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Day: March 25, 2012

Non-League Videos Of The Week: 25-03-12

Promotion, relegation and Wembley are very much on our minds for this week’s Non-League Videos Of The Week, which feature matches from the Blue Square Premier, the Blue Square South, the FA Vase and the North West Counties Football League Challenge Cup. Things are tight at the bottom of the Blue Square Premier table. Whilst there is a gap between the bottom three – Darlington, Kettering Town and Bath City – and the rest, the final relegation place remains very much up for grabs, with just four points now separating Stockport County in seventeenth place and Hayes & Yeading United in twenty-first place. Yesterday afternoon, Hayes & Yeading United had a critical home match against another side looking nervously over its shoulder at the moment, AFC Telford United. Whilst Hayes & Yeading United were availing themselves of Wokings facilities at Kingsfield, their hosts were away from home in the Blue Square Bet South against Eastbourne Borough. Four straight wins had set The Cards back on track after a wobble in the league, but a trip to Eastbourne, who themselves are still by no means safe from relegation, proved to be considerably tougher than they might have anticipated. Meanwhile, the first leg of the semi-finals of the FA Vase were played this weekend, and West Auckland Town of the Northern League had a long trip to Kent to play Herne...

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The Welcome Return Of The Crouchasaurus

Fifty-eight minutes of largely uninspiring football had been played when, quite out of the blue, we witnessed one of the greatest moments of this Premier League season, and all from the most unexpected of sources. It could be argued that there was something defiantly Stoke City about Peter Crouch’s goal against Manchester City last night. The ball didn’t touch the ground from the moment that Asmir Begovic cleared it down-field until the back of his opposite numbers net rippled. It was the absolutely definitive antithesis of tiki-taka, and it was absolutely magnificent. This year’s Goal Of The Season debate surely has to be over. As football continues to become technically more sophisticated at its highest level, a certain orthodoxy has settled over perceptions of what does and doesn’t constitute “attractive” football in the modern era. Stoke City have become a group personification of something that many have chosen to loathe, and there has been a hum of satisfaction that their limits have been tested more rigorously that in recent years this season. What is undeniable, however, is the fact that there is a primal, visceral rush that thumps us right in the synapses when their directness hits its target. A team that has arguably become over-reliant on set-pieces of the sort that are rehearsed time and again on the training ground demonstrated, in the space of just a few...

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European Door Slams Shut for Welsh Exiles

Last week, UEFA’s executive committee met the Football Association of Wales. They discussed the proposal to allow Welsh clubs playing in the English pyramid system to qualify for European competition through the Welsh Cup. If successful, the FAW would have succeeded in their attempt to raise the profile of the Welsh Cup by making it  more attractive to the exiles, to whom they had only recently extended an invitation back into the competition. Would the lure of an ‘easier’ path to Europe prove too irresistible to the likes of Swansea City, Cardiff City, Wrexham, Newport County, Merthyr Town and Colwyn Bay? This opportunity to qualify for Europe would only be open to the Welsh clubs playing over the border if they agreed not to take part in the equivalent competition in England. Seeing as Cardiff City have reached the final of both the FA Cup and the League Cup in recent years, and Swansea City are beating some of the best teams in the country in the Premier League, it’s probably safe to assume they would turn down the invitation. As for the rest, a viable route into Europe could still have been appealing, but the result of the bid means we’ll never know. The FAW failed to convince UEFA to change the rules, so Welsh clubs playing in England will have to qualify for Europe through English competition. We can...

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