Tag Archives: chasers

Player of the Month Matthews hopes to carry form into Europe and topple Juventus

Player of the Month Matthews hopes to carry form into Europe and topple Juventus

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

17:24 GMT, 8 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:24 GMT, 8 February 2013

SPL Player of the Month Adam Matthews is hoping he can take his magnificent league form with Celtic and help them win the Champions League last-16 tie against Juventus.

The Welsh defender has been in exceptional form this season for the Bhoys, and was awarded with the monthly gong for January.

The 21-year-old now hopes to kick on and is focusing on 'one of the biggest games of my career' when the Italian giants visit Parkhead on Tuesday for the first leg of the knockout rounds.

Forward thinking: Adam Matthews hopes Celtic can get past Juventus in the Champions League

Forward thinking: Adam Matthews hopes Celtic can get past Juventus in the Champions League

Celtic progressed through the group stages in spectacular fashion, even managing to beat tournament favourites Barcelona at home in a thrilling 2-1 win.

Matthews said: 'I think it's a good achievement. We have a few young good players in the SPL and it's the first time I've won the award but hopefully I can win it some more.'

'It is the first time I have won the award but hopefully I can win it a few more times.

Superstar: Andrea Pirlo is hoping to spoil the party at Parkhead

Superstar: Andrea Pirlo is hoping to spoil the party at Parkhead

Leading the line: Gary Hooper has been in lethal form for Celtic

Leading the line: Gary Hooper has been in lethal form for Celtic

'You play against the best teams in the world like Barcelona and you can only improve.

'Juventus will be one of the biggest games of my career.

'The Barcelona game was one of them but this, for the club and the fans, is even bigger.'

Juventus are favourites to progress past the SPL champions and currently sit top of Serie A, three points clear of chasers Napoli.

Vote for Sanctuaire as big Nicholls hope for Sandown has the X Factor

Vote for Sanctuaire as big Nicholls hope for Sandown has the X Factor

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UPDATED:

20:18 GMT, 7 December 2012

The people at ITV will have you
believe that all this weekend's fireworks are reserved for the X Factor
final but, for National Hunt fans, there are two explosive chasers at
Sandown today for whom that description fits adroitly.

Both Sprinter Sacre and SANCTUAIRE
(Sandown, 3.05) boast the star quality that X Factor finalists can only
dream of, although the progression through the series of favourite James
Arthur does in a way mirror that of Sanctuaire.

tale of the tingle tape

Peter Scudamore's view

The Tingle Creek Chase provides the clash between Sanctuaire and Sprinter Sacre that we’ve been waiting for since the Spring and, with both unbeaten over fences, something has to give. My worry is the ground is going to play a part. Jockey Peter Buchanan, who landed the big race yesterday on Bold Sir Brian, described conditions on Sandown’s chase course as ‘hard-work ground’.

The big two have both had breathing operations in the past. You can never be totally confident how they will react in arduous going.
I’d also be concerned that the ground will negate the immense jumping of Sprinter Sacre. He is a horse with natural spring in his legs. His technique last year was outstanding and some of his leaps spectacular.

His defeat of Cue Card at the Cheltenham Festival was a piece of form to drool over. He has already shown the potential to be not only the most exciting steeplechaser in training but also the best pound for pound across the distance spectrum. Despite my concerns I can’t desert the Nicky Henderson-trained favourite.

A troubled soul at the start of the
series, the talented Arthur has prospered due to a strict regime of
rehearsal and training and much the same can be said of the headstrong
Sanctuaire

It is only in the past 12 months that trainer Paul Nicholls and his team has managed to resolve the physical and mental issues that were stopping his charge from ascending the chasing tree.

The result has been three unblemished chasing victories by an aggregate margin of 74 lengths, two of which were achieved at today's venue.

It is those front-running demolitions that Sanctuaire's supporters will put their faith in as he bids to see off the imposing claims of Sprinter Sacre.

Nicky Henderson's hot favourite is yet to taste defeat over fences.

A six-length defeat of Cue Card in the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival looks all the more creditable given the runner-up's subsequent efforts.

However, Sanctuaire's experience of the tricky Sandown fences could prove decisive in springing a mini surprise.

Port Vale exit administration

Port Vale exit administration after 1.25m takeover is finalised for League Two promotion chasers

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UPDATED:

20:42 GMT, 20 November 2012

On song for promotion: Micky Adams has guided Port Vale to second in League Two

On song for promotion: Micky Adams has guided Port Vale to second in League Two

Port Vale are out of administration after Paul Wildes' takeover of the npower League Two club was finalised.

Supported by his business partner Norman Smurthwaite, Wildes' Alchemy Investment Group's 1.25million bid was approved by administrators Begbies Traynor on Tuesday.

The deal, which has also been approved by the Football League, sees the Valiants come out of administration, eight months after entering in March.

In a statement on the club's website, Wildes, who was named as the preferred bidder last month after Keith Ryder's summer-long bid ended, said: 'I would like to thank the Port Vale supporters, once again, for their ongoing patience and support.

'It has been a long process but we are delighted to have finally taken over the club and look forward to a long and successful association.

'As I have previously stated, our intention is to develop the club both on and off the field.

New dawn: Port Vale have exited administration after a 1.25m takeover was agreed

New dawn: Port Vale have exited administration after a 1.25m takeover was agreed

'On the pitch we're continuing to support [manager] Micky Adams and the squad as they push for promotion. Off the pitch we have made some key appointments to ensure the immediate and ongoing success of the club.'

Wildes will become club chairman and Smurthwaite has been named as chief executive, with Mike Aspinall taking up the role of operations director.

Financial director Robin Anderson will take responsibility for finance and IT departments and the club is also planning to appoint a commercial director.

Al Ferof lands Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham

Al Ferof King George date after strolling to Paddy Power Cup victory at Cheltenham

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UPDATED:

18:04 GMT, 17 November 2012

Al Ferof is set for a crack at the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day after giving Paul Nicholls a first Paddy Power Gold Cup with a brilliant round of jumping at Cheltenham.

Nicholls, owner John Hales and jockey Ruby Walsh have suffered heartache in this race before with the ill-fated Granit Jack, but the 8-1 chance went a long way to exorcising those demons.

Grey's day: Al Ferof and Ruby Walsh jump the last

Grey's day: Al Ferof and Ruby Walsh jump the last

Still under a tight hold at the top of the hill, where first Hunt Ball and shortly afterwards Grands Crus had run their races, Walsh was joined by another grey, Walkon, and held just a slight advantage two out.

He stamped his class on proceedings from there, defying a huge weight burden, and hard as the Alan King runner tried he could not reel him in up the gruelling hill, finishing three lengths adrift.

Nadiya de la Vega was third with long-time leader Casey Top running a gallant race in fourth.

Nicholls said: 'He came in late because he cut himself in the field, but he had a gallop at Wincanton last weekend and went really well.

'We'll have to think about Kempton (King George) I suppose, he stayed well there and I think we'll have to look at it.

Foot perfect: Al Ferof exhibited a faultless round of jumping

Foot perfect: Al Ferof exhibited a faultless round of jumping

'The second-season chasers of ours like him are improving, I don't think the horses were right last year.

'The main thing is to have horses for all the big races. Everyone thinks we want to win the trainers' championship but it's honestly not true, days like this and bringing young horses through are what makes it all worth it.'

Hales, owner of the great One Man, said: 'That was a stunning performance, as good as from any horse I have owned.

'The rain concerned me today, but I thought it was an outstanding run.

Cheers for the champ: Ruby Walsh celebrates

Cheers for the champ: Ruby Walsh celebrates

'I wasn't as confident when I started looking at the race yesterday – I thought it was going to be difficult to give weight away to horses like Grands Crus.

'I think we have decided we will go to the King George now, and he is a horse that we are going to have look after.'

Walsh said: 'You need a bit of class in this race, which is why we were keen to take chance. In fairness to him we were forcing him at two (miles). Stepping up in trip is probably what we should be doing.'

David Pipe could offer no explanation to the stewards for the run of 7-4 favourite Grands Crus, while Keiran Burke, trainer of Hunt Ball, said he was unsuited by the ground.

Pipe said of Grands Crus: 'Tom (Scudamore) just said he wasn't really ever that happy with him, he lost a near-fore plate but no excuses, we'll get him home and see.

'He had his heart checked afterwards and that was fine, he's in one piece and far worse things happen.

'I don't think so (ground to blame), he's handled very soft ground before.'

Leeds United in talks to capture Cameron Jerome on loan from Stoke

United front: Leeds in talks to capture Cameron Jerome on loan from Stoke

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UPDATED:

14:15 GMT, 9 November 2012

Leeds United are poised to bolster their forward line with talks to sign Cameron Jerome from Stoke City on loan.

The 26-year-old was due to join Blackburn last month but the deal stalled over the payment of his wages.

Blackburn had hoped to pay a percentage of his 25,000 a week salary but Stoke anticipated Henning Berg's club paying all of the wage.

United front: Cameron Jerome runs to the Stoke benchafter celebrating his goal against Everton last season

United front: Cameron Jerome runs to the Stoke benchafter celebrating his goal against Everton last season

Leeds are hoping to negotiate a deal with Stoke today as manager Neil Warnock is eager to strengthen his attacking options and keep pace with the promotion chasers.

While the club's takeover inches closer there remain concerns over the future of players such as El Hadji Diouf who is out of contract in January and so far unable to agree terms on a new deal.

El of a signing: El Hadji Diouf (left) celebrates with Luke Varney after scoring the first goal for Leeds from the penalty spot at Brighton last week

El of a signing: El Hadji Diouf (left) celebrates with Luke Varney after scoring the first goal for Leeds from the penalty spot at Brighton last week

Jerome joined Stoke for 4m from Birmingham last year but does not have the greatest goalscoring record over recent months. However, he has spent most of the time playing as an impact sub for Stoke while his workrate is undoubted.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Kenwyne Jones at his disposal and, although Michael Owen is struggling to shake off hamstring concerns, he believes he can afford to let Jerome go on loan until January.

The Open 2012: Graeme McDowell thinks wind could help chasing pack

McDowell believes windy forecast could aid chasing pack

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 21 July 2012

After the unexpected calm conditions of the first three days, high winds are being forecast for Royal Lytham on Sunday.

And Graeme McDowell, the leading Briton at four shots back, believes this could boost his chances and the rest of the chasing pack.

Assistance: Graeme McDowell thinks wind could help him

Assistance: Graeme McDowell thinks wind could help him

The Northern Irishman will play alongside leader Adam Scott of Australia in the final group and said: ‘It will be in Adam’s hands if the conditions are as straightforward as they have been the last few days.

‘Throw a bit of wind like perhaps they are forecasting and he will have to work a lot harder to win it. Perhaps, we’ll need that bit of wind to make it easier for the chasers.’

Scott insisted, however, that the weather would not beat him. He said: ‘The way I prepared at the start, I felt I had a good understanding of how this course played in all conditions.’

Patrice Evra believes Manchester United can win the Premier League

We can still ruin City's day and snatch the title, claims United captain Evra

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UPDATED:

09:16 GMT, 12 May 2012

Patrice Evra says he still believes Manchester United can win the title from rivals Manchester City on the final day of the season.

United are only behind on goal difference and would require either City to slip up at home to QPR or an improbable landslide win over Sunderland to edge back in front.

'Maybe people will say I'm crazy, but I still believe,' Evra told the BBC.

Title chasers: Manchester United's players know they have to better City's result to win the title

Title chasers: Manchester United's players know they have to better City's result to win the title

'I know destiny is not in our hands. If we want to keep believing in the miracle, we have to beat Sunderland.'

Manchester City have collected 52 from a possible 54 points at Etihad Stadium this season, while QPR have lost 13 times on the road this season – more than any other side in the top flight.

But, after United's 2-0 win over Swansea on Sunday, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told fans at Old Trafford this weekend could mark 'the biggest celebration of our lives'.

Still hope: Patrice Evra says it is still possible for Manchester United to win the title

Still hope: Patrice Evra says it is still possible for Manchester United to win the title

Keep them at bay: Evra is desperate to stop City winning the title

Keep them at bay: Evra is desperate to stop City winning the title

He also suggested relegation-threatened Rangers, managed by former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes, would not lack motivation to ruin the leaders' party plans.

Evra believes the dynamics of the season's final day will allow Manchester United to heap extra pressure on their rivals especially with all games kicking off at 3pm.

'If we score first, maybe the City fans in the stadium will start to be nervous,' he added.
'When you are nervous, you rush things and you don't do the things you want to do.

In touching distance: City know the title is within their grasp

In touching distance: City know the title is within their grasp

'That's why I still believe, but we must make sure we are ready against Sunderland.'

In their own game at home to QPR on 8 April, United won 2-0 to move eight points clear with six matches remaining.

Evra believes United's late collapse in the 4-4 draw against Everton three weeks later, a game in which he headed against the post with his side leading 4-2, marked the point the title race tipped back in City's favour.

'If you play for Manchester United, you have to accept the pressure,' he said. 'You have to win every year no matter what you do. People don't care, you have to win.

'It's going to hurt a lot. If we see City celebrate, people will say it's the end of the Manchester United empire.'

Coventry manager Andy Thorn warns Southampton

Thorn warns Southampton of Coventry threat ahead of final day drama

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 27 April 2012

Coventry manager Andy Thorn insists his side will not roll over against promotion chasers Southampton.

Thorn’s side were relegated from the Championship last weekend but their manager is tired of people thinking the Saints are guaranteed a victory.

‘I’m absolutely sick of people saying, “It’s only Coventry,” and dismissing us,' Thorn said. 'It’s really starting to get on my nerves.

No pushovers: Andy Thorn is confident his Coventry side can shock Southampton

No pushovers: Andy Thorn is confident his Coventry side can shock Southampton

‘If they think we are going to go down there and lie down, that’s just not going to be the case.

‘We’re going to give everything we can. I promise you that. We aren’t on holiday and we aren’t going there to lay down.

‘I hate things like that. We’re going to go down there and stand up for ourselves to put some pride back into this shirt – for our own fans.

‘We might be going out of this league but we can do it with a bit of dignity.’

Thorn’s stirring rhetoric will give hope to fans of Southampton’s promotion rivals West Ham as they play Hull at Upton Park.

However, the reality is Coventry have won only once away from home all season and are rapidly running out of players.

Regular centre half Richard Keogh is suspended and Thorn is considering handing a debut to teenager Jordan Willis. He is also recalling fellow academy graduate Joe Henderson back from a spell with non-League Nuneaton.

Down and out: Coventry have already been relegated from the Championship

Down and out: Coventry have already been relegated from the Championship

Thorn even joked about naming training-ground chef Dean Kirk among his substitutes

‘There’s no-one else but Jordan,’ added Thorn. ‘That’s no disrespect to him but there are no other defenders here.

‘I’ve pulled Joe back from Nuneaton. In fact, I was lacking fit players so I brought another teenager, Aaron Phillips, into the squad this week. He did his knee in a freak accident.

‘However, there is some good news. Deano the chef is coming in on the bench.’

Meanwhile, Cardiff manager Malky Mackay hopes a pep talk with Sir Alex Ferguson can inspire Cardiff City to play-off glory.

Cardiff play Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday knowing that a point will secure a top-six spot. United have been staying next to the Bluebirds’ training ground and Mackay said: ‘Sir Alex did say he would come in for a cup of tea. He gave me a call before the Carling Cup final and offered some advice, which he didn’t need to do.

‘He has always had time for other managers.’

Southampton must win title – Nigel Adkins

We want the title! Adkins demands Saints pip Reading after Boro win

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 17 April 2012

Southampton manager Nigel Adkins refused to settle for merely winning promotion after seeing his side power to within touching distance of the Premier League with a 3-1 win at Peterborough.

A travelling group of almost 3,500 Saints fans was left in jubilant mood after seeing the south coast outfit breeze past struggling Posh at London Road to move to the brink of back-to-back promotions.

Two goals in the opening 10 minutes from Dutch defender Jos Hooiveld and striker Billy Sharp set Adkins' men on the way to victory. A second Sharp goal just before the hour sealed the points.

Heading up: Billy Sharp celebrates scoring for Southampton

Heading up: Billy Sharp celebrates scoring for Southampton

The win leaves the second-placed side five points clear of chasers West Ham with only two Championship fixtures remaining but Adkins is still out to land the title. Saints trail leaders Reading by three points.

Adkins said: 'It was a good victory away from home and the players deserve great credit for that.

'It was a thoroughly professional display and an excellent response to the defeat against Reading on Friday.

'We are not concerning ourselves with results elsewhere or the amount of points we may need to secure promotion.

'We have two matches left and we want to put six more points on the board. Our aim has always been to be champions and that hasn't changed.'

Southampton produced an electric start against a Posh side who incredibly selected central defender Gaby Zakuani just three days after he suffered a dislocated shoulder.

But the hosts were powerless to contain the Saints' attacking arsenal and fell behind after just five minutes when Hooiveld planted a header from a pinpoint Daniel Fox corner past Paul Jones.

The Posh keeper was picking the ball out of his net again five minutes later when Sharp steered a finish into the bottom corner after Richard Chaplow had laid an Adam Lallana cross back into his path.

Nicely done: Sharp slots home as Southampton move closer to promotion

Nicely done: Sharp slots home as Southampton move closer to promotion

Sharp then settled the issue when guiding home his 17th goal of the season from close range after Lallana had sent a Rickie Lambert cut-back his way.

Posh showed little in attack until the closing minutes when Tommy Rowe bundled in a consolation goal following a goalmouth scramble.

That came seconds after Rowe, who suffered a broken nose following a first half collision with team-mate Shaun Brisley, and Paul Taylor had been denied by Saints stopper Kelvin Davis.

Despite a third straight defeat it was still a successful night for Posh who overcame the odds to seal Championship safety.

Boss Darren Ferguson said: 'It is our biggest achievement as a club by miles but it is a very different feeling to winning promotion. This is more about relief than joy.

'We have stayed up because we were outstanding in the first half of the season. We haven't been great lately but always knew the effects of having such a short break after winning the League One play-offs last summer would catch up with us.

'Our lads deserve great credit for what they achieved – none more so than Gaby who is a brilliant example to young players – but we really want to win our last home game against Watford on Saturday for the fans.'

Giles Barnes wanted by Everton, West Ham and Swansea

Swansea, Everton and West Ham enter race to sign Doncaster star Barnes

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UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 26 March 2012

Former England Under-21 international Giles Barnes will spark a transfer scramble amongst a clutch of Premier League clubs in the summer.

Wanted: Doncaster midfielder Giles Barnes

Wanted: Doncaster midfielder Giles Barnes

A host of top-flight sides are keeping tabs on the Doncaster midfielder with a view to a move ahead of next season.

Swansea and Everton are among the clubs who have sent scouts to watch Barnes in recent weeks, while promotion chasers West Ham are also taking an interest.

Barnes’ displays for Dean Saunders’ side have also attracted interest from overseas with Sampdoria and Lorient also tracking the former West Bromwich and Derby man.

The promising midfielder’s career has stalled in recent seasons due to a cruciate ligament injury which kept him on the sidelines for 18 months.

Football League blog

But Barnes finally looks to be over his injury problems and has been a regular at the Keepmoat Stadium this season.

The 23-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season and will be available on a free transfer.