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

Can Christmas Predict The Future?

It is that time of year again. Christmas, New Years, alcohol, food, family and a guarantee of at least 4 episodes of Match of the Day within the space of 10 days to annoy your sister. Hallelujah and praise Jebus.

It’s exciting, stressful, awe-inspiring and teary eyed. That’s just the visit to the pub on Christmas Eve.

It is the hardest time of the year for your mother and for a football league manager. With the opportunity of around 4-5 fixtures within such a short space of time, it can make or break a career. It is what lost Andre Villas Boas his position at Chelsea last year and I imagine someone will feel the ice cold guillotine of a tumultuous leader in January.

The be all and end all to a successful festive period is the ability to perform a bounty of squad rotation without an alarming drop in quality. It is why when you think of the great Premier League team of Christmas past, you will notice around two players for each position. It is this depth which defines success. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, any Manchester United squad and the Arsenal Invincibles all had solid grounding. Pascal Cygan was even an international defender at this point. Learning from the past creates an inevitability of success, in the present or the future. David Moyes has begun to utilise this method this season. He has brought in Bryan Oviedo from FC Copenhagen to ease the strain on Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas (Olympiakos) to add greater options on each flank. Certainly this year, the oncoming period may be the most important for Everton football club under Moyes.

An important Christmas for Moyes

An important Christmas for Moyes

It is not just Everton who will be looking for a strong points tally. Tottenham, Arsenal and everyone pushing for the Champions League will be looking to really kick on now to the end of the season. A strong performance this weekend will create a domino effect over the next 10 days. The same can be said at the other end of the table.

Even though QPR have only just won their first game of the season, a Premier League record, it could not have come at a better time. Fixtures against Newcastle, West Brom and Liverpool in their next three ties present a great opportunity to build on the excellent performance given against Fulham. Two wins here will undoubtedly show they have the capability to move out of the relegation zone before the end of the season. Harry Redknapp’s man management and their new found belief after ending their terrible run, will give a vast quantity of hope to the clubs fans.

It is the title which I now turn my attention to. Sir Alex Ferguson always states the need, the desire to do well over the Christmas fixtures. It is the prequel to the infamous ‘squeaky bum time’, determining how much squeak you get per pound at Easter. Especially with the top teams, it is the ultimate test of your squad. It shows how well they will deal with the pressure in the final echelons of the seasons when the multiple competitions come to a close. Playing big games, 3 times a week for a large proportion of the spring calendar with the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup at the business end of their stories, truly examines the mental and physical strength of the squad of players. It can of course lead to knee-jerk reactions in the January transfer window.

In examining the last decade of results over the Christmas periods, some trends have been found. If you are a fan of either Manchester club then it is probably best to read on and decide for yourself the outcome at the end of the season.

The criteria for the study were as follows. To make sure it was a fair test I have selected a set arrangement of fixtures to include. These are from the first game prior to boxing game up until the FA Cup third round fixtures, simple enough. The amount of fixtures ranges from 3-5 games depending on the alignment of the moon.

Secondly, I have narrowed it down to the results of the teams which finished first and second at the end of the season as it seems highly unlikely that any other club will separate the Mancunians.

Thirdly, as aforementioned the study is over the last ten seasons of the Premier League.

Initially, the first noticeable trend is that of the teams involved. From United-Arsenal, to Arsenal-Chelsea, Chelsea-United and finally where we are today, the Manchester impasse. Some fantastic teams and individuals have circled over the past decade and we should feel blessed to have witnessed the talents of Oleg Luzhny, David Bellion and Gael Kakuta. Superb.

The most consistent rivalry has been Manchester United and Chelsea. Ever since Abramovich’s money entered the fray in the summer of 2003 with top buys such as Geremi, the contest has been fiercely fought. I decided to start here and see how the two have fared in relation to each other.

United Chelsea Champions Second
02/03 6 4 6 10
03/04 9 6 7 6
04/05 13 15 15 13
05/06 11 15 15 11
06/07 10 6 10 6
07/08 9 10 9 10
08/09 7 5 7 7
09/10 6 5 5 6
10/11 13 5 13 5
11/12 6 4 7 6
Total 90 75 94 80

The first six seasons are split 3 each but since 2008, Ferguson’s men have outscored the Blues every time. Some may argue this is due to the lack of continuity at the club and the period for which a lot of unrest is caused by John Terry. I don’t mean to single a scapegoat but… It is the Red Devils who score an average of 1.5 more points per season over this period. A further statistic is that Chelsea is the only team to score maximum points (15 from a possible 15) and go on to win the title. Both under Jose Mourinho and both by a large margin. In the 2004/5 season Chelsea won the title by a meagre 12 points over Arsenal.

The Special One

The Special One

Now, to the more important matter of predicting what will happen in May. The results are posted in the table prior. These are the points gained by the teams that finished first and second since the 2002/3 season.

The clear answer is that the title winners outscored those around them by an average of 1.4 points. This is only a small margin, but it is clearly a significant enough one. Specific seasons can really prove how key this period is.

In the 2010/11 season Manchester United claimed 8 more points over Chelsea at Christmas. The title was won by 9 points.

In 2006/7, Chelsea dropped 6 points. One win and three draws from four games. Ferguson’s men won the title by 6 points.

We all now the outcome of last season. AGUERRROOOOOOO. The yuletide resulted in City claiming one more point the United. The Red Devils lost to Blackburn and Newcastle over this period. Grant Hanley’s header with five minutes left at Old Trafford won it for Blackburn and lost the champions a valuable point.

Out of the ten seasons, the champions have outscored the runners-up 6 times to 3 with one stalemate. Therefore, you are 50% more likely to be crowned Barclays Premier League winners if you can outscore your closest challenger over Christmas and New Years. I like this stat and it could be the answer for anyone wondering who will be superior at the end of the season. I am not saying it is the Mystic Meg of stats, but if City can outscore United over the next 4 games, then it will be without doubt as close as last year. Maybe there will be another hero on the lips of a Sky Sports commentator. BUTTTNNERRRRRRR…

Kissinger, Superfans and big Keith Alexander

So you are at the pub. The Quiz is on. The next question engulfing the drums of the populace is as follows. Which current German Bundesliga football team is former US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace prize winner Henry Kissinger, a supporter of?

Pause.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth.

Now that is someone you want on your side. You can give me Mick Hucknall. You can give me Fatboy Slim. In all honesty I don’t see anything that comes as close as that. These are genuine fans and have followed teams all their life. I know some berk you meet will claim that Kurt Cobain was an avid Havant & Waterlooville fan, but that guy needs to be told extremely impolitely that him in flames and your unwanted fluids will never be able to co-exist in this Universe.

Following on from the perennially lost Aesop’s fable aforementioned, there is a back story to Kissinger and Fürth.

Superfan Kissinger was born in Fürth, Bavaria, in 1923 before fleeing with his family to America in 1938. The story goes that the Nobel Peace Prize winner used to sneak into football games against the best wishes off his parents, to snatch a glimpse of the mighty Cloverleaves or Kleeblätter as they are known locally. Despite the love of the game and his local team, he was never able to make a return to the now renamed Trolli Arena until this season. It is rumoured that even during his time in office, he was always asked to be informed of the results of his hometown club every monday morning. Kissinger is quoted as saying that he would only come back to watch the club once they were back into the top flight of German football. Finally in his 89th year he has been able to do so.

The Bundesliga is in its 50th season this term and this is Greuter Fürth’s first attempt. A remarkable turn of events you may say, especially as it is James Bond season. The Cloverleaves were most admired during the 1920’s and 1930’s, when they enjoyed their golden period. It was at this time when Kissinger joined the schoolboy ranks of his beloved Fürth. Ever since the departure of Kissinger, I imagine entirely coincidentally but he has been coined the Political Johnny Heitinga, the club similarly followed suit in departing the top division of German football for half a century.

Last season the hurdle was completely straddled. Over the past decade they have finished 5th 6 times and 4th in the 2010-11 season (in German football the top two teams get automatic promotion and the third placed team enter into a relegation/promotion playoff). Remarkable consistency. In a sense I have a lot of similarities, footballing wise, with the great man. Lincoln City, my team, featured in the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. That included two trips to the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Of course we were defeated on both occasions, being robbed in the second final. I will not get into to this but Simon Yeo was onside. We have not been the same since, well since big Keith Alexander passed. Anyway I digress.

Big Keith in his playing days for the Imps

Promotion and cup semi finalists, saw the Bavarian team earn promotion in style.

Kissinger finally arrived then at the Trolli Arena this season, for the arrival of Schalke 04 in September. Despite losing 2-0 to the men from Gelsenkirchen, it was a special occasion for everyone there.

The start to the season has been a decidedly low-key affair for the cloverleaves. A single point earned at home so far last time out against Werder Bremen has left them bottom of the table on goal difference. In the same game they scored their first goal at the Trolli Arena in the Bundesliga. It is clear where the problems lie.

Away from home, they have been much more solid. 5 points from 4 games and conceding only 6 is a solid starting point to develop from. On away form alone they would be mid table.

Goals will come, as will points. The ultimate goal is consolidation this term, by any means necessary. Thus a stingy defensive record will provide a greater chance of achieving said target.

Tonight the Cold War starts away at the other promoted team, Eintracht Frankfurt who remarkably sit third in the table going into tonight’s game. It has been the form of Japanese playmaker Takashi Inui that has elevated them to such a position. Unbeaten at home, scoring 13 goals in the 5 games they have played here, could provide a real problem for Kissinger’s men. The cloverleaves go into the game unbeaten in two and will be hoping to Fürther this run.

I for one will be following closely for the rest of the season to see what develops for the Bundesliga debutants.

Ps. Please feel free to provide appropriate sources if Cobain is a Havant fan or any other legitimate famous superfans.

PPS. More info on the history of Greuter Furth can be found in reading this http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story/_/id/1022970/uli-hesse:-go-furth-and-conquer?cc=5739#