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Championship Manager – A tribute


binny

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I’ve played the CM series since the very beginning, and have played every release since then, with the exception of CM Italia. It’s been an amazing relaxant for me over the years, as well as a source of much derision from family about my addictedness to the game.

With the CM franchise moving on, and the prospect of a new game in the form of FM2005, I thought that I’d take this opportunity to share with you some of the great games that I’ve played in CM03-04. The Save Match function is largely responsible for this, and I hope you enjoy these memorable games as much as I did.

Most of these games come from stories that I’ve written, and if I remember, I’ll include a link back to them for your reference.

I couldn’t decide on an order for these games, so it will simply be done in date order.

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I’ve played the CM series since the very beginning, and have played every release since then, with the exception of CM Italia. It’s been an amazing relaxant for me over the years, as well as a source of much derision from family about my addictedness to the game.

With the CM franchise moving on, and the prospect of a new game in the form of FM2005, I thought that I’d take this opportunity to share with you some of the great games that I’ve played in CM03-04. The Save Match function is largely responsible for this, and I hope you enjoy these memorable games as much as I did.

Most of these games come from stories that I’ve written, and if I remember, I’ll include a link back to them for your reference.

I couldn’t decide on an order for these games, so it will simply be done in date order.

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Date: Tuesday 5th August 2003

Competition: Israeli Toto Cup, Group 4

Venue: Municipal, Kiryat-Shmona

Attendance: 1993

Story: Some things just don’t worry me

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona 2(0) Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0(0)

Sadagorski 48, 54

</pre>

This was my first competitive match in charge of INL side Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona, and we were up against a Hapoel Tel-Aviv side who were expected to challenge for the title in the top flight. It was true that the visitors had lost a number of their top players over the summer, but I was still expecting them to give us the run around. We included Amos Sasy, on loan from Dortmund, in midfield, and exciting prospect Rajid Baransi was asked to play on the left wing. Our visitors went with a slightly defensive formation, and that did surprise me somewhat.

Five minutes passed before the first effort of the game. Wedzynski played a long ball out of defensive. Amsha flicked the ball on and Baransi sent a shot straight at Elimelech. Hapoel Tel-Aviv soon got into their stride, but we defended astutely. Sagir got ahead of Ogabuna, and Rozben was doing well at right back. Wedzynksi made a perfectly timed tackle on Edri in the box to clear the ball out for a throw-in, and Baracat and Vakrat combined to clear more danger for a corner. From the corner Kingston got to the ball, but his header was straight into the arms of Eyal Vakrat and he held it easily. Wedzynski made another perfectly timed tackle on Ogabuna, and Kingston sent a header over the bar from Anbeti’s long free kick.

The breakthrough came straight at half time. Sasy’s throw was knocked across the box by Haim Silvas, and Daniel Sadagorski was on hand to smash the ball in from close range and give us the lead. We almost doubled the lead straight from the kickoff. Rozben won the ball and immediately fed Viam Amsha. Under pressure, Amsha shot from 30 yards out, only the see the ball go agonisingly wide of the post. The second came just six minutes after the first. Silvas took a corner from the left, and Sadagorski bulleted his header past the helpless Elimelech. Hapoel Tel-Aviv took a while to get back into the match, and only really looked threatening in the last fifteen minutes. Vakrat did well to tip over a Halis effort, and when Rozen shot from just outside a crowded box, Vakrat was fortunate that his parry fell to Silvas who could clear into the stand. Five minutes from time Kingston tested Vakrat with another header, but the goalkeeper was equal to it, and we had pulled off an amazing result.

Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona (4-4-2): Eyal Vakrat; Alon Sagir, Wahib Baracat, Grzegorz Wedzynski (Alon Eilok 79), Dani Rozben (captain); Rajid Baransi, Enes Demirovic (Nicolas Valenci 87), Amos Sasy (Ran Kojok 87), Haim Silvas; Daniel Sadagorski, Viam Amsha (Akiva Megrelashvili 79). Substitutes not used: Chillik Eliezer (gk), Shalom Akiva, Yossi Nagar

Hapoel Tel-Aviv (4-5-1): Shavit Elimelech; Yigal Antebi, Shimon Gershon (captain), Tal Hen (Pablo Solchaga 48), Héctor Quintana (Rami Halis 55); Cfir Edri, Eyal Ben-Ami (Alon Halfon 33), Laryea Kingston, Shai Abutbul (Rami Abu-Laben 55), Yossi Rozen; Ibezito Ogabuna. Substitutes not used: Nir Rahmin (gk), Guy Koaz, Klimi Saban

Man of the Match: Alon Sagir (Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona) 9

Referee: Assaf Keinan

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Date: Sunday 10th August 2003

Competition: English Community Shield

Venue: The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Attendance: 72472

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Manchester United 1(1) Arsenal 4(0)

Giggs 34 Henry 51, 55, 80

Pires 70

Parlour m/pen 85

</pre>

I had decided to start a game with my beloved Arsenal whereby I would never sign a single player, and nurture the talent coming through the youth ranks at Highbury. Sylvain Wiltord and Lauren had been sold in the build-up to this game.

The first half wasn’t pretty, and had the feel of a preseason friendly. An early Bergkamp effort that Barthez easily held apart, there was little goal action in the opening half hour. Manchester United then took the game by the scruff of the neck, and started to show their capabilities. Ole Gunnar Solskjær laid the ball back to van Nistelrooy, but the Dutchman could only fire the ball over the bar. A minute later van Nistelrooy played in Keane on the left. The Irishman played in Giggs, who drove the ball past Lehmann and United were ahead. Solskjær could have added a second, but Lehmann did well to gather the ball at the second attempt.

Arsenal were much improved in the second half, and started to play the flowing football that they are capable of. Six minutes into the second half Pennant sent Henry away, and the Frenchman beat Barthez at his near post to level things up. Four minutes later Pennant was again provider. His flick on was not picked up by Yobo, and Henry took advantage to use his quick feet to outwit Barthez and pass the ball into the net. The confidence was flowing through Arsenal at this stage and even Pennant got in an effort. Manchester United started to come back, and Giggs sent a free kick just wide of Lehmann’s near post. Twenty minutes from the end Keane sent the ball across the box. Diego Forlán left it for Giggs, but the Welshman could only fire the ball into Lehmann’s arms. Arsenal broke quickly. Henry beat John O’Shea to the ball, and neatly laid the ball across the box when Bergkamp left it for Robert Pires to slide the ball in for 3-1. Ten minutes from time Parlour found Pennant on the right. He immediately laid the ball off to Henry who outwitted Barthez yet again and the hatrick was complete. Henry came off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Kanu, and Arsenal could have had a fifth. Clichy’s cross was hit goalwards by Kanu. Barthez did well to keep the effort out, but as Bergkamp looked to follow up, John O’Shea felled the Dutchman and Barry Knight pointed to the spot. Ray Parlour was the surprise choice of penalty taker, and it proved to be so as he sent it straight into the arms of Barthez.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Fabien Barthez; Mikaël Silvestre (John O’Shea 55), Rio Ferdinand, Joseph Yobo (Diego Forlán 55), Gary Neville; Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane (captain), Paul Scholes (Eric Djemba-Djemba 70), Kléberson (Nicky Butt 55); Ole Gunnar Solskjær (David Bellion 66), Ruud van Nistelrooy. Substitutes not used: Tim Howard (gk), Phil Neville

Arsenal (4-4-2): Jens Lehmann; Ashley Cole, Kolo Abib Touré, Sol Campbell (Martin Keown 63), Justin Hoyte (Alex Bailey 71); Robert Pires (Gaël Clichy 71), Patrick Vieira (captain), Edu (Ray Parlour 63), Jermaine Pennant; Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry (Kanu 83). Substitutes not used: Stuart Taylor (gk), Gilberto

Man of the Match: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) 10

Referee: Barry Knight

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Date: Sunday 10th August 2003

Competition: English Community Shield

Venue: The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Attendance: 72480

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Manchester United 4(3) Arsenal 4(2)

van Nistelrooy pen 2, pen 42 Earnshaw 11

G Neville 18 Henry 31, 64, pen 67

Bellion 90

Arsenal win 3-2 on penalties

</pre>

This was originally going to be part of a LOTR Challenge game, but I decided not to continue with the challenge. There had been a number of transfers both in and out of the club during preseason, hence the somewhat strange line-ups. Again, I was playing as Arsenal.

The game got off to an electric start. Cristiano Ronaldo laid the ball back to Silvestre, and he called Lehmann into action to tip the ball over the bar. The corner was whipped in, but Barry Knight noticed a push by Sol Campbell on Mikaël Silvestre, and a penalty was awarded. Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up and sent a powerful effort past Lehmann, despite the German going the right way. Arsenal slowly got back into the match, and debutant Kim Källström saw Barthez hold onto a free kick from just outside the box. A minute later Lauren headed clear and the ball fell to Thierry Henry. The Frenchman bombed down the right wing and pulled the ball back for Welshman Robert Earnshaw to equalise with a debut goal. Seven minutes later Fortune sent Cristiano Ronaldo away. His cross seemed to go too long, but the ball fell to Gary Neville who hit a sweet volley and saw the net ripple as United retook the lead. The game took a lull for a while, but with half an hour gone Cole found Källström who immediately fed Henry. He forced Barthez into a good save, but the ball fell back to Henry who controlled well and passed the ball in for 2-2. Gary Neville almost restored the lead for Manchester United when he sent in a cross-shot from the touchline. Lehmann dealt with it easily though. Four minutes before the break Cole held onto Eric Djemba-Djemba as both jumped to reach a Silvestre free kick and Barry Knight awarded another penalty. van Nistelrooy stepped up, and United led 3-2 at half time.

The second half started with a flurry of bookings as these two rivals battled. Just after the hour Pires made some room for himself in the centre of the field, and sent an effort inches wide of Barthez’s goal from 20 yards out. Two minutes later Patrick Vieira got down the left flank, and when he sent in a low cross, Thierry Henry was the only person that could get anything on the ball and the Gunners were level yet again. Young striker Jérémie Aliadière saw his cross headed towards goal by Henry, only for Barthez to hold the ball. But within a minute Henry was awarded a penalty as the Frenchman ran through the Manchester United defence, and Rio Ferdinand stopped him in his tracks with just Barthez to beat. Ferdinand was lucky not to be sent off. Henry stepped up to take the penalty himself, and fired it to the right of Barthez as Arsenal went ahead for the first time in the game. Arsenal tried to close the game out from there on, and a quick break from Forlán apart they did well. A minute into injury time Henry could have wrapped it up with a header, but from the goal kick, van Nistelrooy fed substitute David Bellion who took the ball on and smashed the ball past Lehmann to equalise and sent the game into a penalty shoot out.

Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy had both scored from the spot during the game, but both missed the opening penalties for their respective sides. Robert Pires and Gary Neville both scored, but Barthez guessed right to save from Lauren and United had the advantage. But Diego Forlán sent his effort over the bar, and Fernando kept Arsenal in it by sending Barthez the wrong way. Butt equalised with the next penalty and we were effectively into sudden death. Joseph Yobo fired over to give United the advantage, but Darren Fletcher couldn’t contain his nerves and sent a weak shot into the arms of Lehmann. Pennant put away his penalty into the far right hand corner to put the pressure on David Bellion, but the young Frenchman shot straight at Lehmann, and Arsenal had won.

Manchester United (4-4-2): Fabien Barthez; Mikaël Silvestre, John O’Shea (Diego Forlán 60), Rio Ferdinand (Phil Neville 90), Gary Neville (captain); Quinton Fortune (Keiran Richardson 65), Nicky Butt, Darren Fletcher, Eric Djemba-Djemba (Phillip Bardsley 60); Cristiano Ronaldo (David Bellion 75), Ruud van Nistelrooy. Substitutes not used: Tim Howard (gk), Jami Puustinen

Arsenal (4-4-2): Jens Lehmann; Ashley Cole, Joseph Yobo, Sol Campbell (Kolo Abib Touré h/t), Lauren; Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira (captain) (Gilberto 73), Kim Källström (Fernando 62), Freddy Indurley Grisales (Jermaine Pennant 73); Robert Earnshaw (Jérémie Aliadière 62), Thierry Henry. Substitutes not used: Stuart Taylor (gk), Nigel Reo-Coker

Man of the Match: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) 10

Referee: Barry Knight

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Many thanks Skiddaw and Wag - much appreciated icon_razz.gif

Date: Saturday 16th August 2003

Competition: English Conference

Venue: The Lawn, Forest Green

Attendance: 1534

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Forest Green 3(1) Barnet 5(2)

Moralee 45 Roach 24

Grayson pen 50, 59 Beadle 45, 72, 90

Hatch 84

</pre>

This was Barnet’s third game of the season, and it was just a fantastic game from start to finish. I was going with a somewhat strange formation, having a back three, two wingbacks, a defensive midfielder, and a striker in “the hole.†Rob Edwards was on loan from Aston Villa, and Joe Boyle was on loan from Partick Thistle, and Joe Gamble was in for the season from Reading. Captain Ian Hendon was out with an injury; so former QPR man Danny Maddix took the captain’s armband.

The game started quietly, with both sides testing each other out. The first real chance of the game resulted in a goal as Hogg played the ball out left to Tony Taggart, and the midfielder fed Roach who fired the ball in at the near post to give the Bees the lead. Forest Green almost equalised immediately, but Shane Gore did well to hold onto Sykes’ header from Moralee’s cross. As the game entered the final minute of the first half Barnet were awarded a corner. Hogg swung the corner in and Peter Beadle headed Barnet into a 2-0 lead. But two minutes into injury time Foster fed Cowe who pulled the goal back for Jamie Moralee to immediately reduce the deficit.

Forest Green went for the jugular at half time by bringing on Neil Grayson and he had an immediate effect. Straight from the restart Joe Gamble was robbed by Foster. The ball fell to Grayson who played a neat one-two with Moralee. Grayson had the ball in the back of the net, but the effort was ruled out as Grayson had strayed offside in the build up to the goal. Four minutes later Forest Green were level. Edwards pushed Cowe in the box, and Grayson put the penalty to Gore’s right. Grayson was at the centre of action, and he called Gore into action with a good save, and Gore then had to keep out both Richard Kennedy and Jamie Moralee. The pressure from Forest Green was intense, but it was on the break that they were at their most effective. On the hour they broke quickly through Steve Cowe. He fed Moralee who laid the ball off to Grayson and Forest Green were ahead having been two goals down. Barnet slowly got a hold of the match, and after some neat work between Grazioli and Hatch, Hatch could only find the side netting. Ingram forced Gore into a save with a header from Searle’s corner, but two minutes later Barnet were level. Hogg fed Giuliano Grazioli who played the ball right into Peter Beadle who swept the ball into the empty open goal. Forest Green looked to hit back straight away, but Cowe saw Gore cling to his effort. Barnet made a surge in the last ten minutes. First McCallum saw his header saved, and then both Beadle and Hatch saw some desperate defending deny them a winner. They weren’t to wait long. Within a minute, Barnet were breaking after clearing Cowe’s effort. Tony Taggart ran half the length of the field, and when Gianangelo couldn’t hold his shot, Hatch instinctively stuck out a foot and Barnet were ahead again. Forest Green came back again. Foster hit the post and when Stoker fed Grayson to seemingly equalise, Cowe had strayed offside and the Londoners breathed a sigh of relief. As the game ticked towards 90 minutes Hatch sent in a long cross from the left. Grazioli was disposed on the touchline, but the ball fell to David McCallum who laid the ball into Peter Beadle and he made sure that he was taking the match ball home with him. Hatch could have made it 6-3 deep into injury time, but he shot woefully wide.

Forest Green (4-4-2): Chris Gianangelo; Damon Searle, Damon Ingram, Jon Richardson, Lee Phillips (Martin Finnegan 72); Alex Sykes (captain) (Gareth Stoker 69), Martin Foster, Richard Kennedy, David Kennedy (Neil Grayson h/t); Jamie Moralee, Steve Cowe. Substitutes not used: Steve Perrin (gk), Amrit Sidhu

Barnet (3-3-1-1-2): Shane Gore; Mark Rooney, Danny Maddix (captain), Rob Edwards; Tony Taggart, Joe Boyle (David McCallum 65), Joe Gamble; Lewis Hogg; Peter Beadle; Lee Roach (Liam Hatch 65), Giuliano Grazioli. Substitutes not used: Ricky Millard (gk), Simon King, Bai Mass

Man of the Match: Peter Beadle (Barnet) 10

Referee: Gary Kellett

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Date: Monday 25th August 2003

Competition: Israeli Toto Cup, Group 4

Venue: Bloomfield, Tel-Aviv

Attendance: 3594

Story: Some things just don’t worry me

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Hapoel Tel-Aviv 3(2) Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona 3(0)

Solchaga 1 Sadagorski 60, 88

Knafo 10 Amsha 72

Gershon pen 48

</pre>

Following our first game victory over Hapoel Tel-Aviv, we now find ourselves top of the group at the halfway stage. Surely, the home side would be all out to thrash us following our surprise victory earlier in the month. But we had just beaten Hapoel Petach-Tikva, and playing higher division sides seemed to be simple as far as we were concerned.

It took just 26 seconds for Hapoel Tel-Aviv to take the lead. Saban played the ball wide to Avi Knafo who pulled the ball back into the box and Pablo Solchaga fired them ahead. And with ten minutes gone the lead was doubled. This time Solchaga turned provider, picking up the ball wide on the left from Cfir Edri before sending a low cross into the box for Avi Knafo to beat Wahib Baracat and volley in past Vakrat. The game diminished into a bit of a midfield battle after that, with tackles flying in all over the place, and there was no further scoring before half time.

Things were to get worse as the second half began as Edri played the ball into the box, and Demirovic was adjudged to have jumped unfairly with Pablo Solchaga. Dani Koren awarded the penalty, and captain Shimon Gershon sent the spotkick into the right hand corner of the net. Out of nowhere though Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona got a goal back. Some neat passing at the back culminated with Rozben playing in Silvas down the right wing, and he chipped the ball in for Sadagorski to pull a goal back. The confidence seemed to be restored at that stage, and twelve minutes later a second goal was scored. Silvas picked us Rozben’s throw-in, and from the edge of the box the midfielder centred the ball for Amsha to take on the bounce and fire in. Hapoel Tel-Aviv tried to close the game out after that, but with just two minutes left on the clock Sasy sent away Viam Amsha. He took the ball wide, but had the vision to see his strike partner Daniel Sadagorski making a late run, and Amsha centred the ball for the Argentinean to equalise with an open goal. There was a little bit of action in the final few minutes, but neither goalkeeper was forced into a save, and Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona had claimed a fantastic result.

Hapoel Tel-Aviv (4-4-2): Shavit Elimelech; Yigal Antebi, Shimon Gershon (captain), Tal Hen (Héctor Quintana 60), Klimi Saban; Cfir Edri, Eyal Ben-Ami (Rami Abu-Laben 60), Laryea Kingston (Alon Halfon h/t), Yossi Rozen; Pablo Solchaga, Avi Knafo (Shai Abutbul h/t). Substitutes not used: Nir Rahmin (gk), Ido Eliyahu, Yair Cohen-Zedek

Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona (4-4-2): Eyal Vakrat; Alon Sagir, Wahib Baracat, Grzegorz Wedzynski, Dani Rozben (captain); Rajid Baransi (Akiva Megrelashvili 74), Enes Demirovic (Shalom Akiva 74), Amos Sasy, Haim Silvas; Viam Amsha, Daniel Sadagorski. Substitutes not used: Chillik Eliezer (gk), Nicolas Valenci, Ran Kojok, Yossi Nagar, Alon Eilok

Man of the Match: Viam Amsha (Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona) 8

Referee: Dani Koren

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Date: Wednesday 10th September 2003

Competition: World Cup, South American Qualifying Group

Venue: El Campín, Bogotá

Attendance: 56295

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Colombia 4(2) Brazil 1(0)

C. Castillo 41 Ronaldinho 76

Arzuaga 45, 61 Kaká s/o 60

Patiño 52

</pre>

Having missed out on Korea/Japan 2002, Colombia were looking for a good start to their World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign. Having won their opening game, they would be severely tested by world champions Brazil. But the fanatical home crowd would do their best to give their boys the best chance.

The first effort came ten minuets into the game as Patiño flicked the ball onto Carlos Castillo, but the striker fired his effort over the bar. Eight minutes later Rafael Castillo floated the ball into Arzuaga. He took the ball down well, but was forced wide by Marcos, and the goalkeeper managed to block his shot for a corner. The game was turning into a midfield battle, and a few players were cautioned for their over-exuberant tackles. Brazil’s first chance came when Kaká used his place to beat Iván Córdoba, but the Milan striker could only shoot straight at Oscar Córdoba who kept the effort out. Ronaldinho tried to catch Colombia on the break ten minutes later, but again Oscar Córdoba was equal to it. Five minutes before the break Carlos Castillo linked well with Martín Arzuaga, but Arzuaga was distraught to see his effort come back off the post. A minute later though Colombia were in the lead. Freddy Grisales did well down the right, crossing for Carlos Castillo, and he neatly shot across Marcos and into the back of the net. Two minutes into injury time Patiño got right through the Brazil defence only to see Marcos gather the shot, but there was still time before half time for Colombia to double their lead. It came down the left as Rafael Castillo chipped the ball into the box, and Martín Arzuaga hit the ball on the bounce to send the home fans wild.

Colombia again threatened early in the second half, Rafael Castillo sending in Arzuaga who forced Marcos into a point-blank save. Patiño also tried to add to the score from 35 yards out, but Marcos was well positioned to hold the ball. Brazil kept plugging away, but when the ball fell to Kaká, he could only fire high over the bar. A minute later Colombia had their third. Roberto Carlos tried to clear a Mario Yepes free kick, but the ball fell to Jairo Patiño who picked the ball up, and on the turn fired in from 25 yards to leave everyone, including Marcos, bewildered. Brazil made things hard for themselves when Kaká was given a straight red card on the hour for a push on Yepes, and Colombia punished Brazil immediately. Patiño picked out Arzuaga on the right of the midfield, and, spotting Marcos off his line, Arzuaga scored a wonderful lob from just outside the box to double his tally for the evening. Ronaldinho scored a consolation for Brazil on 76, picking up on a long punt from Marcos, but it was Colombia’s night to savour.

Colombia (4-4-2): Oscar Córdoba; Luis Amarento Perea, Mario Yepes, Iván Ramiro Córdoba (Jorge Bermúdez 71), Jersson Amur González (captain); Rafael Arles Castillo, Jorge Bolaño, Jairo Leonardo Patiño, Freddy Indurley Grisales; Martín Enrique Arzuaga, Carlos Alberto Castillo (Edixon Perea 71). Substitutes not used: Robinson Zapata (gk), Jairo Fernando Castillo, Mauricio Alejandro Molina, José Hermes Mera, Arley Dinas

Brazil (4-4-2): Marcos; Roberto Carlos, Lúcio (Juan 60), Belletti (Cris 61), Zé Maria; Denílson, Assunção (Gilberto 60), Emerson (captain), Mancini; Kaká, Ronaldinho. Substitutes not used: Dida (gk), Roque Júnior, Adriano, Júnior

Man of the Match: Jairo Leonardo Patiño (Colombia) 10

Referee: Marco Antonio Vargas

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Date: Wednesday 8th October 2003

Competition: Asian Cup Qualifying, Group B

Venue: Jericho Stadium, Jericho

Attendance: 19838

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Singapore 4(0) Palestine 3(3)

Grabovac 48, 59, 65 Ayoub 10, 26

Rudy Khairon 88 Abed-Rabbo 15

</pre>

This was the first game of my tenure as manager of Singapore. The first round of qualifying games were being played in Palestine, and we were favourites to be the whipping boys of the group that also included Qatar and Kuwait.

The first effort came ten minutes into the game as Bishara powered his way through the Singapore defence before picking our Emad Ayoub in plenty of space. The striker made no mistake, beating Adi Saleh at his near post to put Palestine into the lead. Five minutes later Palestine again exposed Singapore on the left flank. Mohsen Al-Nteif picked out Ayoub, and he used his pace to get past Aide Iskander and pulled the ball back for Madhi Abed-Rabbo who took one touch and then fired in to the top corner. Singapore continued to chase shadows and on 26 Palestine scored a third. Al-Bagawei headed the ball forward to Abed-Rabbo. He got down the left flank, and crossed for Ayoub. Saleh did fantastically well to keep out the striker’s first effort, but the ball fell back to Ayoub, and he volleyed it in. Palestine almost had a fourth two minutes later, but Saleh did well to parry Naif’s header from Bishara’s cross. Singapore almost pulled one back on the break immediately, but Mirko Grabovac narrowly missed the post. Singapore were indebted to Razif Mahamud who cleared a corner of the line three minutes before half time, but Singapore again looked dangerous on the break, Indra Sadhan heading just wide from Jeyapal’s cross.

Singapore knew that they had to show some more passion in the second half if they were to get back into the game, and they set about their task straight from the whistle. Mahamud pumped a long ball forward. Indra Sahdan did well to head the ball onto Croatian-born Mirko Grabovac, but he couldn’t control the ball and Lema held onto the ball. Two minutes later though Singapore had a goal back. Nazreen Yeo punted the ball to the edge of the box. Indra Sahdan knocked the ball down to Grabovac, and with a bit more space, he just smashed the ball into the top corner of the net to reduce the deficit with his first goal for his adopted country. Ten minutes later Singapore got a fortuitous second; Al-Nteif underhit a pass across the defence, and with Lema forced to come out to try and clear, Grabovac latched onto the ball and passed it into an open net from the edge of the box. Singapore now sensed that they could actually get something out of the match, and with twenty minutes gone in the second period Grabovac completed his hatrick, heading home Jeyapal’s corner to level up the scores. Palestine went defensive in a bid to hold onto their point, and it came at a cost to Singapore. Jeykanth Jeyapal, who had been immense on the left wing, had to come off with 14 minutes to play. He was replaced by Samawira Basri, but worse was to follow when the hero Mirko Grabovac had to come off injured, and there were no more substitutes to bring on. He did stay on the sidelines to urge his side on, and two minutes from the time the unbelievable happened; Rudy Khairon fired in a free kick from 25 yards to complete an amazing turnaround. Substitute Noh Alam Shah twice had chances to make it five, but his first effort was saved, and the second went inches wide.

Singapore (4-4-2): Adi Saleh; Razif Mahamud, Aide Iskandar, Nazreen Yeo (captain) (Robin Pradhan Chitrakar 60), Shunmugham Subramani; Jeykanth Jeyapal (Samawira Basri 76), Goh Tat Chuan, Rudy Khairon, Ahmad Latiff; Mirko Grabovac, Indra Sahdan (Noh Alam Shah 60). Substitutes not used: Yazid Mohamed Yasin (gk), Ismail Fitrey, Nazri Nasir, Ratna Suffian

Palestine (4-4-2): Jorge Lema; Mohsen Al-Nteif (Yosri Al-Mahyani 76), Khalid Al-Bagawei, Waleed Al-Khaibari, Fayed Al-Mutairil; Madhi Abed-Rabbo (Fahad Abdulal 76), Pablo Abdula (captain), Fabián Bishara (Adnana Barakat 84), Roberto Kettlun; Emad Ayoub, Alejandro Naif. Substitutes not used: Taysir Al-Shmari (gk), Yosri Al-Muwallid, Abdul Rahman Al-Muntasheri, Tariq Al-Omar

Man of the Match: Mirko Grabovac (Singapore) 10

Referee: Hla Myint Zelenbrz

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Date: Monday 27th October 2003

Competition: Asian Cup Qualifying, Group B

Venue: Al-Qadesseyah, Kuwait City

Attendance: 12944

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Singapore 4(1) Qatar 2(0)

Rudy Khairon 45 Al-Sahafi 64

Indra Sahdan 46 Al-Enazi 90

Noh Alam Shah 66

Mahmood 79

</pre>

Results in the first five games meant that only a victory over Qatar would ensure progression through to the Asian Cup in China. The squad was tired having played two games in the previous four days, but they would give it their all.

The first half was nothing short of a bore as neither side got a grip on the game. But as the game entered the last minute of the half Singapore took the lead out of nothing. Noh Alam Shah pulled back the ball. Nasheri beat Rudy Khairon to the ball, passing it back to Al-Murjan. But for some reason, the goalkeeper elected to punch, and the ball fell to Rudy Khairon who couldn’t miss. Qatar almost equalised immediately, Adi Saleh parrying Al-Sahafi’s effort.

Singapore came out after the break with all guns blazing, and doubled the lead inside the first minute. Nazri Nasir played a free kick into Rudy Kairon. He centred the ball for Indra Sahdan who sent a half volley through the hands of Al-Murjan and it was 2-0. Qatar slowly got back into the match, but they lacked the final ball, summed up when Nasheri fired over the bar from the edge of the box. Six minutes later they did get a goal back. Al-Kuwari sent the ball through to Al-Enazi. He elected to go wide, and chipped the ball into Yasser Al-Sahafi to pass the ball into the net with Adi Saleh out of position. Within two minutes Singapore had another. Noor Ali robbed Sabahi in the centre of the field and immediately fed Indra Sahdan. He did well to pick out Noh Alam Shah, and the young striker ran on and fired the ball into the back of the net. Al-Enazi and Al-Sahafi combined well for Qatar, but on the odd occasion that they got forward they couldn’t find the net. Eleven minutes from time Azzli Mahmood picked up a loose ball 25 yards from the edge of the box and drove it in to send Singapore through to China 2004. Qatar pulled a goal back in the last minute when Al-Enazi volleyed in Al-Bishi’s low cross, but it was Singapore who were celebrating come full time.

Singapore (4-4-2): Adi Saleh; Murad Mohamad, Daniel Bennett, Ratna Suffian, Shunmugham Subramani (Robin Pradhan Chitrakar 80); Jeykanth Jeyapal, Nazri Nasir, Noor Ali, Rudy Khairon (Azzli Mahmood 71); Noh Alam Shah (captain), Indra Sahdan. Substitutes not used: Yazid Mohamed Yasin (gk), Ismail Fitrey, Fadzuhasny Jaraimi, Fahmie Abdullah, Zainal Yusoff

Qatar (3-2-2-1-2): Abdullah Al-Murjan; Bashir Al-Ghorabi (Osamah Sadiq 75), Abbdul Rahman Al-Jubairi, Saeed Al-Khathran (Moshen Al-Temawi 66); Redah Tukar Nasheri (Hassam Al-Bishi 64), Hamza Idriss Sabahi; Fahad Al-Kuwari, Mubarak Mustafa; Hussaine; Yasser Al-Sahafi, Mohammed Salem Al-Enazi (captain). Substitutes not used: Ahmed Dukhi Al-Massari (gk), Abdullah Al-Maghrabi, Mohina Amin, Ahmed Khalil Barakat

Man of the Match: Jeykanth Jeyapal (Singapore) 9

Referee: Ka Chong Agueh

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Date: Saturday 24th January 2004

Competition: Indonesian Premier Division

Venue: Baharoeddin Siregar, Lubuk Pakam

Story: Go East? Are you sure?

Attendance: 13013

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">PSDS 6(2) Perseden 1(1)

Enoukpa 7, 48 Kamri 36

Zulkarnaen 40, 54

Solihin 84

Ramanda 90

</pre>

I had decided to try out the Indonesian league, and went with a side going by the name of PSDS. This was only our second game of the season, and we were pre-season favourites to be relegated. The first game had been won at home, and Perseden were next to come to town.

PSDS started the brighter of the two sides, with Enoukpa and Zulkarnaen working well together. Enoukpa had already set up Zulkarnaen to strike over the bar, before a neat one-two between Enoukpa and Nasution ended with Emmanuel Enoukpa firing PSDS into the lead from the edge of the box. Harahap might have doubled the lead four minutes later, but his shot from 30 yards skied the crossbar. Perseden slowly came into the game, and a neat passing move between Miro Baldo and Yopie Rayar saw Miro Baldo string the hands of Muhammad Syahbani. Chances were few and far between, but just after the half hour Lubis did well to find Enoukpa, only for the Cameroonian to try a shot from an impossible angle that was saved. Perseden equalised four minutes later, eventually turning the ball over the line. Susanto’s effort from 25 yards was well parried by Syahbani. The ball fell to Rayar who was denied, Kamri laid the ball back to Miro Baldo whose effort was again kept out only for Muhammad Kamri to finally turn the ball home. Four minutes later though PSDS retook the lead as Zulkarnaen used his pace to break quickly down the left flank. He then cut inside, and, noticing Helambang off his line, sent a wonderful chip into the corner of the net.

PSDS came out with all guns blazing in the second, and it took them just three minutes to double their lead. Nasution played a wonderful ball through to Enoukpa who did well to knock the ball wide to Zulkarnaen. His low cross ricocheted off Suwandi H.S, and Enoukpa was on hand to tap the ball in. Stenley Mamuaya shot horribly wide as Perdsen tried to get back into the game, but they were again caught on the break with 54 minutes gone; Enoukpa searching our Zulkarnaen who again chipped the ball over the goalkeeper for the ball to nestle into the far corner and give PSDS a 4-1 lead. Perseden struggled to get back into the game, but with twenty minutes to go they had a few opportunities. Stenley Mamuaya shot straight at Syahbani, and Iskander saw two headers excellently saved by the goalkeeper. Tumena also sent an effort wide of the post. PSDS decided to turn the screw in the last ten minutes. Enoukpa stung the hands of Helambang from distance before playing his part in the fifth goal. Enoukpa laid the ball to the left for Solihin. He centred the ball for Enoukpa. The Cameroonian saw his shot saved, only for Solihin to get into the box and follow up to score. Two minutes into injury time Enoukpa laid the ball off to Yudhi Ramanda to half volley in a sixth from 25 yards.

PSDS (3-3-1-1-2): Muhammad Syahbani; Bambang Sutiono (Irwanto 63), Geribaldi Nugroho, Yudha Hendrawan; Garri Baldi, Ansyari Lubis (captain) (Muhammad Yusuf 63), Syaiful Amri Harahap; Yudhi Ramanda; Sulaiman Alamsyah Nasution; Zulkarnaen (Solihin 63), Emmanuel Enoukpa. Substitutes not used: Lufti Yatim Rangkuti (gk), Donny Siregar

Perseden (3-5-2): Fredi Herlambang; Yeyen Tumena (captain), Muhammad Ikhsan (Wayan Sukadana 55), Suwandi H.S; Kuncoro (Marwal Iskandar 67), Muhammad Kamri, Yopie Rayar, Agus Susanto, Rodrigo Araya; Miro Baldo, Paulus Krey (Stanley Mamuaya h/t). Substitutes not used: Wirawan (gk), Ahmad Junaidi

Man of the Match: Muhammad Syahbani (PSDS) 10

Referee: Jimmy Napitupulu

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Date: Wednesday 29th December 2004

Competition: English Premier League

Venue: Highbury, London

Attendance: 38397

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Arsenal 7(5) Leicester 1(0)

Henry 5, 10, 34, 43, Wright 82

58, pen 86

Cygan 19

</pre>

The defence of the league title had not started well, with Man United starting the season on fire. We’d caught up ground over recent weeks, but losing a 2-0 lead in Sunderland to draw 2-2 on Boxing Day was not what we needed at this crucial stage of the season. A rollicking prior to the home tie with relegation-threatened Leicester had the desired impact.

Arsenal started well, with Patrick Vieira particularly influential in midfield. It was the captain who set the ball rolling after just five minutes, finding Henry in space, and he sent the ball under Ian Walker and into the net. Five minutes later Vieira showcased his fantastic range of passing, sending Henry to run onto the ball, and with his first touch he despatched the ball into the back of the net. Jordan Stewart almost pulled one back for the Foxes straight away, but Stuart Taylor did exceptionally well to turn the ball around the post. It was Arsenal though who were dominant, and they had their third before twenty minutes were up. Ashley Cole sent a long throw-in into the box and Pascal Cygan’s header crept in off the unlucky Gerry Taggart. Such was the confidence running through the Arsenal side that Edu felt confident to try his luck from 35 yards out, and the effort only just sailed over the bar. Ten minutes before the break Vieira again provided Thierry Henry with space to run into. He went wide to the right, and then unleashed a cracking effort that went in off Ian Walker’s near post to leave the goalkeeper bewildered at the Frenchman’s hatrick. Two minutes later Henry thought he had a fourth, but the effort was disallowed for offside. Henry did though get his fourth before half time. This time though it was Edu who claimed the assist, heading on for Henry to run onto and round Walker before slotting home.

Aliadière and Cygan were both replaced at half time having picked up slight knocks during the first half, and just before the hour one of the substitutes, Francis Jeffers, knocked in a great cross from the left for Henry to stab in for 6-0. 65 minutes in Henry was denied by a good save from Leicester, but otherwise the game was a bit drab at this stage. Eight minutes from time a long punt forward from Walker was missed by John Halls, and Tommy Wright stole in to pull a goal back for the Foxes. That wasn’t the last of the action though. With five minutes still to play Rogers was penalised for pulling back Pennant as they both tried to reach Ashley Cole’s cross, and Eddie Wolstenholme awarded a penalty. Thierry Henry stepped up and sent the ball to Ian Walker’s left to complete a famous double hatrick.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Stuart Taylor; Ashley Cole, Pascal Cygan (John Halls h/t), Sol Campbell, Philippe Senderos; Robert Pires (Ray Parlour 65), Patrick Vieira (captain), Edu, Jermaine Pennant; Jérémie Aliadière (Francis Jeffers h/t), Thierry Henry. Substitutes not used: Graham Stack (gk), Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Leicester (4-4-2): Ian Walker; Callum Davidson (captain), Gerry Taggart (Alan Rogers 58), Matt Heath (Tommy Wright 58), John Curtis; Jordan Stewart, Riccardo Scimeca, Igor Duljaj, Colin Cameron; James Scowcroft (Matthew Jones 70), Paul Dickov. Substitutes not used: Kasey Keller (gk), Keith Gillespie

Man of the Match: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) 10

Referee: Eddie Wolstenholme

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Date: Saturday 12th March 2005

Competition: Swiss Super League

Venue: Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz

Attendance: 3502

Story: Don’t blink; you might miss it

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Vaduz 5(4) Basel 0(0)

Kristjánsson 15, 45, 80 Smiljanic s/o 75

Lobatón 38, 43

</pre>

Liechtenstein is not where you expect to find top-class football, but I had managed to steer Vaduz through the Challenge League in Switzerland, and we were now in our first season in the top flight, the Super League. Basel, reigning champions, had already beaten us convincingly twice before in the season, and with this being the first game after the winter break, we weren’t too hopeful of claiming a result. But we did have two players making their debuts; Korean defender Choi Jin-Chul and Peruvian striker Abel Augusto Lobatón.

Vaduz started brightly, and with just more than a minute on the clock Kristjánsson crossed from the left and debutante Lobatón sent a header into the arms of Zubi. Two minutes later Kristjánsson again got a cross in, and this time Lobatón, the Peruvian, volleyed the ball over the bar. Guzelov also tested Zubi from just outside the box before Basel finally managed to register their first effort; Gimenez not really testing Vailati. With fifteen minutes gone, Vaduz took the lead. Fabio D’Elia played a long ball forward into the pass of Þórarinn Brynjar Kristjánsson and the Icelandic international took the ball on and fired the ball across Zubi and into the net. D’Elia was getting into the game now. He played in Lobatón to fire straight at Zubi, and another cross ended with Kristjánsson forcing a fantastic point-blank save. Basel were still looking dangerous though, and midway through the half Vailati did brilliantly to tip Gimenez’s effort onto the crossbar after good work from Matías Delgado. Five minutes later Basel though they’d equalised when David Degen curled a corner kick straight into the net, but Christian Kohler ruled the effort out because Timothée Atouba had been pushing Igor Guzelov. The game went into a little bit of a lull after that, with only a 30-yard effort from Karim Kerkar that Zubi easily held to note. Seven minutes before the break though Vaduz doubled their advantage. Benjamin Fischer played the ball down the left to Kritsjánsson. His initial cross to Lobatón was headed back to him, but on the second attempt the Peruvian powered in his header, and Zubi could on parry the ball into the back of the net. Lobatón almost repeated his feat a minute later, but he didn’t have to wait long for his second. Two minutes before the break Kerkar floated a free kick into the box. Zubi couldn’t hold it and Lobatón pounced to put Vaduz three goals up. It was to get even better for the Liechtensteiners before the break as deep into injury time Stocklasa lifted the ball into the box and Kristjánsson just powered the ball into the top corner.

A Gimenez shot early in the first half that Vailati easily dealt with seemed to indicate that Basel would try to get back into the match, but their attack just didn’t materialise as Vaduz sat back on their lead. Lobatón almost completed a debut hatrick twenty minutes from time but his follow up when Kristjánsson hit the post went over the bar. To compound a bad day for Basel, they had Boris Smiljanic sent off for a second booking with still fifteen minutes to play. And five minutes later Almushnino found Kristjánsson with a lovely reverse pass, and the Icelander sent in a half volley to complete his hatrick and take the score to 5-0. Lobatón missed another chance to complete his own hatrick, and Almushnino fired wide in the last few minutes as Vaduz completed a famous victory.

Vaduz (4-4-2): Germano Vailati; Nenad Lalatovic, Jérôme Walz (Eyal Almushnino 66), Choi Jin-Chul (Ajibade Babalade 66), Michael Stocklasa (capt); Benjamin Fischer (Baldwin Bazuaye 76), Igor Guzelov, Karim Kerkar, Fabio D’Elia; Þórarinn Brynjar Kristjánsson, Abel Augusto Lobatón. Substitutes not used: Manuel Zangger (gk), Bledar Fiqiri Mançaku

Basel (4-4-2): Zubi; Timothée Atouba, Marco Zwyssig (Mario Eggimann 62), Murat Yakin (captain), Philipp Degen; Mario Cantaluppi, Boris Smiljanic, Matías Delgado (Scott Chipperfield 73), David Degen; Christian Gimenez (Julio Hernan Rossi 73), Hakan Yakin. Substitutes not used: Alain Portmann (gk), Marco Streller

Man of the Match: Þórarinn Brynjar Kristjánsson (Vaduz) 10

Referee: Christian Kohler

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Date: Saturday 26th March 2005

Competition: World Cup, South American Qualifying Group

Venue: El Campín, Bogotá

Attendance: 56302

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Colombia 5(2) Argentina 0(0)

Castillo 11, 35, 67

Ferreira 52

Vargas 56

I. Córdoba m/pen 33

</pre>

Germany 2006 had already been reached, but Colombia now wanted to ensure top spot in the qualifying group. The only loss had been in Buenos Aires where they had lost 3-2 from a position of leading 2-1, and Colombia were out for revenge.

David Ferreira had big boots to fill on the left wing with Rafael Castillo injured, but he provided the cross for the first opportunity of the game, Jairo Castillo seeing his effort parried by Cavallero and cleared by the Argentine defence. Two minutes later though Colombia were ahead. Juan Pablo Angel did well to hold the ball up in the centre of the park to allow his teammates to catch up, and upon noticing Jairo Castillo making a good run to the right of the box sent a cross over. Fabricio Coloccini could only head the ball into the path of Castillo, and he easily slid the ball into the net to put Colombia into the lead. The game petered out a little for the next twenty minutes, with both midfields trying to gain an upper hand. With half an hour gone Colombia raised the tempo and pushed for a second. A long free kick from González was headed in by Castillo, but Oscar Roberto de Godoi had already blown for a penalty because Coloccini had been holding Castillo back. Iván Córdoba stepped up to take the penalty, but Cavallero guessed right, and the chance was gone. Within a minute though Colombia had a corner. Ferreira whipped it in and Castillo got up at the near post to finally double the lead. Ferreira was at the heart of most of what Colombia were creating, and six minutes before the break he laid the ball off to Fabián Vargas whose effort hit the corner of crossbar and post before bouncing to safety for Argentina.

Jairo Patiño had picked up a knock in the first half, and so was replaced by Mauricio Molina at half time. Colombia kept the pressure up in the second half, and seven minuets in Perreira picked up Perea’s throw-in. He took the ball on into the box, and with no other options, just fired the ball into the top corner of Cavallero’s net and it was 3-0. Molina bent an effort just wide of the post as the pressure continued, but the fourth was to come within minutes. Ferreira played a corner long. Iván Córdoba headed towards goal, Cavallero punched clear, but the ball fell to Fabián Vargas who turned the ball home. It was devastatingly bad for Argentina, and they made a double substitution in reaction to the fourth goal, bringing on Tevez and Delgado for the disappointing Claudio López and Saviola. Argentina did start to produce a few efforts; the best coming when Crespo pulled the ball back for Delgado, only for Oscar Córdoba to parry the effort and the Colombian defence to clear. Colombia took the warning and so decided to attack. Yepes headed Molina’s free kick towards goal, only for Cavallero to turn the effort behind for a corner. Ferreira took it, and Castillo completed his hatrick with a bullet header at the far post that Cavallero could do nothing about. Pablo Aimar shot straight at Oscar Córdoba ten minutes from time, and the goalkeeper also had to be alert to turn away a Tevez shot. Colombia might have added to their score twice in the last five minutes, but Arzuaga first shot wide, and then just over having bamboozled Placente. All in all, an excellent day for Colombia.

Colombia (4-4-2): Oscar Córdoba; Luis Amaranto Perea (Andrés Mosquera 63), Mario Yepes, Iván Ramiro Córdoba, Jersson Amur González (captain); David Arturo Ferreira, Fabián Andrés Vargas, Jairo Leonardo Patiño (Mauricio Alejandro Molina h/t), Freddy Indurley Grisales; Jairo Fernando Castillo, Juan Pablo Angel (Martín Enrique Arzuaga 63). Substitutes not used: Faryd Mondragón (gk), Jeffrey José Díaz, Rubén Darío Velásquez, Jorge Bermúdez

Argentina (3-4-3): Pablo Oscar Cavallero; Walter Samuel, Gabriel Milito (Diego Plancente 67), Fabricio Coloccini; Juan Pablo Sorin, Juan Román Riquelme, Pablo Aimar, Javier Zanetti (captain); Claudio López (Carlos Tevez 57), Hernán Crespo, Javier Saviola (César Delgado 57). Substitutes not used: Leo Franco (gk), Juan Sebastián Verón, Roberto Nanni, Santiago Hernán Solari

Man of the Match: Jairo Fernando Castillo (Colombia) 10

Referee: Oscar Roberto de Godoi

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Date: Sunday 1st May 2005

Competition: English Premier League

Venue: Anfield, Liverpool

Attendance: 43764

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Liverpool 1(0) Arsenal 5(1)

Le Tallec 68 Henry 31

Henchoz s/o 90 Aliadière 73, 83, 85, 90

</pre>

The title had already been conceded to Manchester United, but the race for second place was still on. Newcastle were five points behind, but with two games in hand, and Liverpool were still in the hunt as we travelled to Anfield in the fourth-last game of the season. We did though have a few selection problems; Ashley Cole and John Halls were suspended having both been sent off against Spurs, and Patrick Vieira was injured.

There were early chances at both ends. Aliadière played the ball above Hyypiä and into the path of Thierry Henry, only for Jerzy Dudek to beat him to the ball. And within minutes, Danny Murphy curled an effort just wide of the far post, having taken the ball wide right. Edu saw an effort saved, and Harry Kewell curled another effort wide. Robert Pires cracked a free kick just over the bar, and Thierry Henry tried his luck with a well-hit volley from 25 yards out. But for all the neat play, the opening goal came via route-one; Taylor’s long kick picked up by Henry who, from the edge of the box, beat Jerzy Dudek at his near post and put Arsenal ahead. Michael Owen’s run and shot was thwarted by Taylor as he tried to get ‘Pool back into the came, and Theirry Henry might have doubled the advantage before half time had Dudek not been on hand to prevent him.

The second half began quietly, but soon Liverpool started to up the tempo. Taylor did well to keep out a Riise corner under pressure, and the young goalkeeper did well to keep out Owen. At the other end Pires crossed for Aliadière to get a header in, but midway through the second half Owen’s persistence in the box saw him managed to lay the ball back into the centre of the box, and Anthony Le Tallec was on hand to turn the ball in to equalise. Parity lasted just five minutes though. Dudek did well to keep out Aliadière’s first effort, but the ball ran free and the young French striker instinctively picked the ball up and hooked the ball over Dudek and into the net from just outside the box. It was a truly remarkable goal. A last-ditch Philippe Senderos denied Michael Owen from an immediate equaliser, and Taylor did well to parry Le Tallec’s header from Kewell’s cross. With seven minutes left Aliadière doubled the lead, reacting quickly after his initial header from Henry’s corner was kept out. And from the kickoff Henry got down the right wing and crossed in for Aliadière to volley in to complete his hatrick. In injury time Henchoz was sent off for a deliberate elbow on Thierry Henry. The Frenchman saw his free kick saved, but he soon had the ball back at his feet and pulled the ball back for Aliadière to score a fifth with a diving header.

Liverpool (4-4-2): Jerzy Dudek; John Arne Riise, Sami Hyypiä (Stephane Henchoz 73), Igor Biscan, Jamie Carragher (Steve Finnan 73); Harry Kewell, Steven Gerrard (captain), Steed Malbranque (Frank Lampard 73), Danny Murphy; Anthony Le Tallec, Michael Owen. Substitutes not used: Chris Kirkland (gk), Djibril Cissé

Arsenal (4-4-2): Stuart Taylor; Gaël Clichy, Pascal Cygan (Mortiz Volz 65), Sol Campbell (captain), Philippe Senderos; Robert Pires (Kanu 75), Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Edu, Jermaine Pennant (Ray Parlour 75); Jérémie Aliadière, Thierry Henry. Substitutes not used: Graham Stack (gk), Gilberto

Man of the Match: Jérémie Aliadière (Arsenal) 10

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

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Date: Wednesday 1st June 2005

Competition: European Champions Cup, Final

Venue: Westfalenstadion, Dortmund

Story: It doesn’t get much bigger than this (A short story)

Attendance: 82972

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Arsenal 2(1) Manchester United 2(1)

Aliadiére 16 van Nistelrooy 26

Kanu 105 Klose 104

After Extra Time. Arsenal win 4-3 on penalties

</pre>

Manchester United had won the league by a mile, but having overcome Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus on the way, Arsenal were hopeful of claiming the biggest club prize of all. Arsenal though were without the suspended Sol Campbell, and so John Halls was drafted in alongside Pascal Cygan to marshal the threat of Miroslav Klose and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

The early part of the game was quiet, but the game got going fifteen minutes in. Klose sent a half volley over the bar, and within a minute Arsenal were up the other end of the field, and Thierry Henry laid the ball back for Jérémie Aliadière to stab the ball in at the far post. Robert Pires almost doubled the lead within a minute when he fired over from 30 yards out, but the lead lasted less than ten minutes. Ruud van Nistelrooy got the goal, heading into an empty net after good work from Miroslav Klose. Giggs fired woefully wide soon after, and the first half ended level.

The second half also took a while to get going, but when it did Stuart Taylor had to make two fingertip saves to deny both Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Taylor was again on hand to thwart Klose, before Arsenal finally had an effort; Ashley Cole stinging the fingers of Fabien Barthez. In the last two minutes Taylor made a good double-save to keep out Klose, but they couldn’t find a way through and the tie went into extra time.

The silver goal rule was in place for the match, and right at the end of the first period of extra time, it appeared that it would be used. Substitute Kieron Dyer found Ruud van Nistelrooy in space, and he lifted it into the box for Miroslav Klose to head Manchester United into the lead. But in injury time Rio Ferdinand failed to clear Aliadière’s cross, and Kanu, on for Theirry Henry, got to the ball ahead of Barthez to stab in an equaliser, and take the game into a second period of extra time. Aliadière fired over as Arsenal’s confidence came back to them, and Barthez denied Kanu twice. There weren’t though any other clear-cut chances on goal, and so the game was to be decided on penalties.

The first four penalties were all put away - Aliadière and Pires for Arsenal and Scholes and Keane for Manchester United. Kanu sent the next penalty into the arms of Barthez, and van Nistelrooy put the pressure on the Gunners by scoring. It got worse for Arsenal as Ray Parlour’s effort was also saved, but Klose saw his effort kept out by Taylor to keep Arsenal in it. Jermaine Pennant did his bit by finding the left corner, and when Taylor saved from Kieron Dyer, we found ourselves into sudden death. Ashley Cole hit an almost perfect penalty for Arsenal, and Joseph Yobo hit his effort against the right post to hand Arsenal their maiden European Cup victory.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Stuart Taylor; Ashley Cole, Pascal Cygan, John Halls (Moritz Volz 62), Philippe Senderos; Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira (captain), Edu (Ray Parlour 62), Jermaine Pennant; Jérémie Aliadière, Thierry Henry (Kanu 90). Substitutes not used: Graham Stack (gk), Giovanni van Bronkhorst, Francis Jeffers, Gaël Clichy

Manchester United (4-4-2): Fabien Barthez; Mikaël Silvestre, John O’Shea (Joseph Yobo 60), Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville (Phil Neville 60); Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo (Kieron Dyer 71); Miroslav Klose, Ruud van Nistelrooy (captain). Substitutes not used: Tim Howard (gk), Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Edgar Davids

Man of the Match: Miroslav Klose (Manchester United) 10

Referee: Tobias MÃ¥rtensson

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Date: Wednesday 24th August 2005

Competition: Polish First Division

Venue: Brzeznicka, Radomsko

Attendance: 4358

Story: Back to where it all started

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Radomsko 3(2) Amica 1(0)

Folc 1, 82 Bak 62

Gyan 11 Dudka s/o 58

</pre>

Radomsko had just survived a tough debut season in the Polish top flight, whilst Amica had just had a fantastic season and were the reigning champions. A win and a loss in Radomsko’s opening two games of the league season was the precursor to this tie, but Amica had not begun their defence of the title particularly well.

The game got off to a flyer, as the ball was played to the Amica back line. Dudka tried to play the ball across the box to Djokovic, but Marcin Folc reacted quickly to nip in and take the ball and slot the ball in past Szamotulski. Arkadiusz Bak made a good run through the Radomsko back line only to see Majewski turning the ball away, and then fired the rebound over the bar. Five minutes later though Omar Daley sent the ball out left across field to Folc who laid the ball back into the path of Ghanaian international Baffour Gyan. Szamotulski did well to keep out the first effort, but Gyan was on hand to turn in the rebound and double the lead. Amica were stunned and had no response as Radomsko passed the ball around, and Folc had two more efforts to extend the lead before half time, but Szamotulski easily held both efforts, including a free kick.

The second half was also quiet, until thirteen minutes in when Amica had Dariusz Dudka sent off for hacking down a surging Baffour Gyan. Four minutes later though Amica got back into the game, Zienczuk crossing from the left and Arkadiusz Bak let the ball drop before cracking in a half volley to halve the deficit. Amica though couldn’t build on their goal, and Radomsko were soon on top again. Folc had two efforts inside a minute to restore a two-goal lead, and he then put in the cross for Gyan to see his header parried to safety. Folc’s header from the resultant corner was hacked to safety off the line, and the young striker had an effort ruled out fifteen minutes from time for offside. Sobocinski fired wide from distance as Amica fired in a warning, but within two minutes Radomsko finally had their third. Gyan did well to skip past Jaroslaw Bieniuk, and although Grzegorz Szamotulski did well to keep out his shot, Marcin Folc was on hand to turn the ball into an empty net. In injury time Folc had a glorious opportunity to complete his hatrick, but he was denied by Szamotulski.

Radomsko (4-4-2): Pawel Majewski; Lukasz Gorszkow, Artur Kowalski (captain), Choi Jin-Chul (Tomasz Drag 69), Lasha Chelidze; Bartosz Lawa, Przemyslaw Malecki, Andrzej Szlapa (Jacek Berensztajn 69), Omar Daley; Marcin Folc, Baffour Gyan. Substitutes not used: Tomasz Borkowski (gk), Radoslaw Kowalczyk, Bogdan Jozwiak, Damian Wicher, Zbigniew Czerbniak

Amica (4-4-2): Grzegorz Szamotulski; Dariusz Dudka, Jaroslaw Bieniuk, Veselin Djokovic, Pawel Skrzypek; Kamil Kosowski, Marek Zienczuk (Tomasz Dawidowski 62), Arkadiusz Bak, Sebastian Gorzad (Michal Krol 58); Pawel Kryszalowicz (captain), Felise Tusitala (Remigiusz Sobocinski 58). Substitutes not used: Pawel Iwanowski (gk), Grzegorz Mielcarski, Adrian Klepczynski, Rafal Kwiecinski

Man of the Match: Marcin Folc (Radomsko) 10

Referee: Piotr Siedlecki

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by mattie:

Binny hi mate why havn't you replyied to any emails on msn i sent you also good story KUTGW <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'm not on MSN icon_eek.gif But thanks for the kind words anyway. Thanks also to SoS and bjorn, and I think bjorn is probably right about secret ballot and all that icon_razz.gif

**********************************

Date: Saturday 17th September 2005

Competition: Israeli Premier League

Venue: Bloomfield, Tel-Aviv

Attendance: 5591

Story: Some things just don’t worry me

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Maccabi Tel-Aviv 2(1) Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona 3(1)

Loizides 22 Balili 20

Brumer 82 Cohen 64

Dayan m/pen 25 Kojok 89

</pre>

It had taken me two years to lead Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona up to the IPL, and we had lost our first games. Maccabi Tel-Aviv were champions, but had started the season poorly away, so this was a crucial match for both sides. Kobi Nachtiler had just joined on a free transfer, and he was in at the back against his former employers.

Maccabi started off quickly, and within the first minute the ball fell to Dayan who sent the ball just wide of the post. Kiryat-Shmona responded almost immediately though, Temile getting into the box and pulling the back to Elad Cohen who’s shot was well cleared. Tal Banin sent a free kick over the bar for Maccabi Tel-Aviv. And Eyal Vakrat made a point-blank save from Loizides’ header. A short lull was broken twenty minutes into the game when Temile powered his way down the right wing and got into the box. He pulled the ball back to Pini Balili, and although Shtrauber did well to keep out the initial effort, Balili followed up to put the visitors ahead. Within a minute though Maccabi were level, Roi Dayan crossed for youngster Kyriakos Loizides to fire in. Three minutes later they should have been ahead. Azuz was adjudged to have pushed Dayan in the box, but the striker could only strike his penalty at Vakrat, who also did well to save twice more from the striker before finally holding onto the ball. Maccabi were still in the ascendancy, and on the half hour John Paintsil saw a header cleared off the line. Dayan was again denied by Vakrat, before Kiryat-Shmona finally got back into the game, with Amos Sasy forcing Shtrauber into two saves from long distance in the last five minutes of the first half.

The second half started quietly, but a fantastic cross from Tikva that Loizides flicked towards goal livened things up. Vakrat managed to turn the ball away to safety, and within two minutes Kiryat-Shmona were ahead again; Ghrayib sending the ball forward to Balili who passed the ball across the box for Elad Cohen to turn the ball in. A good defensive performance from Hapoel frustrated the home side for the next fifteen minutes, but with ten minutes to go Maccabi Tel-Aviv lifted the tempo. Kubica did well to force his way into the box, and laid the ball off to Loizides who saw Vakrat tip the ball over the bar excellently. Tikva took the ball short to Tuama who chipped the ball into a crowded box, and captain Gadi Brumer fired in an equaliser that deflected off Oremi Oruambo. Hapoel weren’t going to settle for a draw though, and with five minutes to go Cohen fired over after good work from Haim Silvas. But with just over a minute to go Azuz punted the ball 50 yards up field towards the box. Ran Kojok cut in from the left wing to pick up the ball and fired in a winner that squirmed in under the unlucky Shtrauber.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv (3-2-2-1-2): Liran Shtrauber; Tal Ben-Haim, Gadi Brumer (captain), Avi Strul; Russo (Salim Tuama 64), John Paintsil (Eli Biton h/t); Tal Banin, Oren Zaytuni; Avraham Tikva; Roi Dayan (Andrzej Kubica 64), Kyriakos Loizides. Substitutes not used: Guy Haimov (gk), Assaf Krispis, Salem Abu-Siam, Andrejs Prohorenkovs

Hapoel Kiryat-Shmona (4-4-2): Eyal Vakrat; Najwan Ghrayib, Kobi Nachtiler, Oremi Oruambo, Itsik Azuz; Enes Demirovic (captain) (Ran Kojok 65), Amos Sasy, Haim Silvas, Omonigho Temile (Cfir Atia 81); Pini Balili (Daniel Sadagorski 74), Elad Cohen. Substitutes not used: Moti Ohayon (gk), Rajid Baransi, Ilan Boaron, Natan Shkuri

Man of the Match: Kyriakos Loizides (Maccabi Tel-Aviv) 9

Referee: Eyal Zur

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*********************************

Date: Saturday 11th March 2006

Competition: Polish First Division

Venue: Stadion Glowny, Wronki

Attendance: 4746

Story: Back to where it all started

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Amica 0(0) Radomsko 3(0)

Gyan 67, 76, 90

Kowalski s/o 71

</pre>

An amazing run in November, coupled with inconsistent performances from other sides, had seen Radomsko climb into 3rd at the winter break. We travelled to champions Amica straight after the break, and we fully expected a reaction from them having been beaten by us earlier on in the campaign.

The first half was a disappointing affair, with chances very few and far between. Baffour Gyan sent a header into the arms of Szamotulski in the first ten minutes, and the only other chance also fell to Gyan just before the half hour, but his effort was parried and cleared to safety.

Radomsko took the initiative in the second half, and five minutes in Gyan first shot wide, and then saw another effort parried to safety by Szamotulski. Kowalczyk played in Gyan who was again denied by the ‘keeper, and Lawa then crossed for Kowalczyk to lift the ball over the bar. Amica reminded Radomsko of their potential when Bieniuk stung the fingers of Pawel Majewski from distance. The ball fell to Tomasz Dawidowski, but Majewski did excellently to get back up and turn the ball away from goal. A quiet period ensued, but midway through the second half Omar Daley was robbed by Dariusz Dudka on Radomsko’s right wing. The left back then tried a dangerous pass back to his goalkeeper, and Baffour Gyan capitalised to half-volley Radomsko ahead. Four minutes later though Radomsko found themselves down to ten men, when captain Artur Kowalski was given his marching orders after elbowing Felise Tusitala. Gorzad tested Majewski soon after, but within a minute Radomsko broke to double their lead. Malecki picked out Lawa on the left flank, and as he advanced in on goal, he spotted Gyan at the far post, and the Ghanaian was left with an easy tap in to score a second. Radomsko closed the game out after that, and only in injury time did they attempt to look for a third. First Jacek Berensztajn sent in Gyan only to be denied by a good save, but the hatrick was not to be denied. Three minutes into injury time Klos punted the ball down the left and Berensztajn chipped the ball into the box for Gyan to tap in and complete a fabulous individual performance.

Amica (4-4-2): Grzegorz Szamotulski; Dariusz Dudka (Marek Zienczuk 67), Jaroslaw Bieniuk, Adrian Klepczynski (Maciej Wiecek 60), Pawel Skrzypek; Sebadtian Gorzad, Marcin Hirsz, Remigiusz Sobocinski, Tomasz Dawidowski (Marcin Marzec 60); Pawel Kryszalowicz (captain), Felise Tusitala. Substitutes not used: Pawel Iwanowski (gk), Robert Sikorski, Grzegorz Mielcarski, Grzegorz Mika

Radomsko (4-4-2): Pawel Majewski; Robert Klos, Artur Kowalski (captain), Choi Jin-Chul (Tomasz Drag 68), Lasha Chelidza; Bartosz Lawa, Przemyslaw Malecki, Andrzej Szlapa (Jacek Berensztajn 72), Omar Daley; Radoslaw Kowalczyk (Lukasz Gorszkow 72), Baffour Gyan. Substitutes not used: Vojin Prole (gk), Sebastian Tomasiak, Bogdan Jozwiak, Waldemar Zelasko

Man of the Match: Baffour Gyan (Radomsko) 10

Referee: Robert Malek

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Date: Wednesday 22nd March 2006

Competition: Brazilian Cup, Fourth Round

Venue: Olímpico, Goiânia (GO)

Attendance: 8555

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Goiânia 4(1) Vitória 0(0)

Cley 6 Alcides Eduardo s/o 21

Cristiano 50, 66

William pen 55

</pre>

Goiânia were in their second season in the National Second Division, and our visitors Vitória had just been relegated from the top division. The league campaign hadn’t started yet, but we had started the season well, and had just qualified for the Goiás State Championship semi finals.

Goiânia made a good start, taking the lead after just six minutes. William spotted Chicão in space on the wing, and the winger picked out the onrushing Cley who found himself with plenty of space to divert the ball into the back of the net. Seven minutes later Cley should have doubled the lead, but when he was faced with a narrow angle and an open goal after good work from Cristiano, he could only find the side netting. Vitória were further hampered after twenty minutes when defender Alcides Eduardo was sent off for elbowing Cley in the face. Cley got up to take the free kick, but he could only hit the ball wide of the post. There wasn’t much more action before half time, but Chicão did find the crossbar two minutes before the break, only to see the ball go out for a goal kick.

Goiânia started the second half by pushing Vitória under a lot of pressure as they attempted to wrap up the game. Vitória changed goalkeepers at half time, bringing on Jean to replace the disappointing Cairo. Five minutes into the second half Cley picked out Cristiano on the break, and Jean did well to save the striker’s effort. Within second though Chicão had got the ball out to Cristiano who did fantastically to take the ball into the box and fire in Goiânia’s second goal of the night. Four minutes later Vinícius tripped Cristiano in the box, and referee Danilo Borba pointed to the penalty spot. William stepped up to take the kick, and cracked the ball into the far left corner to take the score to 3-0. A fourth goal came midway through the second half as Cristiano capitalised on poor control from Anselmo, and the striker outwitted Jean to pass the ball into the net off the post. The game tapered off for the last twenty minutes, as Goiânia moved through the paces to take their place in the fifth round of the cup.

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Bosco, Marcos Roberto (Marcelo Borges 68), Carlos Alexandre; Leandro Diniz, Claudecir (Clóvis 68), William, Chicão; Cristiano, Cley (Luís Fernando 68). Substitutes not used: Tute (gk), Liminha, Alexandre, Henrique

Vitória (4-4-2): Cairo (Jean h/t); Adriano, Róbson (Marcos 50), Anselmo, Alcides Eduardo; Magnum (captain), Tácio, Zé Roberto, Vinícius; Alecsandro, Advaldo (Canê 55). Substitutes not used: Obina, Diógenes, César, Leonardo

Man of the Match: Bosco (Goiânia) 9

Referee: Danilo Borba

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Date: Saturday 26th August 2006

Competition: Polish First Division

Venue: Roosvelta, Zabrze

Attendance: 8104

Story: Back to where it all started

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Gornik Zabrze 0(0) Radomsko 7(3)

Lines 26

Folc 31, 65, 76

Gyan 40

Chelidze 52

Gorszkow 69

</pre>

A third season in the top flight started poorly, with a loss at Groclin and a draw with Wisla Plock. Gornik Zabrze had begun their season poorly having just been promoted, and as a result, both sides were desperate for a result in the build-up to the match.

Radomsko started brightly, with Sokolowski finding his range with his crossing. He provided crosses for both Folc and Gyan to get in efforts, but former Radomsko goalkeeper Krzysztof Kotorowski was equal to both efforts. Bartosz Lawa pulled the ball back from the left wing only for Gyan to see his deflected shot saved. Lawa shot into the side netting before Gornik finally had an effort; Vladimir Sladojevic denied by Pawel Majewski. Marek Kowalczyk sent an effort across goal and wide on 17, and three minutes later Folc was denied by a flying save to keep out a free kick. The pressure finally told on 26 minutes, when Kotorowski spilled Gyan’s effort, and New Zealander Aaran Lines followed up to put Radomsko ahead with his first goal for the club. Gyan’s header from Folc’s cross was well held by Kotorowski, but he could only concede a corner after Chelidze headed towards goal from Folc’s chipped-in free kick. Lawa took the corner, and Folc headed Radomsko 2-0 up. Five minutes before half time Radomsko scored a third; Szlapa picking out Baffour Gyan with a wonderful reverse pass, and the Ghanaian turned neatly, took the ball into the box and fired the ball in from a tight angle. Folc almost added a fourth just before half time, but Kotorowski parried his free kick.

The fourth goal came just seven minutes into the second half; Bartosz Lawa curling in a corner kick, and Georgian defender Lasha Chelidze headed home. More lax defending almost allowed Gyan to score at the near post, and Sokolowski was clearly disappointed when he sent Lawa’s cross wide of the post. Twenty minutes into the second half Szlapa played a wonderful weighted ball into the path of Marcin Folc who scored a fifth with a fierce shot that squirmed under Kotorowski, and four minutes later substitute Lukasz Gorszkow headed in a sixth at the near post, again from a Lawa corner kick. Jacek Pasczulewicz was denied by Majewski as Gornik looked for a consolation strike, but it was still to get worse for the home fans as Sebastian Pluta curled in a corner on 76 for Folc to head in and claim his hatrick. Radomsko didn’t let up either late on, but Kotorowski did well to deny Pluta, Folc and Radoslaw Kowalczyk thrice.

Gornik Zabrze (3-5-2): Krzysztof Kotorowski; Blazej Radler (Michal Karwan 65), Pawel Peczak, Dawid Buchalik; Mateusz Bartczak, Jacek Pasczulewicz, Rafal Niznik, Maciej Terlecki, Marek Kowalczyk (captain) (Dariusz Ficulak 52); Piotr Reiss (Grzegorz Fornalik 76), Vladimir Sladojevic. Substitutes not used: Krzysztof Kozik (gk), Damian Piotrowski, Tomasz Adamski, Marcin Narwojsz

Radomsko (4-4-2): Pawel Majewski; Robert Klos, Rafal Lasocki (Lukasz Gorszkow 61), Lasha Chelidze (captain), Przemyslaw Kulig; Bartosz Lawa (Sebastian Pluta 71), Aaran Lines, Andrzej Szlapa, Tomasz Sokolowski; Marcin Folc, Baffour Gyan (Radoslaw Kowalczyk 61). Substitutes not used: Vojin Prole (gk), Jacek Berensztajn, Waldemar Zelasko, Tomasz Drag

Man of the Match: Marcin Folc (Radomsko) 10

Referee: Krzysztof Zdunek

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Date: Saturday 21st April 2007

Competition: Brazilian Cup, Sixth Round, First Leg

Venue: Olímpico, Goiânia (GO)

Attendance: 8826

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Goiânia 6(2) Paysandu 1(0)

Flávio Guilherme 32, 53 Fábio Santos 50

Helinho 45

Carlos Alberto 50

Juninho 67

Jô 70

Bosco s/o 64

</pre>

We were on a roll, having won promotion to the National First Division the previous season, but a thrashing by Goiás had seen us go out at the semi-final stage of the Goiás State Championship. Victories against Figueirense and Guarany de Sobral saw us through to the Sixth Round of the Cup, and we were drawn to face fellow top-flight side Paysandu.

Leandro Diniz came close to opening the scoring after just three minutes, but his 25-yard shot cannoned back into play off the post and Paysandu could clear. The game was a typically tight affair, and it took until twenty minutes in for Jonatas to get Paysandu’s first real effort, firing high and wide from 35 yards out. The game came to life just after half an hour when Leandro Diniz put in a low cross into the box. The ball bounced around, and Flávio Guilherme got the final touch to put Goiânia ahead. As the game entered the final minute of the first half Goiânia scored a second. Carlos Alberto crossed, Carlos Alexandre nodded the ball back, and Helinho cracked the ball into the top corner.

Goiânia brought on Jô for the second half to replace the slightly crocked Cristiano, and within five minutes he was providing a lovely chipped cross across the box for Carlos Alberto to turn the ball home and take the score to 3-0. Immediately though Paysandu pulled a goal back. The ball was played forward from the restart to Jóbson on the left, and his long cross was met by the diving head of Fábio Santos and the ball diverted in off the stranded Flávio Mendes. Goiânia weren’t overawed though, and three minutes later they restored their three-goal lead. Leandro Diniz played in Jô, and the youngster played the ball into the middle of the box where Flávio Guilherme was on hand to turn the ball into an empty net. Goiânia were hampered on 64 when Bosco was sent off for elbowing Cláudio in the face, but three minutes alter Juninho headed in from Leandro Diniz’s corner to make it 5-1. Three minutes later Leandro Diniz pulled the ball back to Jô to fire in a sixth into the top corner from a tight angle, and it was fitting that such a wonderful goal was to be the last meaningful action of the game that took Goiânia to the verge of the seventh round of the cup.

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Juninho, Bosco, Carlos Alexandre; Leandro Diniz (Chicão 74), Geninho, Helinho (Alessandro Lopes 64), Carlos Alberto; Cristiano (Jô h/t), Flávio Guilherme. Substitutes not used: Weber (gk), Liminha, Clóvis, Bruno Leite

Paysandu (3-5-2): Carlos Germano; Ronaldo (Preto 64), Leílton, Sílvio; Jóbson, Jonatas, Dejair (captain), Jardel (Geová 64), Fábio Santos; Cláudio (Orlando 70), Paulo Krauss. Substitutes not used: Nílson (gk), Ernandes Bastos

Man of the Match: Juninho (Goiânia) 8

Referee: Everton Mendes

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Date: Saturday 23rd June 2007

Competition: Brazilian National First Division

Venue: Olímpico, Goiânia (GO)

Attendance: 8589

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Goiânia 5(1) Vasco 2(1)

Cristiano 4, 73, 84 Iriney pen 9

Chicão 67 Leandro 79

Flávio Guilherme 90

</pre>

We had only recently lost the Cup final to São Caetano, but our first season in the National First Division had started well, and we were mid-table. Vasco were propping up the table, but I still fully expected them to give us a tough game as they looked to climb the table.

Goiânia made a wonderful start, taking the lead inside the first four minutes. Carlos Alexandre picked out Flávio Guilherme in space on the right flank, and he crossed for his strike partner Cristiano to volley the ball in unmarked. But four minutes later Vasco were awarded a penalty when Carlos Alberto was penalised for pulling the shirt of Iriney inside the box. Iriney stepped up to take the penalty, and he fired it into the left corner of the net to level the scores. Flávio Guilherme could have put Goiânia back in front after being put through by Bosco, but he shot wide, and Vasco were let off. Vasco started to get back into the game, and Kim had two good efforts, first shooting over and then being denied by an excellent save from Flávio Mendes. Carlos Alberto saw a header from a corner tipped onto the crossbar and cleared to safety, and at the other end Flávio Mendes did excellently to deny Kim and Joãozinho in quick succession.

Half time came and went, and other than Fábio making a point-blank save to deny Cristiano, there wasn’t much action in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. On the hour Kim had a header tipped just over the bar, and that led to Goiânia bringing on Chicão and Bruno Leite for the tiring Leandro Diniz and Carlos Alexandre. Five minutes later the substitutions paid off. Carlos Alberto sprayed the ball wide to Cristiano, and once the striker got to the byline he chipped the ball back across the face of goal and Chicão nipped in at the far post to put Goiânia back in front. Six minutes later it got even better for the home side. Juninho headed the ball upfield to Cristiano, and the front man did brilliantly to take the ball on and fire in an unstoppable shot into the net. Flávio Guilherme almost scored a fourth within a minute, but he could only shoot over after being put through by Chicão. With eleven minutes to go Vasco pulled a goal back when Leandro scored with a free kick from just outside the box that deflected off Geninho. Goiânia pushed forward to wrap up the victory, and with six minutes to go they moved 4-2 up. Flávio Guilherme moved quickly on the break, crossed from the right flank for Cristiano, who wrong-footed Fábio, went past the goalkeeper and fired the ball in to complete his hatrick. Liminha tried a banana shot, only to be denied by Fábio, but deep into injury time Goiânia got their fifth. Bruno Leite’s long pass found Cristiano. He beat Gabriel, and although Fábio saved his shot, the ball fell to Flávio Guilherme who controlled the ball and passed it into the net to complete a wonderful afternoon for Goiânia.

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Juninho, Bosco, Carlos Alexandre (Bruno Leite 62); Leandro Diniz (Chicão 62), Geninho, Helinho (Liminha h/t), Carlos Alberto; Cristiano, Flávio Guilherme. Substitutes not used: Weber (gk), Michel, Clóvis, Allan

Vasco (4-4-2): Fábio (captain); Leandro, Wescley, Gabriel, Claudemir; Aílton, Rodrigo Souto (Anderson Lopes 60), Iriney (Bruno Lazaroni h/t), Alberto Valentim do Carmo Neto; Kim (Régis Fernandes Silva), Joãozinho. Substitutes not used: Luciano Magalhães (gk), Anderson, Léo Borges, Creedence

Man of the Match: Cristiano (Goiânia) 10

Referee: Eduardo de Almeida

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Date: Wednesday 19th March 2008

Competition: Brazilian Cup, Fourth Round

Venue: Pacaembu, São Paulo (SP)

Attendance: 7832

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Corinthians 3(2) Goiânia 3(2)

Gil 41, 45 Roger 13

Badé 78 Cristiano 21

Leandro Diniz pen 90

Corinthians win 4-3 on penalties

</pre>

In 2007 we had reached the Cup Final, but the draw for the Fourth Round in 2008 took us to Corinthians. It was a fantastic cup-tie, even though we eventually lost.

The opening exchanges were tetchy, but Goiânia made the first real effort, and scored from it. A wonderful pass from Clóvia found Roger in space. The winger cut inside from the right wing, and neatly wrong-footed Rubinho in goal and drove the ball home to score his first Goiânia goal. Six minutes later Jô was unlucky to double the lead when a cheeky chip inched past the post. The second goal wasn’t long in coming, although a lack on concentration did have a large part. Leandro Diniz punted a ball forward from midway inside the Goiânia half. Rubinho seemed to just be waiting for the ball to drop into his arms, and that allowed Cristiano to nip in and double the lead. Corinthians were showing very little, and as the half wore on Goiânia continued to eek out the chances. Cristiano shot wide, and Leandro Diniz was denied by a good save, before Flávio Mendes was on hand to make a save at the feet of Gil. Four minutes before the break Corinthians pulled a goal back, as Marquinhos picked out Aíton on the right, and he crossed for Gil, who had got ahead of Carlos Alexandre, to turn the ball in. Flávio Mendes made a fantastic double save a minute later to deny Aílton, but Corinthians did manage to find an equaliser before half time. Badé managed to get his header into the box, and as the ball deflected off Xandão, Gil reacted quickest to steer the ball in off the near post.

Gil made an explosive start to the second half, as he ran towards goal straight from the kickoff, but his shot went over the bar. Goiânia responded quickly, with Cristiano laying the ball to Jô who saw his effort turned away well by Rubinho. The next twenty-five minutes was a drab affair, with neither side willing to commit too many men forward for fear of conceding. The closest to a goal was when Cristiano and Jô both shot narrowly over the bar inside a minute of each other. With thirteen minutes still to go substitute Thyago saw an effort turned away for a corner by Flávio Mendes, and when Kléber sent in the resultant corner Badé got up to head Corinthians into the lead. Corinthians looked to slow the game up and close out victory, but Goiânia weren’t to be denied in normal time. Going into the last minute they were awarded a penalty after Elano handled under pressure in the box, and Leandro Diniz fired the penalty into the left corner to level the scores up.

There was no extra time, and the tie was to be decided by penalties. Leandro Diniz, Jô and Flávio Guilherme all scored for Goiânia, and Corinthians responded with well-taken efforts from Thyago, Cocito and Cristiano. Carlos Alexandre hit Goiânia’s fourth kick against the right post, and Gil made no mistake with his penalty to put the pressure on Carlos Alberto. However, his penalty was weak, sending it straight at Rubinho, and Corinthians were through to the fifth round.

Corinthians (3-5-2): Rubinho; Wendell (Kléber 71), César, Cristiano; Badé, Cocito, Renato (Dionattan 71), Elano, Marqinhos; Gil (captain), Aílton (Thyago 71). Substitutes not used: Rômulo Botelho (gk), Diego Ribeiro dos Santos, Luciano Bebê, Mogi

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Bosco, Xandão (Alessandro Lopes 63), Carlos Alexandre; Leandro Diniz, Clóvis, Helinho, Roger (Carlos Alberto 79); Cristiano (Flávio Guilherme 79), Jô. Substitutes not used: Adriano (gk), Liminha, Jean, Borges Neto

Man of the Match: Badé (Corinthians) 9

Referee: Douglas Moreno

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Date: Saturday 27th September 2008

Competition: Russian First Division

Venue: Gazovik-Gazprom republican, Izhevsk

Attendance: 4388

Story: Back to where it all started

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Gaz-Gaz 1(1) Znamya Truda 6(1)

Kolesnichenko 40 Busurin 10, 54, 66, 87, 90

Trofimov s/o 86 Kulik 89

</pre>

A good run in September had seen Znamya Truda inch themselves towards safety in their first season in the First Division. That good run was taken into this game away at Gaz-Gaz. On-loan striker Sergey Gorokhov was suspended, so Roman Busurin was drafted into the starting line-up.

The first action came after just ten minutes, and it saw Znamya Truda take the lead. Ruslan Umerov did well to get in his cross from the right flank and Roman Busurin scored with a fantastic diving header. Umerov sent a free kick from distance wide of the post in the only other real effort on goal during the first half. Five minutes before half time Kulik showed good strength to breat Dubrovskikh, but he could only shoot over the bar. A minute later Gaz-Gaz were level. Pyatikopov played in Vladimir Kolesnichenko, and although Vojin Prole did well to parry the effort, Kolesnichenko was on hand to pick the ball in and fire in from a difficult angle to level the scores in time for half time.

Gaz-Gaz began the second half with clear intent to try and take the lead. Player-manager Dmitry Alenichev tried a banana shot from 25 yards, but the effort hit the side netting. Five minutes later Korovushkin’s cross was met by the header of Tikhomirov, but Prole did well to keep the effort out and Znamya Truda cleared. The visitors went on the offensive, and took the lead. Umerov played in Vladimir Kulik, and he laid the ball across the box and Busurin was on hand to fire in a half volley and restore the lead for the visiting side. Kolesnichenko and Tikhomirov both went close for Gaz-Gaz around the hour mark, and Tikhomirov was denied by a good save by Prole. Within seconds Znamya Truda broke. Umerov found Kulik. Khoteev could only parry Kulik’s effort, and Busurin found himself in the right place to pass the ball into the net as he completed his hatrick. The visitors eased out the next twenty minutes, and Gaz-Gaz’s frustration boiled over four minutes from time when Trofimov was sent off for a second bookable offence. Within a minute Nikishin’s long throw found Busurin, and the forward let the ball drop before firing in for 4-1. Kulik finally got on the scoresheet when he volleyed in Yakimov’s cross from the left, and deep in injury time Busurin scored a sixth after some excellent work from Kulik to draw the defenders out.

Gaz-Gaz (3-2-2-1-2): Stanislav Khoteev; Igor Dubrovskikh (captain), Andrey Trofimov, Nail Minibaev; Kirill Tikhomirov (Rashid Muradymov 66), Dmitry Varfolomeev (Andrey Tikhonov 55); Sergey Pyatikopov, Dmitry Alenichev; Bartosz Karwan; Sergey Korovushkin (Sergey Gusev 66), Vladimir Kolesnichenko. Substitutes not used: Anton Smyslov (gk), Victor Yegorov, Sergey Safronov, Denis Kovalev

Znamya Truda (4-4-2): Vojin Prole; Kirill Kulak, Lantame Ouadja, Rustem Kanipov (Ivan Smirnov 67), Roman Dumanskiy; Anton Kravtsov (Kirill Yakimov 67), Knostantin Bel’kov, Konstantin Nikishin, Ruslan Umerov; Roman Busurin (captain), Vladimir Kulik. Substitutes not used: Alexandr Makarov (gk), Nikolay Kuznetsov, Anton Kireev, Ahmed Hosic, Kirill Kozmin

Man of the Match: Roman Busurin (Znamya Truda) 10

Referee: Marat Galimov

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Date: Saturday 29th August 2009

Competition: Slovak Second Division

Venue: Rapid, Bucharest

Attendance: 4418

Story: Back to where it all started

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Rapid Bratislava 1(1) Devin 4(0)

Kalmar pen 5 Stano 53, 81

Pis 85, 87

Vajda s/o 40

Bartosek s/o 79

</pre>

After stints at Radomsko and Znamya Truda, I took on the job at Slovakian side Devin. We had began my first full season in fine style, winning four of our first five games. We had though just lost away to Vranov, and were now up against city rivals Rapid Bratislava, who for some reason, were playing their games in Bucharest. We had star players James Béda and Ricardo Sarangue away on African Nations Qualifying duty with Burundi and Mozambique respectively. Otherwise, the side was at full strength in what turned out to be an amazing game.

Things didn’t start too well for Devin as they conceded a penalty after just four minutes when Kralik caught Dicä unfairly in the box. Roland Kalmar stepped up to take the penalty, and he smashed it into the right corner, leaving Peter Kmecik stranded. There wasn’t much action after that until the twentieth minute when Bednar crossed from the left. Dicä’s header was parried by Kmecik, and the goalkeeper did really well to parry the rebound from Kalmar, and Devin cleared their lines. Pis cracked a free kick over the bar from 25 yards out, but Rapid were still in command, and Dicä was again denied by Kmecik after good work from Matej Krajcik. Five minutes before the break Devin had Jaroslav Vajda sent off for a second booking and Devin were up against it for the second half.

Eight minutes into the second half Devin found an equaliser. Slama played in a wonderful reverse pass. Stefan Seman completely missed the ball, and Michal Stano took the ball on and blasted it past the outstretched Richard Zajac and into the top corner. Dicä almost restored the lead for Rapid immediately, but he saw his shot ricochet off the post. The action wasn’t particularly good, and ten-man Devin were holding their own. Peev crossed for the unmarked Stano on 66, but the Devin captain could only shoot wide. Dicä shot across goal with twenty minutes to go, and things got worse for Devin with ten minutes to go when, having made all three substitutions, Gabriel Bartosek was sent off for elbowing Miroslav Dobias. Two minutes later though Pavol Durica played a wonderful ball into the path of Stano. He turned Stefan Seman and smashed the ball low past Zajac and Devin were sensationally ahead. With five minutes to go Stano played in Milan Pis and the left-winger smashed the ball into the top corner to give Devin a 3-1 lead. Stano almost completed his hatrick when he sent a header towards goal, but Zajac did well to prevent him. Within seconds though Devin had their fourth as Durica laid the ball wide to Cvirik. The left-back played the ball infield to Pis and he fired the ball in under Zajac and Devin had won with just nine men on the field.

Rapid Bratislava (4-4-2): Richard Zajac (captain); Marek Molnar, Roman Balasko, Matej Krajcik, George Ogäraru; Peter Budzak, Mircea Bodgan (Miroslav Dobias 53), Tomas Lukac (Stefan Seman h/t), Peter Bednar (Ionut Paraschiv h/t); Nicolae Dicä, Roland Kalmar. Substitutes not used: Boris Peskovic (gk), Martin Majoros, Jozef Dobias, Marian Pavlik

Devin (4-4-2): Peter Kmecik; Jaroslav Vajda, Peter Cvirik, Jozef Gaspar (Pavol Durica 66), Jaroslav Kralik; Milan Pis, Radek Slama, Radoslav Bella (Gabriel Bartosek 66), Georgi Peev; Marian Bellack (Adrian Ceman 41), Michal Stano (captain). Substitutes not used: Michal Peskovic (gk), Stefan Zosak, Peter Kuracka, Oleg Noskov

Man of the Match: Michal Stano (Devin) 9

Referee: Jan Sihelsky

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Date: Wednesday 17th March 2010

Competition: Copa Libertadores, Group E

Venue: Alejandro Villanueva, Lima

Attendance: 3596

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Alianza Lima 1(1) Goiânia 5(4)

Jorge Mendoza 19 Flávio Guilherme 18

Guilherme 26, 38, 45

Juliano 90

</pre>

A fantastic push at the end of the 2009 season saw us gain third place in the National First Division, and that was enough to qualify for the Copa Libertadores. An opening draw was followed by two losses, but we then won the next two, leading to this match in Peru. Alianza Lima had already guaranteed themselves top spot in the group, but we needed a win to ensure second spot and a place in either the Second or Third rounds.

Goiânia showed their intent straight from kickoff, as Guilherme took the ball forward, and sent a warning shot just over the bar. The pummelling didn’t materialise though, and on seven minutes Ryes fed Jorge Mendoza, and the striker beat Bosco to the ball, only for Flávio Mendes to parry the ball and Bosco to clear. The first goal came eleven minutes later. Jean found Leandro Diniz on the left. His pass found Guilherme who neatly squared the ball across the box for Flávio Guilherme to fire Goiânia ahead. A minutes later though Torres got down the left and crossed for Carrillo. His shot was parried by Flávio Mendes, but only into the path of Jorge Mendoza who took his equaliser well. Seven minutes later Goiânia were awarded a corner. Leandro Diniz whipped it into the crowded box, and Guilherme rose above Díaz to head Goiânia back into the lead. Twelve minutes later Guilherme scored an almost identical goal. This time though his header came at the near post, and Goiânia were 3-1 up and on their way to second spot in the group. There was more to come before half tie as Marinho finally cleared an Alianza attack, sending Guilherme between Romero and Hernández, and the diminutive striker steered the ball past Díaz with a fantastic left-footed effort.

The second half was a poor spectacle in comparison, and only a Guilherme effort that skied over the bar was anywhere close to another goal. Seven minutes from time Juliano was fed by Flávio Guilherme, only to send the ball inches wide of the post. Romero tested Flávio Mendes from distance, and Jorge Mendoza sent a weak shot into the arms of the grateful Goiânia goalkeeper. A fifth goal for the Brazilians materialised in the final minute as Jean played a wonderful 55-yard pass into the path of Leandro Diniz. The winger saw his shot kept out by Manuel Díaz, but Juliano was on hand to wrap up an excellent evening for Goiânia.

Alianza Lima (4-4-2): Manuel Díaz; Javier Mendoza (Jorge Zegarra 70), Carlos Romero (captain), Juan Hernández, Alex Sánchez (Carlos Alberto Merino 79); Oscar Torres, Jorge Reyes, Jorge Gómez, Wálter García (Manuel Rodríguez 70), Martín Carrillo, Jorge Mendoza. Substitutes not used: Juan Carlos Pérez (gk), Miguel Chumpitaz, Juan Hernández, Luis Chumpitaz

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Bosco, Marinho, Carlos Alexandre (Bruno Ribeiro 73); Leandro Diniz, Jean, Leandro (Carlos Alberto 73), Juliano; Guilherme, Flávio Guilherme. Substitutes not used: Adriano (gk), Xandão, Rubens, Albuquerque, Clóvis

Man of the Match: Guilherme (Goiânia) 10

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Date: Monday 22nd March 2010

Competition: Goiás State Championship, Quarter Final

Venue: Olímpico, Goiânia (GO)

Attendance: 9107

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Goiânia 5(2) Goiás 3(2)

Juliano 24, 86, 90 Guiseppe 22, 90

Flávio Guilherme 25, 84 Alan 37

Guiseppe m/pen 90

</pre>

With the Copa Libertadores clogging up the start of the season, I had to rest a few first teamers during the group stage of the State Championship. We only lost one game, but five draws saw us end in 6th spot, and the quarterfinal draw pitted us against our archrivals Goiás. Considering that the game was played only two days after our previous game, there were a lot of tired legs, but this was a derby and such trivial matters don’t count. Injuries ruled out a number of first choice players, and that saw young midfielder Albuquerque get a start, and winger Juliano was playing up front.

The scene for the game was set straight from the kickoff as Rodriguinho fired over with just thirteen seconds on the clock. Goiânia took ten minutes to get their first effort on goal. Carlos Alexandre sent Juliano away on the break, and when he crossed, Flávio Guilherme controlled the ball and lifted it over the bar. It was a typical derby with neither side really getting a grip on the game, but that changed midway through the first half. Michel Bastos played a wonderful ball across field into Guiseppe who, with his first touch, smashed the ball past Flávio Mendes and Goiás were ahead. Two minutes later though Goiânia were level. Jean played in Flávio Guilherme, and although Andrey did well to keep out the shot, the ball fell to Juliano who steered the ball in. And a minute later Alex searched out Juliano. He beat Alexandre to the ball, and once he realised that he was being pushed wide, cut the ball back into the centre where Flávio Guilherme was on hand to put Goiânia ahead, just three minutes after having been behind. The next twelve minutes was more of a midfield battle than a game of football, but the game was again sparked into life on 37 minutes. Túlio’s attempted pass was deflected off Marinho into the path of Alan, who smacked the ball without thought and Goiás were level. In injury time Goiás missed a glorious opportunity to go into the break ahead, but Guiseppe could only find the side netting.

Goiânia started the second half positively, attacking straight from the kickoff. Carlos Alberto’s cross deflected off Alexandre into the path of Flávio Guilherme, but Andrey did well to turn the effort away for a corner. The game died for a while after that, with Goiás being hindered by injuries to both Araújo and Neto. The action started again with still twenty minutes to go. Flávio Guilherme was frustrated when an effort was ruled off for offside, and two minutes later Lira executed a fantastic tackle in the box to deny Albuquerque who had been played in one-on-one on Andrey by Carlos Alexandre. A minute later Maurício’s cross was headed on by Guiseppe, and León Darío Muñoz saw his diverting strike hit the foot of the post and bounce into the grateful arms of Flávio Mendes. The game lulled and seemed to be heading for a draw, but six minutes from time Carlos Alexandre cleared an Alexandre free kick, and with Goiás all in attack, Juliano broke quickly down the right and chipped the ball in for Flávio Guilherme to volley the ball into the top corner and put Goiânia 3-2 up. Andrey did well to keep out Leandro Diniz straight afterwards, and although the ball fell to Flávio Guilherme, the striker couldn’t control the ball and it flew over the bar. Goiânia didn’t relent, and when Leandro Diniz centred the ball, Juliano beat Lira, then rounded Andrey and passed the ball into the back of the net for 4-2. The Goiânia fans were a bit miffed when the fourth official signalled five minutes of injury time, and they were cursing him even more when the referee awarded Goiás a penalty in the second minute of injury time after Carlos Alexandre handled in the box. Guiseppe stepped up to take it, and although Flávio Mendes did excellently to keep the ball out, it fell back to Guiseppe and there was still life in the game. But Goiânia pushed forward from the kickoff. Jean laid the ball into the path of Flávio Guilherme, and although Andrey got a hand to the ball, Juliano was on hand to bundle the ball home and Goiânia were through to the State semi final.

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Roger Guerreiro, Marinho, Carlos Alexandre; Leandro Diniz, Jean, Albuquerque, Carlos Alberto (Athos 74); Flávio Guilherme, Juliano. Substitutes not used: Adriano (gk), Mariano, Mancuso, João Pessoa, Bosco, Rubens

Goiás (4-1-2-1-2): Andrey; Michel Bastos, Alexandre, Alessandro Lopes, Lira; Túlilo; Rodriguinho, Alan; Luís Alberto (Neto 48 (Maurício 68)); Araújo (captain) (León Darío Muñoz 48), Guiseppe. Substitutes not used: Marcão (gk), Sandro Luiz Salles, Braitner, Humberto Pinto de Souza

Man of the Match: Juliano (Goiânia) 10

Referee: Carlos Antônio da Costa Filho

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Date: Wednesday 11th May 2011

Competition: Copa Libertadores, Quarter Final, Second Leg

Venue: Alberto J. Armando, Buenos Aires

Attendance: 41703

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Boca 4(1) Goiânia 4(1)

Giménez 42 Alex Rodrigues 45

Mendonça 51 Juliano pen 63, pen 81

Tevez 70, 85 Guilherme 69

Aggregate: 6-6

Goiânia win 3-0 on penalties

</pre>

A second season in the Copa Libertadores had seen Goiânia storm through their group, and Peñarol were seen off quite easily in the third round. The quarterfinal pitted Goiânia against Boca, who had beaten them at the semi-final stage in the Copa Sudamericana only a few months earlier. The first leg in Brazil had ended 2-2 thanks to an injury time penalty from Juliano, and with away goals not counting, Goiânia travelled to Argentina knowing that they were effectively in a knockout.

Boca had the first opportunity of the game with Pablo Márquez breaking quickly, and forcing Flávio Mendes into a good save. Guilherme picked up a loose ball for Goiânia, but he took the ball on too far and could only fire over the bar from a tight angle. Those were the only real opportunities in the opening half hour, but soon the game livened up. Just after the half hour Anderson Luis fired through a crowded box, and Caballero did well to hold the ball. Three minutes before the break a loose pass from Mancuso fell to Christian Giménez, and the striker took the ball on and slid it past Flávio Mendes and just inside the near post. But Goiânia hit back, and at half time they were level again as Alex sent a long ball forward and Alex Rodrigues did well to steady himself and fire into the top corner past Caballero.

Six minutes into the second half Mendonça stretched at the far post to meet Hernández’s free kick, and Boca were ahead once again. Boca were clearly on top at this stage, and Pablo Márquez tested Flávio Mendes with a long-range effort. But on 63 Goiânia were awarded a penalty when Crosa pushed Alex Rodrigues in the box as both went for a header, and Juliano sent the penalty into the bottom right corner to level up the scores yet again. Six minutes later Mancuso chipped the ball forward, Alex Rodrigues flicked the ball on, and Guilherme took one touch before blasting Goiânia into a 3-2 lead on the night and 5-4 ahead on aggregate. Within a minute though Boca were level again as Bassey did well to get down the right flank. He jinked the ball into Geñupi, who chipped the ball into the six-yard box for Carlos Tevez to volley in for 3-3. With ten minutes left to play Mendonça upended Guilherme as he tried to get to Roger’s cross and Goiânia had another penalty. Juliano stepped up, and this time went left to put the Brazilians back into the lead. But this topsy-turvy match still had a way to go. Flávio Mendes did brilliantly to save at the feet of Geñupi, but within seconds Mendonça chipped the ball forward. Ali Lemana got the ball into the box, and with Anderson Luis not able to clear the ball, Tevez pounced to equalise once more for the Argentineans. Lemana almost put Boca ahead with a header a minute later, and in injury time Geñupi and Guilherme both had chances to win the tie for their respective sides. Neither could do it though, and the tie was to be decided on penalty kicks.

Juliano stepped up first for Goiânia, and for the third time in the match he scored from the spot. Geñupi’s penalty for Boca was poor as he shot straight at Flávio Mendes, and Leandro Diniz put the pressure on by finding the left corner. Bassey also shot straight at Flávio Mendes, and Goiânia were on the verge. Guilherme made no mistake with his spot kick as he blasted into the left corner. And when Matías Hernández saw his effort hit the right hand post and bounce out Goiânia had recorded a famous victory.

Boca (4-4-2): Wilfredo Caballero; Clemente Rodrígues, Altino Mendonça, Diego Crosa, Nicolás Burdisso (captain); Matías Hernández, Marcelo Alvarez, Gustavo Gómez (Geñupi 69), Pablo Márquez (Victor Bassey 69); Carlos Tevez, Christian Giménez (Ali Lemana 63). Substitutes not used: Fernando Bustos (gk), Mariano Araujo, Cralos Caballero, Ariel Vega

Goiânia (4-4-2): Flávio Mendes; Alex (captain), Pereira (Rubens 71), Anderson Luis, Claudemir; Leandro Diniz, Mancuso, Roger, Juliano; Guilherme, Alex Rodrigues (Cristiano 71). Substitutes not used: Adriano (gk), Dudu, João Pessoa, Clóvis, Flávio Guilherme

Man of the Match: Juliano (Goiânia) 10

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Date: Saturday 4th June 2011

Competition: Slovak Second Division

Venue: Prievidza, Prievidza

Attendance: 7535

Story: Back to where it all started

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Prievidza 5(3) Devin 6(3)

Tomacek 17, 36 Duris 4, 25, 83, 88

Adam 42, 66 Skrtel 9

Vozny 74 Tomko 78

</pre>

It was the last game of the season. Prievidza had already been relegated, and Devin were already promoted. I had decided to blood some of the younger members of the squad for the last two games, and 18-year-old striker Stefan Duris had scored a hatrick on his debut. He was given another chance to shine in this match.

It didn’t take long for the game to get going. With just three minutes on the clock Danchev found Milan Pastva with a lovely pass, and a beautiful pass from the midfielder into the path of Stefan Duris allowed the youngster to fire into the top corner. Five minutes later a neat one-two with Jozef Simko saw Duris take another effort on goal. Hanak was equal to the effort, but the ball fell nicely to Peter Skrtel and he turned the ball in to double the lead. Prievidza didn’t give up though, and three minutes after conceding their second Bicak crossed for Tomacek to trouble Kmecik with a header. Five minutes passed before they pulled a goal back; Marian Adam playing a lovely cross-field ball to Ladislav Tomacek, and the former Devin striker squeezed the ball pass Kmecik and into the net. Devin though were too strong for their opponents, and with 25 minutes gone it was 3-1; Pastva finding Skrtel who laid the ball back across the face of goal for Stefan Duris to turn in at the far post. Pastva almost scored a fourth wide a free kick that shot inches wide, but with nine minutes to go before the break Prievidza again cut the arrears. A loose ball was picked up by Adam and he pulled the ball back to Tomacek to squeeze the ball in past Kmecik. And by half time it was all level, Kmecik parrying Tomacek’s effort into the path of Vozny who easily turned the ball in.

After the excitement of the first half the early part of the second half was a little bit of a disappointment. But twenty minutes in a horrendous mistake gifted Prievidza the lead. Gajdosik sent a long ball out of defence towards Marian Adam, and although he wasn’t posing too much of a threat from wide on the right, both Kmecik and Belicak decided to go for it. Both missed it though, and Adam capitalised to pass the ball into the net. Adam should have extended the lead five minutes later, but his header from Vonzy’s cross was easily held by Peter Kmecik. Three minutes later though a two-goal advantage did materialise. Tomacek spread the ball wide to Marian Adam on the right and his cross was well controlled by Vozny, taking the ball past Kmecik and passing the ball into the net. Devin bought on Peter Tomko in response, and, despite having just made one previous appearance during the season, he scored a fantastic free kick to take the scores to 5-4. Seven minutes later this topsy-turvy match took another twist as Simko found Duris and he took the ball into the box and smashed it into the top corner to complete his hatrick and tie the game at 5-5. Stano might have won the game for Devin three minutes later, but with two minutes to go Simko played Duris in again, and his low strike completed a memorable victory for Devin. Duris might have even scored a fifth in injury time, but that would have just been selfish.

Prievidza (4-4-2): Jozef Hanak; Peter Styvar, Jan Gajdoski, Ladislav Nagy (Marek Meciar 74), Radovan Sula; Mario Bicak (Marcel Bazik 66), Vladimir Janos, Igor Vadecky (Peter Cernak 74), Marian Adam; Miroslav Vozny, Ladislav Tomacek (captain). Substitutes not used: Martin Kuciak (gk), Martin Kapral, Milan Kascak, Roman Krajc

Devin (4-4-2): Peter Kmecik; Robert Kovac (captain), Rastislav Belicak, Peter Kral, Plamen Danchev; Gabriel Bartosek, Mikhail Chitaia (Radoslav Bella 67), Milan Pastva (Peter Tomko 75), Jozef Simko; Peter Skrtel (Michal Stano 67), Stefan Duris. Substitutes not used: Jozef Nemec (gk), Radek Slama, Oleg Noskov, Jaroslav Vajda

Man of the Match: Stefan Duris (Devin) 10

Referee: Patrick Hrcka

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Date: Sunday 4th November 2012

Competition: Brazilian National Third Division, Second Round, Second Leg

Venue: Radialista Mário Helênio, Juiz de Fera (MG)

Attendance: 9242

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Tupi 4(0) Brazlândia 2(0)

Inha 79, 109 Jogo 92

Geraldo 99 Marco Vargas 114

Diego 112

After Extra Time

Aggregate: 5-4

</pre>

My first season in charge of Tupi saw us scrape through to the knockout stages in the bid to gain promotion. We had dominated the first leg at Brazlândia only to lose it 2-1, and so we had it all to do in this second leg. With both sides having finished on the same number of points, extra time would be used before using the higher seeding rule that Brazlândia would benefit from. We had lots of injury worries, with both first choice strikers (Cristiano and Kena) and our right-winger (Leanderson) out injured.

The first half was a woeful affair as neither side could get a grip on the game. The only effort of the half came just before half time as Paulo Mello played the ball down the right flank to Jogo whose cross was met by Marco Vargas and Júnior did well to parry the effort.

There was an early effort in the second half, and Tupi finally showed some signs of urgency. Marcelo Mattos played in Diego up front. The striker hit the effort at the first attempt, but Francisco Souza Júnior did well to parry the effort and Brazlândia cleared the ball. There still wasn’t too much urgency in the game, but midway through the second period Furtado jinked the ball into the box. Diego got there just ahead of the goalkeeper, but as the ball squirmed towards the goal Brazlândia were able to clear their lines. Eleven minutes from time Gilberto’s throw-in fell to Inha, and although his first effort was saved, the striker managed to volley in his rebound to put Tupi ahead on the night and level up the aggregate scores. Three minutes later Geraldo struck a free kick over the bar, and so the tie moved into extra time to find a winner.

Extra time was a much better affair, with both sides looking to win the game. Just two minutes in Marco Vargas played the ball infield to Douglas Martins. Vladimir Khizhnyak went in to make a slide tackle, but the ball fell to Jogo, and he scored with a sweet half volley to put Brazlândia back in the driving seat. Tupi responded seven minutes later when Geraldo fired in a free kick from 30 yards out, but with the aggregate scores still level, Brazlândia still had the upper hands. In injury time Lucas fed Diego, but he was denied by a good save, and Inha then shot wide.

Carlos shot wide early in the second period for the visitors, but four minutes in Tupi went ahead on aggregate for the first time in the match. Marcelo Mattos’ shot wasn’t held by Francisco Souza Júnior, and Inha was on hand to follow up and put Tupi 3-1 up on the night, and 4-3 on aggregate. Three minutes later Diego headed in from Geraldo’s corner, and Tupi looked assured of progression. But there was still another twist as de Almeida found Marco Vargas, and the Brazlândia striker fired into the top corner to pull a goal back. It wasn’t enough though for the visitors, and Tupi moved through to the third round.

Tupi (4-4-2): Júnior; Gilberto, Amaral (Vladimir Khizhnyak 63), Pereira, Furtado; Marcelo Mattos, Marcus Winicius, Igor (captain) (Lucas 63), Marques (Geraldo 63); Inha, Diego. Substitutes not used: Tute (gk), Coimbra, Gabriel, Helington

Brazlândia (4-4-2): Francisco Souza Júnior; Kléber Lima da Silva (Fernando do Prado 73), Ivan Passos (Douglas Martins 73), Jair de Almeida, Gilberto Messias (Maurício Ferreira da Silva 62); Henrique Sá, Carlos, Eduardo Dias (captain), Paulo Mello; Marco Vargas, Jogo. Substitutes not used: Edílson Júnior (gk), Antônio César Cardoso, Anderson de Medeiros, Túlio Veras

Man of the Match: Inha (Tupi 9)

Referee: César Siqueira

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Date: Sunday 10th February 2013

Competition: Minas Gerais State Championship

Venue: Radialista Mário Helênio, Juiz de Fera (MG)

Attendance: 29764

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Tupi 5(3) América (MG) 1(0)

Khizhnyak 23 Roma 87

Kena 32, 42, 47, 51

</pre>

My first attempt at the Minas Gerais Championship started well, and we had already won 2-0 at Cruzeiro. América though were flying high, and we expected them to give us a difficult game.

The game started quietly, but midway through the second half the tempo picked up. Leanderson’s whipped in cross was met by the head of Kena, but Chico did well to hold the ball. A minute later though Tupi were ahead as Vladimir Khizhnyak headed in from Marcelo Mattos’ corner kick. Ten minutes later Tupi got a second. Rafael managed to get to Leanderson’s cross ahead of Kena, but the ball fell to Marcelo Mattos who pulled the ball back across the box and Kena turned the ball in. It got even better three minutes before half time as Marcelo Mattos fed Marcus Winicius, and when Chico could only parry his long-range effort, Kena picked up the ball and curled the ball into the far corner for 3-0.

Tupi were all over América, and early in the second half they scored a fourth. Renato played the ball forward to Cristiano. The striker took the ball on, and unselfishly played the ball to Kena who curled the ball round Chico and into the net to complete his hatrick. More route-one football led to Tupi’s fifth. Khizhnyak punted the ball forward, Cristiano did well to hold the ball up in the box as he waited for support, and as it came, Cristiano laid the ball across to Kena to fire in. América finally came to life after that, and Rafael Godói forced a good save from Pedro Henrique. Tupi were content to let things lie as they were for the rest of the game as the fans celebrated. Three minutes from time Hussain headed onto Roma who took the ball on and fired in for the visitors, but it was nothing more than a consolation as Tupi notched up a great 5-1 victory.

Tupi (4-4-2): Pedro Henrique; João Pessoa (Gilberto 61), Pereira, Vladimir Khizhnyak, Renato; Marcelo Mattos, Marcus Winicius, Igor (captain), Leanderson; Kena, Cristiano (Diego 61). Substitutes not used: Júnior (gk), Lucas, Afonso, Mancuso, Gabriel

América (MG) (4-3-3): Chico; Tininho (captain), Ademar Ribeiro, Manuel Bernandes, Rafael; Róbson (Dante 78), Shaheed Hussain, Luciano Sorriso; Daniel (Roma 69), Woton, Rafael Godói (Mohamed Al-Shahrani 69). Substitutes not used: Davi Xavier (gk), João Alex, Beto, Galvão

Man of the Match: Kena (Tupi) 10

Referee: Leonardo João Padilha

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Date: Wednesday 26th February 2014

Competition: Minas Gerais State Championship

Venue: Mineirão, Belo Horizonte (MG)

Attendance: 2450

Story: Football – as it should be

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Cruzeiro 1(0) Tupi 3(2)

Martins Silva 46 Cristiano 13

Leandro pen 30

Carlinhos 63

</pre>

Earlier in February Tupi had suffered three successive defeats in the Minas Gerais Championship, having won promotion to the National Second Division the previous December. Cruzeiro had won all nine of their matches so far this season, and they were powering their way to the State title.

The game got off to an explosive start, with Tupi taking the game to their hosts. Leanderson played in Cristiano in only the second minute, but the striker came off second best in the one-on-one with goalkeeper Gomes. And a minute later Cristiano did well to turn in the box and get in a shot that screwed just wide of the far post. A long-range effort from Leandro was parried by Gomes after 11 minutes, but Tupi’s persistence soon paid off. Carlinhos capitalised on a poor defensive pass from Cruziero and he advanced in on goal. As he got to the byline he laid the ball back. Gomes got a hand to it, but couldn’t hold it and Cristiano was on hand at the far post to bundle the ball in and give Tupi the lead. Cruzeiro tried to get back into the game immediately, and Márcio Nobre played in Rômulo who gave Pedro Henrique a good test. At the other end Cristiano cut the ball back for Marcelo Mattos, but the winger could only sky his shot over the bar. The pace dropped after that, but as the half hour approached Leandro made a jinking run into the Cruziero box, and he was crudely bought down by Irineu. Miguel da Costa Júnior awarded a penalty, and Leandro fired the kick into the left corner to put Tupi two goals up at half time.

Cruzeiro were back in the game within a minute of the restart as Martins Silva scored with a bullet header from Jonathan’s corner. The expected onslaught didn’t materialise though as Tupi kept Cruzeiro at arm’s length, and on 63 Tupi extended their advantage as Reinaldo found Cristiano in space, and he laid the ball across the box for Carlinhos to volley home. Márcio Nobre shot wide with Cruzeiro’s only effort to get back into the game, and Cristiano was denied by a good save from Gomes. But there was to be no more scoring, and Tupi recorded another scalp.

Cruzeiro (4-4-2): Gomes; Rodrigo Fernandes (Wellington h/t), Renato, Irineu, Simão; Jonathan, Martins Silva (Alex 80), Wether, Toledo; Rômulo (captain), Márcio Nobre. Substitutes not used: Juninho (gk), Fábio Dias, Michel Bastos, Quoc Viet Santos, Marcelo Sampaio

Tupi (4-4-2): Pedro Henrique; João Pessoa, Marcos Baiano (captain), Carlos, Reinaldo; Marcelo Mattos, Mancuso (Amaral 73), Leandro (George Santos 73), Leanderson; Carlinhos, Cristiano. Substitutes not used: Mateus (gk), Edivaldo, Igor, Cléber, Pereira

Man of the Match: Carlinhos (Tupi) 9

Referee: Miguel da Costa Júnior

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Date: Saturday 17th January 2004

Competition: Welsh Premier League

Venue: Maesydre, Welshpool

Attendance: 1760

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Welshpool 8(3) Porthmadog 6(6)

Quinn 15, 90 Caughter 17

Fairmichael 26, 90 Farr 19, 45

Steele 42, 56, 81 M. Hughes 29, 33, 44

Roberts 63 M. Hughes s/o 78

</pre>

A first season in the WPL was proving to be tough, although Porthmadog had a pretty balanced record, winning as many as they lost. They went with an exciting formation to try and score more than their opponents, and their season could be summed up in this one league game.

Welshpool started the game brightly, and within two minutes of the kickoff, McMullan played the ball wide to Quinn, and Lorcan Fairmichael headed his cross over the bar. Five minutes later Kirkham played in Paul Steele, and he did well to get in a shot from a difficult angle, but the ball rebounded off the bar and into the arms of the grateful Jon Worsnop. Fourteen minutes gone and Quinn played the ball wide to Kirkham, who played in Steele, only to be denied by a fantastic point-blank save from Worsnop. The breakthrough came a minute later though, as Fairmichael found Quinn on the break, and although Worsnop managed to get a hand to Steele’s effort, Quinn was on hand to follow up and put Welshpool into the lead. Porthmadog suddenly woke up, and within two minutes were level; Danny Hughes playing in Gareth Caughter, and although Scott Brown kept out his first effort, the veteran midfielder was on hand to volley in an equaliser. Welshpool responded quickly, as Meredith sent a free kick towards the back post, but Worsnop was equal to Jones’ header. Porthmadog went up the other end, Caughter found Carl Owen, and the winger played in the unmarked David Farr to put the visitors into the lead. Seven minutes later though it was all level again; Quinn sending a ball into the box, and Fairmichael’s looping header eluded everyone before settling into the back of the net. The goals kept on flying in, and the fifth of the game came before the half hour mark, Caughter charging through from his own half before centring the ball for Michael Hughes, who neatly turned and shot the ball into the back of the net. Four minutes later Farr laid the ball wide to Owen and he knocked the ball into Michael Hughes who took the ball past Brown and put Porthmadog into a 4-2 lead. Wagstaffe found Owen with a long-range effort, and his cross was headed by David Farr into the arms of Scott Brown. Welshpool came back brightly; Meredith playing in Fairmichael who was denied by Worsnop, but three minutes before the break they pulled a goal back; Fairmichael whipping in a cross on a quick break, and Paul Steele stooped to score with a brilliant diving header. Two minutes before the break Owen played in Michael Hughes, and the striker completed his hatrick with a nonchalant lob over Scott Brown from outside the box. And it got even better for Porthmadog before half time as Farr was on hand to give them a 6-3 lead when he followed up to score into an empty net after Caughter’s effort was saved. Wilkinson did have the ball in the back of the net for Welshpool in injury time, but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Porthmadog began the second half much the same was as they ended the first, with Owen playing a wonderful one-two with David Farr, only to shoot into the arms of goalkeeper Scott Brown. The game wasn’t quite as frenetic, but eleven minutes into the second period Welshpool pulled a goal back; Kinsey played in Fairmichael, and from his cross, Steele got ahead of his marker to reduce the deficit to 6-4. Scott Brown did well to get to an Owen cross ahead of Farr, and two minutes later things got very interesting as Quinn played the ball across the box, and Chris Roberts fired in an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net. Jenkins was forced into a rushed header back to Worsnop a minute later as Welshpool searched for an equaliser, but Porthmadog kept up their attacking style, and within a minute before Farr and Michael Hughes had chances to get a seventh. An excellent turn and shot from Meredith on 71 was matched by an equally impressive save from Worsnop, and Fairmichael fired over from long-range. Twelve minutes from time Fairmichael won a corner, but as the players lined up, Michael Hughes kicked out at Lorcan Fairmichael, and the hatrick hero was sent off. Welshpool took the initiative, and it took them another three minutes to find an equaliser; Kinsey feeding Roberts who found Steele, and he scored with a wonderful lob over Worsnop. As the game entered injury time, it was still level, but Welshpool sensed a victory, and Steele shot over twice. Two minutes into stoppage time Carr fed Quinn on the left, and, finding himself free, curled the ball into the near post from 35 yards to put Welshpool 7-6 ahead. Scott Brown had to be on hand to turn over a Caughter effort as Porthmadog looked for a last-ditch equaliser, but as the game entered the fifth minute of stoppage time, Quinn lobbed the ball into the box and Fairmichael made it 8-6 at the second attempt with the very last kick of the game.

Welshpool (4-4-2): Scott Brown; Scott Jones, Peter Wilding, Joel Kinsey (captain), Sion Meredith; Neil Quinn, Ciaran McMullan (Steven Carr h/t), Craig Wilkinson, Shane Kirkham (Chris Roberts 56); Lorcan Fairmichael, Paul Steele. Substitutes not used: Rob Bloor (gk)

Portmadog (1-2-1-3-3): Jon Worsnop; Richard Jenkins; Mike Foster (Lee Webber 65), Steve Cooper; Andrew Wagstaffe (captain); Danny Hughes, Garether Caughter, Steven Pugh (Tony Williams 65); Matthew Hughes, David Farr, Carl Owen. Substitutes not used: Jason Turner (gk)

Man of the Match: Lorcan Fairmichael (Welshpool) 10

Referee: Clive Bodenham

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Thanks OMDave - but the series is almost over I'm afraid icon_frown.gif But, here's the next installment:

Date: Saturday 6th March 2004

Competition: Welsh Cup, Quarter Final

Venue: Maesydre, Welshpool

Attendance: 1547

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Welshpool 4(3) Porthmadog 7(3)

Steele 6, 17, pen 29, 55 R. Owen 23

Wilding s/o 44 Farr 41, 45, 90

Pugh 51

Williams 89

Caughter 90

</pre>

Just a few weeks after the 8-6 defeat, Porthmadog were back at Welshpool, this time trying to make the last four of the Welsh Cup, and maybe, just maybe, qualify for European competition. It was to prove another fantastic game. Defender Steve Cooper and left midfielder Danny Hughes were both missing, and so in came Mike Foster and Richard Owen.

Bouyed by their late win in the previous meeting, Welshpool made a good start to the game, and with just six minutes gone has the lead. Chris Roberts played in Paul Steele, and the striker scored with a lovely pot shot. Pugh tried a long-range shot to equalise soon after, but it was Welshpool who were mostly on top, and Fairmichael fired over as they looked to extend their lead. They managed to do so eleven minutes after taking the lead as Fairmichael nodded the ball to Thomas, and Steele turned in his cross as he got in ahead of his marker. Porthmadog slowly got back into the game, and Gareth Caughter powered a header from a Michael Hughes cross into the arms of Rob Bloor. A minute later though Porthmadog had a goal back as Caughter drilled a low free kick into the box and Richard Owen arrived at the near post to turn the ball in to score his first goal for the club, in just his second match for the club. The visitors failed to capitalise on the goal though, and within five minutes of getting back into the game Chris Roberts found Thomas with a wonderful cross-field pass, and as he crossed, Huish tripped Steele in the box, and Anthony Woodthorpe pointed straight at the point. Paul Steele picked himself up and despatched the ball past Jon Worsnop to complete his hatrick and put Welshpool into a 3-1 lead. Welshpool continued to push forward, and Steele almost had a fourth; denied only by a good save from Worsnop having been put through by Timms. Porthmadog counter-attacked through Carl Owen and Caughter, but David Farr finished the move by shooting wide. Wornsop did well to turn away a Fairmichael effort, and Thomas shot weakly into the arms of Wornsop having been set up by Steele. Four minutes before the break Porthmadog broke well, and Pugh picked out David Farr to hit a first time shot high into the top corner of the net, and reduce the arrears to 3-2. Just before half time things got even more interesting as Welshpool had Peter Wilding sent off for a second bookable offence, and Porthmadog took full advantage before half time. Caughter charged through from midfield to fire over, but in injury time, neat passing work between Pugh, Caughter and Carl Owen played in Farr, and his vicious effort equalised, despite the hand to Bloor getting to the ball.

With an extra man, Porthmadog sensed the opportunity to take control of the game. Captain Andrew Wagstaffe saw an early effort held by Rob Bloor, and David Farr crossed from the right, only for Carl Owen to shoot straight at Bloor. But six minutes after the restart, the visitors took the lead for the first time in the game as Richard Jenkins punted the ball upfield, and as the ball ricocheted off David Timms, Stephen Pugh took advantage to fire the ball into the net. Four minutes later though Chris Roberts got down the left flank, crossed deep, and Mark Thomas headed the ball down into the path of Paul Steele who scored his fourth goal of the game to level up the scores once more. The ten men of Welshpool did well to restrict much of Porthmadog’s attacking play, and only high efforts from Farr and Caughter were to show for their efforts until ten minutes to go. Being a cup-tie, Welshpool realised that they had to do some attacking to try to get through to the final four, and Griffiths crossed for Fairmichael, who fired over. David Farr shot over as Porthmadog broke down the other end, and then substitute Tony Williams headed into Bloor’s arms after a good cross from Richard Owen. At the other end Steele set up Fairmichael with a lovely chipped ball into the box, but the striker could only put his header over the bar. Caughter then robbed the ball in the middle of park, but could only fire over as he looked to cap his good work. Five minutes from time Steele attempted to find the top corner, but his effort went over the bar. Fairmichael’s turn and shot clipped the post and went wide as the game entered the last two minutes and things were getting very tight. But just as it looked like going to extra time, Porthmadog broke through David Farr. He was through in on goal, but unselfishly laid the ball left to Michael Hughes. He pulled the ball back to the far post where Tony Williams was on hand to turn the ball into the back of the net and surely send Porthmadog through. Wagstaffe fired over having been played in by Farr, and Steele missed a glorious opportunity to equalise as he fired over in the second minute of injury time. 93 minutes gone, Williams put the ball into the box, and Gareth Caughter wrapped up any lingering doubts with a sixth goal for the visitors. And with four minutes of injury time player, Caughter lifted the ball into Farr and he fired in to complete a 7-4 victory and send Porthmadog through to the semi-finals.

Welshpool (4-4-2): Rob Bloor; David Timms (Marc Griffiths 55), Peter Wilding, Joel Kinsey (captain), Sion Meredith (Stuart Mellon 69); Chris Roberts, Steven Carr, Shane Kirkham, Mark Thomas; Paul Steele, Lorcan Fairmichael. Substitutes not used: Gary Roberts (gk)

Portmadog (1-2-1-3-3): Jon Worsnop; Richard Jenkins; Darren Huish, Mike Foster (Lee Webber 70); Andrew Wagstaffe (captain); Richard Owen, Garether Caughter, Steven Pugh; Matthew Hughes, David Farr, Carl Owen (Tony Williams 70). Substitutes not used: Jason Turner (gk)

Man of the Match: Gareth Caughter (Porthmadog) 10

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe

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Date: Sunday 9th May 2004

Competition: Welsh Cup, Final

Venue: The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Attendance: 1325

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Haverfordwest 0(0) Porthmadog 2(0)

Sherlock m/pen 23 Huish 54

Morrow m/pen 63 Caughter 87

Morrow m/pen 69

</pre>

A draw against Afan Lido on the last day of the league season had allowed Haverfordwest to take the WPL title, and so Porthmadog were guaranteed a UEFA Cup berth for next season, regardless of the result at the Millennium Stadium in the final of the Welsh Cup. But having prevented Afan Lido from winning the title, Porthmadog wanted the scalp of preventing a Haverfordwest league and cup double. Danny Hughes had still not recovered from his long injury, so Richard Owen continued at left midfield, and recent signing Marcus Taylor was handed the right attacking berth ahead of Carl Owen.

The first quarter of the game was a dire affair, and there was only one minute of any interest. A mazy run and shot from Caughter ended with a fantastic tip-over from goalkeeper Lee Kendall, and from the corner, Taylor saw a shot parried and cleared. But mid-way through the first half, the league winners had a glorious chance to take the lead when they awarded a penalty when Richard Owen pushed Fairclough as a corner was swung in. Jason Sherlock stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Wornsop guessed correctly, and the ball was cleared to safety by the Porthmadog defence. Haverfordwest weren’t perturbed, and came back with two quick efforts; a Magowan header and a Fairclough shot that were both dealt with by Wornsop and his defence. The rest of the half returned to the bore of earlier on in the half, with only a high shot from Sherlock to note. In injury time Magowan had two headed efforts to give Haverfordwest the lead, but Wornsop in the Porthmadog goal saved both chances.

Porthmadog had the first effort of the second period as Taylor crossed to Hughes, only for the striker to fire over. But apart from that, it was Haverfordwest who continued to dominate. Magowan played in Jason Sherlock, who fired over, and Worsnop parried a long-range effort from Deryn Brace. Nine minutes into the second half Caughter drafted in a corner, and Darren Huish was given all the space in the world to head in his first goal for the club to give Porthmadog the lead. That sparked Haverfordwest into action; Kelly fired over, Watkins saw a header saved and McBride shot wide. Just after the hour Haverfordwest were awarded another penalty when Wagstaffe took down Keith Rowland in the box, but substitute Neil Morrow missed the opportunity to equalise as Worsnop got his hands to the effort, and the defence did the rest in clearing the ball to safety. Things were starting to get a little more nervous, and Watkins snatched at a shot that went high over the Porthmadog bar. And the tension was clear with twenty-one minutes to go when Haverfordwest were awarded their third penalty of the game, this time when Cooper tripped Sherlock. Morrow was once again charged with the duty of pulling his side level, but his effort was poor, and Worsnop just had to collect the ball into his arms. Magowan sent a header from McBride’s cross into Worsnop’s arm, whilst Caughter managed to make a rare break for Porthmadog, only to be denied by Kendall. Farr couldn’t control a pass from Michael Hughes, and Haverfordwest continued to search for an equaliser. Watkins curled in a free kick and Kelly sent a header into the arms of Wornsop, and eight minutes from time Magowan headed over from Hicks’ cross. With three minutes to go Porthmadog broke quickly through Pugh and Carl Owen, and the substitute laid the ball into the box where Gareth Caughter was on hand to volley high into the net and double the Porthmadog lead. Porthmadog could have added a third in injury time though Carl Owen and Caughter, but their victory was never in doubt in the final few minutes, and they had qualified for Europe in their own rights.

Haverfordwest (4-4-2): Lee Kendall; David Fairclough (Nigel Morrow 54), Paul Lally, Gavin Lee, Deryn Brace (captain); Liam McBride, Keith Rowland (Tim Hicks 68), David Watkins, Dominic Kelly; Jason Sherlock, Ian Magowan. Substitutes not used: Peter Blain (gk)

Portmadog (1-2-1-3-3): Jon Worsnop; Richard Jenkins; Darren Huish, Steve Cooper (Mike Foster 76); Andrew Wagstaffe (captain); Richard Owen (Carl Owen 56), Garether Caughter, Steven Pugh; Matthew Hughes, David Farr, Marcus Taylor. Substitutes not used: Jason Turner (gk)

Man of the Match: Jon Worsnop (Porthmadog) 10

Referee: Ray Ellingham

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That's just about it. I hope you enjoyed the games as much as I did, and if not - tough icon_biggrin.gif.

My next story may not be for a while. I do though have something in mind, but I first need to get used to playing FM2005, and then the project itself will take a while to complete. Add to that my professional exams coming up, and I'm afraid that my writing skills (or lack of them) will not be around here much. Your loss (or maybe not) icon_razz.gif

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