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The Footballers" Football Column – Rohan Ricketts: Globetrotter how he moved from England to Ecuador via India

ROHAN RICKETTS: Cows in the road and Twitter row meant my Indian adventure ended early… but I went back in time to live the dream in South America

PUBLISHED:

08:20 GMT, 18 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:06 GMT, 18 February 2013

Rohan Ricketts

Rohan Ricketts started his football career playing for Arsenal and was part of the hugely successful side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2000 and 2001. But a year later he made the move that only four players before him had and crossed the north London divide to join Tottenham. After 30 appearances for the White Hart Lane club, Ricketts began his football journey playing for Wolves, Coventry, QPR, Barnsley before he opted to move abroad and to join MLS side Toronto FC. Since then he has played in Hungary, Moldova, Germany, Ireland and India. He is now playing in South America, in Ecuador. Before you read his first Footballers' Football Column, watch his video.

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I’ve often been called a ‘journeyman’ in my football career and in late 2012 I made my biggest journey to date when I signed for Dempo SC in Goa, India. It doesn’t sound like the most obvious move to make but, as they say, football is a funny old game.

Last summer I was really keen to return to the UK, after a stint at Shamrock Rovers in Ireland so I returned to London to see what I could find.

But it is such a tough market and there were so many players looking for a club. There’s a fine balance between holding your nerve and waiting to find a club or signing somewhere to ensure financial security for your family.

Getting to know the locals: Ricketts enjoyed his short spell in India, despite his issues on the pitch

Getting to know the locals: Ricketts enjoyed his short spell in India, despite his issues on the pitch

There were many players who were still looking for a club even after the season started. It’s easy to assume that players are being choosy about which club they sign for and ruling out lower league clubs but for me that wasn’t the case.

I love playing football, it’s what I was born to do. I may have been nearing 30 but I had no plans to give it up just yet.

After much deliberation with my family and friends, I made the decision to sign for Dempo SC. India isn’t really known for its football, I knew it would be different to Europe but the challenge of living in another country and helping them to build up the reputation of football really appealed to me.

I did it before when I signed for Toronto FC in MLS and I found it really rewarding to help educate a new generation about the sport.

First move abroad: Ricketts moved to MLS and joined Toronto

First move abroad: Ricketts moved to MLS and joined Toronto

I was told how serious Dempo SC were about growing football in India and I was excited to join them so I signed until May 2013.

It
certainly was a world away from London. It gets so hot there that we
were doing all our training sessions and practice matches early in the
morning before it got too unbearable.

It was fascinating to live in such a different culture, I was late for training on a couple of occasions due to cows in the road which was certainly something I had not experienced before and was I confronted with severe poverty in certain areas, which was difficult to see.

On the pitch, it was great to taste victory on the first day of the season after such a long break away, but it really was a different game to the one I am used to. It was the tactics that were lacking, rather than the players' skill level, so I was confident we would improve as the team gelled.

Rohan Ricketts

Mobbed: Ricketts helped Shamrock Rovers win the Irish League

Luck of the Irish: Ricketts enjoyed his spell with Shamrock Rovers and helped them win the Irish league

Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see if that would be the case. I had joined the team under the impression that they wanted me to play as I do and that they wanted to develop a passing style.

However the coach soon made it clear that he was expecting me to adapt to the way they played. It didn’t help that he was trying to play me as a striker rather than an attacking central midfielder.

I had some discussions with him about this in the early days and he did start to play me in the
right position.

Young stars: Rohan Ricketts was part of the Arsenal Youth team that included Steve Sidwell, Moritz Volz, Jermaine Pennant and Jay Bothroyd

Young stars: Rohan Ricketts was part of the Arsenal Youth team that included Steve Sidwell, Moritz Volz, Jermaine Pennant and Jay Bothroyd

Ricketts playing for Spurs

Rohan Ricketts

Crossing the divide: Ricketts moved to Spurs after starting his career in the Arsenal youth team

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I mentioned everything that was happening on my Twitter account, something the coach was not happy about. When the Indian press asked him about the things I was saying he denied it and said that I had misunderstood.

I knew that I hadn’t, although I do recognise that talking about it in 140 characters on Twitter was perhaps not the best forum. I was just frustrated because I wanted the team to do well.

As a result of my comments I was put on the bench for the next four games, in both the Goa and
I League.

The team did not do as well as we had been doing and it was really hard to sit and watch, but I remained professional and trained hard. It was a big plus to have moral support from a lot of the key members of the squad. This is something that can be rare being a player in a foreign country.

Eventually after keeping my focus and positive spirit, I was re-instated in the starting XI against Salgoacar FC. The game was tough but we ended up winning 2-1, and I scored my first I League goal and then set up the winnner.

After the game the coaches and players were in a good mood and we had gone two points clear at the top of the table. I had hoped that was the turning point for me but unfortunately things didn’t improve with the head coach.

It was a really uncomfortable situation with him and again I spoke out about the difficulties I was having on Twitter. After my first tweets I had spoken with the President of the club, who is a great guy, and he was supportive but obviously I understood that he needed to run the club successfully and for that he needs a united team.

I wasn’t trying to unsettle things with my later tweets but I couldn’t stay silent.

After further discussions with the President it became clear that my position at the club was untenable.

I can’t talk about everything that happened there but suffice to say that I have the utmost respect for the President and my team mates at Dempo SC along with the many fans who I met while I was there. I wish them every success this season.

Fortunately for me, when I knew that I was leaving Dempo, I was able to sign very quickly for a new club – 10 hours back in time at Deportivo Quevedo in Ecuador.

Playing in South America has always been a dream of mine so when my agent told me about this opportunity, I jumped at the chance.

A new excuse for being late: Ricketts was later for training due to cows in the road (file picture)

A new excuse for being late: Ricketts was later for training due to cows in the road (file picture)

Fans' favourite: Ricketts is surrounded by fans as he leaves training

Fans' favourite: Ricketts is surrounded by fans as he leaves training

I have been here for a month now and am settling in well. My team-mates have been very welcoming and I have joined in pre-season, which is refreshing after my last couple of moves where I have joined mid-way through and struggled to get to the same fitness level.

We played our first game of the season at the end of January against the Champions and biggest club in Ecuador Barcelona SC. Before the game I could feel the hype surrounding the game and for me it felt like I was involved in a Premier League fixture back home against Manchester United.

Fans all over our city, Quevedo, were stopping me daily to let me know how big the game was for them.

Talk about pressure on your first game.

This pressure was not new to me but I could still feel the anticipation and excitement all around. I'm grateful to be part of such moments. This is no doubt the stuff of dreams for others but for me it is reality.

I knew I was starting in the game a week before, so I did not have the annoying waiting game surrounding team selection.

On the move: Ricketts left India to move to Deportivo Quevedo in Ecuador

On the move: Ricketts left India to move to Deportivo Quevedo in Ecuador

Once the game day arrived and we got to the stadium and the energy around the ground was almost tangible. Salsa music was playing and the people were chanting an hour ahead of
kick-off.

I just tried to remain cool as I did not want to lose energy. Good thing I did because the game turned out to be a real scrap due to the bad weather which turned the pitch into a mud bath.

I was hoping to get on the ball and play our passing game, but it was not to be for either side.

ROHAN RICKETTS

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @RohanRicketts

It was all about winning the second ball and playing on the counter attack. We adapted really well to the conditions and took the lead early on but the referee seemed to have his own agenda, in the second half when he gave Barcelona as penalty which was never a penalty and then didn't give us a penalty for a blatant handball in their box.

I won't go too much into the incident as I may get myself in trouble, but the game ended 1-1. A good point for us against the champions and a good team performance.

I was relatively pleased with my performance but I know the conditions limited my chances of being more active in dangerous areas.

I'm adapting quickly and learning the lingo, which will only speed up the settling in process and help me get the most out of my latest football adventure.

Bolton 1 Ipswich 2 match report

Bolton 1 Ipswich 2: Chopra strikes late as McCarthy's revival gathers pace

PUBLISHED:

17:38 GMT, 1 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

17:38 GMT, 1 December 2012

Michael Chopra came off the bench to snatch a last-minute winner for
Ipswich and hand Dougie Freedman his first defeat as Bolton manager.

Wanderers raced into an early lead courtesy of superb 25-yard strike by Mark Davies.
Bolton proceeded to dominate the opening exchanges but could not add to
their advantage, while Lee Martin came closest to finding an Ipswich
equaliser before the break.

Super strike: Bolton's Mark Davies (R) scores the opening goal

Super strike: Bolton's Mark Davies (R) scores the opening goal

Match facts

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Knight, Ricketts, Alonso, Spearing, Andrews (Butterfield 77), Mark Davies, Ngog, Eagles (Lee 63),
Kevin Davies (Afobe 72). Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Mills, Ream, Pratley.

Booked: Mears.

Goals: Mark Davies 6.

Ipswich: Henderson, Orr, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N'Daw, Drury (Emmanuel-Thomas 55), Martin, Barnett (Murphy 55), Campbell (Chopra 76). Subs Not Used: Loach, Hewitt, Higginbotham, Carson.

Booked: Campbell,Chopra.

Goals: Campbell 70 pen, Chopra 90.

Att: 17,208

Ref: Michael Naylor (Sheffield).

The latest Championship table, results and fixtures

Despite a pair of early second-half chances for Kevin Davies, Town were growing into the game and DJ Campbell levelled from the penalty spot when Tyrone Mears brought down Darryl Murphy.

That left Chopra to capitalise on some slack handling from Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan and move Ipswich five points clear of the relegation zone following back-to-back wins.

Bolton headed into the match unbeaten in their first six games under Freedman – a post-war record for a new Wanderers manager.

Despite the impressive display at Ewood Park, Freedman shuffled his pack again – recalling Mark Davies following suspension and restoring David Ngog and Marcos Alonso to the starting line-up.

Mick McCarthy made one change to the Ipswich side that beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 in midweek, with Andy Drury replacing the injured Luke Hyam.

Town goalkeeper Stephen Henderson touched a Keith Andrews drive over as Bolton served early notice of their intentions, and they were ahead by the sixth minute.

Mark Davies exchanged passes with Jay Spearing before unleashing a sublime shot that dipped into the top corner, leaving Henderson with no chance.

Alonso had an effort from distance deflected behind before Kevin Davies prodded wide as he stretched to meet a pull back from strike partner Ngog, but Ipswich managed to see out the early storm without suffering any further damage.

After the half-hour Martin was the beneficiary of a cleverly worked Town free-kick and saw his strike beaten away by Bogdan.

Wanderers might have extended their lead on the stroke of half-time but Chris Eagles elected to shoot with Kevin Davies well placed.

Henderson produced a magnificent stop when Kevin Davies fired a volley goalwards from Mark Davies' cross in the 50th minute. The veteran striker was thwarted again moments later with a header from Andrews' lofted ball.

Despite those opportunities, Bolton were unable to reproduce their earlier fluency and Ipswich drew level with 20 minutes to play.

Bradley Orr played the ball in to Murphy who cutely nutmegged Zat Knight before being brought down by Mears.

Bogdan guessed correctly but Campbell's spot kick nestled in the corner. Ipswich now appeared the most likely winners and Bogdan saved well with his feet from Martin following good work from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who was introduced in place of Andy Drury 10 minutes into the second half.

Bolton substitute Jacob Butterfield cut in from the left to thrash narrowly wide but there would be late heartbreak for the hosts after Knight blocked Murphy's goalbound effort.

The resulting corner, taken by Martin, was half cleared and and when Bogdan failed to hold Orr's well-struck volley Chopra was on hand to finish.

Blackburn 1 Bolton 2: match report

Blackburn 1 Bolton 2: High-flying Eagles inspires visitors to comfortable win

|

UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 28 November 2012

A fine individual display from Chris Eagles inspired Bolton to victory over abject neighbours Blackburn.

Kevin Davies struck after 93 seconds against his former club in a first half dominated by Wanderers.

Eagles was a constant menace alongside Jacob Butterfield and Lee Chung-Yong, the attacking trio operating behind a typically robust and effective Davies.

Celebration: Adam Bogdan reacts after Kevin Davies' opener

Celebration: Adam Bogdan reacts after Kevin Davies' opener

MATCH FACTS

Blackburn: Robinson, Mn Olsson, Dann, Henley, G Hanley, Formica, Murphy, Etuhu (Lowe 62), Rhodes, King (Kazim-Richards 71), Rochina (Pedersen 69)

Subs not used: Kean, Givet, Ms Olsson, Vukcevic

Booked: Rochina

Goal: Rhodes 82

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Knight, Warnock, Ricketts, Eagles (Pratley 81), Andrews, Spearing, Lee (Mills 89), Butterfield Petrov 73), K Davies

Subs not used: Lonergan, Mills, Ream, Petrov, Pratley, Ngog, Afobe

Booked: Warnock, Spearing

Goals: K Davies 2, Lee 61

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Attendance: 18,010

The latest Championship table, fixtures and results

Butterfield, Lee and Davies were
recalled as three of six changes made by Whites boss Dougie Freedman,
but his alterations soon looked inspired and Blackburn had goalkeeper
Paul Robinson to thank for not being further behind at the break.

Eventually Robinson was unable to
prevent greater damage when he turned Eagles' 61st-minute free-kick
against the post to leave Lee with a close-range formality, before
Jordan Rhodes headed Rovers to within touching distance of a scarcely
deserved point eight minute from time.

Victory ended a run of four straight
draws for Bolton, still unbeaten in six games under Freedman's
stewardship, while Blackburn must bounce back from consecutive defeats
and a stuttering start to Henning Berg's tenure when they make the short
trip to face fierce rivals Burnley on Sunday.

Josh King was handed a first Rovers start as Markus Olsson made way to accommodate the on-loan Manchester United forward.

Keith Andrews replaced the suspended
Mark Davies in Bolton's midfield but all Freedman's other switches were
understood to be of a tactical nature, with striker David Ngog demoted
to the bench despite netting a last-gasp equaliser at Brighton on
Saturday.

Ngog's replacement, Bolton captain
Kevin Davies, immediately vindicated his manager's decision by firing
the visitors into a second-minute lead.

Ex-Burnley winger Eagles shuffled in
from the right flank amid boos from the home support to slip Davies
beyond the Rovers backline and the 35-year-old lashed high past
Robinson.

Twice before the half hour Eagles
brought impressive stops out of Robinson – driving low and venomously
from 30 yards with his right foot before crisply volleying left-footed
towards the far corner from the inside left channel.

Bolton's three ex-Ewood men were all
involved in a 31st-minute opening – Stephen Warnock's low cross finding
Andrews, who did his perfectly-timed run a disservice with a tame
side-footed effort that spun off Davies and out for a goal kick.

Clipped: Ruben Rochina (right) is harassed by Keith Andrews

Clipped: Ruben Rochina (right) is harassed by Keith Andrews

Robinson had to save well from Eagles
once more before the half was out, while also arching backward to tip
Zat Knight's deflected hook goalwards over after those in front of him
failed to deal with Jay Spearing's free-kick.

Danny Murphy slammed Blackburn's only
opening of the half over at the back post from Martin Olsson's cross
and it came as little surprise when the hosts were booed off at the
interval.

Berg's men started the second period
with greater purpose but Robinson remained their key man, requiring
fingertips to keep a delicate 25-yarder from Butterfield out of the top
corner.

The former England man's next save
was in vain – touching Eagles' free-kick onto the post after Dickson
Etuhu bundled over Blackburn's tormentor-in-chief and springing
gallantly to his left as Lee tucked home the rebound.

A woefully off-target 25-yarder from
Murphy brought further venom from the terraces and Robinson saved
superbly again to deny Knight from a Spearing corner.

Warnock was alert to block Mauro
Formica from close quarters and a lifeline belatedly arrived for Rovers
when Colin Kazim-Richards, on for King, angled a ball from the left to
the back post where Scotland striker Rhodes ghosted in to head his 15th
goal for club and country this season.

A final chance fell to Rhodes via Murphy in stoppage time but he could not scramble home.

Middlesbrough 2 Bolton 1 match report: Scott MCDonald Lee Chung-yong goals

Middlesbrough 2 Bolton 1: McDonald fires two as Boro hit back to stop Trotters

|

UPDATED:

16:21 GMT, 27 October 2012

Substitute Scott McDonald scored
twice for Middlesbrough as they came from behind to make it four npower
Championship wins on the bounce.

Boro had trailed when Lee Chung-yong
gave Bolton the lead against the run of play with a cute dinked finish,
but McDonald, who came on in the first half after an injury to Marvin
Emnes, scored his first two goals of the season to maintain their
momentum.

First he was on hand to poke home
from close range following a spill from Adam Bogdan midway through the
second half and then he headed home Emmanuel Ledesma's cross in the
final 10 minutes.

Top man: Scott McDonald powered Boro to victory

Top man: Scott McDonald powered Boro to victory

Match facts

Middlesbrough: Steele, Parnaby, Hines, Bikey, Friend, Haroun, Leadbitter, McEachran (Halliday 87), Reach (Ledesma 46), Miller, Emnes (McDonald 22). Subs not used: Leutwiler, Smallwood, Bailey, Hoyte.

Goals: McDonald 67, 85.

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears (Ngog 87), Ricketts, Ream, Warnock, Eagles, Mark Davies (Pratley 77), Lee, Spearing, Petrov (Afobe 65), Kevin Davies. Subs not used: Lynch, Mills, Andrews, Riley.

Booked: Kevin Davies, Eagles.

Goals: Lee 42.

Att: 16,200.

Ref: Gary Sutton.

Latest Championship table, fixtures and results

Boro, unbeaten in five, remain in third place in the league and look a good bet to mount a serious promotion challenge over the next few weeks.

In contrast new Bolton boss Dougie Freedman has it all to do as Wanderers, who rarely threatened in the second half, languish in lower mid-table, but with the quality on show in their squad they should rise the division in the coming weeks.

Freedman, who will be officially unveiled on Monday afternoon, watched from the stands as Jimmy Phillips took charge for the last time and he was almost out of his seat in the opening two minutes when Chris Eagles unleashed an effort from distance, but it went just wide of the post.

Boro soon found their feet though and Grant Leadbitter tested Bogdan from distance before Ishmael Miller wasted a fine chance when he headed George Friend's probing cross wide in the 10th minute.

The hosts, who were unchanged from Tuesday's win over Hull, were asking all the questions and Bogdan had to be at his best to deny Emnes' powerful effort.

Boro's flow was not interrupted by the injury to Emnes which saw McDonald come on and Miller had another effort go just off target as his curling effort flew wide with Bogdan beaten.

But Boro paid the ultimate price for their failure to score as the visitors stole a 43rd-minute lead.

Interested party: New Bolton boss Dougie Freedman watched from the stands

Interested party: New Bolton boss Dougie Freedman watched from the stands

A loose ball fell to Chung-Yong and after composing himself inside the area he delightfully lifted the ball over Jason Steele to stun the Riverside.

And it could have been even better for Wanderers two minutes later as Lee was presented with a golden chance to double the lead, but trying to repeat his earlier finish he blazed over the bar.

It was an unjust half-time scoreline and Boro came out after the interval trying to put it right, though they struggled to create the same vibrancy.
However, they finally built up a head of steam and levelled midway through the second period.

Miller had the ball on the left and fired in a cross-shot that Bogdan could only parry and McDonald was on hand to stab home from close range.
Boro were flying and McDonald headed another opportunity wide before they had a strong appeal for handball turned down when the ball appeared to strike Sam Ricketts on the arm.

The deserved winner finally came in the 85th minute when McDonald was left unmarked and headed home Ledesma's cross from the left and Boro held on for the three points.

Bolton 2 Leeds United 2

Bolton 2 Leeds United 2: Evergreen Davies rescues point for under-fire boss Coyle

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

21:21 GMT, 2 October 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:33 GMT, 2 October 2012

The welcomed back a cult figure but, in the end, they were indebted to an old hero.

Bolton fans may have enjoyed seeing El Hadji Diouf return on Tuesday night but, ultimately, they were more grateful for Kevin Davies.

Having spent four years with Bolton, the controversial Senegal forward was made Leeds captain for the trip to the Reebok and, for much of a frantic game, it looked an inspired choice as he created one goal for Sam Byram and started the move that ended with Luciano Becchio converting a penalty.

Main man: Kevin Davies scored twice to earn Bolton a draw against Leeds

Main man: Kevin Davies scored twice to earn Bolton a draw against Leeds

Match facts

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight, Warnock, Mark Davies, Andrews, Spearing (Petrov 62), Eagles, Kevin Davies, Afobe (Sordell 72).

Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Ream, Ricketts, Pratley, Lee.

Booked: Kevin Davies, Spearing.

Goals: Kevin Davies 14, 79.

Leeds: Kenny, Lees, Pearce, Peltier, Drury, Byram, Austin, Brown, Tonge,
Diouf, Becchio.

Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Varney, White, Norris, Gray, Thompson, Poleon.

Booked: Peltier, Brown.

Goals: Byram 44, Becchio 50 pen.

Att: 21,255

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Much to Owen Coyle’s relief, though,
Davies came up trumps when it mattered, scoring two trademark headers to
secure a 2-2 draw to alleviate the pressure that has been building on
his manager. Davies may now be 34 but age is not diminishing his
effectiveness.

‘The skipper epitomised everything about this football club,’ said Coyle.

‘We are disappointed not to take all three points but there was a lot to be positive about. If we keep working hard, we will come through the other side smiling. We just need to keep banging on that door.’

Had the game ended with Diouf inspiring a win, Coyle would have banging his head against a brick wall. He lamented two penalty decisions – one which was not awarded to his side, the other which was given to Leeds – but, more than anything, was left cursing Bolton’s inability to kill off opponents.

‘The level of our play at times was outstanding, probably the best it has been all season,’ said Coyle.

Leveller: Davies heads home his and Bolton's second against Leeds

Leveller: Davies heads home his and Bolton's second against Leeds

Early on it was difficult to argue with the Scot. Bolton outplayed Leeds in the opening stages and quickly made their mark. Chris Eagles was the first to test Paddy Kenny with a shot that was beaten away after 12 minutes but they didn’t have long to wait to poke their noses in front.

In keeping with the way he had started, Eagles was the provider. His wicked corner on 14 minutes picked out Bolton’s club captain in the six yard box and the former England international made no mistake when flashing a header past Kenny.

Leeds found trouble containing the home side and Bolton could easily have been double their advantage in the moments that followed as first Keith Andrews tested Kenny before Eagles smashed a searing drive off the right-hand post from 20 yards.

In front: Leeds looked to be on course for three points until Davies struck

In front: Leeds looked to be on course for three points until Davies struck

Bolton, though, lost their rhythm as the contest became tetchy and attritional with referee Phil Dowd regularly blowing regularly for fouls; the last one he awarded before the break had huge ramifications as Diouf’s set piece was converted by Byram.

That gave Leeds all the impetus they needed and their fine start to the second period was rewarded when Becchio coolly dispatched a penalty after Bolton defender Stephen Warnock had tugged down Byram.

It was the fourth consecutive spot kick Coyle’s team had conceded but, fortunately for him, Davies came good at the death to bullet in a header from substitute Martin Petrov’s corner.

‘’It’s not often you come to Bolton and feel disappointed with a draw,’ said Warnock. ‘It was probably my fault we conceded. I told Rodolph Austin to mark Kevin Davies. He was the wrong man to do it.’

Bolton 0 Crystal Palace 1: Glenn Murray penalty earns win

Bolton 0 Crystal Palace 1: Murray penalty keeps up fine Eagles run

|

UPDATED:

17:13 GMT, 29 September 2012

Crystal Palace stretched their unbeaten run to five games as Glenn Murray continued his fine goalscoring form to convert the penalty which proved the difference against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.

Both teams came into the game with 10 points, sat just below mid-table in the npower Championship, and in a close match short on quality it was the Eagles who recorded their fourth win in five matches.

Murray had scored two penalties as part of a hat-trick a week earlier as Palace came from two down to beat Cardiff 3-2 and the former Brighton striker held his nerve 10 minutes from time to give the visitors their first ever league win away to Bolton, whose own unbeaten home run in the league came to an end.

Good run: Glenn Murray celebrates scoring from the spot

Good run: Glenn Murray celebrates scoring from the spot

Match facts

Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight, Warnock, Mark Davies, Andrews (Petrov 70), Spearing, Eagles (Lee 80), Kevin Davies, Ngog (Sordell 76).

Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Ream, Ricketts, Pratley.

Booked: Spearing.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Parr (Moxey 64), Blake, Delaney, Garvan, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Murray, Bolasie (Williams 75), Zaha.

Subs Not Used: Price, Martin, Goodwillie, Wilbraham, Moritz.

Booked: Zaha.

Goals: Murray 80 pen.

Att: 16,727

Ref: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).

Palace made the better start and
within a minute the impressive Wilfried Zaha burst into the area on the
right before seeing his angled, first-time shot parried away by
goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.

Palace were looking a threat on the
counter-attack and went close once more as Owen Garvan sent in a looping
cross but Murray was not able to get enough power on his header and
sent his attempt straight at Bogdan.

The hosts then had a penalty shout
for a possible handball from a Mark Davies header, before Damien Delaney
made a superb block to deny home striker David Ngog, who looked well
placed to score from close range.

Zaha again went close for Palace on
35 minutes as he turned well in the area to fire a low shot that was
well saved by the feet of Bogdan, before the visitors were forced to put
their bodies on the line to block efforts from both Kevin Davies and
Chris Eagles as Bolton threatened inside the six-yard area at the other
end.

But it was Palace who ended the half
on a high when Murray glanced a header inches wide of the right post
from Garvan's left-wing cross.

After the break, Bolton had their
best chance of the game on the hour when Mark Davies beat one man in the
area and drilled a low shot that was bundled away from the danger-zone
by Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

The home side seemed buoyed by this
chance and moments later Kevin Davies, making his 700th career
appearance, also found Speroni when well placed six yards out, following
Eagles' free-kick that was flicked on by Matt Mills.

Palace had struggled to rediscover
their first-half form, but Zaha almost created something from nothing
when he surged forward and despite numbers in support, he kept on going
himself and saw his shot well saved by Bogdan.

It was the tricky Zaha whose skills ended up helping the visitors score what would prove to be the only goal of the game.

Zaha's trickery drew a foul from Zat
Knight and referee Geoff Eltringham pointed to the penalty spot, with
Murray stepping up to slot home past Bogdan to give Palace the lead.

The dangerous Zaha then produced a
dangerous cross across the face of goal that was close to being
connected to by two Palace players.

The hosts went close to equalising
when substitute Chung-Yong Lee sent a fizzing shot whistling just over
the upright, but Bolton were unable to create anything better than this
as Dougie Freedman's men held on for victory.

Wales 0 Belgium 2: Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen strike

Wales 0 Belgium 2: Premier League stars Kompany and Vertonghen slay 10-man hosts

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UPDATED:

20:56 GMT, 7 September 2012

Superb goals from Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen gave Belgium victory in Cardiff over 10-man Wales in their opening World Cup qualifier.

Injury-hit Wales had made a solid start against the Group A favourites but their good work was undone when James Collins was shown a straight red for a reckless lunge on Guillaume Gillet after 25 minutes.

Manchester City skipper Kompany capitalised to give the visitors the lead with a header three minutes before the break, with Vertonghen sealing the three points with an unstoppable free-kick late on.

Thunderous: Vincent Kompany (left) powers his header home

Thunderous: Vincent Kompany (left) powers his header home

Take that: Jan Vertonghen smashes in the second goal

Take that: Jan Vertonghen smashes in the second goal

MATCH FACTS

Wales: Myhill, Gunter, Matthews, Collins, Williams, Bale, Blake, Edwards (King 79), Ramsey, Church (Robson-Kanu 71), Morison (Vokes 71)

Subs not used: Brown, Price, Davies, Ricketts, Richards, Vaughan, Williams, Earnshaw

Booked: Williams, Vokes

Sent off: Collins

Belgium: Courtois, Gillet, Vermaelen, Kompany, Vertonghen, Witsel, Fellaini, Hazard, Mertens, Dembele (De Bruyne 64), Mirallas (Lukaku 45)

Subs not used: Mignolet, J-F Gillet, Ciman, Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Lombaerts, Defour, Simons, De Camargo, Benteke

Goals: Kompany 42, Vertonghen 82

Booked: Gillet, Vertonghen

Ref: Johannesson

There are positives for manager Chris
Coleman to take into Tuesday's next fixture in Serbia, but Wales are now
on a worrying run of four defeats without scoring a goal.

Wales had been heavy underdogs coming
into the game, with Coleman not being helped by a an injury list that
included late withdrawal Joe Allen, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Hennessey, Neil
Taylor, Andrew Crofts and Jack Collison.

But they had made a good start, with a
disciplined defensive display frustrating the classy visitors while
also looking potent on the break.

Wales fashioned the first real chance
as Gareth Bale's cushioned header fell for David Edwards via a
deflection off Vertonghen, but the Wolves man could only find the
side-netting.

Bale carved out another chance after 18 minutes, ghosting past Dries Mertens, but his cross was too high for Simon Church.

The host had a lucky escape at the
other end as Collins brilliantly denied Vermaelen a point-blank header,
before Mertens deflected effort rolled just wide of the far post.

Agony: Guillaume Gillet writhes after being slide tackled by James Collins, who is sent off (below)

Agony: Guillaume Gillet writhes after being slide tackled by James Collins, who is sent off (below)

Off: Collins is dismissed

Annoyed: Collins stomps off

But Welsh hopes crumbled when Collins,
playing his first international since March 2011, saw red after his
terrible challenge on Gillet.

The West Ham defender and his
team-mates seemed exasperated by the decision, although replays did not
suggest he had any grounds for complaint.

His dismissal prompted a reshuffle
from Coleman as Ashley Williams dropped back from midfield into a more
familiar role in the centre of defence alongside Darcy Blake.

Belgium soon began to exploit the
extra space and Mertens should have given Marc Wilmots' side the lead
after 35 minutes, but the PSV Eindhoven winger fired narrowly wide after
cutting in from the left.

Well done: Belgium celebrate with scorer Kompany

Well done: Belgium celebrate with scorer Kompany

Rivals: Aaron Ramsey gets to grips with Mousa Dembele

Rivals: Aaron Ramsey gets to grips with Mousa Dembele

Bale continued to pose Wales' best
attacking threat and another purposeful surge from the Tottenham man
came so close to finding the opener, but Church saw his shot blocked by
Gillet.

And the miss was punished when skipper
Kompany got the better of Blake to head in at the near post from
Mertens' pin-point corner to give Belgium the lead in the 42nd minute.

Belgium looked comfortable and camped
on the edge of the Wales box from the off at the start of the second
half, with Axel Witsel blazing over and Mertens shooting straight at
Boaz Myhill.

Jan Vertonghen with Dries Mertens on his back

Gareth Bale and Mertens

Contrasting fortunes: Club-mates Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale

Adam Matthews denied substitute Romelu
Lukaku an easy finish with a fine defensive header, while Vertonghen
hit the side-netting after linking wonderfully with Eden Hazard.

Wales were clinging on bravely, and
only a sharp save from Thibault Courtois denied them an equaliser from
Bale's fierce free-kick, before Williams headed narrowly wide from the
resulting corner.

Wales were fortunate to escape
punishment when Edwards and Matthews misplaced passes in quick
succession, but on both occasions Lukaku could not control balls into
his feet.

But Belgium put the seal on the win in
the 83rd minute when Wales captain Aaron Ramsey fouled Lukaku;
Vertonghen stepped up to hammer the free-kick beyond Myhill and end home
hopes of salvaging a point.

Tussle: Bale goes in on Dries Mertens

Tussle: Bale goes in on Dries Mertens

Eden Hazard

Mousa Dembele

Star names: Eden Hazard and Dembele featured for Belgium but neither were on top form

Wales 0 Bosnia-Herzegovina 2: Chris Coleman suffers defeat in first match on home soil

Wales 0 Bosnia-Herzegovina 2: Coleman suffers defeat in first match on home soil

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UPDATED:

20:52 GMT, 15 August 2012

Wales' preparations for their World Cup qualification campaign ended on a sobering note with defeat against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Llanelli.

Goals from Vedad Ibisevic and Miroslav Stevanovic gave the visitors, inspired by a terrific performance from Manchester City's Edin Dzeko, a deserved win.

The closest Wales came to a goal was when Joe Allen hit the crossbar in the first half, while Gareth Bale also threatened sporadically, but it was a dispiriting night for the hosts.

More to follow….

Net result: Stevanovic scores their second goal to confirm victory for the visitors

Net result: Stevanovic scores their second goal to confirm victory for the visitors

Match facts

Wales: Myhill, Gunter, Blake, Williams, Taylor, Bale, Ramsey, Allen, Crofts, Church, Vokes.

Subs: Brown, Lynch, Ricketts, Matthews, Ledley, Edwards, Bellamy, Morison, Earnshaw,
Robson-Kanu, Fon Williams.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Begovic, Pandza, Spahic, Mujdza, Salihovic, Pjanic, Zahirovic, Stevanovic, Lulic, Ibisevic, Dzeko.

Subs: Avdukic, Sunjic, Vrancic, Besic, Svraka, Ognjen Vranjes, Sesar.

Referee: Marco Borg (Malta)

Who's the Bos Vedad Ibisevic opens the scoring for the visitors

Who's the Bos Vedad Ibisevic opens the scoring for the visitors

Who's the Bos Vedad Ibisevic opens the scoring for the visitors

XXX

Falling flat: Bale and Allen were in action for Wales who lost their first game on home soil under Coleman

Falling flat: Bale and Allen were in action for Wales who lost their first game on home soil under Coleman

Falling flat: Bale and Allen were in action for Wales who lost their first game on home soil under Coleman

Mexico 2 Wales 0: Aldo De Nigris double sinks Chris Coleman"s weakened side

Mexico 2 Wales 0: Coleman's weakened side fall to De Nigris brace

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UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 27 May 2012

Chris Coleman suffered defeat in his first match in charge of Wales as Aldo De Nigris' double gave classy Mexico a deserved victory at MetLife Stadium in New York.

Wales were always likely to be up against it without the likes of Gareth Bale and Joe Ledley, and they struggled with the humidity and a lifeless pitch, failing to force a save from Mexico keeper Jesus Corona.

Mexican rave: Wales keeper Jason Brown (right) is left disconsolate

Mexican rave: Wales keeper Jason Brown (right) is left disconsolate

Monterrey striker De Nigris netted the opener in the 43rd minute as he headed home from inside the six-yard box and added a second with a chested finish a minute from time.

It could have been worse for Wales as keeper Jason Brown made a series of fine saves to deny the excellent Giovani Dos Santos, Edgar Andrade and Severo Meza.

Not this time: Wales' Craig Bellamy fails to find the target with a free-kick

Not this time: Wales' Craig Bellamy fails to find the target with a free-kick

Match facts

Mexico: Corona, Moreno, Meza, Salcido, Francisco Maza Rodriguez, Barrera (Marquez 76), Zavala (Molina Granados 64), Perez (Torres 71), Andrade, Giovani (Reyna 71), De Nigris. Subs Not Used: Ochoa, Talavera, Jimenez, Ayala, Lugo Aranda.

Goals: De Nigris 43, 89.

Wales: Brown, Matthews (Ricketts 60), Williams, Gunter, Neil Taylor (Richards 80), Allen, Edwards (King 71), Robson-Kanu (Church 60), Ramsey, Bellamy, Morison (Vokes 60). Subs Not Used: Fon Williams, Henley, Easter, Lynch, Rhys Taylor.

Booked: Ramsey.

Att: 35,518

But to Wales' credit they refused to buckle under the almost constant barrage of Mexican pressure with the likes of Brown, Joe Allen and Ashley Williams impressing in adversity.

Mexico could have led inside 30 seconds as Carlos Salcido was able to pick out De Nigris far too easily with his long ball, but the striker fired wastefully wide.

Wales had another warning when a similar ploy picked out Tottenham's Dos Santos, but makeshift centre-half Chris Gunter recovered from his positional error to force the striker wide, with Brown making the save.

Both sides were being hindered by the slow playing surface but Mexico appeared to be adapting better as they continue to look the more threatening in attack.

Midfielder Andrade spurned a great opportunity when he was played in by Jesus Navala, blazing over from close range as Brown came out.

My ball: Jason Brown saves a header from Mexico's Aldo De Nigris

On the rise: Aldo De Nigris (right) caused all sorts of problems for Wales

On the rise: Aldo De Nigris caused all sorts of problems for Wales


Beaten: Bellamy challenges Severo Meza

Beaten: Bellamy challenges Severo Meza

Wales' first effort on Corona's goal arrived after 25 minutes but Hal Robson-Kanu could not make a meaningful connection on Craig Bellamy's cross as his header glanced wide.

Steve Morison then failed to control Bellamy's intelligent cutback as Coleman's side finally showed an attacking threat.

But Mexico still looked the more likely to find an opening and Andrade, whose sharp movement from wide areas was causing Wales major problems, again fired over before Dos Santos shot just wide of the near post after another teasing run.

And Mexico got the lead their dominance deserved just two minutes before the break, as Meza's overlapping run allowed him to deliver a perfectly-judged cross that beat Gunter for De Nigris to nod home from inside the six-yard box.

The goal was a hammer blow to Wales, and Mexico started the second half intent on adding to their lead. Meza forced Brown into a low save before the keeper made a brilliant stop from Dos Santos' point-blank header, while Hector Moreno came within inches of tapping home captain Francisco Rodriguez's header across the face of goal.

Coleman made a triple substitution on the hour as Sam Vokes, Simon Church and Sam Ricketts replaced Morison, Robson-Kanu and the injured Adam Matthews respectively.

And it almost paid dividends as Church linked well with Bellamy, with the Liverpool striker firing narrowly over Corona's crossbar.

On the chase: Giovani Dos Santos beats Wales' Ashley Williams

On the chase: Giovani Dos Santos beats Wales' Ashley Williams

Barrera volleyed well wide after he had been picked out by substitute Jorge Torres Nilo, while another substitute Angel Reyna was narrowly off target from the edge of the area.

With both sides making a raft of changes the game lost a lot of its shape during the final 15 minutes although Wales were still having to survive some anxious moments.

And De Nigris' sealed the win in the 89th minute as he intelligently chested home from Andrade's whipped delivery from the left.

Craig Bellamy to play for Wales against Mexico

Bellamy hints at Wales future after flying to Mexico for friendly

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UPDATED:

20:13 GMT, 25 May 2012

Craig Bellamy has given the biggest indication that his international career is not over by flying to America for Wales’s friendly against Mexico on Sunday night.

The Liverpool striker was considering ending his Wales career after the death of his good friend and former manager Gary Speed.

But he has made himself available to boss Chris Coleman.

Available: Craig Bellamy (left) looks to have a future with Wales

Available: Craig Bellamy (left) looks to have a future with Wales

And team-mate Steve Morison believes the 32-year-old wants to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to pay tribute to Speed.

He said: ‘Craig wants to get to the World Cup more than anybody because Gary Speed was a good friend of his. The aim was Brazil and he (Speed) went a hell of a long way to putting us on the right path.’

wales (Probable, 4-5-1): Brown, Gunter, Williams, Ricketts, Taylor; Ramsey, Allen, Vaughan Ledley, Bellamy; Morrison.

TV: S4c from 7.40pm (kick-off 8.06pm).