Sky Blue Sport News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Duck Shoot!

The Sky Blues travel to Fermanagh on Saturday to take on the Mallards, who are fighting to avoid the dreaded relegation play-off spot. The United team who were decimated with injuries and suspension in last weeks encounter with the Coleraine scum, should welcome back at least two players in Jimer and Darboy. The news on the injuries to Archie and JT, well we don't have any news, but we assume it will take another few days to have them ready for a return to action. But we won't be surprised if one of them, or the two of them, make a return on our bench for Saturday's game.

Steeky, who had an forgettable game against Coleraine, he was crap with a capital C, could be a causality if Jimer plays and Marky moves into central defence, therefore releasing Ruddy to take over at leftback. After his lack-lustre performance against the scum, Alan D, is yet another who will find his place in jeopardy, against the hard tackling Ducks. Much better to play Sparky and Gavin alongside Captain Jenks and keep Alan D fresh for Easter Tuesday at his adopted home town, against the Point. Our forward line should be made up with Ally, Darboy and the irresistible Cush, who has not been firing on all cylinders of late.

Where better for the Cush to show all his doubters what he is made of and he'll have a Ballymena legend in the crowd to cheer him on, as Norman Clarke, 'The Ballymena Boy', will be among the travelling faithful. Cush, our talisman, has scored  15 goals from 38 starts, a definite bonus for someone who used to be  seen as a winger. But under the tutelage of the three baldies and United manager Spike, the Cush has blossomed into a striker supreme and long may that continue to be so. Mark Kelly, who stood in for Darboy last week will have to be content with a space on the bench. So Come on Sky Blues, lets bag (or shag), some Ducks!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Scrubbing Brush!

If you want to remove scum, you need a scrubbing brush and United need to be a scrubbing brush tomorrow when they take on the Coleraine scum at their Ballycastle Road dump. This may be harder to achieve than normal for suspensions and injuries mean we will only have half of the panel of players that started last Saturday's game at the Oval, in our squad for this game. That's not to say they will get playing, our manager Spike has shown us that he's not been afraid to wield the big axe, if he wants to. But with his defence decimated by injuries and suspensions, we at 'Sport think he will not want to make wholesale changes.

He knows how much this game means to the 'rank and file' fan and we think he will make as few changes as is humanely possible. Does he rest keeper Shan and give Macauley Cairns his third appearance in Sky Blue colours in a United/scum derby match? Might the occasion be too much for the lad, or is he champing at the bit to be playing, only Spike can judge that. Its come to our notice that Cookie, if he gets the nod, will play his 100 game in a United jersey. Will Spike make him Captain for the day or have we got our facts wrong? We'll probably get our answers come 3 O'clock tomorrow but don't bank on it.

There's been a lot of speculation this week about who should come in, in the absence, of Tony and Jimer suspended, Darboy left out for that ridiculous agreement between diving bird and Spike and the injuries to JT and Archie. Not knowing anything ourselves we will take a guess at, Sparky, Marky, Cookie, Gavin and Kelly. We have been informed that Thommo is not yet up to full fitness, but we expect the remainder of our selection last Saturday to be on tomorrow. We know there's nothing really to play for but pride, but we are proud supporters and we hate the Coleraine scum, surely that ought to be enough to be getting on with. So come Sky Blues, lets shag them ewes from Windy Hall!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Sky Blues!

There's only one thing on our mind tonight, looking forward to tomorrow's Irish cup semi-final, when our beloved Sky Blues are going into battle against Queens. We have been told time and time again that Queens are  at this stage of the competition on merit, never mind who they beat to get there, getting there is an achievement in itself. We will show them respect tomorrow, but and we emphasis the word 'but', our team won't show any fear. Our manager, Glenn Ferguson and his backroom staff have worked for this achievement from the day and the hour they took up their posts and we fervently believe they will get their just rewards come 16-50hrs tomorrow.

When we qualify for the Irish cup final, that will be enough to be going on with, we will worry about the final when it comes. We will need everybody committed to the cause tomorrow and as far as we know there's only one player who has an injury that will maybe keep him sidelined tomorrow. That player is midfielder Gary Thompson, who limped off at Seaview with a groin strain. If Thommo is unfit, we at 'Sport would like to see Sparky get the vote instead, but Spike may opt for Alan D, who seems to be in favour at the moment. In fact Fergie and his assistants could name the team that played and triumphed 2-1 against Glenavon on the last Saturday of March.

Despite their not doing enough in our last game to get a start tomorrow, we expect MM and Mark Kelly to be on the bench, along with Gavin and either Alan D or Sparky and one other, maybe one of the two Neal's, Gawley or Lowry. We had hoped to get a strong referee, but will have to settle for Carrick man, Ross Dunlop and with Colin Burns as 4th official, we have to hope Dunlop doesn't get injured and biased Burns has to take over, for that could spell curtains for us. We should take a big crowd tomorrow to the Oval, which used to be a happy 'hunting ground' for us, lets make it so again. So come on Sky Blues, let's shag those students and old boys, let's win this game and get to the Irish cup final COSB!!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Getting Nearer!

Its just 8 days away from the biggest match that we have been involved since our dramatic win in the County Antrim Shield last season. But this match is even bigger in our estimation, it's a chance to get to an Irish cup final and the chance to get our name back on the blue riband trophy that is the Irish cup. But that's 8 days away and we got an important league game tomorrow against Dungannon Swifts. Our manager, Spike, has promised to rest one or two of his regulars and we're not going to say what we think they will be. There's definitely one change that's going to made and that is, Shan our keeper. He is going to have a rest tomorrow and reserve keeper Macauley Cairns, is going to get a rare start.

As Spike was at pains to point out this week we only have one keeper that's eligible for the Irish cup and that's Shan, so it makes sense to rest him tomorrow with the semi-final in mind. Tomorrow's match will be our last game at the Showgrounds for a month, until we pull the curtain down on another league season at home to Ards on 26 April. We at 'Sport, like the rest of the Sky Blue faithful will be hoping the Ards game will not be the last game of the season as such. We will be hoping that is an appetiser for the Irish cup final on Saturday 3 May. But we digress, what of tomorrows opponents who haven't won a game since we beat them in the Irish cup 3 weeks ago.

Swifts manager, Darren Murphy, will have his team well pumped up for this one and he will be expecting us to have our minds on next weeks game and will have his players primed to take advantage of any slips. It'll be hard for our players, but if you shirk tackles, you end up getting hurt, so we have to be up for the game, otherwise we will get trampled on. To this end we think we need to start Gavin and Sparky in midfield and their no nonsense approach could be the spark that ignites us. Mark Kelly has to tried in the striking role and Neal Lowry must be due some first team action. We mustn't switch off, if we play with the same concentration that we showed in the cup against the Swifts, we will prevail, so come on Sky Blues!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day Off!

According to press reports, our manager is going to use the next two games as a trial for players on the fringes of our squad. With opposite number Gary Hamilton already stating his position and he will definitely be  rotating his squad, tomorrows game is not going to be one for the connoisseur. So with that in mind, if you don't have a season ticket or a seat booked for the corporate lunch, our best advice to you, is to take a day off. Definitely out the of United squad are JT and Thommo, with hamstring and groin injuries, so they will be rested. With Steeky McBride fully fit, might Fergie be tempted to pair Marky and Archie in central defence and give the veteran Cookie a rest.

Tony Kane, who missed last week's meek surrender to Crusaders, must be in line for a recall, as must Ally. Tomorrow would be good time to give Mark Kelly 90 mins, to see what he can do, or is Glenn wanting to keep him in reserve for the semi-final of the Irish cup. Cush needs a rest too, he's been battling with an injury since the start of the season, but like the talisman that he is, he just gives his all in every game. Might we save a few pounds by not bringing Captain Jenks across from Scotland, next week at least, if not this one as well. Surely MM deserves to play in next two games, he has been warming the bench so much of late, in fact he has only started in half of his 22 appearances in a Sky Blue jersey.

Its hard to get any enthusiasm for tomorrow's game, what with our manager playing it down and the media concentrating its attention on the battle for the Gibson cup. The only thing that needs to decided is the Mallards or the Point going to finish in 11th position and therefore meet a championship side in a play-off. Come five O'clock tomorrow we'll know our fixtures, but the way its looking now, we will be at home to Dungannon next Saturday and away to the scum on April 12, after the Irish cup semi-final against Queens on April 5. We play the Point and the Mallards on Easter weekend, both away and finish up with a home game to Ards on April 26. We're going to go to bed now and hopefully wake up with new enthusiasm, but somehow we very much doubt it, so come on Sky Blues, lets try to make a game of i

Friday, March 14, 2014

Blunted Hatchets!

United go into their penultimate game pre-split against Crusaders at Seaview tomorrow and have nothing to fear against the hatchet-men, as United have already beaten them twice in the league this season. This will be in fact the fifth meeting between the two sides this season and United deserved to only lose one, the County Antrim Shield semi-final, where we didn't turn-up. The other game we lost was in the league cup and United lost 4-3 after extra-time and were denied a stonewall penalty at the death, by referee Colin Burns. By an ironic twist of fate we have another controversial official taking charge of tomorrow's game, Richard Crangle, but we know from experience we get nothing when playing city teams.

So it'll be up to Glenn and the three baldies to come up with a plan to send Mister Ugly home to his missus with a frown and no points. There could be three or four former United players in the Crues line-up tomorrow, but we are better off without them and anyway they all went of their own free will, we didn't force them out. Spike has hinted at changes, but we at 'Sport would be surprised to see wholesale changes, but with a full panel to pick from, Spike may shake things up a bit. We won't be surprised if Cookie is rested and Marky gets the nod alongside JT and maybe Thommo will get a start at the expense of Alan D. Will Spike unleash his secret weapon, Mark Kelly, on the unsuspecting Crues defence or will he stick with Darboy?

These are questions that only Glenn can answer and we have learnt from experience that its a useless exercise, trying to second guess him. Just when you think you have him figured out, he springs a surprise on you, like he did last Friday night, in omitting Kelly and Sparky from his subs bench. Oh how United could done with Sparky's battling in midfield and Kelly's presence up front, where the Glentoran defenders were hardly troubled. Glenn is still relatively new to football management and we think he was carried away with all the hype about the Glens picking a weak side and he gave a few players the night off and it came back to bite him. We hope he picks his strongest team tomorrow, come on Sky Blues, lets shag those paper Tigers!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Chasers Night!

Friday night is reckoned to be chasers night and United fall into that category tomorrow night when they face Glentoran at the Oval in the Dankse Premiership, kick-off, 19-45. The press has been full of Glens problems today and were you to believe half of it, you would rightly assume that United had only to turn up to be assured of three points. But we know from painful experience, that you cannot believe a word that the Glens management trot out. Every-time that we are due to play them, they have a number players crocked and miracles of miracles, they make a marvellous recovery and are on their team.

Take the latest press release from the Glens publicity machine, John McGuigan, is helping Police with their inquires about drugs and will not be picked. They have three players suspended, namely Addis, Gordon and Garret and we think these three are genuine sidelined players, but Hill, Birnie, Kane and Magee are all injured, we won't be surprised if they all make a recovery and make the Glens starting line-up. Our management team know the Oval outfit and are used to their rumours and won't be fooled with their weeping and wailing. We expect a tough match, for the Glens are fighting for their very existence and we will be prepared for that eventuality.

As regards ourselves, we have only one player who's not available for selection, Marky McCullagh, serving a one game suspension, but we have enough strength in depth to cope with that. We have given up trying to second guess Spike and the three baldies, but expect our defence will pick itself and Darboy and Cush are certain starters. That only remains for our midfield to be selected and one striker and going on past experience it will be, Tony, Alan D, Captain Jenks and Ally. But Spike may surprise us and pick an entirely different midfield, or he may fool us completely and go for a 4,4,2 formation, wouldn't that be something, but in all honesty we think not.

Whatever players our Spike picks, we have to chase this game from the start, no use saying after the event, we could have tried harder, its got to be all systems go from the outset. If we give it our best shot and are found wanting, so be it, we'll have the satisfaction of knowing we tried our eye-strings out. That is the only way we can get the desired result, we got to go on the attack and as 'Jonesy says', they don't like it up them, but we got to do it. There's only three points up for grabs tomorrow night, but a win would leap us into to 5th place at least until 17-00 hrs Saturday and set us up for our visit to the hatchet-men on March 15. Its all to play for, we have the players to do it, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those wise men from the East!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Spikes Head!

It'd be a brave man that tries to get inside Glenn Ferguson, our manager's head, we at 'Sport have come to realise that you couldn't second guess him. He has intimated to Stephen Alexander, of the Ballymena Times, that he might change his policy of never changing a winning line-up, by including Cookie Munster in his starting line-up. Well we are using a wee bit of artistic licence here, he said and we quote, 'Munster could be added to the panel', which doesn't necessarily mean he could start. In fact if Archie has had no ill effects and is fully fit, we expect Spike to name the same team as that which started last Saturday.

That means no place for Ally, Gavin and the hero of our draw with the Coleraine scum, Mark Kelly. When we played the Swifts last time, Gary Liggett, gave Cookie a hard time and was instrumental in both of the Swifts goals, winning a free-kick for the first one and getting a free header to score the second one. We don't want that happening tomorrow and feel that Spike will stick with Archie (if fit), or Marky if Archie's not fit. The rest of the team picks itself, with Tony Kane and Captain Jenks in midfield and the enigma man himself, Alan D. We at 'Sport think Spike's taking a dangerous risk playing Alan D and especially against a team that Darren Murphy has playing delightful football, but Spike's the boss and we have to respect him.

The three strikers, MM, Darboy and our talisman Cush, need to put in a shift and give the Swifts defenders something to think about. Darboy had a shocking first-half last Saturday, but he redeemed himself somewhat in the second period with the clinching goal, but we think he'll have to start to exert his influence from kick-off tomorrow. As usual we don't have any team news and hope our keeper, Shan, has recovered from the thigh injury that hampered him against the Point last week, leading him to concede a soft goal. We need him fully fit tomorrow and if he is, we think we have a chance against the Tyrone men. Not that'll it will be easy, far from it, but if we stick to the plan and close down the wide men, hopefully we will triumph, but we expect it to be close. So come Sky Blues, lets shag those Chicken farmers!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Big Test!

United face a big test tomorrow against Warrenpoint Town, if they are to maintain their quest for a top six berth in the Dankse Bank Premier league, with only three games to go until we meet Glenavon in that do or die last game before the split. Win tomorrow and everything is possible, but lose or draw for the second week running and it becomes elusive, to say the least. The one fact in our favour, if you can call it a favour, is that Glenavon have 3 matches in hand, they still have their Irish cup match to play and their three matches including one against us and only 5 weeks to do it.

If they don't win their Irish cup match away to Ballinmallard and it finishes in a draw, that could lead to another 3 games to be played before 22 March, a tall order for any team, never mind a team of part-time Irish league players. So you see there's still a lot of matches to play, but we need to focus on our own fixtures and the rest of them will only be important if we slip up. We at 'Sport believe our fate lies in our own hands, three points tomorrow are vital, if we get them, all things are possible. The Point are fighting to avoid being pulled into the relegation dogfight or play-off spot and they have some games in hand too, but we know from painful experience, that games in hand don't equate to points on the board.

Thommo, so pivotal in the good things that we do, starts the first game of a two match suspension tomorrow  and we'll be looking for someone to step up to the plate and take his vital role in out team. We at 'Sport are in complete agreement that it should be Sparky, but as Omar referred to his column last night, Spike seems to favour Alan D. The Sports team only worry about Alan D's inclusion tomorrow, that if he did have a good game against the Point, Spike may well stick with him the rest of this season and we fear that Alan D only flatters to deceive and we'll need ball winners tomorrow and Alan doesn't come into that category.

Then there's the dilemma of the strikers he selects, Darboy was rested because of that ridiculous agreement with the scum manager, but MM came in and scored and new boy, Mark Kelly, showed what we've been missing for so long, a real live striker to challenge in the air and put himself about and he looks good in this role, it will be interesting to see, how Spike resolves this dilemma. Surely JT has to return in central defence for we are going to need him for the hard matches down the line, against the Crues, Glens and Glenavon. But who makes way for him is anybody's guess. We'll stick our neck out and go for , Cookie and McBride, but it could be anybody, so come on Sky Blues, lets send them home pointless!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Darboy's Dejection!

United's Darboy, signed in the January transfer window from fierce rivals, the Coleraine scum, admits to being dejected, as under the terms of his transfer, he cannot play against his old club and must sit and watch as the two rivals do battle tomorrow. United, fresh from their great victory at Windsor Park, over Linfield last Saturday in the Irish cup, welcome back defensive king-pin JT. Darboy's ineligibility, gives our manager, Spike an out we think for his policy of not changing a winning team and we expect JT to be in the line-up. Who drops out to accommodate him is anybody's guess, he played five defenders last Saturday in a 3,5,2 formation, but we expect him to revert to his favoured 4,3,3 for this game.

So if JT comes in, Spike needs to drop two defenders and it would be tough on any of them, for they all played their part last Saturday, in United's victory. But that's what he gets paid the big bucks for, to make unpopular decisions. If Archie plays, will this be his 200th senior appearance in a Sky Blue Jersey? We dropped a bit of a clanger last Saturday, saying that was his 200th, but we later found out, courtesy of Stephen Alexander, of the Ballymena Times, that the United programme, where we got our information, was in fact wrong and that last Saturday's game took  Archie to 199 appearances, not 200. We made a genuine mistake, which we apologise unequivocally for and hope that's the end of that.

The man in the middle has stolen the show of late in matches between us and the scum and tomorrows official needs no introduction to United fans, as it is none other than ham shank himself, Mark Courtney. We don't know whether to rejoice in his appointment, or to give vent to feelings of despair, because he tends to a bit controversial, but not as bad as Burns, he is the pits. Derby games tend to be volatile and the referee needs to show a bit of common sense, as tackles seem to be that much keener, with no quarter ask or given. The fans love these encounters, but we don't want to see anybody get hurt at the end of day, but all we ask from officials, is show a wee bit of give and take, a stern talking to will do, if that doesn't work, then you can start to dish out the yellow cards, but only then. 

The real fans of both clubs should be in attendance, no excuses will be tolerated, As United fans point out in one of their songs, 'if you canny do the bouncey your Coleraine' and that is a terrible stigma to be saddled with. Sky Blue Sport would go one stage further, if your not at the Showgrounds tomorrow, 'you are' Coleraine. Our goal keeper, Shan, said in a text last Saturday, 'our supporters were brilliant too', don't let him down this Saturday, turn up in your numbers and be the 'extra man' that makes the difference. We won on Boxing Day at Coleraine, but it would be sweeter to win at our own ground and our fans need to play their part if we are to be triumphant. A pity Darboy is missing, but we'll just have to get on with it, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those ewes from Windy Hall!