Sky Blue Sport News

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!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Reunited Again

Well we are back after an enforced lay-off due to matters beyond our control. Omar, was taken suddenly ill last Friday, which meant we had no preview and no match report against the Coleraine scum. We foolishly thought seeing he was in the RVH, the premier hospital in these parts, he would be out by Monday at the latest. But alas and alack (whatever that means), he had to stay in until Thursday and we have come to the sad conclusion, if you're going to take ill, don't take ill at the weekend, when all the technical people are off, or you will have to be prepared to lie in a bed for a forgotten weekend.

United, on the other hand, United did very well without us, beating the scum last Saturday and eventually taking DC on Tuesday night, after extra time. As a result of that game, we have do without Sparky, who was sent-off and if rumours are to be believed, JT, but we don't know that for sure. The only one  sure of his place, seems to be hat-trick hero Cush or will Spike stick his tried and trusted method, of not changing a winning team and name his starting eleven against Coleraine. We think it would be a big gamble to take, but Spike has never been afraid to make the big decisions and we expect him to make the right choice tomorrow.

United fans will get their first look at their former player, Johnny Flynn, in a competitive game and he can expect some friendly banter we're sure, especially from Omar and the rest of the Sky Blue Sports team. It will be a hard game, made even harder by the choice of referee, Colin Burns, who needs no introduction to Sky Blue fans. We can expect no help from him and we had best be careful with the histrionics of Gormely and McDaid, two intrepid divers, which we know from old. If we have a clean bill of health and name the same team as that which started at the scum, then we have every chance, but its going to be tough. Come on Sky Blues, lets pluck those chickens, of Chickenville!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Young Glens!

The famous Glens come to Ballymena tomorrow, with a relatively young team, but United will do well to treat them with respect, or we could end up with egg on our collective faces, for the second weekend running. There's rumours abounding about our talisman Cush struggling to be fit and Cookie Munster is considered doubtful, but if these players are fit, we won't be surprised to see our manager, Spike, name an unchanged team.

He seems reluctant to make changes, even with a diabolic display like last week at Fermanagh. Were he to start and single out those players that didn't give their all, we think he'd be left with only four players, we played that bad. But he's at the  game long enough to realise the players didn't go out to have a bad game, but they forgot one of fundamentals, 'when you work hard, you get your just awards' and we didn't work hard as we could have.

The Sky Blue Sports team only hope that our heroes have learned a salutary lesson and one which they have filed away to be reminded of before the start of every game, the hard working ethic. Its a well known fact, that if you don't put your heart and soul into everything you do, the chances are that you'll get nothing out of it. Captain Jenks let us down last week (he wasn't the only one), but we expect more of him, he's played at a higher level, but his leadership was lacking.

Hopefully Fergie and the three baldies will have our boys up for the game tomorrow, they're playing for places in the team to face the scum next week, in the first derby game of this season and that should be incentive enough we think. We face another tough game tomorrow against a wily manager in, Eddie Patterson, who's seen it all and he will have his young team geared up for this, but we've got to be better. There will be no hiding place at the Showgrounds tomorrow, 'come on Sky Blues, lets shag those East Belfast sheep'!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Bad Ducks!

A wee man we know has a bad opinion of ducks, he says they're all bad and the only good duck is a dead duck. We're inclined to agree with him, being partial to a bit of duck pate and unfortunately you can't get pate off live ducks, at least as far as we know. United need to treat the ducks tomorrow as bad ducks and do them down (unintended pun) and claim the three points , for there's harder times coming with games against the big two, Blues, Glens, Chickenville and a trip to that stinkville ground, Coleraine, to play the scum.

We mean no disrespect to the Mallards, they're ten places below us in the league table, but any team, can beat any other team, on any given day in this league, but its a game we need to win. No doubt about it, its going to be hard, we expect nothing else from  the boys of Lakeland, but its a game we've got to take full points from, if this early season form is going to count for anything. As luck would have it, we have drawn a real short straw and Raymond 'dick-head' Crangle, has been appointed to referee the game.

United fans will need no reminding of what Dick is capable of, he can take a perfectly balanced game and turn it on its head with one or two daft decisions. There's no point in appealing to his better nature, he's hasn't  got one, he's just a plain awkward critter, in other words, a genuine dick-head. But United can do nothing about  that and we'll just have to work with his awkwardness and for the second away game in a row, we hope its not the referee that makes all the headlines.

We fervently hope that Cush and his lack of shots on Tuesday night, was just a blip on the horizon, for we need our talisman to be firing shots in willy nilly and unsettling the opposition in the process. With a near fully fit squad to choose from ( no news about Thommo and Alan D yet ), will Fergie be tempted to make any changes.? It might be a chance to rest Cookie and promote the fit again Kyley but we wouldn't try to second guess Spike. Its going to be a tough ask, but we can do it, come on Sky Blues, lets slay those bad ducks

Monday, September 01, 2014

Fergies Dilemma!

The sending of team Captain Alan Jenkins last Friday night, has left our manager, Fergie, with a bit of a selection problem. If Thommo has shaken his injury, sustained in league cup win last Monday against Newington, does he start him or new signing Brian McCaul (Mack), who doesn't have the benefit of a pre-season  fitness programme behind him. It would be fair to say that Mack looked a bit rusty last week against Newington, but as far as we know, he played for the reserves on Saturday.

Spike has another interesting selection to make, does he restore Kaner to rightback, or persevere with Marky, who made way for Kaner on Friday night. As avowed fans of Kaner's all-round action, the 'Sport crew would have Kaner starting every time he's available. Institute are reportedly playing well and they usually give a good account of themselves at the Showgrounds, so it will be a tough game. But we have to bounce back and Fergie could start virtually the same  team, with the exception of Captain Jenks.

Our talisman, Cush, missed numerous clear-cut chances on Friday night at Mourneview Park, we don't think he'll be so benevolent in front of goal tomorrow night. The referee, Keith Kennedy, is a new one to us, but we were so disappointed in Heth's performance on Friday, he really would  have to be blind, to have as biased a game as we witnessed at Lurgan. There's an old saying that goes: "when the going gets tough, the tough get going", we need to get going tomorrow night, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Derrymen!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Black'n Blue!

United go into this game against the Irish cup holders, brimming with confidence, as they sit proudly at the head of the Dankse Bank Premier table with 10 points from their four matches. Having played two teams from the bottom six of last season, Point and the Swifts and two teams from the top six last season, they now come up against another top six team in Glenavon. Games between these two are hard to predict, excepting the first game of the season in the last campaign, where Glenavon had the upper hand, they're are usually decided by the odd goal. Not always, if memory serves us correctly,  we seem to remember, back in the days before floodlighting, a 5 all draw.

But we think that will not be the scenario tomorrow night, its far likely to be a 2-1, or 3-2 scoreline and we will stick our neck out and say United will be victorious at the end of 90 minutes. With the news that Tippers is fit and the further news that Kyley has trained all week, we will be further boosted by the return of Tony Kane and new signing, Mack (McCaul). We at 'Sport haven't been worrying over Tippers fitness, sure we have another ready replacement in Darboy, if Tippers feels the slightest twinge. Will Spike forego his usual strategy and start Kyley, even though he hasn't at least had one reserve game under his belt. or has he, we don't honestly know and that's a fact.

It will be a tough game and we have a fairly good referee in charge in Raymond Hetherington, who likes to let the game flow, but he's not afraid to take action when needs be. A United win should leave them with at least a four point cushion, depending on the result of Coleraine/Ports game. also on Friday night, until the bulk of the teams play on Saturday. We aren't contemplating a draw or a defeat, we are only focused on the win, but maybe we will have to settle for a point, if so, then we have to live with that. Glenavon have plenty of firepower, in Bates, Bradley, Braniff and player-manager, Hamilton, but we have the players to nullify that, they will have stop our attack and no-ones been able to do that just  yet. We look forward to an interesting encounter, come on Sky Blues, lets shag those Mourneviwers!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Another Skin!

When United met QUB in the Irish cup semi-final last season, it looked like a 'banana skin' waiting to trip then up and United gave them the respect of fielding a full strength side and triumphed with enough to do. The same could be said for tomorrow night's opponents, Newington Y C, who United meet in the Wasp Solutions league cup, kick-off 19-45. A lot of people expect Spike to make wholesale changes, but we at 'Sport would caution him and remind of what happened last season, in this very round of the league cup, when Ballymoney United almost left him with a red face.

Tony Kane and Thommo, haven't kicked a ball in earnest this season before an outing with the reserves on Saturday, courtesy of a 3 match suspension for getting sent-off in the Irish cup final. So we at Sky Blue Sport, would expect them to play some part in the match, as well as Archie and Alan D. The game we suspect will come too soon for Kyley, but Sparky and possibly new signing Brian McCaul, hereafter known as Mack, could make the bench. This match is about winning, we don't care what system we use, just about the result, so come sky Blues, lets shag those paper tiger cubs!