Toure helps misfiring City to Victory














 

 

MANCHESTER CITY  1 – 0  STOKE CIT


                                                     Toure 70′


Yaya Toure proved the difference once more for Manchester City against Stoke as his second half strike by the Ivory Coast International, helped guide the Blues to a 1-0 victory over former City boss Mark Hughes and his tough Stoke City side at the Etihad Stadium.  With Chelsea picking up three points prior to City`s game taking place, their 1-0 win over Everton made this game even more vital for Manuel Pellegrini side to keep up the pressure on both Chelsea and Arsenal too as they wanted to still be in reach of the Capital sides.
City made a couple of changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Barcelona during midweek in the Champions League 1st leg. As Frenchman Samir Nasri and Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko came in for Jesus Navas and seen Martin Demichelis who was woeful in the defeat to the Catalan side, surprisingly retain his place in the starting 11, but was moved back to Defence where he and Vincent Kompany were the centre-back pairing.
It would be fair to say that City would be having to get used to the sight of Red and White stripes for a couple of weeks as Stoke City donned their traditional colours and City would see Sunderland wearing the same in the cup final a week later. However talk of the cup final was premature as they had to get past Stoke first and it would be fair to say that came to play for a point at the Etihad. Mark Hughes`s men played for a majority of the game with 11 men behind the ball as they hoped to inflict another clean sheet on the home side to which City had failed to score in their previous two league outings and seen Stoke hoping to pick up a vital point down at the wrong end of the table.


Serbian defender Aleksander Kolarov manage to see City finally get behind the Stoke defence in the 5th minute, after he whipped in a wicked ball that saw Asamovic Begovic in the opposition`s goal having to push it away from danger.  City found Stoke`s resistance very hard to break down in the game and the home side didn`t help themselves either with them trying to walk the ball in to away side net too. Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho then had an effort from outside the box tipped over from Begovic, with the goalkeeper seeing  the shot come straight at him. Pablo Zabaleta then had a shot blocked for a corner kick as Stoke was frustrating City in search of an opener.


Kolarov on the attack for City PIC: mcfclatino.blogspot 
Stoke nearly opened the scoring themselves in the 21stminute, when a low strike by Charlie Adam saw Joe Hart get down really well to tip it out for a corner and seen the Staffordshire outfit begin to think, that they could possibly do better than just a point in this game.  Yaya Toure then decided to try his luck from outside the penalty area too, but his attempted curling shot was easily dealt with by Begovic and seen Stoke restrict them to shots from long range. 



 Samir Nasri was next to have a pop for the home side, with a lovely build up by City`s Spanish duo of David Silva and Alvaro Negredo, which seen the striker lay the ball off to Nasri and his shot was blocked by former City player Glenn Whelan for another corner kick. Nasri took a short corner to Silva and after they messed up what they were trying to do, Nasri managed to regain the ball and put a floated ball into the area which saw Negredo have the ball and he fired wide of the target with the Spanish striker going through a dry spell at the moment.


Another neat build up of short passes then saw Silva, Toure and Negredo all link up well together, before the pass back to Toure saw the Ivorian snatch at his shot and see it go wide of the target.  Stoke`s defence was taking a battering by the home side, but they were still holding their ground,  Kolarov then saw his low driven shot come turn into a cross outside the area and the ball teased Negredo and Dzeko, with neither one of them able to find a touch to direct it goal wards.
Edin Dzeko then came close to the game`s first goal, when another great move starting with David Silva saw Dzeko take the pass and play a little one-two with his strike partner Negredo and his curling shot went just inches wide of the post, with City pushing hard. The Blues had one last attack in the first half and seen Fernandinho unable to fully strike the ball as clean as he would have like to have done and saw it skim across the grass to the grasp of Begovic.

Toure scores winner City   PIC: BBCSPORTS
Edin Dzeko had another effort fly over the bar in the second half as the Bosnian striker couldn`t get set correct to take a better shot. Alvaro Negredo then saw him brought off for the Montenegro forward in Stevan Jovetic as Pellegrini looked to inject some pace into attack and saw him the forward have a blast, that almost caught Begovic out with the Stoke keeper fumbling the ball. Unfortunately for the forward he was forced to leave the pitch soon after with a possible recurrence of a hamstring injury and seen Javi Garcia replace him. Then after all the hard work and pressure on the Potters defence, City was finally rewarded with a goal and who else but Yaya Toure scored the goal. The Ivory Coast midfielder has a great scoring record against Stoke, with him scoring the FA Cup final winner a few seasons back between the two sides, so if anyone was to find the back of the net of the Stoke net it was certainly going to be him.


It all came from a Samir Nasri pass to Kolarov down the Stoke right, as Kolarov put in a ball that caught the Stoke defence out and even Toure himself. It saw the midfielder do brilliantly well to correct his footing at the last minute to turn the ball home with a fairly ugly finish, but no one in a Blue shirt cared how it went in as City led 1-0 after 70 minutes.  They should definitely have made it 2-0 a couple minutes later, when Toure was his old self again dispossessing a Stoke player in midfielder and saw him fend off a challenge, before passing out to Silva who put a nice ball across to the back post for Dzeko to finish off bit and the striker managed to inexplicably, hit the ball against the back of his own leg and saw the ball get cleared away with Stoke fans cheering and the home fans letting Dzeko know what they thought of him.  Dzeko after the ball was cleared then gave the post a good kick in frustration and seen Stoke still alive in the game.


Edin Dzeko misses a sitter   PIC: M.E.N Sport
 Javi Garcia then had a go from outside the area himself as his fierce drive had Begovic scrambling to his right, but was able to palm it away for a corner kick to keep it 1-0. Manchester City managed to hold onto to win and see them stay in 3rd place, knowing that if they were to win their game in hand that they can move top of the table on goal difference. The blues now have a league cup final to prepare for and see them hopefully lift some silverware early  with them still technically challenging for the quadruple, though Sunderland their opponents will have something to say about that you can guarantee come Sunday.
  

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SIX NATIONS: Wales roar back, Scottish win in Rome and England beat Irish in Classic

 
WALES  27 6 FRANCE
 
Wales enjoyed home comforts in the third round of matches in the Six Nations championship. The Welsh was expected to come up against an in-form France side at the Millenium Stadium, instead it was the Red shirts of Wales that proved to be red hot in this encounter. Warren Gatland had wanted to get a response from his reigning champions, after they had been mauled in more ways than one in their previous outing against the current leaders in Ireland  when they played a fortnight ago in Dublin.
 France`s Nicolas Mas runs on for the French  PIC: ESPN RUGBY 
It was an unbelievable opening twenty minutes of play for the home side in which seen Wales lead 14-3 as France didn`t know what had hit them at all.  Leigh Halfpenny gave the Welsh the lead after just Three minutes of play, when the French conceded at the ruck to see them ahead in the game at 3-0.  That lead then got increased after some hesitation in the French ranks noticeably, by Full-back Brice Dulin as he tried to let the ball bounce first and in doing so let in George North behind him, who nipped in ahead of him to grab the ball and go over the try line for a early 8-0 score line.
Pascal Pape was then penalised for kicking the ball out of the scrum and in which, gave Halfpenny a chance to redeem himself for missing an earlier conversion. However this time round he made no mistake at all and his kick sailed through for an 11-0 score after just 9 minutes of play. Jean-Marc Doussain then kicked over a penalty for France to see the visitors get on the scoreboard that was before Leigh Halfpenny then converted another penalty this time from 40 metres out, to make it 14-3.
Jules Plisson took over kicking duties for Les Bleus and his first effort went over the bar to see them cut the gap down to just 8 points.  Wales won yet another penalty as the French was lacking a lot of discipline throughout their side and saw Wesley Fofana get stuck between the proverbial  ‘rock and a hard place’ as he chose to just lay on the ball, which in part gave the hosts a chance to go further ahead thanks to the boot of Halfpenny for a 17-6 lead.  France conceded yet another penalty, courtesy of their own scrum this time round and seen Wales have a commanding 20-6 lead.
  Warburton stretches out for Wales TRY:  PIC: ESPN RUGBY
 Second half saw both Gethin Jenkins and Nicolas Mas head to the sin bin for consistence offences at the scrum and so saw both sides down to 14 men in the 50th minute. France found themselves down to 13 men on the pitch, when France Captain Louis Picamoles was shown the yellow card after he lost his head and was clearly frustrated, as he shoved a couple of Welsh players as well as grabbing them round the throats too. Allan Rolland then shown the Captain yellow and he responded with a sarcastic applause towards the match official.
Wales pushed for more points with the man advantage and saw them score another try, through the efforts of Captain Sam Warburton who managed to get some downward pressure on the ball with his fingertips making contact to see the home side lead 27-6 with Halfpenny adding extras. The win for Wales saw them move into Second place going level on points with Ireland who would face England the next day.  
 
 
 

 ITALY  20 – 21  SCOTLAND

 
 
  Luke McClean of Italy gets caught in possession PIC: ESPN RUGBY
Scotland`s Duncan Weir drop goal helped the Scots pick up a massive win in Rome to beat Italy and did it with plenty of grit, determination and hard work throughout the side. It also seen the Scots record their first away victory in the competition with their last win coming back in 2010.   
Italy took the lead in the 13th minute of play, after a penalty against the visitors gave the former U18 player for Scotland in Tomasso Allen the chance to put the country of his birth ahead and saw his kick go over to see the Olimipico Stadium go mad with celebrations as they led 3-0. Scotland responded 9 minutes later, when good work by the visitors saw them go through the phases and their terrific build up play saw Scotland awarded a penalty. Greig Laidlaw then managed to do something he was unable to do in the last game and that was see his a kick successfully go through the posts to see Scott Johnson men go level.
The Scots was getting penalised at alarmingly regular rate by referee Steve Walsh as he made some baffling calls against the away team, but that also seen Allan have the chance to put Italy back ahead in the contest and he did just that, as the home side retook the lead again with his successful penalty kick.  Italy then pressured the Scottish defence and after some good work by Sergio Parisse that saw him get dangerously close to the Scottish try line, Tomasso Allan then collected and went over the line to see Italy lead 13-3 at half time with the former Scottish player scoring all of the Italian`s points.
Alex Dunbar goes over Scotland   PIC: ESPN RUGBY  
Five minutes into the second half of play, Greig Laidlaw then kicked over a penalty for Scotland to seem them hunt down the Italians after they conceded a penalty at the breakdown and seem the score line become 13-6 to the hosts. Scotland then grabbed a well worked try when play was spread wide by the forwards and seen Stuart Hogg pass to Alex Dundar, who then dashed for the corner to see them trail by just a margin of two points at 13-11.  That try gave the visitors the belief that they could go on and win this game now and Italy was visibly rocked at this point in time.
That belief grew around the entire team after that try for the visitors, when Scotland took the lead for the first time in the game.  Scotland built up from the back and with some lovely all round play in the passing department and with nice some off loads, it saw Alex Dunbar make another run for the try line and in doing so he managed to out run the Italian defence and see them lead 18-13.  With 10 minutes to go in the match, Italy scored a try through Josh Furno which saw the Scottish back line found wanting, after Sergio Parisse had set up Furno to go over and with Luciano Orquera kicking the extras to go 20-18 up.
With less than a minute of play to go in this game, Scotland saw their maul drive the Italians back to the Hosts 22 metre line and Scotland keeping their eyes on the time left and field placements, the ball came back to Duncan Weir and his Drop goal attempt went high and through the uprights to see Scotland pick up victory and see them win the match in dramatic fashion 21-20.
 

ENGLAND 13-10 IRELAND

Ireland`s winning run in the Six Nations tournament this year came to an end at the hands of England, as their first match away from the Aviva Stadium in the tournament seen them lose an absolute classic at Twickenham. England managed to just edge this pulsating and breathtaking contest, to see them move level on points with Ireland and make the title a four-horse race as things hot up to see who takes the crown this year.
The game got off to a frenetic start that saw Ireland put pressure on the English scrum early on and saw them over power the home side at the scrum. This was Ireland drawing first blood in the game, as England knew now what they were dealing with for the next Eighty minutes of this contest game.  England then came straight back at Ireland and thought they had scored an early try after Jonny May went over the line for the home side, but saw Conor Murray manage to stop May from scoring. South African official Craig Joubert sent the decision upstairs for the TMO to look at it and confirm the decision. Replays shown May had lost the ball when attempting to ground the ball and in doing so lost the ball and so the decision was a NO TRY was given.
Rob Kearney scores a Try for Ireland PIC: ESPN RUGBY
We then saw in the 25th minute Owen Farrell kick over the games first points as a 50 metre penalty kick sail over for the home side to make it 3-0 after Ireland committed a foul in the line out. Farrell then had another kick to increase the last ten minutes of the first half, but the ball struck the outside of the post and the score remained the same.
In the opening few minutes of the second half, Ireland stormed their way into the lead after Rob Kearney ran into a gap and under the posts for a well worked Ireland try and ended, in a 7-3 lead for the away side after Johnny Sexton kicked the conversion over. Things got even better for the Irish soon after, when Sexton successfully kicked over a penalty for the Green shirts to take a 10-3 lead and the Irish fans and players were certainly smiling. England then burst into life in the 51st  minutes for a couple of minutes, when they suddenly took the lead. Luther Burrell went close to the line for the English until the Irish defence held firm and saw them stop the white shirts from grabbing a try.
  Danny Care celebrates as he goes over for England PIC: ESPN RUGBY
England won a penalty as a result of their hard play and although they should have switched the play to the outside, Farrell kicked over from close range to make it 10-6 in Irelands favour, but England were gaining momentum . Then in the 55thminute, Mike Brown managed to cut through the Irish defence like a knife and kept his head to offload to Danny Care who ran the ball home to see England make it 13-10 and turn the game on it`s head. England now had the momentum with them and with Ireland pushing the home side all the way to the final whistle. Stuart Lancaster`s men gave as good as they got, to show the powerful Ireland side that this young England side was no push over of the hosts. Stuart Lancaster at the full time whistle shown his delight at winning a hard contested match with both sides committed in the game.
England congratulate themselves on a hard earned win PIC: ESPN RUGBY
This now sees Wales, Ireland, France and England all in with a chance to take the crown home and makes for an exciting final two games in the competition.
 
 


 
RBS 6 Nations Championship
Team
Played
Won
Drawn
Lost
For
Against
Points
1
Ireland
3
2
0
1
64
22
4
2
England
3
2
0
1
57
36
4
3
Wales
3
2
0
1
53
47
4
4
France
3
2
0
1
62
61
4
5
Scotland
3
1
0
2
27
68
2
6
Italy
3
0
0
3
45
74
0
 
 

Phoenix SWARM over the Bees










 MANCHESTER  PHOENIX                6 – 2     BRACKNELL BEES

 

  
Kovar x 2                                                                                                                         Smital
Hand                                                                                                                                 Rounding
Archer
McKinney 
Bakrlik



Manchester Phoenix returned to winning ways on Sunday recording a 6-2 victory over the Bracknell Bees, after they were beaten 5-1 by the league leading Basingstoke Bison on the Saturday night. Two points was essential for Manchester as having a pointless weekend would have been than a massive blow to the club.
Phoenix squandered an early powerplay opportunity after Matt Foord sat for two in the penalty box after he was called for Charging at 3-14 in the game.
Manchester was unable to find the net in their first powerplay chance and was also unable to even get a shot on goal too. Bracknell tried their hardest to get something going their way, but they too struggled to find their aiming with both sides needing to get their collective shooting in order. Alex Mettam and Steve Fone didn`t really face much rubber being shot at them at all in the opening period, with a lot of shots being dragged wide.
Eventually all the possession the home side had in the game finally saw them strike first after Robin Kovar opened the scoring at 10-04 of the opening period. The goal all came from a rebound off a Grant Rounding effort for the Bees and from that saw the puck hacked away into the path of Frantisek Bakrlik, who made a little tip towards his fellow Countryman Robin Kovar. This then saw Bakrlik take the pass back and as he skated into the Bracknell zone, he played it across for Kovar to finish off and beat Mettam high over his glove to complete a nice move between the Czech pair and lead 1-0. Bracknell then drew level at 14-47 in the game after their own Czech Import Lukas Smital made it 1-1. Bees Czech forward then managed to squeeze his shot from a tight angle, as it beat Fone at the front of the net and made it even-steven with Scott Spearing and Lewis Turner getting assists on the Bees opening goal.
Manchester`s response took less than two minutes to come, after Player-coach Tony Hand put his side back ahead at 16-22. Hand`s goal came after getting a little pass by James Archer near the boards and that saw Hand take possession of the puck and with it saw him skate in the Bees zone on a 2 on 1 for the Phoenix, the Scot then shot it past Mettam at the near post to make it 2-1 with Rob Schnabel gaining a credit on the goal too. Manchester controlled the period really and after Hand scored their Second, they never looked to be in trouble after that and saw them head into the first intermission leading by a goal.
In the Second period Bracknell almost tied the game, when a pass up ice towards Scott Spearing caught the Phoenix defence out and luckily for the Phoenix, Spearing`s effort was shot high over the net and hit the plexi glass.
Tony Redmond then picked up Hooking penalty at 24-04 to put Manchester back out on the powerplay and from that, saw Phoenix go close but no cigar as the phrase goes. Just as Redmond left the penalty box for Bracknell, Phoenix kept up the constant pressure on the visitors with Bakrlik having a blast saved by Mettam and saw the home side pressure the Bees goals and led to another powerplay, with Pavel Strycek heading to the box for Holding at 31-12. Manchester this time saw their hard work pay off as they added a Third goal, courtesy of a James Archer strike at 32-07.
Good puck movement by the home side, seen Bakrlik play the puck round from the half boards to the waiting Tony Hand and from there he then fed the puck out to the front to net, where Archer then slammed it home at the near post to make it 3-1. Bakrlik almost made it 4-1 for the home side when a great pass by Joe Graham seen the Czech sniper put through on goal and his effort dinged off the crossbar to see the Bees clear away.
Bracknell then pulled a goal back whilst on the powerplay, thanks to Bees Man of the Match in Grant Rounding. The goal scored was a very fortunate one for the Bees, with Tony Redmond shot on goal striking the post before it bounced back off Andy McKinney leg and trickled goal wards with Rounding quick to poke it home for a 3-2 game.
Bracknell then pulled a goal back whilst on the powerplay, thanks to Bees Man of the Match in Grant Rounding. The goal scored was a very fortunate one for the Bees, with Tony Redmond shot on goal striking the post before it bounced back off Andy McKinney leg and trickled goal wards with Rounding quick to poke it home for a 3-2 game.
The final period saw the Phoenix score after just 49 seconds for them to go 4-2 up in the contest after the Czech duo combined once again, with Frantisek Bakrlik assisting Robin Kovar on his Second goal of the game, as Kovar`s wrist shot sent Alex Mettam`s waterbottle flying into the corner of the Bees zone and saw the hosts all but secure victory.
There was no collapse by Manchester`s defence in this game as they looked stronger as the game went on, however the Bees defence was made to pay.
Andy McKinney netted goal number Five for the home side, after a forceful pass by Graham on the blue line saw McKinney do great to take control the puck, as the British forward back-handed the puck in the net for a 5-2.
Manchester then got a lucky bounce in more ways than one, when a puck fired in by Joe Graham took a funny bounce off the boards behind Mettam net and the netminder managed to poke the puck right onto Bakrlik stick and saw him score at 49-45. It was a much deserved goal for the Czech forward, after he had grafted a lot in the game and the goal it`s self was in keeping with the type of goals that has been seen in Manchester in recent weeks, as there has certainly been some strange goals at the Dome this year. Manchester claimed victory and saw them claw Two points back on the Bison in the race for the title, with Manchester still having their own fate in their hands too, especially as this week will test them Mentally and Physically tested starting from Friday. 

Phoenix play 3 games in 3 days and will push them to their limits for sure. First up for Manchester is the Sheffield Steeldogs and if any of the Phoenix players are fit enough after the expected bruising encounter with their bitter rivals, they then face the Bracknell Bees down at the ‘Hive’ Saturday night, before finishing off the exhausting Long Weekender with a match against the Swindon Wildcats at the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday Evening



English Premier League
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GF
GA
Pts
1
Basingstoke Bison
47
27
5
2
13
182
138
66
2
Manchester Phoenix
44
27
4
2
11
193
127
64
3
Guildford Flames
48
24
4
4
16
183
150
60
4
Milton Keynes Lightning
46
21
5
3
17
171
154
55
5
Telford Tigers
46
20
3
0
23
157
160
46
6
Sheffield Steeldogs
47
17
2
8
20
171
197
46
7
Swindon Wildcats
45
16
5
2
22
156
156
44
8
Bracknell Bees
48
17
3
3
25
157
188
43
9
Peterborough Phantoms
47
15
0
7
25
155
199
37
10
Slough Jets
46
15
2
2
27
144
200
36













Manchester`s ex Phantoms haunt Peterborough!














Manchester Phoenix    5 – 2   Peterborough Phantoms



Bakrlik x2                                                                                      Piatak
Graham                                                                                         L.Ferrara  
Bentham
Archer



Manchester Phoenix managed to snap their 3-game losing streak at home with a 5-2 victory over the bottom of the table Peterborough Phantoms last Sunday. Manchester were looking to get back to winning ways and also shake off their EPL Cup Semi-Final heartache two days before, which saw them lose out to Milton Keynes Lightning 5-4 in Overtime and had the home side now having to contend with the League title to focus on now.
In the opening period of play, the game it`s self was a rather scrappy affair by all accounts, with neither side able to fully take the game on despite Phoenix trying to exert their pressure into meaningful chances. The home side then managed to generate some chances and put Damien King under some pressure in the Phantoms goal which saw King making some good stops to avoid the home side taking the lead in the game. Peterborough then had Declan Balmer go to the penalty box for Cross Checking at 12-11 and from that resulting power play saw Frantisek Bakrlik open the scoring, with a little spin move to find the bottom of the net and put the Phoenix a goal to the good at 12-41 with Tony Hand and Michal Psurny assisting on it.
Phoenix then doubled their lead at 14-21 when the Brit line came together and saw Jacob Corson-Heron find former Phantoms player Richard Bentham who then passed across the face of goal, to find another ex Peterborough man in Joe Graham who waiting at the back of the net, to put Phoenix 2-0 up after the first period.
Second period then saw the home side go 3-0 up, when Richard Bentham buried the puck past King to see Phoenix take the game away from Peterborough with Bakrlik and Psurny helping the youngster score his 6th goal of the season to see them heading to victory. Peterborough found themselves back on the penalty kill when Jason Buckman was called for Holding at 26-41 and saw the Phoenix powerplay unit unable to score on it this time around. Manchester`s Czech Republic forward Frantisek Bakrlik, then picked up a Roughing penalty when he tangled with a Phantoms defenceman at the front of the Visitors net 31-07 and saw Phoenix kill the following penalty, as Peterborough looked fairly toothless in attack.
Bakrlik then headed straight back to the box for a High Sticking call, with the Czech man winding up to blast it and the Phantoms defenceman jump in front of the blast and managed to knock it away just before the forward and he managed to stop fully following through on the player, but after the Phoenix man checked up on the defenceman he headed to the box then at 34-15.
This then saw Peterborough get on the scoreboard through Slovakian forward Erik Piatak as managed to score on the power play for the Phantoms at 34-38 to give them a slight glimmer of hope at 3-1. At the back end of the period, Marc Levers caught a painful one off a Rob Schnabel rocket, as Levers dropped down quickly from taking the shot high up to the inside of the thigh and was still willing to put his body in the way of more shots. After the away side cleared the puck, Levers gingerly skated to the bench which drew applause from the home crowd in the appreciation of the effort of the Peterborough man and also the mixture of possible stupidity at blocking Schnabel’s bullet like shots.
In the Third stanza, Frantisek Bakrlik then smashed home Manchester`s fourth goal of the game with Michal Psurny and Tony Hand combining to see the Czech forward grab his second goal of the game at 48-29. Peterborough then responded a few minutes later through a Luke Ferrara effort, as the forward beat Steve Fone in the Phoenix nets to see the Phantoms trail 4-2 at 50-20 with Piatak and his brother James Ferrara assisting on the second visitors goal to.

Manchester was quicker in their response to conceding a goal, when it took all of twelve-seconds to reopen their Three goal lead again, thanks to another ex-Phantoms player in James Archer. As Archer added his name to the score sheet with him firing past Damien King to make it 5-2 and finish off a lost Peterborough side.  More importantly though for the Phoenix, was winning on home ice after a long time and the victory kept them at the summit for the meantime ahead of their ‘top of the table’ clash with the Basingstoke Bison this up coming weekend down in Hampshire.

Sunday saw Manchester travel to Shropshire to face off against the Telford Tigers who were 9 games, undefeated prior to the match and saw Phoenix sneak a late winner 1-0 thanks to a goal by forward James Archer at 57-24. That win saw them stay joint top with Basingstoke, whom themselves kept the pressure on as they beat Slough Jets 7-2 in Basingstoke. 


English Premier League
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GF
GA
Pts
1
Manchester Phoenix
42
26
  4
2
10
186
120
62
2
Basingstoke Bison
45
26
  4
2
13
173
134
62
3
Guildford Flames
45
22
  4
3
16
176
146
55
4
Milton Keynes Lightning
44
20
  5
2
17
164
149
52
5
Telford Tigers
45
20
  3
0
22
155
153
46
6
Sheffield Steeldogs
45
17
  2
7
19
166
188
45
7
Bracknell Bees
46
17
  3
3
23
153
178
43
8
Swindon Wildcats
42
15
  4
2
21
145
148
40
9
Slough Jets
44
15
  1
2
26
142
193
34
10
Peterborough Phantoms
44
13
  0
7
24
144
195
33

Phoenix EPL CUP Semi final heartbreak, AGAIN!!







Manchester Phoenix            4 – 5      Milton Keynes Lightning                 

                                      (MK win on agg 10-9)    

Neil x 2                                                                Jokila

Bakrlik                                                                Lascek x2

Boothroyd                                                          Carr x2

                                                              


Manchester Phoenix crashed out of the EPL CUP at the Semi final stage for the Fifth season running against the Milton Keynes Lightning in Overtime to give Phoenix more heartbreak in the competition and a lost that was very frustrating on many levels for the home side too.
Let it never be said that games between Manchester and Milton Keynes games don`t lack excitement, gripping tension and plenty of drama over the years and this game was another to go along with the classic battles between the two, with another chapter added last night (Thursday).
Both sides went into the Second leg, level pegged at 5-5 from the first leg down at Coventry`s Skydome Arena where the Phoenix had done the hard work dragging themselves back into the Cup tie, having been 5-2 down with only three minutes of play left to then score three late goals to see Manchester claw back a draw in another exciting game between the two sides.
 Manchester was hoping to get out of this recent slump at home with them experiencing three consecutive losses at the Altrincham Ice dome with their last loss coming in the ‘Roses’ derby to the Sheffield Steeldogs where they lost 3-2.
Early exchanges in the game saw the Phoenix create a few early chances which seen the MK defence do well to limit fairly tame shots on Stephen Wall in the Lightning goals. For the Visiting Milton Keynes, they had their share of chances too with both sides playing it kind a cagey game at first as the neither side wanted to make a mistake early on.
In recent weeks it`s become a worrying and familiar trend of Phoenix conceding freely at the back post of late and that same trend continued for the game opener.  Play around the Phoenix zone saw MK Lightning players Tom Carlon and Lukas Zatopek go on the attack for the visitors and after Zatopek effort was blocked the puck then fell into the path of Finnish Forward Janne Jokila, who has enjoyed a lot of success against Manchester this season and he put buried it home with no one from the home side hear him to see Lightning take a 1-0 lead at 7-55.
Phoenix replied through an unlikely character in Defenceman James Neil. Nottingham-born Neil skated on goal taking a pass off Tony Hand with Michal Psurny starting the play off and Hand`s pass toward Neil, saw his effort bounce back off Stephen Wall pads and in turn come off the leg of Neil who was skating on goal with a Lightning defenceman and was still looking for the puck, despite it being in the back net for a 1-1 game at 11-16.
Over a minute later the hosts went 2-1 up through a strike by Frantisek Bakrlik as Hand once again was in part of the move with James Archer combined as well, to set up the Czech forward who stick handled brilliantly to then slide it home at 12-36 and saw Manchester build up of pressure on the Lightning eventually pay off. After a couple of early penalties on both sides, we then saw Ben Wood pick up a Interference call after the Phoenix man tried to skate away, but had his stick caught up with a MK player that was down on the ice and once he got free, the official Dan Boardman then called him for Interference at 12-54 which was one of many bizarre calls made.
There is a phrase that goes, ‘ It takes two good teams to make a great game and only needs one person to spoil it’ and this game was certainly true of that saying, as Ben Wood once again headed to the penalty box and picked up one of the most ridiculous calls I’ve seen in 19 years of watching Ice Hockey. With the home side in possession, Wood skated into neutral ice and was almost on the halfway line as his attempted shot around the boards ended up going out of play. This then led to same official that called him for Interference then give him a Delay Of Game penalty that saw both sets of players especially Wood himself puzzled by the call and incensed the player-coach of Manchester Phoenix in Tony Hand, who furiously challenged the decision.
After it seemed that the officials were bit unsure of things if it was a penalty or not, we saw Wood eventually get given a Delay of Game call with Tony Hand collecting yet another 10 misconduct penalty for Abuse of Official and seen the Scottish player-coach for Manchester showing his displeasure for all to see, as he gave the penalty box door a good forceful slam twice. Play came to an end for an eventful period with the home side 2-1 up and had the home fan`s giving a chorus of boos to the officials as they left the ice.
In the second period of play, Milton Keynes picked up an early penalty with Michal Farn called for Interference to which he protested about the call as it may have been a case of mistaken identity on the Lightning man. Phoenix was on the powerplay and it`s said by many people that the home side are more likely to concede with the extra man advantage than they are of actually scoring themselves and yet again that point was proved right.
With no danger at all for Manchester they then managed to create a problem which led to MK drawing level, as Michale Psurny played the puck round the boards behind the net and it bounced off Luke Boothroyd skate and Steve Fone swept it forward, unfortunately to Stanislav Lascek who put it in high over Fone to score a short-handed goal MK to level it at 2-2 at 24-52.
Milton Keynes then struck again at 30-59, when play with Lewis Christie and Stanislav Lascek led to Adam Carr skating down the wing and his shot somehow beat Fone at his near post and was another goal he`d want back as the net minder’s in the game, weren`t playing to their usual standards, it may have been a case of semi final nerves getting to them to both.
Lewis Christie of the Lightning was then sent to the box for a Hooking call at 34-17, which saw the Phoenix knot the game up at 3-3 thanks to Phoenix Captain Luke Boothboyd netting at the back post after Rob Schnabel & James Archer helped assist on the goal.
Milton Keynes players furiously protested over the decision to award the goal as it seemed to be case of ‘man in the crease’, but the goal stood much to the annoyance of the Nick Poole`s Milton Keynes side.
Stephen Wall then picked up a 10 minute Misconduct penalty for abuse of official with some of the visitor`s, still questioning the goal standing. MK though had their response as they came right back to make it 4-3 to the Lightning thanks to Adam Carr once again, as he skated down the wing and fire far post to find the back of the net in this topsy-turvy game with the goal coming at 36-06 and make the overall score (9-8).
Then we saw three more controversial moments in as many minutes towards the back end of the period and shown the officials making more problems for themselves.
First off Manchester thought they had scored an equaliser through Robin Kovar, with the Czech man dancing his way through to score but the goal got waved off immediately for a ‘man in the crease’, when the previous goal was far more fitting of that call than this one and some will suggest that this was evening up the goal that in honesty shouldn`t have stood.
Manchester then broke up the ice minutes later with Michal Psurny who was one on one before Lewis Christie chases the Czech man down, having his stick come right up round his head and drew blood which resulted in the MK man getting a Match penalty for Accidental High Sticks at 38-24.
With Manchester on a five minute powerplay, play then came to a stop instantly with the referee throwing Robin Kovar out of the game, after the Czech man got frustrated with the lineman getting in his way and gave him a whack to the leg which was born out of frustration. It wasn`t the smartest move by the Kovar and he deservedly picked up a Match penalty as he headed straight to the locker room after the incident and wasn`t a happy camper at all at 39-28. Time fizzled out on a controversial Period with the entire rink booing the officials off the ice, with some very questionable calls on both sides in the game.
In the third the Phoenix looked in search of the goal to level the game at 4-4 and it came on another power play goal, this time by James Neil who had become a goal machine in this game as he netted his second of the game after Stephen Wall looked have got a fair chunk on it, but wasn`t able to fully grab the shot was helpless to stop it going in as the game was level on the night and in the tie overall too. This made the rest of the period exciting for the remainder of the game and after 120 minutes of play we still couldn`t separate the two sides and so we went to overtime to find a winner.
Both sides then had chances to win the game and the game and tie winner was an absoltute heartbreaker too. It all came by the way of a mistake in the Phoenix zone with Michal Psurny and James Neil passing it between themselves, till a poor pass by Neil was knocked down by Ross Green and was gathered by Stanislav Lascek who was in the middle of the Phoenix zone saw him fire the puck in and end MK Lightning through to the final and meet the Basingstoke Bison in the EPL Cup Final, which left leave Neil and Manchester with another year of falling at the Semi final stage in this competition as the Lightning won 10-9 on aggregate.

6 NATIONS: Ireland defeat reigning champs, England shutout Scots & France see off Italy




In the Second round of fixtures in the Six Nations Championship it produced three pretty much clear cut victories including the current leaders Ireland, France and England as the two sides remain with a 100% unbeaten record so far.

IRELAND 263 WALES
This encounter was billed as a possible title decider too after both sides picking up victories in their respective opening round of matches. Wales wanted to put in a better performance than they did in their 23-15 win over Italy the weekend before, as they were fortunate that they didn`t come up against a stronger side as they may well have lost out. For Ireland it was a chance to gage where they was against arguably, the best side in the Northern Hemisphere and looked to be a stern test on paper against Warren Gatland`s double winning Six Nation champions.
PIC: theguardian

Sadly the game wasn`t much of a contest at all in truth, as Joe Schmidt`s Ireland from the first whistle was the much more assertive side of the two which saw them  opening the scoring with a penalty in the 7th minute after Wales was penalised for Holding on. Johnny Sexton who is the Irish equivilent of Leigh Halfpenny he converted the penalty for a 3-0 lead for the hosts and saw the Irish looking very good in the contest early on. Ireland increased their lead when Hibbard gave away another penalty after the Welshman came in from the side from the ruck. Brian O Driscoll then took a heavy hit by Scott Williams during that passage of play with Williams coming off worst in the tackle, picking up a shoulder injury that has since ruled him out the tournament.

Pic: welshrugbypics.co.uk

Sexton made it 6-0 and Ireland were showing signs that may be running away with the game much like they did against Scotland the week before. Wales then tried to graft their way back in the match as they tried to create something, but the Irish defence much like last weekend was putting in a sterling effort once again to cut out any possible Welsh attacks. Ireland then scored a try thanks to the driving maul once again coming to the fore, as a line-out five metres from the Welsh line saw Ireland win it and then power over with Flanker Chris Henry getting the ball down to make it 13-0 with extras added. Wales then gave away another penalty for ‘crossing’ and saw Sexton take on a 54 metre kick, but this time round saw the fly half fail to succeed as half time came around.

Pic: theTelegraph

Second half saw the continuation of Ireland suffocating the Welsh attack and drawing the reigning champions into errors across the pitch. Johnny Sexton kicked another three points to the Ireland score after Wales were caught for tackling a player that was supporting Paul O Connell in the line-out and that made it 16-0. It took the 56th minute to see Wales finally get on the board, when the Irish scrum broke down and seen Leigh Halfpenny called into action and his kick sailed through the posts for a 16-3 score that saw them narrow the gap to 13 points. That gap got reopened with a Irish penalty to see the host lead 19-3 with the conditions far from ideal with the rain really coming down in Dublin. Ireland had out classed and out played the champions in every department of the pitch and they rubbed salt in the wounds of the visitors with Ireland grabbing a try late on. Ireland`s driving maul has been a big weapon for the Irish the host side in this competition and so saw them gain 20 meters using the maul, before Conor Murray found Paddy Jackson and he went over to give the home fans in the packed Aviva Stadium a try to finish off the game, with Sexton making the final score 26-3 and see Ireland stay unbeaten.

SCOTLAND 0 – 20 ENGLAND
England beat Scotland in the Calcutta Cup game and ore importantly got their Six Nations back on track with victory up at Murrayfield, as England thrashed and dominated the Scotland side in a match played in pretty atrocious conditions with them having to deal with not only the pitch that was lacking the greenery ,but also the driving rain too. Owen Farrell showed how tricky the conditions were, when the Fly-half seemed to slip when he attempted an early penalty for England and saw kick go wayward of the target.
Pic: Daily Record

Danny Care then put in a repeat performance off last weekend with him kicking over a drop goal to give the English a 3-0 lead after their line-out in the build up. Neither kicker was pulling up trees for his team, after Farrell`s poor kick earlier in the game Greg Laidlaw the Captain of Scotland saw his penalty attempt go horribly wide as well and that drew a few disgruntled moans by the Murrayfield crowd that was wearing the Scottish colours.

England grabbed a marvellous try in the 14th minute of the game with a good quick hands led to Danny Care then making a lovely little pass to Luther Burrell and he took it over the Scottish line to give England a 10-0 lead.
Pic:  Zimbo

Scotland was given a chance to respond quickly soon after conceding a try, when Laidlaw saw his kick this time bounce back off the post and seemed it was going to be a long night for the Scots. England was then themselves awarded another penalty after Sean Lamont was penalised at the ruck and seen Farrell once again fail miserably with the boot and if he had been on song for England, then could really have been out of sight by now. The England man had a chance to redeem himself with another penalty a bit later and this time saw him slot it through the uprights for a 13-0 score and Scotland was on their way to another hiding.

England pressurised the Scotland back line and their scrum. Not for the first time Scotland gave away another penalty and not for the first time either, Farrell missed once more as he wasted three fairly easy penalties for the England kicker. With constant penalties by the home side, the patience of the referee Jerome Garces of France was pretty much wearing thin now and seen him send Alex Dunbar to the sin bin for a 10 minute and that saw him put his side down to fourteen men.
Pic: Zimbo.com

 Despite the extra man advantage, England couldn`t seem to find any way through till a play down the left flank saw Mike Brown evade a tackle by the touchline and run freely to see the visitors finally break through and score a try to make it 20-0 and see England get back in the hunt for the championship. Their next game is a tough home opener against current leaders Ireland and one that will need to them raise their level as they have been average at best so far, For Scotland the games get no easier for the Scots, as they face the French back at Murrayfield in a fortnight.



FRANCE   30-10  ITALY
France kept their unbeaten record in the competition going after they faced a tough nut to crack in the form of the Italian side at the Stade de France.
Jean- Marc Doussain blew a couple of early penalties for the hosts after his first effort was a horrible kick and the second attempt saw him fall short of the posts which led to a half chance for the French, when Pape ripped the ball from the Italian forward and saw Plisson then attempt a drop goal but that went wide of the sticks and Italian breathed a sigh of relief.
Picamoles gets try for France: Pic: Rugby365
France was in always in full control of the game, but saw Italy putting up a stern defensive display to quell the French attacks in the game. Tomasso Allen had a penalty for the away side go begging as his 50m kick fell short of the target and left us scoreless since after twenty minutes of play. Italy was head and shoulders above France in the scrum department and it showed, as they struggled to deal with it or mainly Domingo couldn`t handle the power by Castrogiovanni. It led to Italy getting another crack with a penalty, which was taken by Gonzalo Garcia and he too was unable to score, which was incredible as neither side was able convert a penalty in the opening 23 minutes of play.
It took the 27th minute of play before we saw any points on the board, until Doussain managed to successive convert a penalty for the French, before Allan responded in kind with three points himself to see him level the game at 3-3. Allan had the chance to kick Italy in front for the first time in the game, but this game was by far from a master class at kicking ability and seen the youngster kick wide with another poor attempt it has to be said. Jean -Marc Doussain then kicked two penalties over for France to give them a 9-3 lead at half time and did just enough to edge the game in the first forty.
Fofana leaps for try: Pic: BBCSPORTS
France grabbed the game`s opening try after a scrum by the French saw them then push the Azzurri backwards and seen Louis Picamoles break away from the maul and stretch out to ground the ball down for a try and after the TMO said it was fine after reviewing the referee awarded the try much to the joy of the French public. France scored their second try instantly, with Fofana braking down the blindside touchline and after he fended off a couple of tackles he had the easy task of putting the ball down for a score to make it 23-3 with Doussain adding the conversion.
The Hosts then piled on the agony for the away side with another try by the White shirted French saw them go 30-3 points up, after Fofana raced up field before passing to Huget and then in turn found Bonneval and he went over the try line to see the home side to victory in the 54th minute of play, as Italy was done by now.
Slimanai & Rizzo head to locker rooms Sent off: PIC: telegraph.co.uk
When saw a couple of minutes from the end both sides losing their heads. As with time and the game winding down, Sebastien Vahaamahinaa was sin binned for kicking the ball away once Italy was awarded a penalty. Then we saw Italy`s Michele Rizzo and France`s Rabah Slimani both get their marching orders after Rizzo head butted the French player who then retaliated in the same way and saw fists flying and players coming together.
Italy had the final word in the game as Tomasso Iannone scored a try for the Italian`s after a maul that went on for a bit then saw Sergio Parisse pass out wide to Iannone and he dived over in the corner to see them score and make it 30-10.

RBS 6 Nations Championship

Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points
1 Ireland 2 2 0 0 54 9 4
2 France 2 2 0 0 56 34 4
3 England 2 1 0 1 44 26 2
4 Wales 2 1 0 1 26 41 2
5 Italy 2 0 0 2 25 53 0
6 Scotland 2 0 0 2 6 48 0

Phoenix shocked as ‘Dogs Bite back!!










MANCHESTER PHOENIX         2- 3       SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS

(Kovar, Watkins)                                                (Korhon x2, Wood)


Manchester Phoenix lost their second successive home game in a row on Sunday evening as they were made to pay the price for some bad defensive lapses which led to their downfall against the Sheffield Steeldogs in the local derby clash.
Both sides faced one another last weekend and on that occasion saw the Steeldogs come out on top in a bad tempered game at Ice Sheffield where the home side came out on top 4-2 and was hoping to make it two victories in successive weekends.


The game saw the Phoenix take the game to their opponents with them outplaying and causing many problems for the Steeldogs defence, as the Manchester forwards tested Dalibor Sedlar in the ‘Dogs nets early on which had Sheffield on the back foot from the off. Sheffield with their overzealous style of play are always susceptible to conceding penalties and so it wasn`t much of a surprise on both counts when the opening call of the match came against the visiting side and also on their Player-Coach and top Penalty taker at the Steeldogs in Andre Payette, as he was called for Roughing at 2-01.


Phoenix took a while to get going in their power play as Sheffield did well to stop the home side imposing their advantage on the away side for the opening minute of the penalty. Manchester didn`t make more of the extra man advantage, that despite Frantisek Bakrlik ringing the post with a laser from the blue line that saw the puck nearly fly back out towards the Czech forward from the shot.
Andre Payette is always in the thick of the action and shown he was going to be a thorn in the side of the home side after he put a big hit on Ben Wood near the boards, as Wood waited for the puck to be come loose and saw the player coach send the youngster flying backwards from the massive check. From that resulting play it saw Manchester go close, when Robin Kovar and Michal Psurny combined for Bakrlik to shoot at Sedlar and seen him make a good stop to deny the home side going ahead.
Phoenix was camped in the Steeldogs zone for a majority of the opening period and saw Manchester get another powerplay chance, when Steve Duncombe came right into the back of Kovar who wasn`t aware of the Sheffield man and was ejected into the boards and seen the referee call him for Tripping, which was a weird call.


During the power play a move by the Phoenix seen a blast from Frantisek Bakrlik on goal stopped by Sedlar and with the traffic at the front of the net, Sedlar lost his stick and with the puck falling loose towards Tony Hand just as he took possession of the puck, Sheffield Defenseman Ben Morgan then pushed the net off to get the whistled and play stopped dead. Home fans at that end wasn`t happy with what they saw, as it looked a blatant delay of game. But the referee didn`t see the incident and so he blew to stop the game dead. 
Sedlar himself was then warned over the same type of tactics, with the officials having got wise to the net coming off at a frequent rate and seen the shenanigans from the goal tender at least cease. All the play and possession was in the Sheffield zone and the pressure finally told when Robin Kovar was left all alone after a pass by Bakrlik, he then skated from round the side of the net to take it round Sedlar and slide it under him for a 1-0 lead at 15-38.


Manchester doubled their lead less than two minutes later when Lee Haywood tried a pass from out of his own zone, but his passed was knocked down into the path of Jack Watkins who skated into space and produced a lovely wrist shot that beat Sedlar up high over the shoulder in the top corner, to see the home side take a very much deserved 2-0 lead in the game at 17-11. With 41 seconds left to play in the first period an innocuous shot round the boards by Greg Chambers, then seen the puck harmlessly go into the Phoenix zone, where a upon a very poor attempted clearance by Joe Graham put his side in trouble in his own zone. Andrew Hirst was one of two Steeldogs players closing Graham down in the Phoenix zone as he plucked the lofted pass out of the air and then gave it Lubomir Korhon who tapped home at the side of the net, for a 2-1 score and was a massive goal for the Steeldogs as they weren`t in the contest at all.


In the Second period it seen another horror show for the Manchester defense, when the opening three minutes of the period seen them throw away a game that they were in full control of prior to the middle period. Sheffield tied the game up at 2-2 through the player deemed an antagonist by a majority of Phoenix fans in Greg Wood. It all came from Lewis Bell throwing the puck goal wards on Steve Fone and it seemed to catch out the netminder but not Wood, who jumped on the loose puck to put poke home and saw the “Second period syndrome” strike Manchester yet again at 22-45. Sheffield fans were still celebrating the tying goal when they were back on their feet again after a nice passing move by Lee Haywood and Andrew Hirst. Hirst quick pass towards the back post was then slammed into the Phoenix net by Lubomir Korhon for his second goal in the game for a 3-2 lead at came at 23-36 which had Manchester well and truly rocked and was just the plot too.


Sheffield was the aggressors in the game for a short time after as Manchester seemed to be in survival mode for a ten minute period after conceding two quick goals. For once Sheffield was using their hockey sense than their fists. Manchester`s defense was not so much all at sea, more like all out in the ocean somewhere as Sheffield shown their hockey ability for a time, where they had the home side run ragged and unsure of themselves too. Then we saw as always between these two sides emotions boil over ,where Rob Schnabel was called for a Clipping penalty at 30-07 and seen Ashley Calvert skate over towards the MUCH taller Czech defenseman over the clipping on Hirst. This then seen them drop the gloves and to be fair it wasn`t much of a contest.
The reach advantage was one of the telling factors in the bout as Calvert tried to throw a couple of punches but couldn`t land any on the taller combatant. That was till Schnabel caught the Sheffield man with a couple of big punches and sent him down on the ice with the Phoenix man falling on the Steeldogs man, before Schnabel seemed to lift him up and throw one more before Calvert seemed acknowledge defeat after he collected a cut and seen Schanbel then stop.


While the players were escorted to the penalty box tempers were beginning to fray still and seen a mini scrum start up around the fight, with both collecting 2 + 2 for Roughing and Schanbel getting the extra two minutes for the Clipping that started the fight in the first place.
Bakrlik joined Schnabel in the penalty box soon after when he and Craig Elliott had a coming together at the side of the net and seen Elliott refusing to let go of the forward stick and saw the Manchester man throw a punch which saw both side come over. That situation worked out well for Sheffield, with Manchester down two Imports for 2 minutes. James Neil then had a chance for the home side but saw his shot saved by Sedlar and saw the whistle blow after the netminder helmet came off.


Phoenix thought they had managed to grab an equaliser through Andy McKinney, after a break out from the home side saw McKinney skate in from the back post to shoot but saw Sedlar come to the rescue once more for the Steeldogs, making a great stop and frustrated the forwards. We then saw Rob Schnabel have his second disagreement with a Sheffield player in the game. With Callum Pattinson trying to provoke the Manchester man into another fight and saw after a lengthy discussion, both dropping the gloves with Pattinson seemingly wanting to hug Schnabel and then them both fall to the ice with the Manchester defenseman disappointed with the lack of fight by the forward, though it was another good situation for Sheffield with Schnabel off the ice.


In the final period Manchester then led an assault on the Sheffield nets and seen a pass across the face of the net fall to Kovar, whose strike hit Sedlar and then run across the goal line and saw Sheffield hold out. Psurny then tried to find room for a shot but he was crowded out by the Steeldogs defence and Sedlar made the save. Phoenix constant threat was wearing the Dogs out and when they were penalised for a Hooking call on Greg Wood, it seemed it was only a matter of time before the goal came for the home side. Bakrlik then tried to be inventive as his slow shot on goal struck the cross bar for Manchester and was the third time they had hit the pipe work in the game and second time in the period. In the dying minutes Phoenix had another chance as the puck went along the goal line once more with the Sheffield nets living a charmed life and how the home side never managed to tie the game is beggar’s belief.


With all the good luck that Sheffield had in the game, buying a lottery ticket would be high on their agenda as they would certain have the winning ticket as they did on Sunday and picked up a big win. An interview on Manchester Phoenix TV with the man of the match for Sheffield in netminder Dalibor Sedlar, had him admit himself ” I was very lucky, we were very lucky tonight but happy we won this game.” It was certainly an extremely frustrating night for the Phoenix but the positives was that they created good chances in the game and on another night maybe they may have gone in. Sheffield though, used their best tactic against Manchester which is to irritate and put them off their game as that has helped them win beat Manchester and shown they struggle to deal with it too.


Things move on for Phoenix as they face a tough 2nd leg in the EPL CUP Semi-Final against the Milton Keynes Lightning, to which they produced a dramatic comeback from 5-2 down to draw 5-5 last week in Coventry and set up another cracking game with Nick Poole`s men this Thursday.  




English Premier League

GP

W

OTW

OTL

L

GF

GA

Pts

1

Manchester Phoenix

40

24

4

2

10

180

118

58

2

Basingstoke Bison

43

24

4

2

13

160

130

58

3

Guildford Flames

43

22

4

3

14

174

140

55

4

Milton Keynes Lightning

42

20

5

2

15

160

139

52

5

Telford Tigers

42

18

3

0

21

147

151

42

6

Sheffield Steeldogs

43

15

2

7

19

155

183

41

7

Swindon Wildcats

41

15

4

2

20

142

144

40

8

Bracknell Bees

44

15

3

3

23

147

174

39

9

Slough Jets

42

15

1

2

24

137

179

34

10

Peterborough Phantoms

42

13

0

7

22

142

186

33






SIX NATIONS: Wales win opener, France steal late-on and Ireland maul Scots!!

The 2014 Six Nations Championship got underway last weekend with some teams having points to prove after a disastrous 2013 championship last year.

WALES  23 – 15 ITALY

Pic: BBCSports
Wales got their campaign underway with an unconvincing win over the Italians at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Things started great for the defending champions, when Rhys Priestland dabbed through a kick which was then misjudged by Angelo Esposito and seen Alex Cuthbert grab the ball to go over for a try in the 4th minute, with Leigh Halfpenny kicking the extras.
Italy`s young kicker Tomasso Allan, he kicked a penalty over for the Azzurri as they cut into the Welsh lead with a player who represented Scotland U20, but decided to play for the country of his birth instead.


 Wales then capitalised on a Sergio Parisse penalty at the line out and seen the Halfpenny kick the resulting penalty over for a 10-3 score line. Scott Williams then scored a second try for the home side coming just before the break to make it 17-3. Italy though was still in the contest despite the score though.
PIC: BBC sports
In the opening minutes of the Second half, Italy went over for a try after Campagnaro chased a loose ball up field. Campagnaro looked to be half hearted in his celebrations as he didn`t it would count and it went upstairs the referee wanted the Video ref to look at it. It looked to be a forward pass from replays, but too much amazement, he gave the try and the Italians were right back in the contest now.
Allan missed the conversation for the Italians and saw Halfpenny become human as he missed a penalty for the Welsh. Allan saw his next penalty strike the uprights, as Italy failed to claw back points on the champions. Halfpenny made up for his missed kicked earlier, as this time his kick sailed through the posts for a 20-8 lead.
Wales then saw Campagnaro intercept a pass by Halfpenny and he ran it back unchallenged to score his second try of the game and make it 20-15 with Allan converting.

Italy then conceded a late penalty in the final ten minutes, which gave the Welsh a chance to put the game to bed and Halfpenny sealed the win 23-15..

FRANCE 26-24 ENGLAND

France was looking for a much better year this time around, with Les Bleus picking up the Wooden spoon in the championship last year and they hoped to erase the memory of the 2013 competition and they went some way to go about it too. A kick towards the corner by Jules Plisson saw Yoann Huget claim the ball and put it down for a try after 30 seconds into give France a great start to the game.

Pic: BBCSports

Owen Farrell then kicked over a penalty for England mintues later to see them cut it to down to a two point game, till Doussain restored the five point lead for the French with a penalty for 8-3. France then grabbed a second try in the game, when Brice Dulin dinked a ball over the back line and saw the bounce catch out the English defence and seen it fall perfectly for Huget who was hand to collect it and go over in the corner again for a 13-3 score.
Pic: TheGuardian 
Doussain missed the conversation, but kicked over a penalty later for the French to go 16-3 ahead and that looked to have put England down and out at that point, with the French building up a 13 points lead. England got a massive try before half time, when Mike Brown went over the line, after Danny Care had cut through the French defences. The Video ref confirmed the try and them back in it at 16-8 with Farrell failing on the conversion.

Owen Farrell then converted a penalty in the early moments of the second half for a 16-11 score. England then took a dramatic lead in the game after Vunipola had galloped into the space and then passed to Luther Burrell, who proceeded to run under the posts and level it at 16-16, with Farrell then adding the extras for an18-16 lead to the visitors..
Maxime Machenaud then kicked over a penalty for France as they brought it back to a two point game, Andy Goode then kicked a long range penalty that was middle of the field and he make it 24-19 to England with them looking in full control of the game now.

England looked to have completed a fabulous comeback in the game with France never looking like getting back into it in the game second half. Then with less than three minutes of the game left to play, France launched one last attack. Play switched to the left and used dummy runners and had more blue shirts on the far side waiting for the ball, seen the French steal the game. When Gael Fickou took the pass and evaded the last line of defence to run it round behind the posts and finish the game off, with the home side winning 26-24 in an enthralling game of rugby at the Stade de France.
Pic:  Yahoosports


IRELAND 28 – 6 SCOTLAND



Ireland in their opener to the Six Nations Championship, seen the home side eventually managed to overpower a dogged Scottish side at the Aviva Stadium. Scotland had the early share of the ball at the start of the match with the Irish defence tested by the Scottish forwards in the opening quarter of the game, but the Green wall withstood the early possession that the Scots had.

Pic: Yahoo Sports
Scotland Captain Greg Laidlaw then had the perfect chance to give his side the lead, but his kick struck the uprights and it bounced wide to let Ireland off. Ireland`s driving maul caused the visitors problems with their power all game and it was evident that the Scots couldn`t deal with it at all, which  then saw Ireland given a penalty, to which Johnny Sexton kicked over for a 3-0 lead.

Ireland then conceded themselves for not rolling away from the tackles and seen Laidlaw make no mistake this time around, as he levelled the game at 3-3.

Johnny Sexton was then dumped to the ground and drew a collective “Oooohhh” by the Lansdowne Road crowd and seen Sexton himself dust himself down and drill a penalty over which came prior to the hit on him as he made it 6-3 for the hosts. Ireland thought they had a got try just before half time, as good play by the Irish seen go over the line, however cheers turned to jeers, when the try was ruled out for Jamie Heaslip foot stepping out of bounce prior to the grounding.

The home side thought did managed to grab a try right on the stroke of half time, when they stole a Scottish line out and drove towards the Scots try line and seen Andrew Trimble make it 11-3 with the hosts in charge of the game after the opening 10 minutes of play.

Pic: Daily mail
The second Irish try came once again from a driving maul, as Scotland was unable to stop it and Heaslip managed to get the ball down to make it a 16-6 game, with Sexton adding the two points for a 18-6 lead and saw Ireland pulling away.  Johnny Sexton then added three more points with the boot, to see the Hosts go 21-6 up and with Scotland losing their concentration, Chris Henry then dashed forward on a break for the Irish before handing off to Rob Kearney. He then managed to fend off the tackle, while his shirt was getting tugged back as he put it down for a try to Ireland and seen Sexton convert to see a winning start to their campaign and move top of the championship in the opening week.

TABLE:             PLD     W   L   D    PTS

1. IRELAND       1       1     0   0      2
2. Wales              1       1     0   0      2 
3. France             1       1      0   0      2
4. England           1       0     1   0      0
5. Italy                 1       0     1   0       0
6. Scotland          1       0     1   0       0

Chelsea inflict First home loss on the Blues








    MANCHESTER CITY    0   – 1  CHELSEA


 CITY DEJECTED after loss                pic: DAILY MAIL


A bolt from the blue by Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic gave his Chelsea side all three points in the title race against rivals Manchester City and in doing so, inflicted the first home loss on the Citizens in the league this season. The London Blues out played, out muscled the home side and saw Jose Mourinho get his tactics absolutely spot on in the big game at the Etihad Stadium on Monday.


The sides meet each other twice in quick succession this month as they face off in the FA Cup in a couple of weeks time at the Etihad and so this was  a chance to get an early blow in on their opponents, but importantly the league was the main focus at this moment in time.
The Home side had Chelsea in trouble in the opening 20 seconds of play after David Silva had an effort blocked in the area and saw Petr Cech kick the ball out of play to try and get his back line sorted.
Alvaro Negredo managed to get the other side of Gary Cahill in the area, but his finish was blazed over and wasn`t what you expected from the Spanish striker. City cut out another fantastic chance to take the lead in the match, when link up play between David Silva and Yaya Toure seen the Ivorian midfielder play a ball out wide to Aleksander Kolorov, who then whipped in a great ball across the face of goals and Toure was just inches away from connecting to give City the lead.
Toure had another effort go close as this time Spanish duo of Silva and Jesus Navas, seen the wide-man Navas play the ball out to Toure and his shot from outside the area, curled just over Cech and clear the bar for a goal kick.
More play down the right hand side, saw Navas once again link up with Toure in midfield and the bustling Toure stayed on his feet to play a ball back to the 5 yard box for Silva and the Spanish wizard just couldn`t divert his effort on target, as he watched the ball spin away by the post and let Chelsea off once more.
City wasn`t making the most of their chances and when Edin Dzeko saw his curling effort go wide, you felt these misses was going to come back and haunt the home side in the end. Silva tried a acrobatic attempt on goal but it went for a corner, after Chelsea`s defense was standing their ground.
The West London side was then starting to get into the game more after they weathered the opening 25 minutes of play by the home side.
Ivanovic strikes for CHELSEA    pic:TheGuardian
Chelsea had their first shot of the game in the 26th minute, when a sloppy ball by Kolorov saw David Luiz intercept the ball and seen Chelsea roam forward, leading to them on a 4 on 1 attack. Vincent Kompany had to race back to help out and seen Ramirez have a shot on goal well saved by Joe Hart in the City net with the rebound falling to Willian who tried an overhead kick and got it badly wrong leading to the ball ending up in the stands. 
In the 35th minute , Chelsea broke the deadlock through Branislav Ivanovic strike, after Edin Hazard ball into the City penalty area  saw Ramirez shot blocked by Kompany after the Belgian defender rolled into the shot and saw the ball come out to Ivanovic, whose strike bounced just before Hart and evaded him to find the far corner for 1-0.
The Blues tried to strike back, when Navas hit his shot into the ground but saw it collected easily by Cech and the Blues struggle to find hit the target. Edin Dzeko had another shot go off target for the home side as he was unable to test Cech, while the defense for the London side looked a tough nut to crack.
Chelsea nearly made it 2-0 when Hazard ran into the area and a diagonal ball across goals found Samuel E`to running in to the area and his strike struck the goal post and went out of play, Half time came and seen Chelsea looking the better side as the half ended.
City looked to try and find the elusive goal to level the match and saw Dzeko mistimed a header that went wide, as the striker seemed to have lost his shooting boots again. Toure saw another chance go begging for the home side, when Navas ball into the area was laid off by Dzeko and the midfielder`s snap shot went just past the post by inches and left City feeling frustrated, as they were unable to find the target.
Nemanja Matic then had a shot strike the woodwork again for Chelsea, with the away side looking more threatening going forward than that of City.  Manuel Pellegrini then made a change taking Negredo off and replacing him with Stefan Jovetic, as he looked to inject some pace upfront into his side as they were lacking any type of quickness at all in the game with Chelsea dominating the midfielder battle.
Gary Cahill then had a header strike the post from a corner kick as it was the third time the post had come to City`s rescue, with Joe Hart  beaten by the header. City had another chance go begging when a little flick over the defense by Navas, seen Pablo Zabaleta get onto it and his pass went to Dzeko who saw the Bosnian yet again fail to hit the target, Jovetic then played the ball back into the danger area before the defense cleared the danger and it was becoming a trend in the game now for the home side.
Hazard gallops past the City defense:   pic: theDailymail
The home side pressing for a goal and was starting to looking desperate now and when Kolorov put a fizzing box into the area it was cut out by Gary Cahill, who nearly turned the ball into his own net from it, but luckily for him it struck the outside of the post and out for a corner kick. Chelsea did attack, but all the running seemed to come from Edin Hazard who gave the defense a torrid time all game as they were unable to contain the Belgian maestro.
City tested Cech with a free kick by David Silva, but saw the Chelsea keeper make a great stop to push the ball over the bar for a corner as he had another chance minutes later, when a low cross driven into the area saw him running in to put it wide of the target and seen the home fans tearing their hair out at the chances they were failing to convert. Matija Nastatic was lucky to be on the field after he brought a Chelsea man down just over half way and looked to be last man, but referee Mike Dean adjudged the Defender not to be and shown him a yellow card on what was a bad night for the City defender.


Despite all the chances the home side created, Chelsea always looked to be in control of the match and Mourinho`s tactical play and stubborn defense shown that they could deal with all City threw had to throw at them and deep into injury time, Jovetic who was one of the few bright spark for the home side, saw his curling effort almost deceive Cech, but the Czech keeper made another good stop to keep City at bay and deny them a late equaliser. 
Mourinho celebrates victory        Mirror.co.uk
The final whistle blew and saw Jose Mourinho celebrate the win on the touchline with his coaching staff and saw the Chelsea players celebrate the victory too, where City will look back at the chances they created and think if only half of them had been on target. That the home side may have possibly got a draw in the match, but as it was, Chelsea moved level with Manchester City on 53 points, stay third due to City`s superior goal difference which is 17 more than Chelsea and kept them in Second position a point behind leaders Arsenal on 54.

Updated: 04 February 2014, 16:22
Home Away
      Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 up Arsenal 24 9 2 1 22 6 8 2 2 25 15 +26 55
2 down Manchester City 24 11 0 1 42 9 6 2 4 26 18 +41 53
3 same position Chelsea 24 10 2 0 25 9 6 3 3 19 11 +24 53
4 same position Liverpool 24 10 1 1 33 8 4 4 4 25 21 +29 47
5 up Everton 24 8 3 1 23 10 4 6 2 14 15 +12 45
6 down Spurs 24 5 3 4 14 18 8 2 2 17 14 -1 44
7 same position Manchester United 24 6 2 4 16 10 6 2 4 23 19 +10 40
8 same position Newcastle United 24 5 3 4 17 15 6 1 5 15 16 +1 37
9 same position Southampton 24 5 4 3 19 14 4 4 4 15 13 +7 35
10 same position Aston Villa 24 3 2 7 12 19 4 4 4 15 15 -7 27
11 up Stoke City 24 5 5 2 16 13 1 2 9 8 25

Taken from :MCFC.co.uk

Telford show the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ against Phoenix











MANCHESTER   PHOENIX           3   –   6         TELFORD TIGERS



Manchester Phoenix recorded their first pointless weekend since October time, as the current league leaders failed to capitalise on their current games in hand on their title rivals. Defeat on successive nights have seen the Phoenix go from two points clear at the top to now be level with the Basingstoke Bison, who themselves beat Phoenix conquerors on the Sunday night in the Sheffield Steeldogs.


Saturday Night saw Phoenix travel over the Pennines to Sheffield where they take on the Steeldogs in the Roses derby at Ice Sheffield. Manchester made a good start as they took the lead through Frantisek Bakrlik strike in the 3rd minute of play, before the home side responded with Ben Morgan scoring past Steve Fone to draw level at 7:47.
Craig Elliott then picked up a High Sticks call at 17:21 to see him ejected from the game and put the Visitors on a 5 minute powerplay, to which they made hardly anything of at all.


Lubomir Korhor gave the home side the lead at 36:10 to see them go 2-1 up. Then in the final period Sheffield got a bit of luck, when a penalty on Greg Wood had just elapsed and saw Wood jump out of the penalty box and onto the puck , only for him to make it 3-1to Sheffield and looked to be it for Manchester. Phoenix had only themselves to blame in the game as they failed to capitalise on any powerplay opportunity they had, plus Sedlar in the Steeldogs goal had a great night too.
At 57:10 Bakrlik scored his second to make it a 3-2 game and with time running out they pushed for the tying goal. Phoenix pulled the netminder for the extra attacker, but saw Greg Chambers score to seal the win for the Steeldogs 4-2. However the action wasn`t over yet, when at 59:53 chaos ensued when we saw both teams end up in a scrum that involved Lee Haywood, Andy Hirst, Lloyd Gibson and Callum Pattinson of the Steeldogs and Richard Bentham, Jacob Heron, Rob Schnabel and Andy McKinney of the Phoenix as they had a couple of battles that saw the penalty minutes rack up for both teams.
Sunday night saw Phoenix looking to bounce back against the Telford Tigers who are the only side this season to have beaten Manchester on home ice and it was fair to say that in that previous game, it was a case of Phoenix losing concentration with some very contentious decisions going against them.
This time thought, there was no complaints by Manchester. A very well drilled Telford side shown the league leaders that the win in Manchester previously wasn`t a fluke as they powered to a 6-3 victory.
Telford started off the game the brighter of the two sides with Manchester unable to clear their lines without a Orange and Black shirt getting to the puck first, that constant pressure by the Tigers told as at 2:00 into the game. When Former Phoenix man Scott McKenzie scored the opening goal of the game to send the travelling Tigers fans up on their feet, with McKenzie beating the netminder to make it 1-0.
Manchester was given an early power play chance when another former Manchester player in Finnish forward Timo Kuvuulainen , was sent to the box for a Hooking call at 4:02. Just like the night before the P. P (power play)unit was diabolical again, with Telford looking by far the more threatening side than Manchester.


Manchester then found a way back into the contest after Tony Hand managed to cut out a pass by the Telford defense and then fed Michal Psurny who roofed it past Declan Ryan in the Visitors nets for a 1-1 score at 11-37.
Phoenix forward Frantisek Bakrlik then received a 10 minute misconduct penalty after Declan Ryan shoved his gloved in Bakrlik face after the play was whistled, Bakrlik wasn`t very pleased with Ryan face wash and then Bakrlik push Ryan back and resulted in the Czech forward getting a misconduct call for continuing his displeasure over the whole incident towards the official.


We then saw a move that infuriated the crowd, when Ryan lost his goalie stick during a play it ended up by the boards. This saw the referee skate over to hand it him back while play was going on down the other end and normally it is always a team mate or the goalie himself who retrieves the stick, but the sight of the referee passing the netminder`s stick back to Ryan, drew a loud sustained chorus of boos towards that official.


Second period witnessed yet another collapse in the middle stanza for the Phoenix, as it has become something of a worrying trend since Christmas time.
James Archer was sat in the box serving a penalty for Hooking, when Rick Plant tipped the puck in at the front of the net to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead at 22-26 and to be honest at that point, you never felt Manchester would back.
Things got even better for the Shropshire club when another power play goal went in for them at 29-18, thanks to Joe Miller as the Tigers were well and truly ‘Roaring’ in the game.
Manchester desperately needed to find some intervention from somewhere as they were looking tired from after their bruising encounter with Sheffield the night before, meanwhile Telford was looking much more fresher than the home side with a bigger bench that was helping their cause massively .


Manchester was then given a powerplay opportunity when James Pease was called for Slashing and the PP unit managed to create a couple of chances which resulted in defenseman, Rob Schnabel netting a goal at 35:35 thanks to a quick pass out front by Tony Hand, after Michal Psurny had worked along the boards to start the move for goal.
Phoenix defense and Steve Fone then had a meltdown of epic proportions in the final minute of the second and it took the game away from the Phoenix in the end. 
A great build up play by Telford`s Finnish duo, Timo Kuvuulainen and Mika Kiviranta on their First line, saw the pairing carve Phoenix open with ease and a pass across the slot was turned in by Rick Plant for 4-2.



Then with literally the last play of the 2nd period the Tigers made it 5-2. Callum Bowley skated round the Phoenix nets before laying off to Adam Walker, whose shot was stopped initially, but Fone was unable to see the puck and the Phoenix defense unable to clear their lines and the puck managed to find it`s way in the net just before the horn.
Telford skated to the locker room with a major boost heading into the third, whereas Phoenix looked like a side that was out of ideas and out of gas.
In the final period, Telford seemed to play a counter attack style much like Phoenix have played this season and with Manchester struggling to make any kind of impact on Declan Ryan in the Telford nets, you just never thought Manchester was really in the game after the double blow at the back end of the Second period.
Phoenix then grabbed a consolation goal on the powerplay when Tony Hand pass come shot seemed to trick everyone on the ice, including Ryan and went in for a goal at 46-34 to make it 5-3. Telford still seemed to have another gear left in them though it felt and Manchester was then starting to get chances, but found Ryan once again in sparking form for the Tigers as he pounced on every puck to keep the Phoenix out.


Then to cap off a miserable weekend for Phoenix, Telford scored a bizarre Sixth goal that killed off any hopes at all Manchester had at that point. A puck shot round the boards harmlessly then struck the metal post that secures the plexi glass together and with Fone coming out to play it, the puck deflected towards the front of the net where Mika Kiviranta was on hand to just tap home into the empty net for a very lucky bounce for the Tigers and when you`re in the kind of run that Telford are, then those bounces go your way. 
The goal was made worst as it was shorthanded with Phoenix on the powerplay at that time and it seemed to take the rest of what the home side had in them, out of them.


Telford`s travelling support never stopped singing or cheering all game and with the way they put the League leaders away so easily, it`s a thought many of them will have thought about as what would have happened, if this side had been together at the start of the season.
As based on this game they would be more likely challenging towards the top of the table, than the bottom of the table that they have been doing for since coming back in to the league a few years ago.


For Manchester, this whole weekend was a massive blow for them considering having the extra games in hand, Phoenix haven`t been able to make them count and with the Basingstoke Bison stealing a win in Sheffield that result brought them level with the Phoenix once more at the top of the EPL.
Manchester now have the tough ask of playing 8 games in 17 days, with all the fixture congestion piling up with two EPL Cup Semi Finals fitted in against the Milton Keynes Lightning. The 1st leg of which starts on Wednesday down in Coventry and has been a bad place for Phoenix so far, having lost the last two games there 7-2 twice.


 BOLTON NEWS


ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GF
GA
Pts
1
Manchester Phoenix
38
23
4
2
9
172
111
56
2
Basingstoke Bison
41
23
4
2
12
155
124
56
3
Guildford Flames
41
21
4
3
13
167
133
53
4
Milton Keynes Lightning
40
20
5
1
14
154
128
51
5
Swindon Wildcats
39
14
4
2
19
137
139
38
6
Telford Tigers
40
17
2
0
21
136
145
38
7
Sheffield Steeldogs
41
13
2
7
19
146
178
37
8
Bracknell Bees
42
13
3
3
23
139
172
35
9
Slough Jets
40
15
1
2
22
135
172
34
10
Peterborough Phantoms
40
13
0
7
20
138
177
33