EFL Play-offs Semi-final recap

Championship

Derby 1-0 Fulham

Cameron Jerome 34

Derby stunned Fulham with a hard fought victory at home. Cameron Jerome was the match winner for the Rams, heading home his fifth goal in four games.

Fulham had plenty of possession but could not find the killer pass to break down the resilient Derby defence. Fulham’s sideways passing was reminiscent of Manchester United under Louis Van Gaal. Teen sensation Ryan Sessegnon had a night to forget and was subbed off in the 76 minute. The Cottagers will need to improve if they are going to overcome their first leg deficit. Fulham have not won any of their past seven playoff games.

Middlesbrough 0-1 Aston Villa

                                                  Mile Jedinak 15

Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak gave Aston Villa the advantage in their playoff tie against Middlesbrough. The midfielder headed home from a corner to secure the all-important away victory. Villa possessed more quality in attack and almost doubled their lead when Robert Snodgrass hit the woodwork late in the first half. Middlesbrough committed more bodies forward late on in the game but could not create any chances. The two sides will meet again on Wednesday morning.

League 1

Charlton 0-1 Shrewsbury

                                Jon Nolan 80

A superb Jon Nolan volley was the difference in a closely fought contest at The Valley. Both sides looked destined to remain level, before Nolan’s wonder strike gave The Shrews the advantage. Both sides will do battle again on Monday morning.

Scunthorpe 2-2 Rotherham

                                       Jon Taylor 17’
Michael Ihiekwe 18’ (OG)
                                      Joe Newell 64’
Cameron McGeehan 88’

Scunthorpe and Rotherham played out the most entertaining match in the first week of the playoffs. Jon Taylor put the visitors ahead, before an own goal from Michael Ihiekwe levelled the scores. Substitute Joe Newell took 58 seconds to score and give the Millers the lead, which was again pegged back by the Iron, as Cameron McGeehan scrambled home a goal.

League 2

Lincoln 0-0 Exeter

Lincoln City and Exeter could not be separated as they fought out a tense goal-less draw in the first leg of the play-off semi-final. Both sides found it difficult to create any chances on goal, with the one-standout chance coming early in the second half, when Matt Rhead headed the ball onto the woodwork.

PPAUK_SPO_Lincoln_City_120518_043JPG

Coventry 1-1 Notts County

                                           Jonathan Forte 49’
Marc McNulty 87’ (P)

Marc McNulty kept Coventry City’s Wembley hopes alive with a late penalty to ensure the tie hangs in the balance at the halfway stage. The Sky Blues dominated the affair in the opening half, but could not convert their chances. Jonathan Forte gave the visitors the lead with a fine finish early in the second half. But just as it looked like the Magpies would come away with the win, Tom Bayliss was caught by Magpies right-back Matt Tootle on the edge of the box and was awarded a penalty.

Why we want Warner to be the culprit

“I’m here to accept my responsibility for the part that I played in day three,” was the well-rehearsed line used by David Warner to answer questions at his press conference.

After the press conference Warner went to Twitter to explain that he was restricted with his responses, due to the formal process by Cricket Australia.

But to the eye of the Australian public, it appears an arrogant attitude by a player who has always been an outsider in the game of cricket.

From the beginning, the public believed Warner was the instigator in the ball-tampering saga.

Already in the South African Test series, Warner had been involved in a bust-up with South African Quinton de Kock and was the centre of ball tampering allegations in the second test, when the Proteas made complaints about the bandage on his thumb.

Yes Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft are also to blame for sandpapergate, but both have the sympathy of the public.

Smith is the golden boy of Australian cricket, described by many as Australia’s best batsman since Sir Donald Bradman. He is a traditional player, who can bat all day and score tons of run.

Bancroft also has the support of the public because he is the rookie in the squad, willing to do anything to attain the respect of the leaders.

Warner however, has always been opposed to the traditions of the game. Warner made his international debut in a Twenty20 match against South Africa at the MCG, before representing his state in a first class match, being the first player since 1877 to do so.

Questions have always been raised about Warner’s ability in the long form of the game, given his aggressive style of play.

But when he was given the opportunity of representing Australia at Test level, Warner became the most destructive player in the game, scoring 6363 runs and accumulating 21 centuries.

Warner’s most memorable century was the one he scored before lunch on the opening day of play against Pakistan at the SCG in 2017.

The way Warner went about his Test cricket was opposite anything seen prior. He was not a player who could be relied on to bat all day. He would not play a defensive shot or scrapper home for a single.

Warner is a traditionalist rebel, which is why fans never fully accepted his style of play.

The ‘win at all cost’ mentality has drawn criticism from fans. Cricket is a gentleman’s game that should be played in the right spirit. That’s why when it was announced Steve Smith had asked for the wicket microphones to be turned down so the Australian players could sledge the South African’s, fans questioned if they supported this side as much as those who wore the baggie green in the years prior.

The chief instigator of the sledging culture in Australian cricket was David Warner.

“I’m hearing it (sledging) is part of the game — that’s rubbish, it’s not part of the game,” Ian Chappell told 3AW’s Sportsday.

“He (Warner) decided he’d had enough of that, he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t want to be the attack dog, now for some reason or other he’s back as the attack dog.”

“The more you allow players to talk on the field the more likelihood there is something personal will be said.”

And that was the case when Quinton de Kock retaliated to the baiting from Warner.

All three players have the opportunity to return to the national team one day. Smith’s on-field ability will guarantee him a spot in the team once his 12-month ban concludes. Bancroft is also likely to once again play for Australia, given he is only aged 25 and has shown glimpses of star quality.

But will Warner ever play for country again? According to reports, Warner went ‘rogue’ after the ball-tampering saga and was angry at his teammates, who distanced themselves from the incident.

Warner feels like a scapegoat and from his lack of responses at his press conference, appears eager to confess all at the right time, which will surely rock the Australian team.

If Warner does come out with some explosive statements then there is no chance he could return to the team.

Warner said he is “resigned to the fact” that he may never play for Australia again.

But the real question is; do we want Warner to play for Australia again?

AFL Championship

Imagine if AFL clubs played for a title that could be won weekly.

A title similar to the one’s seen in the world of Boxing, UFC and the WWE.

The AFL Championship is a title that is up for grabs during every round of the home and away season.

Teams defeating the previous holder of the title win the belt.

The championship first began in 1898, a year after the inaugural season of the VFL.

The 1897 season was a year played out to determine the championship holder, which ended up being Essendon, who defeated Melbourne in the Grand Final.

The Bombers entered 1898 as the inaugural champions and started the campaign strongly, winning their first five games.

In round six the Bombers were defeated by Geelong, who became the new titleholders.

From there, the championship was shared between all the VFL/AFL clubs for 120 years, including University, who held the crown on two separate occasions for a total of four weeks.

During the 2018 season, regular updates on the title holder will be posted on the Sportdot Twitter and Facebook page.

For more information on the AFL Championship, click on the link below.

https://create.piktochart.com/embed/29083499-new-piktochart

YES YES YES | Bryan given all clear to return to wrestling

The WWE announced four-time Wold Champion Daniel Bryan has been given the all clear to return to in-ring action.

The WWE announced in a statement published on Wednesday, “Bryan underwent a full review of his medical history and received comprehensive neurological and physical evaluations independent of WWE.”

“It took extensive evaluations by leading neurosurgeons, neurologists and concussion experts, including Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Javier Cárdenas and Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.”

“He was cleared by each doctor as well as WWE’s Medical Director, Dr. Joseph Maroon.”

In February 2016, Bryan retired from wrestling after suffering post-concussion seizures.

Bryan admitted he had lost count of the number of concussions he had suffered over his 16-year career.

Tests revealed Bryan had a lesion on the front of his brain, which is an abnormality to the brain caused by inflammation or cuts.

But as one of the doctors at Evoke Neuroscience explained to Bryan, a lesion isn’t actually a cut.

“I told him what happened and I said, ‘They found a lesion in the temporal-parietal region of my brain.’ He goes, ‘Wait, hold up, a lesion?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And I don’t know what lesion means to you guys, a lesion to me means you have a cut. I have a cut on my brain. He goes, ‘No. Lesion, in medical terminology, is a very vague thing. It just means something is there. We don’t know what it is, so we call it a lesion in the temporal-parietal region of your brain,” Bryan retold on the Edge and Christian ‘Podcast of Awesomeness’.

Bryan has spent much of the past year meeting with top neurosurgeons in the quest of being cleared to return to the ring.

Every neurosurgeon Bryan met gave him the green light, yet the WWE refused to allow Bryan to wrestle.

In January this year, Bryan told Sports Illustrated that if he weren’t cleared by the WWE before WrestleMania, he would assume he would never wrestle for the WWE again.

But following their own investigation, the WWE have deemed Bryan fit to wrestle.

Focus now turns to whom Bryan will face at WrestleMania. One possible match up could see Bryan and Shane McMahon team up against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

Whatever the match up, fans across the world will tune in to see Bryan back in his briefs, defeating opponents with the ‘Yes Lock’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The week that was (Premier League Matchweek 29)

News

MEN uses tragedy as click bait

The football world was in mourning this weekend after Fiorentina captain Davide Astori sadly passed away aged 31. Heartfelt messages from colleges were published on social media for the Italian international, including one from Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon.

View this post on Instagram

Ciao caro Asto, difficilmente ho espresso pubblicamente un pensiero riguardo una persona, perché ho sempre lasciato che la bellezza e l'unicità di rapporti, di reciproca stima e affetto, non venissero strumentalizzati o gettati in pasto a chi non ha la delicatezza per rispettare certi legami. Nel tuo caso, sento di fare un'eccezione alla mia regola, perché hai una moglie giovane e dei familiari che staranno soffrendo,ma soprattutto la tua piccola bimba, merita di sapere che il suo papà era a tutti gli effetti una PERSONA PERBENE…..una GRANDE PERSONA PERBENE….eri l'espressione migliore di un mondo antico, superato, nel quale valori come l'altruismo, l'eleganza, l'educazione e il rispetto verso il prossimo, la facevano da padroni. Complimenti davvero, sei stata una delle migliori figure sportive nella quale mi sono imbattuto. R.I.P. Il tuo folle Gigi.

A post shared by Gianluigi Buffon (@gianluigibuffon) on

The Manchester Evening News however decided to use Astori’s death as click bait. Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian was a former teammate of Astori and the paper used the headline ‘Matteo Darmian woke up to some terrible news’.

The paper received backlash on social media for their actions.

https://twitter.com/BillyBeanpole84/status/970381170792943617

Henry says ‘yes’ to managing Arsenal

Thierry Henry admitted he would be willing to manage Arsenal if the club asked him to.

However, the Frenchman continued to support Arsene Wenger in the role but said he had never shied away from a challenge and if the club and Wenger wanted him to coach, he would be willing to step up to the task.

“Listen, I’m a competitor, you don’t back down from a challenge,” Henry told Sky Sports.

“We are hypothetically speaking before people jump ahead of everything, [but] I have never backed down from a challenge since I was young.”

Pipe bomb from Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte branded Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville ‘stupid’ after they described Chelsea’s display against Manchester City as ‘anti-football’.

Informed of the comments, Conte said: “The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics. I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way. You have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0.

Maybe if Conte’s side showed as much fight as their manager they would be challenging for the title instead of trying to secure a spot in the top four.

Results

Burnley 2-1 Everton

Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle

Leicester 1-1 Bournemouth

Southampton 0-0 Stoke

Swansea 4-1 West Ham

Tottenham 2-0 Huddersfield

Watford 1-0 West Brom

Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea

Brighton 2-1 Arsenal

Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United 

Sir Alex Ferguson Award

 The Sir Alex Ferguson of the week is awarded to the best-performed team of the week.

 Swansea

Swansea moved out of the relegation zone following their big win over West Ham. The Swans looked relegation bound at the end of 2017, but the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal has changed the fortunes of the Welsh club.

The Swans have won four of their eight games in 2018 to ignite the hopes of an unlikely relegation survival.

The victory over West Ham saw Swansea jump up to 13th on the table, three points above 17th place Crystal Palace.

Jordan Ayew, Andy King, Ki Sung-yueng and Mike van der Hoorn all found the back of the net in the victory. Van der Hoorn’s goal was his first for the club.

Continued performances like this will see the Swans avoid relegation and could see Carvalhal named manager of the season.

Bebe of the week

Bebe is widely considered Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst ever signing. The Bebe award is given to the most disappointing team from the week.

Arsenal

The last time I wrote one of these articles, Arsenal had just beaten Everton and were my Sir Alex Ferguson of the week. Four consecutive defeats in all competitions have changed the entire dynamic of the club and the ‘Wenger Out’ movement has reached a level never seen before.

The Gunner’s latest defeat to Brighton leaves them in sixth position, 13 points behind fourth place Tottenham.

Arsenal’s only chance of qualifying for next years Champions League is by winning the Europa League, which will not be an easy feat. The Gunners will face AC Milan in the round of 16, which will not be an easy task given Milan have not lost a game in 2018.

Some Arsenal fans, such as Troopz from Arsenal Fan TV believe the club will sack Wenger if they are knocked out by Milan in the Europa League.

As Troopz said in his recent video on Arsenal Fan TV, “Every story has an ending and for Wenger his story ended five years ago.”

Player of the Week

Son Heung-Min

Son is pushing his claim to be regarded Tottenham’s second best players behind Harry Kane.

The South Korean netted both goals in the Spurs 2-0 victory over Huddersfield on the weekend. Both goals showed off Son’s array of abilities, with the first being a fine shot with this left food and the second being a header from distance.

https://twitter.com/officialuwem/status/969959377766637568

Son has now scored 16 goals in all competitions this season, making him the Spurs second highest scorer, behind Kane.

Sportdot goal of the week

Riyad Mahrez

A 96 minute equaliser from a free kick is the perfect way to get back into the fans good books. Mahrez’s sublime curling free kick was his first goal for Leicester since the closure of the January transfer window.

Mahrez’s was said to have sooked it up after his transfer to Manchester City was blocked. But by his celebration after the goal against Bournemouth, it appears he is happy to be at the club for the remainder of the season.

Retro clip

Premier League launch advert 1992

This is Sky Sports launch advert for the Premier League. Check out the bad haircuts and try naming some of the players.

 

NBA Sitrep – Nightmare for Timberwolves, Warriors strike back against Thunder and is Kawhi’s season over?

A weekly post wrapping up all the action from around the association over the last seven days.

Down, but not out.

As Jimmy Butler lay writhing in pain with his hands clasped around his knee, the Timberwolves season hung delicately in the balance.

With the possibility of a season-ending ACL injury looming, the diagnosis of a torn right meniscus was surprisingly good news.

Butler will undergo surgery and is expected to be available to return in the next four to six weeks, which sees him in a race against time to suit up for the Timberwolves first playoff appearance in 13 seasons.

Butler has been the stoic captain for the Timberwolves all season, guiding the budding stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins along Minnesota’s return to relevance.

Butler is averaging 22.2 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.9 steals per game, but his impact on the Timberwolves is far greater than his impressive stat line.

The Timberwolves currently sit fourth in the West with a 37-26 record, only one game behind the Spurs on the losses ledger.

Mystery surrounds Spurs and Kawhi.

What is going on with Kawhi Leonard?

We have seen the Spurs superstar for all of nine games this season, with a strained quad tendon hampering him for the entire campaign.

After attempting to make a brief return through December and January, Kawhi was shut down indefinitely by the Spurs and last week Popovich conceded the worst.

https://twitter.com/SportsQuotient/status/966453002373599233

There have been un-Spurs-like rumours about tension between Kawhi and the organisation, possibly misdiagnosis about the injury and the underlying truth that Leonard has actually been medically cleared to play.

Whatever the case, it seems unlikely that the Kawhi will take the court for the Spurs again this season, which is a massive blow for the playoff aspirations of Popovich and his men.

Warriors revenge on OKC.

The Warriors were blown off the court by the Thunder in their first two meetings of the season.

They lost the first contest back in November by 17-points and the second clash went from bad to worse as they were handed a 20-point loss by Westbrook and co.

The pair squared off for the third time on Sunday and the result was decidedly different.

After leading by just seven points at half-time, the Warriors buried the Thunder in a third-quarter scoring avalanche and ran out victors by 32-points.

Kevin Durant dropped 28 points on his former squad, while Curry chimed in with 21 of his own.

Westbrook and Paul George combined for 5-29 shooting, while the Thunder shot just 33% from the floor and 26% from beyond the arc.

The Warriors found their electric ball-movement once again.

And when Nick Young is doing this, you officially can’t beat the Warriors.

Risers/Sliders

standings - week 7Photo credit: ESPN 

Riser

Houston, we do not have a problem! The Rocket are rolling, Harden is the front-runner for the MVP, Chris Paul is wearing rodeo outfits to games, and Houston has won 12 contests in a row and sit with the best record in the entire league. All is well in Texas.

Slider

The Miami Heat are barely clinging to their playoff spot after winning just 2 of their last ten contests. Over their last ten, the Heat have lost to the Cavs by 2, Sixers by ironically 6, Pistons by 4, Magic by 2, Rockets by 8, Raptors by 3, Sixers by 2 and Pelicans by 1 in overtime. They need a go-to clutch scorer down the stretch, because that kind of record in close games usually doesn’t belong to a playoff-bound franchise.

Heat Check

LaMarcus Aldridge

vs. Nuggets – 38 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

vs. Cavaliers – 27 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block

After logging just 4 minutes and 0 points in the All-Star game last week, Aldridge was well and truly rested to begin the home-stretch of the regular season. He may not be the flashiest of players, but Aldridge deserves credit for the season he is piecing together. He has almost returned to his Portland form, averaging just under 23 points and 8 rebounds per game, becoming the staple of the Spurs offense with Kawhi on the bench.

Dejounte Murray certainly appreciates what Aldridge brings to the team.

Highlights

Bam Adebayo is making a habit of hurting rims feelings.

First Dame did this…

Then he reminded us what time it was.

Westbrook called game.

https://twitter.com/All_SportNews/status/966968508289515520

Steph called range.

https://twitter.com/JaeAzizi/status/966887503356547075

Whoopsie Watch

Has Blake lost his superpowers since leaving LA?

Kelly Oubre just went all school-yard petty on Rodney Hood

https://twitter.com/MusikFan4Life/status/966928210096046080

The Kelly Oubre appreciation show continues…

NBA Sitrep – The All-Star game is back! Donovan’s dunking delight and the red-hot Utah Jazz

A weekly post wrapping up all the action from around the association over the last seven days.

Defense in the All-Star game?

This was the final play of the 2018 All-Star game.

For the first time in recent memory, the All-Star game was decided by defense.

Curry was locked up by LeBron and then Durant, leading to a desperation shot from DeRozen that was released after the buzzer.

Team LeBron defeated Team Stephen 148-145, while LeBron secured his third All-Star MVP with a 29 point, 10 rebound and 8 assist master-class.

Let’s get this straight, there were still stretches of the game where defense was minimal and the offense consisted of open dunks and deep three balls.

But overall, the defense was much better, the players seemed to slightly care and the result was a genuinely entertaining game of pick-up basketball between the world’s best.

The game wasn’t short on highlights either.

This Embiid and Westbrook rivalry is the gift that keeps on giving.

He couldn’t finish the move, but this was just sick by Kyrie.

Next year televise the draft, don’t let Fergie sing the national anthem and just scrap the ridiculous pre-show snore fest.

But other than that, give us more of the same.

The All-Star game is officially back!

Donovan the Dunk King

The All-Star game may have returned to former glory, but the Dunk Contest left much to be desired.

Donovan Mitchell took out the Dunk Champ crown, which was judged by basketball legends such as Mark Wahlberg and Chris Rock.

The only thing stupider than that would be to get DJ Khaled to judge as well.

Oh wait, they did.

There were a few decent dunks here and there, but overall it was another forgettable Dunk Contest.

Dennis Smith Jr. had the best dunk of the night in my non-qualified opinion. So basically, I should be a judge as well.

Larry Nance Jr. tried to spice things up with this double-tap throw down.

Donovan’s final dunk, which according to our esteemed judges handed him the win.

Booker takes out Three-Point crown

Devin Booker took out the three-point contest, which gave the Dunk Contest a run for its money on the disappointment scale.

Booker finished with a record 28 points in the final, eclipsing the previous record of 27 held by the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.

The most interesting point of note from the event.

The LA rims don’t seem to love Paul George as much as he loves the city.

Spencer Dinwiddie took out the Skills Challenge, becoming the first Nets player to win something in a very long time.

Joel Embiid was knocked out before the final, but not before he bent every rule to stay alive in the competition.

https://twitter.com/barstoolsports/status/965035868154224641

Technically after three attempts at the chest pass, you are free to advance, regardless of a miss or make.

Embiid is the first contestant in the history of the Skills Challenge to actually read the rules.

He also forgot to take the tag off his shorts.

Earlier in the weekend, the World Team rolled to an easy 155-124 victory over Team USA.

Bogdan Bogdanovic was named the MVP of the game, dropping 26 points along with seven triples off the bench.

Sweet, sweet music for Jazz

Back to the real basketball, where the Jazz have rolled off eleven straight wins to race into playoff contention.

After entering January five games below .500, the Jazz have knocked over the likes of the Warriors, Raptors, Trailblazers and Spurs on the way to their current 30-28 record.

Donovan Mitchell has upped his already incredible level of play, Rudy Gobert has anchored the defense superbly and the Jazz’s role players have provided the perfect complement to Mitchell’s instant offense.

In the Jazz’s comeback win over the Spurs last week, it was the relatively unknown Royce O’Neale who shut down Kyle Anderson and then Manu Ginobili to seal the win.

Moments earlier, Derrick Favors had blocked Manu Ginobili and saved the ball to give the Jazz possession.

It’s plays and efforts like these which have pushed the Jazz back up the standings and only one and a half games out of the eighth seed.

Risers/Sliders

standings - week 6

Photo credit: ESPN

Riser

The Utah Jazz may own the league’s largest current win streak, but Houston is right behind them with their own ten game win streak. Led by CP3 and Harden, the Rockets have leapt above the Warriors and currently hold the number one seed in the West. They have also set themselves up for the second half of the season by signing free agents, Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright to their roster.

Slider

The Nets have lost seven straight games, and are just one from their last ten contests. Only one game currently separates the Nets from the likes of the Magic, Hawks, Kings and Mavericks in the win column, which will have the Cavaliers front office excited about the prospect of a high lottery pick (The Cavs will receive the Nets first-round pick, which was acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal).

Heat Check

Anthony Davis

vs. Pistons – 38 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks

vs. Lakers – 42 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 steals

A huge week for the Brow, who led the Pelicans to their third straight win and helped them cling to their playoff spot in the eighth seed. If New Orleans is to hold off the Clippers and Jazz down the stretch, Davis will need to continue to stuff the stat sheet on a nightly basis.

Highlights

The pass was nice and the finish was just nasty.

Westbrook wasn’t coasting into the All-Star break.

Back-to-back huge blocks by Jimmy Butler.

https://twitter.com/barstoolsports/status/964353142505771008

Eric Bledsoe finishing with authority.

Jabari Parker putting two Hawks on a poster.

Whoopsie Watch

Dwight Howard – 0 / Orlando Rim – 1

Okafor with the thirteen-second violation!

Steve Kerr is so bored that he is now letting the players do his job.

https://twitter.com/Devin_Walker5/status/963267527643148290