Category: Latest

The FIFA Under-17 World Cup: The Second Round

The odds against a Brazil/Nigeria final in the Under-17 World Cup are now shorter than a jockey. For all my talk of “dark horses” in this tournament, the second round revealed a gulf in pace, power, technique – and any other Alan Hansen-ism you might care to quote – between the Selecao, the Golden Eaglets and the rest. It was a curate’s egg of a second round, made odder by the appearance of seventeen teams in it – Slovakia allowed to enter a team of lookalikes for the first half of their 4-2 defeat to Uruguay, presumably because the real team was delayed somewhere on the way to the ground (though not in match traffic as the crowds remain abysmal). The version of goalkeeper Martin Junas who played in the first half didn’t so much misunderstand the trajectory of a long ball forward as miss the turning completely. This set the tone for the rest of the half and by the time the real team got going they had four goals to pull back. This wasn’t too much by very much, though – Uruguayan custodian Thiago Cardoza making two blinding stops as well as waving at a couple of shots as they hit the frame of his goal. Slovakia also twice found what Eurosport’s Andy Bodfish called the “onion sack,” which makes you wonder where he buys his vegetables...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Eighteen – Goal Of The Season, Courtesy Of Tony Morley

We’re into February of 1981 now and Aston Villa, unburdened as their main rivals for the Football League Championship were by the distractions of cup football, were starting to come into form. By the time of this match, a gap had opened up between Villa and Ipswich Town at the top of the table and the rest. Even Liverpool, the defending champions and pre-season favourites to retain their title, had slipped to six points behind the top two – a sizable gap when a win is only worth two points. The cameras of Match Of The Day followed Ron Saunders’ team north, to Goodison Park for a match against Everton, and viewers were treated to that year’s Goal Of The Season, courtesy of Villa’s Tony Morley. Our second match, meanwhile, takes us to Stamford Bridge, where a Chelsea side still chasing promotion from the Second Division were at home against Cambridge United. You can follow Twohundredpercent on Twitter by clicking...

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It’s Tough At The Bottom: Few Signs Of Panic Yet At Bristol City

They know a thing or two about precipitous falls at Ashton Gate. In the years between 1976 and 1980, Bristol City lived the high life in the First Division of the Football League, but cost of staying there for that amount of time proved to be ruinous. Between 1980 and 1982 the club set a most unwanted record, becoming the first club to drop from the First to the Second to the Third to the Fourth Division in consecutive seasons before topping it all by – in the days before companies could be rescued by the get-out clause of a Company Voluntary Arrangement – going bust in the summer of 1982. Finishing last season fourteen points from safety at the foot of the Championship and continuing to struggle into this season isn’t anywhere near that level, at least. Last night, though,the club returned to the foot of League One after Notts County hauled themselves up a spot with a win against Oldham Athletic at Meadow Lane. No-one would think for a second that the club’s recent difficulties on the pitch are anything like the existence-threatening state in which it found itself three decades ago, but unease could be forgiven for growing at Ashton Gate at the team’s apparent inability to shake off a losing habit, especially after finally recording a first league win of the season at Brunton Park...

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Back To The Eighties: 1980/81, Part Seventeen – Derby & Luton Cancel Each Other Out

By the end of January 1981 West Ham United had pulled clear at the top of the Second Division, opening up a near unassailable seven point lead at the top of the table. Below them, however, there was an almighty rush to join them at the top of the table with just four points seperating Notts County in second place in the table from Cambridge United in tenth place. Two of the chasing pack were Derby County and Luton Town, who started the day in sixth and eighth place in the table respectively and they attracted the cameras of the BBC’s Match Of The Day to The Baseball Ground for their match. The division’s leaders, meanwhile, were at home against Preston North End and that’s our second match. Our final match comes from the First Division and features Kevin Keegan starring as Southampton played Birmingham City. You can follow Twohundredpercen on Twitter by clicking...

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It’s Tough At The Bottom: Accrington Stanley Is Still Clinging On

With more than a quarter of the league season now played, the tables are starting to take some sort of shape. Over the rest of this week, we’ll be looking at four clubs who sit at the very foot of their divisions, starting at the bottom of League Two and a club that has rather got used to a life of struggle in recent years, Accrington Stanley. It was, on the surface at least, one of the great romantic football stories of recent times. The story of Accrington Stanley, ‘The Club That wouldn’t Die’, winning its place in the Football League back after almost five decades in the relative wilderness was one that touched a raw nerve amongst football supporters. Many of us have suffered our our own near death experiences over the years and this redemptive tale, of a club cast asunder by the Football League on account of a few weeks of madness buried deep in the mists of time, has one to gladden the hearts. Over the course of the last seven years, however, the fairy tale has come to increasingly resemble a war of attrition, an apparently perpetual battle to keep this football club solvent in an unforgiving era during which money, one of the things that Accrington Stanley FC has less of than everybody around them, has come to dominate everything else. It’s now...

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