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Footballers"s Football Column – Ross Allen: Signing Matt Le Tissier is great but he won"t take penalties off me

ROSS ALLEN: Our fixture pile up is tough – up at 5am, fly to England at 7am, game at 3pm and back home for 9pm… and then ANOTHER match the next day!

PUBLISHED:

08:25 GMT, 24 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 24 April 2013

Ross Allen

Ross Allen is a British centre forward with a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has scored 53 goals in 37 games for Guernsey FC this season, but more impressive is his contribution to an incredible fixture pile-up that has seen the club in the middle of 20 games in 36 days. In his debut Footballers' Football Column he writes about that sequence, which started on April 1 and ends on May 6, and came about through postponed home matches in winter and an unlikely run to the FA Vase semi-final… Oh and a certain team-mate called Le Tissier.

Footballers Football Column: Ross Allen

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GUERNSEY'S FIXTURE RUN-IN

DATE
TEAM
VENUE
SCORE
01/04/2013
Windsor
Away
W 6-1
05/04/2013
South Park
Away
W 2-0
06/04/2013
Cove
Home
L 1-2
07/04/2013
Camberley
Home
D 2-2
09/04/2013
Farnham
Away
W 2-1
12/04/2013
Horley
Home
W 4-1
14/04/2013
Raynes Park Vale
Home
W 4-3
16/04/2013
Hanworth Villa
Away
L 2-1
18/04/2013
Badshot Lea
Away
D 2-2
20/04/2013
Hanworth Villa
Home
W 5-1
21/04/2013
Chessington & Hook Utd
Home
L 2-0
24/04/2013
Colliers Wood Utd
Away

26/04/2013
Ash United
Home

27/04/2013
Molesey
Home

28/04/2013
Sandhurst Town
Home

30/04/2013
Bedfont Sports
Away

03/05/2013
Dorking
Home

04/05/2013
Hartley Wintney
Home

05/05/2013
Epsom & Ewell
Home

06/05/2013
Farnham Town
Home

The season started off well, we were around the top of the table. Then this FA Vase run kicked off. We knew that was a great opportunity to show what we could do on a national scale and get more publicity. We did really well but that was always a bit of a bonus and we were focusing more on the league.

Then November hit and everything just started to stall. Unfortunately our pitch just didn’t hold up against the weather. We share it with our local rugby team. It wasn’t their fault at all but the pitch just couldn’t handle it. It was underwater for the best part of two months.

Unfortunately it’s at the bottom of a low-lying part of the island and the rain just drains down there from the hills. It’s part of an athletics stadium so it’s not really been there for football in the past. We adopted it last season. It’s the best place for us and has an 800-seater stand. It’s great for the crowd. We had ten home games between November and the end of January and I think we might have had one or two of those games on with the winter being so bad.

It was a nightmare and really set us back. We didn’t get any rearranged away games. It got to the point where it didn’t look like we could make a serious bid for the title. We just didn’t know when we were going to get all these league games in. All we had was this FA Vase run, which was incredible because most of the games were drawn away.

That was fortunate because we wouldn’t have played them if they were at home. But when we started getting league games back on as the weather got better, the Vase games clashed. So we had to push more back. As we got further in the Vase we saw that as a great opportunity to do something, there was always a sniff of Wembley.

Dangerman: Ross Allen has scored 53 goals in 37 games for Guernsey

Dangerman: Ross Allen has scored 53 goals in 37 games for Guernsey

In a league of his own: Allen has a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

In a league of his own: Allen has a better strike rate than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

More from The Footballers' Column…

The Footballers' Football Column – Carolyn Radford: We aim to take Mansfield to the Premier League within five years, but we need to avoid the play-offs… because last time I was arrested!
23/04/13

KEVIN BETSY: It's the business end, players start falling out… You get on-loan players who just don’t care plus the ones too easily found on the treatment table
19/04/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Leon Osman: We will miss 'Fizzer' Neville but he'll miss us too… And why Leighton Baines is no Hank Marvin
18/04/13

ROB SEGAL: Footballers who come through the ranks at English clubs never get the contracts they deserve… players from overseas get more money and it makes no sense
15/04/13

MARTIN ALLEN: Winning titles is not all about money. City pay the big wages but it is United are at the top of the table… they have spirit, tenacity and drive and I hope my squad is similar to Fergie's in that way
12/04/13

KEVIN NOLAN: West Ham need big European nights at the Olympic Stadium and Big Sam is the man to deliver the dream
09/04/13

ROHAN RICKETTS: Footballers think they are untouchable… but the reality is life without a contract can be very tough
07/04/13

CRAIG ROCASTLE: There's a lot of expectation when you have my surname.. but now I'm trying to make a name for myself in the indoor league in America (as soon as I learn the rules)
03/04/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

We got through to the semi-finals last month, started getting a few more league games in, then the schedule came out. We were all shocked. We didn’t really know the rules but we thought they might extend the season into the middle or end of May and give us a bit more leeway. But that’s not how it turned out.

Guernsey is such an amazing place, everyone comes together as a community – you’ve got 60,000 people on your side and everything fighting for the same thing. Everyone saw it as a challenge and one we are thriving to take on.

We lost our two-legged semi-final against Spennymoor.

That was always a tough ask but we showed character, losing 4-1 on aggregate. They’ve got pedigree and we always knew we were the underdogs. For the home leg everyone rallied together to get friends, family, anyone who is interested in football down. We had a crowd of 4,290, which is huge for us. It was an amazing day, full of green all the way around the pitch. That definitely gets you buzzing.

To get to the semi-finals in only our second year of being formed is a great achievement, something we should be really proud of. It was disappointing to miss out on Wembley but we had a game two days later so we didn’t have much time to be too despondent. We bounced back with a 6-1 win.

This congested run is very hard, very tiring, but we know what we are doing. We play in the Island Games every year. The tournament is only a week so you play three games in a row, your three group games, then you have a day off, then the semi and the final. In the Isle of Wight in 2011 we played five games in six days with an 18 man squad. So we’ve done this before. We’re the best team in the country to be prepared and adapted to this kind of challenge.

We have to fly to all our away games using Aurigny Air Services. Our recent match at South Park, in Surrey, was a Friday night game, kick off at 7.45pm. We flew to Gatwick and stayed at the airport hotel. I scored two as we won 2-0. But we had a match the following evening so after staying over we woke up the next morning at 7am, for the 8.30am flight back to Guernsey.

We tried to get some rest, some food, then it was a 7.45pm kick off that evening. Then there was a 1.30pm kick off the day after that. That’s the mad one. You get home Saturday night after the game at about 11pm but have a game the next afternoon.

How do we get through it We have amazing staff who are all volunteers but committed to making sure we’re rested, getting massages, and things like that.

People have actually come to games and revealed they are qualified masseurs. They say: 'I read about your fixtures in the paper, can I offer my services' They come into the dressing room and do it for free. The boys really appreciate it. These little things are going to make all the difference, recovery is so important.

Beautiful setting: Allen enjoys living in Guernsey and says the community all comes together

Beautiful setting: Allen enjoys living in Guernsey and says the community all comes together

Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo

Simply the best: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the best players in the world – but Allen has a better strike rate than both players

We’ve probably got a good 25 players signed on now. A few extra have joined us, who did play last season but for various reasons haven’t been able to commit to as much this season. They can’t go to away games because of families but are itching and raring to go for the home games.

Before each game the coaching staff ask everyone: 'Are you alright to start tomorrow night if I choose you' There will be more of that than just the manager picking the team. They don’t want to pick someone who is struggling and will have to come off early because they are knackered.

People will put their hands up if they aren’t doing well – because they will probably play the next day. We’ve got enough mature lads in our squad to know it’s a team effort – no one man will do every game, the full 90 minutes.

If it’s a weekend game we’re up at 5am in the morning for the red-eye. That’s a 7am flight. We get to England, have a bit of food, hang about at the airport. Then head up to the game for a 1pm or 3pm kick off. Then we fly back that evening and get home around 9pm. It’s a full day commitment. For people with families that’s one of their weekend days.

Out of the cup: Guernsey were beaten in the FA Vase semi-final by Spennymoor Town

Out of the cup: Guernsey were beaten in the FA Vase semi-final by Spennymoor Town

Staying put: Allen says he has no desire to leave Guernsey and play elsewhere

Staying put: Allen says he has no desire to leave Guernsey and play elsewhere

Luckily I don’t have any wife or kids. I try not to get too tied down otherwise I’ll start missing games. Everyone’s got full time jobs because none of us get paid. We’ve got a few in teaching, a lot at banks in the town, really varied. I work for an online company. It’s a bit more flexible – not just a 9 to 5. We get all travel covered thankfully.

I’ve scored more than 50 goals this year – more than 100 since we formed – but that’s my job, we play such an attacking game. Our head coach Tony Vance was a striker and that’s how he wants to play the game. It suits us really well because we’ve got pace, we get good width and I’m always getting in the box, getting the goals. My team-mates do a lot of the work.

I’m not looking to move on. I had trials for years and it was something I wanted to do when I was a little bit younger. But I’m 26 now and some people would say that’s quite old in football terms. I’m lucky this has come around – I think all our players were just playing local football back in Guernsey and that gets a bit stale, you’re playing against the same people each week. We played Jersey every year. But it’s not really enough. So it was perfect timing in my career for this to happen.

Le God: Matthew Le Tissier is life president of Guernsey

Le God: Matthew Le Tissier is life president of Guernsey

Magnificent seven: Le Tissier could pull on his football boots again for Guernsey this season

Magnificent seven: Le Tissier could pull on his football boots again for Guernsey this season

It will be good to have a rest when the season is done. It’s been a long one. We’ve got a month to go. It will be nice to have a break, maybe go on holiday – but we’ll be straight back on it in July with the FA Cup qualifiers. It will be a nice month or so that we have off.

Matt Le Tissier is our president and he comes down for a few games – but we seem to lose any he watches! It’s great to have him involved – he gives us a shout out every now and again on Soccer Saturday. He’s put us on the map a little bit but I think our football is generally doing that itself.

Matt has been re-registered to play and he warmed up with us recently, which was great. It was good to see him as he’s been so supportive since the start. You could still see his touch was there. But if he does end up playing at some point this season, he won’t be taking over my penalty taking duties!

Millwall violence at Wembley: three arrested in dawn raids

Millwall fans arrested in dawn raids after violence at Wembley FA Cup semi-final

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

06:36 GMT, 23 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 23 April 2013

Police have arrested three men in dawn raids in connection with violence at an FA Cup semi-final between Millwall and Wigan.

The men, aged 21, 22 and 27, were arrested at addresses in London by officers from Operation Arrowtip, which targets football-related crime, Scotland Yard said.

So far 23 people have been arrested in relation to violence at the semi-final at London's Wembley Stadium on April 13, during which Millwall fans attacked police and fought among themselves inside and outside the ground.

Scroll down for video

Something to hide Police make an arrest during an early morning raid after violence at Wembley

Something to hide Police make an arrest during an early morning raid after violence at Wembley

Flashpoint: Police clash with fans during the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley

Flashpoint: Police clash with fans during the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley

A further 17 pictures have been released of people at the match who police want to speak to.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Barnes said: 'Large-scale violence and disorder at football matches is completely unacceptable. People attending matches expect to be able to do so in a safe and friendly environment.

'We have had an excellent response from the public, who have identified people in nine of the 10 images already released. Some have since handed themselves in to police, and to date, we have arrested 23 people. Three have been charged.

Dawn raids produce more arrests over FA Cup semi-final violence

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Wanted: These are the 17 football fans suspected of being involved in disorder at the FA Cup semi-final

Wanted: These are the 17 football fans suspected of being involved in disorder at the FA Cup semi-final

Wanted: These are the 17 football fans suspected of being involved in disorder at the FA Cup semi-final

Hunt: Police are still searching for more people in connection with the violence during the FA Cup semi-final

Hunt: Police are still searching for more people in connection with the violence during the FA Cup semi-final

Hunt: Police are still searching for more people in connection with the violence during the FA Cup semi final

'The investigation team is working through many more calls and CCTV to identify all those involved in the disorder. We expect to make further arrests.

'Our message is clear. Violence at football is unacceptable. If you were involved in the violence come forward and speak with us. We will pursue all those responsible.'

Anyone with information about the violence or who recognises the people in the pictures is urged to call police on 020 8246 0076 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Romelu Lukaku racism case: Sunderland fan swears at cameras on way out of court

Sunderland fan accused of racist gesture at Lukaku swears as he leaves court

By
Tom Wilkinson, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

12:12 GMT, 22 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:35 GMT, 22 April 2013

The Sunderland fan who denies making a racist monkey gesture at Romelu Lukaku swore and threatened to spit at photographers after a court hearing on Monday.

Liam Jones, 21, of East Vines, Sunderland, was charged following an alleged incident in the stands of the Stadium of Light last November.

Offensive: Liam Jones swore at photographers and threatened to spit (below)

Offensive: Liam Jones swore at photographers and threatened to spit (below)

Liam Jones

West Brom striker Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored a goal against the north-east club as his side won 4-2, and in the aftermath Jones allegedly made the gesture.

He was arrested after the match and was charged last month with racially aggravated harassment.

Sunderland Magistrates adjourned the case for trial on June 26.

Jones was granted bail on a number of conditions, including that he does not go within 300 metres of the Stadium of Light or 500m of St James’ Park – the home of rivals Newcastle – on match days.

Bail: Jones is not allowed near the Stadium of Light or St James' Park until the trial

Bail: Jones is not allowed near the Stadium of Light or St James' Park until the trial

Laura Robson draws GB level in Argentina

Robson draws GB level in Argentina after Konta loses opener

By
Mark Staniforth, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 20 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:05 GMT, 20 April 2013

Laura Robson kept Great Britain's hopes of returning to the Fed Cup World Group alive with an emphatic victory over Florencia Molinero in Buenos Aires today.

The world number 38 brushed aside her inexperienced opponent 6-1 6-1 to pull Great Britain level at 1-1 against Argentina after Johanna Konta lost the opening rubber to Paula Ormaechea.

Robson will be strongly fancied to defeat Ormaechea in the reverse singles tomorrow, with Konta due to face Molinero and a potentially decisive doubles rubber also to come.

Roar: Laura Robson clenches her fist in delight during her win over Florencia Molinero

Roar: Laura Robson clenches her fist in delight during her win over Florencia Molinero

Coach well pleased: Judy Murray expresses her happiness over Robson's performance

Coach well pleased: Judy Murray expresses her happiness over Robson's performance

Robson had plenty of pressure on her shoulders heading into the tie at Parque Roca, with Great Britain banking on her to lead them back into World Group II after an absence of 20 years.

But the 19-year-old showed few signs of nerves as she raced through the first set and went 5-0 ahead in the second.

Despite being broken when she served for the match, she recovered to close it out on Molinero's serve in the next game and kept plenty in reserve.

Whipping it away: With Heather Watson out of the tie, Robson was under pressure to perform

Whipping it away: With Heather Watson out of the tie, Robson was under pressure to perform

Quick and easy: She completed a straight forward 6-1 6-1 win over her opponent from Argentina

Quick and easy: She completed a straight forward 6-1 6-1 win over her opponent from Argentina

Earlier world number 146 Konta had found the going tough against Ormachea and fell to a 6-3 6-2 defeat.

Konta, selected in the absence of Heather Watson due to illness, never recovered from a bad start as she fell 4-0 behind to a player ranked 21 places higher at 143 in the world.

Going behind: Johanna Konta had a harder day at the office losing to Paula Ormaechea

Going behind: Johanna Konta had a harder day at the office losing to Paula Ormaechea

Konta made a stronger start to the second set but was broken in the fourth game and when she was broken for a second time in her next service game, she was consigned to defeat.

After the two reverse singles, Robson will team up with veteran Anne Keothavong for the doubles, should they be required, against Maria Irigoyen and Mailen Auroux.

Team effort: Murray tries to impart some of her wisdom to get Konta back on track

Team effort: Murray tries to impart some of her wisdom to get Konta back on track

Sergio Aguero apologises for stamp on David Luiz

Aguero apologises to Luiz for two-footed stamp in FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

21:35 GMT, 16 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:27 GMT, 17 April 2013

Sergio Aguero has apologised to David Luiz for his two-footed stamp on the Brazilian defender during Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea.

The Argentine escaped a three-match ban after Chris Foy missed the horror tackle and the FA ruled the incident could not be re-refereed.

Influential: Sergio Aguero played a key role in Manchester City reaching thee FA Cup final

Influential: Sergio Aguero played a key role in Manchester City reaching thee FA Cup final

Luiz had called on Aguero to say
sorry and the striker tweeted: ‘I’ve contacted @DavidLuiz_4 and
apologised for what happened during the match. It was an impulse
reaction that shouldn’t have happened.’

The victim responded: ‘Thank you
@aguerosergiokun for a demonstration of character. We get to know great
man and athletes this way.’

Luiz suffered no serious harm in the
challenge and played on until the end of the match – but in the
aftermath did call on his fellow South American to apologise.

Over the top: But Aguero has apologised to David Luiz

Over the top: But Aguero has apologised to David Luiz

The defender said: 'Aguero is a great player but he needs to be honest with himself and say, “I don't like to do bad tackles”.

'Kids see the game and they want to
see the good things and not the bad – I would apologise. Football is
beautiful, but sometimes in games people have five seconds like that – I
forgive him because I have a good heart. I don't like to beat people.

'Sometimes in a game people have five
seconds when they are angry and do things they don't like to do. I
think it was that. I never saw Aguero do a bad tackle on other players.'

City won 2-1 after goals from Samir Nasri and Aguero when only Demba Ba could score for Chelsea.

Ronnie O"Sullivan says snooker return could be car crash TV

It could be car crash television, but I'll still be worth watching! Returning O'Sullivan says appearance at Crucible will be like a reality TV show

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 15 April 2013

Snooker's biggest star Ronnie O'Sullivan joked that his return for the Betfair World Championship at the Crucible will be like watching Big Brother.

The 37-year-old has taken most of this season off, but is returning for the spring showpiece in Sheffield.

And he said: 'It's like my own reality TV show. It could be car crash, it could be good. You just don't know.

'I’ve never been one for doing Big Brother but this is about as close as it gets to it. It’s definitely exciting for me and everyone looking in.

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

Making his return: Ronnie O'Sullivan poses during the media launch for the World Championship at The Groucho Club in London on Monday

'If I'm cueing all right and feeling all right, then I should be a match for anyone, but who knows'

The snooker world waits with bated breath to see what kind of form O'Sullivan will be in at the Crucible.

He insists that his desire for success, focus, to lose weight and reconnect with friends encouraged him to return to defend his title.

The 37-year-old Chigwell cueman
confirmed in February that he would defend the title he won 12 months
ago, despite not competing in a tournament since.

'There's a part of me that wants
instant success,' the four-time champion said. 'That would be nice, but
for me it's just about having fun. I felt it was time to have some sort
of focus in my life.

'Running was a massive part of my
life and I found I got that lazy having nothing to do, I had too much
time to even go and run in the end. I started putting weight on.

'I realised that snooker gave me an
opportunity to meet some good people, to travel and that's kind of what I
missed, missing the routine.'

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

Ready for the big one: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O'Sullivan attend the media launch for the World Championship

O'Sullivan has lost a stone since
deciding to come back by returning to a routine and plans to run during
the 17-day World Championship, which begins on Saturday with his
first-round match against Marcus Campbell.

O'Sullivan believes he has plenty to
offer the game, adding: 'If you look at it statistically I've done
pretty well, but from my own perspective I feel like I've still
underachieved. I'd like to win another world title in my forties. I've
not set myself the goal to win this year's world title because that
would be a bit of a silly goal.

'I'd like to be a world champion when
I'm 40. It gives me a bit of leeway. It's the long game I'm looking at,
rather than just the short-term. This is just the start.'

Winning on his comeback would be an
overwhelming experience, O'Sullivan admitted. 'It would be a fairytale
dream, but last year was my greatest performance,' he said.

'I'd had a good season and it was
expected by pretty much everyone that I was going to win the tournament
before it started. To me that is the ultimate achievement, because
anything other than a win would've been seen as a failure in most
people's eyes.

'This year it's a different ball
game. I've come here with no matches under my belt. It'll just be nice
to be out there playing. I don't have anything to prove to the general
public.'

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

Champion: O'Sullivan celebrates last year's win in Sheffield

O'Sullivan is something of an enigma
and has worked with Dr Steve Peters, the sports psychiatrist who worked
with British Cycling and whom he now regards as a friend. O'Sullivan is
instinctive in his game and his life and his recent practice sessions
with Peter Ebdon were 'by coincidence' in Sheffield.

'Peter was the only decent player for
me to play. I had no choice,' O'Sullivan said. 'That's not being
horrible because I love Peter. And I can handle him better now since
I've been working with Steve Peters. I wish I'd been working with him 20
years ago.'

O'Sullivan was speaking at the Groucho Club in London's Soho alongside world No 1 Mark Selby, who is favourite for the title.

Selby, described as an 'invoicing
operation' by World Snooker chief Barry Hearn, has won the UK
Championship and Masters tournaments this year and is aiming to become
the fourth player – after Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams –
to win the 'triple crown' in the same season.

The 29-year-old from Leicester said:
'It's a tough tournament to win. There's a lot of great players in it.
It's great to have Ronnie back playing as well, so it's going to be
tough.

'He's one of the most natural players
to ever play our game. If any one player can do it (win after a year
out), Ronnie's the person.'

WTA Charleston – Family Circle Cup: Serena Williams beats Venus Williams 6-1 6-2 in semi-final

Serena shows big sister Venus tough love with straight-sets thrashing in Charleston

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

20:18 GMT, 6 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:54 GMT, 6 April 2013

Serena Williams demolished her older sister Venus 6-1, 6-2 in a one-sided semi-final at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston.

At times it was painful to watch, with Serena appearing uncomfortable with how she dismantled her sister – at one point not even challenging a ball that was called in when clearly wide – and the whole affair was over in 54 minutes.

Venus was constantly troubled by her serve, producing eight double faults, and it took until the third game of the second set for the former world No 1 to hold. Serena led applause for Venus after the match and chose to speak of her sister's return after a back injury which forced her withdrawal from March's Sony Open.

Thrashed: Serena Williams shakes hands with sister Venus after beating her 6-1, 6-2Thrashed: Serena Williams shakes hands with sister Venus after beating her 6-1, 6-2

Thrashed: Serena Williams shakes hands with sister Venus after beating her 6-1, 6-2

Speedy: Serena needed just 54 minutes to win on the clay in Charleston

Speedy: Serena needed just 54 minutes to win on the clay in Charleston

She said: 'It's really exciting…it's hard on our bodies. We're doing great and we were just excited that one of us was going to the final.'

It was the first time the sisters had faced each other since 2009 and while Serena has been in the ascendancy for some years, the first game gave no hint of the steamrollering to come.

Instead, Serena seemed to be going through the motions and her serve was not its usual formidable weapon, although the world number one held. A fierce cross-court shot gave Serena break point in the following game which had set the tone for the match with regards to Venus' serve, a double fault bringing up 2-0.

Outclassed: Venus had no answer to her younger sister and won just three games

Outclassed: Venus had no answer to her younger sister and won just three games

The younger sister was getting into her stride, a 110mph serve produced en route to 3-0 in contrast to Venus. Serena was quicker to everything and she moved to a 4-0 lead by passing Venus as she came into the net with a looping shot.

Venus finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth game when a fearsome forehand down the line gave Serena no chance.

However, Serena immediately broke back when Venus produced two successive double faults and she went on to win the set to love.

Rivalry: Serena and her sister faced each other for the first time since 2009

Rivalry: Serena and her sister faced each other for the first time since 2009

The crowd were urging Venus on but initially it had little effect as Serena took a 2-0 lead in the second. Venus held to the delight of the stands and she was certainly moving her sister around the court more, but the match was moving towards an inevitable conclusion.

The decisive break came in the seventh game as Venus netted with Serena going 5-2 up, and a long return saw her win to love.

Serena said: 'I felt great. I am really looking forward not only to tomorrow but the rest of the clay court season.'

Serena will meet Jelena Jankovic in the final after the Serbian beat unseeded Stefanie Voegele 6-4 6-7 (6/8) 6-2 in a match lasting two hours eight minutes.

Lionel Messi sidelined for at least one game after limping out of Barcelona Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain

Messi faces rare spell on the sidelines.. but Barcelona are better off in Europe without their star man!

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

10:17 GMT, 3 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:15 GMT, 3 April 2013

It's a sight that has been thankfully rare over the years for Barcelona fans and the millions who appreciate his genius.

But Lionel Messi is facing a spell on the sidelines of up to three weeks after being substituted at half-time during last night's Champions League tie in Paris with a hamstring injury.

The club have confirmed that he has a thigh injury and will miss Saturday's match at home to Real Mallorca at the very least. Messi even took to his Facebook page to confirm his knock isn't as bad as first feared.

Scroll down for video

Allaying fears: Messi posted this picture on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, saying his hamstring injury was not as serious as first thought

Allaying fears: Messi posted this picture on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, saying his hamstring injury was not as serious as first thought

Check up: Messi is accompanied by defender Jordi Alba as he walks to the medical centre at Barcelona's training ground. Initial scans on his hamstring injury suggest the damage isn't as bad as first feared

Check up: Messi is accompanied by defender Jordi Alba as he walks to the medical centre at Barcelona's training ground. Initial scans on his hamstring injury suggest the damage isn't as bad as first feared

Lionel Messi has his hamstring injury assessed at Barcelona's training ground

Rare injury blow: Lionel Messi (second left) watched the second half of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with PSG after suffering a hamstring injury

Rare injury blow: Lionel Messi (second left) watched the second half of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with PSG after suffering a hamstring injury

Deadly: Before going off, Messi opened the scoring with his 57th goal of the season

Deadly: Before going off, Messi opened the scoring with his 57th goal of the season

MESSI'S APPEARANCES

Goals scored in brackets

2004-2005: 9 (1)
2005-2006: 25 (8)
2006-2007: 36 (17)
2007-2008: 40 (16)
2008-2009: 51 (38)
2009-2010: 53 (47)
2010-2011: 55 (53)
2011-2012: 60 (73)
2012-2013: 45 (57)

Depending on his recovery, it could also
see him absent from the return with PSG next week and subsequent La
Liga matches that will see Barca secure the title.

For someone who is always target No 1 for brutish defenders, Lionel Messi is astonishingly resilient.

His untouchable scoring record and long list of accolades are testament not only to his brilliance but a good injury record.

In fact this season, the 25-year-old has played 3,193 of a possible 3,420 minutes in the league and Champions League – meaning he's missed just 227 minutes of action in these competitions.

Representing a club inevitably involved to the business end of competitions, Messi is used to playing in excess of 50 matches a season for Barcelona and up to a dozen more for Argentina.

Whereas other star players, particularly in the Premier League, are rested or rotated for less important games, Messi is as likely to start against Granada and Getafe than he is against Real Madrid.

But the physical toll rarely shows on his body, with the Argentine suffering only four injury lay-offs of note over his career.

Concern: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova talks to Messi during last night's quarter-final, first leg

Concern: Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova talks to Messi during last night's quarter-final, first leg

Bloodied: Messi took a knock to the knee, which led to him being taken off at half-time

Bloodied: Messi took a knock to the knee, which led to him being taken off at half-time

Pain: Messi grabs the back of his right leg during the match at the Parc des Princes

Pain: Messi grabs the back of his right leg during the match at the Parc des Princes

Before last night, he had not had a muscle injury for three-and-a-half years, when a calf problem ruled him out of a Champions League tie with Inter Milan and a league Clasico with Real in November 2009.

He was an unused substitute in the Inter tie as Pep Guardiola decided not to risk him.

He missed league games against Sporting Gijon and Athletic Bilbao in September 2010 with a stretched ligament, but returned for a trip to Russia to play Rubin Kazan the following week.

Prior to that, you have to go back to the 2007-2008 season when a 20-year-old Messi missed about 10 weeks of the season with a couple of injury scares.

Source: Opta

Source: Opta

Source: Opta

Source: Opta

While Barcelona's quarter-final tie with PSG is delicately poised at 2-2, Messi's team-mates won't be too concerned by his absence.

The statistics show that, in Champions League games since Messi broke into the first team in 2004, they have won 71 per cent of matches without him and just 56 per cent of games when he's been rested or injured.

This is probably explained by Barcelona's run to the trophy in 2006, when Messi played just six of the club's 13 games.

Golden Balls: Messi, four time Ballon D'Or winner, shakes hands with David Beckham before the match

Golden Balls: Messi, four time Ballon D'Or winner, shakes hands with David Beckham before the match

By contrast, in La Liga, Barcelona have won 76 per cent of games since 2004 with him in the team.

But when Messi is absent, they have won only half.

The injury will bring to an end his record run of scoring in 19 consecutive league games. His first-half goal against PSG also drew him level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Galatasaray's Burak Yilmaz as top scorer in the Champions League with eight goals.

In addition, defender Javier Mascherano was taken off on a stretcher after 84 minutes with a knee injury and will be missing for 'four to six weeks' according to Barca coach Jordi Roura.

Injury worry: Messi's compatriot Javier Mascherano was stretchered off late in the game

Injury worry: Messi's compatriot Javier Mascherano was stretchered off late in the game

Messi's absence turns the spotlight on Barcelona's misfiring strike force.

Spain's David Villa and Pedro, Chile's Alexis Sanchez, and midfielder-cum-forward Cesc Fabregas have managed only three goals between them in Europe, trailing way behind Messi, the Champions League's leading scorer for the the last four seasons in a row.

Sanchez is clearly lacking in confidence, as was seen with two poorly-taken chances on Tuesday, though he did win the penalty for Xavi to put Barca 2-1 up near the end.

Misfiring: Barcelona will rely on the out-of-form Alexis Sanchez for the second leg next week

Misfiring: Barcelona will rely on the out-of-form Alexis Sanchez for the second leg next week

Villa has failed to recover his consistency and sharpness since breaking his leg at the Club World Cup in December 2011, and Fabregas has been short of form in recent weeks.

Pedro, who was suspended on Tuesday, should have recovered from a calf injury for the second leg, but has yet to get off the mark in the Champions League this season.

Cristian Tello is another option. The little-used, young winger scored one and set up the second for Messi in their 2-2 draw at Real Zaragoza in La Liga last Saturday, and brings a directness and pace to an attack that at times lacks a cutting edge.

He has scored one goal in the Champions League this season.

Beckham pleased with draw against Barcelona

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England U21 v Austria U21 live from Amex Stadium

LIVE: England U21 v Austria… follow all the action from the Amex Stadium

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

19:15 GMT, 25 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:44 GMT, 25 March 2013

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of England U21's clash with Austria at Brighton's Amex Stadium, with kick-off at 7.45.

Having wrapped up a record eighth win on the bounce – every one a clean sheet – with a comfortable 3-0 win over Romania on Thursday night, Stuart Pearce's men are going for cloud nine tonight.

It's the final chance for England's young lions to impress in a bid to make this summer's European championships in Israel.

Join the debate by Tweeting @charlieskillen or you can email me your views at [email protected]

19:43 …and here's God Save the Queen.

19:41 Kick-off is in about five minutes, we're just hearing the Austrian national anthem…

19:39 Stuart Pearce just spoke to ESPN before the game about the side's lead-up to the match and the make-up of tonight's team:

'We've had a brilliant week,' said Pearce.

'After Thursday, the way the players have been in training has been outstanding.

'We need to top off the week with a good result and a good performance here.'

On not selecting usual captain Jordan Henderson for tonight's starting line-up:

'I know what Jordan can do. He's an outstanding player and leader of men at this level and I'm not sure how much I would learn from playing him here.

'It was more important to keep Nathaniel Chalobah in the side after what he did on Thursday.'

That seems like Henderson is a certainty to be part of a growing Liverpool contingent in Pearce's squad.

19:26 And let's not forget – victory here will be Stuart Pearce's side's ninth on the spin. Friday's triumph over Romania sealed a record eighth win, and the young Lions have achieved that without conceding a single goal. More of the same tonight, please…

19:25 The action for England U21s this summer in Israel kicks off on June 5 when they face Italy, before playing Norway on June 8 and facing the hosts June 11. Performances in this game will be key to making up the squad that travels to the tournament.

19:18 So Wilfried Zaha is not in the squad tonight – but he's a dead cert for the European Championships squad. He's returned to Crystal Palace for dental work. This gives a chance for the more borderline players to make an impact before Stuart Pearce names his squad for the summer tournament in Israel.

19.15 Evening everyone, and welcome to Sportsmail's live coverage of England U21s clash with Austria.

Kick-off is in about half an hour, but let's start with tonight's line-up:

England Jason Steele, Andre Wisdom, Danny Rose, Jason Lowe, Tom Lees, Craig Dawson (capt), Andros Townsend, Nathaniel Chalobah, Connor Wickham, Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling.

Subs Adam Smith, Jack Butland, Jack Robinson, Nathaniel Clyne, Michael Keane, Jordan Henderson, Josh McEachran, Nathan Delfouneso, Marvin Sordell, Tom Carroll.

Romania Richard Strebinger, Florian Neuhold, Kevin Wimmer, Tobias Kainz, Michael Sabitzer, Raphael Holzhauser (capt) Robert Zulj, Patrick Farkas, Simon Piesinger, Lukas Spendlhofer

Subs Christoph Riegler, Christian Schilling, Martin Ziegl, Daniel Offenbacher, Michael Grogoritsch, Mattias Maak, Dominik Starkl.

Young gun: Nathaniel Chalobah is making his second start for the U21s

Young gun: Nathaniel Chalobah is making his second start for the U21s

Laura Robson loses to Alize Cornet in Miami

Robson forced to wait for No 1 sport after losing three-set battle to Cornet in Miami

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

11:59 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 23 March 2013

Laura Robson passed up the chance to become British No 1 on Friday night, beaten in three sets in the second round of the WTA Sony Open by Alize Cornet.

The 19-year-old started well but, in a match which lasted two hours 36 minutes but was stretched over seven hours due to rain delays and power cuts in Miami, the 32nd-seeded Frenchwoman eventually emerged a 5-7 7-5 6-1 winner.

World No 36 Cornet, who wrapped up the win with a run of five straight games, will face American Lauren Davis in round three.

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami

Beaten: Laura Robson lost to Alize Cornet in Miami