career, before eventually taking over as manager and leading them to a promotion in 1976. A true football man and very well-respected.

Onto the game and the focus and chat was also on Lincoln’s manager Danny Cowley and his assistant and brother Nicky, who joined from Braintree at the start of the season. The pair have guided a high flying Lincoln to the top of the Vanarama National League currently, where they lead by a couple of points with games in hand, as they try to get back into the football league. Where the club has been since being relegated back in 2011. Last night’s focus though was well and truly on the FA Cup as they tried to guide Lincoln to the Fourth Round for the first time since the mid-seventies, when that man Graham Taylor was in charge.

Lincoln were desperately unlucky to not get the win away at Portman Road in the first place. On the other hand, Ipswich were lucky to get the replay. Former Manchester United forward, who’s on loan from Leicester scored twice in that game and got the equaliser with four minutes to go. He’s the man in form too having scored one goal in the game before the FA Cup tie and also getting two more last weekend against Blackburn Rovers.

Rumours have it Mick McCarthy is now under real pressure and the results show that, from the results and their mid-table position you can see why. They’re currently sitting 14th but they’ve not had any run of form all season with just random results all over the place, lose at home, win away, win at home, lose away etc.

In the first half hour there wasn’t much in it at all and if you didn’t know the position of the two teams, you’d have thought they were in the same league such was there battling spirit and good play of Lincoln. There was only half chances for both teams until the first best chance came, a great ball was whipped in from the right and Woodyard was so close to giving Lincoln the lead. However, he connected with the ball on his shoulder rather than his head.

The home side kept getting plenty of free kicks too which put the Ipswich defense under great pressure, but they managed to deal with it. No more chances came though until the very last minute of the first half, when Luke Waterfall hit the ball on the bounce and Dean Gerken made a cracking one-handed save!

Rhead caused the confusion with his height and battling spirit and he continued that into the second half as well. He was gradually causing Ipswich more and more problems in the air. Mick McCarthy must have gone mental at this team at half time, but not much seemed to change second half so it didn’t work and they were very poor. And it was Lincoln that looked more like the actual league team.

However, Lincoln couldn’t get that goal and it looked like it was going into extra-time. However, with Ipswich trying to avoid that and get a winner themselves, they looked to get a free-kick high into the box as they sent their defenders forward. It was a poor cross though and with in ten seconds Lincoln had broke quickly and after a superb turn and pass in to Nathan Arnold, who kept his composure to round their keeper to slot home into an empty net to send Lincoln into the next round. They’ll now play at home vs Brighton & Hove Albion. The other results last night were:

AFC Wimbledon 1-3 Sutton United
Barnsley 1-2 Blackpool
Burnley 1-0 Sunderland
Fleetwood Town 0-1 Bristol City
Crystal Palace 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich – Bundesliga

dort1Neither team were playing too badly going into this game but neither were playing at their very best either. Both teams set themselves high standards as we well know and with both teams trailing to the new kids on the blog RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga table. It was crucial that one of them produced a performance of significance to make a statement going forward.

Although they both currently have injury issues too, such is the depth and quality of both squads that they can still send out two excellent starting elevens with decent back ups on the bench as well. The last time these teams met was in the Super Cup which Bayern won 2-0 at the start of the season, the last league game was back in March and that finished goal less here at the Westfalenstadion. Dortmund were certainly due a win having not beaten Munich now in the last seven meetings.

dort2I watched the game live on Saturday night and the atmosphere was rocking from what I could hear on television. It must have been so much better in the ground, and I had a friend who was actually out there for the game, so I messaged him to ask if he could take a couple of pictures from the game for me and he did. After the game he also messaged me to say he had a superb time in the standing away end with the old school terracing – which he was most impressed about. Along with the beer whilst watching as well.

Onto the game and didn’t take long for the one and only goal and it came for Dortmund, prior to that though it had been Munich on the front foot with Dortmund giving away numerous free kicks. Ten minutes in though and a great ball in from Mario Gotze from the right hand side caused confusion in the Bayern defence and as the ball bounced around, Gotze had followed in his cross. As he did this the ball came back out to him, he took a touch and this time a shorter cross found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the middle, who slid in to give them the lead.

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With a few chances and some good hard challenges from both sides going in, it made the game entertaining as Dortmund searched for a second to give themselves a cushion. Munich kept trying too though and Lewandowski was making good runs and getting into some good positions but nothing clear-cut fell to him. Aubameyang then had two efforts within minutes of each other as well but he couldn’t take advantage. Finally though the pressure started to build and build on the home side and finally the ball was in the back of the Dortmund net, after a superb back heel flick from Ribery. Unfortunately but correctly the linesman’s flag was up for offside. Alonso then hit the bar as well and it looked as though it was only a matter of time until they got their goal.

dort3Thomas Tuchel finally made some substitutes and tactical changes though, to try to stop the flow of Munich attacks and it seemed to work initially. Then Aubameyang had the best chance of the whole game when he went clean through on goal but completely fluffed his lines. It wasn’t too long then before Munich were at it again, but they just couldn’t find a goal and Dortmund hung on for their win. If they’d have lost they’d have been nine points behind their rivals, now though they’re just three.

Dover Athletic v Cambridge United – FA Cup 1st Round replay

dovercambAnother evening and another FA Cup game watched tonight after witnessing last night’s cracking game between Brackley Town against Gillingham. That had everything including seven goals and extra-time before the non-league side won it. Tonight was a little different with one goal less and the league side going through. Another night of excellent FA Cup football.

Having got a late equaliser eleven days ago through top scorer and man of the moment Ricky Miller, National League side Dover fully deserved their FA Cup replay after a 1-1 draw away at Cambridge. Having made the 240 mile round trip it was Cambridge’s turn to do the same on a Thursday evening. With this being the last tie of the round to still to be decided.

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Dover’s Ricky Miller celebrating the opening goal of the night, but it wasn’t to be for Dover Athletic

The first half was pretty even with both teams creating chances, however the better ones were tending to fall to the away team. No one seemed to want to take their chances though, but that was more to do with some great saves from Mitch Walker in the Dover goal. With just five minutes to go both managers would have taken 0-0 at half time, but the players didn’t want that with both teams creating another two chances each. The best falling to Lafayette right on half-time when he had a free header near the penalty spot but he nodded it wide.

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Mark Roberts celebrating an injury time equaliser to take it to extra-time and keep Cambridge United in the FA Cup

Chances kept coming in the second half for both teams but once again the best and the majority of them for Cambridge United. However, it was that man Ricky Miller once again who looked to have grabbed the headlines after he latch on to a great ball over the top to pub the non-league team ahead on 70 minutes. Cambridge kept coming though and thoroughly dominated the last twenty minutes and I think overall they hit the woodwork three times as well as having one goal disallowed. However they looked to be going out until Mark Roberts scrambled home yet another chance in the second to last-minute of injury time to send it to extra-time.

Extra-time certainly didn’t disappoint either, more chances created once again by both teams as all the players started to feel the tiredness. Dover got their noses in front one again but Cambridge just kept coming and coming and when they equalised for a second time in the match it seemed to finally be the end of Dover. They tried to hand on for penalties with their legs on, but Cambridge were having none of it and scored two goals in the dying for minutes to win 4-2.

With Cambridge through that now sorts out and confirms all the fixtures that are due to take place in just over two weeks time. TV Scheduling has already been confirmed too:

Friday 2nd December 2016
Macclesfield Town v Oxford United 19:55     Live on BBC 2

Saturday 3rd December 2016
Blackpool v Brackley Town 15:00
Carlisle United v Rochdale 15:00
Charlton Athletic v Milton Keynes Dons 15:00
Chesterfield v Wycombe Wanderers 15:00
emirates_fa_cup_logoLuton Town v Solihull Moors 15:00
Plymouth Argyle v Newport County 15:00
Shrewsbury Town v Fleetwood Town 15:00
Sutton United v Cheltenham Town 15:00

Sunday 4th December 2016
Curzon Ashton v AFC Wimbledon 12:00     Live on BT Sport 1
Bolton Wanderers v Sheffield United 14:00
Bristol Rovers v Barrow 14:00
Eastleigh v FC Halifax Town 14:00
Millwall v Braintree Town 14:00
Notts County v Peterborough United 14:00
Stourbridge v Northampton Town 14:00
Cambridge v Coventry City 14:00
Woking v Accrington Stanley 14:00
Port Vale v Hartlepool United 15:00

Monday 5th December 2016
Lincoln City v Oldham Athletic 19:45     Live on BT Sport 1

Brackley Town v Gillingham – FA Cup 1st Round replay

brackleyNearly three years ago to the day, it was tonight’s number seven Glenn Walker who scored a winner for Brackley Town in an FA Cup First Round replay. On that occasion it meant Brackley reached the Second Round proper for the very first time, tonight they have reached that round once again. Unfortunately for Gillingham Football Club, they have been the beaten team on both occasions.

Three years ago the game had just the one goal that settled it, that certainly wasn’t the case this evening. Although the celebrations were pretty similar at the final whistle with Brackley fans, players and staff all celebrating on the pitch together.

With four goals between them just ten days ago, you sort of knew there would be goals again tonight in front of the BT Sport TV cameras. It certainly didn’t disappoint in an absolutely cracking game of FA Cup football with Brackley winning by four goals to three.

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Hat-trick hero James Armson

Glenn Walker had a good game tonight but the star man was the hat-trick hero James Armson. He scored two first half goals that the National League North side fully deserved as they started much the better team. League One Gillingham were always in the game though and still kept creating chances as the home side continued to play their attacking football. Gills legend Andy Hessenthaler’s son Jake got his first goal for the club when he knocked in a rebound that home keeper Walker should have done better with.

Wagstaff made it 2-2 mid-way through the second half as Brackley tired and Gillingham stepped up the pressure to try to get back into the tie. Both teams were still creating chances though and that didn’t stop when it went into extra-time. With both teams tiring it was all about who was going to take the chance when it comes, as it turns out it was the non-league side.

brackley1An own goal from Nelson and then after some awful defending by the away team, Armson got another chance and just like his previous ones he took it. Curling the ball into the top corner to give his team a 4-2 lead. That should have been that but still chances kept coming and when Gillingham got their third with seven minutes of extra-time left. You wondered if the game wasn’t quite over as yet?

It was though and although there was a couple of scares, Brackley held on and overall fully deserved their victory. Superb game of end to end football and they’ll now be looking forward to an away trip to Blackpool in the next round at the start of December.

Eastleigh v Swindon Town – FA Cup 1st Round

After an Extra Preliminary, a Preliminary and four Qualifying Rounds of the FA Cup so far, tonight was the FA Cup 1st Round proper began. There was two fixtures on, Millwall vs Southend United and live on BBC2 from the Silverlake Stadium was Eastleigh vs Swindon Town. These two games were the start of a full on weekend of fixtures across the country in this great competition.

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FA Cup 1st Round proper

Hello to all you football and FA cup fans out there, my name is James Connors from the football website Two Footed Tackle and I love sport and in particular football. I’m a freelance writer and I recently contacted Football Nation to see if I could do a guest blog for them. As they’re a new outfit and have a brand new website as you can see, they were very pleased for any more of a contribution. Therefore here is the rest of my FA Cup 1st Round report…

With no plans tonight and not much on TV I decided to watch the game, I think I was always going to anyway, I absolutely love the FA Cup.

There are 35 places between these two teams, but you wouldn’t have known that in the first twenty minutes or so. Eastleigh had the majority of the ball, but without being right on top of Swindon as the game didn’t really have a high tempo to begin with. Coulson had the first real chance just three minutes in, he cut inside from the left and hit a low shot into near post that Swindon keeper Vigouroux turned around the post for the first corner of the game. Mikael Mandron then had a very good half chance after 10 minutes, when he should have done so much better with a clear-cut header after a great ball from the left from Green.

Maybe Swindon not starting the best was down to their lack of confidence after their very poor start to the season. They’ve only won four all season in the league and only one of them away from home, goals have been hard to come by as well with just 16 in total.

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Mandron celebrating giving Eastleigh the lead

For that reason, Eastleigh kept at them with Coulson and the over lapping Green being the main threat down the left for the first 25 minutes or so. Swindon did have one chance in that time when Luke Norris himself cut in from the left and hit a low shot that Clarke saved to give Swindon their first corner.

Things could have changed dramatically mid-way through second half for Swindon when their captain Nathan Thompson went off injured. However, all they may have missed in presence the injury helped with their formation, changing from three at the back to four. With that they gradually came back into game.

Just moments later an outstanding save from Clarke from a close range header kept Eastleigh in the game. With goal line technology though, a goal may have been given as it did look like the whole ball had just about crossed the line from the reply.

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Great save from Clarke but was it over the line?

Swindon should have taken the lead just before the 60 minute mark with the first and best chance for either team. They didn’t though and moments later Eastleigh were in front when Mandron header in a close range free kick that Vigouroux just mis-read as he came out of his goal.

Five or six minutes later and Swindon were level, Doughty ran onto a great through ball and got to it just ahead of Clarke in-goal who caught his legs and brought him down. Doughty himself stepped up to take it and the game was back on again.

Eastleigh could have won it late on when an excellent and last-minute clearance off the line saved Swindon being the first cup upset of this season’s competition.

No team wanted a reply, but a reply is what they got as the game finished 1-1. A good all round cup tie, although it was end to end and as frantic as some may of thought it would be.