Tag Archives: periods

Edgar Davids unable to save Barnet from final day heartache as Bees sink back into non-League

Davids unable to save Barnet from final day heartache as Bees sink back into non-League

By
Andrew Warshaw

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 27 April 2013

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UPDATED:

01:54 GMT, 28 April 2013

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Edgar Davids’ first season in management ended in disappointment as Barnet fell out of the Football League after eight seasons.

Three years in succession, Barnet had somehow survived on the last day of the campaign. But this time there was no miracle as play-off qualifiers Northampton sealed their fate.

More than 1,300 visiting fans saw their team dominate for long periods but they were made to pay for poor finishing, including a couple of glaring misses, as Northampton’s Roy O’Donovan and Luke Guttridge netted twice in the space of six minutes midway through the second period.

Bitter pill: Edgar Davids contemplates his future

Bitter pill: Edgar Davids contemplates his future

Table

League Two table

Davids’ future at Barnet is now uncertain and a new stadium seven miles outside the borough will play host to Conference football next season.

Frustratingly, a draw would have been enough to save Barnet with Dagenham losing at home, while anything but a win for AFC Wimbledon against Fleetwood would have seen the south Londoners go down.

As it was, Barnet’s tally of 51 points was the highest ever for a side to lose their league status. ‘It’s certainly a bitter pill to swallow,’ said Davids, whose 40-year-old legs could not quite push his side over the line. ‘I’m aware of the consequences but the players can look at themselves in the mirror and say they did everything. You have to take chances but Northampton were more clinical than us.’

Davids, who was not being paid by the club and was brought in partly to develop Barnet’s academy, hinted strongly he would have to move on after an illustrious playing career that included both Milan clubs, Barcelona, Juventus and Tottenham as well as Ajax.

‘I’ll have to sit down with the chairman
and evaluate a lot of things,’ said the Dutchman. ‘You have to be
realistic. I have done everything that was asked of me in terms of the
objectives set. Fifty-one points playing good football and some
promising young players — that’s what makes it so hard.’

Anxious moments: Barnet fans contemplate relegation

Anxious moments: Barnet fans contemplate relegation

Northampton manager Adie Boothroyd, whose side meet Cheltenham in this week’s play-offs, felt for the visitors.

‘It’s one of those terrible professional situations,’ he said. ‘You have to do your job and you have to win. We got a good hiding there in the corresponding game and I wanted us to finish strongly.

‘Unfortunately someone has to suffer. I’m disappointed for them but it’s a great chance now for us to try and get promoted.’

Andreas Weimann Aston Villa contract talks open

Aston Villa open contract talks with promising young striker Weimann

By
John Curtis, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:19 GMT, 26 January 2013

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UPDATED:

10:19 GMT, 26 January 2013

Contract talks: Weimann (right)

Contract talks: Weimann (right)

Aston Villa have held initial discussions with striker Andreas Weimann over a new contract.

Weimann has 18 months left of his current deal and Villa are hoping to secure the long-term future of the Austria international.

The 21-year-old broke into the first team last season and scored a vital injury-time winner against Fulham as the midlands club stayed up by only two points.

But it is during the current campaign that he has made a sustained impact and is their second top scorer with nine goals.

Weimann has formed a productive partnership with 11-goal Christian Benteke and the duo have kept record signing Darren Bent out of the side for lengthy periods.

Weimann's form has been one of the few highlights in a dismal season in which Villa are involved in another relegation fight and suffered a double cup exit to lower-league Bradford and Millwall.

His tally includes a double in the 3-2 defeat against Manchester United and another in the 3-1 win at Liverpool.

Impact: Weimann has been a standout performer for Villa this year

Impact: Weimann has been a standout performer for Villa this year

Villa boss Paul Lambert recently described Weimann as a 'natural finisher.'

He said: 'The way Andreas conducts himself on the pitch and in training is excellent.

'He has been really on top of his game and taken his chance in the first team.'

Weimann joined Villa as a 16-year-old from Rapid Vienna and had two spells on loan at Watford before before signing a new three-year deal with his parent club in August 2011.

He won his first senior cap for his country against Kazakhstan in October.

Arsene Wenger tells Stan Kroenke he wants to turn Arsenal round alone

Stay out of it Kroenke! Defiant Wenger wants to get Arsenal's season back on track without interference

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 14 December 2012

A defiant Arsene Wenger today said that he is determined to turn Arsenal's stuttering season around and does not expect any intervention from the club's board, including majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.

Arsenal suffered a crippling defeat at Bradford on Tuesday, when they were beaten on penalties in the Capital One Cup.

Wenger watched his season go from bad to worse at Valley Parade. The Gunners sit in 7th in the Premier League and are already 15 points behind leaders Manchester United after just 16 games.

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

Deflated: Arsenal lost in the Capital One Cup to Bradford earlier this week

With hopes of winning the league all but over, should Arsenal fail to bring home the FA Cup or the Champions League this season, it will be their eighth in succession without a trophy.

But Wenger has pulled Arsenal through
rough patches before, and he is determined to do so without any
intervention from Kroenke and the board.

Wenger said: ‘I am responsible for the football front, I don't expect Stan Kroenke to intervene.

‘The way to support me is to let me
do my work and do my job, I don't expect anything else. I'm very
determined and very hungry – if I wasn't I wouldn't be here.

‘I love the club, I sit here and show
how much I love the club. We have been through difficult periods before
and I know how to turn this around because I have been here 16 years.’

Wenger is looking to pick his players up at Reading on Monday evening after a difficult week, but believes he and his players should be looking forward, not back.

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

Crunch time: Arsene Wenger is determined to get the season back on track without interference

'We are top professional people. What
is important is what happens tomorrow, not what happened yesterday. We
are sorry for that [Bradford] but what is important is the next game.'

'They [Reading] are a team who deserve a lot of
credit because they came up last year, for me surprisingly.

'They make it difficult for every
team in every game, so we expect a battle. Our results are quite
consistent and good away from home.

'We had a good game against West Brom [and] it’s important to confirm that in our next away game.'

The Frenchman believes his players are committed and resilient enough to bounce back from the Bradford loss.

He said: 'This team cares, is serious and wants to do well, I do not question the spirit of the team.
I believe I have a strong team.

'If you look at our season at the moment, we have not produced our performances at home, away our results are in the same bracket as the two top teams.

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Resilient: Wenger believes his players can bounce back at Reading

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

Stop the rot: Arsenal are in seventh place in the league, 15 behind leaders Manchester United

'Where we have lost the points is we made too many draws at home.

'Manchester United are top of the league, six points ahead. They have lost three games, we have lost four. We had more draws, especially at home, that is where we have lost the points.'

The Arsenal manager was also asked whether, after 16 years at the helm, he had been at the club for too long.

He said: 'I can understand people
criticise when the results are not as expected. It looks like has become
the modern way to think.

'You say that 16 years can be a handicap, but it can also be an advantage because you have experience, you love the club.

'If I sit here, it is because I have really shown how much I love his club. We have gone through difficult periods before and you know how to turn it around.'

There has also been speculation that all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry could re-join the club on loan in January, but Wenger refused to comment on the proposed move, and said: 'I cannot tell you anything about it because nothing has happened.'

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

SOS: Arsenal could be tempted to make a move for all-time top goalscorer Thierry Henry

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Not even close: Gary Jones of Bradford scores with his penalty attempt past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny

Manu Tuilagi convinced England can beat New Zealand

It's now or never! Tuilagi convinced England can get a result against the All Blacks

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 29 November 2012

Reasons to be cheerful: Tuilagi

Reasons to be cheerful: Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi hopes that a gruelling season will take its toll on New Zealand when they face England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The All Blacks play the last game of a four-match tour of the northern hemisphere which has come straight off the back of a six-match Rugby Championship series and the intense Super Rugby competition that all of their squad were involved in during the summer.

The All Blacks have Andrew Hore missing through suspension and Dan Carter has had to pass a late fitness test on a troublesome calf – add to that a sickness bug that has swept through Steve Hansen's squad and England have plenty of reasons for optimism despite having lost their last two fixtures against South Africa and New Zealand.

Asked if now was the best time to be play New Zealand, Red Rose centre Tuilagi said: 'I hope so. They're coming to the end of their tour and will be tired.'

Saturday's game is England's last fixture before next year's Six Nations, and Tuilagi realises the need to take momentum into the tournament. 'It is very important to finish on a high,' added the 21-year-old.

'To get a win against New Zealand, the
best team in the world, that would be a dream ending for us and it would
be a great way to get the momentum going again heading into the Six
Nations.'

Close call: England lost to South Africa by just one point

Close call: England lost to South Africa by just one point

Tuilagi's optimism is born from an improved performance by Stuart Lancaster's side in last week's agonising 15-16 loss to the Springboks.

Although profligacy remains an issue, England dominated the game for the long periods against the No 2 ranked side in the world and Tuilagi revealed that the camp are feeling much more positive than they did after the dismal defeat to Australia the previous week.

'It feels a little bit better than last week, but we're frustrated still,' he added. 'We went toe to toe with the second best team in the world, but we don't want to be a team that is satisfied by losing by one point, we want to get that win and we couldn't ask for a better team to get it against than New Zealand.

'The last two games have been really frustrating, we've played really well but just haven't finished the opportunities we have created. But we have been working really hard on that in training and now we have a great challenge in front of us to try and put that right.

Starting role: Tuilagi lines up in the centres alongside Brad Barritt

Starting role: Tuilagi lines up in the centres alongside Brad Barritt

'We've looked at the video (of the South Africa game) and we believe we played very well. We fronted up, we were disciplined, we were strong at the breakdown and at the scrum. We just need to keep on doing those things well and improve against the All Blacks.

'All the boys are looking forward to it. We have got a chance to show that we can beat the best side in the world.'

Tuilagi shot to stardom after making a blistering start to his England career last year in the build up to and during the World Cup. He has become one of the first names on the team-sheet for England but Saturday will be the first time he has faced the world's best side. It is a challenge he is looking forward to.

'I'm very excited,' Tuilagi enthused. 'It will be the first time I have played against the All Blacks and I just can't wait to play.'

And what about facing the formidable haka 'We will just stand up there and smile,' Tuilagi said. 'It's a great tradition for rugby and for New Zealand but all you can do is respect it and accept the challenge they're putting in front of you.'

Grin and bear it: Tuilagi says he will smile through the haka

Grin and bear it: Tuilagi says he will smile through the haka

The challenge directly in front of Tuilagi will be the most revered centre pairing in world rugby – Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Commentators have expressed concerns over the ability of England's midfield partnership of Tuilagi and Brad Barritt to stand up to the world's best, but Tuilagi is looking forward to the challenge and insists he and Barritt are up to the task.

'Playing New Zealand is exciting whoever is wearing that All Black shirt, but to come up against the likes of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith would be the ultimate challenge as a centre,' Tuilagi added.

'For me personally, I love playing with Brad. He is a fantastic player and I love playing outside him. I don't have to worry about him because I know he is always going to be there for me, so being there at 13 outside him is what you want.'

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Harry Redknapp inherits flawed QPR squad

Flaw show for Harry as QPR throw away lead against United at Old Trafford

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UPDATED:

23:18 GMT, 25 November 2012

After sitting in the directors’ box at Old Trafford for 80 minutes, Harry Redknapp can probably sum up the Queens Park Rangers squad he has inherited from Mark Hughes. Decent players. Deep flaws.

A goal up and less than half an hour left, the Barclays Premier League’s bottom team sensed increasing desperation in their opponents. There was a restless home crowd, too.

Three goals in 10 minutes undid them, though, and once again QPR were left to lament basic mistakes. Errors in concentration, errors in application and errors in decision making.

Work to be done: QPR manager Harry Redknapp takes his first training session

Work to be done: QPR manager Harry Redknapp takes his first training session

Forward Jamie Mackie summed it up, saying: ‘When you look at Man United you see the greatest club in the world and their basics are spot on.

‘That’s what it takes to win these games and, if we can take anything from this great club, it’s that. We were leading and failed to do the basics at two set pieces. That’s unacceptable. We need to eradicate the soft goals because they are killing us.

‘Its a real shame. We have to take responsibility. The previous manager brought a lot of these players in and there were some good players here already. It’s no good pointing the finger at anybody else.’

Down and out: QPR took the lead at Old Trafford but conceded three

Down and out: QPR took the lead at Old Trafford but conceded three

Having scored his team’s goal, Mackie was also one of QPR’s better players. During Hughes’s time, though, the players did not apply themselves. On Saturday they did for long periods for caretaker boss Mark Bowen.

Bowen refused to criticise the club’s owners and offered his services to Redknapp if required. Deep down, though, he knows he will lose his job today. ‘It hurts but we will be back and Mark will definitely be back,’ he said.

As for United, this was the ninth time in 13 league games that they have had to come from behind.

Headers from Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher put them in command and substitute Javier Hernandez stroked in the third.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Javier Hernandez fires in United's third

Signed, sealed, delivered: Javier Hernandez fires in United's third

It’s a habit Sir Alex Ferguson’s team cannot allow to continue. Wayne Rooney said: ‘It’s happening too many times. We need to take control of games.’

Redknapp, meanwhile, has opened the door for David Beckham, calling the 37-year-old a ‘fantastic’ footballer who could ‘still play in the Premier League’.

He added: ‘David could still be a great asset. Just having him round the place, showing people how to train and look after yourself. His professionalism is second to none.’

Roberto Di Matteo promises changes after seeing West Brom extend Chelsea"s poor run

Di Matteo promises changes after seeing West Brom extend Chelsea's poor run

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UPDATED:

23:33 GMT, 17 November 2012

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is set to ring the changes and alter the formation of his side after their poor run of form continued with a 2-1 defeat at West Brom.

The Blues have taken only two points from their last four league games to leave Di Matteo rueing another bleak November for Chelsea.

Di Matteo was rational and calm when facing the media but it is understood he was furious with his players behind closed doors in the dressing room.

Peter Odemwingie scored the West Brom winner after Eden Hazard had cancelled out Shane Long's opening goal.

Breached: Shane Long (bottom left) scores past Petr Cech

Breached: Shane Long (bottom left) scores past Petr Cech

Chelsea dominated for long periods but Di Matteo was unhappy with the defending for both of the home side's goals and is set to shake his side up.

He said: 'It is a ground we find difficult, last season when we lost here, and now this season again. We know they are very good at home.

'But giving away goals like we did today makes if difficult to win the game.

'You have to score three goals to win then and our defending was very poor today.

'We didn't concede many chances but, the ones we did, we had to do better.

Chelsea have operated an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation under Di Matteo but that looks set to be reassessed.

At a loss: Chelsea have taken two points from a possible 12

At a loss: Chelsea have taken two points from a possible 12

Di Matteo said: 'This season we are playing a little bit different but we might have to go back (to a previous formation) to be able to win games, and make sure first and foremost we don't concede.

'Maybe it is the time where we might have to change a little bit in terms of our selection and the way we play.

'For some reasons, November for our club is a bad month and it seems the same again this year.

'We are disappointed and maybe it is time to look at things, maybe change it a bit and get a win.

'We will look at the set-up of the team and maybe sacrifice a bit the attacking options to go a little bit more defensive.'

Di Matteo made five changes but insisted: 'It was based on the midweek (international) games. The players were all over Europe and the world, long flights, five or six hours' time difference. They were not in a condition to start or last the game.'

Desperate times: Cech attempts to beat West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill

Desperate times: Cech attempts to beat West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill

West Brom boss Steve Clarke is not allowing himself to get too excited after his side climbed into fourth position.

He said: 'I'm delighted, a great three points, good attacking play, two fantastic goals, and dogged determined defensive play towards the end.

'Can we think of the Champions League I don't look that far ahead, I look from game to game.

'It is a great time to be at the club and if the supporters want to dream a bit, they can. But within the camp, we will keep our feet on the ground.'

Clarke paid tribute to Long after another fine performance following the death this week of his grandmother.

High praise: Long (centre) came in for praise from Steve Clarke

High praise: Long (centre) came in for praise from Steve Clarke

He displayed a T-shirt which said 'Rest In Peace Gran' after scoring his sixth goal of the campaign.

Clarke said: 'I've run out of words to describe his performances this season.

'Shane produced another fantastic performance in what has been a difficult week for him.

'He wanted to play. He is going back to Ireland tonight to be with his family for the next two or three days.'

West Brom 2 Chelsea 1: Baggies march into Champions League places to give Di Matteo the Blues

West Brom 2 Chelsea 1: Baggies march into Champions League places to give Di Matteo the Blues

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UPDATED:

17:30 GMT, 17 November 2012

West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie made it a miserable return to the Hawthorns for Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo with a second-half winner to stun the Champions League holders.

The Nigerian international headed home a cross from Shane Long whose opening goal had been cancelled out by Eden Hazard.

Baggy boys: West Brom players celebrate Peter Odemwingie's winner

Baggy boys: West Brom players celebrate Peter Odemwingie's winner

Match facts

West Brom: Myhill, Jones, Olsson, Tamas, Ridgewell, Morrison (Dorrans 70), Yacob, Mulumbu, Gera (Brunt 70), Long (Rosenberg 80), Odemwingie. Subs Not Used: Luke Daniels, Reid, Popov, Fortune.

Scorers: Long 10,Odemwingie 50.

Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Luiz, Bertrand, Romeu (Oscar 62), Mikel (Ramires 80), Hazard, Sturridge,Torres (Mata 62), Moses. Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Cole, Marin.

Scorer: Hazard 39.

Att: 25,933

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

It condemned Di Matteo, who spent two years as Albion boss, and his side to a first away Barclays Premier League defeat of the campaign.

But his former club, managed by ex-Chelsea number two Steve Clarke, are dreaming of Europe after registering a sixth win in seven home games.

The Blues dominated for long periods territorially with Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge causing problems.

But they found keeper Boaz Myhill, who was deputising for the injured Ben Foster, in inspired form with several crucial saves.

Chelsea clearly missed the physical presence at the back of injured skipper John Terry who will be side-lined for three weeks with a knee injury.

Long and Odemwingie fully capitalised on the absence of the former England defender as they punished some slack defending.

Long appeared on a one-man mission to honour his grandmother, who died yesterday, with another superb performance.

On target: Shane Long opens the scoring for West Brom

Bright start: Shane Long scores the opener for West Brom

Bright start: Shane Long scores the opener for West Brom

The Republic of Ireland international revealed a T-shirt which said 'RIP Nan' after scoring the opening goal.

Chelsea dominated possession in the early stages and Ryan Bertrand came close to putting them ahead after eight minutes.

Hazard warning: Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates his goal

Hazard warning: Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates his goal

Moses made a powerful run to the byline and squared the ball back across the danger area to Bertrand whose low left-footed drive was cleared off the line by Liam Ridgewell.

But 60 seconds later the Baggies took the lead via their first worthwhile attack. Zoltan Gera played the ball back to James Morrison whose floated cross picked out Long who got in behind David Luiz to head home from close range.

Level pegging: Eden Hazard scores Chelsea's equaliser

Level pegging: Eden Hazard scores Chelsea's equaliser

It was the Republic of Ireland international's sixth goal of the campaign.

Chelsea tried to retaliate and John Obi Mikel's low 30-yard drive was only just off target with Myhill scrambling across his line.

Poor run: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo

Poor run: Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo

Myhill then got his body behind a swerving first time attempt from Sturridge.

Albion were at their most threatening on the counter-attack and Long, under pressure from Gary Cahill, had a shot saved by Petr Cech after attacking a cross from Billy Jones.

Long game: Shane Long celebrates his opener for West Brom

Long game: Shane Long celebrates his opener for West Brom

Long was then just off target with a curling drive after he had shaken off the challenge of Cahill. But after 38 minutes Hazard levelled for the Blues with his fourth goal of the season.

He attacked Cesar Azpilicueta's deep cross and was able to squeeze the ball past Myhill at the far post with a powerful header.

Chelsea continued to dominate possession and Moses fired over after being teed up by Cahill.

Heading up the table: Peter Odemwingie celebrates his winner for West Brom

Heading up the table: Peter Odemwingie celebrates his winner for West Brom

But Odemwingie restored Albion's lead five minutes into the second half.

This time Long was the creator with a cross to the near post and the Nigerian international got in front of Bertrand to glance his header past Cech for his fourth goal of the campaign.

Di Matteo made a double change with the ineffective Fernando Torres and Oriol Romeu making way for Juan Mata and Oscar respectively.

Frustrated: Daniel Sturridge reacts after missing a chance for Chelsea

Frustrated: Daniel Sturridge reacts after missing a chance for Chelsea

Myhill made a fine save to turn aside Sturridge's close range flick after Mata's ball had opened up the West Brom defence.

He then went down to cling on to Hazard's deflected shot as Chelsea delivered wave after wave of attacks.

Sturridge should have made it 2-2 with three minutes left but screwed his shot across the face of goal.

Ireland 0 Greece 1: Match report

Ireland 0 Greece 1: Holebas bags decisive goal as Republic lose at home again

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UPDATED:

02:05 GMT, 15 November 2012

Jose Holebas ensured the Republic of Ireland ended 2012 without the victory they craved as Giovanni Trapattoni's youngsters were undone by Greece.

The Italian's experimental side, which featured Ciaran Clark, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady from the start and Wes Hoolahan after the break, competed well for long periods, but were unable to carve out the openings to take something from the game.

In front of a sparse crowd at the Aviva Stadium, where they were battered 6-1 by Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Ireland showed plenty of endeavour and at times craft, but they could not find the killer touch in front of goal.

Heated: The players of both teams clashed at the Aviva Stadium in dublin

Heated: The players of both teams clashed at the Aviva Stadium in dublin

MATCH FACTS

Rep of Ireland: Forde, Coleman, O'Shea, Clark, Ward, Brady (Hoolahan 46), McCarthy (Meyler 70), Whelan (Andrews 34), McClean, Cox (Keogh 61), Long (Doyle 46).

Subs Not Used: Randolph, O'Dea, Kelly, Clifford.

Booked: Long, Clark.

Greece: Karnezis, Torosidis (Maniatis 60), Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Holebas (Fortounis 46), Stafylidis (Spyropoulos 82), Tziolis, Tachtsidis, Ninis (Vyntra 60), Mitroglou (Salpingidis 46), Samaras (Athanasiadis 46).

Subs Not Used: Peristeridis, Kone, Christodoulopoulos, Dimoutsos, Siovas.

Booked: Fortounis.

Goals: Holebas 29.

Att: 16,256

Ref: Eitan Shmuelevitz (Israel).

As a result, Holebas' sweet
29th-minute strike was enough to win the game for the visitors and leave
Trapattoni's detractors with enough ammunition to maintain their
opposition to his continued presence at the helm heading into March's
crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

The 73-year-old, finally bowing to
mounting pressure, handed youth a chance as his side brought an end to
their 2012 campaign and tried to do so in style against the national
currently ranked 12th by FIFA.

Ireland slipped significantly in
FIFA's ranking table – to 36th place, 24 behind the Greeks – in the wake
of their humiliation at the hands of the Germans, and the Italian's
response was to include Aston Villa defender Clark, Wigan schemer
McCarthy and wingers Brady and McClean in his starting line-up.

He was also forced to make a late
change when goalkeeper Keiren Westwood withdrew with a groin injury and
Millwall's David Forde was handed an unexpected fourth senior cap.

Struggle: Ireland were unable to seal a win over Greece

Struggle: Ireland were unable to seal a win over Greece

Whack: Jose Holebas (right) put the winning goal in for the visitors

Whack: Jose Holebas (right) put the winning goal in for the visitors

It all started relatively promisingly
for the home side with McCarthy finding space in the middle of the
field to feed Brady and McClean on the flanks, and the movement of
strikers Shane Long and Simon Cox troubling the Greek defence.

Ireland had strong claims for a
first-minute penalty waved away by Israeli referee Eitan Shmuelevitz and
defender Konstantinos Stafylidis could consider himself extremely
fortunate not to be penalised for his less-than-effective attempt to
deal with Stephen Ward's deep cross.

Cox went to ground inside the box
under Sokratis Papastathopoulos' challenge three minutes later, but the
appeals on that occasion were more muted and also ignored, and McClean
scuffed a long-range effort wide.

But the Republic looked certain to
take the lead with 10 minutes gone when full-back Seamus Coleman, whose
combination with Brady proved a repeated threat down the right during
the opening 45 minutes, collected the winger's return pass and crossed.

Cox had found a yard of space and
climbed to meet the ball unopposed, but he was unable to hit the target
with just keeper Orestis Karnezis to beat.

Another defeat: Giovanni Trapattoni was deprived of the home win he craved

Another defeat: Giovanni Trapattoni was deprived of the home win he craved

Greece had offered little in
response, but gradually worked their way into the game and called Forde
into action for the first time when Sotiros Ninis took aim from 25 yards
and forced a diving 23rd-minute save.

However, the Republic failed to heed
the warning and fell behind six minutes later when skipper Georgios
Samaras, who had earlier had to leave the pitch for treatment to a head
wound, turned Konstantinos Mitroglou's pass into the path of Holebas,
who span John O'Shea and thumped the ball into the bottom corner.

Long and Clark were both booked for
clumsy challenges as the game unfolded in anything but friendly fashion,
but the home side had rather lost their way.

They might have levelled in injury
time when Brady tested Karnezis with a left-foot strike after being set
up by Long, but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.

Shall not pass: Kevin Doyle could not engineer a goal

Shall not pass: Kevin Doyle could not engineer a goal

There was warm applause from the
sparse crowd when, on their return, Ireland were joined by in-form
Norwich star Hoolahan, winning just his second cap, a fact which had not
gone unnoticed by Trapattoni's critics.

Brady departed along with Long to
accommodate his arrival and that of Kevin Doyle, who was asked to play a
lone striking role ahead of Hoolahan with Cox dropping in on the left
and McClean moving to the right.

Unlucky: James McClean (left) and Co could not bounce back from the 6-1 hammering by Germany last month

Unlucky: James McClean (left) and Co could not bounce back from the 6-1 hammering by Germany last month

Ironically Glenn Whelan, the man who
had pleaded with his manager earlier in the week to field an extra
midfielder, was back in the dressing room having limped off injured
before the break.

However, it was McCarthy who almost
dragged the Republic back into the game two minutes into the second half
when Karnezis failed to hold his long-range shot, although
Papastathopoulos prevented Doyle from converting the rebound and Cox's
follow-up was blocked.

But while perspiration was not in
short supply, inspiration was and the Irish failed to make the most of
the possession they were allowed as the game passed the hour-mark with
Greece's narrow lead intact.

Ward hacked a 69th-minute shot
harmlessly across the face of goal after the Greeks had failed to clear a
McClean free-kick, and Greece coasted to the final whistle and victory
with few alarms.

Steven Davis backs Nigel Adkins to stay as Southampton boss

Davis backs Adkins and urges Saints board not to make rash decisions

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 6 November 2012

Steven Davis has urged Southampton's decision-makers not to press the panic button at the St Mary's Stadium.

The Northern Ireland international says it is evident from the support manager Nigel Adkins has from the Saints' fans and the effort being put in on the pitch that they are trying to rally around the Merseysider.

Adkins fronted up to all the questions about his future after the 2-0 defeat at the Hawthorns on Monday night, saying he still 'relished' the challenge of leading Southampton.

Backing: Steven Davis says the manager is still supported

Backing: Steven Davis says the manager is still supported

And Davis suggested that any change might be counter-productive.

'Everyone wants the same thing,' said the midfielder, 'to work hard and get moving up the table.

'We have a home game against Swansea coming up and that's a good opportunity for us to get going and get some points on the board.

'We know where we are at. We're in a fight. The manager has tried to shield us from pressure. He lets us concentrate on our football.

'But results haven't been going our way so we are all under pressure.

'We are all pulling in the right direction and the fans clearly appreciate the job the manager's done. The club has come a long way in a short space of time.

'We haven't had the start to the season we would have wished for. We are not where we want to be.

'But we're showing in periods that we can play at this level. We are creating chances and scoring goals.

'We don't want to panic in this situation, although obviously that's not my decision to make.

Difficult: Adkins is finding it hard to get his defence right

Difficult: Adkins is finding it hard to get his defence right

'But the manager's done a great job in the time he’s been here to get back to back promotions and then come into the Premier League.

'The club’s trying to build again from there. But it’s been a tough start to the season, there’s no doubt about it.

'We’ve had disappointing results. But we’ve all got the belief that we are capable of staying in this league.'

Xisco scores hat-trick for Newcastle reserves

Are you still here! Newcastle flop Xisco hits hat-trick for reserves… and sets sights on unlikely return

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UPDATED:

10:18 GMT, 23 October 2012

One of the names associated with the bleakest periods of Newcastle's recent history has claimed he is ready to produce the goods for the club after four forgettable years.

And he's kick-started his new lease of life with a hat-trick for the Toon's second string.

Xisco, a 5.7million signing from Deportivo la Coruna in 2008, has spent much of the last three seasons on loan in his homeland, but stole the show on Monday night in a 5-1 win over Stoke reserves.

Remember me Striker Xisco is ready to finally make an impact for Newcastle

Remember me Striker Xisco is ready to finally make an impact for Newcastle

In only his second appearance in the famous black and white shirt in 18 months Xisco showed his class with three smart finishes.

Speaking afterwards, the 26-year-old told the Chronicle: 'Maybe there is a happy chapter still to come for me with Newcastle. In football, these things can happen – all I can do is try my best. We’ll see after that what happens.'

'Sometimes it has been hard here for me. When I came here I was happy to sign, I wanted to play for the first team. I haven’t always had that chance. You train hard, do your best and you don’t get your chance.

'It’s difficult, and you get frustrated. That’s why I tried to go back to Spain each season. When I came here in the first season, it was difficult.

'We had three or four managers, it was my first season and it wasn’t good. It was a bad start in the Premier League for me.

'Then I went back to Spain every year because I felt comfortable there. They gave me the confidence and the chance to play.'

Discussing Toon manager Alan Pardew – Xisco's fourth boss at St James' Park – the Spaniard added: 'He just told me I don’t need to give up. He said to try hard and do my best and that anything can happen.'