Tag Archives: battle

Peter Crouch seen with black eye while out with Abbey Clancy

Where did you get that shiner, Crouch Stoke striker spotted with black eye after ending goal drought

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

15:56 GMT, 23 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:31 GMT, 23 April 2013

Having returned to his previous club last weekend, it looks like Peter Crouch may have picked up a few battle scars to get back to scoring ways.

The Stoke striker netted just his second goal since September when he struck at relegation threatened QPR on Saturday, but he has since emerged with a mystery black eye.

Eyesore: Peter Crouch leaves Liverpool Dental Spa with daughter, Sophia

Eyesore: Peter Crouch leaves Liverpool Dental Spa with daughter, Sophia

Eyesore: Peter Crouch leaves Liverpool Dental Spa with daughter, Sophia

The former England international was seen leaving Liverpool Dental Spa today with his wife Abbey Clancy, who is a regular, and daughter Sophia where the bruise underneath his right eye was clear to see.

Having started the season with five goals from his first seven games, Crouch’s season has tailed off, with his only goal before Saturday coming in a 2-2 draw with Wigan in January.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis had backed the former Tottenham hitman to rediscover his scoring touch, as he said before the QPR game: There's been a while, especially after his injury, where Peter has not performed to the level he was at before.

Eyesore: Peter Crouch leaves Liverpool Dental Spa with daughter, Sophia

Eyesore: Peter Crouch leaves Liverpool Dental Spa with daughter, Sophia

‘He had a good start to the season and looked a real handful. Hopefully he will be back to what he was in the next five games.’

Crouch came off with a minute to go at QPR but should be in line to face Norwich at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Battle scar: Peter Crouch celebrates scoring at QPR last Saturday

Battle scar: Peter Crouch celebrates scoring at QPR last Saturday

Stoke, Norwich and Newcastle must hold their nerve to stay in the Premier League – Martin Keown

The bootroom: Survival It's all about nerve now… and Stoke, Norwich and Newcastle must keep theirs

By
Martin Keown

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 5 April 2013

Taking it easy: Jocky Wilson relaxes away from the pressures of the oche

Taking it easy: Jocky Wilson relaxes away from the pressures of the oche

The late, great darts legend Jocky Wilson used to recount how pressure could reach out and grab him by the throat. Once that happened, he could do nothing.

Stoke, Norwich and Newcastle must make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen to them this weekend.

They are the teams in 13th, 14th and 15th places in the Barclays Premier League, just a few points above the drop zone and all with very winnable home games this weekend.

Stoke, with one win in 12, are at home to Aston Villa. Norwich have won one in 14 and face out-of-sorts Swansea. Newcastle, after returning from Lisbon, hope a fourth successive home win — against Fulham — can pull them clear of danger.

It’s easy to look at those sides and say they’ll be fine but why should they be The bottom of the table is as close as I can remember and if you are one of those teams, you will be nervous.

All these teams are probably a win away from safety. If you can put daylight between you and the bottom three quickly, it’s fine. If you don’t, that win you need becomes harder to come by.

This weekend, Stoke manager Tony Pulis, Chris Hughton at Norwich and Alan Pardew at Newcastle will have pencilled in must-win matches. Of their respective opponents, Villa are deep in trouble, Swansea have lost three in a row while Fulham are safe and have little to play for.

Where it went wrong

Such is Villa’s and Wigan’s fighting spirit that they are pulling the teams above them into the relegation battle. They worried Sunderland so much that they sacked Martin O’Neill. But all the teams up to and including Southampton will be a bit nervous.

Stoke, more than anyone, might have the outcome of the relegation battle in their hands. After Villa, they play Norwich, QPR, Sunderland and Southampton before the end of the season. Last week against Everton they were poor, Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome especially.

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

Out of sorts: Stoke lost at Everton last weekend (above), while Newcastle were thumped by Manchester City (below left) and Norwich were beaten by Wigan (below right)

It doesn’t look like Stoke’s players are responding to Pulis as much as they used to and they have failed to evolve as a team. Their passing and style should be better after so many years in the Premier League. And there is the added uncertainty over Pulis’s future, which cannot be helping the players. I didn’t like hearing him talk this week about how many points will be needed to stay up. The focus should be on improving the team, not counting the points and fixtures.

We did that when I was relegated with Aston Villa and it cost us. You must not become obsessed with each and every scenario.

But Pulis is a fighter and has done remarkably well at that club overall. I’m confident he’ll keep them up, even if they have regressed this season.

Score

Norwich hardly concede but they hardly score either. And after losing at Wigan last weekend, the pressure is on a little bit. When you lose to a team below you, it can give you the impression that they are better than you. It will not have inspired confidence. Three wins on the trot against Swansea will give them some belief that they can claim three vital points.

For Stoke and Norwich, staying up is their main aim. Anything after that is a bonus. For Newcastle it is slightly different, although people are realising now just how much they overachieved last season.
The Europa League has not helped them but they haven’t won a trophy for 44 years so they need to take it seriously. It’s just vital that their league form doesn’t dip any more or the situation will snowball.

Table

Boot room

Boot room

Steve Clarke and West Brom staff play powerchair football

It's West Brom's worst performance of the season… Clarke and Co were 'hopeless' against the Baggies' Powerchair team

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

16:54 GMT, 4 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:48 GMT, 4 April 2013

West Brom manager Steve Clarke might have exceeded expectations in his first season in charge, but that was before he came up against his toughest opponents yet – the club's Powerchair Team.

Sporting Club Albion, run by the Midlands side's Albion Foundation, will take their place in EPFA Power Championships League, Powerchair's equivalent of the Champions League, in Paris this summer.

Powerchair football is for people with disabilities, who use powered wheelchairs, a regulation-size basketball court with goals, and a 13-inch ball.

We were hopeless: Steve Clarke admitted Powerchair football is harder than it looks, with him and his West Brom backroom staff taking on the club's Powerchair side

We were hopeless: Steve Clarke admitted Powerchair football is harder than it looks, with him and his West Brom backroom staff taking on the club's Powerchair side

Clarke

Powerchair

European adventure: Sporting Club Albion, with captain Chris Gordon shaking Clarke's hand, will compete in the EPFA Power Championships League this summer - the equivalent of the Champions League

European adventure: Sporting Club Albion, with captain Chris Gordon shaking Clarke's hand, will compete in the EPFA Power Championships League this summer – the equivalent of the Champions League

To warm up, they took on Clarke and his backroom staff, who have led Albion to eighth in the Barclays Premier League, in a game of Powerchair football.

Held at the club's Barclays Spaces 4 Sport Community Sports Hall, Clarke, his assistants Kevin Keen and Keith Downing, as well as goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely, took on the Powerchair side – with Keen seeing red for a professional foul.

Baggies boss Clarke admitted the sport was far tougher than it looked, saying his side were hopeless.

Inspire: Sporting Club Albion gave Clarke and Co a difficult time in their Powerchair football match

Inspire: Sporting Club Albion gave Clarke and Co a difficult time in their Powerchair football match

Red card: Clarke joked he was looking at disciplining assistant Kevin Keen after he was sent off in the match

Red card: Clarke joked he was looking at disciplining assistant Kevin Keen after he was sent off in the match

Tough battle: David Lewis of Sporting Club Albion holds off WBA goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely

Tough battle: David Lewis of Sporting Club Albion holds off WBA goalkeeping coach Dean Kiely

He said: 'I went to watch them training three weeks ago and was really impressed.

'I did think: “I can do that,” so I challenged them to a game against our backroom team.

'But if you have a go, it's really difficult.

'We were hopeless, and Kevin Keen was sent off which presents me with another internal disciplinary problem.

'The boys and girls make it look really easy. Believe me, it's not.'

The Footballers" Football Column – Alan Curbishley:

ALAN CURBISHLEY: The pressure of a relegation battle is huge… you're playing to keep the dinner lady and groundsman in jobs – as well as themselves

PUBLISHED:

07:19 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:12 GMT, 3 April 2013

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley is one of the most experienced managers in the Premier League – yet he has been out of work for more than four years. After 15 years and 729 games managing Charlton he decided to leave for a new challenge. That came in 2006 when he took over at a struggling West Ham. He kept the Hammers in the Premier League on the final day of the season against Manchester United at OId Trafford. In his debut Footballers' Football Column Curbishley writes about the pressures of a relegation battle and who he believes will go down this season. He also discusses his desire to return to the dug-out after his long absence. Before you read his column, make sure you watch his video.

Alan Curbishley: Footballers' Football column

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I feel for all the managers who are fighting relegation this season because I know how tough it is. There are so many different pressures being a Premier League manager and even more so when you are in a relegation battle.

The main pressure is the finances. You’re aware that if you get relegated you can lose up to 70 per cent of your income.

And if that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking about not just the players and the staff, but the ordinary people at the football club, the people who work in the restaurants and at the training ground. People whose livelihoods depend of the job and when there are cutbacks after relegation, they’re often the first people that take the hit.

Nigel Adkins

Harry Redknapp

Paul Lambert

Roberto Martinez

Tough times: Nigel Adkins, Harry Redknapp, Paul Lambert and Roberto Martinez are all feeling the pressure

So you’ve got the financial pressure, the pressure on yourself, because obviously you don’t want to be associated with relegation, and you know that it could be a long way back for the football club if that happens.

And then it’s the fans and the press and the media that seem to thrive on every bad moment. So there’s loads of different pressures going on, and I’ve not even mentioned the football, but you’ve got to be aware of all that and it takes its toll.

Every situation is different and it all depends how long you’ve been in that struggle for, if you’ve been in that all season it does take its toll and you do have to go game by game. You’re just hoping for that one match, that one thing that turns it around and starts giving people confidence.

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

Feeling down: Christopher Samba and Clint Hill look dejected after losing to Fulham

More from The Footballers' Column…

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The Footballers' Football Column – Kevin Blackwell: The players I inherited at Leeds turned up in Bentleys… I was signing lads on 1,000 a week who drove battered Fords (and we still reached the play-off final)
26/03/13

JILL SCOTT: How Arsenal are on their way to winning a trophy (no, really) – and why we take the mick out of England's golden oldie
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GARETH SOUTHGATE: If we give our young players a chance then the next Messi or Ronaldo could come from England
21/03/13

The Footballers' Football Column: McShane was doing 100 press ups a day at age seven, Meyler's 'as sharp as a spoon'… and brilliant Brady's a phenomenal footballer
20/03/13

RICHARD LEE: I've barely trained all season to the point now that the lads at Brentford call an easy day a 'Rich Lee'
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

But then there are the other clubs who feel safe and suddenly drop into it the last few games and they’re not used to that pressure, they’re not used to playing under than intense scrutiny and you can’t cope with it.

Sometimes the club that stays up is the battle-hardened one, who has been in it most of the season and just manages to get out of it near the end before the trap-door closes and that’s it.

When you are down there you look for positives but in reality there’s nothing better than winning a game. I’ve often thought, ‘What comes first – confidence winning you matches, or winning matches giving you confidence’

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get a win, as long as you’ve gone and got the three points on the Saturday, you know it can change the whole atmosphere around the club.

If you are down there then you have got to try different things to turn your fortunes around. Look back to last season, Wigan looked doomed.

But then Roberto Martinez switched his defence to three at the back and gave them a bit more stability, they won a couple of games 1-0 and suddenly the confidence was there, they went on a terrific run until the end of the season and stayed up.

Players react differently when they are in a relegation battle. Some players are affected by it, you know they are good players but they are struggle being in that position.

But then other players thrive on it and can handle it. When you’re in that battle you like to look around the dressing room and perhaps look at six or seven players, or even eight, and know what you’re going to get. Because unless that amount of players are performing you’re not going to win anything.

A relegation battle is tough for everyone and I certainly did not enjoy it. When I went into West Ham they were third from bottom, 14 points from 17 games, and so you know, even if you start taking a point a game, you’re going to be involved in it for the rest of the season. Anything better than that is European form.

I knew when I went into West Ham we had to get out of it quickly and we didn’t. Obviously we stayed in it and with 10 games to go we were doomed, but we got a bit of luck. We won a game at Blackburn where we scored a goal that never went over the line, and suddenly it changed.

We picked up the next result, the team selection was consistent, which it hadn’t been before I was at the club, and along with that came a bit of belief.

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

Has the luck run out Will Wigan be relegated this season after a number of years of narrow escapes

We won seven of our last nine games. Look at who we played – Arsenal, Everton, Bolton who were in a European position, Middlesbrough, who were just outside of European spots, and then the last game of the season at Manchester United.

What I remember about that game at Old Trafford is that nine of the players who played in that game were at the club before I arrived, so it got me thinking, and it’s what I thought all along, the players had the ability, so why were they in the position they were in

I had players in that run-in playing with so much confidence and doing things I couldn’t imagine they could’ve done weeks before. Consistent team selection helped, and results, and obviously the fans.

Often people talk about Tevez, but he hadn’t scored for 20 games before that. We kept five clean sheets, Robert Green was fantastic, Bobby Zamora scored two fantastic winning goals when we won 1-0 at Arsenal and 1-0 at Everton, but the fans played a massive part.

Alan Curbishley

Alan Curbishley

Contrasting emotions: Alan Curbishley shows the strains of West Ham's relegation battle and celebrates staying up on the final day of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford

One of the games was Wigan away where I
think we took more fans than Wigan had there, it was just incredible, we
just responded and won 3-0 there and that was the first time, after
that game that I felt, ‘We’re going to do this’.

I look at the teams down there at the moment, and Wigan especially, is it finally their year They’ve survived so many times in the last games of the season. And I’ve just got a feeling this FA Cup run is going to cause them a problem; they’re a game behind the rest of the league at the moment, when they play their semi-final they’re possibly going to be two games behind.

If they get to the final they’re going to have to make up at least two or three games when there are only eight games left.

It’s going to take an emotional toll, we’ve seen it before with teams getting to a cup final and going down, I’m just wondering if it’s a bit too much for them. They’ve still got to win games. Having games in hand is nice, but you’ve got to win them.

When I look at the table I think Reading, QPR and Wigan are the three who are going to go down.

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Staying up: Carlos Tevez celebrates scoring the goal that kept West Ham in the Premier League

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Playing his part: Bobby Zamora scored some key goals for West Ham in their survival bid

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

Stroke of luck: West Ham beat Blackburn with a goal from Zamora that never crossed the line

I think the timing for Reading to sack Brian McDermott was poor. December is traditionally the vulnerable time for managers as the chairman will think, ‘If I bring a new man in, he’s got to have a chance to bring some new faces in and change it around a little bit.’

But history has shown that no club in the bottom three who have changed their manager in March have managed to survive.

But when you consider whatever the compensation involved in letting McDermott go, the prize, if
they do manage to turn it around, is massive. You’re talking 60-70million, so I can see why they’ve done it.

But I think most people in football would look at it and think, ‘Perhaps if you’d have done it earlier then you might have had a better chance’.

Brian McDermott

Nigel Adkins

Poor timing: Curbishley says it was the wrong time for Reading to sack McDermott (left) and get Adkins

All managers in football, especially in the Premier League, who find themselves down the bottom, know that if they don’t pick up results soon they’re in trouble. I just think that this was so late in the day.

I have not worked in management since I left West Ham in 2008, but my exile has been self-inflicted. When I left West Ham I felt they were in the wrong and I was in the right, and it took its time to be sorted out and that was detrimental to me.

But I’ve had opportunities to come back in and maybe I’ve been a bit too picky. Perhaps the advice to managers that have been out of the game would be to get back in as quickly as possible, because you are easily forgotten.

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Plenty of experience: Curbishley managed Charlton for more than 700 games between 1991 and 2006

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

Final bow: Sir Alex Ferguson is one of only a few managers to have taken charge of more Premier League games than Curbishley

I’m still the sixth most experienced Premier League manager and I haven’t worked for some time now. It goes Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce then myself, so I think I’ve still got a lot to offer.

But someone’s got to be attracted by my record, and, not take a gamble, but I only really want to come back in the Premier League and that is difficult. I’d like a Premier League job. Certainly if it was a Championship club it’s got to be one I think is going to go somewhere.

I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing at the moment, and there’s a lot less pressure. But if anyone wants to look at my record it stands up with the best of them, so we’ll have to see.

We can upset champions Manchester City, insists Paul Lambert

We can cause upset at champions City, says Lambert despite growing relegation fears

By
John Curtis, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

14:55 GMT, 3 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:58 GMT, 3 March 2013

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert insists he is focused on trying to plot an upset against Manchester City tomorrow evening rather than forthcoming games with fellow strugglers Reading and QPR.

Lambert knows the significance of the Barclays Premier League double-header which will follow on from the meeting with Roberto Mancini's side with Villa in the bottom three.

But he has taken enough encouragement from Villa's performances in recent weeks – including last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal – to believe they can at least compete against the champions.

Progress: Aston Villa's Chief financial officer Robin Russell is happy that manager Paul Lambert is building a youthful first-team squad

Praise: Lambert is pleased to see Villa keeping faith in him despite the relegation battle

He said: 'I felt there were signs of encouragement against Arsenal but then I've felt that for a few weeks without getting the results.

'That's the frustrating thing, when you play well and don't get results especially the games at Everton, West Brom and Swansea.

'When you have a two-goal lead at Everton and West Brom and you don't see it through, or concede a late equaliser as was the case at Swansea, it's frustrating.

'If you had taken maximum points from those games, then you'd be sitting mid-table and, against Arsenal, we should have had at least a point.'

Lambert added: 'People are asking about the Reading and QPR games and I say to them, 'so there's no point in playing Manchester City then'

'I don't view it that way. We may as well just give it to them if we think like that. We want to beat Manchester City.

Disappointment: Villa's players trudge off after their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday

Disappointment: Villa's players trudge off after their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal last week

'You are there to win, regardless of whether it is City or QPR or whoever. We have to try and win. We are a threat going forward. We are not going into it just to draw or anything like that.

Villa won 4-2 at City in the Capital One Cup and Lambert felt their opponents were flattered by the 5-0 scoreline in the league meeting after a contentious penalty award.

He said: 'To go up there and beat them at any time, which we did in the Capital One Cup this season, is a hell of a result because of the players they have got.

'We also felt hard done by with the penalty they got against us in the league game when we were only losing 1-0 and in the game.

'It was never a penalty and a farce and there for everyone to see. That penalty incident at the Etihad will stick in the players' minds.

'Yes, We know how hard it is going to be. They are still a top side. They've just turned Chelsea over. They have some great players and are a top side.

Ready for action: Villa players in training earlier this week ahead of Monday's game

Ready for action: Villa players in training earlier this week ahead of Monday's game

'But I don't think we go into any game frightened of anyone. We have to take the challenge on.'

Villa are only one goal away from reaching the 1,000 mark in the Premier League.

But Lambert said: 'It will be only nice to reach that milestone if we win.

'Only if we win, does that statistic become relevant.

'There are 33 points available still and that's a hell of a lot of points to play for.

'I've said before it's going to be one hell of a ride to the end of the season, that's for sure. Never a dull moment, never is.'

Villa skipper and central defender Ron Vlaar is battling to overcome the calf injury, which forced him out of the Arsenal game.

Striker Darren Bent remains doubtful with a foot injury but keeper Shay Given has recovered from a groin problem in time to be part of the squad against his former club.

Chelsea"s David Luiz a summer target for Barcelona

Barcelona keen to sign Luiz but face battle as Chelsea want to keep their boy from Brazil

By
Paul Collins

PUBLISHED:

22:31 GMT, 13 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:49 GMT, 13 February 2013

Barcelona are keen to revive interest in Chelsea defender David Luiz in the summer.

The Brazil international has struggled for consistency at Stamford Bridge this season.

And Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is keen to strengthen his defence, despite club captain Carles Puyol only recent signing a new deal at the Nou Camp.

Wanted man: Barcelona are keen to sign David Luiz in the summer

Wanted man: Barcelona are keen to sign David Luiz in the summer

Vilanova met with sporting director
Andoni Zubizarreta, technical secretary Albert Valentn and football co-ordinator Narcis Juli in New York this week where a number of targets were discussed.

Fellow Brazilian Neymar was also on his list, which would allow David Villa to leave.

If he does make the move in the summer
then Luiz could team up with a couple of former Premier League players
in Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas.

Boy from Brazil: Luiz captained the Samba boys against England last week

Boy from Brazil: Luiz captained the Samba boys against England last week

According to Portuguese paper A Bola, Chelsea would be reluctant to sell one of their assets to their European rivals.

But they also suggest that if they were to let him go to Spain, then they would want to recoup a sizeable amount of the 21m transfer fee they forked out for him in 2011.

Another target: Neymar is wanted by Barca

Another target: Neymar is wanted by Barca

Chelsea are third in the Premier League and Luiz and his team-mates face a battle to secure Champions League football next season as they are only one point ahead of fellow London rivals Spurs, and Arsenal an additional four points behind them.

Aston Villa 2 Bradford 1 (agg 3-4): Match report

Aston Villa 2 Bradford 1 (agg 3-4): Hanson header kills off Villans as Bantams secure historic Wembley date

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 22 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 22 January 2013

James Hanson was the hero for Bradford City who secured a place in the Capital One Cup final despite defeat on the night, courtesy of an aggregate victory over Aston Villa.

The hosts flew out of the traps and seemed to be overwhelming the npower League Two side in the early stages of the first half and took a deserved lead through Christian Benteke in the 24th minute.

The Bantams held on and Hanson's header in the 55th minute sent the masses from South Yorkshire wild, the first team from the fourth tier in 51 years to reach a major final.

Andreas Weimann scored a late goal, but it was a mere consolation for Villa who now only have a relegation battle to face this season.

Phil Parkinson's side will face either Chelsea or Swansea in the final on February 24.

More to follow…

We're going to Wembley! Hanson's header put daylight between the two teams

We're going to Wembley! Hanson's header put daylight between the two teams

Match facts

Aston Villa: Given, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett (Weimann 70), Ireland, Delph, Bannan (Bent 62), N'Zogbia, Benteke, Agbonlahor.

Subs not used: Guzan, Holman, Stevens, Lichaj, Carruthers.

Booked: Clark, N'Zogbia, Delph.

Goals: Benteke 24, Weimann 89.

Bradford: Duke, Darby, McHugh, McArdle, Good, Hines (Thompson 71), Gary Jones, Doyle, Atkinson, Hanson, Wells (Turgott 87).

Subs not used: McLaughlin, Ravenhill, Reid, Connell, Nelson.

Goals: Hanson 55.

Aggregate: (3-4)

Attendance: 40,193

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Magic moment: Hanson slams home the header to send Bradford through to the final

Magic moment: Hanson slams home the header to send Bradford through to the final

Magic moment: Hanson slams home the header to send Bradford through to the final

Too little: Benteke's strike gave Villa hope, but it wasn't built upon

Too little: Benteke's strike gave Villa hope, but it wasn't built upon

Too little: Benteke's strike gave Villa hope, but it wasn't built upon

Twitter reaction

Shaun Teale: I'm embarrassed that these players will walk off the pitch and go home while the fans will be distraught . To many players not good enough

Michael Owen: Villa devoid of ideas. Resorting to knocking it long. No width at all. Bradford fully deserve to be heading to Wembley.

Plenty to ponder: Lambert must now steel his team for a relegation battle

Plenty to ponder: Lambert must now steel his team for a relegation battle

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Heather Watson takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan

Australian Open 2013 LIVE: Follow all the action as Heather Watson takes on Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan

By
Liv Lee

PUBLISHED:

02:07 GMT, 16 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

04:14 GMT, 16 January 2013

Heather Watson battled cramp, fatigue and Alexandra Cadantu in the first round, and came back from a set down to beat the Romanian 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

It was the first victory the British No 1 has ever recorded at the Australian Open, and now she takes on 82nd ranked Ksenia Pervak.

These two have never met on the seniors tour, but Watson can expect a tough battle from the Kazakh, who dispatched Mona Bartel, a player ranked 44 places above her, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in the first round.

Don't forget you can send your comments to me at [email protected]

04.14: Jankowicz FINALLY takes the fifth set. Make way for Watson.

3.48: TWEET: Neil Harman ‏@NeilHarmanTimes

'Jerzy Janowicz is about to complete comeback from two sets down against Devvarman on No.8 with added value of bringing on Heather Watson'

3.33: Watson's match has been pushed back until 4am. Somdev Devvarman and Jerzy Janowicz are now into their fifth set.

3.15: TWEET: Mike Dickson ‏@Mike_Dickson_DM

'Long match prior to Heather Watson. Hope I'm wrong but think that Pervak may be a tougher opponent than some expect.'

3.00: Unlikely to see Watson on court before 3.30.

2.30: So far there have been no signs of the elbow injury that forced Watson to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month. British fans will have to hope that the problem doesn't return when Watson is in the best form of her career.

 It was fatigue and cramp than plagued Watson on Monday, not the elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month.

No sign of injury: It was fatigue and cramp than plagued Watson on Monday, not the elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from the Hobart International earlier this month.

2.15: If Watson can make it past Pervak, she will face fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round. The World No 4 beat Irina Camelia-Begu 6-3, 6-3.

2.02: Watson unlikely to make an appearance until 3am because Somdev Devvarman and Jerzy Janowicz took 79 minutes to complete their first set. Devverman won the tie-break 7-6 (12-10). The two are level at 3-3 in the second.

2.00: Although these two haven't met on the seniors tour, they did face each other in the junior version of this tournament back in 2009. The 21-year-old Kazakh – originally from Russia – blasted past Watson in straight sets and went on to beat fellow Brit Laura Robson in the final.

Robson joined Watson in the second round yesterday after overcoming American Melanie Oudin with relative ease.

Monday's win was the first for Heather Watson at the Australian Open

Triumph: Monday's win was the first for Heather Watson at the Australian Open

Masters 2013: John Higgins beats Ali Carter at Alexandra Palace

Higgins Masters Carter with fine victory to book quarter-final spot at Ally Pally

By
Nick Metcalfe

PUBLISHED:

22:09 GMT, 14 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 14 January 2013

John Higgins fought back from 2-0 behind to beat Ali Carter and book a place in the last eight of the Masters at Alexandra Palace.

Higgins, winner of this great event in 1999 and 2006, lost the second frame despite Carter needing two snookers, and seemed really up against it at that stage.

The Scot soon found his feet however, firing in a clearance of 117 to reduce Carter's lead, and then winning the fourth frame to level at 2-2.

Job done: Higgins came from 2-0 down to beat Carter on Monday

Job done: Higgins came from 2-0 down to beat Carter on Monday

Higgins soon went 3-2 up, and then he won the sixth frame with a 97 to take control of the match.

Carter pulled one back with an 83, and looked set to win another when he was first in with 54 in the ninth frame, but he missed a pink to middle, and Higgins made him pay with a 65 clearance to seal his win.

'I was thinking Ali was going to pull it back to 5-5 because I was beginning to feel the pressure a bit, but luckily I held myself together,' Higgins said afterwards.

On his poor start, he added: 'I was still feeling okay. I hadn't missed much and felt fine and that's half the battle. It's only you and your mind out there and I was still in the game so you just get on with it.'

Joe Cole to get 3m pay-off from Liverpool before joining West Ham

Cole nets whopping 3m pay-off from Liverpool ahead of switch to West Ham

By
Sami Mokbel and John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

14:36 GMT, 2 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:02 GMT, 3 January 2013

Joe Cole will join West Ham this week after Liverpool agreed to hand the former England midfielder a 3million pay-off.

Cole snubbed his former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp’s relegation battle at QPR, agreeing to rejoin his boyhood club on a free transfer instead. Cole was given his senior debut by Redknapp at West Ham in 1999.

Cole's the goal: West Ham have beaten QPR to the signing of Joe Cole

Cole's the goal: West Ham have beaten QPR to the signing of Joe Cole

The QPR boss said on Wednesday night:
‘I was going to take Joe but he is West Ham through and through, so I
understand. He is going back home so I wish him all the best.

‘Joe is the only player I tried to get and I thought he was coming, but West Ham came in and that was it.’

Still got it: Cole scored on his last outing at Upton Park, in December

Still got it: Cole scored on his last outing at Upton Park, in December

Still got it: Cole scored on his last outing at Upton Park, in December

Cole had 18 months remaining on his
90,000-a-week Liverpool contract, so the Anfield club have still saved
around 4m by paying him off early.

The 31-year-old had a medical on Wednesday night and could play in Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Manchester United.

Cole has endured a torrid two and a
half years since leaving Chelsea, and was farmed out on a season-long
loan deal to Lille last season.

Favourite: Cole broke through at West Ham as a teenager and is still popular

Favourite: Cole broke through at West Ham as a teenager and is still popular

Favourite: Cole broke through at West Ham as a teenager and is still popular

He returned with the hope of forcing himself into Brendan Rodgers' plans, but has once again fallen short of expectation.

The No 26 shirt, worn by Cole during his time in east London is currently vacant in Sam Allardyce's squad.

Hammers midfielder Sebastian Lletget welcomed the club's move for Cole.
He tweeted: 'Training with my man Joe Cole today, top player, looking forward to it whufc coyi.'

But what will Harry say: Cole get his chance under old boss Redknapp

But what will Harry say: Cole get his chance under old boss Redknapp

COULD THESE HAMMERS HAMMER EVERYONE

With Joe Cole returning to Upton Park, we are reminded of the West Ham squad that could have been had players such as Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Javier Mascherano developed to display the level of skill and class we see today.

And with strikers like Carlos Tevez and Jermain Defoe, we may even have seen more than the 26 goals that West Ham have scored this season.

With the majority of the moves going to domestic clubs, West Ham have been constantly reminded of their errors by the goals and performances of former players.

Also with the departure of Demba Ba and Scott Parker more recently, it is clear they haven't learned their lesson.

Although the Hammers racked up a sum total of over 50m by selling their big names, we have to ask: was it was all worth it

Rio Ferdinand 18,000,000 – 2000

Frank Lampard 11,000,000 – 2001

Glen Johnson 6,000,000 – 2003

Joe Cole 6,600,000 – 2003

Jermain Defoe 7,000,000 – 2004

Michael Carrick 2,750,000 – 2004

Javier Mascherano – 2008

Carlos Tevez – 2009

Craig Bellamy 14,000,000 – 2009

Demba Ba Free – 2011

Scott Parker 6,000,000 – 2011