STANLEY CUP Preview

Ice Hockey

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Memorial Day in the United States will see the traditional meeting of ‘East v West’ facing off, as the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals gets underway with the Western Conference Champions Vegas Golden Knights taking on the Eastern Conference champions the Washington Capitals. In what will be one of the most fascinating finals in recent times, one thing is for sure about this year’s final and that is a new name will be etched onto ‘Lord Stanley’s’ trophy with both sides looking to land their first-ever Stanley Cup triumph.

The two conference champions met twice over the regular season, with the Golden Knights prevailing both times as they won 4-3 on Christmas Eve in Washington and then shut the Capitals out 3-0 in Las Vegas back in early February. Something that both sides have shown in their quest for the cup is not having any ‘fear’ and with the two sides facing different sorts of adversity in their respective playoffs runs, as the two have come through it all.


 


1200px-Vegas_Golden_Knights_logo.svgFor the Vegas Golden Knights, they had to go through two teams with plenty of Stanley Cup experience and Cup final credentials to boot in the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. There is an argument to say that the playoffs in the Western Conference side of things have been rather poor, with two of the first round matches seeing ‘clean sweeps’ happening and have occurred more over the past three years.

The flip side to that argument is that since the Lockout season of 2005, the West have lifted the Stanley Cup more often than their Eastern counterparts have, as the West hold a 7-5 advantage, though this was prior to the Detroit Red Wings  moving over to the East due to the alignment change in 2012-13 season. This year though sees one of the most unpredictable Stanley Cup Finals for a long time and hasn’t a clear odds-on favourite. 

For what has seen a number of first’s for the new boys to the National Hockey League this season, the Golden Knights opened up their first-ever playoff series at home at the T-Mobile Arena against the former champions from 2012 and 2014 in the Los Angeles Kings. It has to be said, that the series was a let-down and lacked any real drama at all, with the only note of the short series being an overtime winner in game two for Vegas. 

After what was a walkover against the Kings in the first round, the Knights then headed north of Los Angeles and another Californian side in San Jose. The series started much in the same vein as the previous one for Vegas, as they demolished the Sharks 7-0 in the opener and looked like the home side was going to be too strong.

Game two saw Logan Couture of San Jose netting a game-winner in second overtime to inflict a 4-3 loss on the Golden Knights before Vegas returned the favour in game three with a 4-3 win in overtime to take a 2-1 series lead. A shutout by San Jose tied the series at 2-2, however, two strong performances by the Golden Knights in games five and six culminated in a 28-save shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury and moved the Vegas Golden Knights to their first Western finals.

The Western Conference finals pitted the Golden Knights against another side for who the conference finals was a new experience as well, in the Winnipeg Jets. The remaining Canadian side in these playoffs took the series opener at home with a 4-2 win, while in game two the Golden Knights hit back with a 3-1 win as the series shifted to ‘Sin City’.

Winnipeg then found themselves coming up against a brick wall in Marc-Andre Fleury and saw the Canadian goalie proving to be a game and series winner on his own with a couple of brilliant performances between the pipes.

Back to back wins at the T-Mobile Arena saw the Golden Knights needing just one more victory to reach their first Stanley Cup final and they would have to close the series out on the road in a noisy and passionate Winnipeg building. A boisterous crowd in Manitoba was silenced when Alex Tuch got Vegas on the board early until the Jets drew level late on in the first through Josh Morrissey.

Midway through the second, Ryan Reaves scored what turned out to be the series-clinching goal for the Golden Knights, while Fleury was forced into making some important saves late on in the game to deny Winnipeg a tying goal and eliminated them from this years postseason. 

Vegas has gone through these playoffs spreading the goals around and had made it very much a team effort in their run. Ex-Florida Panthers Center Jonathan Marchessault has been a key guy for the Golden Knights as he leads the way for his team with 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) and has a plus/minus of +10 in their 15 games so far.

Meanwhile, right-winger Reilly Smith has posted 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists) and former Columbus Blue Jackets Center William Karlsson has also been outstanding for the Western champions, with the 25-year old Swede putting up 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) and +9 too. It hasn’t just been their attack that has posted good numbers for Vegas, their defence has been rock solid too. It has seen them conceding just 27 goals, yet on the attack, the defence has tallied 16 strikes and accounts for 38% of the Knights goals.

Of course, though, the standout player of the postseason has been that of Marc- Andre Fleury between the pipes for his side, with Fleury posting a save percentage currently of (.947%) and also leads the way in the goalie standings with four shutouts. 


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In the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals will play in what is only their second Stanley Cup final in franchise history, following a 20-year wait since their last visit in the finals which ended in a sweep for the Detroit Red Wings back in the 1997-98 season. 

Following a stuttering start to their playoffs campaign that almost saw them facing an elimination game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, the Caps’ bounced back with four straight wins to set-up a meeting with their arch-rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins. In what turned out to be an unsurprisingly physical and brutal matchup between the sides, it saw the Capitals Tom Wilson being highlighted following a couple of ‘highly questionable’ big hits towards the heads of a couple of Penguins players in the space of two games. 

In game two, a high shot on Pittsburgh’s Brian Dumoulin saw Wilson claiming after the game that he was ‘just backchecking’ on the hit, while the following game saw him making contact again to the head of another Pittsburgh player, this time in Zach Ashton-Reese and left the Penguins man with a broken jaw and concussion. The league handed out a three-game suspension and saw him forced to miss the rest of the series.

Washington though didn’t need him going forward, as they finally put their hoodoo against their rivals to bed. After suffering at the hands of Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury over the years, it saw another Evgeny coming to the fore in Kuznetsov, but this time, it was in the red of Washington. An overtime winner by the Russian in game six saw the Capitals advancing on to the Conference finals. 

In the Conference finals, they faced the best side in the Eastern conference in Tampa Bay and saw an epic seven-game series between themselves and the Lightning. Both sides failed to win either of their home games in the first four games of the series and we had to wait for game five before a team could finally win on home ice.

Tampa Bay took a 3-2 series lead with them to D.C, but Braden Holtby would prove to be the key man late on in the series for Washington, as the netminder produced a couple of stunning performances to deny the Lightning and forced a game seven back in Tampa, where the Capitals defeated the Bolts’ to progress to the finals. 

Looking at the numbers posted by Washington, Evgeny Kuznetsov is the Cap’s top scorer with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) to his name, while his fellow countryman in Alex Ovechkin, has 22 points (12 goals and 10 assists) as the two Russian have led the Capitals in the points scoring. Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson have backed them up with 16 points each, while T.J Oshie has 15 points in the postseason with 7 goals and 8 assists.  

This final has a lot of interesting subplots to it. Such as, who will lift Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time in their respective franchise’s history. Will Vegas become the first-ever expansion team to win the cup in their Inaugural season? – Can Washington break the ‘Fleury’ jinx that the netminder has over them in the playoffs gone by, plus can Fleury become the first goalie since Billy Smith of the New York Islanders sides of (1980-82) to win three straight Stanley Cups?

One thing for sure though, it should be a great finale to the NHL season and hopefully not a dull affair. 

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Women’s Para Ice Hockey World Cup – update

Para Hockey

The Women’s Para Ice Hockey World Cup for 2018 in Ostrava, Czech Republic is rapidly drawing to a close and after eighteen games of Para Ice hockey action, it’s time to take a look back at the tournament so far. At the time of this blog, the Final itself and the two semi-finals will not have taken place yet.

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Day one of the ‘Elite Division’ saw an absolute cracker of a contest to get the World Cup off to a bang, as the North American neighbours in Team Canada and the United States played out a seven-goal thriller, with the nation from the ‘Stars and Stripes’ pipping their foes north of the border to a 4-3 win.

It saw the Canadians lead 2-1 after the opening period of play, but the Americans reversed that scoreline in the second stanza to take a 4-2 advantage into the third period. Canada’s Nandini Sharma made it a tense finale with 51.3 seconds left in the game, but the US managed to hold onto the win and draw first blood in the tournament.

Canada didn’t have time to dwell on the loss, as they played the second of their two-games of the day against Team Europe and saw the side from the ‘Great White North’ firing on all cylinders with a thumping 13-0 thrashing to split their opening group games. Christina Picton led the way for the Canadians with a hat trick, while Raphaelle Tousignant, Emilie Robitaille and Jessica Matassa all collected a brace of goals in the rout.

Day two saw the US playing twice, as following their 5-0 in their first game against the European side, it then saw them facing off again against the Canadians and had a different outcome this time around to the previous day. A lone goal was by Canada’s Raphaelle Tousignant in the second period was the difference between the two and saw a split in the Round Robin series between the two hockey powerhouses.

On day three, Europe suffered losses in both their games against the US and Canada. It didn’t see the European side getting off to the best of starts in either game to be honest, as the first match saw the Americans taking an early four-goal lead with less than eight minutes played and had the side looking to stem the flow of goals being shipped. Much to the relief of the European side, they managed to see the rest of the first period out and all of second too and had them entering the final period trailing by those four early goals. However, the US made sure that they weren’t going to be blanked for another period of play and they managed to score a fifth for a 5-0 win.

Much like in their previous game at the start of the day against the United States, Europe once again found themselves behind the eight-ball pretty early on, as they fell four goals behind yet again in the first period. The Canadians managed to find the back of the net once in the second stanza to lead 5-0 going into the third and the final period. Canada found the twine four more times to win 9-0 and finished top of the standings with a goal difference of plus 22.

Saturday will see a deciding game between Team USA and Team Canada in the World Cup final, as it will also be a rematch of four years ago when the Americans lifted the first-ever World Cup thanks to a devastating performance by Kelsey DiClaudio who netted four times to beat the Canadians in their own backyard.

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This tournament has also presented a chance for players to grow their skills alongside the Main Event of the Women’s Elite Division, as the ‘Developmental Division’ has been introduced at this World Cup and has been an entertaining part to this tournament as a whole.

As said previously, this year’s World Cup features over ten countries taking part in this festival of Women’s Para Ice Hockey with eleven countries alone being involved in the Development Division.

 

Great Britain was able to ice two sides in this tournament, with d the GB team dubbed ‘GB Fangs’ fall to the Norwegians 5-0 in their opening game. GB Claws’ suffering a similar fate to what the ‘Fangs’ did, with a Finnish/Swedish mixed side handing the British side a 4-2 loss.

Meanwhile, the hosts were one of three joint sides in competition as had the Czechs joining forces with Croatia and in their first outing played out a 1-1 with the Netherlands.

The remaining game of the day saw the three mixed side, as a team made up of Australians and Scottish players recorded not only a 2-0 win but registered a shutout against France in the process.

 

Day two saw Norway and Holland playing out a thrilling game with the Norwegians edging the Dutch 4-3 to maintain their 100% start to the tournament. 

For the Great British duo, it saw both ‘Claws’ & ‘Fangs’ recording 2-1 victories in their respective matches. As the Fangs defeated the hosts and also saw the ‘GB Claws’ side beating the Aussies and Scottish side by the same score. 

Another side with an unbeaten record coming in the second day was the mix of players from Finland and Sweden, as the Nordic brotherhood racked up a comprehensive 9-0 win over France to remain perfect.

 

On the third day, Norway won 3-1 over the Croatia/Czech Republic team to move on to 6pts, while GB Fang’s shutout the Netherlands 1-0 to and trail Norway by two points in the standings.

The Great Britain Claws picked up a 2-1 victory over France, while the Nordic duo of Team Finland/Sweden remain with an unblemished record of three wins from three as they beat the Australia/Scotland squad 5-1.

Schedule:

GOLD MEDAL GAME / World Cup Final:

Canada v USA


 

Women’s World Cup Para Ice Hockey is coming

Para Hockey

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This week sees the start of the second Women’s Para Ice Hockey World Cup taking place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, as this competition will boast more than 10 countries participating in this event. The organisers and players as well, have spoken off trying to expand the competition and in doing so highlight the Women’s game to which it is has attracted some attention from around the world as part of the Agitos Foundation. The Agitos Foundation is the leading global organisation that helps to changes lives and make everything contributing to an inclusive society for all with Para Sports being a key element in that plan.

The inaugural competition took place back in 2014 at Brampton, Ontario, Canada and on that occasion, it saw the United States of America being crowned the first World Cup winners of the tournament, as they beat the Canadians 5-1 in the final. Back then it saw the World Cup being played between three sides, with USA, Canada and European side.

At this year’s event, it sees the competition having two separate divisions taking place over the course of the six-day event. There is the Women’s Elite division, which is the same three sides as last time, with the best players from the US, Canada and Europe facing off against each other twice in a round robin style group, and where each side will have one day where they play two games. 

Meanwhile, the other side of things, sees a ‘Women’s Development Division’ running alongside the ‘Elite division’ of the competition with 8 teams battling it out. The hope of the development division it to give those participating a chance to learn and gain experience for future events and expand the game globally and the World Cup as a whole moving forward in the future. 

Countries taking part are Australia, France, Netherlands, Scotland, Norway and also two sides that have joint countries in the lineup – with the home nation in the Czechs teaming up with Croatia, while Finland and Sweden make up a Scandinavian duo. The remaining two sides in the division are from Great Britain and split into two teams with GB Fangs and GB Claws. 

On Saturday there will be an All-Star game taking place, with those players involved in the development division set up getting some ice time and also see the tournament culminate in two semifinals with the losers playing a Bronze medal game, while the winners advance to the Gold Medal game. 

 

Manchester hammered on opening night

Para Hockey

Manchester Mayhem  1 – 9  Kingston Kestrels

Sunday evening saw the opening league game of the British Para Ice Hockey League taking place, with a clash of the champions from last year as the playoff champions the Manchester Mayhem welcomed the league champions in the Kingston Kestrels to Planet Ice Widnes and saw a nightmare game for the home side.

Last September saw the Mayhem inflicting the only defeat upon Kingston in the whole campaign last season, following a 3-2 win over the men from Hull in the playoff semi-finals and saw their opponents clearly not forgetting about it either. It saw the Kestrels dishing out a big bowl of revenge served Ice cold in the form of a crushing 9-1 win, with Kingston’s Matt Clarkson netting a magnificent seven in the game. 

In truth though, the game was not as one-sided as perhaps the scoreline suggests it was, as the contest was pretty even. Arguably, Manchester was shading the puck possession but they just weren’t able to make much with it at all and struggled to generate hardly anything by the way of shots. With the home side unable to make any inroads on their opponents early doors, that in turn allowed Kingston to take the lead through a long-range goal by Matt Clarkson, as the GB man just simply threw the puck on net and it somehow managed to get by Dougy Hankinson in the Manchester goals for a 1-0 lead with 5-53 gone.

 

Manchester finally got behind enemy lines soon after, when a pass off the side boards by Karl Nicholson caught the Kestrels defence flat footed and looked to have put Anthony Booth through on goal, but the Kestrels goalie in Ian Houliston read the play and came out of his crease to get the whistle. The visitors then doubled their lead thanks to a Matt Woollias strike at 10-42, when an attempted clearance in the Kingston zone was knocked down by Dean Lahan but sadly the puck fell perfectly to Woollias who went up ice to fire it in and open up a two-goal advantage. 

Just before the first period drew to a close it saw Matt Clarkson grabbing his second of the game for 3-0 with 11.3 seconds on the clock. The goals that the Mayhem was conceding was basic defensive errors and were made to pay for such a lack of defending.

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Woollias makes it 2-0 with a neat finish

In the early stages of the second period, it saw another unlucky bounce going against the hosts, as this time Graham Wilson tried to clear his lines but saw the puck being kept inside the Manchester zone due to the lineman stopping the clearance and have the puck ricocheting straight out towards Matt Woollias who then bided his time before teammate Matt Clarkson skated into the zone and unleashed a shot that went high into the net and put the Kestrels 4-0 up, with Clarkson bagging himself a hattrick. 

Manchester managed to create a couple of half chances themselves, but their attacks lacked any real threat in front of goal. When the Mayhem did get into decent positions it saw them coming up against a brick wall in Ian Houliston who was brilliant throughout in goal for the league champions.

Four-nil then became five-nil at 19-32 after a puck was flipped high into the Mayhem zone and led to a bit of panic, which in turn led to a collision involving two Manchester players in their own zone and Matt Woollias was quick to capitalise on the advantage and despite the efforts of Karl Nicholson to block the effort, instead it saw the shot deflecting off Nicholson’s stick to deceive Dougy Hankinson in the Mayhem goals. 

Mayhem’s captain Karl Nicholson nearly broke the Kestrels defences with 9.09 left to play in the second, but the Great Britain man could only fire his shot straight at the keeper. Minutes later, it saw Simon Berry firing the puck in deep and saw the puck taking a bad bounce off Dean Lahan sledge and came out to Matt Woollias but on this occasion it saw Hankinson was equal to the forward and made the save.

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Anthony Booth denied by Kingston’s Ian Houliston

In the third and final period of play, it saw the home side coming out the quickest and looked to pile the pressure on from the off. Anthony Booth kickstarted a mini-wave of attacks for the Mayhem, as firstly he broke clear after dispossessing a Kingston defence at centre ice but he was unable to convert – then literally seconds later it saw a 3 on 0 advantage for the hosts, but Rob Allen could only shoot tamely at goal and had teammate Karl Nicholson extremely bemused.

Almost a minute later from that incident, the Mayhem finally managed to get themselves on the board as Anthony Booth smashed home from in front of goal to make it 5-1 with 12.31 remaining. Manchester carved out another chance for themselves soon after, but once again Houliston came to the rescue of the opposition to shut them out. 

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Anthony Booth celebrates goal the Mayhem

Matt Clarkson then took his tally in the match to four at 35-58, after more poor defending allowed Clarkson to freely shoot on goal and have the forward putting home the rebound. Thirty-five seconds later, and it was a replay of the last goal, as Clarkson once again picked up the puck and saw him heading up ice saw his first shot saved but wasn’t be denied a second time and he made it 7-1.

Two further strikes by Matt Clarkson saw the Kestrels finishing with nine goals in the game, while the Mayhem tried to avoid being hit for double figures in their opening game. Manchester will now take this gap in the league to regroup and hit back in their next game in a couple of weeks time where they travel down the A1 South to face the Peterborough Phantoms on May 12th.


 

 

City see off Arsenal In League cup final

Football
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Vincent Kompany lifts another trophy for Man City PIC: wjla.com

ARSENAL  0 – 3 MANCHESTER CITY

A stunning cup final performance by Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City saw them richly rewarded with silverware as the runaway leaders beat Arsenal at Wembley Stadium 3-0 to lift the Carabao Cup. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva helped to see the club lifting their fifth League Cup trophy in their history and third in five years.

It was a week that started badly for City after they had been dumped out of the FA Cup away at Wigan last Monday, so it was a good chance to redeem themselves after their shock loss. Arsenal came into the final on the back of a home loss in the Europa League and their last domestic game saw them coming out second best in the North London Derby against Tottenham Hotspur. 

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Sergio Aguero lifts it over Aspinas for the opener: Pic: FiloPost

City started well in the contest, as Leroy Sane had a shot blocked in the area after two minutes gone and had the Blues on top. Arsenal had the best chance of the game coming their way when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw his shot in front of goal saved by Claudio Bravo in the Manchester City goals, as Aubameyang looked to be in an offside position. 

Nacho Monreal then appealed for a penalty in the 13th minute of play, when the Spaniard spun around in the area and tried to claim a foul off Vincent Kompany when there was no contact and had the referee unmoved by his pleas. The deadlock was broken after 18 minutes on the clock when a long ball upfield by Bravo saw Argentine striker Sergio Aguero getting on the end of the kick and chipping David Ospina in the Arsenal goal for 1-0.

German defender Shkodran Mustafi had got a little bump off Aguero in the build-up, but the referee was not interested at all. City looked the better side and saw them just unable to make their attack play count as they tested their opponents. 

Aaron Ramsey attempted a low free kick from long range that saw Bravo dealing with the shot and easily dealt with. City skipper Vincent Kompany then showed signs of his old self as he chased down hard Aubameyang, before outmuscling the Arsenal striker to stop the Gabonese International.

Both sides wasted good chances in the half and had the Citizens nearly making it 2-0 before halftime when Aguero put a ball into the area and over the outstretched arm of David Ospina and have Kevin De Bruyne volleying his effort into the side netting.

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City captain Vincent Kompany goes wild after scoring for 2-0 Pic: IrishTimes

Early moments of the second half saw a chance falling to Vincent Kompany and his shot was blocked and just went past the post. Claudio Bravo then nearly got punished for his error on 53 minutes, when the Chilean keeper came running out to clear away and saw him completely miskicking.

City doubled their lead minutes later after captain Vincent Kompany diverted the ball home after Ilkay Gündogon driven a ball into the Arsenal area and have the Belgian showing his delight and passion in his celebration. David Silva completed the victory for City with less than a half hour to play after Danilo played a ball through for the man dubbed ‘Merlin’ by Manchester City fans, and the Spanish International fired across goal and into the far corner for a 3-0 scoreline.

As soon as the third goal went, it began to see the Arsenal end of the stadium quickly starting too empty and have the Gunners fans unhappy with the performance of their side, as they were outplayed, outclassed and out-fought by a determined and focused Manchester City side. As the final whistle blew it saw the travelling fans from the North West enjoying their trip down south and winning yet another cup and seeing Pep Guardiola continuing his habit of trophies and winning finals in his managerial career. 

For Pep’s men they still have a chance of a ‘treble’ with the destination of the Premier League title looking all but over you’d say, so their last trophy to go for is the Champions League and sees them in good health as they hold a 4-0 lead over Basle of Switzerland after their first leg tie in Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. Before that though, City face Arsenal again this coming Thursday night and then meet Chelsea at home in the teatime kick on Sunday.

 

Stanway stunner grabs a vital point in the Battle of the Blues

Football, Women's Football

MANCHESTER CITY WOMEN 2 – 2 CHELSEA LADIES

A late strike by Manchester City’s Georgia Stanway five minutes from time saw the England U-19 striker claiming a point for the home side against a strong Chelsea Ladies sides at the Academy Stadium, as the champions drew 2-2 in the ‘battle of the blues’ and top of the table clash with the South West London side. That result looked unlikely for most of the contest as Chelsea for the best part of the game was on top and dominated their title rival in the game. 

Before kick-off, it saw the gap between the sides standing at just one point and had Chelsea being the only side in the contest after the first forty-five. The away side had City on the back foot from the off and had Chelsea looking the far likelier of the two sides to score, and seemed more of a case of when not if. That goal eventually came in the 5th minute of play, as the ball was pinballing in the City penalty area and ended with defender Millie Bright swinging her left foot to fire it high into the roof of the net for a much deserved 1-0 lead. 

That goal you thought would be the point that would spark the home side into life, but that spark never came. Chelsea kicked on and tested Ellie Roebuck in the Manchester City goal, as she needed to be constantly alert to thwart the visitor’s attacks. The home side was guilty of poor play and a lot of sloppy passing and a lack of creativity from Nick Cushing’s side, as they looked like a side that was lost. With City dealing with key personnel all out injured with club captain Steph Houghton being the recent player watching from the sidelines and saw the Citizens looking massively disjointed. 

Following their first loss in their league campaign during midweek at Birmingham, it saw the home side looking as toothless and poor yet again as they had on Thursday and even against the same opposition in their cup victory last weekend. Ji So-Yeon then doubled the lead for Chelsea on 23 minutes, as another quick attack saw some good passing play by the ‘blues’ and saw Crystal Dunn playing a pass back to Ji inside the box and have the South Korean finding the bottom far corner for a 2-0 scoreline.

It saw City being cut to ribbons by the attacking play coming from the league leaders, as the home side was seeing their current unbeaten streak at home record that stretched back to April 2015, was in grave danger of coming to an end. Their last home defeat came 18-games ago, as Arsenal Ladies were the last side to inflict a home loss in the WSL. Following the second goal for Chelsea, it saw faint signs of a comeback coming from City as they looked to get back into the game. 

A rare attack for the hosts saw chances coming all at once, as firstly, Nikita Parris went close from close range and then saw Julia Spetsmark having an effort too before a ball came outside the area and Jill Scott saw her shot blocked for a corner. Ellie Roebuck then came up big to make a good save from Ramona Bachmann to keep the score at a two-goal game.

At the start of the second half, Nick Cushing made a change and brought on Claire Emslie for Julia Spetsmark, as Emslie instantly posed an attacking threat that hadn’t been there in the first. Five minutes into the second half it saw Demi Stokes putting in a great cross towards the back post and saw the ball met by the head of Nikita Parris to make it 2-1. 

Chelsea had another effort turned away by Roebuck, as the young shot-stopper got down well to make a save from a Bachmann shot. Georgia Stanway then came on for Izzy Christiansen, as the home side looked in search of a second goal to draw level. Nikita Parris was guilty of missing a great chance in the game that fell her way with a quarter of an hour left to play, as a ball came toward the England striker and with no-one nearby, she managed to somehow fire her shot wide of the target and could have been costly.

The home side then saw Jane Ross coming on to replace Nadia Nadim after the Danish International had made little to no impact in the game at all. Ross’s introduction to the game saw the Scottish International along with the two other substitutes in Emslie and Stanway, all proving game changers in the match. With City pushing for an equaliser, they got it courtesy of an absolute stunner by Georgia Stanway with five minutes to go and saw the home side getting back on level terms. 

As the game ticked into added time, it saw the visitors having late chances to take the three points, but a match-saving block by Jennifer Beattie who quite literally used her head, saw the defending making a block and prevented the leaders from scoring at the death. When the full-time whistle blew, it saw the home side celebrating amongst themselves in what could prove to be a huge point overall, but Chelsea will be kicking themselves as they should have had the game killed off far earlier. For the host’s it saw a far better performance in the second half and had their super subs to thank for helping to rescue a point for the champions.

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 Photo Credit – Man City.com

Super Subs sends City through to Quarters Final

Football, Women's Football

Birmingham City Ladies 1 – 3 Man City Women (AET)

A goal in each half of extra time was enough to send holders Manchester City Women through to the quarter-finals of the SSE Women’s FA Cup with a difficult and hard-fought win over Birmingham City Ladies in a rematch of last years final at Solihull Moor. Extra time goals from Substitutes Georgia Stanway and Claire Emslie, helped City Women to beat their West Midlands opponents with two well-taken goals and keep their unbeaten run going.

It saw the visitors starting the brighter of the two sides, with Jill Scott having the first chance of the match with the England International shooting wide of the target from outside the area. City opened the scoring in the 13th minute of play, when a free kick by Izzy Christiansen was put into the area and saw the ball coming off a Birmingham City defender knee and brought a save out of Ann-Katrin Berger, but the keeper was unable to hold on and saw the loose ball falling to the feet of Nadia Nadim and the Danish International tapped home to put the visitors 1-0 ahead.

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Minutes later, it saw Melissa Lawley almost doubling the lead against her former club, but Berger was equal to the City winger’s shot and pushed it over the bar for a corner. Birmingham had their first attempt of the game in the 22nd minute of the contest when the Blues striker Ellen White put her header just wide of the goal and have Ellie Roebuck in the City goals on top of it. The away side then had another effort on goal, as this time it saw goalscorer almost turning provider, when Nadia Nadim won the ball back in a tackle in the middle of the park and went on to feed Nikita Parris to which the diminutive striker couldn’t generate any power in her shot and saw her shot gathered by the Brum keeper.

For half an hour or so, it had the home side being under the cosh from their opponents and saw Birmingham Ladies growing into the game. Jennifer Beattie came to City’s rescue when the defender took the ball off Emma Follis while in a dangerous area, and saw the Scottish International clearing away from danger. Both teams struggled with their midfield, as neither side was able to get a foothold in the game. Birmingham then levelled things up in the 37th minute of play after an error by Keira Walsh saw her pass intercepted by Charlie Wellings and had her putting a ball through for Ellen White to run onto, with the striker rounding Ellie Roebuck and rolling the ball home for a 1-1 score.

The home side was growing in confidence more so and also did a great job of pressing the visiting side and forcing their opponents into errors. In the early part of the second half, Birmingham went close to taking the lead in the game through a shot from Rachel Williams, after the midfielder put her effort just wide of the target. Nick Cushing then made his first change of the game, with the introduction of Claire Emslie coming on Mel Lawley who struggled to get into the game and once on it didn’t see too much of the substitute at all in the second half. It saw City Women being let-off hugely in the 67th minute of play when Ellen White played a ball through towards Rachel Williams, but it saw the midfielder caught between passing or shooting and saw her playing a ball across the area when in a good position.

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Jill Scott then saw her claims for a penalty shout waved away and was shown a yellow card for troubles, with the referee adjudging the midfielder to have dived inside the Birmingham penalty box. It saw a straight swap then being made with Georgia Stanway coming on to replace the goalscorer Nadia Nadim, with the striker not having made any impression at all in the half. Eventually, it saw the visitors using Claire Emslie more as the game headed toward the final ten minutes of play and have the Scottish midfielder having two efforts on goal and testing Berger in the host’s goal.

Birmingham then pressed in attack and saw Emma Follis dragging her shot wide from inside the area and have Ellie Roebuck being alert and covering the danger. It saw the game being level after 90 minutes of play and needed extra time to determine a winner from the contest. During extra time, it saw City Women coming out more and looking far more like the league leaders of the Women’s Super League and threatened with more attacks and in turn, led to Georgia Stanway putting the visitors 2-1 up in the 97th minute after seeing the England youngster moving into space before firing home at the near post to put the holders ahead.

Late on it saw a stunning save from City keeper Ellie Roebuck, as the England youngster tipped a shot that she saw very late onto the far post and denied the home side from an equalising goal. Deep into added time, Claire Emslie put the tie to bed as she curved a shot in the far side of the net for a 3-1 score and booked her side’s place in the next round of the Women’s FA Cup. The sides renew rivalries again this coming Wednesday night, as City face Birmingham in the league ahead of their top of the table clash against title rivals Chelsea.

Moffatt Brace Makes It Seven On The Bounce

Ice Hockey

 

Manchester STORM 4 – 3 Coventry BLAZE

Manchester Storm made it seven wins on the bounce following a hard-fought 4-3 win over Patton Conference rivals Coventry Blaze on Wednesday night, as Luke Moffatt yet again came up big to lead his side to victory as the stand-in captain twice netted to help seal the win with further strikes by Mike Hammond and Scott Pitt. 

Following huge scalps against the ‘Arena’ sides in Sheffield and Belfast in recent games, it saw the Storm coming into their Valentine’s Day clash with Coventry on a huge high. The last time the two sides met it saw Manchester demolishing the Blaze with a thumping 9-1 win in Altrincham. This time around it saw a more determined Coventry team looking to make sure that lightning wouldn’t strike twice. The Blaze came out the more dangerous of the two sides, with the home side looking very disjointed in their play at both ends of the ice, to begin with.

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Shane Bakker goes close to scoring – PIC: Mark Ferris

Neither side really troubled their opponents netminders much in the early stages, yet Manchester struck first through a Mike Hammond goal at 5.32 after the Storm broke up the other end with the visitors caught short and had Hammond blasting home for the opening goal. Less than a minute later, it saw the game all square once again, after the Coventry forward punished the Storm’s weak defence and saw a pass back out towards goal from Ross Venus and was neatly finished off by Gaelan Patterson for a 1-1 game. Manchester really found it difficult to get into the game and put a string of passes together, while their opponents did well to stifle their play and saw the Storm being very sloppy too in possession.

Coventry took advantage of a poor period from the home side, with the visitors netting through a Jordan Pietrus strike to take the lead and then saw a nice team move that ended up with Marc-Olivier Vallerand scoring the Blaze’s third goal, with a Luke Moffatt goal sandwiched in between for the Storm. The game was very scrappy and had no-one really dominating play in the opening twenty minute of play, but towards the backend of the period, it saw the start of what would be a theme for the rest of the game, with some poor officiating as the night went on. 

Firstly, Manchester’s Dane Byers was boarded hard by Coventry’s Kevin Noble in front of referee Matt Rose, who took no action much to the astonishment of those in attendance. As the horn sounded on the first, it saw Byers looking for Noble as the teams were heading off and had Byers giving him an upwards shoulder barge and had the Blaze man milking it enough to see the Storm man handed a 2+10 by the same officiate that didn’t make the call against Noble in the first place. 

In the second period, it saw Danick Paquette being ejected from the game at 29.49 with the match officials deeming it bad enough to see the Coventry man kicked out for a slashing call and gave the home side a five-minute power play. Stand-In captain Luke Moffatt, then scored his second of the game to tie the game up at 3-3 at 35.09 after a mad scramble around the Blaze nets saw the puck ending up in the back of the net. 

Ciaran Long then took a hit against the boards that saw the British forward hitting the ice and staying down, and after some treatment, the former Phoenix and Basingstoke man eventually left the ice under his own power and looked shaky as he stepped off the ice and didn’t return to the game. From then on, the match officials seemed to lose control of the game and missed clear calls on both sides and penalised the lesser calls and let the bad ones go. 

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Things get heated   – PIC: Mark Ferriss

As the game entered the third period, it saw more poor calls coming and made the game more bad-tempered than it really should have been. Scott Pitt then put the Storm back in front with a powerplay goal at 46.06, with the Canadian Left-winger firing home his shot for a 4-3 lead. Shane Bakker then got a charging call when the Coventry man just avoided taking a hit and saw the chain of poor calls starting to begin.

It saw hooking calls that weren’t hooking calls and then saw the weirdest cross-checking call being made when Trenz lost an edge and clipped an opponent on the way down and saw the penalties feeling like they were being made up as it went on. Manchester then had a player brought down when in on goal, yet the second match official Tom Pering deemed it only worthy of a hooking call and not a penalty shot

Both benches vented their fury towards the match referees, on what was poor nights officiating. Brett Robinson then came charging into the back of Luke Moffatt on the blue line and saw a scrum with the Blaze man picking up a deserved 2+10 for a check from behind. Meanwhile, the string of strange calls saw Ryan Trenz picking up the same penalty too, after he pushed Robinson in the chest and had the two referees deeming it unbelievably as a check from behind also. 

As the game ticked down it saw the home side trying to take the sting out of the game and saw Marc Olivier Vallerand sitting for a slashing call. In the dying seconds, Coventry pulled their goalie and pushed for a tying goal but was to be denied in the final seconds by Mike Clemente, as he prevented the away side from scoring and secured Manchester the points and made it a magnificent seven wins in a row and move them to within a point of Belfast in second place.

This weekend sees Manchester travelling down south to take on two conference opponents, where they have a chance to strengthen their grip on the conference, with trips down to Milton Keynes on Saturday night and then Guildford on the Sunday night.

Parris double moves City back top

Women's Football

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Manchester City Women   4 – 0  Liverpool Ladies

Two goals by Nikita Parris helped Manchester City move back to the top of the Women’s Super League standings after a 4-0 win over Liverpool Ladies at the Academy Stadium. This was the first home game that City had played following seven straight matches away from Manchester in the League and the Cup too. Since that time, it has seen City progressing to the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup and also remain unbeaten with a goalless game against fellow title rivals Chelsea.

The Blues were minus three of their big name players in goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, club captain and defender Steph Houghton and also midfielder Jill Scott all through injury. It saw the hosts starting strong from the word go and have their recent new signing in Danish International Nadia Nadim going close with a couple of headers that saw Liverpool’s goalie Becky Flaherty dealing with it. Seconds later it saw the home side taking a fortunate lead inside fifty seconds when the ball struck Nikita Parris in the face and somehow ended up in the back of the net.

Abbie McManus then tested the Liverpool keeper from long range after the City defender lifted the ball back over a red shirts player and launched a right-footed volley that bounced in front of the Flaherty and saw her pushing the shot away for a corner. On a chilly early afternoon in Manchester, it saw Ellie Roebuck finally doing something to stay warm as Bethany England had a cross come shot that had the young keeper making the catch.

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Nikita Parris celebrates her second goal during Man City Women 4-0 win over Liverpool Ladies Pic: MANCITY.COM

The first half was a pretty uneventful forty-five minute half in truth, with Claire Emslie having two efforts on goal for City but that was as good as it got. In the Second half, saw the blues continuing their dominating of possession and in the 54th minute, it saw Nikita Parris weaving her way pass Alex Greenwood and then got brought down inside the area by Caroline Weir which resulted in a penalty. Izzy Christiansen stepped up City and fired high into the Reds goal to double their lead for a 2-0 scoreline.

Liverpool’s Bethany England then almost found an instant response for the visitors, as she cut inside Abbie McManus and seen her shot saved by Ellie Roebuck. In the 59th minute, it saw a corner kick being whipped in by Claire Emslie and saw a bullet header from Nikita Parris to net her second of the game and have City 3-0 up as the home side were flexing their muscles.

Defender Abbie McManus scored the fourth goal for the home side, with a touch of good fortune about it too, as Nikita Parris flicked a through ball onwards for McManus to run onto and had her initial shot blocked by Kate Longhurst and saw the ball bounce back off the knee of the City player and into the net with Flaherty down stranded still. The victory moves the sky blues back to the top of the WSL table with attention now switching to their Women’s FA Cup game next weekend against Birmingham City Ladies and a repeat of last year’s final where City lifted the trophy at Wembley. 


Eagles overcome New England in a Classic

American Football

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  191px-Philadelphia_Eagles_logo.svg    PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 41   NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 33 193px-New_England_Patriots_logo.svg

In the early hours of Monday morning, it saw the Philadelphia Eagles becoming Super Bowl champions with victory over the favourites in the New England Patriots at Minnesota’s US Bank Stadium, as the NFC East side were crowned World Champions for the first-ever time at Super Bowl LII. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was named the MVP of the game, after the former University of Arizona player, threw for three touchdown passes and even caught a touchdown pass himself, as the Philadelphia man threw for 373-yards in his sides 41-33 win over the most dominant team of recent times.

It was a game that was action-packed from the opening kick off to the final play of the game, as many pundits had already decided the outcome beforehand, with the New England Patriots being crowned champions before a ball was even snapped. But the NFC champions were more than happy enough to play up to the role of underdogs, with Philadelphia having been using that terms for the whole of these post-season match-ups.

The traditional clash of AFC and NFC Champions clashing at the Super Bowl saw many records broken during this year’s contest, as the teams combined for the most offensive yards in a single game this season, as no regular season or postseason could boast that over that year. Another record that got broke was one that had lasted for thirty years, as the two sides totalled 1,151 for offensive play and were 222 more yards than what the previous record was set when the Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos back at Super Bowl XXII.

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Brandin Cooks tries to Hurdle a Philadelphia Eagles defensive player

Many former players and commentators felt that the AFC division is the weakest of the two in the National Football League, and when comparing the contenders for this year’s Super Bowl, it is pretty hard to disagree with that point at all, as the New England breezed through their conference games with relative ease over their respective rivals in the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. It felt that the Patriots only challenge in the postseason would come at the Super Bowl itself, as the NFC was one of the toughest conferences to win and that proved to be the case with many sides showing their title credentials.

For Philadelphia, getting to Minnesota and setting up a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX was a battle itself, following tough games against the Atlanta Falcons and host city Minnesota in the NFC Championship game a couple of weeks ago. Facing the Patriots again seemed to be a way of expelling their Super Bowl past, as back in 2005 the Eagles lost out to New England and this was a great chance to gain revenge against the side that beat them thirteen years ago. The Eagles started the game with possession and saw Nick Foles engineering a drive that saw Torrey Smith completing a 30-yard catch on a 3rd & 12 that eventually culminated in a 25-yard field goal being kicked over by Rookie Jake Elliott to give the NFC side a 3-0 lead early on. New England responded in kind with a field goal of their own to level the game at 3-3, and it saw the game starting to take shape with both sides looking to assert their dominance and have both defences struggling early on after the first couple of opening drives for both sides.

Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, saw him cutting through New England defense and moved his side from the Eagles 30-yard line to the Patriots 33-yard line with a solo run. Philadelphia then scored the opening touchdown of Super Bowl LII thanks to a catch in the end zone by Alshon Jeffery, as the former Chicago Bears man made a superb grab from a Nick Foles throw towards the wide receiver for a score and have the NFC East side retaking the lead. Elliott then went to add the extra point for Philadelphia, but his kick had some curl on it and it missed the uprights and left the score at 9-3.  Tom Brady then came back onto the field and saw him struggling to find one of his receivers with the Eagles defense on top and closing down all options that were normally on offer to Brady. Rob Gronkowski was given special treatment, as he proved to be ineffective in the entire first half for the defending champions, with ‘Gronk’ being shut down by the Philly defensive unit. That meant that New England needed guys to step up, and Chris Hogan and ‘Mr Postseason’ Danny Amendola stood up and accepted the challenge and both of them came up huge for the Patriots when they needed them.

Amendola soon found himself in acres of space near the sidelines for a pass by Brady, as he got the reigning champs upfield. Brandin Cooks then attempted to hurdle Eagles Safety Rodney McLeod on the ten-yard line but instead saw the Philadelphia man catching Cooks in mid-air and looked like he was going to go WWE on him, as he had him in a kind of powerbomb position, but Cooks failed to get by. Stephen Gostkowski then stepped out onto the field for the Patriots and saw his 26-yard field goal attempt botched in the lead up to it, with the snap to Ryan Allen having the ball bobble to the punt kicker, and that led to panic and saw Gostkowski quickly putting boot to ball and could only watch it swerving away and hitting the goalposts to see no points. There was a slight hint of frustration on the face of the Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, but his poker face didn’t give too much at all away.

Prior to the game taking place, there was some concerns from the kickers on where the ball was being snapped too, as the logos on the field were causing problems for both sides on special teams and had the logos leaving the kickers a bit ‘unsteady’ and even saw the Super Bowl logos being painted on the pitch only hours before the big event.

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Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles matching a catch for a touchdown  PIC: BBC.co.uk

Brandin Cooks was then forced to leave the game with a head injury following a scary moment with 13.03 to go in the second quarter when Cooks completed a catch and was looking for a gap to run into, but instead he was hammered hard by Malcolm Jenkins and saw the New England man knocked out cold by the Eagles Safety. That then left a huge hole in the New England offense, with the Patriots on a 3rd & 5 they then attempted a trick play involving Brady as a receiver and have Danny Amendola taking a pass and becoming the quarterback on the play and throwing a pass towards Tom Brady down the sidelines but he was unable to take in the pass and moved the Patriots to fourth down situation.

Philadelphia managed to stop the 4th down conversion attempt and saw them looking now to take advantage of shaky New England side that wasn’t looking too good, especially with Cooks being knocked out cold and being assessed for a concussion protocol and then had their star man in Gronkowski being frozen out by their opponents.  LeGarrette Blount continues his assault on the opposition with a score and picked up the Eagles second touchdown of the game, after he powered his way through the New England side and was a similar story back at Super Bowl XLIX, when Marshawn Lynch did the same to the Patriots with the Seattle Seahawks and saw New England having no answers to stop him in that game either.

Stephen Gostkowski then kicked over a 45-yard field goal to see New England trailing by nine points at the midway point of the second quarter came around. Nick Foles threw an attempted pass out wide to Alshon Jeffery as he battled with Stephon Gilmore – of which Gilmore replaced the ‘benched’ Malcolm Butler in the lineup, as the ball came towards the two battling players it saw Jeffery juggling the ball and fell into the hands of Duron Harmon for the Interception. The Philadelphia defensive was doing a great job of stifling the play of Brady and co but then hit penalty trouble when Jalen Mills was guilty of a hold against Chris Hogan and saw the ball moved upfield for the Patriots to get outside of field goal range. Brady then threw to Hogan for a 38-yard catch that saw New England inside the Eagles half. Minutes later saw James White grabbing a touchdown for New England with just over two minutes remaining, as the running back bounced off a tackle or two and broke free of the Eagles clutches for a score. 

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Rob Gronkowski completing a catch for a Touchdown   Pic: NFL.com

Gostkowski then missed another kick, as his extra point attempt was no good and went nowhere remotely near the posts at all and saw the AFC side trailing 15-12. Philadelphia then found themselves deep in Patriots territory and when a pass for Jeffery saw the wide receiver failing to get the better of Gilmore who looked better the more the game went on, Philadelphia Head Coach Jim Schwartz then opted to run on a fourth & goal instead of going for a field goal and it was viewed by many to be a ‘gutsy’ call by the Eagles coach.

Prior to the snap, Foles shouted towards his offensive linemen a change to the play call and perhaps trying to draw a offsides penalty as well. Instead, though, it saw the ball being snapped towards Corey Clement in the backfield and he flipped it to Trey Burton on the run, before Burton fired a nice weighted pass to quarterback Nick Foles in the end zone for a touchdown and see a surprise play that caught everyone out. That score was also the first time in Super Bowl history that a quarterback had caught a pass for a touchdown and more importantly saw them extend their lead to 22-12 with Elliot kicking the extra.

Following the Half-time break of which Justin Timberlake performed his back catalogue of hits, it saw the second half starting off well for the New England as the Patriots came out a different team and had the Eagles probably wishing that they didn’t have a break, as there wasn’t much momentum. As it was, Tom Brady led a recovery for his side and led to Rob Gronkowski making a grab in the end zone for a touchdown to get his team back in it. It also saw the re-emergence of the Patriots wide-receiver in the second half as ‘Gronk’ threw away the shackles that the Eagles had him in during the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, it saw some controversy in the game, as all season the ‘catch’ rule has been the bain of many NFL fans, players, coaches, pundits and probably even officials too. This time saw a deep pass thrown towards Corey Clements who made the grab before heading out of bounds. This then led to the officials reviewing the play and deciding whether it was a score or if it should be overturned. Using the old style ruling it was a good catch, but using the catch rule today – and it divides opinion. On review, it didn’t look like he had completed two steps with the ball before hitting the whitewash, but then on another angle, he did. Eventually, the ruling of a touchdown stood and the Eagles moved out to a ten points lead at 29-19 with 7.18 left in the third.

New England has made it a habit of always coming right back at opponents and this was no different, as Chris Hogan made a catch in the end zone to score a touchdown and bring it to a three-point ball game. Jake Elliott then gave the Eagles some breathing space with a 42-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter to help extend their lead to a six-point gap at 32-26. In last year’s Super Bowl, it saw the New England Patriots infamously put up 19 points in the fourth quarter en route to see them go from dead and buried, to tying the game and winning in overtime for the craziest ever finish to a championship game.

This year, however, they only trailed by six in the fourth quarter, but they still showed their battling qualities and came storming right back at a tough brash Philadelphia side in the second half. As the game went on it saw Philadelphia being limited in their attack, thanks to New England now turning the tables on their opponents and saw their game suffering because of it. With 9.22 left to play, it saw Rob Gronkowski claiming his second touchdown pass of the game and drew New England level with the score. Gostkowski who had such a mixed game with the boot, saw him making no mistake this time around and kicked the extra point for AFC Champions and give them the lead for the first time in the contest.

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Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after fumbling the ball during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

With the Patriots on top, in both scoreline and play, the Eagles now badly need a response and so with 2.30 left to go in the game, it saw them reaching the New England 12-yard line and needing looking for a score. That response came in the form of Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, as he dived his way into the end zone for a score and have the ball popping up before regathering for a score. Once more it saw the call being looked at and was just more drama and tension added to this game. The officials decided to double check the play and it dragged up that unwanted argument of ‘catch or no catch’ again.

In a season, where this rule has reared it’s ugly game on pretty much every game and has done more damage than it is meant to do, so this call was gigantic in the grand scheme of things. If it was ruled a ‘no catch’ then it would be 4th & 7, but should it be good then the Eagles were leading again. The touchdown stood and saw the Eagles trying for a two-point conversion to make it a one-score game that would need New England needing to get a PAT to tie the game.

The game clock said 2.21 left to play and saw the defending champions with one time-out remaining, but the telling factor without question was the man with the ball and perhaps the ‘greatest’ quarterback to ever play the game in Tom Brady, as he looked to engineer another possible Super Bowl winning drive. During an incredible game between two top teams, it saw neither side giving up a single sack in the contest. 

With most people thinking, “could the Eagles stop Brady from delivering yet another Super Bowl championship for New England?”, It was probably doubtful that any person in the US Bank Stadium thought “‘WHAT IF, Philadelphia could force a turnover?”, but that is exactly what happened. As the ball got snapped to Brady on 2nd & 2, it saw the quarterback scanning the field and looking to throw the ball, however, Brandon Graham knocked the ball from the gloved hand of Brady and forcing a fumble to which teammate Derek Barnett recovered the ball for the Eagles. Following that huge play by Philadelphia, it saw the Eagles unable to make the most of the great field position they had got from forcing the turnover and were forced to settle for a Jake Elliott field goal from 46-yards out with just over a minute of play to go.

Despite Philadelphia holding an 8-points lead, it saw the Patriots still not giving up hope of producing a late twist to this game, as Tom Brady was nearly tackled in the build-up; but Brady managing to get free and fire off a ‘Hail Mary’ pass upfield and have the ball tipped and see some desperate defending by the Eagles defense to close the game out as time expired and have the NFC East side crowned Super Bowl champions for the first time in their history.

Eagles Patriots Super Bowl Football

Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. The Eagles won 41-33. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It saw a bitter-sweet ending for the Philadelphia Eagles at quarterback, as Carson Wentz who was on course to be the MVP of the league until he tore his ACL in his knee on a scramble against the LA Rams in Week 14, was forced to watch from the sidelines as back up Nick Foles took on the mantle of trying to carry on with his good work. In six weeks, it saw him from the bench to now being made MVP at Super Bowl LII. For Carson Wentz, it would have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Eagles starter as he had been the man for Philadelphia before his injury. 

The victory is the first championship-winning side to come from the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ since the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series back in 2008 in Major League Baseball. There was some joy for the Brits too, as Running back Jay Ajayi became only the fifth player to win a Super Bowl from the United Kingdom and proudly showed off his national pride with the Union Flag draped around his shoulders.

For the Patriots, it seemed like an ‘end of a era’ of sorts to their team, as talk after the game was of Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leaving New England to become the new Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts and also the likely move of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, becoming the Detroit Lions new Head Coach later this week. Rob Gronkowski admitted that he was to review his options and that this game could very well have seen the last ever ‘Gronk Spike’ from the big man. Meanwhile, Tom Brady said in his press conference that he plans to continue on past forty, but what does the future hold for the Legendary head coach Bill Belichick? Rumours have been rife in the media that Belichick may choose to leave New England in the summer with a possible rift inside the camp being blamed.

One thing for sure though, this game will go down in the history books as one of the most entertaining Super Bowl’s played out, with non-stop action and drama in one game.