Sky Blue Sport News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ducks Delight!

It's raining cats and dogs here, but its a nice night for the ducks, at least that's what they say anyway, only time will tell if the Mallards like it tomorrow. Fans connected with the Sky Blues, have been asking for an update on injured players, but it was always played down by management, so we at 'Sport were shocked this week, when our Sports Therapist (water and sponge man), Gordon McCartney, gave us just that. But immediately Omar's suspicions were aroused, might our management team be playing a 'double bluff', stranger things have happened.

Our manager Spike, has hinted that maybe JT and Steeky, could be added to the panel, but we need to see them back on the team. If the rain continues to fall, might Spike take a chance on Cookie, alongside Captain Jenks, therefore releasing Ruddy to cover at leftback, where we have a serious shortage. In the absence of Brian Mack, we expect Alan D to get a start, alongside Sparky and Thommo, with the barber and Darboy on the flanks and Tippers ploughing a lone furrow upfront, a position that he's not cut for, but needs must.

The Ducks had a good win at 'Stute last week and they'll be fairly confident of turning Ballymena over and getting a much needed confidence boost for the league cup semi-final, at their place in mid-December. We haven't a clue how we are going to win this one, with half of our squad decimated with injuries, but win it we must, as our next three games are tough by anyone's standard, so its mini-crunch time. We need full points tomorrow and we need to get a bit of confidence going, so come on Sky Blues, let's shag those Christmas Ducks!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wet Point!

According to Twitter, there's to be an inspection at ten am tomorrow at Milltown, Warrenpoint's ground. We've been assured by the powers that 'be' at the Point (two men sitting in a local bar), that the game will definitely go ahead and supporters needn't worry about about the game being postponed. But what team will Sky Blues manager, Spike, put out tomorrow, bearing in mind the huge injury list at Warden Street. Does he persevere with Captain Jenks at central defence or does he restore Mike Ruddy, that is if he recovers from a groin strain, picked up last Saturday.

Our talisman, Cush, has went through his operation on Thursday, to have a bone shaved on his knee, but it will be at least 6 weeks before he can return to the fray. In the absence of Ally, ankle injury, Spike only has one winger to select, Neal Gawley, who incidentally doubled his score tally against the Swifts on Tuesday night. Omar was speculating that Darboy was maybe being geared up to fill on the left in Cushley's absence, but our management team wouldn't say, when asked today. Does Spike take a chance and play Marky, therefore releasing Tony to midfield?

Sparky, whom we have been championing, had a poor game on Tuesday and as the Point are fighting to stay alive and preserve their senior status, we can't afford to carry any passengers. The same can be said for Thommo, he was less than impressive on Tuesday, but as Spike signed him, he'll probably play him. The rest of the team picks itself, with Dwayne, Cookie, Archie. Mack, Gawley, Captain Jenks and Tippers certain starters. We'll have to pack our bench with at least three reserve players and hope we don't have to delve too far into our depleted stocks.

Its promises to be a hard fought game, as already the Point are averaging a half point a game and they desperately need a win or at least a draw to stop the rot. This game for United, represents a chance to stop the slide, after five league defeats in a row, but we'll need to be up for it. The ref is Evan Boyce, not a name we're familiar with, but he can't be any worse than incompetents we had already this season. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we won't have a presence at this game. So come on Sky Blues, its time to stand up and be counted and lets shag those Rabbits!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cushley Blow!

As if United hadn't enough injuries worries on their plate, comes the devastating news that top scorer Cush, is due in hospital later in the week to have a bone scraped on his knee. We don't have a clue what that entails, do they have to open him up, or can it be done with key-hole surgery, which shortens the recovery time. Will Cush be fit to play tomorrow night, we ask? If not, we are having to dip into the reserves, for we reckon we have only have 14 fit men.

Out already are JT, Kyley, Ruddy, Ally, Gavin and maybe Cush, which leaves us with the bare bones. A lot of people are trying to second guess Spike, but we at 'Sport know from painful experience, he is his own man. Whatever players he picks and whatever formation he goes for, we at 'Sport would like to see have at least one ball-winner in midfield. But Spike seems to firmly believe that his centre-midfield pairing of Thommo and Captain Jenks, works.

We sadly think he is far mistaken and we have paid the penalty, losing five games in a row, with teams making inroads to our defence, because we lack defensive midfielders. We are urging him to get at least one ball-winner in his line-up tomorrow night, for our opponents, Dungannon, like to play football in midfield and we need to stop them. Otherwise we can kiss goodbye to our hopes of progressing to a semi-final in the league cup for a second season running.

We know it will be hard game, the Swifts league position, 11th place, has no bearing on the outcome of this game. Swifts manager Darren Murphy, will be emphasising to his team, the recent bad spell that United are going through at the minute and he'll have his team well up for the task in hand. We have to be prepared to fight 'fire' with 'fire', we need every player to be singing off the same hymn sheet and we need to return to our 'never say die' attitude that's been missing in the last month. COSB, you can do it, you owe us big time!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Rule Benders!

United take on the Coleraine scum at Warden Street tomorrow, safe in the knowledge that nothing has changed in the scum philosophy, they're still bending the rules. This latest episode, of the suspended Rory Harkin, who played last week although he shouldn't have played, is just typical of the scum, they thumb their noses at authority and get away with it time and time again. United have to ignore these shenanigans and not allow themselves to be distracted from the job in hand. Whether Rory Harkin plays tomorrow or doesn't play tomorrow, shouldn't concern us, we have enough trouble getting 16 fit men in our squad.

JT and Tony are suspended, but JT is not fit anyway, neither is Steeky or Gavin, so we have four near certain starters missing tomorrow's game, before we start to plan out tactics. The 'Sport crew would be in favour of a formation of ,5,4,1 but Fergie is liable to start with a 4,4,2, or a 4,1,4,1. We feel he has to bring back Marky, Archie and Sparky, but he's liable to start with Thommo and Jenks in midfield and we feel that's a recipe for disaster. In the absence of Gavin, we feel that Sparky has to start, to give us some bite in midfield, but Spike has his own ideas and he's stubborn.

He's thrown down the gauntlet to his players, saying that they are on trial, but that may work with some of them, but we think, that will not work with all of them. Best to pick a team that could get a result, it will not be pretty to watch, but we need to get our foundation right. Better to battle out a scoreless draw, than have a go and get thumped. But we have the players to snatch all three points, if we get the scum frustrated they will undoubtedly leave gaps at the back and we can exploit them, but if we are chasing the game, its going to tough.

Its a corporate dinner day tomorrow and we are assured of a bumper crowd in the main stand, the scum supporters will no doubt filter in at halftime, as their wont. But Sky Blues supporters need to get behind the team from the start, drowning the noise from the other side of the pitch and not letting up until the final whistle. Just a word about the whistler, it is our old friend, Heth, who hasn't refereed a game involving us since the ill-fated match at Lurgan, when he gave a corner that was a goal-kick, we hope he doesn't drop any clangers tomorrow v the scum.

Whatever selection, Spike and his management team come up with, we only can hope for one thing, that they play together as a team. This game means a lot to the fans of a Sky Blue persuasion, it's the one game that we want to win more than any other. We're not looking for a good football match, we just expect the players to put in a shift, if they do that and they come up short, we'll be disappointed no doubt, but we can live with that. But if they turn in a lack-lustre performance like we saw in our last two games, they can expect us to vent our wrath on them. So come on Sky Blues, lets shag those sheep from Windy Hall!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Oval N'out!

United go into this game tomorrow against the Glens, knowing that they're on the slippery slope to be doomed to a bottom six position when the final tally comes up at end of March 2015. Admittedly its early days yet, we haven't reached the halfway point, tomorrow's game is only our fifteenth, but its the attitude that typifies the way teams react to adversity. So far we aren't reacting very well and the manager isn't helping us with wholesale changes.

He had to change things, but we at 'Sport think he changed things too much. He only needed a change in tactics, but he went the whole hog and changed personnel and left us with no pace at the back and that was a recipe for disaster last Saturday against Glenavon. We are told that we have someone vetting the opposition for us at least a week before we play them. Did the vetter not say, 'better watch for Braniff' or did he think it was too obvious.

For whatever reason, we let him have the freedom of the park and he punished us heavily. Did the vetter not say 'don't let crosses come in', or again was that too obvious to mention. We got punished for letting crosses in., but on the plus side, they didn't score from any set-pieces, in truth they had no need to. Tomorrow we have to have a fresh attitude, it's not too late to arrest this decline, form is temporary and class is permanent, we badly need to show our class.

We have the players to do it in Tony, Cookie, Jenks, Cush, Ally and Tippers, six men that could step in to any team, but can they raise their game to get us a win tomorrow. At the time this is published we haven't a clue whether JT is fit enough to play, so we may have to soldier on with Kyley. Archie is definitely suspended after his harsh sending-off on Tuesday night, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Spike bring back Gawley and Cush.

Does Fergie persevere with Darboy, who could have sealed the tie at Chickenville in the 93rd minute with a bit of composure? We suspect yes he will give him every chance to rediscover his form against the Glens, a former team of Darboy's and the Coleraine scum next week, another former club. Surely Gavin and Captain Jenks will play and its a toss up between Ruddy and Steeky for the leftback spot. We know its a big ask, but would the 'real Sky Blues' turn-up and lets put these townies to the Sword COSB!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Sword n'Shield!

United need to keep one thought uppermost on their mind tomorrow night at Solitude, put them chickens of Chickenville, to the sword. Fergie has to admit he made a mistake on Saturday and restore Archie, Tony and JT, if he is available, to his starting line-up. We at 'Sport believe Darboy has to be given another start, its obvious Cush is not working as Tippers partner, Cush just does his own thing and he's better on the wing, where he can move freely, cutting inside if the notion takes him or going on a mazy run, not tied down to a position.

The 'Sports team are not and have never been, Captain Jenks fans, but we admit he's the best general we have in midfield, alongside that unsung hero, Gavin. Dwayne was ridiculed by United fans on forums about his clanger letting in Glenavon's third goal on Saturday, but we were already a beaten team and we had a few close shaves throughout the game from our back-passes, so Dwayne's is being made the scapegoat for bad play. Even in the years when you could pass to the keeper, it was a risky back-pass in our opinion and we'll need him tomorrow night.

Sparky, free from his suspension, should come in to the panel and if Cookie shows no ill effect from Bradley's blatant elbow, which only merited a yellow card from referee Marshall, he'll be a handy lad to have on the bench. The one dilemma for Spike should be who he selects at wing opposite Cush, Ally or the barber, Gawley. Its going to be a hard decision to make but if he picks Tony in defence, he has a perfect opportunity to go with Ally and not lose completely a long-throw specialist and we can't remember us ever scoring from one of them.

Chickenville manager, Tommy Breslin, hinted on Saturday Sportsound of giving his fringe players a run-out, but knowing Tommy of old, Spike, has to take no notice of such talk. Tommy made a fatal mistake three seasons ago and fielded a weakened team against United in a County Antrim Shield tie at the Showgrounds and subsequently lost that match and United went on to win the Shield that year to boot. So we expect Tommy to pick a decent team, maybe rest two or three players, but not make wholesale changes. So it's up to us, come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Chickens, the semi-final beckons,COSB!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Nitty Gritty!

After all these weeks of marking time, United have now reached the 'nitty gritty' as far as they are concerned anyway. It may not be the end of the world if they don't get three points tomorrow against a difficult Glenavon team, but we at 'Sport think United have to take 7 points from their next three league fixtures, not an impossible task, but one we think United should be capable of. Our manager Spike, has to make at least two changes to his starting line-up of last Saturday, JT is suspended following his sending-off last week at Portadown and Thommo is injured.

So will Spike reinstate Archie in defence, alongside Kyley, against probably the most feared attack in the local game or does he have somebody else in mind. Who will come in for the injured Thommo is another problem our manager has to solve? Will it be the available again Gavin, or does he restore Marky to rightback and promote Tony to midfield, decisions, decisions, who would be a football manager? It's not really a question that, we already know the answer, nearly every fan thinks he can do a better job than any manager, give or take a few.

The conditions could play a part in tomorrow's game, as its destined to be breezy, but its the same for both teams, so whoever adapts themselves to the conditions will have a say on who triumphs on the day. The ref is none other than Tim, 'nice bit dim,' Marshall, he's not the worst by a long chalk, but he is weak. In saying that he would be hard pressed to be as incompetent as the last three officials, we have had in our last three home games. So all we can hope for tomorrow, is no controversial decisions and a good sporting game, so come Sky Blues, lets shag those Lurgan Sheep!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tough Going!

We have just entered the second phase of games and already it's getting tough. But that's what we have a big panel of players for, when suspensions start to take their toll and when injuries start to mount up, the teams with the best panels reap the benefits. We have two players missing through suspensions ahead of  tomorrows game at Shamrock Park, against the Ports. Anyone of these two players, Sparky and Gavin, would be vying for a starting role alongside Captain Jenks, if Fergie was to change tack and play with at least one ball-winner in centre-midfield.

But we are afraid that there's every indication that Fergie will stick to his guns and persevere with Thommo and Captain Jenks as his chosen pair. It may pay dividends tomorrow, as by all accounts the Shamrock Park pitch will take a considerably amount of rain by kick-off time tomorrow afternoon and this fact will mean very little play at centre-midfield. But its a dangerous tactic and we at 'Sport would like to see at least one defensive man in midfield.

There are many permutations that Spike could use tomorrow, he could recall Marky and play Tony in midfield. He could push Archie up and play Kyley alongside JT, or he could play Ruddy in midfield. Spike inherited Captain Jenks from his predecessor, Roy Walker and one of the first things he did that summer was to recruit Thommo. Since then Jenks has become the backbone of our team and Thommo is struggling to keep up, but Spike will always pick him.

Ports will feel they owe us tomorrow as we gave them a football lesson at Showgrounds in August, forget about the 3-2 scoreline, it wasn't that close, but as usual we missed a bagful of chances to really punish them. But since then they pushed on and were leading the table last week until capitulating against Chickenville at Solitude. So they are a wounded animal and we best be careful, if we don't want a backlash. So come on Sky Blues, lets shag those apple-pickers!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Second Instalment!

We have had the starter (first eleven games) and now we start the next course. This next course could be called the main course and the next phase after that, could be the dessert. Then and only then, we'll find out if its going to be champagne or cold tea, hopefully the champagne. But there's a long way to go until we get to that stage. Tomorrow we face Dungannon Swifts, who used to have a 'Indian sign' over us, but not not anymore.

That doesn't mean its going to be easy for us, it never is against Darren Murphy's team and we expect a hard fought game, but we also expect to come away with all three points. Fergie will probably make a a few changes to the team who so narrowly lost to Linfield last Saturday. Tony, who came on as sub on Saturday, is expected to start and we won't be surprised to find out if Thommo is dropped in favour of Gavin or Sparky, who both start suspensions next Monday. Or knowing Spike, he may decide to allow the Thommo/Jenks partnership to continue, in centre midfield.

We at 'Sport, think this will be foolhardy in the extreme, as the Swifts, despite their lowly position in the league table, know how to knock about a bit. We had nobody at the Ballyclare game, but all reports and twitter, seemed to suggest that the Comrades carved our defence open at will and with a bit more composure in front of goal, could have stolen the game. we can't afford a repeat performance against the Swifts or we will be facing our third home league draw or worse still, a defeat.

The experts claim that football is a game of inches and that point was never better illustrated, than at Windsor Park last Saturday, when a Neal Gawley effort came off a post, with the home defence in tatters. On the other hand we had to rely on a linesman flag, for signalling that JT's header had crossed the goal-line early in the 2nd half. Hopefully we don't need such eagle-eyes officials tomorrow, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Chicken farmers!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Bonus Point(s)!

Cast your mind back to when these fixtures in the first instalment of the Premier league season were known and the last four fixtures would see us face Glens, scum,,Reds and Blues. To anybody that has studied  United's results over the last five years in these four fixtures, it doesn't make for a pleasant read. We haven't beaten the Glens or Reds at home, for a number of years, we have only two victories over the scum in the last 18 fixtures and we haven't beaten the Blues at Windsor in the league, since Kenny Shiels was manager. Admittedly we did beat the Blues in the cup last season, but that was different.

When  we at 'Sport looked at these four fixtures, we'd saw them, rightly or wrongly, as defining our season and reckoned if we could get 5 points from them, it would be a good return. Well United surprised us and got 5 points already in the bag and we have yet to play the fabled Blues at the newly furbishe3d Windsor Park. In truth it isn't newly furbished, they have only relaid the pitch and knocked down the home stand and as consequence, we will be housed in the Alex Russell stand (or the Spion Kop stand as its most familiarly known), with a jaundiced view of proceedings.

Any reader of our column will not be in any doubt of our collective abhorrence of being stuck behind the goals to watch a game. We are of the opinion that such grounds, should be banned from staging Irish Premier league matches, except on a temporary basis and said teams forced to play their games away from home if they don't comply with spectators requirements. But as usual the IFA and NIFL don't care about the fans, as they say, they are unimportant, they will be always be there. But enough about the conditions of spectators, how about the conditions of our players?

There is a rumour abounding about that much maligned man, Gavin Taggart, who was lambasted after United's last appearance at Windsor Park in the Irish cup final in May and now 5 months later is a hero who we couldn't do without, but he is rumoured to be  injured. We don't have any proof of Gavin's fitness, we are completely in the dark, but and we do emphasise the word 'but', if he is injured, we have a ready made replacement in Sparky. Sparky was missing last week, serving a one game suspension and he should be well rested and is a near carbon copy of Gavin.

There had been a lot of speculation of including Tony Kane, if Gavin's not available, but with Captain Jenks or Thommo in centre midfield, we feel that a battling tackler like Sparky, just fits the bill. The rest of our team just picks itself and the only decision left to Spike and the three baldies is who to select alongside Sparky or Gavin, if he's fit, Thommo or Captain Jenks? Jenks scored the equalising goal in last weeks amazing comeback against Chickenville. It will be hard luck on Thommo if he's dropped, but Captain Jenks did save our blushes, so its over to you Spike. So come on Sky Blues, lets give the Linfield scum a taste of their own medicine, let's shag those villagers!