Sky Blue Sport News

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fire Again!

Its fire again for the Sky Blues, as they visit the reigning champions, Crues. Just over a month has elapsed since United dumped the hatchet-men out of the County Antrim Shield with a 2-0 victory. The Crues, it has to be said, were especially subdued that Tuesday night, but their league form has been exhilarating to say the least and we must expect a sterner test tomorrow, with 3 league points up for grabs.

We at 'Sport expect Spike, to select almost the same team as last Saturday, providing young Matty, has recovered from injury, but he will have to find a replacement for the suspended Tony Kane. Maybe his namesake, Owen, will come into the reckoning or maybe the forgotten Nathan Hanley, will start against his former club, but we need at least one tackler in midfield to complement Thommo and Jenks.

Spike's 4,3,3, formation worked against Portadown and maybe it could work against the hatchet-men, who like to play 'hoof ball' and fight for secondary possession, on the narrow Seaview pitch. But we need everybody focused tomorrow, we can't afford to carry any passengers, as the Crues will punish our every mistake. Spike, in an interview today hinted that Maggers, could come into the reckoning, with his no-nonsense approach.

But we think the pace will be too lively for Maggers, better to use him as impact sub in the 2nd half, but Spike, knows best. We have another of the new breed of refs, Keith Kennedy, but it least he didn't disgrace himself as that Dick Head Crangle and his underling Ian McNabb, did on the BBC programme, 'Due North'. Maybe he's saving himself for tomorrow's game, but he can't be any worse that last weeks whistler, Heth, for he was the pits.

The forecast is for gales and rain, but the artificial turf at Seaview should be alright for playing on, whatever the weather. The Crues have an edge, but if we can defend (chance would be a fine thing) and get a bit of luck, we maybe could cause an upset, but it would take an enormous effort on our  players parts. But its not over to the 'fat lady sings' and Crues have just the fat lady in Ogre, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Paper Tigers!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Seventh Heaven!

Will be seventh heaven for United after tomorrows game, when a win over the Ports, would see the Sky Blues leapfrog them and move up to seventh place in the league standings. It will be a tall order, for the Ports, came from two goals down last Saturday and claimed all three points and that must have done their confidence some good. Games between United and the Ports, are usually close run affairs and we won't be surprised if tomorrows match goes the same way.

They're either close run affairs, or one team heavily scores, like Ports, did in the Irish cup semi-final last season or that United did to them in the league cup two seasons ago, but in all honesty we can't see that happening in tomorrows game.  It may well come down to who takes their chances and Ports have two formidable strikers in Murray and Twigg. But United are no slouches in that department also, as we have Cush and the veteran Tippers and they both should start tomorrow's game.

It will be interesting to see if young Matty, gets the vote too, he should be rested after his trip to Russia, as he only got less than half an hour, on Wednesday night. Spike, in an interview today, hinted that maybe he could bring JT into his starting line-up and Steeky as well, but we think he will stick by Ruddy and leave Steeky, for back-up. But what do we know, we never try to second guess our Fergie, but he has a choice to make in midfield.

We had been crying out for the Barber, to be given a run out, but he flopped on Wednesday night and he may find himself on bench or in the reserves. The same could be said for the two Kane's, Owen and Tony. Then there is the enigma that is Willie Faulkner, who Spike, seems to rate, but he flatters to deceive as far as we are concerned. Maggers, playing up front, was not an unqualified success, but his shot late in the game, offered us some hope in the dying mins on Wednesday.

But we expect Spike, to go for a midfield of Tony, Owen, Jenks and Cush, with Tippers and  Matty up front. JT, could come into the back four, at the expense of Rodger or Kyley, both of whom were poor on Wednesday, but we think he has to pick one of the two of them and we would go for Kyley. We just maybe have put the 'kiss of death' on Kyley, but we hope not. It could come down to who wants it most tomorrow, so come Sky Blues, lets shag those apple pickers!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Scrubbing Brushes!

It had to happen sooner or later, the call has gone out to the Sky Blues to arm themselves with mythical scrubbing brushes', for there's a dirty scum coming to the Showgrounds tomorrow night and it has to be removed. We're not talking about the referee here, Raymond D H Crangle, although he's as  scummy as they come, were talking about the Coleraine scum and it is our task to cleanse them and send them home dejected.

Its not going to be easy, scum have habit of getting deep-rooted and we need get stuck in from the start and we have got to cleanse them early and guard against them getting a foothold in the game. Our task is not made any easier, by the fact our leading scorer, Cush, has to serve a one match suspension and fellow striker, young Matty, is just back from Russia with the Norn Iron under-19 squad and our manager needs to assess if he has the energy to fulfil a worthwhile role in our panel.

We'll be surprised if young Matty, makes the starting line-up, but that decision is down to our manager and his backroom staff. In the absence of a recognised striker, with Tippers also suspended and Darhen, out of favour, Jenks, will probably be our lone striker. The rest of the team,  bar the suspended Cush, will probably be on the usual lines, with possibly Leroy, getting a start in a 5 man midfield.

The weather people are predicting gales and sporadic rain, so it will be whoever wants it most and there's no doubt United, are the experienced team when it comes to knock-out football, but in saying that the Coleraine scum are the form team this season so far. But there's an old saying, 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall' and we just hope United can plot the scum's downfall tomorrow night. So come on Sky Blues, lets shag these ewes from Windy Hall!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cup Final!

We at Sky Blue Sport, think United should approach this game like a cup final. If we lose, we will slip further behind the elusive 7th spot, which guarantees entry into the play-off for our league's third Euro place and we want to be involved in that surely, its our one realistic aim. Our manager was at pains to say we had a fully fit squad and we think this includes striker Tippers. If Tippers is fit, he should be brought into the starting line-up for we will need his guile and cunning tomorrow.

Young Matty, is unavailable as he is in Russia with the Norn Iron undr-19 squad and we will have a need of a proven goal-scorer, to back up our talisman and leading scorer, Cush. Tippers, doesn't entirely fit the bill, but he's all we have got, in the absence of young Matty and Darhen, who's completely out of favour, only 5 appearances so far this term. The experiment of playing Jenks, up front has shot its bolt as far as we are concerned, but Spike, may think otherwise.

We were crying out for a bit of width last Saturday, but Spike's sub, when he took Faulkner off, was like for like, as he brought on Thommo. We are not saying Thommo, didn't play well when he came on, in truth he was our best player in midfield, but we thought we were crying out for a wide player, to get round the back of the Glens defence and maybe carve an opening, instead of the usual crosses from deep, which the Glens defence dealt capably with.

Our opponents tomorrow the Ducks, are usually well organised in defence and like to get the ball down and play. As their keeper, Alvin Rouse, was sent-off last week, we could face their second-string keeper and we will be looking for Cush, to test him early on in the game, if he has his shooting boots on, you never know with Cush. But he is if nothing unpredictable and that's why we love him, he is a real match-winner and a wholehearted player to boot.

The weather forecast is not looking too promising and maybe the weather will play a part in the result of this game, it could be survival of the fittest. Unfortunately we will not have a presence at this game, as our Sammy, who was due to drive has been told, in no uncertain circumstances, he has to stay at home and Omar's not confident about driving so far. We will not be there in body, but we will be there in spirit, so come Sky Blues, lets shag these Ducks!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Double Vision!

We don't really why our manager, Spike, selected the same personnel to do duty on the ploughed field, that is laughingly called the Loughshore Arena, as overwhelmed the Crues, on their artificial (3G), surface, but he did. It nearly worked, but with United leading 2-0 with less than 20 mins to go, ref Ian McNabb, pulled United central defender Kyley, for winning a header. The ref has a different explanation, but its all a load of nonsense.

In saying that, the ghost foul, was no reason to excuse our defenders and goalie, for not lining up the defensive wall properly and allowing S. Kane, room to squeeze his free-kick round the so called defensive wall and into the net, leaving our keeper Dwayne, stranded. Worse was to follow, when Carrick were allowed to cross a ball and Dwayne decided to punch and it dropped invitingly and Carrick scored an equaliser.

We had nothing left, as we lost the toss and were playing up the slope in the second half and believe me that surface takes the stamina out of you. Our own pitch at the Showgrounds, could cut up tomorrow, if we get all the rain that's forecast, so it could be another slog tomorrow against the Glens. Our former manager, Kenny Shiels, turned down an offer to be the next Glens manager and Fergie will have to pit his wits against another Linfield legend, in Roy Coyle.

Coyler, has taken temporary charge of the Glens team since they sacked their manager Eddie Patterson, a few weeks ago. Coyler, is a wily old fox and Spike, will underestimate at his peril. He will use every trick in the book and he will want to win at all costs and give the new manager whoever that proves to be, something to build on. As usual, we haven't a clue as to team selection and who is fit and who's not fit.

But we will be surprised, if Tippers and young Matty, are not playing and Jenks has not returned to midfield. It will be interesting to see, who gets the remaining midfield slots. Cush, seems a certain starter and that leaves Faulkner, Tony and Gavin fighting for the reaming two places. We figure the ground will be too heavy for the Barber and he flopped at Carrick last Saturday anyway. Will Spike start with the same defence or will he tweak them a little, it remains to be seen.

Its not known if on-loan central defender Gareth Rodger, is fit again, but if he is he might get the nod at central defence to partner JT or Kyley, Mike Ruddy, was the pick of our defenders at Carrick and it will be surprising if he does not retain his place in the team. If everybody's fit, we should be able to match the Glens, in work-rate, but they will punish our every mistake. We have to be focused from the start tomorrow, no sluggishness, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag these wise men from the East!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Old Friends!

Hows that old Jim Reeves song go, 'old friends, can't hold a candle to you' and the Sky Blue Sport's crew, hope United supporters will be singing this song about their beloved Sky Blues come 5 o'clock tomorrow. Well we took a liberty with the words, its 'flames' not friends, so we hope you'll forgive us  our deliberate mistake. The Friends in question are two former United players, the play anywhere, Mark Sparky Surgenor and Rangers manager, our beloved ex-Captain Gary Haveron.

Gazza has worked miracles at Carrick since he took over and will be out to put one over us, as he strives to get his team further up the table and safe from relegation. With only ten points from 13 games so far, Gazza, knows that will take more than three times that amount of points to make his team safe from automatic relegation. With only 4 points separating the two sides, United in 9th and Carrick in 10th, this game could be already described as a six-point game.

The draw for the semi-finals of the Toals County Antrim Shield, takes place tomorrow at half-five and could pit the two sides against each other for another match in early December. Therefore, whoever wins tomorrows tie will gain the upper hand so to speak, with that game in mind, but as we well know in cup football, form counts for nothing. Will Fergie bring the suspended Tippers and young Matty, who was rested on Tuesday night, back into his starting line-up, that is the 64$ question?

Who makes way for them if he decides they should play, is another question, but Spike, is not afraid to make the tough decisions when he feels he needs to. According to reports the Taylor's Avenue pitch is not conductive to good football, but we believe that is the same for both teams and whoever wants it the most, will surely claim the 3 points. But the game, like that at the Showgrounds at end of August could finish with the points shared.

United have a mini run going, only two games we know, but big trees from little acorns grow and we could be seeing the start of a run of games and boy do we need them. Carrick and manager Gazza, will be out to stop us in our tracks and we will have to be prepared to battle them into submission. There's danger-men on the Carrick team, but we have our own danger-men in Tippers, Matty and Cush and we just hope we don't get any penalties to miss. So come On Sky Blues, lets shag those Carrick sheep!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Battle Lines!

There's no getting away from the fact that it will be a battle tomorrow night, in the Toals County Antrim Shield, quarter-final, against the hatchet men at Seaview. Having lost to Institute, in the JBE league cup earlier this month, we expect Mister Ugly (Crues manager Stephen Baxter), to select a strong side and we will have to ready for a pitched battle. But if everybody plays like they mean business, we could spring a surprise on the reigning NIPL Champions.

But it will be a tall order, made especially tough by the sending-off of United's top scorer, Tippers, last Saturday, which means he'll have to sit out this game, due to his automatic one game ban. Will it mean a recall for Darhen, or has Spike, got something else in mind, like resting young Matty, promoting Maggers and bringing back the Barber.  Maggers, is little short of pace, but he makes up for it with his incisive passing and football brain.

So in fact Spike, could go with no recognised striker as such and depend on Cush and Co, to exert pressure as they see fit. But he's far more likely, to go with a 4,3,3, formation, which maybe will suit the narrow Seaview pitch. According to the weather forecast, we can expect blustery conditions and heavy rain, so we can expect plenty of hoof ball from the Crues, but nothing new there. Its going to be hard going, but if we want it bad enough, we have a chance, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Seaview sheep!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Swift Justice!

Reportedly the United board, have swiftly banned two troublemakers from attending United games. We at 'Sport think that's swift justice, if indeed the two lads were abusing players relatives, we have no time for that, but we think we need to hear their side of the story. At tomorrows opponents ground, Stangmore Park, our own Omar, got on the wrong side of a relative (Mother), of a player and had to eat humble pie and learnt a valuable lesson and then some

If you know there are relatives sitting or standing in your vicinity, better to sing dumb than start an unsavoury rumpus or get anyone's back-up. But in the heat of the moment its easy to say something that you later regret or somebody takes it personal or mishears which happens too often, when we use our Ballymena, tongue. Roy McCreadie, Newry manager, thought we were saying something altogether different when we called him  a 'thieving love-child'.

But enough about our troubles off the pitch, we need to get back to winning ways on the pitch and we need to start taking our chances. Stephen Alexander, of the Ballymena Times, reckons that Glenavon  goalkeeper Tuffey's penalty save from Cush was the best he has ever seen. But we at 'Sport watched it on TV and Tuffey, was halfway across his goal before Cush, struck the spot kick, but D H Crangle was never going to order the kick to be taken again.

United should have come home with the points and Cush, should have come home with the match ball, never mind the penalty save. But Cush, in all fairness to him is not a recognised striker, he's a midfielder that scores goals and as such needs to be watched closely, but alas not last Saturday. Young Matty, was a shadow of himself too and he needs to get back to doing what he's good at, tying defenders up in knots and putting the ball in the net.

As usual we don't have a clue as to our line-up, but won't be surprised if Fergie, picks the same team as last Saturday, if everyone's fit. That means that we will have a passenger in our team in Willie Faulkner, who in our opinion brings nothing to the team. Lets hope he makes us eat our words tomorrow and is the star of the show, but we will be very surprised. So come on Sky Blues, get your shooting boots on tomorrow and send those Chicken stuffers away empty handed!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crangle Rangle!

It had to happen after 11 league games and 3 knock-out games, we drew the short straw and got Raymond D.H. Crangle, to referee the game at Lurgan tomorrow. Who can forget his disgraceful performance at the two major cup-finals involving United, sending off Thommo for a waist high challenge at  the 2014 Irish cup final against tomorrow's opponents and denying United a cast iron penalty in last season's League cup final against Chickenville, when the score was 2-2.

But we can't do anything about that, the IFA has taken it out of our hands, so to speak and we'll just have to get on with it. With Tony and Mike (Ruddy), returning from suspension our manager Spike, should have a full panel to select from. Will he be tempted to go with height, picking Kyley, who has been filling in at rightback for a game and a half, to combat Glenavon's aerial challenge or has he worked on some other ploy in training or just trusting to luck as ever?

These and other questions will be answered come ten to five tomorrow afternoon. All reports seem to suggest we rode our luck at Limavady, but we beat them and are in the next round, more than can be said about tomorrows opponents. With a lot of fallers on last Wednesday night, we are just two wins away for a potentially money-spinner this season again. But its league points we crave even more and we haven't tasted victory at Lurgan for 3 seasons, so tomorrow we  got to be up for the tie.

Matty, who came on for the last quarter at Limavady, should start tomorrow and its not known if Tippers, was just rested on Wednesday or if he's injured. But if he's fit, he could get the nod to partner Matty, therefore releasing Cush to wide left. Spike, seems to be trying Thommo and Jenks as his central midfield pairing but we at 'Sport and a fair number of Sky Blue fans, think this partnership is vulnerable to pace and Glenavaon, have got loads of pace.

The rest of the team more or less picks itself, if Spike, tends to go with old back-four, of Captain Jimer, Ruddy, JT and Rodger, Kyley will drop down to the bench. That only leaves right-midfield where the choices are, Tony, Faulkner and the Barber. We would pick Tony or the Barber for their long throw-ins and dead-ball kicking. But on the other hand Faulkner, gives us a striking option that's not be discounted, so come Sky Blues, lets shag these Mourneviewers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Roe Woe!

The Sky Blues travel to the Roe valley tomorrow night, to take on Championship 2 side, Limavady United in a JBE league cup 3rd round game. This game couldn't have come at a worse time for the sorry Sky Blues, who just lost by a narrow margin at Portadown on Saturday past and had a man sent-off for the fourth time this season. A sending-off which leaves them struggling for fullbacks, with two, Ruddy and Tony, suspended and one, veteran Steeky, injured and looking doubtful.

Our manager, Spike, was at pains at the club AGM, to explain that he had cover for every position, but even he could not envisaged this scenario. His versatile Capitan Jimer, has a-play-anywhere attitude, but in the absence of Tony, we think Spike, would want Jimer at righback. If Craig Gardiner is still on our books, he could come into the reckoning but if not, maybe Cush could drop back, we're clutching at straws here, aren't we?

Nathan Handley, who was signed with the intention of using his versatility, had an operation last week and can be ruled out for the foreseeable future. We suppose Fergie, could draft Paddy Mac into the team and Rodger could play at leftback, but it would be risky to say the least, as Paddy's confidence is shot to pieces and that's a fact. Young Matty, is available for selection, but will Glenn, choose to rest him and leave him fresh for this Saturday?

We got to the final of this competition last season and if we can see off Limavady, they'll be every reason to hope that a second final in a row is a distinct possibility. But its going to a tough ask and no doubt they will be up for it, they usually are and its going to be no match for the faint-hearted. We expect plenty of hard tackles, but with a fair ref, we can mix it with the best of them. Unfortunately, it looks likely we wont be there, Omar is indisposed, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag these Roesiders!