Sky Blue Sport News

Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Time!

United face their old rivals the Coleraine scum, tomorrow night at the Showgrounds for the fourth time this season and so far we have tasted nothing but defeat and disappointment. By the law of averages (if such a thing exists), surely we are due a victory over them, but only if we are up for it.

The last match hinged on a blatant penalty appeal turned down for us and the scum broke and scored the winning goal when our concentration lapsed, a vital mistake. The ref tomorrow night KK (Keith Kennedy), is nearly nearly as bad as the ref on that occasion, Ross Dunlop. KK incidentally was the ref in United's last home game, who gave a penalty to Linfield, but it was a doubtful decision to say the least.

But we digress, the result is in our power, the ref we can't do anything about, but if we put in the effort, we should be good enough to get a result. JT, is still suspended so he won't be available for selection, but on the plus side, Tony and Captain Jimer, are available and our defence should be at full strength.

Will our manager stick with Buckets in goal, we want to know? He was less than impressive against the Ducks last time out, but Fergie turns a blind eye to all his clangers and they have been many. Its the last chance for the Sky Blues to pick up league points before they begin a series of six games, four of them against top teams that will take us up to the dreaded split.

Its a well known phrase that managers trot out continually, that they are no easy games in this league, for everybody is capable of beating any team. But they rarely do and the rich get richer and the poor, as Christ famously is reported to have said, are always with us and always will be, but we can change that, if we are truly United.

But it will take a supreme effort if we are to pull it off and so far this season we haven't shown the consistency to be able to pull it off. But we have got to start somewhere and against our greatest derby rivals will be the best time to begin. They're going through a bad patch and we must strive to make it worse for them, so lets shag those ewes from Windy hall!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Skeleton Squad!

The Sky Blues travel to Fernery Park tomorrow to face the Ducks, with a decimated squad, missing 4 players through suspension . In addition to Tony, sent off for allegedly bringing Smyth of Linfield down in the box last week, Captain Jimer, JT and Gavin are missing. As well as that, at least two players face fitness tests, so you see we are down to the bare bones.

In the absence of Tony and Jimer and Jimer's likely replacement, JT, it will be interesting to see who we play at rightback and alongside Paddy in central defence. Our manager Spike, could drop Jenks back to partner Paddy or if he thinks local lad Caolan Loughran, is fit enough, he could get his first senior outing since he signed in early January.

But if Owen Kane, hasn't recovered from the knee injury he suffered last week, Spike will maybe have to call up a reserve player to replace Tony, at rightback and if Willie's, not passed fit, he'll have another problem in midfield. But that's not all we have to worry about, with the weather people forecasting strong winds and wintry conditions, there may not be a game in the first place.

On the face of it that may not be a bad thing, for the two clubs have an idle Saturday on the first Saturday in February (next Saturday, Irish cup day), because they were both knocked out in the Irish cup 1st round. It would give our players who are struggling with injuries another week to heal, but on the minus side, Jenks, will be suspended then as well.

So the old saying rings true, 'it never rains but it pours' and The Sky Blues and we suspect the home team, will want this match to go ahead, if its humanly possible. The Ducks have been active in the transfer window and signed 5 players, the pick of them being Ivan Sproule, ex-Linfield and Stephen O'Flynn, who is on loan from the Crues, having signed a pre-contract with the Glens for next season.

It will be doubly tough for United, with at least four players missing, through suspension and Ducks striving to get the first win since the end of October. But the Sky Blues need the points just as much, if they are to keep their forlorn dream of getting into the fabled top six a reality, in short we can't afford to lose, but it will be mighty hard.

We at 'Sport think Spike, has to start Tippers and young Matty, in a 4,4,2, formation if he wants to take all three points, or play a 4,4,1,1, formation, if he wants to get a point, playing Cush, in behind either young Matty, or Tippers, with Darhen in reserve. Its going to be tough, but we got to dig in, so come on Sky Blues, lets pluck those Ducks!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Last Dance!

The sky Blues and Linfield/IFA meet for the fourth time in a month (or 35 days if you want to be precise), at the Showgrounds tomorrow, in a Dankse Premier league game. This will probably be the last meeting between the two sides this season, unless by some miracle we win all our games and the Glens and Ports go into free-fall and we sneak into the fabled top six, or get into the play-off for a European place.

So this is a crucial game for the Sky Blues, never mind playing the IFA's team, we will want to consolidate that hard won victory against the Rangers on Tuesday night and believe us, it was hard won. With the news of Darhen (Henderson), being placed on the transfer list at his own request, we fully expect Spike to say the same again or make maybe one change.

If Spike, reinstates Owen Kane, who missed out on Tuesday night with work commitments, its a toss up for who makes way for him, between Cush and Hanley. Tradition would seem to favour Cush, getting the nod, but he had a poor game on Tuesday night and he even had to step back and let Hanley take a free-kick, unheard of in Spike's reign.

But we think that does not herald a wind of change and expect to see Cush starting, whether up front or in midfield, it remains to be seen. But Spike could spring a surprise and let Stewart Nixon, loose to spice things up a bit, but we think again, it would be at the expense of Willie F, who missed a sitter against Carrick.

With the signing of Mike Smith (the 3rd), we have cover in left-side for a change, which is good news as Cush, is leaving at the end of the season, but we will miss his goals, in a big way. Its all systems go for another win over Linfield/IFA, who will do almost anything to stop us, as they have done in the past, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those village sheep!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Nothings Changed!

Nothings changed from our last preview on Friday night, we still want to see the real United stand up and be counted. We can still leapfrog the Ports, as long as they don't get any points from their trip to the warren (do you like the way we avoided that intentional pun)? We must congratulate the Point on their easy win over the Coleraine scum, the cracks are beginning to appear.

But enough about our dear friends down the A26, we have three points up for grabs when we play a rejuvenated Carrick Rangers side, that were unlucky to lose at Chickenville. So we must be on our guard, no slipshod defending and everyone singing from the same hymsheet, to use a saying that former manager Roy Walker, might have used.

But enough about nostalgia, we need to focus on the here and now, not in the past. To that respect the Shield will not be on display, that'll wait until Saturday. We haven't a clue to what team Spike will select, but we hope its a strong one. Carrick will be out to lower our colours, we must strive to not let that happen, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Loughshore Rats

Friday, January 15, 2016

Stand Up!

Its time for the real Sky Blues to stand up and be counted. Winning the County Antrim Shield was wonderful, but it didn't win us much money or prestige, but we could use it as a springboard, to spur us on to bigger and greater things. Like qualifying for the play-offs to decide who should get the 3rd European place in our league and we only got to finish in 7th place.

At the moment we sit in 8th place, two points adrift of 7th placed Portadown, with 15 games left to the end of the season. No need to panic just yet, but the sooner we consolidate 7th place the better. Tomorrow's opponents Carrick Rangers, are 9 points adrift of our lofty position, but they have 3 games in hand and proved last Tuesday night, that they're a match for any team.

But we already know that, after two draws, both in controversial circumstances, in the league so far this season. As luck would have it, we have the biggest obstacle to a fair game, in referee Raymond D H Crangle, taking charge tomorrow and we need to be on our guard for he usually is controversial to say the least.

Assuming nobody has suffered any injuries from Tuesday night's encounter at the National Stadium (Building site), we should have a near full panel to pick from. Our manager Spike, should be saddled with a selection headache of who to leave out, as JT is eligible (we think) and our manager has to decide whether he gets the nod or does Paddy Mac, keep his place.

It would be pretty harsh on Paddy Mac, if he gets dropped, for he marshalled Master Bates well on Tuesday night, but its 'horses for courses' and we think JT, could just get selected. That said if everyone is fit, we won't be surprised if Spike, selects the same team as started on Tuesday, he's that predictable,lol.

If the match is on with Jack Frost lurking about it, United could leap above Ports with a win, as their game with the Ducks fell foul of the weather tonight. Carrick, are no slouches and we will have to be on our game if we are take the three points on offer. But we have a match-winner in Cush, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag these Loughshore sheep!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Shield Glory!

There's only one way to describe tomorrow's final of the County Antrim Shield, a must win game for the Sky Blues. Having lost to tomorrow nights opponents Linfield, at the National Stadium on Saturday (which still resembles a building site), United must be forthright tomorrow night and win at all costs, for it is victory or nothing!

Our manager, as usual blamed his players for the defeat in extra-time, but at least he made one vital point that we at 'Sport have been preaching to anybody that will listen, 'we let too many crosses come in' and that's where we are punished. Linfield's two goals on Saturday came from crosses that we let in, end of story.

At the other end we got some crosses in ourselves, but we didn't make Linfield pay as much as we paid, only scoring one goal. With JT's, reckless challenge late on, our manager is left with a selection headache. Does he restore Paddy Mac, left out of late or bring new signing, Loughran in, if legible, or move the versatile Jenks, back to defence.

We at 'Sport think he has to go with an all-out attack, that means starting young Matty and Tippers, if fit or Darhen, its time our forwards stood up to the plate, they have been shirking for too long. If Tippers, is not fully fit, then surely he could play 45 mins and Darhen, take over at halftime or vice-versa.

But Fergie, will make up his own mind, he always does. He tried to hold Linfield on Saturday and it worked for the first-half, but when they scored, we had to attack them and they were hanging on, but we couldn't take advantage of the situation. Tomorrow night we need some different plan of action and something to rock the Linfield team back on their heels.

Cush, had a quiet game by his standards, but if he turns on the style tomorrow night we could be in for a treat, what a 'swan-song' that be for our talisman, whose leaving us at the end of season to get on the Crues gravy train and who could blame him, not us. But we think he would like to leave with fond memories and what better stage to do it than the National Stadium!

So its all systems go for a victory, nothing else will do. Whatever players Spike and his cohorts select will have the honour of winning the 'bin lid' for the second time in four seasons. Its not a major trophy it has to be said, but it is one that players like to win and we like to see them win it, so come Sky Blues, let's win it and light up the National Stadium in the process!

Friday, January 08, 2016

First Blood!

As United get ready for a double header at the National Stadium, tomorrow, it will be a case of 'first blood' to whoever comes out on top, for the fixture is played to a finish. Naturally we at 'Sport hope and pray that's its going to be our beloved Sky Blues, but its cup football and anything can happen and usually does.

We cannot ascertain who will be starting tomorrow, but one definite non-starter is on-loan central defender Gareth Rodger, who has gone back to his parent club St Johnston, as his loan period expireded. Sky Blue Sport, woukld like to wish Gareth good luck as he strives to gain a place in the St Johnston first-team squad.

Another missing player is the managers son Matthew, who serves a suspension for reaching 10 penalty points (five yellow cards). Who will replace Gareth Rodger at central defence is anybody's guess? We imagine that local boys Michael Smith ans Caolan Loughran, will be ineligible for this game, due to Smith being cup-tied and Caolan signed too late.

But what do we know, we won't be surprised if Caolan makes the bench tomorrow, but think it would be a massive gamble by Spike, to give him a starting role, if eligible. But managers get rewarded by taking risks and our defence is greatly in need of shoring up. We think this game will come too soon for Tippers to return and our 2 goal hero Jenks, will get the nod in the strikers role.

Who plays alongside him is up for debate, with opinions divided among the Sky Blue faithful, some say that Cush, will be rested as he is going to the Crues after the Shield decider next Tuesday and Crues don't want him cup-tied. Our manager, who is reported to be chasing Gary Twigg and Michael Gault of Portadown, has been silent so far.

But no smoke without fire, as they say, stranger things have happened and the Crues juggernaut, has certainly been stalled of late. The 'Sport crew is missing one also, as Sammy (Patterson), fights a severe chest infection, but he's hopeful of making the Shield decider next Tuesday, his company and wit are sorely missed by us all.

Have we another match-winner in our side, if Cush doesn't play we ask? Until last Saturday's game at Shamrock Park, we would have said no, but three players rose to the fore in Steeky, Thommo and Jenks. Their never-say-die attitude is what won us that game and we'll need more of the same tomorrow. So Come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Windsor sheep!

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Hope!

As we, the Sky Blue faithful, welcome 2016 in, are we filled with hope or down in the doldrums of yet more terrible defensive clangers, culminating in yet more defeats. United's record in the season so far, make for uncomfortable reading, played 22 games, have 22 points and have conceded 48 goals, a despicable defensive record.

In fact our beloved Sky Blues are conceding on average over two goals a game, but our leader Spike, has no plans to break into the transfer market to plug his leaky defence. In his defence (pardon our untended pun), our Omar, was talking to a United official (not the main man) and was told that Spike, had approached several players, but couldn't tempt them with the wages he was offering.

He had approached Crues about a possible loan, but this was now not a possibility, so you see we will have to soldier on, not helped by our penchant for letting crosses come in to our box, like David Cushley, did on Boxing Day, at Coleraine. We know David is not defensively minded, but it is a team game and we all have to man the pumps when the floods come.

It is no secret that we need defenders, but more so than that, we need leaders on the pitch that are going to whip us up into a team to be reckoned with. This will not be an easy task, but if we want to get out of this mess, we have got to get to grips with basic defending and a strong base when we are attacking, not the slip-shod devil-may-care attitude we have at present.

JT, should be back tomorrow and Rodger, playing his last game should slot in beside him, the rest of the team we figure to be on the usual lines. Its going to hard game tomorrow, but we have got to start somewhere and might as well be at Portadown and our old fried Heth, will be there to help us out, if we need him, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those apple pickers!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Crocodile Tears!

The Sky Blues face a new beginning tomorrow against the Coleraine scum, without their talisman Cushley. At least we at Sky Blue Sport, think he's history since he pulled on a Crues shirt and no crocodile tears from the Crusaders chairman and Cushley, will change that in our mind. Crues knew what they were doing when they pulled that stunt and David, is not so daft as he's pretending to be.

But we must call an end to this debate and seek a new hero, worthy of our admiration, maybe it will be the 'kick in the arse' some of our players need to wake them from their slumber. David, when not 100% fit and out of form, was getting selected above other players and maybe they weren't trying hard enough, for they knew he be playing every week and they'd be on the bench.

We're thinking of players like Darhen and Nathan Hanley here, but in an ironic twist of fate, Nathan could get his chance, if Ruddy's not fit and Steeky as well, in the leftback slot. The Sky Blues will have to make at least one other change to their defence as JT, serves a one-game suspension. With on-loan signing Rodger, fit again, Spike has to choose between him and Kyler.

But its in midfield where we are struggling at the moment, as we can't afford to play Thommo and Jenks in centre-midfield and Matthew Ferguson, is promising but we need someone with more bite in the tackle than him. Gavin, looks on paper to be the man, but he's bit short on game time, which could rule him out of a starting role, Spike, may prefer Owen or Tony Kane in that position.

Whether its alongside Jenks or Thommo, we can only guess, but surely he has to start young Matty and Darhen up front in place of Jenks, who struggled in that position against Linfield last week. But we suspect Spike, will stick with his former Captain and leave Darhen, on the bench or kicking his heels in the stand as he has done in the past and quite recently against the Crues.

Fergie, says he is going to add a few fringe players to his panel, Kyle Beggs and Stewart Nixon, are two who spring to mind, but we be astounded if one of them should start as Spike, likes to blood them first. But needs must as they say and it would give spectators a lift, to see Spike, spring a surprise on the diving bird and his team, who have been on a losing streak since the end of November.

Is Fergie, going to stick with old Buckets Blaney in nets, as he seems to have gone off the idea of one bad mistake and you're dropped, as he dropped Dwayne for misjudging the wind against Crues, which led to the Crues scoring. Buckets has made mistakes in 3 of the last 4 games and is still playing. Whatever keeper he decides should play, we need to graft and shag these scum sheep, COSB, get into them!

Friday, December 18, 2015

First Quarter!

The Sky Blues welcome the dark Blues of Linfield/IFA, to the Showgrounds tomorrow, the first game of a quartet of games in the next 5 weeks against the IFA team. The referee for this game, which usually is a passionate one, is none other than Tim 'nice but dim' Marshall, who is as weak as water if he has to make any major decisions and will always side with his employers if their is a doubt.

But United should know from past experience, that everything that you get from this fixture, needs to earned the hard way and our defenders need to be extra careful for Guy Bates, goes down easily where there is minimal contact and Tim won't be afraid to give the dark Blues a penalty, while ignoring brutal tackles at the other end, so we need to be on our guard.

Some United fans are of the opinion, we are on a hiding to nothing, but our manager Spike, says he is hell bent on pushing Ports or Glens, for that 7th place in the final league table, which is destined for a play-off spot to determine who accompanies, the Premier Champions, the runners-up and the Irish cup winners, into Europe next season.

By an ironic fact, we play the Coleraine scum in our next game, away on Boxing Day and Portadown away, on New Years Day and them two games coupled with tomorrows match, could go a long way in deciding our position in the league table come the end of this league campaign. So it is imperative that we give a good account of ourselves tomorrow and get a confidence boost for next the two holiday fixtures.

Linfield, by their standards are struggling and new manager David Healey, is struggling to make an impact in his first managerial post. That said the Blues will fight tooth and nail, for him and their own future, what with the transfer window coming up in January and Healey, having hinted that he will be active when the transfer window opens.

He has already asked for permission to speak to our talisman, Cush, who's out of contract in the summer, but we need Cush and the players to be focused on getting three points tomorrow. In the absence of Willie, out with a broken elbow, it should mean a start for somebody, like the Barber or Owen Kane, but we'll be dumbfounded if Spike selects Darhen.

The ex-Coleraine man, isn't flavour of the month and seems to be limited to a cameo performance as a sub, brought on with little time to make an impact. As usual we don't have any heads-up as to who is injured or if buckets Blaney, is going to continue in goals, where he has been less than impressive in the three games he has played in a row.

Its our gut feeling that Blaney, will get the nod over Dwayne, but maybe he will be on the bench, just in case he's needed. The rest of the team seems to pick itself and Spike, needs decide who is to play alongside JT (Paddy or Kyley), as JT is suspended for the Boxing Day encounter with the Coleraine scum. But its all systems go for tomorrow, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those IFA sheep!