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Phew! Relief for Lambert after ending three game losing streak with "huge point" at Swansea despite conceding late equaliser

Phew! Relief for Lambert after ending three game losing streak with 'huge point' at Swansea despite conceding late equaliser

By
Andrew Gwilym, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

20:26 GMT, 1 January 2013

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UPDATED:

00:39 GMT, 2 January 2013

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert described his side's 2-2 draw at Swansea as a huge point, despite seeing them denied all three by Danny Graham's injury-time equaliser.

The Villans had conceded 15 and scored none in their previous three games and Wayne Routledge added to their woes as he fired the hosts ahead in the ninth minute.

But relegation-threatened Villa had looked set to take the points when Andreas Weimann levelled just before the interval and Christian Benteke scored from the spot when Nathan Dyer conceded an 84th-minute penalty for a foul on Weimann.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert needs to improve things on the pitch

Under pressure: Lambert's side are just one point off the relegation zone after Swansea's stoppage time goal

However, Graham fired home a rebound in a late goalmouth scramble, to leave Lambert with his head in his hands.

A point at least ends Villa's miserable run of defeats and, despite the crushing disappointment, Lambert feels he can take great heart from a gutsy effort by a side with an average age of just 23 years and 119 days – making it the youngest the club had ever fielded in a Premier League fixture.

Villa players react as they concede an equalizer

Gutted: Villa players were left dejected after conceding in the 94th minute

He said: 'It is a huge point although we should have seen it through. But it's a massive point and we were very good and threatening in the second half.

'In the first half they were coming at us from all angles and we had to weather that storm and we needed a couple of good saves from Brad and they also hit the woodwork.

'But to get the goal before half-time certainly helped us and it had a galvanising effect, it gives you something to get going and in the second half we were very good.

'We have been beaten heavily in the last three games so this is a huge point for the future of the club.

'The young lads in the side have been excellent and when you get beaten heavily you learn a lot about people and today showed they are mentally strong.'

Looking up: Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal for Aston Villa from the penalty spot

Looking up: Christian Benteke celebrates after scoring the second goal for Villa from the penalty spot

Injury-hit Villa, already without the likes of Darren Bent, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia, Ron Vlaar, Nathan Baker and Richard Dunne, also lost Ashley Westwood to an ankle problem after he was felled from behind by Michu's clumsy tackle.

And Lambert will wait before assessing how severe the problem is.

He said: 'He is hobbling at the minute but we will see how he feels. We think it is his ankle.'

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, meanwhile, was left scratching his head as to how his side had not won a game in which they had almost 70 per cent possession and had threatened to run away with during an opening half-hour when Villa were all at sea.

Michu, Graham and Routledge were among those to miss gilt-edged chances, and the Dane said: 'We did not win because we only scored one goal from seven chances with that first-half performance.

Danny Graham celebrates after scoring the late equalizer for Swansea

All Smiles: Graham wheels away after scoring the last minute goal

aston

'It was a great performance – it could have been 4-0 after 12 minutes – but we know how it is when you don't take chances.

'It means one mistake, one free-kick, one corner or whatever it is and the game is back level, and that is what happened at the end of the first half.

'They had only been near our goal two or three times in the first 45 minutes and we gave Villa belief they could come from behind and get something out of the game.

'If we had got a second or third we would maybe be sitting here talking about a 5-0 win.'

Laudrup was also disappointed his side were not awarded a penalty just before the hour mark.

Joe Bennett was penalised for handball on the left-side of his own area as he blocked Angel Rangel.

But referee Mark Halsey only awarded Swansea a free-kick on the edge of the box when the ball had appeared to strike Bennett just inside.

When asked if he thought it was a penalty, Laudrup said: 'Yeah of course, both of his feet are on the line and the hand is inside, I think the line is still part of the box so there was no doubt about it.

'It was a clear penalty but it was not given and that's that, we have to go on.'

Montrose 2 Rangers 4

Montrose 2 Rangers 4: Shiels shines as McCoist's men extend winning run to six

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 15 December 2012

Dean Shiels created a goal and scored himself inside two second-half minutes as Rangers came from behind to edge an open and entertaining Irn-Bru Third Division contest at Links Park.

Montrose were twice denied late equalisers by the frame of the goal before Robbie Crawford secured the points with virtually the last kick of the ball.

Shiels set up Kevin Kyle to put Rangers ahead midway through the second half and then finished off a clinical break to seemingly end the visitors' struggle against Montrose, who led for six minutes through Lloyd Young's strike before Lee McCulloch netted a penalty.

Top of the league: Rangers' captain Lee McCulloch celebrates his goal

Top of the league: Rangers' captain Lee McCulloch celebrates his goal

Match facts

Montrose: Sandy Wood, McNally, Jonathan Crawford, Campbell, Watson, Lloyd Young (Johnston 88), Winter, Masson (Morton 81),
Richard McIntosh (McLeish 75), Leighton McIntosh,Garry Wood.

Subs Not Used: David Crawford,David Gray.

Booked: Jonathan Crawford,Masson,Johnston.

Goals: Lloyd Young 16, McLeish 76.

Rangers: Alexander, Argyriou, McCulloch, Hegarty, Wallace, Little, Macleod, Hutton, Templeton (McKay 63), Shiels (Naismith 75), Kyle (Crawford 90).

Subs Not Used: Currie,Cole.

Booked: Hutton.

Goals: McCulloch 23 pen, Kyle 67, Shiels 69, Crawford 90.

Att: 4,205

Ref: Bobby Madden

But home substitute David Gray soon scored a wonderful lob and Garry Wood and Scott Johnston both hit the woodwork.

The victory was the least convincing of a six-match winning run for Rangers but Montrose deserve credit for their display as they showed why they had been on a six-match unbeaten run.

They showed their attacking intent in the opening minutes when Wood and then Jamie Winter came close with ambitious long-range efforts.

Andrew Little had Rangers' first effort on target when his angled drive was parried by Sandy Wood but Montrose stunned Ally McCoist's men in the 16th minute when Young ran unchecked on to Stephen McNally's long throw and dispatched a cushioned first-time volley into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Rangers had an immediate chance to equalise when Lewis MacLeod threaded the ball through for Little but Wood was quickly out to block.

Wood then pushed Kyle Hutton's free-kick delivery on to the post.

The Ibrox side did not have long to wait for the equaliser though and it was a cheap give-away by Montrose when McNally made an ill-advised tackle on David Templeton in the box, getting some of the ball but coming from the wrong side and through his opponent, with few complaints at Bobby Madden's decision.

Centre-back McCulloch sent Wood the wrong way for his 17th goal of the season.
The goal failed to turn the game though. Garry Wood came close from long range before his namesake in goal parried MacLeod's effort after Little's flick had put him beyond the home defence.
Templeton shot over after good hold-up play from Kyle but Montrose had the best chances in the latter stages of the half.

Young hit another first-time effort that Neil Alexander pushed over brilliantly, and the enterprising wide midfielder then fired wide following a one-two with Wood.

Spot on: McCulloch slams home a penalty to help Rangers on their way to victory

Spot on: McCulloch slams home a penalty to help Rangers on their way to victory

Winter came close in injury-time when Alexander dived to push wide his driven 35-yard free-kick.
Wood saved from Shiels just after the break but Montrose were quickly on the front foot and McNally came close with a header.

McCoist brought on Barrie McKay for Templeton in a bid to find a much-needed cutting edge, but the 67th-minute breakthrough came from a scrappy piece of play.

Hutton and Shiels got in each other's way on the edge of the box and Rangers appeared to have lost their chance but the Northern Ireland international got up and steered the ball into the path of the unmarked Kyle to shoot into the bottom corner from 16 yards.

McCoist's men had some breathing space two minutes later. Hutton helped the ball on to McKay on the left after a Montrose set-piece had been cleared and the teenager ran 60 yards before releasing the ball for Shiels, who guided the ball into the far corner.

Helping hand: Kevin Kyle was also on target as Rangers won for the sixth game in a row

Helping hand: Kevin Kyle was also on target as Rangers won for the sixth game in a row

But Montrose refused to lie down and substitute Gray got them back into it with a goal out of nothing in the 76th minute, latching on to Leighton McIntosh's lay-off and guiding a first-time effort with the outside of his right foot over the head of Alexander and into the net from the corner of the box.

The hosts came so close to levelling moments later when Wood ran on to McIntosh's header-on following a goal kick.

Wood also lobbed Alexander but the Rangers goalkeeper this time turned round to see the ball hit off his bar and fall into his arms.

Wood saved well from MacLeod but Montrose were again denied by the frame of the goal when Scott Johnston volleyed off the inside of the post from 12 yards following a free-kick into the box in injury-time.

Rangers soon restored their two-goal lead following another break when Crawford took his time to make space and guide the ball in off the post after Wood had saved from McKay.

Joe Cole says Liverpool lack cutting edge

We lack a cutting edge, admits Liverpool's Cole after goalless draw against Stoke

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UPDATED:

14:36 GMT, 8 October 2012

Joe Cole admits Liverpool have to rectify their poor goalscoring form if they are to claw their way back up the Premier League table.

Cole, who returned as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with Stoke on Sunday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on the opening day of the season, conceded that Liverpool lacked a killer instinct.

Brendan Rodgers' side remain in 14th place in the table, without a win at home this season, and having scored nine goals in seven games, five of which came against strugglers Norwich.

Back in action: Cole returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday

Back in action: Cole returned from a hamstring injury on Sunday

The Reds hit the woodwork three times against Stoke, but it was the outside of the upright each time rather than a close call, and they were chances squandered rather than a case of bad luck.

'There was a bit of frustration in the dressing room after the Stoke game,' Cole told www.liverpoolfc.com.

'We felt we should have won the game with the chances we had.

'The only criticism of us that I would have was that we didn't stick the ball in the back of the net. We just lacked that final bit. We have two weeks now to work on it and we're looking forward.'

The midfielder insisted that there were elements from the goalless draw that should hearten the Liverpool players and supporters.

He added: 'There's a lot to work on but we have got to take the positives out of it. We didn't get beat and we kept a clean sheet, which was important as we haven't kept one for a long time. Now we just need to kick on.

'I know a lot of the lads are now away on international duty, but we have got two weeks to keep going, keep working on things, getting in and around the box and picking the right pass.

Goalless: Liverpool could not break Stoke's resistance at Anfield

Goalless: Liverpool could not break Stoke's resistance at Anfield

'Hopefully we can get three points at home to Reading and then we can go to Goodison (Park to face Everton) and get a result.'

He also praised Liverpool's teenage stars Suso, Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom for coming through a gruelling encounter with Stoke's large and physical players.

'It was important for the young boys and I thought they were really good again,' he said. 'I think you've got to match Stoke .They're strong lads and they like to compete.

'Personally, it was brilliant to get back. You're always nervous with hamstring injuries in terms of the first time you come back in. But I felt good and I have two weeks now to work hard and get back up to a high level of fitness.'

Alan Pardew hails Rob Elliot

Pardew hails 'outstanding' Elliot after goalkeeper makes match-saving Euro debut

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UPDATED:

21:19 GMT, 20 September 2012

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew hailed keeper Rob Elliot after seeing him mark his European debut with a match-saving display against Maritimo.

The 26-year-old, a summer buy from Charlton last year, was handed just his second appearance for the club a year to the day after his first in a Carling Cup victory at Nottingham Forest, and did not let his manager down.

Elliot produced two fine first-half saves from Sami and another from the same player 20 minutes from time to preserve his clean sheet as the Magpies claimed a point from their opening Group D encounter in Madeira.

Outstanding: Rob Elliot was in top form after making his European debut for the club

Outstanding: Rob Elliot was in top form after making his European debut for the club

Pardew said: 'Rob has waited a long time – since the Forest game, really – to stake his claim.

'We know him very well, myself and the goalkeeping coach [Andy Woodman] because of Charlton, and this is a shot-stopper, this is a great goalkeeper.

'What he did at the start of the game is what he does in training every day, and I was pleased for him in every aspect of his game, very, very pleased with him.

'He was outstanding, as well as the back four against a really difficult surface and difficult opponents.

'Maritimo are a team who are going to surprise teams here. They are very, very good – their record suggests that.

'Therefore, taking all that into consideration, I thought a draw was a great result.'

Most of Elliot's heroics came during yet another poor start by the Magpies, who were slow out of the blocks at the Estadio dos Barreiros against the side currently lying in fifth place in the Primeira Liga.

However, they recovered to lay siege to Romain Salin's goal and both Shola Ameobi and Dan Gosling were denied by the woodwork in quick succession.

Ameobi hit the bar after a superb
solo run two minutes into the second half, although the home side
finished strongly and after Elliot had kept out Sami and substitute
Goncalo, Davide Santon managed to deflect defender Valentin Roberge's
injury-time header on to the bar and away.

Pardew
said: 'With the injuries we had before this game, I'm hoping that will
be the weakest we have been this season, I hope so.

'We
have had three or four injuries that have been costly to us. Having
said that, the performance of the team was outstanding, I thought.

We cool Alan Pardew shook hands with Pedro Martins after the pair exchanged words at half-time

We cool Alan Pardew shook hands with Pedro Martins after the pair exchanged words at half-time

Tough one: Newcastle battled away but were unable to grab an away win

Tough one: Newcastle battled away but were unable to grab an away win

'A lot of players were playing their first European game on a pitch which I have to say, was of poor standard for both teams.

'But there was a great application and although we had a first 10 minutes where we struggled a little, after that, I thought we were in control of the game and I am a little bit disappointed we haven't won it with the chances that we had.'

The game briefly erupted into controversy on the stroke of half-time when Gael Bigirimana was booked after fouling Joao Luiz after he failed to return possession to the visitors from a drop-ball.

Pardew said: 'It just got a little bit heated there, we were all angry, their bench and ours. I don't think there's any bad feeling, we shook hands after.'

Maritimo boss Pedro Martins was disappointed not to have claimed the victory he felt his side's performance merited.

Asked if the result was a fair one, he said: 'For the quality of the game, no, but for the opportunities, I think yes.

'I felt we were much better that the opposition in the way we played.'

Almost: Shola Ameobi hit the bar but was unable to break the deadlock

Almost: Shola Ameobi hit the bar but was unable to break the deadlock

Emmanuel Adebayor close to Tottenham move

Adebayor on his way but AVB says 'deadly' Defoe understands need for support

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 19 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas will attempt to secure a 6million deal for Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor this week.

Villas-Boas admitted he is a striker short after his first game in charge of Tottenham ended in defeat at Newcastle.

A fee for the 28-year-old Togo striker, who scored 18 goals on loan at White Hart Lane last season, has been agreed and the former Arsenal forward is close to agreeing a wage cut after accepting that his City career is over.

Coming back: Andre Villas-Boas hopes to seal the Emmanuel Adebayor deal soon

Coming back: Andre Villas-Boas hopes to seal the Emmanuel Adebayor deal soon

Villas-Boas, frustrated at the opening day defeat after Spurs hit the woodwork twice, pledged to spend quickly with the surprise first-day tormentors of Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion, visiting White Hart Lane on Saturday.

He said: ‘We are trying to conclude deals in the transfer market. It has been stalled for quite some time for most European teams. It is not through lack of trying that we have not signed more players. We are still looking to further strengthen our squad and will continue that this week.’

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew, who may have expected Tottenham to make an offer for Demba Ba when the Senegal forward’s 7m release clause was still open, is predicting the north London club will strengthen sooner rather than later.

‘I think it would be fair to say that Adebayor is a big miss for them,’ said Pardew.

‘He caused us a lot of problems last year and I think they will do a lot of business between now and September 1. There’s more to come from Tottenham.’

Poacher: Jermain Defoe tucks the ball home

Poacher: Jermain Defoe tucks the ball home

Villas-Boas has assured Jermain Defoe that he has a future at White Hart Lane, despite interest from Sunderland and Aston Villa and the impending arrival of Adebayor.

The 29-year-old scored 11 goals in 25 appearances last season but his starts were limited by the impact Adebayor made playing as a lone striker.

Defoe followed his spectacular midweek winner for England against Italy with an instinctive close-range finish to cancel out Ba’s superb opener, before Hatem Ben Arfa’s penalty sealed a Newcastle victory which had looked unlikely in the first half when Defoe hit the post and Gareth Bale headed against the bar.

Villas-Boas added: ‘He always has this killer instinct. He scored in midweek for his country, scored for us during pre-season and again here.

‘He is showing that touch that we need up front. Jermain accepts that we are looking for one more striker because the team is in need of that, but when we have them all together the quality of the player is tremendous.

‘It is a different situation for him now. I have nothing to do with anything that happened in the past. He is our striker, is playing extremely well, is full of confidence and has been deadly in front of goal.’

London 2012 Olympics: Water polo: Team GB 7 Spain 9

Team GB 7 Spain 9: Hosts dumped out of water polo after hard-fought battle

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

23:14 GMT, 5 August 2012

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UPDATED:

23:14 GMT, 5 August 2012

Great Britain were dumped out of the women's water polo tournament on Sunday after pushing Spain all the way in an enthralling quarter-final clash.

Team GB came back from a four-goal deficit to get within one score of their opponents in the dying minutes, but it was the Spaniards who booked a place in the semis.

The home crowd roared as Great Britain took the lead when Francesca Painter-Snell converted a penalty from the five-metre line.

Unlucky: Team GB were dumped out by a very good Spanish team

Unlucky: Team GB were dumped out by a very good Spanish team

Spain responded quickly, levelling the scores, but Painter-Snell bagged her second soon after with a man-up goal. Team GB's opponents then fired in two more to take a 3-2 lead after the first quarter.

The Spaniards, in white caps, pulled away in a decisive second quarter, netted three unanswered goals to extend their winning margin to four goals.

Goalkeeper Rosie Morris stopped the in-form Spanish side from putting away even more goals with some great saves, and Britain should really have got on the scoresheet themselves, but they wasted three man-up chances.

Ciara Gibson-Byrne found the back of the net to open the scoring in the third quarter, and Team GB survived two Spain power-plays with both efforts striking the woodwork.

A well-worked move allowed Hazel Musgrove to fire in a goal from the from the left hand side, but Spain struck again to restore their three-goal cushion.

Plucky: The match ran closer than expected, but the Spanish narrowly earned their victory

Plucky: The match ran closer than expected, but the Spanish narrowly earned their victory

Ciara Gibson-Byrne attempts in vein to turn around the deficit

Ciara Gibson-Byrne attempts in vein to turn around the deficit

Gibson-Byrne missed a crucial penalty with 90 seconds to go in the period, which would have reduced the deficit to two goals, but instead Spain scored at the other end to pull into a four-goal lead.

Gibson-Byrne made up for the penalty miss with the final goal of the penultimate period, taking the score to 8-5 at the whistle.

Fiona McCann fired home another for Team GB in the fourth quarter, before a superb double save from Morris denied Spain a goal.

Birthday girl Angie Winstanley-Smith attempted a reverse shot from five metres out, but the effort rattled the upright.

Painter-Snell slotted in another man-up goal to claim her hat-trick after a time-out to send the home crowd into a frenzy.

A fantastic save from Morris denied the Spaniards a man-up goal with 60 seconds to play, but the eventual winners did manage to wrap up the match as the ball squeezed over the line with a later effort.

Spain's win sets them up a semi-final clash with Hungary on Tuesday, while Great Britain will play Russia in a classification match.

Spain's Anni Espar and Lorena Miranda each scored a brace, while Roser Tarrago, Jennifer Pareja, Ona Meseguer, Maica Garcia and Laura Lopez netted one each.

London 2012 Olympics: Water polo: Team GB 5 Italy 10

Team GB 5 Italy 10: Women's water polo team finish bottom of group after defeat

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

19:42 GMT, 3 August 2012

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UPDATED:

19:57 GMT, 3 August 2012

Great Britain slipped to a third successive defeat in the women's water polo tonight to finish bottom of group B.

The 10-5 loss to Italy sets up a tough clash with the winners of Group A in the quarter-finals.Team GB let their physical opponents get away, losing each quarter by a narrow margin.

Italy were first on the scoresheet as the talismanic Tania di Maria converted a penalty.

Bottom: Ciara Gibson-Byrne (right) and her team-mates were unable to prevent their side finishing bottom of the group

Bottom: Ciara Gibson-Byrne (right) and her team-mates were unable to prevent their side finishing bottom of the group

Ciara Gibson-Byrne rattled the woodwork twice before slotting in at the near post from a man-up situation to level the scores and send the home crowd wild.

Italy converted a power-play to go ahead before Alex Rutlidge made the most of a Great Britain man-up to bring the score level at 2-2.

The Italians then netted twice to make it 4-2 after the first period.

Both sides missed extra-man opportunities in the second quarter, before Simona Abbate and Di Maria extended Italy's lead to four.

Francesca Painter-Snell scored a counter-attack goal to take the score to 6-3 at half-time.

Italy again scored two unanswered goals early in the third quarter to extend their lead to five as Painter-Snell rattled the woodwork again for Team GB.

Impressive: Simona Abbate and the rest of her team were too strong for the Team GB outfit

Impressive: Simona Abbate and the rest of her team were too strong for the Team GB outfit

Gibson-Byrne got her second of the match with a powerful shot right at the end of the third to make it 8-4, but Abbate was then first to score in the fourth period to restore Italy's five-goal lead.

Team GB called a time-out after a major foul from the Italians, but the hosts wasted the opportunity to peg them back, shooting over the crossbar.

Italy stretched their lead into double figures before Chloe Wilcox scored a penalty in the last minute to ensure a 10-5 finish.

Italy drivers Di Maria and Giulia Enrica Emmoldo both netted hat-tricks, while Abbate and Teresa Frassinetti both scored a brace.

Bradford Bulls issue warning over future with 1.25m needed to save ailing Super League club

Bradford Bulls issue warning over future with 1.25m needed to save ailing Super League club

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UPDATED:

13:41 GMT, 2 June 2012

Bradford say the club's financial situation is much worse than originally thought and 1.25million is still needed to secure their future to the end of the year.

Stephen Coulby, who was recently re-elected to the board of directors, said a significant sum, understood to be around 500,000, is in the pipeline from a would-be investor but that at least another 700,000 was needed to avoid the threat of administration.

After fans responded to an urgent call to donate funds, around 500,000 was raised and it was claimed another 500,000 would pay off current liabilities.

Now, however, after an independent review of the club's finances instigated by former chairman Chris Caisley, Coulby said the Bulls are currently losing 100,000 per month and revealed that former chairman Hood and his former co-director Andrew Bennett, who both stepped down last month, budgeted to lose over 1million this year.

Worries: Heath L'Estrange (centre) of Bradford Bulls cuts through a gap in the Leeds Rhinos defence

Worries: Heath L'Estrange (centre) of Bradford Bulls cuts through a gap in the Leeds Rhinos defence

'The independent financial review has taken place and a further injection of 1.25million is needed to pay off short-term debts and keep the club out of administration,' Coulby told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

'Nevertheless, we're in a position to carry on the talks with investors and progress is being made.

'There is more than one party involved and they want to see business plans and budgets for next year, which is what we've been doing for the last three weeks.

'There is progress being made but other things have come out of the woodwork, such as a six-figure loan which we didn't know about.

'We're on with the business plan and budget for next year because we need to get away from losing 100,000 a month, which is what is happening at the moment.

'Peter and Andrew budgeted to lose over 1million this year. How the hell you budget to lose that sort of money, about 1.2million, in a business is beyond me.'

Coulby, who said he was confident that players and staff would be paid as normal next week, believes the club can negotiate a way through its current crisis.

'There are conversations ongoing with more than one potential investor and we are quietly confident of avoiding administration,' he said.

Glen Johnson says woodwork cost Liverpool Champions League place

Really Johnson says woodwork cost Liverpool a Champions League place

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UPDATED:

11:16 GMT, 16 May 2012

Glen Johnson believes Liverpool were just inches away from qualifying for the Champions League.

The Reds finished in eighth place in the Premier League table – 17 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham – but Johnson insists they would have been much closer if they had the rub of the green.

'I don't remember any team in the history of football hitting the woodwork as often as we have this season. But they are the fine lines people talk about.

What could've been: Glen Johnson has been reflecting on Liverpool's bad luck

What could've been: Glen Johnson has been reflecting on Liverpool's bad luck

'What width is a post Probably three or four inches. If the ball goes two inches more in one direction it's probably hitting the woodwork and going in.

'With all of the shots that hit the woodwork we could have had 15 more points this season. That would have put us right up there towards the top four. But that's football and we can't change it now.'

Right-back Johnson also drew attention to Liverpool's failure from the penalty spot.

They missed seven of 11 and Johnson, who scored in the Carling Cup final shoot-out at Wembley, told this week's LFC Magazine: 'When we played Blackburn away a few weeks ago I was on the penalties. I'd be happy to take them.

Silver lining: Liverpool had something to celebrate when they won the Carling Cup

Silver lining: Liverpool had something to celebrate when they won the Carling Cup

'In the Chelsea game at Anfield I was joking with the lads and telling them that I was taking one if we got it.

'I don't know why we've missed so many this season. Normally, if someone misses a new person has a go and then they go on a run of scoring.

'But it seems that whenever we've got a new taker he's then missed. Then someone else has a go. Penalties are a part of the game where anything can happen.

'Even the best players in the world miss them. It's not easy to explain.'

London 2012 Olympics: Water polo women lose to Australia

British water polo women fall short against Australia at Olympic test event

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UPDATED:

08:51 GMT, 4 May 2012

The Great Britain women's water polo team gave a spirited performance as they lost to Australia on the opening day of a test event at the Olympic Park.

A home crowd of 3,000 saw them battle with one of the world's strongest sides to come away with a respectable 10-4 defeat.

Team GB kept close to their opponents for the first half, but their failure to convert from extra-player situations cost them dear, and lapses in concentration in the second half meant the scoreline flattered the Australians.

Water performance: Great Britain's Francesca Painter Snell in action during the test event

Water performance: Great Britain's Francesca Painter Snell in action during the test event

The four-team invitational tournament is part of the London Prepares series at various Olympic venues in the run up to the Games later this year.

Great Britain took an early lead but the Australians pulled away to score four in the final quarter, with the hosts only able to score once.

Goal: Hungary and the US also played during the test event on Thursday

Goal: Hungary and the US also played during the test event on Thursday

Making a splash: The thrills and spills of water polo were in evidence in London

Making a splash: The thrills and spills of water polo were in evidence in London

Captain Fran Leighton said: 'I think we had a strong first half, but as you can see from the stats at the end, we weren't making our conversions on the man-ups (when Australia had a player or players in the sin-bin).

'A lot of our shots were hitting the
woodwork or hitting the chest of the goalie – probably making her look a
lot better than she was during that game.

Falling short: Great Britain were narrowly defeated by Australia

Falling short: Great Britain were narrowly defeated by Australia

Falling short: Great Britain were narrowly defeated by Australia

'So it's just about changing those things around. We all worked hard and we all fought together as one unit and I think we've got to be pleased with that.'

Coach Szilveszter Fekete, from Hungary, said: 'It could be better, it could be worse.

'Australia this year have been the best team and they have won every tournament they have been in.'

Heartbreak: Great Britain were in tears

Heartbreak: Great Britain were in tears

Earlier in the competition two-time Olympic silver medalists USA beat Hungary by 11-6.

All four teams have already qualified for London 2012, so the tournament is a perfect opportunity for Team GB to play against top-class teams in the Olympic arena.

Asked about the home support Leighton added: 'When we walked out I could feel the nerves, but it was excitement rather than thinking “Oh my God”. 'And looking up at the crowd cheering and getting behind us was absolutely amazing.

'Now we've got that first game out of the way we can sort of relax a little bit. We know what the atmosphere's like, we know what it's like when we're playing.

'It's going to settle us down for when we come to the Olympics. We know the pool and it's going to feel a lot more like a home venue.'

The temporary Water Polo Arena is one of the first venues seen by spectators as they enter the Olympic Park from Stratford.

It is in the south-east corner of the site alongside the Aquatics Centre and is the first dedicated water polo venue to be built for an Olympic Games.

The competition pool is 37 metres long and there is a smaller training pool out of sight from the 5,000 spectators.

Many of the parts used in the building, which will be dismantled after the Games, are recyclable, such as the silver-coloured wrap made from environmentally-friendly PVC.