Sky Blue Sport News

Monday, March 07, 2016

Last Post

It with sadness that I write this last post for Sky Blue Sport, for with the appointment of the bigot David Jeffrey, as manager of our beloved Sky Blues, I feel I can longer go along to our games, secretly hoping that our manager falls flat on his face. You see I can never forgive FDJ, of accusing our fans wrongly of sectarian abuse of his players.

The IFA, for a change, found in our favour, but FDJ, has never apologised for that outburst. Of course the faceless men on our board, don't really care about this, after all it wasn't them that were accused, it was the rank and file fans and their feelings don't matter. After following the Sky Blues for 60 plus years, the penny has finally dropped for me.

As I've said many times, the money men, Norman McBurney and Davy Blair, wield the real power in our boardroom and Norman's preferred manager to succeed Spike, was FDJ. I realise that honesty in football has gone, but I respect a man that says he has made a mistake, but FDJ thinks he is infallible and was justified in making false accusations about our fans.

I don't care if Kevin Kelbie, had anything to do with his marriage break-up, that is a matter for speculation and I think our fans carried on with these rumours for too long, but it was their only recourse as FDJ, never apologised for his lies about our fans. Maybe I'm a bitter and twisted old man, but I feel I can hold my head up and say I have my principles.

I would like to wish the club all the best, but in all honesty I can't find in my heart to do that. Suffice to say it has been a roller-coaster ride, following the Sky Blues through thick and thin, mostly thin, but I don't think I will miss it. I definitely won't miss the near 60 miles round trip for midweek home games.

I won't miss the heartless displays like I sat through 10 days ago, when the Swifts beat us 4-2, my last game as a Sky Blue fan. I won't miss the Coleraine scum beating us on four occasions this season and the alleged trouble after these games. The say its only a rat, that deserts a sinking ship, maybe I am that rat, good night friends or friend, as the case may be!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Battle Stations!

No, we don't think the title of this weeks preview is over the top! This is a game that the Sky Blues can't afford to lose. If we lose it, then the Swifts would leapfrog over us in the league table and worse still we'd be in the throes of a losing run that we seem incapable of getting out of. Our management team seem to think that restoring Cush, to the team will be the solution to our problems.

No doubt about it if Cush, is on his game, he could win the points on his own, but we suspect his hearts not in it anymore and we need him on top form. Its understandable that Cush, is only going through the motions, we are in a dogfight involving four other teams who are fighting tooth and nail to avoid relegation and we can expect a tough game tomorrow, with no quarter ask or given.

With that in mind we at 'Sport were hoping for a strong referee, alas we lucked out there when the IFA selected Tim 'nice but dim' Marshall, who is as weak as water when it comes to contentious decisions. There's sure to be some tasty tackles and players trying to influence the ref, which is very easy with Tim in charge.

But the Sky Blues, have to be prepared for that and not afraid to fight fire with fire if need be. If Paddy Mac is not fit, will Spike (or Doc, who seems to be in charge), call back JT, as Kyley, is not the answer, as shown last week at the Oval. Surely Buckets Blayney, has to be dropped as he was his fumbling self last week and we need a keeper we can rely on.

We urged Spike, to play two recognised strikers last week, but he didn't take our advice and continued to play Jenks, out of position, which just isn't working. After losing four league games in a row, scoring only two goals in that spell, surely it doesn't take a genius to work out that the system needs to be changed and changed quickly.

When ref Tim blows his whistle tomorrow at 3 pm, it will signal 'battle stations' and we'd better be prepared for it, otherwise the Championship beckons for us, make no mistake about that. But if in the other hand, our players are prepared to lay their collective bodies on the line, who knows what we might achieve. So come Sky Blues, lets shag these Tyrone Chickens!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Eight Days!

Its still only 8 days since our heroes turned in that despicable performance against the Coleraine scum and the hurt is still there. But the good news is, we welcome back Sammy Patterson, into the Sky Blue Sport fold for the first time since we succumbed to the scum on Boxing Day. Sammy, missed our victory over Ports, Carrick, our exit from the Irish cup and our Shield triumph through illness.

But he is back and raring to go and see if he can cheer United to victory over the East Belfast Glens. The Glens should be cock-a-hoop after their victory at Lurgan, but we're sure it is tempered by the rumour that the bookies got a cleaning, paying out to a victory to the Glens by two clear goals.

United should welcome back JT and Nathan Hanley, free from suspension, but will Spike, get JT to shore up our leaky defence, which has been breached 10 times in the league, in his absence. The one selection that United fans want to see, is Dwayne Nelson, back in goals as Buckets, is continuing in his slip-shod fashion.

It will be a tough game at the Oval tomorrow, but its only the start of eleven tough games to the end of this season and we have got to be up for them all. We have got to get a result tomorrow if we are to have any chance of a top six place after Easter Tuesday, or seventh place in the league, come the end of the season.

Will Spike, be bold and start with two strikers upfront, or will he go with the formation which just lost in us three league games in a row. Jenks, tries hard but he's not a striker, he's better in midfield with Gavin, beside him (or Tony) and leave the striking to the strikers. So come Sky Blues, lets get back to winning ways and shag those wise men from the East!

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!