Tag Archives: floodlights

England on verge of winning third Test in India

England on verge of victory but Ashwin frustrates tourists as India dig in

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 8 December 2012

England inflicted a telling collapse on India to put themselves on the verge of victory, and an unassailable 2-1 series lead, after day four of the third Test at Eden Gardens.

The tourists took six wickets for 36 runs this afternoon but, with an innings win almost within their grasp in the final session, Ravichandran Ashwin (83 not out) prevented them finishing the job.

Number eight Ashwin even took India into a 32-run credit by stumps on 239 for nine, and forced England to take a second new ball under floodlights, as the contest somehow limped into a final day.

There was no way past Ashwin and Ishant Sharma for more than an hour in a ninth-wicket stand of 38.

Ashwin escaped a stumping chance on 22, and Sharma was dropped by wicketkeeper Matt Prior on nought – both off Monty Panesar.

Then even after Panesar at last got the number 10, toppling over to be bowled, Ashwin stayed to complete his 111-ball 50 with successive fours off Graeme Swann which also ensured England must bat again.

England just did not have the leeway they needed as Ashwin stood firm, in company with last man Pragyan Ojha.

After dominating the first three days thanks to Alastair Cook's batting and James Anderson and Panesar's bowling, the tourists first had to overcome a chastening morning before India's collapse.

England's own last four wickets could muster only 14 on the way to 523 all out and then they were unable to take any of India's before lunch.

But after Graeme Swann kickstarted the hosts' troubles by bowling Virender Sehwag with the first ball of the afternoon, the rest of the frontline batting simply folded.

Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir sowed some doubts in an opening stand of 86 in just 28 overs, during which England had a half-chance to see off each of the openers.

But Sehwag escaped on seven when Swann could not hang on to a low one-handed catch to his left at second slip off Anderson, then Gambhir pushed Panesar off the face of the bat to short-leg, where Ian Bell could not quite react in time.

Ball rolling: Graeme Swann took the first wicket of India's second innings

Ball rolling: Graeme Swann took the first wicket of India's second innings

The most worrying aspect for the tourists was the increasing ease with which Sehwag in particular was playing their spinners.

But they need not have been concerned because Swann produced the perfect off-break to draw the drive, beat the bat and hit the outside of off-stump straight after the break.

Gambhir had accepted the blame in the first innings for Sehwag's run-out, and perhaps will need to do likewise for his part in a faulty single which saw off Cheteshwar Pujara thanks to Bell's direct hit from midwicket.

Transient controversy followed when Gambhir escaped on 36, umpire Rod Tucker apparently initially satisfied he had edged to slip but unsure whether the ball had carried to a diving Jonathan Trott.

It had, but third umpire Vineet Kulkarni also seemed to convey the fact Gambhir had not got bat on ball after all.

The right decision had been reached via a grey area in the established process for series not involving DRS.

But the fact that Gambhir followed some reverse-swing from Finn (three for 37) to edge behind just four runs later relegated the discussion, and it was less relevant still when Sachin Tendulkar was next out, edging a Swann arm ball to slip.

Flying Finn: England's bowlers all chipped in to dismantle India

Flying Finn: England's bowlers all chipped in to dismantle India

Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli's attempt to stop the rot did not last long before the left-hander was bowled by one from Anderson that snaked in from round the wicket and kept low, and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni edged the same bowler low to his opposite number Cook at slip.

Kohli edged behind flailing at some more outswing from Finn after tea, and it seemed certain England were on the home straight – until Ashwin got set.

England had arrived this morning in the hope of maximising the pressure and an hour's profitable batting would have been their first wish.

Instead, their innings was finished in under five overs.

Prior and Swann could add only a single between them to their existing seventh-wicket stand of 56.

Prior drove the first ball of the day for a single, only for Swann to then immediately become Ojha's fourth victim – edging another attempted drive to slip.

Tail end: Monty Panesar took the final wicket of the day

Tail end: Monty Panesar took the final wicket of the day

Then Prior went to cut Zaheer Khan at the other end and edged behind – England's second departure in the space of seven balls.

Finn and Anderson managed a boundary each but the introduction of Ashwin for Ojha (four for 142) brought two wickets in two balls to conclude the innings.

Ashwin had previously conceded 183 runs for his one success but, after Anderson edged to slip and Monty Panesar went lbw first ball, despite an apparent inside-edge, the off-spinner had two more at no further cost.

It seemed the mid-match momentum had perhaps switched, all the more so when Sehwag and Gambhir tried to seize the initiative too.

But it was a short-lived illusion.

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from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of
Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news
organisations.

The BCCI
has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty
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Everton 1 Arsenal 1: Marouane Fellaini earns a point after Theo Walcott"s lightning fast start

Everton 1 Arsenal 1: Fellaini a hit but it's a sore point for Moyes

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UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 28 November 2012

This has been a season that has hinted at great promise for Everton but it is also bringing David Moyes great frustration.

While Moyes should feel content with how his side are performing and the way his players blend, the rewards are simply not coming.

Arsenal’s visit to Goodison Park last night merely added another chapter to an increasingly familiar story.

Hair-raising: Marouane Fellaini drew Everton level after 27 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area

Hair-raising: Marouane Fellaini drew Everton level after 27 minutes with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area

Celebration time: Everton's players mob Fellaini after he scores their leveller

Celebration time: Everton's players mob Fellaini after he scores their leveller

MATCH FACTS

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Naismith (Oviedo 61), Gibson (Hitzlsperger 72), Osman, Pienaar, Fellaini, Jelavic

Subs not used: Mucha, Heitinga, Gueye, Barkley, Vellios

Goal: Fellaini 28

Booked: Gibson, Oviedo

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny (Gibbs 4), Vermaelen, Walcott, Ramsey (Gervinho 79), Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla (Coquelin 90), Giroud

Subs not used: Mannone, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jenkinson

Goal: Walcott 1

Booked: Gibbs

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Attendance: 37,141

The latest Premier League fixtures, table and results

Despite falling behind to a goal from
Theo Walcott after 52 seconds — the quickest strike of the campaign
until Robin van Persie popped up at Old Trafford in the later kick-off —
Everton dominated Arsene Wenger’s side but all they had to show for
their efforts was Marouane Fellaini’s equaliser.

They deserved so much more.

There is no better venue in the
country for football to be played under floodlights than this
atmospheric old stadium and, given the encouraging start Everton have
made to the campaign, the sense of anticipation before kick-off was
tangible.

The expectation, though, was checked
within just 52 seconds. Everton’s shape and concentration was lacking as
the game got under way and that allowed Walcott to power through the
middle, trading passes with Aaron Ramsey before finishing smartly via a
deflection off Tony Hibbert.

After the frustrations his side
experienced against Aston Villa at the weekend, this was the kind of
start Wenger had dreamed about.

It was also an opportunity for —Walcott to show why Arsenal should do all they can to agree new terms.

This was Walcott’s 10th goal in his
last 18 appearances. The ratio might not be as prolific as the now
departed Robin van Persie, but it is still an impressive return and not
the type that could be easily — or cheaply — replaced if he was to
leave.

Lightning start: Theo Walcott (centre) fired Arsenal into the lead after just 52 seconds - the quickest Premier League goal of the season until Robin Van Persie scored after 31 for Man United

Lightning start: Theo Walcott (centre) fired Arsenal into the lead after just 52 seconds – the quickest Premier League goal of the season until Robin Van Persie scored after 31 for Man United

Down low: Tim Howard makes a save as Tony Hibbert and Theo Walcott watch on

Down low: Tim Howard makes a save as Tony Hibbert and Theo Walcott watch on

Tough tackling: Everton's Steven Pienaar gets stuck in to Bacary Sagna

Tough tackling: Everton's Steven Pienaar gets stuck in to Bacary Sagna

Fully committed: Sagna gets a foot in to steal the ball away from Nikica Jelavic

Fully committed: Sagna gets a foot in to steal the ball away from Nikica Jelavic

CROWD WATCH

There were no controversial chants and just a great atmosphere under the Goodison Park floodlights.

This hard-fought match was played in an environment that you would hope for and expect at most Premier League stadiums.

He was involved in everything
encouraging Arsenal did in the opening exchanges and the assured,
elegant way the visitors moved the ball around after that goal may have
caused Moyes to worry that a defeat similar to the 6-1 drubbing Arsenal
administered here in August 2009 was on the cards.

This Everton team, however, is made of
much sterner character and, crucially, it is imbued with more quality.
Roared on by the partisan crowd, they carried the fight to Arsenal,
asserting their physical presence and energy.

Central to the plot was the imposing presence of Fellaini.

Reflexes: Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny keeps out an attempt by Everton's Sylvain Distin

Reflexes: Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny keeps out an attempt by Everton's Sylvain Distin

Breaking clear: Pienaar tries to shake off the attentions of Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud

Breaking clear: Pienaar tries to shake off the attentions of Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud

Letting rip: Pienaar gets past former Evertonian Mikel Arteta to get in a strike at goal

Letting rip: Pienaar gets past former Evertonian Mikel Arteta to get in a strike at goal

On the run: Pienaar takes on the Arsenal defence

On the run: Pienaar takes on the Arsenal defence

He is always guaranteed to stand out
from the crowd because of his unique hairstyle and huge frame, but he is
also a superb footballer.

Arsenal were just the latest team to discover how difficult it is to contain him.

It came as no surprise, then, that
Fellaini was the man who restored parity. There did not appear much on
when he latched onto a loose ball which Bacary Sagna had failed to
control but, showing great poise, he swept a left-footed curling shot
past Wojciech Szczesny from 25 yards.

That came at the end of a spell of
Everton pressure and gave the hosts even more confidence. They set about
trying to poke their noses in front and should have done so on 39
minutes when Nikica Jelavic crafted a wonderful chance.

High flyers: Mikel Arteta tries to reach the ball as Marouane Fellaini ushers it along with his chest

High flyers: Mikel Arteta tries to reach the ball as Marouane Fellaini ushers it along with his chest

Sandwich: Aaron Ramsey (left) and Mikel Arteta close in on Everton's Leighton Baines

Sandwich: Aaron Ramsey (left) and Mikel Arteta close in on Everton's Leighton Baines

Tangle: Theo Walcott tries to break free of Leon Osman (left) and Tony Hibbert

Tangle: Theo Walcott tries to break free of Leon Osman (left) and Tony Hibbert

His chest control and subsequent
turning of Per Mertesacker was exemplary but, unfortunately for the
Croatian, he blazed his shot over the bar.

It was a strike symptomatic of a striker who has only scored twice since the end of September.

Moyes may have been frustrated that
Everton could not get the second goal their play merited but half-time
did not check their momentum. They came out after the break with the
same drive and determination and, as a result, Arsenal’s ambitions were
limited to simply withstanding the intense pressure.

With Moyes never leaving his technical area, constantly urging his players forward, Everton tried to turning the screw.

First Steven Naismith went close, then
Sylvain Distin headed straight at Szczesny from point blank range when
picked out by Leighton Baines.

Baines and Steven Pienaar’s
combination play was a particular nuisance for Arsenal and Pienaar
should have had a penalty in the 64th minute when he surged into
Arsenal’s box but referee Michael Oliver felt Mikel Arteta’s challenge
on the South African was legitimate and awarded a corner.

The way Moyes reacted, flinging his arms out and shaking his head, told its own story.

Frustration. Plain and simple.

Lewis Hamilton beats Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel to pole position in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2012

Hamilton blitzes qualifying in Abu Dhabi, romping to pole ahead of Webber and Vettel

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UPDATED:

15:06 GMT, 3 November 2012

Lewis Hamilton proved to be untouchable in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he claimed his sixth pole position this year and 25th of his Formula One career.

The 27-year-old was fastest throughout all three sessions around the Yas Marina circuit that was bathed in warm fading sunshine when the session began and was under the floodlights when it ended as darkness set in.

Hamilton finished a third of a second
quicker than Red Bull's Mark Webber as team-mate and championship leader
Sebastian Vettel could only manage third, the first time he has failed
to make the front row of this event.

Pleased as punch: Lewis Hamilton grins like a Cheshire cat after sealing his sixth pole of the season

Pleased as punch: Lewis Hamilton grins like a Cheshire cat after sealing his sixth pole of the season

Vettel, whose car endured a brake issue
in final practice that kept him consigned to the garage for all but two
early installation laps and the final four minutes of the hour, rarely
looked comfortable during qualifying.

However, in leading Ferrari's
Fernando Alonso by 13 points in the championship standings, there are
four places between the German and the Spaniard who starts seventh.

Vettel,
however, failed to make it back to the pits, pulling his car over on
track at turn 18 after qualifying had concluded, which will be cause for
the stewards to investigate.

The three amigos: Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and Webber pose for the media after qualifiying

The three amigos: Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and Webber pose for the media after qualifiying

Grid positions

1 L Hamilton McLaren
2 M Webber Red Bull
3 S Vettel Red Bull
4 P Maldonado Williams
5 K Raikkonen Lotus
6 J Button McLaren
7 F Alonso Ferrari
8 N Rosberg Mercedes
9 F Massa Ferrari
10 R Grosjean Lotus

Vettel, who was ordered by engine suppliers Renault to stop the car, was unable to throw any light on the reason why.

The German's car has suffered two
alternator failures in races this season, and if an engine change is
required it will mean a 10-place grid penalty.

'I don't know why I had to stop, I was asked to stop,' said Vettel.

'It's
probably some problem, but it shouldn't be something major. It was not
ideal this morning (with the brake issue), but we were settling in this
afternoon and the pace was there.

'Overall
I wasn't entirely happy with qualifying. I should have been quicker,
but whether I had enough to beat Mark is on another sheet of paper.'

In the dark: Vettel stopped on his in-lap and could face a grid penalty

In the dark: Vettel stopped on his in-lap and could face a grid penalty

With
Vettel four places ahead of Alonso on the grid, he added: 'We have seen
so many up and down races this year. From where we start is quite good,
we're close to the front and we go from there.

'Strategy
wise we're still not 100 per cent clear, but we have to look after
ourselves, and race this guy (referring to Hamilton).'

As for Hamilton, he was unable to
explain either where his speed had come from, even though this has long
been one of his better tracks.

'I
don't know,' said Hamilton when asked. 'The car has been feeling
fantastic, great from the get go, but we've no upgrade package so I
don't know. It was just great.'

Thumbs up: Hamilton was at his uncompromising best on the track

Thumbs up: Hamilton was at his uncompromising best on the track

Behind Alonso will be Mercedes' Nico Rosberg along with Romain Grosjean in his Lotus who will start 10th.

In between Vettel and Alonso will be
Williams' Pastor Maldonado, Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus and the second
McLaren of Jenson Button.

After the middle 15-minute session
neither Force India failed to make it into Q3 for the second straight
race as Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th and Paul di Resta 13th, the duo
split by two tenths of a second.

Pole position: Hamilton in action

Pole position: Hamilton in action

Sandwiched
in between is Sauber's Sergio Perez, who was baulked by Williams' Bruno
Senna in Q1, leaving the Brazilian who starts 15th vulnerable to a
penalty as he faces a stewards' investigation.

A
fading Michael Schumacher, heading into retirement for a second time at
the end of the year, starts 14th for the second successive race in his
Mercedes.

Behind Senna, at present, will be
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and
Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter failing to make it out of Q1 for the eighth
time in 18 races this season.

Hot stuff: Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen goes out for qualifying

Hot stuff: Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen goes out for qualifying

The
Frenchman, who will enjoy a second season at Toro Rosso next year along
with Ricciardo following confirmation of the drive on Thursday by the
Faenza-based squad, spun late on his final flying lap to leave him 18th.

Marussia's Charles Pic, who has been
linked with a move to Caterham, will have impressed his potential new
employers by splitting Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov.

Pic will start 20th, with
Kovalainen and Petrov 19th and 21st, with the second Marussia of Timo
Glock 22nd, whilst the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan
occupy the back row.

Steve Finn injured his thigh playing for England against India A

England wait on Finn injury as bowler injures his thigh in warm-up game

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UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 30 October 2012

Steven Finn had a scan on his right thigh on Tuesday night as England suffered an early injury scare on their tour of India.

The Middlesex fast bowler completed only four overs on the first morning of England’s tour opener against India A in Mumbai before indicating he felt unable to continue because of a niggle picked up in the field.

Finn, an integral part of England’s plans to hit India hard on their docile pitches, left the

Brabourne Stadium before the end of play to go back to the team hotel for the scan, the results of which were last night being examined in England.

Concern: Finn pulled up with a thigh injury

Concern: Finn pulled up with a thigh injury

‘We’re disappointed one of our fast bowlers had to go off,’ said Tim Bresnan, Finn’s main rival for a Test place who ended up bowling 20 overs on a hot day in the field.

‘It’s one of those things where you just have to step up a bit, and each of you has to take on his responsibility. We don’t know much about his injury. All we know is, it’s hurting.’

Taking a break: Steven Finn has a drink during the first days play

Taking a break: Steven Finn has a drink during the first days play

The International Cricket Council has given the go-ahead for teams to stage Test cricket under floodlights, pending the agreement of both competing nations on the hours of play and the brand of ball to be used.

The game’s governing body are concerned that cricket’s longest format is losing out to the more spectator-friendly Twenty20, but the England and Wales Cricket Board are lukewarm about the proposal. England is rare in packing out home matches, with more than 1.65million spectators attending games across the three formats in the past two summers.

There are also concerns about the effects of the British climate on day-night Test matches.

Bradley Wiggins turns back on second Tour de France title to support Chris Froome

Wiggins stuns fans by turning back on Tour de France defence to support Froome after nightmare route is unveiled

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UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 24 October 2012

Reigning champion Bradley Wiggins has turned his back on a second Tour de France title after agreeing to support Chris Froome's bid for glory.

The move marks a role reversal for the Team Sky team-mates after Froome played a key part in Wiggins' historic victory in July.

Look says it all: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome watch the 2013 route presentation

Look says it all: Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome watch the 2013 route presentation

Rivals: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins

Rivals: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins

Wiggins has set his sights on winning the Giro d’Italia next year as he attempts to secure all three Grand Tour titles.

Speaking at Wednesday's 2013 route announcement, Wiggins said: 'It's more than likely I'll be there in a helping capacity. For me it was about winning one Tour. I want to win the Giro.'

The 32-year-old became the first
Briton to win the Tour this summer when he beat Froome to the yellow jersey.

This year's race suited Wiggins'
time-trial prowess but next year's event, which starts for the first
time in Corsica, is apparently more mountainous which would not favour
the Briton but instead the likes of Alberto Contador.

Enlarge

The 2013 Tour de France route

The 2013 Tour de France route

the 2013 cycling classic Tour de France route

The Tour – the first since lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles – will end on the Champs-Elysees at night, organisers confirmed.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme revealed a 3,360-kilometre, 21-stage route, which takes place entirely in France, beginning on Corsica on June 21 and finishing under floodlights on the most famous boulevard in Paris on July 21.

Organisers made a decision to shorten
the combined length of the race's two individual time trials in part as
a response to the domination in this year's tour by champion Wiggins.

The 65 kilometers (40 miles) of time
trials split evenly between the 11th and 17th stages is almost 40
kilometers (25 miles) less than in the 2012 Tour, which could play into
Olympic time trial champion Wiggins' decision to focus instead on the
Giro d'Italia.

The first individual time trail on July 10 finishes against the backdrop of the Mont Saint-Michel monestary.

Line up: (l to r) Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador

The contenders: (l to r) Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Tejay van Garderen, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador

Main man: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

Main man: Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme

Organisers have given sprinters like Mark Cavendish a gift – the June 29 stage finish in Bastia is the first time since 1966 that a sprinter can hope to wear the yellow jersey after the first stage, Prudhomme said.

The traditional Bastille Day stage on July 14 is the race's longest at 242 kilometers (150 miles), ending with the 20.8-kilometer (13-mile) ascent of Mont Ventoux, one of cycling's most mythical climbs.

In another first for the race, which has only stopped for the two world wars since the first Tour in 1903, riders will begin the final stage on July 21 inside the grounds of the Versailles Palace. With the sprawling 17th-century chateau as a backdrop to the race start, 'It's going to be a knockout,' Prudhomme said.

The last stage will start later in the day than traditionally and timed for a finish at about 9 p.m., while there is still enough light to ensure riders' safety, Prudhomme said.

'We wanted the finish of the 100th Tour winner to be unique,' Prudhomme said.

In another change to tradition, the eight laps of the Champs Elysees will send riders all the way around the giant Arc de Triomphe arch at the top of the grand avenue, rather than just passing in front of it as in past years.

Armstrong finished on the top of the podium in a record seven Tours from 1999 to 2005 but was subject to a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation and stripped of his titles and banned for life.

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, ratified the sanctions on Monday.

Singapore Grand Prix 2012: Live coverage

LIVE: Singapore Grand Prix – follow all the action from the Marina Bay Circuit

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UPDATED:

12:52 GMT, 23 September 2012

Phil Duncan F1 blog

The Formula One circus has parked up in the glamorous surroundings of Singapore for round 14 of the 2012 world championship.

After making its debut in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix, which is staged completely under floodlights, has become a social highlight in the F1 calendar.

Make sure you don't miss any of today's action by following our dedicated coverage. And you can join in on Twitter, or by sending an email to [email protected]

Click here to follow our dedicated Formula One service on TwitterSingapore Grand Prix: Lap 25 of 61
Sebastian Vettel leads from Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton retired on lap 23 with a hydraulic issue
Fernando Alonso is fourth

Lap 24: 'We did everything we could,' is the message to Hamilton who appeared to be nursing a problem going into today's race. Should they have taken a gearbox change and sacrificed a five-place grid drop

Lap 23: LEWIS HAMILTON IS OUT. Head in hands down at McLaren as the 2008 world champion pulls over seemingly with a box full of neutrals. What a blow for Hamilton in his quest for the championship. Vettel leads.

Lap 22: Alonso is turning in some decent times. The Ferrari driver is almost one second quicker than Hamilton as he hunts down Pastor Maldonado. His team-mate Massa has set the fastest lap of the race after stopping for a second time.

Lap 21: Bruno Senna is enjoying a handy race. He's up to 12th after starting way down the order. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg who has finally pitted, is now the quickest man on the track. He's in 14th.

Lap 20: Twenty laps in, and we haven't seen a safety car yet. Back in the battle for 10th and Schumacher is still keeping Raikkonen at bay. The Finn really doesn't need this, but he is failing to make much of an impression on the seven-times champion.

Lap 19: Hamilton is 1.7 seconds ahead of Vettel with Button keeping the pair of them honest. The 2009 world champion is three seconds down on Vettel.

Lap 18: Di Resta sweeps past his team-mate Hulkenberg to re-take sixth position.

Lap 17: Hamilton doesn't look as comfortable during this phase of the race. Vettel has taken almost one second out of the British driver over the last three laps, with Button chipping away at the pair of them in third place.

Lap 16: Alonso is now on the gearbox of Nico Hulkenberg – the Force India man is yet to pit after 16 laps – in the battle for P5. Hamilton leads from Vettel, Button and Maldonado.

Lap 15: Alonso makes his way past Sergio Perez, who is yet to pit, for sixth. Up front, and Hamilton is 1.5 seconds clear of Vettel with Button a further four seconds down the road.

Leading the way: Hamilton is ahead of Vettel as the McLaren man goes in search of back-to-back wins

Leading the way: Hamilton is ahead of Vettel as the McLaren man goes in search of back-to-back wins

Lap 14: Jenson Button is the last of the leaders to pit as Lewis Hamilton re-takes the lead of the race. A slowish stop for JB, but he exits the pit-lane to find a clear track and he's behind both Hamilton and Vettel.

Lap 13: Button currently leads the Singapore Grand Prix as Hamilton sets the fastest middle sector of the race on his new set of boots. And that's Vettel past Raikkonen as Maldonado pits.

Lap 12: Vettel on fresh tyres is all over the back of Raikkonen who is yet to pit. And in comes Hamilton after reporting a problem with his right-rear tyre. A sub-3 second stop for Hamilton and he exits the pits ahead of the battle between Raikkonen and Vettel.

Lap 11: Vettel exits the pits in 12th and he quickly dispatches of Sergio Perez for 11th. Surely, he'll lose a whole host of time in this traffic though. The world champion has got Raikkonen and Schumacher for company.
In comes Fernando Alonso from fourth.

Lap 10: Button's looking very handy here. He took almost two seconds out of Vettel on the last lap as Bruno Senna is told he has a problem with first gear. It doesn't appear to be affecting the Brazilian. He's looking racy in P15 after starting 22nd. And in comes Vettel for his first stop of the day. It's a McLaren one-two at present.

Under the lights: Hamilton makes the perfect start

Under the lights: Hamilton makes the perfect start

Lap 9: Button has turned in a decent couple of laps here. The 2009 world champion is now less than six seconds behind Hamilton as Timo Glock has a brush with the wall. A wee error for Vettel at the chicane and he's now 2.3 seconds down on the race leader.

Lap 8: Massa is on the soft compound tyre after his stop at the end of lap one. His pace will be used as a handy barometer for team-mate Alonso as Webber comes in for his first stop of the day. The Aussie changes to the soft-compound tyre.

Lap 7: Button was quicker than both Vettel and Hamilton on that lap. Who will blink first Those on three-stoppers will be thinking of pitting in the near future. 'You are by far the quickest person', Felipe Massa is told. Indeed, the Ferrari man is almost one second quicker than the leaders.

Lap 6: Raikkonen is now just two tenths behind Schumacher in the battle for 10th. Being a street circuit, it's nigh on impossible to pass around here. Paul Di Resta, linked with a move away from Force India for next term, is enjoying a reasonable afternoon. The Scot is in P6 with the Red Bull of Mark Webber for company.

Lap 5: Hamilton is now a mighty 6.7 seconds ahead of team-mate Button. Today's race win will surely be a straight fight between Hamilton and Vettel. Meanwhile, Massa who is plum last sets the fastest lap of the race.

Lap 4: Hamilton is 1.7 seconds ahead of Vettel. Further down the pack and Kimi Raikkonen, who lest us not forget is third in the championship race, is looking racy on the gearbox of Michael Schumacher who sits in 10th.

Lap 3: Alonso suffered a poor start of the line and he was fortunate to maintain his fifth position. The Spaniard however, is already seven seconds down on Hamilton. Surely it will be a damage limitation job for Alonso today.

Lap 2: The 2012 misery goes on for Felipe Massa as the Ferrari driver pulls into the pits with a left-rear puncture. Back on track and Hamilton and Vettel, who have been the class acts this weekend, have already pulled out a decent gap on Button in third. Hamilton is 2.1 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Lap 1: Perfect start for Lewis Hamilton who beats Pastor Maldonado in the drag race down to Turn 1, but the Williams man out-breaks himself and loses second to Sebastian Vettel before Jenson Button makes his way past and move into P3. Maldonado is fourth with Fernando Alonso in fifth and Paul Di Resta P6. Further down the grid the Caterhams have come together with Vitaly Petrov limping back to the pit-lane with a damaged front wing.

12.57pm: We're just moment away from the start of the Singapore Grand Prix. Can anyone stop Hamilton Will Maldonado score his first points since winning the Spanish Grand Prix in May And will we see the safety car for the fifth constructive year Stay tuned to find out.

12.52pm: 'Praise the lord for air conditioning,' writes Sportsmail's motor racing correspondent Simon Cass. 'How these drivers race for two hours around the sweltering streets of Singapore I will never know.

A new deal is signed and we will be coming back here for the next five years. At Monaco the champagne is drunk but the deals are done at Singapore. That might just apply to a certain Lewis Hamilton. Should he stay or should he go Only he can decide but he looks to have a cracking chance of a third win in four if he can stay out of trouble…mentioning no names, Maldonado. Great opportunity to take a chunk out of Alonso’s 37-point lead.'

Driver's parade: Vettel will start from third for today's race

Driver's parade: Vettel will start from third for today's race

12.48pm: The Marina Bay Circuit pauses for a moment of reflection for Professor Sid Watkins – the former head of the on-track medical team – who passed away last week this month. Watkins, known simply as The Prof, helped saved the lives of many drivers over the years, and for that the sport will be eternally grateful. The one-minute silence is observed impeccably.

12.43pm: Jenson Button could have a big role today in supporting his team-mate. He starts in fourth: 'All is okay,' Button said. 'It is always a very special race because it is at night time.'

12.40pm: Down to the grid and we'll start with the two Nicos. Here's Force India's Hulkenberg who starts in 11th: 'Yesterday didn't go to plan and that's why were here in 11th. If we survive the first lap I think we can have a good result today. I don't expect carnage just because Maldonado is there. There is always potential for a crash but you take nothing for granted.'

And Rosberg, who starts in P8: 'I can tell you it is very hot (inside the cockpit). This is one of the toughest races of the year because there are no long straights to relax. It's also one of the longest races of the year.'

12.30pm: Today's grand prix is arguably the toughest on the calender. The intense heat coupled with the tight, demanding track ensures there is no room for error. Indeed, there we've seen a safety car at every occasion since its 2008 debut.

Championship lead: Fernando Alonso has a 37-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton heading into today's race

Championship lead: Fernando Alonso has a 37-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton heading into today's race

Grid girls

12.25pm: Hamilton's future remains a hot topic in Singapore, but just as in Monza a fortnight ago, it doesn't appear to have affected the 2008 world champion. His lap in qualifying was nothing short of outstanding, and the Brit knows another 25 points today will see his chances of claiming a second world crown improve ten-fold.

12.15pm: Good afternoon one and all, and welcome to today's coverage of the Singapore Grand Prix. And what a race we have in store.

Lewis Hamilton will start as the favourite to claim a third race win in four races after blitzing the field on Saturday. The unsettled McLaren star was almost half-a-second quicker than his closest rival in yesterday's qualifying session. He'll have the accident-prone Pastor Maldonao alongside him, with Sebastian Vettel in third, Jenson Button starting fourth and championship leader Fernando Alonso in P5.

Tribute: Hamilton signs the book of condolences for Professor Sid Watkins before the Singapore Grand Prix

Tribute: Hamilton signs the book of condolences for Professor Sid Watkins before the Singapore Grand Prix

FA Cup semi-finals: You don"t Wembley

When semi-finals were magic! You don't need Wembley for those glorious moments

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UPDATED:

21:45 GMT, 12 April 2012

Iconic: Ryan Giggs's goal against Arsenal at Villa Park in 1999

Iconic: Ryan Giggs's goal against Arsenal at Villa Park in 1999

Think of Ryan Giggs's slalom goal against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final: think of Giggs's smooth balance, his 50-yard weaving run, his pin-sharp strike to beat David Seaman and then the black-chested, shirt-waving sprint of celebration. There was shock, there was awe, even on Giggs’s face.

There was also darkness. This was a replay, it was midweek, it was at night and it was at Villa Park. It will never happen again.

The floodlights were on and television footage always enhances the brightness. But the Birmingham night still carried the impression of an atmospheric darkness — darker than normal — and one man can confirm that this is no trick of the memory.

'Lux is the measurement of light,' explains Tony Diffley, who was Aston Villa's stadium manager for 14 years. 'In those days there was a maximum of 800 lux at Villa Park and a minimum of 500. But in some parts of the ground it would have been lower, near the dug-outs for example.

'Camera technology was not what it is now either, so there was a feel of darkness to the stadium. I’ve always thought of the light at Villa Park being like an old-fashioned living room. It gave it the ambience of a country cottage. It wasn’t shiny bright in your eyes.

'And that made it different, special.

'Wembley, the old Wembley, you think of it bathed in sunshine. It had that light. That made it special.

'Nowadays at Villa Park it's a minimum 1,200 lux. I'd imagine at Wembley it'd be in excess of 2,000. Villa Park used to have that darkness. Stoke, Blackburn, they had it too.'

The point Diffley makes and which others share is that there is increasing uniformity — visible in Champions League and World Cup coverage — and that part of what gets lost in a paperwork decision to move semi-finals to Wembley and to remove replays is something as tangible and intangible as light and atmosphere.

Another difference lost is the 'neutral ground'. Variety is another casualty, and if the Football Association think that four years of semi-finals at Wembley have erased this as an issue, anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.

'The new Wembley does nothing for me, having FA Cup semi-finals there is a disgrace,' added Diffley, with feeling.

Brian Talbot scored one of the most famous of all semi-final goals. It was in 1980 for Arsenal against Liverpool and it came in the third replay between the teams, the fourth game of the most epic FA Cup semi-final of all.

Go, go Gunners: Brian Talbot celebrates one of the most famous of all semi-final goals, in 1980 for Arsenal against Liverpool

Go, go Gunners: Brian Talbot celebrates one of the most famous of all semi-final goals, in 1980 for Arsenal against Liverpool

Talbot is 58 now and the game was 32 years ago but while he talked flatly about his decisive goal — 'Ray Kennedy made a mistake, Frank Stapleton crossed and I arrived at the right time' — Talbot's tenor changed when he recalled a previous semi-final, for Ipswich, and the meaning of Wembley.

'We lost in 1975 to West Ham in a replay at Stamford Bridge,' Talbot said. 'I saw grown men cry in our dressing room.'

It is an image Talbot's memory has not been able to erase.

'I was 21. John Wark was 17 — he'd made his debut against the great Leeds team in the quarter-final. We didn't deserve to lose. We had two goals disallowed. People still talk about it in Ipswich.'

There was a reason for the tears beyond perceived injustice and it was not just missing the final, it was missing the unique venue for the final. That in turn is what set the semi-finals apart.

'One of the reasons why the semis used to be so tense was because you were one game away from Wembley,' Talbot added. 'It was a big part of the prize. It was part of why it was a special day.

'You'd go to Villa Park or Hillsborough for a league game and it wouldn't be the same, it wouldn't have the same atmosphere. “The buzz” was different.

'Football is about fans and it was a great day for the fans. For Liverpool and Everton fans to leave the same city to go to Wembley this year is crazy. The game could be played at Old Trafford. Having the semi-finals at Wembley takes away from the final.'

Up for the cup: John Beresford in action during the FA Cup semi at Highbury

Up for the cup: John Beresford in action during the FA Cup semi at Highbury

Rewinding to 1980, Talbot is puzzled still by the ultimate venue of the Arsenal-Liverpool marathon.

'We had the first game at Hillsborough, the second at Villa Park, the third at Villa Park and the fourth at Highfield Road. I remember thinking, “But Coventry's is a smaller ground”, that it would be difficult for fans.'

It was the way things were. But it means Highfield Road has its place in FA Cup history.

John Beresford was part of the Second Division Portsmouth team that met Liverpool in 1992. The game was at Highbury, the replay at Villa Park, where Portsmouth lost on penalties. Beresford missed his.

Like Talbot, Beresford simmers unprovoked at the idea of Wembley semi-finals.

'It demeans the competition,' Beresford said. 'The special thing was that it was there for the final.

'The thing about the semi was that it would be at a great ground anyway and you’d be on a ground that was on top of you. We were at Highbury and then Villa Park for the replay.

'Normally when you played there the crowd would be 90 per cent against you. On that day it's 50-50. It's a totally different environment, it makes the atmosphere better, the intensity is greater.

'I'm telling you, having watched the semis at Wembley, they're slower games than at places like Highbury. Wembley's bigger, the pitch is bigger. So it felt like more of a cup-tie then.

'My biggest memory from Highbury was looking at the clock with two-and-a-half minutes to go, thinking, “We're two-and-a-half minutes from Wembley”. Then John Barnes clipped in a free-kick, and I think Ronnie Whelan finished it off.

'At Villa Park for the replay there was a different feel. It was a midweek night match. It's an old-school ground and it's dark. We all know what happened.'

No ground has staged more semi-finals than Villa Park — 55 in total. As Beresford said: 'It's because it's in the Midlands, Villa Park's 90 minutes from most places.'

Highfield Road, Coventry, had just that one 1980 game, so too Sunderland's Roker Park and Burnley's Turf Moor. In 1900, the old Elm Park in Reading was the venue for the replay contested by Southampton and Millwall Athletic, as they were then called.

The oldest football tournament on the planet has had other odd stopping-off points.

There is a school in Edinburgh called Merchiston Castle which hosted Queen’s Park versus Nottingham Forest in 1885, when Scottish teams were eligible. The rugby league ground in Huddersfield, St John's, staged Blackburn Rovers against The Wednesday (as they were until 1929).

Providing the spark: Billy Bremner settled the FA Cup semi-final between Leeds and Manchester United and in 1970

Providing the spark: Billy Bremner settled the FA Cup semi-final between Leeds and Manchester United and in 1970

More recently, in 1970, Leeds v Manchester United's second replay was at Burnden Park in Bolton. It ended 1-0 to Leeds. Billy Bremner scored — and John Arlott wrote: 'If every manager in Britain were given his choice of any one player to add to his team, some no doubt would toy with the idea of George Best. But the realists to a man would have Bremner.'

In 1962, Filbert Street, Leicester, was where Burnley reached the final. It was a replay against Fulham, the original game having been played at Villa Park.

Burnley fan Tony Scholes was at the game. He was 10. 'It snowed,' he said. 'I remember that. And we were stood on an open terrace.'

Twelve years later Scholes was at Hillsborough to see Burnley lose to Newcastle and Malcolm Macdonald. 'It was so hurtful and it’s still painful,' Scholes added, 'because we weren’t getting to Wembley. That’s how special Wembley was.'

Hillsborough staged 34 semi-finals, including 1989's abandoned game between Liverpool and Forest. The stadium's name is linked for ever with that tragedy, though there were two semi-finals there after that — in 1992 (Sunderland v Norwich) and 1997's replay between Middlesbrough and Chesterfield.

Scholes recalled that in 1974 Burnley fans were given tickets at both ends of the ground: 'Incredible. We were shoehorned into the Leppings Lane End that year.'

Scholes is 70. He has seen good, bad and worrying semi-final days. He is another who volunteers criticism of this day moving to Wembley and made the simple point: 'There was never any call for it, was there'

No, but in 2007 when Manchester United beat Watford at Villa Park and Chelsea beat Blackburn at Old Trafford, that was it. Wembley took over and an FA spokesman said that situation is 'indefinite. Staging semi-finals is an integral part of Wembley’s business plan'.

Even the Football Supporters' Federation accept this. Chairman Malcolm Clarke watched his club Stoke City lose consecutive semi-finals to Arsenal in 1971 and '72 but found no great backlash from Stoke fans last season when they played Bolton at Wembley.

Special occasion: Stoke thumped Bolton 5-0 in the 2011 semi-final at Wembley

Special occasion: Stoke thumped Bolton 5-0 in the 2011 semi-final at Wembley

THIRD PLACE GOES TO…

From 1970 there was a five-year experiment in which the losing FA Cup semi-finalists met in a third-place play-off. The plan was for the game to be on the Friday night before the final and in 1970 Manchester United beat Watford 2-0 at Highbury.

This replaced the tradition of England versus Young England games. With so many players withdrawing for the Home Internationals, however, the experiment petered out.

Burnley won the last match, against Leicester in front of 4,000 fans at Filbert Street, with Ray Hankin scoring the only goal.

'Some thought thrashing Bolton was all
the better for being at Wembley,' Clarke said. 'Others thought it
detracted from it and that if we’d thrashed Bolton at Old Trafford it
would hardly have been less special.

'Perhaps it's generational, certainly for older fans Wembley had a mystique. Old Trafford would be the obvious place to play Everton-Liverpool this year. Part of the FA argument is about numbers but 17,000 of the 90,000 seats at Wembley belong to Club Wembley. So it’s really 73,000 tickets, which is very similar to Old Trafford.'

Everton and Liverpool have actually been allocated 63,000 tickets between them for Saturday’s game.

The first FA Cup semi-final was held in 1872 at Kennington Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. It required a replay, too, between Royal Engineers and Crystal Palace. Palace (setting a trend) lost.

The Oval is where the Cup semi-finals remained for a decade until they began to move north, first to Huddersfield and Manchester and then around the country. Another tradition snuffed out by the modern Wembley decision.

The original venue is evidence of how things come and go. Kennington Oval was established, just as Wembley is re-establishing itself, just as places such as Hillsborough, Old Trafford and Villa Park used to be known for, among other things, being that tantalising one step from the final.

Shrewsbury fire forces Port Vale postponement at Greenhous Meadow Stadium

Shrewsbury's promotion charge dented after fire forces Port Vale postponement

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UPDATED:

06:27 GMT, 28 March 2012

Shrewsbury dropped out of the automatic promotion places in League Two after their match against Port Vale was dramatically postponed due to an electrical fire.

James Collins gave Graham Turner's side a 50th minute lead but the match was halted 14 minutes later when smoke began billowing out of the East Stand at the Greenhous Meadow Stadium.

Supporters were evacuated when the floodlights failed in the Roland Wycherley Stand before firefighters rushed to the scene to attend a serious fire within the control room.

Up in smoke: Firefighters rushed to the scene to put out a fire in the control room at Shrewsbury's stadium

Up in smoke: Firefighters rushed to the scene to put out a fire in the control room at Shrewsbury's stadium

A stadium announcement declared the match could not go on 15 minutes later. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and the match will now be rescheduled for a later date.

'The initial reaction when the lights went out was that you see it all the time and that they'd soon be back on,' Shrewsbury striker Terry Gornell told BBC Radio Shropshire.

Football League blog

'You're in the game and you're not worrying about what's happening off the field.

'But, as soon as they started evacuating the stand, you knew there was slim chance of it carrying on.

'The main thing is nobody was hurt and it all went smoothly but we're in shock. We can't believe this has happened.

'It was one of our best performances of the season and we were playing some great football.'

Australian Grand Prix faces axe, warns Bernie Ecclestone

You're on borrowed time! Bernie warns that Australia could lose its grand prix after 2015 race

Bernie Ecclestone has warned that the Australian Grand Prix faces being axed from the Formula One calendar.

Melbourne’s Albert Park, which is set to host this season’s curtain raiser in a fortnight's time, has a contract until 2015.

But Ecclestone says the sport is prepared to end its 30-year association with Australia, calling it the 'least viable' race on the calendar.

A lovely sight: Melbourne's Albert Park will stage the first race of the new season

A lovely sight: Melbourne's Albert Park will stage the first race of the new season

'We have a contract which we will
respect – so up until 2015 we are in good shape,' Ecclestone, 81, told
Melbourne newspaper The Age.

'After then, we really don’t know. If we
were to have a divorce from our friends in Melbourne we would probably
be walking away from Australia.

'Because
I can’t see how Adelaide could make it happen, or anywhere else, if
Melbourne can’t. The race itself, from our point of view, is probably
the least viable of all the races we have.'

End of the road: Melbourne may lose its grand prix after the current contract

End of the road: Melbourne may lose its grand prix after the current contract

Ecclestone hinted that he would be prepared to negotiate a reduced fee if the race was held under floodlights making it more suitable to European television audiences.

'We would have a look, maybe we could help subsidise that a little bit,’ he added.

'We have other races ready to take the place of Australia – which we don’t want to happen.

Ringmaster: Bernie Ecclestone has warned the Australian Grand Prix over its future

Ringmaster: Bernie Ecclestone has warned the Australian Grand Prix over its future

'But it would be wrong of me to have to report to our board, “Terribly sorry about this but we have to walk away from wherever to retain Australia”.'

Since staging its first Formula One event in 1985, the Australian Grand Prix has played host to a number of memorable races.

Unforgettable: Mansell lost the 1986 title in Adelaide

Unforgettable: Mansell lost the 1986 title in Adelaide

Adelaide Street Circuit, which ran the event prior to Melbourne, was the scene of Nigel Mansell’s unforgettable tyre blow out as he looked poised to clinch the 1986 world title.

The same track also saw Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill infamously collide, earning the former his first of seven world titles back in 1994.

Scotland A 35 England Saxons 0: Weir leads the way as Scots thrash bitter rivals

Scotland A 35 England Saxons 0: Weir leads the way as Scots thrash bitter rivals

Scotland A showed their senior counterparts the way ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield as they emphatically beat England Saxons in Galashiels.

Tries from Duncan Weir, who finished with 20 points, plus Stuart Hogg, Rory Lawson and Matt Scott saw the home side pile on the points under the Netherdale floodlights as the visitors finished with no reward.

A crowd of 4,124 enjoyed a feast of rugby from the Scots who were for the most part a real force.

Here we go! Duncan Weir celebrates his try for Scotland A against England

Here we go! Duncan Weir celebrates his try for Scotland A against England

Scotland dominated the first half and were well worthy of their 13-0 lead at the interval.

Coach Michael Bradley had called for Borderers to get behind the team and he was not disappointed.

The Scots were full of running and when England were penalised for not rolling away, Weir kicked the goal to give the Scots a start on the scoreboard after just three minutes.

The English were unable to stretch the Scotland defensive line, where the tackling was secure.

Scores on the doors: Scotland thrashed their English counterparts

Scores on the doors: Scotland thrashed their English counterparts

It was a Hawick man who delighted the
crowd when Glasgow full-back Hogg stormed home over 60 metres and Weir
converted for a 10-0 lead.

Scotland tackled aggressively and denied the Saxons any scoring opportunities and the English were short of ideas beyond the Scottish 22.
Scotland missed an opportunity to add to their lead with a penalty as Weir pulled his kick wide.

England lock James Gaskell fell foul of referee Leighton Hodges after 37 minutes, sin-binned for a high tackle on Matt Scott. The Scots started to make the extra man count, and when England were caught offside, Weir kicked his second penalty for a 13-0 interval lead.

Hold it: England player Ed Slater runs through the tackle of Tom Brown

Hold it: England player Ed Slater runs through the tackle of Tom Brown

The Scots were well on top and Weir ran in his try in the 52nd minute as he sped from a scrum to score under the posts, and then converted his own score.

And when Ed Slater was the second Englishman to be binned, Weir stretched the home lead.

It was all Scotland as Lawson and Scott added further tries and Weir converted one.