Sutton United shock Leeds United to reach FA Cup fifth round

Non-league Sutton United reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history as they defeated 1972 winners Leeds United 1-0 on Sunday.

Captain Jamie Collins scored the winning goal, converting a 53rd minute penalty, while Leeds had their own captain Liam Cooper sent off for a second booking in the dying minutes.

Leeds manager Garry Monk continued the recent trend of making wholesale changes for the FA Cup, with just midfielder Stuart Dallas surviving from the eleven that started their 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday. Seventeen-goal top-scorer Chris Wood was rested, while debuts were handed to academy products Paul McKay and Billy Whitehouse. Continue reading

FA Cup Fourth Round: Round-up

Lincoln City reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history, after they came from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 on Saturday.

The non-league club fell behind in the first half against Championship high-flyers Brighton, before three second-half goals ensured an historic result at Sincil Bank.

The visitors took the lead in the 24th minute with a goal from Richie Towell, before the game was turned on its head in the second half.

Alan Power equalised for the National League leaders from the penalty spot, before a Fikayo Tomori own goal gave Lincoln a shock lead.

Theo Robinson, who scored twice against Ipswich in the previous round, completed the giant-killing in the 85th minute.

One of the biggest shocks of the day came at Anfield where Liverpool fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Championship strugglers Wolves.

Wolves took the lead in the first minute when Richard Stearman headed past Loris Karius from a free-kick.

The Championship club doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time after Andreas Weimann took the ball around Karius to score.

Divock Origi halved the deficit in the 85th minute with a tap in from close range, but it was too little too late, as Jurgen Klopp’s men suffered their second cup exit in three days.

Tottenham left it late to overcome a stubborn Wycombe side, as they survived falling behind twice to win an eventful encounter 4-3.

Wycombe took a surprise 2-0 lead into the interval courtesy of goals from captain Paul Hayes, the first a smart volley and the second from the penalty spot.

Spurs fought back to equalise through Son Heung-Min and a Vincent Janssen penalty, before Wycombe looked to have won the tie when 36-year-old substitute Garry Thompson struck in the 83rd minute.

However, Dele Alli levelled in the 89th minute, before Son scored his second in the seventh minute of added time to break Wycombe’s hearts.

League One Oxford scored three times in the second-half to eliminate Championship leaders Newcastle United. After a goalless first half, Kane Hemmings, Curtis Nelson and Toni Martinez secured Oxford’s passage to the fifth round for the first time in 23 years.

Theo Walcott bagged a hat-trick as Arsenal hammered Southampton 5-0. Danny Welbeck also scored twice on his long-awaited return from injury.

Crystal Palace joined fellow Premier League side Southampton in departing the competition, as they  suffered a 3-0 reverse at home to Manchester City.

Chelsea made light work of Championship side Brentford as they cruised to a 4-0 victory, with Michy Batshuayi scoring twice.

Wes Morgan’s late header salvaged a draw for Premier League champions Leicester, as they drew 2-2 with Derby. The Championship club had fought back from a goal down to lead before Morgan’s goal forced a replay.

Elsewhere, Sean Dyche’s Burnley beat out-of-form Bristol City 2-0, while Rochdale lost 4-0 at home to Huddersfield.

Blackburn scored twice to see off League Two Blackpool, while there was no shock to be had on Teesside, as Middlesbrough won 1-0 at home to Accrington.

Arsenal fire five past lacklustre Southampton

A Theo Walcott hat-trick helped Arsenal see off Southampton, as they strolled to a 5-0 win to advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup.

The visitors were 3-0 up before half-time, with the returning Danny Welbeck scoring twice, before Walcott completed his hat-trick in the second half, as Arsenal eased to victory and book their place in the last 16.

Southampton manager Claude Puel made ten changes from the side that beat Liverpool in the EFL Cup semi-final on Wednesday, with Jack Stephens, who impressed at Anfield, the only player to also start tonight’s tie. Continue reading

Aston Villa sign Barnsley midfielder Conor Hourihane

Aston Villa have signed midfielder Conor Hourihane from fellow-Championship side Barnsley for an undisclosed fee.

Hourihane has been in fine form this season, contributing five goals and 11 assists for Barnsley, and was a member of the club’s League One promotion-winning side last season.

The Irishman, who joined Barnsley from Plymouth Argyle in 2014, made a total of 131 appearances for the Tykes, scoring 32 goals.

He joins former Barnsley team-mate James Bree, who also left the Yorkshire club for Villa earlier this week.

Hourihane said on Twitter: “It’s an absolute honour to have signed for @AVFCOfficial. Thank you for all the warm messages. Can’t wait to get going!! #UTV”

He also wished his former club all the best: “From the bottom of my heart than you to everyone at @bfc_official for the last 2 and a half years. We’ve shared some amazing memories…”

“I wish the club nothing but success. Now that I’m a Villa player I’m a Barnsley supporter!! Thank you again!!”

Masters 2017: Snooker Preview

Just two weeks after the conclusion of the PDC World Darts Championship, Ally Pally opens its doors to another big sporting event this weekend, as the Masters rolls back into town.

Starting on Sunday, the sixteen best snooker players in the world will converge in London, and compete for the 2017 Dafabet Masters crown, with stars such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui all hoping to be the one lifting the trophy aloft next week.

While most ranking events now include all of the sport’s 128 professional players, this tournament invites only the elite few, with the top 16 in the world rankings being invited to compete. This year’s field contains seven former World Champions, and another three World finalists.

Despite the fact that the Masters is not a ranking event, it is considered by many as the second biggest tournament in the sport, after the World Championship. It will certainly be hotly contested, with everyone wanting to get their hands on the famous Masters trophy.

History

While it isn’t a ranking event, it is still a very prestigious event in the annual snooker calendar, and it makes up one third of the much-coveted ‘Triple Crown’, along with the UK Championship and the World Championship events.

Began in 1975 at the West Centre Hotel in London, where John Spencer became the inaugural champion, defeating Ray Reardon 9-8 in the final. At that time, jus tthe top 10 leading players were invited to compete, but then grew to the current number of 16 in 1983.

The tournament’s most successful player is Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won the title on six occasions – including last year’s event when he thrashed Barry Hawkins 10-1 in the final – in addition to five runner’s ups. Seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry has also won six times, and has finished as runner-up on three occasions.

This year’s event will be the 43rd staging of the competition, and it will also be the first edition of the tournament since the decision to rename the trophy in honour of former player Paul Hunter, who died of cancer in 2006.

This year’s contenders

Ronnie O’Sullivan (11/4)

The game’s leading personality is the bookies’ favourite to lift the Masters trophy a week on Sunday, an honour he has had on no fewer than six occasions. Despite his exhaustive list of honours (5 x Worlds, 5 x UK Champ, 6 x Masters), Ronnie has only won one tournament since his Masters triumph 12 months ago (2016 Welsh Open), and he will be looking to put an end to that run and defend his title at Ally Pally this week.

Mark Selby (9/2)

While O’Sullivan is normally the bookies’ favourite, defending World Champion Mark Selby is usually the next name on the list. Selby is also the current World number 1 by some distance, and won the UK Championship last month.

A win this week would mean that Selby would be the first man to hold the World, UK and Masters titles all at the same time since Mark Williams won all three in the 2002-03 season. Incidentally, the two aforementioned players meet in the first round on Wednesday.

Judd Trump (7/1)

After winning the European Masters and reaching the final of the English Open, it has been a solid first half of the season for Judd Trump. The former Crucible finalist has never got past the semi-final stage at the Masters  however, and the Bristolian will be looking to put that right this time around, but he may have to see off at least one of O’Sullivan and John Higgins if he is to achieve that.

John Higgins (7/1)

Higgins himself is a seasoned Masters competitor, having appeared in the competition no fewer than 22 times, and winning it on two occasions (1999, 2006). After a couple of dips in form, the Scot is back to somewhere resembling his best, and currently sits at number three in the world.

Ding Junhui (10/1)

Ding Junhui was thwarted in his latest attempt at becoming the first Asian World Champion in May last year, but he already has one Masters crown to his name, winning the tournament in 2011. The Chinese briefly slipped to 17th in the rankings last year, but has now worked his way back up to fifth in the world, and after being handed a favourable draw, he will have his sights set on the semi-finals at the very least.

Neil Robertson (12/1)

The 2016-17 campaign has not been one of Neil Robertson’s finest so far. Despite winning the first ranking event of the season in Latvia in June, the Australian has failed to reach a ranking final in seven attempts since, and has only reached the last eight on two occasions.

However, class is permanent and count the former World Champion out at your peril, he will be as tough to beat as anyone else in the field, and if he can find a way past O’Sullivan in their potential quarter-final match up, then don’t be surprised if he goes all the way.

The tournament get under way on Sunday, with defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan taking on Liang Wenbo, followed by Ding Junhui’s match with Kyren Wilson.

The whole tournament is live on the BBC.

FA Cup Third Round: Round-up

Liverpool were held to a surprise 0-0 draw by League Two side Plymouth Argyle in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie.

Manager Jurgen Klopp selected the youngest starting line-up in Liverpool’s history, with the average age of the starters at 21 years and 296 days.

The hosts were frustrated by Argyle, who put in a dogged display, blocked 14 of Liverpool’s 28 shots and made countless other clearances to keep their illustrious opponents at bay.

It means that the teams will head to Plymouth for a replay in just over a week’s time, adding one more match to an already hectic January schedule for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

The two sides will meet again at Home Park on Wednesday January 18.

Wayne Rooney became Manchester United’s joint all-time leading scorer, as they made light work of Championship side Reading, winning 4-0 on Saturday.

Rooney scored his 249th Manchester United goal to go level with Sir Bobby Charlton, before Anthony Martial doubled the lead before half-time.

Marcus Rashford then ended his 18-match scoring drought, before seizing on a horrible error by Reading goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi to book United’s place in the fourth round.

Manchester City cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory against an out-of-sorts West Ham side on Friday night.

The London side were way off the pace as they continue to struggle at their new London Stadium home.

The game was effectively over as a contest before half-time, thanks to goals from Yaya Toure, Havard Nordveit (OG) and David Silva.

Sergio Aguero made it 4-0 in the second half, before John Stones scored his first Manchester City goal to wrap up the win.

Premier League leaders Chelsea are through to the fourth round after comfortably beating League One side Peterborough at Stamford Bridge.

Pedro scored twice in a 4-1 win for the hosts, who had returning captain John Terry sent off in the second half.

Arsenal survived a scare before going on to beat Championship side Preston North End 2-1 at Deepdale.

The home side took the lead in the 7th minute through Callum Robinson, before goals from Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud spared the Gunners’ blushes.

Tottenham are also through to Monday’s fourth round draw after defeating Championship side Aston Villa.

Ben Davies and Son Heung-Min scored the goals as Spurs won an otherwise uneventful encounter.

Six Premier League sides were eliminated at the third-round stage. Everton lost 2-1 at home to Leicester City, whilst Bournemouth lost away at third-tier Millwall in what was perhaps the biggest upset of the weekend.

Swansea lost away at relegation rivals Hull, and Stoke and West Brom also join West Ham in departing the competition, after losing at home to Championship sides Wolves and Derby respectively.

Elsewhere, Watford are through after beating Burton 2-0, while Middlesbrough beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0. Sunderland and Burnley face a replay after drawing 0-0, while Crystal Palace and Southampton also play again after drawing against Bolton and Norwich.

Lincoln City and Sutton United are the only two remaining non-league sides remaining in this year’s competition, however both sides must negotiate replays if they are to make the fourth round.

Lincoln drew 2-2 away at Championship side Ipswich, while Sutton drew 0-0 at home to AFC Wimbledon of League One.

Sixth-tier Sutton are the lowest-ranked team left in the draw after seventh-tier Stourbridge succumbed to Wycombe, while Conference sides Barrow and Eastleigh also bowed out, losing to Rochdale and Brentford respectively.

Championship leaders Brighton beat MK Dons 2-0, while second-placed Newcastle drew 1-1 at Birmingham. Fellow Championship sides Fulham, Blackburn and Wigan are through after beating Cardiff, QPR and Nottingham Forest respectively.

League One sides Huddersfield and Oxford are through after seeing off Port Vale and Rotherham respectively, while League Two Accrington are the lowest-ranked side definitely through to the fourth round, after beating Luton 2-1.

Blackpool and Barnsley require a replay after drawing 0-0, as do Bristol City and Fleetwood, who also ended goalless.

Doncaster defeat Portsmouth to extend League Two lead

A John Marquis double helped Doncaster Rovers extend their lead at the top of League Two, as they beat Portsmouth 3-1 on Thursday night.

Marquis opened the scoring in the fourth minute, before Kal Naismith levelled for Portsmouth before half time, but second-half goals from Tommy Rowe and Marquis ensured victory for the Yorkshire side.

Doncaster started the game in the best possible way, and took an early lead in the fifth minute with the first chance of the game.

James Coppinger’s right-wing cross was met by the shoulder of centre-back Christian Burgess, and fell kindly to striker John Marquis, who headed past the helpless David Forde from six yards out for his 11th goal of the season. Continue reading