Blues grab a point to end losing run

maxresdefault.jpgBlues forward Ashley Worsfold opened the scoring.

Gainsborough were left to hang on for a point at home to Worcester as a late onslaught almost sent all three points down to Worcestershire.

Ashley Worsfold had put Trinity ahead with a cool finish before Steven Craig headed home unmarked from a corner.

Former Premier League forward Lee Hughes rattled the crossbar late on as Trinity defended stoically for the last half hour.

Before the game Blues boss Dom Roma continued with the 3-5-2 used in recent games, which had shored up the defence but resulted in poor form in front of goal.

Trinity however took the lead within 11 minutes here when a defensive slip allowed Ashley Worsfold to latch onto a Josh Lacey through ball and finish through the keeper’s legs.

Gainsborough should have extended their lead two minutes later but Jack McGovern elected to shoot from the edge of the box rather than slot in Noel Burdett who was unmarked on the left hand side of the area.

Worcester did little in response until Jordan Murphy cut in from the right hand side and found the side netting.

The chance spurred on the visitors and midway through the half they levelled from a corner.

A Danny Jackman corner was flicked on at the near post and Steven Craig, unmarked at the far, nodded into the net.

The City leveller buoyed them on and they deserved to be on level terms at half time.

Trinity had a chance before the break to go back in front when Laurie Wilson hit a volley on target with Worcester keeper Ethan Ross reacting smartly to stop him.

Despite conceding the equaliser Gainsborough came out from the changing rooms in confident mood, creating a couple of chances within the first five minutes of the half.

A cushioned chest from McGovern unleashed Worsfold down the left flank. The striker repaid the favour and squared to McGovern who shot over the bar.

Minutes later, Lacey got forward from his wing back position and linked up with Worsfold once more but there was no goal this time as a tame shot found the keeper’s arms.

City survived the scares and from the hour began to dominate the play as the Trinity defensive line dropped deeper and deeper.

The Blues were frugal with the opportunities they handed out with George Willis forced into only one save despite the amount of possession the visitors had.

Worcester did break the defence once though, with left back Cieron Keane putting a superb cross into the box for veteran Lee Hughes to canon a shot off the crossbar.

Gainsborough had a late opportunity themselves to snatch the points when on loan Scunthorpe winger Noel Burdett had a shot deflected agonisingly wide with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.

McGovern then won a header from a corner which was comfortably claimed.

A point is a point though and it could be a momentum builder for the double header with Boston over the Christmas period.

Gainsborough Trinity: Willis 6, Lacey 7, Templeton 6, M Wilson 7, Evans 7, Beatson 6, L Wilson 7, Chapman 6 (Thornhill 73 6), Worsfold 8 (Thewlis 67 6), McGovern 7, Burdett 6 . Subs (not used): Hands, Quinn, Wiles.

Worcester City: Ross 6, Weir 7, C Keane 8, Sharpe 6 (Oji 63), Hutchinson 6, J Keane 6, English 7, Jackman 7, Craig 6 (L Hughes 66 7), Murphy 6 (C Hughes 80 6), Evans 8. Subs (not used): Addy, Gallinagh.

Half Time: 1-1

Gainsborough Goalscorers: Worsfold 11.

Worcester Goalscorers: Craig 26.

Bookings: Worsfold.

Referee: Simon Mather

Attendance: 469

Falling back in with the FA Cup

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Tomorrow marks the start of the Third Qualifying round of the FA Cup and I for one will be at a ground embracing what is readily coined the “Greatest Domestic Cup Competition in the World”.

We all know that this phrase will be milked by the media over the coming season and their chase of the great underdog tale.

Pretty much similar to the approach used this week to glorify the trades of San Marino or as any normal person can see it, outwardly mocking a nation.

Little do the media know but that the San Marinese could quite openly mock us. They have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe and have a highly stable economy, something which is alien over the majority of the Earth.

My point here is that ‘minnows’ should be respected and it is the respective domestic minnows that are fighting to be a part of a major tournament this weekend.

The attention of the media will not turn to the ‘Greatest Competition’ for over a month now, when the first round proper begins on November 8th.

The lowest rank team left in the competition at the Third Qualifying phase, Willand Rovers, have already been sniffed out by the BBC.

Luckily they now have the pressure of this tag.

Willand succeed last year’s title holders Daventry Town as benefactors of the lowest rank.

Daventry proved last season that they were anything but ‘minnows’ as they graduated to the first round for the only time in their history to face Chesterfield at the ProAct Stadium.

I was there during my stint working with the Spireites and it was clear to see that Daventry had been mightily underestimated by their Football League opponents.

The Northamptonshire club were confident and comfortable in possession, whilst at stages creating chances with relative ease.

This is about the time I list the actual professions of the team that played that day.

Footballer, footballer, footballer.

That is what they were that day and arguably the better ones if you had never seen a football game before.

In the end, the pace of the fixture took its toll on the team from the ninth tier of the English footballing pyramid and they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat thanks to two late goals.

At the end of the day, they had won in many people’s eyes.

In the chairman’s eyes even more so, as his club were £30,000 richer. (This figure does not take into account gate receipts and everything else that goes along with success in football.)

Winning a couple of games is massive at this level and every chairman, regardless of whether the manager agrees with them, wants to have a successful cup run.

This is why when we come to the nitty gritty tomorrow, almost all, if not every, team will be playing a full strength team.

I have been following the exploits of Gainsborough Trinity, my hometown club, this season, writing for the local paper.

They came out with their first XI against Farsley AFC in the round prior, where they entered the competition, against a team two divisions below them.

The fixture ended 4-1 to Trinity but there was not a significant gulf in skill on show, but a clinical edge was shown by one team.

This was my first qualifying experience for a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The opportunity to potentially play a team like Sheffield United at Bramall Lane or even a return to Chesterfield, is high on my list of achievements for this team.

They have had another ‘helpful’ draw in the form of Marine of the Northern Premier League for tomorrow and I am already looking forward to the game.

People will of course be talking about pressure but that is the nature of the beast in football and in every other profession.

Another day at the office if you will.

Personally, I have not felt this excitement for the FA Cup for a long time. It is definitely a dying ember at the top level, as they hastily choose to rotate the squad without a moments thought to the paying public.

The thought of being so close to playing at a football league ground, will mean a sleepless Sunday night for many fans, who’s team will be involved in Monday’s draw.

I share the same view of the Gainsborough chairman, Nick Tinker, that a local draw with either Lincoln City or Grimsby Town would be the best option for the club in terms of finances. Obviously another kind draw would be preferable to give the opportunity to spar against Football League opposition.

There are still many an obstacle left, no less the arrival of the Vanarama Conference teams in Monday’s hat.

That is the danger of a knockout tournament. You could face the highest ranked teams consistently and win every time.

On the flip side you may face the lowest and be eliminated.

That is why I will head to the Northolme tomorrow knowing that whatever happens, the fondness of the FA Cup from yesteryear has truly been rekindled within me.

To me that is a fantastic conclusion.

PS. I also vow to cease rotating my squads on FIFA or Football Manager when it is FA Cup weekend.

Match Report from the FA cup first round

This is my match report from Chesterfield versus Daventry Town in the FA Cup first round.

Debutants Daventry Town received a standing ovation from the crowd as their heart warming performance ended in defeat as Chesterfield got back to winning ways after a period of 5 games without a win.

It was a difficult game for Paul Cook and his players as a defiant non league opposition defended stoically for 90 minutes until Gary Roberts broke the deadlock in the 69th minute.

It was a fairly lively start with both teams enjoying possession of the football, a bruising tackle from Liam cooper left Daventry’s Tom Lorraine sprawling on the floor and the spirieite was lucky not to find himself in the referees book in the early proceedings.

In the 12th minute of the game, a marauding run from Ollie Banks let the central midfielder with time to shoot. On his weaker side, the effort drifted past Vikings keeper Richard Morris’ near post.

Lorraine was again brought down minutes later, this time by Chesterfield wide man Gary McSheffrey, and the former Coventry star was booked in the 18th minute.

The first real chance of the game fell to the yellow carded McSheffrey. Following a brilliant run by Drew Talbot down the chesterfield right, his cross ricocheted off a Daventry defender into his path. The first time effort was drilled across the six yard box, millimetres in front of eoin Doyle and wide of the post.

Another chance escaped Doyle in the 28th minute. The ball broke from a mcsheffrey cross around 12 yards out on the left hand side of the Daventry box. The curled effort from the Irishman was headed clear by marcel Simpson in front of his goal line.

From the clearance Daventry had their first real chance as Mykel Beckley ran clear of his man, crossing to find Lorraine who headed over the crossbar.

The pressure increased from the Northamptonshire club as they forced their first corner of the game. Curled in by Beckley, a half clearance from spireites keeper Tommy Lee fell to skipper Liam Dolman and his shot bobbled around before being cleared. The momentum continued as Lorraine ran clear, as the ball came back, forcing a save from Lee low down at his near post.

The weather began to turn for the worse, as the rain pounded down at the ProAct. Doyle continued to be bright as he had a penalty appeal waved away. He intercepted in the opponents half, taking on two defenders before being rather abruptly stopped by centre half Dolman. The referee quickly waved away any appeals, believing the big centre back had nowhere to go.

Against the run of play, Daventry nearly took the lead. A slip from Cooper left right winger Ross Oulton in space on the edge of the Chesterfield area and his curling left footed shot was easily saved by lee diving to his right.

The half ended in a stalemate much to the disappointment of the home side. It had been surprisingly equal despite 4 leagues being between the two sides. A lot of discontent was bubbling within the home support.

The second term started as miserable, weather wise, as it ended 15 minutes prior.

Chesterfield were certainly buoyed at half time as only a few minutes had transpired when McSheffrey stung the palms of visiting keeper Morris. The attack was built from the right flank and a pass into Doyle outside the opposing box, was controlled by the former Hibernian man and caressed into the path of number 28 mcsheffrey, who let off a ferocious strike.

A minute later and the home fans were incorrectly elated as Ollie Banks side footed strike from a corner appeared to go in. However, his effort narrowly went past the post rippling the back of the net for good measure.

Following a lengthy pause in play after an injury to Daventry man Beckley, Chesterfield broke clear and a whipped ball from Banks across the box left Doyle stretching and he duely fired over from around 4 yards out. It was the clearest opportunity of goal all game thus far and it was in the 67th minute.

A minute later, a foul on Drew Talbot down the right hand side gave the spireites a chance. The free kick, taken by substitute Jay O’Shea, arched over the Daventry defence to the far post, where Gary Roberts who was unmarked, volleyed home. A lovely controlled finish from the Liverpudlian eased the heavy burden on his manager and teammates.

The goal galvanised the league 2 side and the pressure began building once more. Good work from Talbot left O’Shea with time to take on his man and fire a left footed strike inches over the bar.

The 75 minute mark resulted in another chance. Slow build up down the left gave way to a further Doyle opportunity. Armand Gnanduillet, another substitute, chipped the ball into the Irishman who controlled on his chest and poked wide after a good low stop from Morris in the Daventry goal.

It was the substitutes which changed the game for the home team and the three of them combined to force another save from Morris. Tendayi Darikwa, the third change, lifted the ball over Vikings left back josh Blake, which O’Shea trapped before turning and firing his shot away. Morris parried it badly into the 6 yard box but had a lucky escape as his defence cleared.

The combination was reaping rewards as another quick break from Darikwa left him in the opposition box. The Nottingham born winger squared the ball across to O’Shea who had another shot tipped over by the away stopper.

From the corner, the ball came out to Jimmy Ryan who’s effort from the edge of the box sealed the game. The strike took a major deflection before hitting the crossbar and bouncing in. The 88th minute strike was his first for the club he joined in the summer and settled the nerves of the 5,000 home fans.

The second goal didn’t dampen the spirit of the away side as they pressed for a goal on their fa cup debut late on. Substitute Joe Henderson out strengthened Banks before pulling the ball back for Oulton who’s side footed effort from the penalty spot was blocked by Ashley Robinson, his own teammate, as the ball looked to be going in.

When the final whistle blew after 6 minutes of injury time, the Daventry players, staff and fans were mightily impressed with their own teams performance, of whom several avid fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their team. The Vikings will take a lot of heart from their performance today and can focus on building momentum towards a hopeful promotion campaign.

Favourites to beat Croatia in September…Maybe?

Last weekend marked a momentous occasion for men’s tennis in this country. In 83 years, no British Davis cup team had ever come back from two rubbers down to win a tie. This includes great names like Fred Perry, John Lloyd, Tim Henman and so on. Instead it featured James Ward and Dan Evans, two players that are not even ranked within the top 200 tennis players on the ATP tour. Yesterday, they were drawn against Croatia for a place in the world group in September.

Great Britain v Hungary - Davis Cup Previews

Left to right: Ross Hutchins, Andy Murray, James Ward, Colin Fleming, Leon Smith.

At first glance this sounds a daunting tie, which it is. It will be a hostile environment for the players to deal with and they will need to adapt quickly.

There is a glimmer of hope however. It is likely that Andy Murray will return to the team for a trip to Zagreb, as it is the glamour match he has been hoping to be involved with. The last significant match he played was a trip to Buenos Aires in 2008. The Argentines won 4-1 and pushed Great Britian back out of the World Group immediately after gaining promotion.

Good omens do surround the meeting of these two nations. It was in fact a victory over Croatia which sealed there return to the World Group that year. Murray played and won two of the rubbers, including a thrilling five set victory over Marian Cilic (Croatian Number 1) at Wimbledon, to stamp his authority on the world stage at the tender age of 20 years.

Both players careers have parallels. They were making big impacts on the tour as teenagers, whilst carrying the hopes of a nation on their shoulders from such a young age. Cilic beat Murray on the way to the French Open junior title in 2005 but since then, the giant Croat has only been victorious once in nine meetings. They last played in the quarter finals of the Miami Masters at the end of March, where Murray marched through in straight sets on his way to the title and to number 2 in the World rankings.

If all goes to plan this would be the crucial match in the tie.

Croatia, who were winners as recently as 2005, have a fantastic reputation over such a short history of independence but the players who were crowned champions have since retired. No more Ivan Ljubicic or Mario Ancic, leaving the rest of the squad running a little thin. The two other likely selections are in the latter stages of the career but are ranked highly. Ivan Dodig is number two and ranked just outside of the top 50, whilst the ever dangerous big serving Ivo Karlovic can be a threat to anyone on his day. Standing over 2 metres tall it is no wonder he has held the records for fastest first and second serve at some point. On the contrary he is also one of the most immobile tennis players ever, so a player akin to Andy Murray will stifle his serve and drag him around the court like a rag doll.

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A rag doll

Looking closer to home, the likely team selected by captain Leon Smith will be similar to that which came back to beat Russia.

Tim Henman has been quoted as calling the state of men’s tennis as ’embarrassing’. No players in the top 200 is a shambles for the governing body the LTA. For such a big organisation and the funding they give out to players, they are getting little back. The national tennis centre at Roehampton, that opened in 2007, has been seen as perfect setting for developing talented players. Its results have been severely questioned by many. The lack of talent has been questioned in the media but it is those who are coming through the junior circuit now, which are providing optimism for future success. Oliver Goulding and Liam Broady have both seen success on these fronts and as they develop onto the World circuit, the first real results of the academy, will be analysed stupendously.

No one has come through to the World stage in the country via the LTA since Henman in the 90’s. Andy Murray famously took his own route through Barcelona to get himself to the top of the game, whilst at the same time bemoaning the inefficiency of the ruling organisation. The World number 2 has a point. It is an extemely expensive way of developing your own talent. Only wealthy families can push there children through, making it an exclusive hobby. The great lengths of travelling to get to tournaments and events, drives the younger generation away. Nobody wants to travel mile after mile to get to a decent training camp or their nearest tournament, especially as a youngster. Interest is lost easily and is harboured into other sports which are cheaper and nearer. Things need to be done to prevent future talent from wandering into other fields.

I seem to negate the effectiveness of the LTA but this is merely through frustration. They have however, given great cause for belief in Croatia due to their emphasis on doubles play in all competitions. Any casual player at a club will spend the vast majority of time play with a partner rather than solo. Through my experience of playing, I know of one such national league which fuses both throughout its denominations into regional and county levels.

The success of this can be seen in the ATP doubles rankings. Seven players within the top 100, with six of these reaching the top 50 at some stage of their career. There are two winners of majors; Jamie Murray and Johnathan Marray, with the latter reaching the semi-finals of the end of year championships too.

There is great belief in the British camp that they can prevail in any doubles match due to the number of specialised players now in the ranks and I would support this. It similarly removes strain from the key man Andy Murray during a Davis Cup weekend. He now no longer has to be put through potentially three five set matches in consecutive days, which will benefit him physically in the long term.

With the new confidence in the team, coupled with the success of the junior players, the future is rather less embarrassing than first feared.

Greuter Furth and the future

Guten Abend mein freunds. This is just a quick post to mark out the future posts and ideas which I have been working on since my last publication.

I have generally been quite busy of late, doing overtime at work to fund a trip to Denmark next month and of course indulging in the release of FIFA 13, but I have been contemplating what is next for this blog.

Firstly, I have decided to split between two projects, one for each of the two loves; football and tennis.

So for starters, I am going to get heavy into the future of the ATP tour. This is key to maintain interest in a sport which has seen it’s most competitive age since the 1980’s. Where is the talent coming from and who will hopefully fulfill their potential? The first post will be soon and it will be on the subject of Grigor Dimitrov. A brilliantly talented Bulgarian who has yet to really kick on fully from the junior stage.

All is exciting here for the reader and for me. I really enjoying following great talent rise ever since the great tales of Arjen Robben, Kim Kallstrom and Alberto Gilardino from Championship Manager 01/02. FYI I still play this game…a lot.

The reason for the Germanic greeting at the beginning will now be clarified.

Ever since ITV4 have begun showing the Bundesliga highlights on monday night I have seemingly become addicted. It’s not as if this is a new revolution. I have been a firm follower of Schalke 04 ever since the mighty Raul Gonzalez transferred here from the Santiago Bernanbeu. They are in fact my supported club on FIFA 13. However, this isn’t the news.

Through watching the highlights I have become obsessed with a team who are in the first season in the top flight; SpVgg Greuter Furth (phonetically Groyter Fert). Partly because it is their first season but also due to Henry Kissinger being a fan and also the acquisition of Gerald Asamoah.

Therefore, from now until the end of the season I will actively be following and supporting the Cloverleafs. This could be dramatic and as WE sit bottom of the table, progress needs to be made. (PS this is mainly due to my team being so dire it is ridiculous).

I hope you can be a passenger with me on both of these trips. You can follow the blog by clicking on the top of the page or on twitter via the bottom of the page.

Auf Wiedersehn.