Aces pull a 3 card trick over top 3 sides

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CAPTAIN Craig Cook:  pic via MEN.co.uk

















WOLVERHAMPTON WOLVES   42  –  48   BELLE VUE ACES 




It was a Captain`s performance that saw the Belle Vue Aces on Bank Holiday Monday carry on their recent winning streak, With the Aces taking it 4 matches unbeaten home & away, as they beat the Wolverhampton Wolves 48-42 at Monmore Green without their two big hitter`s scoring 2 between them!
The Aces in recent weeks have seen them beat fellow struggler`s in the Elite League the Coventry Bees 59-35 along with victory over the league leaders the Birmingham Brummies at home 49-41 then followed it up with a win at the home of the current league champions,the Swindon Robins 48-42.
Belle Vue have been riding more for pride than anything, while their opponents they have defeat in the last two outings, have battled it out for the top 2 places in the table that guarantees home advantage come playoff time. 



In the Bank Holiday meeting at Wolverhampton things didn`t start off the way the Aces would have liked it to. As Wolves Swedish Number 1 star, Freddie Lindgren was joined at the front by his team mate in Polish rider Robert Miskowiak for a opening maximum 5-1 win for the Wolves.
Belle Vue`s guest pairing at reserve in place of the injured Ales Dryml & Kauko Nieminen ,were Andrew Tully from the Newcastle Diamonds and rising Australian youngster Max Fricke from the Edinburgh Monarchs both from Premier League clubs. However they were more than Premier the way they rode as with Cook in the side they helped the Aces massively in the match, with them scoring a 4-2 in the reserves race for the Aces, with the Scottish rider Andrew Tully picking up victory.
Belle Vue nearly got on level terms in heat 3, when Aces Captain Craig Cook and Kevin Wolbert both got out of the gates on a 4-2 advantage, only for Wolbert to then have an engine failure on the first lap and led to him retiring in the race , but Cook held on to first place beating Adam Skornicki and Ricky Wells for a 3-3.




Heat 4 saw a huge crash and involving all the riders on the first bend , with Fricke and Thorssell getting tangled together and taking the rest of the field down too, in Tai Woffinden & Magnus Zetterstrom in the race.
Thorssell picked up a suspected broken arm in the crash and saw him withdrawn from the meeting and being replaced by fellow reserve Ludwig Lindgren in the re-run.  
Zetterstrom was struggling to ride too after the crash and he pulled out after only one lap in, with the Wolves taking a 4-2 heat win and increase their lead to 4 points, with the score 14-10 in favour of the Black Country side.
With the next four races being shared between the sides, the score line was 26-22  for the home side heading into Heat 9.
Max Fricke came in to replace the now Withdrawn Magnus Zetterstrom from the meeting, as Zorro had picked up a shoulder injury in the collision.
It was the reserve pairing of Fricke & Tully that drawn the scores level at 27 all, with the scot forcing his way past the Wolves pair to see him join his team mate at the front for a big 5-1 for the away side.


Belle Vue then scored another big maximum win, with Craig Cook and Kevin Wolbert grabbing first and second position beating as they beat “Fast Freddie” Lindgren round the Monmore track, not many can say they have done that over the years. 
The Wolves though responded in kind, with Woffinden and Lindgren`s brother Ludwig getting a 5-1 over Ostergaard and Zagar in following race, to level the score up one more time in this sea-saw match.
Andrew Tully was enjoying himself on the Wolves track as he and Cook helped edge the Aces back in front with 4-2in heat 12 to make it 40-38. Heat thirteen saw the strong pairing for the home side in the way of Tai Woffinden & Freddie Lindgren, up against the Aces of Matej Zagar and Andrew Tully.
Lindgren wasn`t going to lose twice in a row, as the Swede shown the Belle Vue boys a clean pair of heels, with the Swedish GP star zooming off for a shared 3-3 race.



Wolves needed to get a result out of heat 14, if they were to have any chance of beating Belle Vue and avoid defeat. However this was to be Belle Vue`s night and the German rider Kevin Wolbert and Max Fricke combined to hammer home advantage and shock the Wolves fans into silence, as they crossed the line in 1st & 2nd for a third 5-1 of the night for the travelling Aces and gave the Manchester club victory with a heat left to go. 
It was the Captain that would have final say in the match, when Craig Cook finished off the Wolves showing Woffinden and Lindgren round the Monmore Green circuit, as he took the chequered flag for a 3-3 race and made the final score 48-42 in the Belle Vue Aces favour and gave moved them off the foot of the table and up into 8thposition.
Wolverhampton will get a chance at revenge very quickly, as they travel up the M6 motorway to Kirkmanshulme Lane next Monday evening.





Wolverhampton Wolves = 42 

1. Freddie Lindgren -3, 3, 1, 3, 1* – 11+1
2. Robert Miskowiak – 2*, 0, 0, 0 – 2+1
3. Ricky Wells – 1*, 3, 1, 2 – 7+1
4. Adam Skornicki – 2, F, 0, 1 – 3
5. Tai Woffinden – 3, 2, 3, 0, 2 – 10
6. Ludvig Lindgren – F, 1, 1*, 3, 2*, 0, 0 – 7+2
7. Jacob Thorssell – 2, F-Withdrawn


Belle Vue Aces = 48 

1. Matej Zagar – 0, 1*, 0, 1* – 2+1
2. Ulrich Ostergaard – 1, 2, 1*, 1 – 4+1
3. Craig Cook – 3, 3, 3, 1, 3 – 13
4. Kevin Wolbert – EF, 0, 2, 3 – 5
5. Magnus Zetterstrom – EF, Withdrawn
6. Andrew Tully (Guest) – 3, 2, 2*, 3, 2, 0 12+1
7. Max Fricke (Guest) – 1, 2, 1*, 2, 3, 2* – 11+2






LEAGUE TABLE:

                                             PLD      PTS

1. Birmingham Brummies      25         53
2. Swindon Robins                26         48
3. Wolverhampton Wolves    26         48
4. Lakeside Hammers            25         43
5. Poole Pirates                     25         39
6. Peterborough Panthers     25         38                     
7. Kings Lynn Stars             24          33
8. Belle Vue Aces                 24          31*
9. Eastbourne Eagle             25          29 
10. Coventry Bees                27          28

*=Belle vue deducted 3pts after SCB hearing.

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Eagles claw past Lightning into Semi`s

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CENTURY MAN:   RAVI BOPARA    pic:Essexeagles.co.uk


Lancashire Lightning saw their YB40 dreams destroyed by Essex Eagles pairing of Ravi Bopara and Greg Smith, as the two of them smashed the home bowlers all over the Emirates Old Trafford. Essex beat Lancashire by 70 runs and in doing so, saw them finish ahead of the Lightning in 2nd place, booking their place in the Semi-finals of the competition on Bank Holiday Monday.

                                                                                                          

Essex team Captain James Foster won the toss and chose to bat first, on a warm summer`s day in Manchester.

Lancashire had beaten the Hampshire Hawks last Tuesday to have a chance of qualification, as they only needed victory on their home ground to see them through to the Semi-Final stages behind Hampshire, who had all but booked their place in the YB40 Semi`s already.
Lancashire made an early breakthrough in the Essex Innings, when Kabir Ali got Gautam Gambhir out thanks to Ashwell Prince taking a blinding catch at Short-mid off to send Gambhir packing for 2. 
This then saw Ravi Bopara come out to the middle alongside Greg Smith and between them, they put on a partnership of 159. The Lancashire Lightning bowlers toiled in the heat as Bopara and Smith continued to dismantled the bowling attack, despite Smith nearly getting out for 58 when a Tom Smith dived full stretch to only get a finger on it as  it run away to the rope for four.  

Simon Kerrigan returned to the Lancashire line-up, after his torrid week for England down at the Oval against Australia in the Fifth test.

When Kerrigan`s name came over the PA system at Old Trafford, it was greeted by a massive cheer and applause by the home fans as they shown their support to the spinner, who by many was unfairly criticised by the media over his 2 over bowling spell in the Ashes match.
Kerrigan managed to pick up a wicket in his seven over spell, when the Preston-born spinner dismissed Greg Smith for 78 when he got one to go past the advancing Smith down the pitch and Gareth Cross managed to collect the ball and whip the bails off.
Smith made a good knock for his side, as well as a good partnership with Ravi Bopara as between them they build up a very good Innings for the away side. 
The South African struck four 4`s and a solitary 6 in his Innings, as he faced 77 balls with the Eagles on 160–2.
Ex-England batsman Owais Shah then came to partner Bopara out in the middle and Shah played a steady knock for his side as he struck a 6 off the bowling of Aaron Lilley in his Innings.
Shah then tried to hit one to the on-side boundary off the bowling of Tom Smith, but instead he saw it go up in the air and fall into the hands of Aaron Lilley to send the ex-England batsman back for 21. 
Essex were 200-3 with Shah departing and they had built up a very commanding lead to be fair that gave Essex a terrific score with still 9 overs remaining.
Ravi Bopara then turned away a delivery to the off side as he run a couple to reach his Century and it was a very well worked Innings too. His team mate
Dutchman Ryan ten Doeschate came in, he fired a score of 46 not out with two 4`s and three massive 6`s around the Emirates Old Trafford stands in his stand.
Ravi Bopara was almost out when Tom Smith made a spectacular one handed catch attempt that saw Smith get fingertips to it, but couldn`t stop the ball running away for 4 .
Bopara Innings came to an end, when Kyle Hogg slow delivery was lofted high and Lilley took the catch at backward point to get rid of the Essex danger man,  which saw him walk back to a Essex changing room to a standing ovation by the Lancastrian crowd as he went for 130 off 102 balls, with nine 4`s and three 6`s to his name.

Captain of the Eagles James Foster came out to bat the remaining overs with Ten Doeschate, as the of them finished the Innings off scoring 297 with Foster scoring 8 runs not out and Ten Doeschate for 46 unbeaten as well. 

Lancashire`s seemed under par with a couple of mistakes occurring in the field and the zip of pace they had at the start of the game, seemed to fade quickly as they looked tired and the pitch was unresponsive for Lancashire bowlers too.
The Essex batsmen made Lancashire pay with under average bowling as they set their hosts a target of 298 for victory in this YB40 match.

Lancashire had their target set of 298 for victory and would see them through to the next round should they reach the target.

Lancashire Lightning`s openers had to survive a couple of scares as Tom Smith edged from Tymal Mills quick delivery and went for the first boundary for of the run chase. Stephen Moore then went for a hook shot that nicked the bat and went high over Foster with the gloves for a second boundary, Smith then took a crack on the helmet from a fast Mills delivery that saw Smith needing a new helmet because of it.




TOM SMITH : Via :LCCC.co.uk

Stephen Moore and Tom Smith made a quick partnership of 79 for the opening stand. Moore was first to go when an attempted hook shot was top edged by him and went up in the air towards long leg position, where Graham Napier took a diving catch to get him out for 29 having scored three 4`s and one 6 in his knock.
Smith was dropped by Foster when he got an edge on it from Topley bowling after he got his fifty. Ashwell Prince played a nervy Innings, as the South African batsman didn`t look assured of himself out in the middle. Prince was out soon after when he tried to late cut a ball off Reece Topley, but instead saw his wickets demolished as he went for 5 and Lancashire were 91 for 2.
The Lightning were far from that between the wickets with indecision between the batsmen wanting to run more than one run, the locals were not very happy at the tactics used by the home side at all as they were falling behind the run rate required in the Innings. 


eMIRAT

Tom Smith was creeping his way to a Century of his own, while his team mate Paul Horton was nearing his fifty too. Both batsmen`s were scoring at a very slow rate with the required rate at 8.0-8.4 an over, with the Lightning hovering around the 6.4-6.6 area and not helping their cause either. 

Smith got to 97 before Reece Topley clean bowled the Lancs man and he couldn`t hide his disappointment at failing to make his hundred as the pain was etched on his face.
The home side were in a bit of bother at 186-3 and were struggling to make the boundary or hit a big score in their run chase, as they were unable to up their run rate in the Innings.
Phil Horton too failed on reaching his milestone as he tried to take the attack to the Eagles, but Horton attempted to slog down the ground and was caught out by Century man Ravi Bopara as that signalled the Lightning collapse with Tom Phillips picking up a wicket with Horton going for 45.


The Lightning found themselves 193-4 and still needing 105 with 70 balls remaining in the Lancashire Innings. Steven Croft and Karl Brown found themselves in position of having to find these 105 runs required, with a 9.4 run rate needed to get close to the target, which was a tough ask for them. 

Steven Croft tried to smash one away, but like the other rest of the Lancashire batsmen they couldn`t find the rope or get good enough connect on the ball. Croft skied it up and Greg Smith took the catch off Phillips bowling dismissing the Lightning batsman for 9.
Phillips collected his 3rd wicket soon after, when Brown managed to connect on one but went only as far as Napier and Lancashire went deep in trouble now having gone from 182-2 to now 214-6.
Aaron Lilley went for a duck as he tried to smashed a delivery off Phillips bowling, with the Lightning needing big boundaries now, but he found Ravi Bopara at long-off and the end was nigh now for the Lightning run chase.


Gareth Cross was caught at cover point when he hit one right up into the Manchester sky off Tymal Mills bowling and Gautam Gambhir caught him out for 7 after he juggled the ball & much to his relief managed to hold on. With already many members of the Lightning faithful on their way to the exits, Kabir Ali and Kyle Hogg put on a bit of resistance for a few balls.
That was before Mills steamed in again and sent Hogg stumps flying out the ground for 2, making it 222-9, and had all but consigned Lancashire Lightning to the fate of missing out on the semi finals with Essex taking their spot.





Phillips completed his 5-fer when he got Simon Kerrigan out for a duck too, with Kerrigan hitting it to Mills at backward point and give Essex a win by a 70 runs, as Lancashire were bowled out for 227 in reply after 36.4 overs.
Disappointing end to their YB40 campaign for the Lightning as they now
Look ahead to the upcoming fixture against Hampshire in the LV Championship round at Southport as they look to carry on their promotion charge by to the Division 1.


Gambhir dismissal link: 














Essex Innings297 for 4 (40.0 overs)

Runs Minutes Balls 4s 6s
Gambhir c Prince b Ali 2 10 9 0 0
Smith st Cross b Kerrigan 78 86 77 4 1
Bopara c Lilley b Hogg 130 120 102 9 3
Shah c Lilley b Smith 21 20 21 0 1
ten Doeschate not out 46 40 23 2 3
Foster not out 8 16 8 0 0
Extras 0nb 9w 0b 3lb 12
Total for 4 297 (40.0 ovs)
LANCASHIRE BOWLING:
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Ali 7.0 0 49 1
Smith 7.0 0 59 1
Hogg 7.0 0 55 1
Kerrigan 8.0 0 45 1
Lilley 8.0 0 51 0
Croft 3.0 0 35 0


Lancashire Innings227 all out (36.4 overs)

Runs Minutes Balls 4s 6s
Moore c Napier b Topley 29 50 31 3 1
Smith b Topley 97 119 84 11 0
Prince b Topley 5 13 10 0 0
Horton c Bopara b Phillips 45 62 53 2 0
Brown c Napier b Phillips 12 25 13 1 0
Croft c Smith b Phillips 9 9 11 1 0
Cross c Gambhir b Mills 7 13 9 1 0
Lilley c Bopara b Phillips 0 2 2 0 0
Ali not out 5 10 2 0 0
Hogg b Mills 2 2 4 0 0
Kerrigan c Mills b Phillips 0 3 2 0 0
Extras 2nb 8w 0b 6lb 16
Total all out 227 (36.4 ovs)
ESSEX BOWLING:
Bowler Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Masters 8.0 0 48 0
Mills 6.0 0 35 2
Napier 2.0 0 22 0
Topley 5.0 0 27 3
Smith 6.0 0 34 0
ten Doeschate 2.0 0 13 0
Phillips 7.4 0 42 5

Warriors see off Hull for Challenge Cup glory!

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WIGAN WARRIORS           16 – 10                         HULL FC



Tries: Thornley,  S.Tomkins
Goals: Richards 4

WIGAN crowned champs for 19th time    pic v a: BBC SPORTS





The Wigan Warriors won their 19th Challenge Cup trophy on Saturday, with a hard grafted 16-0 win over Hull FC at a miserable wet Wembley.
Wigan shut out the Humberside club to secure victory, however it will not go down on a list of the most memorable cup final`s in Challenge Cup history due to the persistant rain that fell.
Wigan had lost 4 of their previous 6 games in Super League prior to this Cup win, with their last win coming against their opponent`s cross city rivals in the final, the  Hull Kingston Rovers back on the 2nd of August when they won 21-16 at Craven Park.  
For their opponents the Hull FC, they were on a winning streak coming into this Challenge Cup final , as they had won three games on the bounce. That included a massacring of the Widnes Vikings couple of games back when they beat them 72-10 at the KC Stadium in Hull.
The only meeting between these two saw side, saw the Warriors take the spoils that day 28-20 on Humberside. Wigan and Hull had met twice before in the Challenge cup final, with the cherries & white getting the better of  the black & white of Hull on both occasions. 
The last encounter between them in the final, was way back on May 4th 1985, which is regarded by some to be the greatest ever Challenge Cup final in history.
It was played out in front of a record crowd at Wembley of 99,801.
That game saw Hull 22-8 down at half time, before they made a comeback and got pipped 28-24 in the end.
Hull FC had one more problem too contend with as well ,as it  may be more mental than physical than anything. But Hull FC  had NEVER won at Wembley despite winning the cup on two separate occasions, those two times was a replay in the 1982 final, which saw the replay held at Leeds Elland Road after they drew 14 all at Wembley, while the other time was back in 2004, when they beat the Leeds Rhinos 25-24 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
It was horrible day to play in as with the weather being grey overhead and the rain falling all game, it made it pretty horrid for the players to be in, as it wouldn`t be the showpiece Cup final of normal. 
Wigan`s Pat Richards had a terrible start to game, when from kick off he put the ball out on the full, giving Hull a chance to score early, Hull couldn`t capitalize on the error as they were stopped by a mean Wigan defense. Wigan had a lot of early possession and were putting Hull under immense pressure early on. Wigan had thought they had scored a try through Richards, though the referee didn`t seem to think the Australian had grounded the ball properly and so gave a knock on against him. 
 Iain Thornley scores opening Wigan try      PIC : ESPN.COM
Just when the Yorkshire side looked to have come back into the game, after they weathered (no pun intended) the Wigan storm, Iain Thornley then evaded a few weak tackles by the Hull FC players, to stretch over the try line for the Cherries & Whites and give them a lead in the final. Pat Richards kicked over the conversion for the Lancashire side as they led 6-0 and were the certainly the better side in the game.
Wigan had 60% possession in the first half hour of this match, but the scoreboard was telling the full story of this game, as they couldn`t hammer home the advantage. 
Both sets of players were making a lot of errors in this game, a lot due out the slippery condition caused by the rain and the fact the ball must have felt more like a bar of soap to the players, than that of a rugby ball.  
Hull were making more errors than their opponents were in the game. Hull got a bit of a boost when Aaron Heremaia came on for Hull and the New Zealander was using his speed to take on the Wigan defence, as the wet conditions was helping him avoid the tackles.
With a couple of minutes remaining in the half, Hull had to defend another set of six from the Warriors, as Hull were for the most of the first 40, defending in their own half.
Matt Smith tried a drop goal for Wigan from 35 yards out on a soggy Wembley field, however he missed it just as the half time hooter went. 
Hull FC were probably glad of the rest, as Wigan had dominated the half with 63% of the possession and their defence had stood up well to the task of stopping the Cup kings in this game so far.
For the Cherries and Whites of Wigan, they didn`t make the most of the possession they had in the half and should have done more than the one solitary try that they had scored. Though Pat Richards will think they should have had a second one, after his effort was turned down.
Second half started and the Warriors were awarded a penalty early on in the half, when Richard Whiting made a high tackle on a Wigan player, which resulted in  Pat Richards stepping up and kicking over the uprights for a 8-0 scoreline.
Hull you feel needed to respond quickly to get back into this match as they as they beging out played in very trickly and difficult circumstances.
Heremaia then won a penalty for his side, when he received a high tackle from a Wigan player, from that penalty though Danny Tickle knocked on and let Wigan off the hook. 
Hull had a great chance then, when Jamie Shaul broke away from near his own posts to dash past the Wigan defense and as headed towards the Wigan try line, Josh Charnley raced back with a last ditch tackle and robbed him of glory, Charnley produced a great try saving tackle on the Hull FC Full back to keep the opponents scoreless.
An amazing stat that was brought up early in the second half was that, Hull FC had recorded a 97% tackling success rate in this game.
More knock on`s were made by both sides, with the weather playing havoc and contributing to the terrible handling of the ball, as it was getting more and more greasy the ball now from this pesistance rain. 
There was then a nasty incident involving Darrell Goulding, who was knocked out cold when he attempted to tackle Kirk Yeaman and got injured in the process.
Goulding then received lengthy medical attention on the field and was eventually stretched off the field, to both sets of fans clapped him off the Wembley turf.
                                                       
Sam Tomkins scores 2nd Wigan try           PIC BBC SPORTS
Aaron Heremaia then speared Sean O Loughlin and gave Wigan a penalty, to which Pat Richards kicked over to extend the lead to 10-0 and in all honesty, Wigan were victors already really.  Hull FC had struggled to break down the watertight defence of Wigan on a soggy pitch. 
With less than ten minutes remaining, Hull was getting desperate and also was also causing them to make more mistakes due to it as well.
Tom Briscoe then kicked a ball on to chase, as he looked to be in the clear for Hull, but the move resulted in a scrum to the Humberside team, after a knock on by Wigan.
Wigan then was forced to kick out from under their own posts and the kick was fumbled by Daniel Holdworth, which was their 16th error of the game and had the black and whites side of Wembley with a collective head in hands moment.
Hull had four minutes to try and get back into this contest and avoid a hat-trick of losses to Wigan. Then came the knockout blow in the game, as Sam Tomkins scored the match winning try for Wigan, as Tomkins ran onto a ball that was kicked through and the man that, is perhaps destined for parts elsewhere after this season latched on it, out pacing the Hull defenders to score the try that gave Wigan their 19th Challenge cup trophy in their successful history.
VIA: YAHOO SPORTS



Richards then made it 4 from 4 with the boot to make the scoreline 16-0 and with that, the hooter sounded and the players all leapt on Sam Tomkins and celebrated the victory, with Matty Smith of Wigan getting the Lance Todd trophy for being man of the match.



pic via : sports.opera.com





ACES “BUZZING” over victory!

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BELLE VUE ACES          59    –   35         COVENTRY BEES






Belle Vue Aces produced an incredible display last Monday night (12th Aug) as they swatted away the Bees thrashing Coventry 59-35 on Peter Craven Memorial night at Kirksmanshulme Lane.
The evening started off with Brenda Leet, the ex-wife of the late Belle Vue legend who tragically lost his life in a crash up in Edinburgh in 1963. His family gave out special mementos to the riders and club officials of both clubs as they lined up to meet and greet her and Craven`s family on his dedicated night.
Line-ups for the two sides were a bit of patched up, as the travelling Coventry Bees had Polish rider Michal Szczepaniak out injured and used “rider replacement” in place of him, which meant that only reserves and Aaron Summers could take a ride.
For the Aces they picked up a double blow at the weekend, when both reserve pairing of Ales Dryml and Kauko Nieminen got injured.
Finnish rider Kauko Nieminen picked up a knock riding for his Premier League club, while his partner in crime at reserve Czech rider Ales Dryml, he broke his collarbone riding in the European championship in Russia.
Krysztof Kasprzak leads Matej Zagar

That meant Aces management had to bring in two replacements and they did in the form of two ex-Aces, Poole Pirates and Glasgow Tigers rider Josh Grajczonek and Ipswich Witches rider Kevin Doolan came in riding at number 6 and 7 in the side as they helped out their former side.

The opening race of the night saw a shared heat, with another ex-Belle Vue rider in Pole Krzysztof Kasprzak. Kasprzak took the first heat beating off competition from the Aces number one rider, the Slovenian racer Matej Zagar.
In the reserves race Kevin Doolan showed he still knew his way around the Kirky lane circuit, as he took the race win ahead of Bees rider Stuart Robson and team-mate in third position Josh Grajczonek for a 4-2 heat advantage for the home side.
A maximum heat advantage in the next race by Craig Cook and Kevin Wolbert saw the Aces build up a 6 point lead, and when out of form Swedish rider Magnus Zetterstrom was passed by Scott Nicholls on the opening bend, “Zorro” rode back into form when he returned the favour back, as he swooped round Nicholls on the 3rd & 4th bend to pass him back and give the home side another heat win with Doolan taking third spot as the Aces led 16-8 after only 4 heats.


Captain Craig Cook & Kevin Wolbert on way to 5-1

  



                
Heat 5 saw the duo of Cook & Wolbert bang in another maximum win, as they beat the pairing of Robson and Kasprzak which saw the lead stretch to 21-9 in favour of the home side.
In the following race Coventry team manager Gary Havelock, put the double points tactical on Stuart Robson, when Scott Nicholls was considered the better option of the two.  
However Zagar made a hard but fair move on Nicholls, taking him towards the fence and speed off to the front where he held Stuart Robson behind him, with Ulrich Ostergaard chasing the Bees man hard for the whole race. A 4-4 result saw them gain 2 points more, but seemed to be doomed from then on.



Zagar & Zetterstrom chase after KK

HEAT 1 ACES v bees
heat 5 
Heat 13

Belle Vue Aces

1. Matej Zagar – 2 3 3 2 =10
2. Ulrich Ostergaard – 1* 1 3 X =5+1
3. Craig Cook – 2* 2* 3 3 2 =12+2
4. Kevin Wolbert – 3 3 2* 1 =9+1
5. Magnus Zetterstrom – 3 2 3 1* 1* =10+2
6. Josh Grajczonek (G) – 1 1* 0 3 =5+1
7. Kevin Doolan (G) – 3 1 1 2* 1 =8+1




Coventry Bees


1. Krzysztof Kasprzak – 3 0 4^ 3 3 =13
2. Michal Szczepaniak R/R (AS 0 SR 1 SR 2 SR 0)
3. Grzegorz Zengota – 0 3 f 0 =3
4. Aaron Summers – 0 1 0 1 2 0 =4
5. Scott Nicholls – 2 0 1 0 =3
6. Stuart Robson – 2 1 4^ 2 0 1* 2 =12+1
7. Adam Roynon – 0 0 0 0 =0

Pellegrini era off to a FOUR-midable start

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MANCHESTER CITY    4   –  0    NEWCASTLE  UNITED 


( Silva 5, Aguero 22, Toure 50, Nasri 75 )
PIC: YAHOO SPORTS
Monday night saw a new era at the Etihad Stadium begin with the new Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini taking charge of his first competitive game against Newcastle United. Questions over how he would take to the English style of football and could he adapt to the fast pace and high intensity of it. Those questions were answered fully with a fantastic 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Newcastle at the Etihad.
Before the game though, Manchester City showed a nice gesture as they remembered the Late, great German goalkeeping Legend at the Manchester club in Bert Trautmann, who passed away last month aged 89 in Spain. City players donned goalkeeper’s shirts for warm up with “Trautmann 1” on the back of each shirt. They also held a minute’s applause for the City great, with both sets of fans applauding the life of the former German P.O.W, turned goalkeeper.
PIC: THE TELEGRAPH

From kick off it was all Manchester City, the home side started fast out the traps and they nearly took the lead before the 2nd minute of play, when Pablo Zabaleta and Edin Dzeko combined down the City right, before Dzeko put a lovely weighted pass through for new signing Jesus Navas to latch on to. The winger then put an equally nice pass back across goal for Zabeleta to get on to, but the defender miscued and saw the ball fall to his fellow countryman in Sergio Aguero, whose shot was denied by the Newcastle keeper Tim Krul and with Silva`s shot getting blocked in the aftermath, play was cleared away from danger.

City carried on their up tempo style of play as Navas played a great ball to Zabeleta down the City right and a pass found Dzeko who had an effort tipped away by Krul, as the keeper was called upon once again as he got literally fingertips to the ball to stop the home side taking the lead.
Newcastle then created a rare chance in the game, when Hatem Ben Arfa had a blast from outside the area, which saw the ball sail high over Joe Hart bar.
City`s good play eventually brought them a goal to kick start the Pellegrini era off and running, when Edin Dzeko twisted and turned in the Newcastle penalty area before he got to the by line and put a cross in the area that got blocked by Steven Taylor, the deflection fell into the path of Silva was on hand to head home to the far post and give them a 1-0 lead after 5 minutes gone.
City controlled the match from the opening kick off, as the home side played a possession type of game and frustrated the visitors with their pressing all over the pitch too.
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Joleon Lescott put his side under pressure, when he rushed a pass and it went straight to a Newcastle player thankfully for him, nothing happened apart from a foul to the away side.

 Newcastle did find the back of the City net with Ben Arfa putting a through ball to Yoan Gouffran, who rifled it past Joe Hart in the City net. Sadly for him and the geordie army inside the Etihad,  it didn`t count as he was a couple of yards offside. 
The home side had a penalty claim turned down by Match official Andre Marriner, after Yaya Toure was knocked over when he ran onto a little pass by Edin Dzeko inside the Newcastle penalty area, the official`s gave nothing and waved it off.
Lescott then made a great tackle on Ben Arfa, as the Defender made a well timed tackle as stuck a leg out to stop the ball dead and bring it away for a City attack and made up for his earlier mistake.
Edin Dzeko then dragged a shot wide for City, as the Bosnian striker was looking far more menacing than we have seen of him in the premier league, since his arrival from Wolfsburg a couple of seasons ago.
Sergio Aguero then doubled the home side lead on 21 minutes on the board, when good build up play from the back was started off by City Captain Vincent Kompany, he broke up a Newcastle attack in the City half and the Belgian defender then went on a mini run before passing straight up field to Dzeko, whose back heel flick found Aguero and the Argentine ace found the inside of the back post with a terrific goal to beat a despairing Tim Krul who had no chance at all at stopping it.
After the second goal went in, Newcastle seemed to wake up a bit more, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew saw his team have a bit of possession, but they didn`t really do much with it at all.
Dzeko and Yanga-Mbiwa had a little disagreement in the corner, which resulted in them both receiving yellow cards by the referee in a little hangbags. Yanga-Mbiwa had brought down Dzeko and after the foul gave him a little knee to the back to which Dzeko didn`t appreciate and saw both of them argue.
Fernandinho then went into the referee’s book for a cynical foul, with the Brazilian midfielder brigning down Gouffran, then Sissoko went in for Newcastle as he got frustrated by the quick feet of Sergio Aguero and seen him lashed out in frustration. 
The resulting free kick from their new £14.9m summer signing from Seville, saw his ball whipped in from the free kick, with Dzeko just able to reach it as it went out of play. 
City used good ball retention in their play, as they made their opponents at times look foolish as they carved them up.
Newcastle had their first real attempt in the match, with Tiote striking one from outside the area which brought a spectacular save from Joe Hart, when it didn`t look to be going on target.
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City had another penalty claim turned down, when this time round the ball struck Steve Taylor arm from an Aguero shot.
Moments later Taylor was involved in another incident, with his swinging arm clothes lining Aguero on the back of his head with the referee only a few yards away from the incident and Andre Marriner had no hesitation in pulling out the red card from his back pocket and show it to the defender.
In the Second half City just kept a possession based game going, as they used it to wear down their opponents with the extra man advantage counting.
Dzeko almost got a deserved goal in the match, with Aguero`s quick feet getting him free and then put a good cross into the box for the Bosnian striker to head straight at Krul, who denied him a goal with a stretched out save.
Yaya Toure then scored a fantastic free kick on 49 minutes, as the Ivorian midfielder curled one over the wall, beating Krul in the process as extended the lead for a 3-0 scoreline. 
Fernandinho then set up a chance for Silva, when the Brazilian chipped one down field into the penalty area and Silva controlled it beautifully with his right foot and quickly shot with his left foot, as Krul once again came to the rescue for Newcastle.
Jesus Navas was having a great game down the City right and the Spaniard almost set up a 3rd goal for City, when he cut back a pass across goal finding Gael Clichy free, Clichy had his effort blocked as it seems the new winger looks to have hit the ground running already at the Etihad. 
Frenchman Samir Nasri came on for Striker Sergio Aguero halfway through the half as this was Aguero`s first game back this season, as the Argentinian had no pre-season at all for City as he recovered from a injury over the summer.
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City continued the attacks on the Newcastle`s goal and they should have had a fourth, when Toure dinked a ball in to the area that saw the defense leave Krul alone with four blue shirts on goal all go for it and neither made contact as Zabeleta swung his foot at the ball and did an air shot as Krul collected.
Edin Dzeko went close once again with a fiercely low struck drive at the near post with Tim Krul turning it round the post for a corner, another chance went begging for him from a corner, but he couldn`t divert it on net. 
Only dampener on Pellegrini opening night was seeing his Captain Vincent Kompany get injured when he slid in to disposess Ameobi, as he won the ball he pulled his groin and stayed down for treatment, till eventually he walked off down the tunnel unaided. Javi Garcia came on to replace the big Belgian defender at the heart of the Blues defence for the final 20 minutes of the game.



City were always threatening and when a ball was played between two Newcastle defender`s, Samir Nasri jumped on the loose ball as the defence stood still and the Frenchman side footed home to it make it 4-0, you really felt for Tim Krul in the Newcastle net, with his defence hanging him out to dry and couldn`t be blamed for any of the goals conceded, and was easily their best player on the pitch for the black and white stripes.
Dzeko was still searching for a goal to cap off a brilliant performance for the tall Bosnian, but it just wouldn`t happen for him. Another good cross picked out by Jesus Navas found the head of Dzeko but he put it over the bar.
Manuel Pellegrini then swapped one Spanish International for another, when  he decided to bring to an end David Silva evening as the Midfield wizard made way for another signing from Sevilla, in Alvaro Negredo. Negredo was nicknamed the “Beast” in Sevilla and the Beast thought he`d scored on his home debut, only for the linesman to flag him offside, when replays showed he was onside.


The Final whistle blew and Manuel Pellegrini will have been very pleased to get his first win under his belt and would be pleased by the link-up play through-out  his side. Performances by new signings Jesus Navas, Fernandinho and cameo appearance of Alvaro Negredo at the end of the game, will have made the Chilean manager very happy indeed and from this performance they will be a tougher side than last term, with the fantastic display on opening night.


City looked a much hungrier side too than last season as they were criticized for their performances but this was the best they`d played since their championship season and they also dare it say it ..looked a happier and calmer group on the pitch too.
The 4-0 win saw City jump above their cross city rivals in Manchester United by goal difference of 1 and is to far to early to predict anything yet, But the Blue side of Manchester can enjoy being top of the tree after the opening game, and will be hoping to stay there come May too.
Also if your into your omens, the season City won the league, in their opening game of the season they won 4-0 on a monday night game with both Aguero and Silva scoring in the win, however a great start for the new era and they`ll hope to replicate this performance with a tough away game down at newly promoted Cardiff City on Sunday. 



HIGHTLIGHTS via MCFCtv : http://www.mcfc.co.uk/citytv/Match-highlights/2013/August/City-v-Newcastle-Barclays-Premier-League-60-second-highlights#.Uhji7NN2zBk.blogger

Broad steers England to Series win

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Stuart Broad claimed a double 5-wicket haul in the Fourth Test at Durham`s Chester-Le-Street, as England made it an unassailable 3-0 series lead thanks to the sublime bowling of the Nottingham Fast man.
The England bowler`s amazing spell took a game that saw them looking to be on the verge of losing the test match, to winning the game.
Broad produced a bowling spell that was equal to Flintoff`s spell back in the 2005 Ashes series, when Flintoff  torn into the Aussies and turned the game on it`s head just like Broad did in the evening session.
Alistair Cook elected once again too put to his men into bat first on this tricky Chester-le-Street pitch track. England`s Openers found runs very difficult to come by as the pitch was playing pretty slow and wasn`t offering much in the way of bounce for the batsmen and not much to the bowlers either.
It took the 10th over of the Innings for England to finally register their first boundary of the morning, as Joe Root played a pull shot which ran away for four.
Root and Cook were playing very contrasting innings indeed, with Root going for the speedy approach like he was in one day mode, whilst Cook when for the methodical type of innings slow and deliberate.
England lost their first wicket of the day, as Joe Root was out for (16) when a Shane Watson delivery was faintly edged behind to Haddin with the gloves, as it took a review from the Australian`s to get out after Tony Hill, not for the first time in this game made a poor decision, But thanks to DRS the right decision was made and Root departed with England on 34 for 1.
Scoring was becoming attritional, with it being so hard to gain runs on this slow track with the batsmen struggling to find the gap`s in the field and didn`t help at all to build an innings.  
In the Afternoon session England had slowly put on 107 with Cook on 34 and then Jonathon Trott went on (49), as he edged a shot off his pads to the diving Usman Khawaja who took a good catch to remove him from the crease off the bowling of Nathan Lyon.
Kevin Pietersen had looked on course for a good score for England as he had played a careful innings with no ill timed shots, then from nowhere Pietersen nicked one just to the Keeper and he walked off for (26) as England has lost 3 of their opening four batsmen for 149.
Alistair Cook fell shortly after he scored his half century, when Jackson Bird picked up his first Ashes Wicket of his career as he trapped the England Captain lbw for (51), when the Captain was giving out plum as he didn`t play a shot. England`s top order batsmen failed to yet again get in and get a big score on this slow wicket which only offered a bit of spin for Lyon compared to the other bowlers.
Ian Bell then played a poor shot to Ryan Harris of Nathan Lyon bowling, as England`s top batsmen in this series thrown his wicket away for (6) as England were 155 for 5.
Matt Prior poor form continued with the bat when Peter Siddle got the England wicket keeper out for (17) after reviewing an lbw decision that was given not out by Aleem Dar, but the replays suggested it was knocking leg stump out.
Johnny Bairstow went for (14) as the Yorkshireman failed to show his batting prowess once again in this series, as well as his fellow top order batsmen have shown in this series too.
This time it took another review to dislodge the batsman from the crease, when Bairstow attempted a sweep that missed and hit and struck his pads in-line of the stumps. Hawk-eye shown it was just clipping the bails but it was left to the on-field “Umpires call”.
Australia`s bowler`s were crushing England as they shown great patience and perseverance with the ball as it wasn`t doing to much at all , but they seemed to still tear into the England side.
Stuart Broad was out for a duck as he played an awful shot to David Warner off the bowling of Ryan Harris, who grabbed a deserved wicket for all his good bowling  as England were really struggling on 198 for 8.
Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan tried to stem the tide of falling England wickets around them, sadly for the hosts Swann tried to be aggressive and help England get some runs on the board but his Innings came to an end as he scored (13) runs befor he hooked straight to still Nathan Lyon who took the catch and England were 214 for 9.
Australia polished off the England Innings with the 2nd over of the Day 2 ,with Jackson Bird getting James Anderson out for (16) as England were bowled out for 238 in the end.
Australia came to the crease for their First Innings and it didn`t get off to the best of starts for the tourist`s, as Stuart Broad bowled David Warner for (3) as the ball just hit the top of Warner`s off stump to get the Aussie man out.
Usman Khawaja was out for a duck, when he nicked it with the toe end of the bat and it went safely into the gloves of Matt Prior as Australia found themselves 12 for 2 and looking in trouble.
Michael Clarke came and went for (6), with that man Stuart Broad once again making the breakthrough ,as his delivery to the Australia Captain saw him edge to slip in the direction of Cook, who took the catch of his opposite number and Australia were badly struggling in the reply to their hosts as they posted 49 for 3.
Tim Bresnan then got in on the act, when he dispatched Steve Smith for 17 as Smith was indecisive with a Bresnan delivery and edged to the gloves of Prior which saw Australia go four down for 76 and England were going through the Aussies as the Tourists had with the hosts.
England then came unstuck when the partnership between Chris Rogers and Shane Watson saw them move from 76-4 to 205 for 5.
Watson tried to flicked the ball down leg side off a poor delievery by Broad, but it managed to get the Aussie star man out for 68.
Rogers moved nearer his maiden Hundred as he played carefully and blocked a lot of the following deliveries. Rogers finally grabbed a thoroughly deserved Century, when he swept home a Graeme Swann ball to the boundary as he celebrated his first Test hundred.
Rogers had used up his lives, after having a few lucky escapes on a couple of occasions despite being given not out by the clueless umpires noticeably, Tony Hill.
England Captain Alistair Cook asked for a review and it shown a feint mark on the glove on hotspot which saw Prior take the catch to dismiss him for a wonderful 110.
Peter Siddle was next to leave the crease as James Anderson grabbed a wicket thanks to the safe hands of Alistair Cook in the slips, which saw him leave on 5. Anderson took his second wicket as he trapped Nathan Lyon lbw for 4, before Ryan Harris went for 28 which gave Stuart Broad another wicket, only after overturning a Tony Hill not out decision, which led to Cook asking for the review and the replay shown he was plumb lbw.
The players saw the replay and had started to walk off the field , while Hill just stood on his own out in the middle and had to overturn the decision and it shown he was inept on Umpiring and something that ICC should look into.
Australia finished up on 279 All Out and a lead of 32 as England kicked off their 2nd Innings of the match.
England needed a good platform on which to bat on in their 2nd Innings as they knew they needed to have a score in mind as to what to defend in the 4th Innings of the match when Australia batted.
Australia started with the wickets tumbling, when Ryan Harris bowled out of form Joe Root out for 2, the Captain Alistair Cook went for 22 when he played at a ball that he should have left alone from Harris, but the England Captain tickled the ball to Haddin and the Hosts were 42-2 or 10 for 2 in other terms.
Things got better for the tourists, when Jonathon Trott went for 23 after a deflection off his glove was taken by Haddin off the bowling of Harris once again, it seemed the Aussies were in full control now of England, not for the first time was the upper order failing to score and capitulate again.
Kevin Pietersen was playing a good important Innings for England when he and Ian Bell mounted a recovery operation to repair the damage done to the top order mainly by Ryan Harris.
Pietersen then had a usual rush of blood and seen him take on spinner Nathan Lyon too much and it cost him as the Spinner got the wicket of Pietersen, when he found Rogers at cover to take the catch and he when for 44, and had put his side back in trouble as the score was 155-4 and more importantly a lead of 123.
Once again the Umpires tried to spoil the match, when they got together and decided the light was so bad that they took the players off for Bad light, which was so bad that that came back on to the field in under 2 minutes. The farce had players shaking their collective heads, fans made their feelings known with booing and the commentators went ballistic with the officials looking weak and stupid with their decision making, which has been poor all series in all honesty.
Play got back underway and 30 minutes later, Johnny Bairstow wasted another chance of a good score when he edged behind from Nathan Lyon spinning delivery and he went for 28.
Ian Bell scored his third century of the series before we reached the end of Day 3, Bell had played a very controlled and thought out innings which helped England to reasonable lead so far into their second Innings. The England batsmen came in at 49-3 with the top order struggling to fire once again and gain a decent score between them as England closed on 221/5.
Bell returned to the crease alongside Tim Bresnan on Day 4 with the two batsman adding 30 runs on to the overnight score. This day would become an unforgettable day for England players and fans alike ,though  it looked like a pipe dream as the majority of the day seemed to be favouring the Australian`s as they had victory in their hands.  
Ian Bell lost his wicket to Ryan Harris after the Aussie bowler produced a great low cutting ball to finally remove the Warwickshire man as he got a standing ovation back  to the changing room for 113.
Matt Prior carried on his miserable series with the bat as his off stump was knocked out the ground for 0 and Harris was on a hat-trick now. 
Stuart Broad came to the crease and made a little cameo appearance scoring a quick fire 13 runs from 7 balls when Ryan Harris bowled one that Broad tried to fend off from hitting his throat and despite leaning to avoid it hitting his head, he had it hit the bat`s handle and loop up in the air and collected by Steve Smith which saw England struggling as they were aiming for a lead of 300. 
Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann played a key partnership in the Innings for the hosts, with the two tail-enders keeping the scoreboard ticking as both played adventurous knocks for England, with them bailing the batsmen out once again in this series and not necessarily with the ball either.
Tim Bresnan fell eventually for 45, as the Yorkshireman tried to hit the ball back down the ground but found Harris hand instead and took a very good reaction catch to bring his Innings to an end with England on 317 for 9.
Graeme Swann was then dropped by Steve Smith in the fiels, when Swann tried to smash it and instead the ball went high up in the air and as it came down let the ball fall to the ground to the delight of the Durham crowd and to utter disdain by his Captain Michael Clarke and his fellow team-mates.
Swann carried on regardless and scored a few more runs till Australia wrapped up the England Innings as they got James Anderson out, when the Lancastrian feathered a shot behind to Haddin for a duck and seen Swann finished on 30 not out. 
State of play was easy; Australia had to chase down 299 for victory, to chalk up a win in this disappointing series for the touring Aussies.
Australia went about their run chase very well indeed as they reached 35-0 when Chris Rogers was dropped by Swann in the slips as it had looked a better option for Cook to take the catch till Swann dived across him and knocked it to the floor.
The Aussies reached 50-0 as England`s bowlers were looking down and out while being hit all over the ground by the batsman as they looked to chase down a reasonable target.
Despite England begging and pleading to the umpires to give the batsmen out, the umpires were much like the Australian batsmen had become, which was unmoved.
This difficult run chase was looking fairly easy for the Australian`s as they reached 101 for no wicket till they finally made a breakthrough, when Graeme Swann got the wicket of Chris Rogers with a delivery that had Rogers trying to force one down leg side, but instead edged it to Trott in the slips and the players were hoped this would kick start the collapse now with Rogers going for 49.
Swann grabbed his second wicket as he got rid of Usman Khawaja plumb lbw for 21, when the batsman missed the full delivery pitch by the Spinner and England needed their bowlers to give it last push along with Swann who was the only bowler getting these vital wickets.
David Warner became the third man to go when he scored a good knock of 71 and this could have been the key wicket for the hosts. As he looked to have the magic touch for Australia and with him gone it could spark a England rally towards victory as the tourist`s were 168 for 3 now.
Stuart Broad thought he had got the wicket of Steve Smith but Tony Hill gave not out, as he shook his head to the appeal of the fast bowler.
Broad was highly convinced he had him and Cook decided to review the decision which looked more like a case of hope and pray than one of serious credibility. Captain Cook called for a review using up his side last review, replays shown it was a poor review to use it on and saw England use up all their review`s via Broad optimistic shout.
Over the last couple of years, When England have needed wickets at difficult and desperate times the bowlers have normally come up with the goods and this was be no different.
Stuart Broad produced a great ball to bowl Michael Clarke out for 21, as it angled in hitting his off stump to make the game hang in the balance and the wicket now instilled belief and confidence to the England team as the wicket was the catalyst of what proved to be an amazing session for Broad and England.
Broad still buoyed by his wicket of Clarke moment before, had Steve Smith out when Smith attempting a hook shot mistimed it, with the ball hitting his hip and then onto his stumps as he went for 2 and had Chester-le-Street come alive and the atmosphere was electric now with Australia on 175 for 5.
Things got better and better for England, when Tim Bresnan got his second of the Innings when his ball to Watson swung in and hit his pad in front of the wickets and looked out. The Umpire agreed and gave him out, but Watson reviewed it and the replay`s shown it was clipping the stump and so he went for 2.




Stuart Broad came back into the attack as he was on fire now as he trapped Brad Haddin lbw, but Haddin used his sides last review on it. Replay`s again saw Hawkeye show it was hitting the top of the bails and so Haddin departed for 4 as Australia were imploding now as they went from 147 /2 to 181 for 7. 
England were in full control now as Australia seemed to have thrown away a great chance of victory with their inexplicable batting performance, saw them from massive favourites of winning this test match to now being on the verge of losing this test match.
England had all but now got both hands on the little Urn and that grip tightened even more when Broad once again weaved his magic on the Australian`s, when the Nottinghamshire bowler got Ryan Harris out for 11 with yet another lbw decision and Australia were in turmoil as they were 199 for 8.
England still managed to show their flaws despite shredding Australian apart, when they put down two chances off the batting of Nathan Lyon.
First off was Graeme Swann putting him down at Second slip off Broad who gave his team mate a death stare over it and then Broad put one down himself with the very next ball from his own delivery.
Broad completed his 5-fer, as he bowled full and straight at Lyon with the tail ender unable to deal with the delivery as he went for 8 and Australia were 211 for 9 with one wicket remaining now.
The end was nigh now for the Australian`s, with only bad light that could now spoil this match. But those thoughts disappeared quickly when the sun stretched out across the pitch and there was no danger of going off now as everything was set up for England to win the series, they took up the option of the extra half hour available to see if they could get a result in that time. 
Matt Prior then summed up his series in one move, when a certain run out chance fell to the wicket keeper who would normally would take the catch and whip the bails off. However this series hasn`t been great for him and he made a complete and utter mess of a run-out when Bird was stranded miles out of his crease as he was almost still in another county, by the time Prior proceeded to fumbled the ball from a good throw by Bairstow and he just couldn`t collect the ball and a chance went begging.
Then at 19:40pm on the clock, Peter Siddle who had been playing a very entertaining knock for Australia, got a ball from Broad that saw the batsman chip it up in the air for the forgotten man in these past two test matches for England in James Anderson and the Lancashire man caught it and launched it back up high in the air to start the celebration, with England winning an unlikely test match and take an unbelievable 3-0 series lead heading into the final test match in London at the Brit Oval for a chance of a 4-0 series win possibly.

Man of the Match was surprise, surprise fast bowler Stuart Broad who took 11 wickets for 121 and posted the best figures for an England bowler since Phil Tuffnell when the spinner took 11 wickets for 93 back in the 1997 Ashes series. 




England LEAD Australia 3-0 



Teams from the Past: AYR SCOTTISH EAGLES

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The AYR SCOTTISH EAGLES


It is hard to believe that it was only 10 years ago when the Ayr Scottish Eagles ice hockey team last took flight on the Ice, and played their final game at the Braehead Arena back in 2002 and Last in Ayr at the old Centrum Arena in Prestwick, South Ayrshire.



The Scottish Eagles were introduced to the newly created ISL (Ice hockey Super League) back in the summer of 1996 where it featured the best teams around at that time and mostly arena sides too. It was hoped and tried that ISL could challenge the popular leagues in Europe and muscle in on the Hockey nations, like the DEL in Germany, the Elitserien in Sweden and the SM-Liiga in Finland.


Ayr was a founder member of the new league which boasted well established clubs already in British Ice hockey circles, with the likes of the Nottingham Panthers, Basingstoke Bison, Cardiff Devils, Bracknell Bees, the Newcastle Cobras formerly Warriors, before they began their constant name changing over the next couple of seasons. Also had the current League and Playoff champions of the old Premier League division the Sheffield Steelers along with Ayr, they were also joined by up starting team in the Manchester Storm.


Ayr played out of the old Centrum Arena which was run by the Barr Leisure Ltd, of which was a subsidiary of the Barr Holdings Ltd. So from the 1st September 1996, Ice Hockey was played out of Ayr for the first time in 4 years, since the demise of the Ayr Raiders at the old Ayr ice Rink.
The South Ayrshire side would also be sponsored by the Barr Construction Company who which would carry on their sponsoring of the team, till the day the club sadly folded.
The inaugural season of the brand new Superleague, saw the newly formed Scottish Eagles finish an impressive 3rdplace in the table under the experienced head coach of Jim Lynch.


It featured also an ugly incident during their opening season, with Ryan Kummu being suspended for 6 games for fighting Manchester Storm Forward Hilton Ruggles in the Manchester penalty box.  As the pair had clashed prior to the incident and both players had been sat in the box serving 4 minutes for their actions. Kummu wasn`t finished with Ruggles yet and so his actions cost him a chance to play in the B+H Cup Final against the Nottingham Panthers, which they would go onto lose 5-3 because of it.



The season also saw the Scottish Eagles play out an incredible Playoff Semi-final encounter at the Nynex Arena (now Manchester Arena) against their bogey team the Nottingham Panthers. It saw the game head into 6 overtime periods, before finally losing out to a shorthanded effort by future Eagles player Jeff Hoad. It had took  115 minutes and 49 seconds and the Sixth Overtime period for the Panthers to advance to the Playoff finals, this would become something of an immerging pattern to Ayr at Playoff weekend`s.




In the 1997-98 season, the Ayr Scottish Eagles tried to put the disappointment of the agonising playoffs semi final heartbreak out of their minds. But at the same time spur them on for the upcoming season and try to launch an attack on all silverware available to them, as Lynch had strengthen up his team as they looked more solid too than in their first season in existence.


Jim Lynch brought in netminder Rob Dopson, of who had played 4 games for the NHL side the Pittsburgh Penguins and both he and Colum Cavilla would share netminding duties in the Eagles nets.
Jeff Hoad the player that broke Eagles hearts with his strike against them in the playoff semi was signed up in defense, along with Shawn Byram as the Canadian forward more than made his presence felt on the ice.
Dino Bauba from Lithuania signed for the Scottish side from the Kingston Hawks with Dennis Purdie and centre Karry Biette flying in for the Eagles too.


Ayr shown they meant business, when they took the first silverware of the season on offer. When they beat the Cardiff Devils 2-1 to lift the B&H Cup at the Sheffield Arena and also seen they avenge their 5-3 lost to the Nottingham Panthers in the final the previous season.
They then added trophy number 2 to their honours list, as they beat the Bracknell Bees at the Telewest Arena in Newcastle edging their opponents 3-2 to claim the Challenge Cup.


Better things were to come for the men from South Ayrshire, as they added the Super league championship title to their ever growing trophy cabinet up at the Centrum Arena, With the Scottish Eagles beating off a strong challenge by the Manchester Storm to win by Three clear points which saw them lift the league title.


As April came around it meant was playoff time again and a chance for the Eagles to win the GRAND SLAM and erase last year`s playoffs from memory.
The only thing stopping them from a Grand Slam was the Cardiff Devils in the playoff final at the MEN Arena in Manchester. But Ayr was no mood to allow Cardiff to stop them on their quest of the Grand Slam, as ironically it was an Overtime goal by Shawn Byram that saw the Ayr Scottish Eagles complete a Historic Grand Slam for the Scottish club.
The win made up for last year, after losing out to an Overtime winner in the semi finals last season and this year an overtime winner saw their fan celebrate instead.


The Eagles also picked up two awards too, as Jim Lynch was named Coach of the Year, while Player of the Year went to Rob Dopson for his fantastic goal tending over the season which saw him help his side to sweep the board. 
So the Eagles had officially Landed and stamped their authority on British ice hockey for the 97-98 season.


In 98-99 season, the once high flying Eagles had now had their wings clipped, as the league champions finished a disappointing 5th place in the league table, which saw them also unable to retain their B+H Cup. As once again they were beaten by their bogey team in finals the Nottingham Panthers, as they went down 2-1 at the Sheffield Arena.



They failed also to make the cut for the Express Challenge Cup now Named Challenge Cup, as the Sheffield Steelers pipped them by a solitary point in the group stages to see them lose out on defending their trophy.



It was the same story too in the playoffs, with the Eagles coming up short in qualifying for the Playoffs weekend and seen them miss out for the first time in their short history, as they missed out by 2 points in their playoff group.
It wasn`t all bad news for the men from Ayrshire as they did have a couple of highlights in their European Hockey League adventures.



Especially as the Scottish Eagles beat Czech Republic champions Chemopetrol Litvinov 4-3 and also beat the Russian side AK Bars Kazan both at home and away, with score lines of 4-2 and 3-1 in their group. They did however succumb to the Eagles from the German DEL league, in the form of Alder Mannheim losing 6-3 & 6-5.




Ayr finished for the second season in 5th place during the 1999-2000 season, The Scottish Eagles had signed up a fellow country man and top British points scorer in the Sekonda Superleague, in the form of one Tony Hand from the Sheffield Steelers.
Also brought in to the squad this particular season, was Canadian trio of Yves Heroux, Eric Murano and Cam Bristow.
Not forgetting also the added muscle they brought in as they signed Enforcer Rob Trumbley, who by his standards had a pretty quiet season in the Penalty Minutes column. As the forwards had posted only 72 penalty minutes in his single season at the Centrum Arena.

Yves Heroux and Eric Murano put up impressive numbers in their first season up in Scotland, With Heroux posting 18 Goals and 25 Assists while his fellow Canadian team mate in Murano had numbers of 18 goals and 15 Assists to his name, as the Eagles also secured a playoff berth with Ayr finishing behind the Sheffield Steelers in their respective Playoff group. The 2nd placed finish in the group, saw them take on the London Knights of who had destroyed the Eagles previously in the B+H Cup Semi Final inflicting a 7-1 thrashing to Ayr in the process.




Ayr Lost out to London once again, with yet another overtime winner proving the difference and denying the Scottish side a place in the Playoff final for the seconds straight season, as they went fell at the hands of the Knights 2-1.




In the 2000 – 01 season, Ayr finished in their now all too familiar finishing position of 5th place once again. The league had expanded even more now and this season saw the inclusion of Northern Ireland getting a franchise with the Belfast Giants being welcomed into the Superleague family.



Ayr  had suffered a mixture of fortunes in their Cup runs ,as in the Challenge Cup the Scottish Eagles manage to get revenge on the London Knights. With the Scottish club beating the Docklands Arena club 8-7 on aggregate after they had tied the first leg of the Semi final 5-5 up in Ayr, with them then winning in the English Capital 3-2. The resulting final saw the Eagles take on the Sheffield Steelers, but losing out as they lost 4-2 in the Challenge cup final.



In the B+H Cup they were knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage of the competition, by the Newcastle Jesters. With as the Jesters winning 5-4 overall in the two legs.
Ayr then made it through to the Playoff weekend once again, as they came through their group to finish 2ndwith the Bracknell Bees topping the group.
In the Semi Final thought, they came up against the London Knights and the Knights won 4-1 to condemn the Eagles to yet more Semi final misery in the playoffs finals.




Ayr found themselves playing in an imploding Superleague in the 2001-02 season, As the Cardiff Devils and Newcastle Jesters had dropped out of the league due to money problems and the league was in a complete mess around this time.


However for Ayr it wasn`t all that bad of a season for them to be honest, As the Eagles finally snapped the streak of finishing in 5th position, with the Scottish Eagles soaring to  ther best finish since 1997 with 2ndplace. Ayr also qualified for the Challenge Cup final, where they overcame the Nottingham Panthers 7-4 on Aggregate in the Semi finals to set up a meeting with the Belfast Giants.



In that corresponding final, the Eagles flown to victory, as they crushed the Giants. Shutting them out them 5-0 to lift some silver wear for the first time since their Grand Slam season back in 1997.
 Ayr`s semi finals curse came back yet again, as this time the Manchester Storm was the side to stop the Eagles reaching the final. The Storm beat the Scottish Eagles in the semis by the score of 2-1 and the following season for both clubs would be disastrous.



The 2002-03 season turned out to be the final season of existence for the Eagles. As the side headed away from Ayr to the new confines of the Braehead Arena in Renfrewshire, just outside of Glasgow.
The owner of the Eagles Bill Barr announced to the media the relocation of the side moving from Ayr to Glasgow. Due to the move the “Ayr” part of the clubs name was dropped and the “Scottish Eagles” name was just used.




The reason for the move was seen as, Braehead had a larger seating capacity and had a bigger catchment area, in which to increase the fan base of the Scottish club.
So on November 14th 2002, after only Six games played out of the Braehead Arena, the Scottish Eagles hockey side was no more and folded. This saw an end to having a Scottish team play in the top flight of British Ice Hockey, as the league soon collapsed after with only 5 clubs finishing the season off after Manchester folded as well.





It brought down the curtain on the Ayr Scottish Eagles as a club after a 6 year stint, and although short lived it was certainly a roller coaster ride for those fans of the Green & Orange Clan from South Ayrshire, and one side that will certainly not be forgotten either in Hockey circles too.




There was a few downs but a lot of ups to for the Eagles fans to remember, As over their short successful period in the top flight they had big crowds and played in what was the hay day of British Ice Hockey, the likes of which, we will never see again on these shores.






Weather halts Aussies as England “Rain” continues

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SCOREBOARD SAYS IT ALL.  via BBC SPORTS

Manchester rain brought an early end to the final day`s play in Third Test match at Old Trafford, as continuous rain overnight and heavy downpours through the day brought the match to a conclusion and saw the match end up a draw.
Australia had the edge in the contest before play was halted as they were looking likely to win the test match, having got England batsmen out fairly cheaply in their second innings as they tried to chased down 332 to take a 3-0 series lead.
It all started with Michael Clarke winning the toss for Australia on yet another warm and baking day in this Ashes series. Clarke had decided on batting first on a hard batting wicket which looked like it would do something for the bowlers too on a traditional test pitch at Old Trafford.
Australia made a couple of changes to their squad in this important test, Mitchell Starc returned to the line up alongside Spinner Nathan Lyon who replaced Ashton Agar in the team.
Also included in this test match was the surprise inclusion of controversial batsman David Warner. This was the first time he had face he faced England and come up against Joe Root since his infamous nightclub brawl, which resulted in him throwing a punch at the Young England player back in June during the Champions Trophy tournament in England.
Australia wanted to show that they were “foes not foils” in this Ashes series and they started off very well as Chris Rogers was hitting the England bowlers all over the Old Trafford pitch, with Shane Watson adding runs slowly as he tried to play his way into the innings.
Watson became the first to depart for the Aussies, after the opener edged to Alistair Cook in the slips from a teasing ball by Tim Bresnan and Watson headed back for (19).
It wasn`t too long before Australia found themselves two down in their Innings after yet more controversy with DRS in this series.




Usman Khawaja was given out on (1) for apparently edging behind off the bowling of Graeme Swann and England appealed to which the umpire agreed raising his finger for him being out.
Khawaja instantly asked for a review and with replays showing he missed it by a good distance and as there was nothing on hotspot to show he had made any contact with it, the 3rd umpire Kumar Dharmasena inexplicably didn`t overturn the decision, much to the amazement of Khawaja as the Australian batsman was not very happy at the 3rd umpire and was in shock and disgruntled over his decision, as well he might.
 
Michael Clarke came to the crease with the Aussies on 82-2, and with fans of the green and gold hoping that this wouldn`t become another all too familiar scenario of the Tourists losing wickets in clumps and giving England the advantage, for them they would be far happier this time. 
pics via ECB.com
Chris Rogers and the Australian Captain put on 47 runs between them as both players made a solid Partnership to build upon for the innings, with Clarke determined to try and get into form and lead by example in this test as he wanted his men to put pressure on the England Bowlers this time round. 
Rogers then fell on (84) to Swann lbw as a full delivery by the England spinner saw the ball straighten up in line and hit his pads dead in line with the wickets. Rogers walked down the pitch to ask his Captain if he should review the decision, but after a brief talk he walked back to the pavilion.
Michael Clarke was then joined by Steve Smith at the crease, as the two batsmen put on a batting master class which saw the England bowlers looking lost and running out of ideas on how to stop the pair scoring runs. The pair racked up a partnership of 214 as they had the bowlers out in the middle toiling in the heat as they played magnificent strokes to all corners of the ground.
Both Australians passed their Half-Centuries with ease and looked on course to convert their 50`s to 100`s, much was the way they carried themselves at the crease with their temperament.
Sadly for Steve Smith he played a shot that looped right up in the air and was taken by Johnny Bairstow in the field, as Swann bowling had finally removed one of the batsmen and saw Smith head off for (89) as England broke the partnership up, with Australia on 343-4 and finally finding some form with the bat in this series.
England`s pantomime Villain then took to the pitch, as the announcement of David Warner coming into bat was met with loud Boo`s ringing from all round the ground(apart from those in Yellow) as it was safe it say he wasn`t Mr. Popular with the England fans.
via ECB.com
Warner played a little cameo innings as he had gone the way of most of his team mates had, with him given out for lbw. Warner shook his head to claim he hadn`t hit it and then after a little talk with Clarke, saw the Controversial Warner ask for a review on the dismissal.
Replays shown he got quite a bit of the ball and as the replay`s had shown that the locals weren`t very impressed with Warner  at all, as Cheers from the crowd was met with very loud lingering boo`s as the decision came up on the big screen and confirmed he was out, with the jeering England fans booing him off the pitch much like how he entered the fray.
via ECB.COM
Another handy partnership for the “Baggy Green`s” saw Brad Haddin join Clarke and together they pushed the Tourists score along nicely as the only bowler to find any joy for England, was Graeme Swann.
Michael Clarke played a captain`s Innings as he was eventually bowled by Stuart Broad for a magnificent (187) and shown he had made some form in this test match, much like his side had done too. 
Peter Siddle came to the crease and Swann bowled the Australian pace man out with Siddle trying to attempt a big slog , which saw the spin deceived him and sent the bails flying up, as he went for (1).
Mitchell Starc came in and scored a good innings of 66 Not out while Brad Haddin finished on 65, with Michael Clarke declaring his teams Innings on 527 for 7.
England`s response to the Australian Innings was one of a nervous one early on, With the openers playing a cautious game to start with indeed. Joe Root played a very slow methodical start to his innings and we saw an unusual sight of Cook taking an adventurous route to his Innings, as Cook was in his early 20`s before Root eventually got off the mark. 
The careful Innings England was playing, was seemingly overly careful as Joe Root feathered a shot into the gloves of Brad Haddin from a great delivery by Peter Siddle which saw the Yorkshireman go for 8.
Tim Bresnan then came in as Night-watchman to bat the final couple of Overs out for the hosts as they wanted to come back the next day and have a good go.
We then had a bizarre incident when England lost their Second wicket, after Tim Bresnan went for (1) when Bresnan attempted a pull shot off Siddle bowling and as the Australians appealed , the umpires finger went up to signal he was out.
 Bresnan looked lost for a minute and consulted with Cook over whether he should review it or not, in the end the England man decided to walk and as it turned out it was the wrong decision.
Replays shown that he didn`t hit the ball at all and that hot spot shown clearly the ball flicked his trousers and went behind, so England or Bresnan as it was made an error not reviewing the wicket for England and left them in a bit of bother with the score at 49-2. 
Jonathon Trott was the next victim with Ryan Harris removing him, thanks to his Captain taking the catch as he edged to Clarke at slips as the Warwickshire man went for (5).
via theguardian.com
Alastair Cook carried on his Innings, as he went past his Half Century and looked to have helped England on the road back to recovery, as they were 71-3.
England then suffered a blow as Cook was out, as he got a little nick down leg side and Haddin took a flying catch one handed and in the process put England Deep in trouble now, with Cook returning to the changing room after scoring (62).
Kevin Pietersen was coming into form now as he was playing beautiful with this pitch being deemed tailor-made for the batsmen to score on on the batting strip at Old Trafford. 
Pietersen went into one day mode as he made a couple of sixes in succession as he slogged two sixes off the bowling of Nathan Lyon and seen him bring up his 50 and 32nd Test Match Fifty of his career.
Shane Watson was bowling and one of his deliveries flicked Pietersen on the pads a long way down the batting track, Australia didn`t know whether to appeal to not. In the end they didn`t and it proved to be costly as the replay showed it was hitting Pietersen stumps and should have been out.
Clarke looked up to the Australian changing room and saw coach Darren Lehman walk to the balcony and give the finger to say he was out after he saw the replay. The look on Clarke face said it all, as he looked dejected from the news and the Tourists became frustrated over it with, Watson showing that publicly.
As a blocked delivery came to Watson in his temper picked it up and threw it past Pietersen and drew a reaction from the England fans as it showed the Aussies had been temporarily put off their game plan as sarcastic cheers also came from the England faithful in the stands.
pic from yahoo sports
England then lost Ian Bell for (60) after Ryan Harris bowled the Warwickshire batsman, dislodging his stumps and resulting in England losing their 5th wicket as they were 225 for 5 and trailing by 302 runs, Bell had looked comfortable at the crease and assured too until that point.
England was thankful that Kevin Pietersen was still out in the middle as without him and his big hundred, England would be in complete disarray. 
Johnny Bairstow was partnering Pietersen in the middle, yet the Yorkshireman never looked settled at all at the crease and his dismissal came as no surprise.  Starc had been bowling well for the Aussies and his rewards was met with getting Bairstow out, as he just chipped it up in the air as he gave his wicket away cheaply for (22).
Then at 280, a Mitchell Starc ball trapped Pietersen in front of his stumps as he missed a straight one going on and as soon as the ball struck him, he knew he had to review the decision as he was the last of the recognised batsmen in the side and was the most valuable player too.
Replay`s shown the ball was hitting his middle stump and meant that England were 7 down and were 247 behind now, England needed to scored 328 still as they looked to avoid the follow-on being forced on them, as it was a certainty that Michael Clarke would enforce it on the hosts if they didn`t reach the target.
Stuart Broad and Matt Prior combined to make sure England passed the Follow on score and then they guided England on a bit past that total, before shortly after Broad fell on (32) as he feathered a Lyon delivery behind to Haddin who took it in the gloves and Broad walked with England on 338 for 8.
Graeme Swann survived a dropped catch, but that was brief let off as not long after that he edged one behind as he went for (11) and England were 9 down for 354 and 173 runs behind.
Peter Siddle then got rid of Matt Prior on (30) with a top edge by Prior as his shot looped up high in the air for David Warner to take the simplest of catches and bring an end to the England 1st Innings , as they were all out for 368 and Australia had a lead of 159 going into their 2nd Innings.
BEER SNAKE by the England fans !! pic from yahoo
Australia played a fairly aggressive Second Innings, as they hoped to build a big total that could tease England into chasing down the total. Michael Clarke and Australia also had to be wary of the Weather too, as the reports for day 5th were looking very gloomy indeed as it was predicted bad weather would dominate Day 5, So they knew they had to knock the runs fairly briskly and put England into bat. 
Australia in their 2nd Innings found themselves 99-3 after Rogers edged to a diving Matt Prior behind for (12), David Warner went for (41) after he tried to hook a Tim Bresnan bouncer and the ball was caught by a diving…JOE ROOT of all people!
Usman Khawaja was then bowled around his legs by Swann for (24) as England were taking finally taking wickets on this pitch, but it also had a bit to do with the way the Aussies were batting too. 
Shane Watson went for (18) as he tried to take on Bresnan and managed to direct it down to third man where Kevin Pietersen was waiting and caught him out, as the score now moved to 103-4 with a lead of 262.
Four became five as a mix up between Michael Clarke and Steve Smith brought a run out, as Tom Craddock a substitute fielder collected the ball down at third man and threw it towards Matt Prior, he then saw Smith and Clarke mess up for a single and Prior threw the ball down the other end where James Anderson collected and smashed the wickets as Smith was run out for (19). 
England continued to pressure the Australian batsmen, as the Aussies tried to pile on the runs ahead of the England run chase and saw Brad Haddin go for (8) as his effort went high up in the air and saw Broad take the catch.
gloomy weather at Old Trafford   via yahoosports.
Mitchell Starc became the Seventh wicket to go down for Australia. As he connected on the toe end of the bat and saw it loop up to Swann for the easiest catch of the game, as Starc went for (11) and Australia was 172 for 7 with a lead of 331.
Then came another incident involving the umpires, as the two officials got together and had a word with Alastair Cook and made a spinning movement to him to say that where they going to use “Spin bowling or fast bowling?”.
Cook wasn`t going to play spin, so the umpires took the players off the pitch for bad light much to Michael Clarke dismay and anger at the sides going off.
Clarke remonstrated with the umpires about the decision and was fuming with the decision as despite the floodlights turned on and it not that gloomy.
Play was abandoned as the Manchester rain poured down on and off for the rest of the 4th day and so we headed into an interesting Day 5 of play. 
Day 5 came and due to the terrible weather overnight and early morning rain around Old Trafford it led to Australia declaring and setting England 332 for victory.
There was a tinge of blue sky just above the ground before the first ball was bowled and it seemed it would help England with the sunshine trying to come out.
In the first over Disaster struck England as Cook was out lbw.
Cook decided to review it though it was pretty much certain it was going on to hit as it was plum in front of the wickets and it wasn`t a great start at all for the Hosts.
Things got worse as Trott tickled a ball down leg side off Ryan Harris and it nestled into the gloves of Haddin as Trott headed back for (11) with England struggling at 15-2. 
VIA yahoosports.com
The Aussies were in complete control of the game now, Michael Clarke dropped a Root which could have been a crucial point of the game, as England were in trouble and the players seemed to have a half hearted approach to it. The England side seemed to have consigned themselves already to not playing due to the weather before the days play and so struggled to get their game heads on. 




We then had yet another incident involving the umpires and DRS.
The incident revolved around Kevin Pietersen being given out by Tony Hill after Brad Haddin appealed following a Siddle delivery to which Haddin took.  Pietersen stood firm as the umpire raised the finger to Pietersen dismay, he then asked for the dismissal to be reviewed as the England Batsman was not impressed at all with the decision.
After replays showed no evidence of being edged on hot spot, however there was a noise on the microphone on the stump. Yet the 3rd umpire thought there enough evidence to keep with the umpire’s decision.
via BBC SPORT
Decision came up on big screen and much to the joy of the Australians the umpire gave Pietersen out and the England batsman was absolutely furious with the decision as he muttered and vented his anger as he left the field, shaking his head and muttering in frustration over it too, That meant England were 27-3 as Pietersen departed for 8.
The match then descended into a stop start game as the rain came down and continued to fall as the side took lunch while the rain fell and continued to fall. Play lasted 3 balls as on the third ball, Ian Bell took a nasty hit to his right thumb from the bowling of Peter Siddle as the Warwickshire man got the ball loop up at him as it evaded the slip catchers and Bell ran for 2 runs, before getting treatment and then the rain fell and unfortunately would continue to rain for the rest of the afternoon session and with the weather as it was. It looked highly unlikely we would get much play in at all.
Ecb.com
Time passed by and at 16:50pm, the news filtered through to the media that the game was called off for rain and in the process saw England Retain the Ashes for this series at least, and England will know that they were let off massively by the British weather.
As this test shown Australia look to have found their batting mojo again and England`s Top order batsman desperately need to work on their batting to rediscover their own form, as they have let the side down in this series as the bowlers have got them out of jail too much over the past couple of series.
We now travel up north to the North East of England and in particular Chester-le-Street in Durham for the Fourth Test Match, as England will hope to make amends for their performance and try to make the series 3-0 and not stop their opponents from having any chance or letting them in the series and draw the series too.


England lead series 2-0 & retain the Ashes.







Audi Cup 2013: City punish Milan, But Lose out to Bayern in final

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 Last week saw the AUDI Cup played over a two day tournament, with all games being played out of the Allianz Arena in Munich. The tournament featured the Champions League winners Bayern Munich hosting with fellow teams, Sao Paulo from Brazil, A.C Milan of Italy and Manchester City of England in this pre-season tournament.



Opening match of the 2013 Audi Cup pitted Italian Giants AC.Milan against Manchester City. This would be Manuel Pellegrini first taste of top class opposition after their recent Victory in the Premier League Asia trophy.
City went with a 3-4-3 formation against Milan as Stevan Jovetic was given his first start in a Manchester City shirt.
 Pellegrini played his whole squad in this tournament, as he played one half for this game and the other half in the 2nd game, against whoever it may be in the 3rd/4thplayoff or the Final.
Edin Dzeko was the main striker for Man City, as he had played well so far in these pre-season games and hoped to continue his form on in this pre season tournament ahead of the Premier League season in 3 weeks time.
The men from Manchester started off very strongly against their opposition, As Milan were missing key men in their sidem, But take nothing away from City;  they were very dominate in the opening 32 minutes of the first half as they torn and shredded Milan apart.
It took City just 3 minutes on the board before they scored, as ex-Fiorentina striker Jovetic volleyed the ball towards Spanish midfielder David Silva and the Spanish midfielder put home for 1 – 0 lead to the side donning a new Black and grey halved shirt.
Milan were struggling to deal with City`s pace and power in attack as they were made to look stupid, as City jumped on ever single mistake that Milan made in midfield or in defense.
Stevan Jovetic had a chance to extend the lead for the Blues, as he was given possession by the AC defense and the striker just flashed a shot wide of the far post as they were looking the far more potent side in this match than AC were.

Via: mcfc.co.uk
City was breaking down Milan with ease as they were getting round the back of Italian defense far too easy for AC Milan liking.  Jesus Navas, David Silva and Stevan Jovetic were the men pulling the strings in attack for City, as Milan looked all at sea at the back and in midfield too.
City was being constantly given the ball a lot by their opposition and City wasn`t making it fully count, till when in the 19th minute Micah Richards scored his own rebound from close range to make it 2 – 0 for the English club and three minutes later it was 3 – 0 City, As Aleksandar Kolarov latched onto a weighted pass by David Silva inside the area and he struck a powerful finish to the far post past goal keeper Marco Amelia in the Milan net.
via Eurosport yahoo.com
City were pinching themselves now as Milan looked in freefall as it was becoming more like a training match now. With chance upon chance falling to City they were terrorised the Italian team side and soon enough Edin Dzeko made the pressure pay as he made it 4 – 0 for City, when a lovely ball cut through the Milan defense by Silva was run onto by fellow Spaniard Jesus Navas and the new recruit from Seville, put a fizzing ball across the area which eluded the goal keeper and Dzeko was on hand to score at the back post for City`s Fourth.
It could easily have been double figures for City in the first 33 minutes of the game, as Jovetic had a chance to make it a bigger score line. Some good play by Navas and Richards down the right wing saw the defender whip in a great low bending cross in the penalty area and the ball just evaded the Montenegro Striker as it was inches away from making it five.
They didn`t have to wait long though Pellegrini`s men, As a minute later Yaya Toure chipped a ball into the penalty area and found Bosnian Striker Edin Dzeko, who controlled it fantastically on his chest and spun round to strike in one go as he scored another great goal in this pre season for an incredible score line of Manchester City 5  AC Milan 0! after just 35 minutes of play in the first half. 
Less than a minute later though, Milan with their first meaningful attack of the game, pulled one back through striker Stephan EL Shaarawy. El Shaarawy had been linked in the summer with a move to the Blues and his finish wasn`t the most cleanest of strikes but the Italian striker scuffed shot went goal wards towards the far post as Hart was caught flat footed and saw the ball go in for 5 – 1. 
El Shaarawy then made it 5 – 2 in the 39th minute as he scored his second of the game, when Kolarov brought down Petagna in the area, but City players expected a whistle to come that never came and the Milan striker carried on playing and picked up on the loose ball and beat Hart who was on his backside to reduce the lead to 3 now. 
City manager Manuel Pellegrini will not have been happy with his side defending at all and will have been furious with the third goal conceded in six minutes, as Milan carried on this comeback and when Muntari kick up field, it wasn`t dealt with by the defenders as they were caught ball watching, however only Andrea Petagna made any effort to get to it and as he collected the ball he slotted coolly through the legs of Joe Hart in goal for 5 – 3. 
Milan had a couple of chances for 5 – 4 but none of them came to anything as both sides had time to sit down and wonder the hell was going on at half time. Second half saw Milan look the better side, as City seemed to have stopped playing after the 5 goals they had scored.

Muntari tried a curling shot but his effort found the corner flag nearly, Samir Nasri came close to making it 6 – 3, as Amelia came running of goals and went without the ball and fell nicely to Nasri who tried a quick curling shot, but missed the target froma tight angle.
Joe Hart made a good save off Prince Boateng to deny him scoring for the Italians, Javi Garcia came close to scoring for the Blues from a corner as he was unchallenged and had a free header in the penalty area, but headed a bullet header right at Amelia in goals and was cleared only as far as Micah Richards, who tried a blast but the ball was saved by the keeper.
Referee blew for full time and the match ended 5 – 3 to Manchester City and saw them in the final of the Audi Cup after a crazy first half.
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The following day action , saw Manchester City take on the host`s Bayern Munich in the Final, as they beat Sao Paulo 2 – 0 in the second semi final, with Mario Mandzukic and Mitchell Weiser scoring for the Bavarian giants.
City hoped to go one better than their neighbours’ did previously in this tournament, as Manchester United had lost to Bayern Munich on penalties in 2009 in the final.
City played a much different side to the one that played in the game the night before, as Pellegrini made a few changes to his line-up as in came Costel Pantilimon for Joe Hart, a completely new line of defense in Pablo Zabaleta, Captain Vincent Kompany,Gael Clichy and Dedryck Boyata. In came Midfielders James Milner, Gareth Barry and Samir Nasri all came into the side for the final.
Bayern with newly installed coach Pep Guardiola at the helm, hoped to bring the Champions League holders their first piece of silverware of the season, as they had  lost out 4 – 2 in the German Super Cup to Runners-up in the Bundesliga and the team they beat at Wembley in the Champions League final back in May, Borussia Dortmund.
The Game was played almost mainly in the City half as Bayern was dominant early on, with Franck Ribery being stopped by Pantilimon in goal for City. Philipp Lahm nearly scored as well, but dragged his shot wide as the German side controlled this game early on. 
City`s defense was holding firm with a solid base at the back, with Vincent Kompany and Dedryck Boyata making a very impressive pairing for the Blues. Bayern were knocking down the City door all game and when they did get past the defense, then they found Costel Pantilimon in good form as the shot stopper made a few good saves to keep the score goal less. 
Arjen Robben went close when he cut inside and fired at net, but found Pantilimon alert and Kompany too as he cleared away any danger.
Javi Martinez headed over from close range and Bayern were getting frustrated as they were creating great chances and had all the possession, but they weren`t converting the chances into goals, much to Guardiola and the Home fans displeasure.
In the 31st minute City finally had something of note as Stevan Jovetic launched a strike from 20 yards out and just missed the target and shown Bayern that it wasn`t just one team in this.
Ribery then found room to run into and he fired a cross across goals, but no one was on hand to convert for the home side.
Boyata was then shown a yellow card by the German match official for a tackle on Ribery outside the area, when the young Belgian defender slid in and won the ball as replays shown, but the referee thought otherwise and gave him a yellow card. City had a chance when Clichy put a low cross in for Negredo, but the Spanish striker couldn`t divert on target and could only find the side netting.
Negredo again had a chance, as Samir Nasri put a cross in the area and Neuer saved from his effort with City were coming more into the game now.
Alvaro Negredo wasn`t capitalising on these chances given to him, as right before half time he headed over from a great cross by James Milner and the ex-Seville forward headed over the bar.
Half time came and both sides were probably happy with City the more so, as they were under the cosh for most of the half and were lucky not to be a few goals down at the break .
City started like they ended the first half, as a lovely ball from Gael Clichy was played into the gap for Nasri to run onto and the Frenchman was denied by Neuer as the goal keeper came off his line.
Bayern were frustrated and shown it, as they were shooting from distance as City were making it hard for them to make any inroads what so ever on City goal, the Blues looked to have taken the lead as Nasri had latched onto a Navas pass and put home, but was denied a goal as the flag went up.
City created yet another chance for Negredo, as again the forward headed right at Neuer when untroubled and let Munich off the hook when he should have done a lot better.
Then at long last..Negredo finally scored for the away side, as Nasri put a through ball for the forward to chase and get onto. And despite Martinez efforts to put the Spanish striker off Negredo put it far post to open his account for his new club and put Manchester City 1 – 0 in the Audi Cup final after 61 minutes. 
The lead lasted all of 5 minutes, when a extremely harsh decision went against Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentinian defender had gone up for a header with Muller and as the ball bounced off the Bayern player shoulder it hit the stray hand of Zabaleta as he was turning round in mid air  and hit his hand unintentionally and the German referee spotted immediately to the spot for a penalty.
via Getty images
Thomas Muller stepped up and sent Pantilimon the wrong way to equalise making it 1 – 1 after 66 minutes.
Bayern then took the lead after a cross came in down the right flank and Mario Mandzukic, much like he did in the match the night before against Sao Paulo. Just got ahead of Boyata and headed home past the City Keeper for 2 – 1 score line in the 73rd minute. Pellegrini changed his forward line as Negredo came off for goal scoring machine for City in this pre-season Edin Dzeko, as the Bosnian striker looked to add to his goal tally. 
Mario Mandzukic then struck the post with an effort to nearly put the German side up 3-1.
Dzeko came close to drawing City level in the 87th minute, as he ran onto a ball and his effort was partially stopped by Manuel Neuer in the Bayern nets and was cleared away.





Final whistle came and City could rightfully feel robbed, as the referee awarding a spot kick for an accident hand ball was the turning point in this match. Plus had Negredo took his chances then result may have been different.
However City now continue their build up with their final pre-season game before the start of the Premier League season as they face Arsenal next Saturday in the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki Finland.