A Toni Duggan goal in the first half proved to be enough for Manchester City Women, as they secured a tight 1-0 win over rivals Chelsea on what was a very emotional charged evening at the City Academy Stadium on Thursday evening.
This past Monday saw Manchester being rocked to it’s core, when the city was hit by a terror attack at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people and injured many others in the blast. For the past few days that followed, the City as a whole have come together to show solidarity and saw this being the first game played in the city since that tragic incident.
Both sides wore ‘We Love MCR’ shirts in their respective warm-ups and was a nice touch by the visiting side. Prior to kick off it saw the fans in attendance all coming together and chanting ‘Stand up for Manchester’ before the teams entered the field of play.
After a minute’s silence was impeccably observed by the whole stadium, it saw the Spring Series contest finally getting underway and bring some normality to proceedings as well.
An absolutely baking hot evening in Manchester served up a entertaining game of football, between two teams that battled tooth and nail for the WSL League title last season.
The home side started very attacking and had their opponents coming under some stern pressure early doors in the contest. Chelsea forced their way back into the game and saw both sides needing to being patient in their build ups as they looked to crack the others defences.
When the clock ticked onto the 22-minute mark it saw the ground rising to it’s feet to pay it’s respects to the twenty-two victims that were killed in the incident in the terror attacks and was a another nice touch.
Play was very much even until the deadlock was broken on 28 minutes, with a bit of skill and vision by Manchester City’s Toni Duggan. It saw the forward spinning on the ball which caught out Chelsea’s Millie Bright, before the striker then unleashed a shot from outside that area that beat Carly Telford in the visitors goal and put the hosts a goal up.
City captain Steph Houghton then almost made it 2-0 with a free kick that rattled off the crossbar and away, with the home side in on top. Second half had the visitors taking the game to the home side more and edging play in their favour, with Chelsea having more of the ball and the attacking play.
Karen Bardsley was the more busier keeper of the two in the second forty-five of the game, as she was made to make a couple of important stops to deny the West-London side an equaliser.
Nikita Parris was getting into decent positions for City, but sadly her shooting was letting her down and saw her spurning a couple of glorious chances to give the home side a cushion. Megan Campbell then put in one of her trademark long throws into the Chelsea penalty box, as the ball beat everyone in the area especially Carly Telford to see the ball ending up in the back of the net.
Sadly for her and the home side though, the rules states that the ball much take a touch off someone for it count, and as no one got a touch it was ruled out. For the final quarter of the game it saw City coming under pressure by the Chelsea forwards, and once yet again Bardsley was forced into making some top draw saves to deny them an equaliser.
The visitors pressed and pressed for a goal late on, but the City defences were refusing to budge. In the end the home side had enough to hold out and claim three league points in the Spring series table and move them one shy of leaders Liverpool, with the Blues facing Arsenal Ladies on Sunday dinnertime and a chance to go top.
In the first meeting of the Roses games this season, it saw the Manchester Mayhem holding the bragging rights after a 7-2 victory over the Sheffield Steelkings thanks to four goals by Anthony Booth, in what was a very feisty contest and at times bad tempered game at Altrincham.
The previous meetings between the sides with Manchester playing under a different banner, had saw the Red Rose side holding a perfect record against their counterparts from Sheffield, with mostly one-sided games. Play was even and saw both teams having chances and looking threatening too.
A fairly fast-paced game saw both sides testing the respective netminders, but had neither side able to make the breakthrough. Manchester ended the period a man light, after Karl Nicholson was forced to serve a penalty for a delay of game call, ten seconds from the end of first.
Second period saw a glut of goals forthcoming in the game finally, with firstly Sheffield’s Gary Farmer getting the opening goal of the contest at 16.10, as the forward took a pop from the blue line and saw the puck fly in over Steve Midghall in nets and go in off the goal post to give the Steelkings a 1-0 lead.
Manchester responded with two goals in the space of 30 seconds, as Karl Nicholson levelled the game up at 18.17 and then his teammate Anthony Booth sweeping home to make it 2-1 at 18.47 for the Mayhem and put the hosts in front.
Booth then made it 3-1 after Nicholson had played the puck off the side boards with pace and that the bounce falling nicely for his Mayhem line mate to chase down and then slot passed Bryan Hackworth in the Sheffield goals to increase their lead.
At 22.58 it saw Gary Farmer reducing the deficit to just one goal and also score his second of the game in the process, with the Steelkings man collecting the puck behind the Manchester net and then roofing home for a 3-2 game.
The home side then moved 4-2 ahead thanks to a second goal by Karl Nicholson, but the contest was far from over, as Sheffield weren’t throwing in the towel quite yet. Tempers then began to simmer towards the end of the second period, when Nicholson continued to go to the net and crashed into the Sheffield goalie- which brought the ire of the visiting Steelkings side and a scrum developed.
From that point onwards the hitting became a bit more hard hitting you could say, with the Manchester man getting some extra attention from the Sheffield side from that point on. In the final period it saw Anthony Booth completing his hat trick to make the game 5-2 in favour of the Mayhem and that goal killed off the away sides chances of getting back into it.
Less than a minute later Booth struck again to take his tally to four goal for the match and that was soon followed by guest player Simon Berry, as he rounded off the scoring with a power play goal for 7-2.
In the last minute of the game it saw Sheffield’s Barry Grayson collecting a Interference call along with a Abuse of official call as well, to rub salt into the wounds of the Steelkings side.
Sheffield in truth gave Manchester more than a scare in the game and the Steelkings just seemed to run out of steam late on, but they looked a like more motivated than ever this year than perhaps seasons gone by.
Both sides over the next couple of day will be sore and know they were in a contest, after such a bruising encounter and that fact the sides meet again in Sheffield in just over three weeks time, it will certainly keep this rivalry fresh in the memory banks.
Two goals by Scottish striker Jane Ross helped Manchester City Women on their way to victory and close the gap on leaders Liverpool at the top of the WSL FA Spring Series table, as they eased to a 5-1 win over Yeovil Town Ladies at the City Academy Stadium on Sunday Afternoon.
City returned home triumphant having beaten Birmingham City Ladies last weekend down at Wembley in the Women’s FA CUP Final, so they were obviously still cock a hoop after completing a sweep of the major domestic honours in the English game.
Nick Cushing the Manchester City coach made a couple of changes to the side for the visit of Yeovil to the CFA, with youngster Ellie Roebuck taking her place between the posts for the Blues in their Spring Series encounter.
The home side dominated the game from start to finish and saw the West Country side struggling to contain their opponents in the game. City took the lead on 10 minutes courtesy of an own goal by Ann-Marie Heatherson, after the Yeovil defender put the ball in back of her own net from a Lucy Bronze cross to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Jill Scott quickly made it 2-0 after 12 minutes gone, after the England Midfielder flicked the ball over the Yeovil keeper and into the back of the net to see City Women almost putting the game to bed early doors.
Toni Duggan almost make it three on 17 minutes, when the Liverpudlian striker fired on goal and brought out a good stop out from the former Notts County keeper Megan Walsh, to keep it at 2-0.
Yeovil then stunned the home side with a goal back for the visitors on 20 minutes, after a poor defensive pass across the back-line by Jennifer Beattie saw the ball been intercepted by Yeovil’s Lucy Quinn, and she striker struck a sweet shot that beat Roebuck in the City goals to make it 2-1 and give the visitors a possible way back.
The away side then started to get a foot back in the door and play some good football, with Yeovil taking heart from their goal and caused some minor panic for the home side. In truth the away side never looked to really trouble City in the game, and that goal was pretty much their best effort and had City soon settling back into their groove fairly soon.
Jane Ross then made it 3-1 for City after 38 minutes gone in the match, as the Scottish striker put home from Georgia Stanway’s cross to re-establish their two-goal lead again in the game. Walsh in goals for the visitors, saw her well and truly earning her pay packet for the week with three quick saves from Ross and a couple from Duggan in the Sky Blue shirts to keep the hosts out for a fourth time.
Second half saw more of the same and had the Blues trying to hammer home their advantage even more, but were unable to do so in the first ten minutes of the half with Yeovil proving stubborn at the back.
Yeovil’s back line got broken for 4-1, after Jane Ross put home from a Steph Houghton header across the penalty box to put home for her second of the game and put the game to bed well and truly.
Manchester City’s Swedish International Kosse Asllani got her name on the scoresheet for the home side in the 68th minute of the contest, as the Swedish striker prodded home from close range to make it five and give their goal difference a bit of a health boost.
Ross nearly completed a hat trick with a header moments later, but the effort just missed the target. Yeovil was then awarded a penalty six minutes from time, after City defender Lucy Bronze brought down an opposition player in the penalty box and that saw Sarah Wiltshire given the duty of taking the spot kick.
Wiltshire stepped up to take the penalty for the Yeovil, but it was a very poorly taken penalty in all honesty and was well saved by Ellie Roebuck in the City goals to keep them out. As the game was coming to close, it saw City’s American loanee in Carli Lloyd being shown a straight red card by the referee for elbow off the ball and sees the US star missing the next three games due to suspension.
The win for City Women sees them moving into third place and just four points behind Leaders Liverpool, with their next opponents being against Chelsea Ladies this upcoming Thursday night.
Belle Vue got back to winning ways this past Friday night with a tight win over the battling Swindon Robins 48-42 at the National Speedway Stadium, with the returning Kenneth Bjerre to their line up and saw the Danish rider scoring 13 points on his way to leading the Aces to victory. Meanwhile Swindon’s Grand Prix star Jason Doyle top scored with 14 points for the Robins, with the Wiltshire side claiming a losing bonus point for their efforts.
Things were looking very good after three races gone for the home side, as Belle Vue led 11-7 with a couple of 4-2’s going their way, and also saw Steve Worrall getting the better of Australian Jason Doyle in the opening heat.
Swindon’s Nick Morris and reserve Zach Wajtknecht then combined in heat four for a 5-1 maximum to the Robins, as they saw off the challenge of Aces Jack Smith and Craig Cook, to which Cook struggled all evening with new machinery and looked low on power all night.
The visitors then edged ahead with a 4-2 from Doyle and guest rider Matt Williamson, as the Australia flew away from the tapes and saw Bjerre nowhere to be seen in means of trying to catch him in the race. Max Fricke and Steve Worrall then repaid the compliment back to their guests with a 4-2 in the following race, to square the meeting up at 18-18.
David Bellego and Adam Ellis then restored the Robins two point lead in heat 7, as Ellis made the gate and that was before Craig Cook came into the lead and then saw Bellego swooping by Cook for the lead and see another 4-2 race advantage going the way of Swindon.
Steve Worrall and Dan Bewley then got out on a 5-1 for the Aces in heat 8, but yet again they were unable to seal the deal and had Bellego again managing to force his way through to get by Bewley but not Worrall, as the home boys levelled things up again for a 24-24 scoreline.
Belle Vue then began to make inroads in the match over the next two races, with the Aces gaining maximum points in both. Firstly in heat 9 it saw Kenneth Bjerre and Justin Sedgmen gating and leaving their opponents eating their dust, while in heat 10 Max Fricke took the race win ahead of Worrall, who just beat Bellego heading into the final couple of bends for a 5-1.
The home side had effectively won the match by heat 12, after a 4-2 from Bjerre and Smith saw the son of former Aces man Andy, trying everything to get pass Zach Wajtknecht for second place but was forced to settle for a point.
Swindon then hit back with a 5-1 in heat 13 to give them hopes of claiming a losing bonus point at least from the meeting, and in the the last race of the night it saw Jason Doyle once again showing his class again around the NSS track to give the Robins a deserved point in the scheme of things and have the Aces picking up the win.
Belle Vue Aces = 48
1. Max Fricke – 1,3,3,0 = 7
2. Steve Worrall – 3,1,3,2*,1* = 10+2
3. Kenneth Bjerre – 3,2,3,3,2 = 13
4. Justin Sedgmen – 1,0,2*,1* = 4+2
5. Craig Cook – 1,2,2,1 = 6
6. Dan Bewley – 3,0,1,1*,2 = 7+1
7. Jack Smith – 0,0,(DB-1),1 = 1
This past weekend saw the debut of the new boys to the British Para Ice Hockey League in the form of the Manchester Mayhem, as they opened up their league program against the Cardiff Huskies and were hammered 8-3 with seven of the eight Cardiff goals being scored by Tyler Christopher.
Manchester went into the contest missing two key players for their home season opener as both Dominic Cosgrove and talisman Rob Allen were ruled out with injuries and that meant that the home side were two forwards light in the line up, but did draft in a guest in Kingston’s Simon Berry to beef up the bench a tiny bit.
It saw a pretty even contest to begin with between the two teams, that despite the visitors looking far more dangerous than the home side in attack. Manchester needed their netminder Steve Midghall to come up big at times with a couple of good saves to shut the door on Cardiff’s forwards.
The visitors were very threatening when going forward, and that sustained pressure brought them a fortuitous opener through Tyler Christopher as his shot somehow managed to squirm through the defences of Midghall, and into the net at 12.11 to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later and it saw Cardiff doubling their lead with Ty Christopher on target once again, as the forward put home for his second of the game and put the visitors firmly in charge. Pat Bailey then fired in a quick response for the home side to reduce the deficit in half and see the Mayhem trail 2-1 after the opening period of play.
Second period was completely dominated by a strong Cardiff side, as the Huskies netted four goals in the period to put the home side to the sword. In truth it wasn’t as much of a one-sided game as it played out, and was mostly competitive with a few hits coming in from both sides.
Ty Christopher grabbed his hat trick goal five minutes into the period with a carbon copy of his second goal, as he gave Cardiff a 3-1 lead early on. Manchester then came back at their opponents once more through Anthony Booth, when the forward had his shot go in at the near post and past Russell Wiley in the Huskies goal for a 3-2 game.
Cardiff then went up a gear or two after the Mayhem’s second goal, and that saw the visitors restoring their two goal lead with Christopher scoring yet again and he added a fourth for the Husks’. Steve Midghall was facing a lot of rubber in the period and was forced to make some very nice saves and important ones too.
Soon after it was 5-2 for Cardiff with Paul Furbur firing in a fifth goal for the visitors and had them making the most of their chances when they came. In the 28th minute of play it saw Christopher making it 6-2 for the Huskies and making it a match to forget for the home side.
In the final period it saw Cardiff increasing their lead through that man again Ty Christopher, with the forward destroying the Mayhem on his own and putting a further two more goals past the netminder for an 8-2 scoreline with five minutes left to go in the game.
The hosts had the final say on the game through a Anthony Booth consolation goal for the Mayhem, as the Manchester defence was left to count the cost of defensive errors and allow Tyler Christopher in particular to make them pay.
Cardiff’s powerful line up was just too strong for the makeshift Manchester side, but it was a deserved victory for the Welsh side who look a real force this season in the British Para Ice Hockey League.
Manchester will look to rebound this upcoming Saturday night at home again, as the they welcome the Sheffield Steelkings to Altrincham in the War of the Roses clash and have both the Mayhem and Steelkings looking to pick up their maiden wins in the league.
All Photography taken from: 98 Yetiiis Photography.
Manchester City Women 4 – 1 Birmingham City Ladies
Manchester City Women made it a historic clean sweep of the English domestic trophies on Saturday evening, with the Sky Blues beating Birmingham City Ladies 4-1 in the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium thanks to first half goals by Lucy Bronze, Izzy Christiansen and Carli Lloyd followed by a late goal from Jill Scott.
City came into the final as huge favourites to lift the only trophy that was missing from their resume to date, having already the Women’s Super League title and the Continental Cup in their possession.
Their opponents were Birmingham City Ladies, a side that were no strangers to the Manchester club having recently met them at the City Academy Stadium 10 days ago and saw a 1-1 draw. It was back in October when Manchester City beat Birmingham in Extra Time to win their second Continental Cup in three years, so City boss Nick Cushing and the team knew full well what to expect of their opponents.
City had the first effort of the game through Megan Campbell, with the Irish International seeing her shot from an Izzy Christiansen corner hitting the side netting and was a warning shot to their opponents.
Lucy Bronze who has been a big time player for the Blues in their success over the last year, saw the England defender turning up again with another goal on 17 minutes with Bronze heading home from a Megan Campbell free kick to put City 1-0 up in the final.
Izzy Christiansen then made it 2-0 on 24 minutes for the Manchester side, after Lucy Bronze won the ball back inside the Birmingham half she then floated a ball inside the penalty box for the City midfielder to convert.
Mel Lawley then nearly made it three on the half hour mark for the Sky Blues, after Carli Lloyd played a ball forward for Lawley to run onto and saw the winger nearly scoring against her former employees, as it needed Berger in the Birmingham goals to make the stop.
From the resulting corner it saw a short corner taken and passed back towards Megan Campbell who whipped in a great ball and was missed by the keeper, but not by Carli Lloyd as the American header scored on her return to Wemble, having scored for the US in the Olympics.
Manchester City was running riot in the game and saw their opponents needing a miracle now to force their way back into the contest. Birmingham was being outplayed by the League and Cup winners and was a different game to the one played ten days before, when Brum were dangerous throughout.
However this time around it saw Birmingham just unable to muster anything in the way of an attack or something that resembled a threat on Karen Bardsley’s goal.
Second half saw Nikita Parris trying to bend a shot past the Birmingham keeper on 53 minutes, but Berger was equal to it and made a finger tip save to push it away for a corner.
Birmingham then registered their first real shot on goal in the 61st minute of the game, when Ellen White was left with plenty of time to take aim and shoot and see the England striker shooting from outside the area and bringing a save from Karen Bardsley.
After causing City a few problems, it saw Birmingham City Ladies getting on the scoresheet through a stunning Charlie Welling strike on 73 minutes and gave them a glimmer of hope.
That hope was all but extinguished on 80 minutes when Jill Scott fired home a lovely goal into the far top corner of Berger’s net to make it 4-1 for Manchester City Women, and that goal sealed the win to capture their maiden Women’s FA Cup trophy.
Manchester City Women 1 – 1 Birmingham City Ladies
57′ Bronze 13′ Westwood
Manchester City needed a Lucy Bronze equaliser to help see them and their opponents Birmingham City ending honours even in as they sides meet in ten days time in the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley on 13th May. Once again it needed Manchester City’s England International Lucy Bronze to come to their rescue and pick up a point in the 1-1 draw with Birmingham City Ladies in the opening WSL Spring Series contest for the Sky Blues.
The home side saw boss Nick Cushing giving a start to England’s under-17 goalie Ellie Roebuck and also hand a start to Dutch midfielder Tessel Middag, as it was a very much different looking line up to the previous ones that have started in recent games and was giving some playing time too.
City could easily have been in front after just seventeen seconds gone on the clock, after Carli Lloyd latched onto a poorly hit back pass by Aoife Mannion towards her keeper and saw the American pushing the ball passed Ann-Katrin Berger in the Birmingham goal and then putting her effort into the side netting.
That chance was really as good as it got for the home side in the opening forty-five minutes of the play, with the home side struggling to put passes together and were very disjointed in their attacks and lacking cohesion as well, which stifled anything in the way of attacks in the first period.
Birmingham then took a surprised lead on 13 minutes into the game, after Emily Westwood guided her header past Roebuck in the Manchester City goal from a Coral-Jade Haines corner kick and that put the Midlands side one up with their first effort on goal.
After going a goal down, it saw the home side recovering well without having really caused the Birmingham defence to press the panic buttons. The home side really lacked any attacking threat going forward and saw most of their attacks undone by themselves, with poor passing and a lack of cutting edge to their play.
A very unexcitable first half drew to a close thankfully, with the away side still leading by a solitary goal to nil and had neither side really looking like scoring from open play and if anything, it had Birmingham looking more likely to score again when they had a corner kick.
With the second half getting underway, it saw the home side looking to get back into the contest and they did on 57 minutes, as Birmingham’s nemesis last season in the Continental Cup Final in Lucy Bronze levelled the contest at one all.
It saw the England defender and recently named PFA Women’s Player of the Year making a run into the Birmingham penalty box and then firing the ball into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Nick Cushing then made all his subs in the space of seven minutes apart, with firstly Georgia Stanway being replaced by Jane Ross immediately from the restart and then Kosovare Asllani and Jennifer Beattie being subbed on 65 minutes, for Jill Scott and returning to the squad after a long lay off in Irish International Megan Campbell.
As previously stated at the start, these two teams will contest the Women’s FA Cup Final a week on Saturday at Wembley Stadium with neither side giving ground or showing how they may play in the Cup Final.
Credit to Birmingham though, they did what a lot of other sides have been unable to, or just refused to do all and was to attack the home side and by doing so made it an interesting and entertaining too.
The home side grew into the contest and was putting their opponents under some severe pressure as the game ticked down inside the last ten minutes of the contest. Jane Ross firstly saw her effort from a tight angle being stopped by the keeper and somehow saw a loose rebounded scrambled away, with Lloyd nearly netting.
City’s best chance then fell two minutes from time from Carli Lloyd again, as this time the midfielder had the ball come nicely to her and her blast struck Berger in the chest and away from danger, when it really should have been buried by the Star player.
Overall a draw was probably the fairest result for both sides, with arguably the home side edging play in the second half, but with the Cup final in a couple weeks times it saw both teams relatively play with their performances.
Nick Cushing’s side play two away games before they meet Birmingham again at Wembley, with Reading away on Sunday and then followed by Bristol City Women on the Tuesday night.
Belle Vue saw their unbeaten home record going up in smoke on Bank Holiday Monday, with the visitors in the Somerset Rebels inflicting a 46-44 loss on the Aces in front of a bumper crowd at the National Speedway Stadium.
The Rebels made their first ever visit up to Manchester in their short history, with the teams having never met in any competition before. It saw the Westcountry side hoping to pick up some much need points, with the Somerset outfit bottom of the table early doors in the standings.
It also saw both teams forced into using guest riders in the meeting, as Danish riders Kenneth Bjerre and Patrick Hougaard were away riding in the opening round of the Speedway Euro Championship (SEC) in Torun, Poland. That meant that Lee Payne and Rob Shuttleworth of the Belle Vue Colts both stepped in for either side to see a full line-up.
Australian Rohan Tungate shown his liking for the Manchester track once again in the meeting, with the Rebels number one taking the opening race win ahead of fellow countryman Max Fricke as the Aces man was unable to gain ground on his opposite number.
Jake Allen and Jan Gravensen put the away ahead with an easy 5-1 to their name in the reserves race, as the Rebels led 8-4 early on. Paul Starke then produced a stunning pass to see him round the Aces pairing of Steve Worrall and Justin Sedgmen in heat three, as he turned a 5-1 against into a 3-3 and see a share of the points.
Belle Vue then got out on a 5-1 with Craig Cook and Jack Smith in heat four, but with Josh Grajczonek having far more speed then Smith had, it saw the Belle Vue captain forced to ride off and get the win and score the win for hosts and collect their first heat advantage of the match.
Sedgmen and Worrall then made a good gate with Rohan Tungate right behind them in heat five and that saw the Aussie easily steaming under Steve Worrall to take second place, and saw him having Sedgmen in his sights but wasn’t able to catch him in a 4-2 heat win and make it 15-15 after five races.
Max Fricke and Craig Cook then picked up race wins in heats six and seven, but they were cancelled out with the visitors packing the minor places. Somerset brought in Jake Allen for Rob Shuttleworth as a reserve change and it brought instant dividends with a 5-1 for the Rebels and lead 26-22.
Three shared heats saw the visitors holding a four point lead still in the contest, but Cook and Tungate then had a cracking race with the riders swapping places on every lap, before the Rebels man held his nerve and had the speed on Cook to take the race win.
Charles Wright and Jake Allen then extended the lead for the away side in heat twelve, by way of a 4-2 to Somerset and moved six points clear at 33-39 with three races left to go. Belle Vue desperately needed a big win in heat thirteen to get back in the match and was hoping of repeating their previous heroics against Leicester weeks before.
Sadly though for the Aces, Rohan Tungate wasn’t going to oblige and saw him lead from start to finish with the Belle Vue duo unable to get any speed from the track and have a 3-3 which effectively spelt game over.
Heat fourteen saw Justin Sedgmen and Dan Bewley giving the hosts a glimmer of hope of a gaining a point at least in the final race of the meeting, after they recorded a 4-2 to see the Aces first heat advantage since heat five.
Aces boss Mark Lemon put in Max Fricke and Craig Cook to try and salvage a draw for the home side in the final race, but they knew Tungate was the danger man in the race. Belle Vue then made a great start as they gated on on a 5-1, but with the home riders coming under severe pressure by the Rebel’s man, it saw him finally moving into second place on the final lap to deny the hosts of a draw from the match.
In truth the home side didn’t deserve a point from the meeting, after their opponents battled all match and shown that they were not cannon fodder despite being bottom of the table. Credit to Somerset for a fantastic team performance and this defeat for the Aces will have been a case of needing to refocus.
Belle Vue = 44 1. Max Fricke 2, 3, 3, 1′, 3 = 12+1 2. Lee Payne (G) 1′, 0, 1, 0 = 2+1 3. Steve Worrall 1′, 1, 2, 2 = 6+1 4. Justin Sedgmen 2, 3, 1′, 3 = 9+1 5. Craig Cook 3, 3, 2, 2, 1 = 11 6. Dan Bewley 1, R, 1′, 1 = 3+1 7. Jack Smith 0, 1, 0, 0 = 1
Anthony Joshua beat the future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko with an eleventh round stoppage at Wembley Stadium this past Saturday, to see him adding the IBF and WBA title belts to his collect in what was a incredible fight between two warriors in the ring and of the all time classic world heavyweight bouts in history too.
The fight saw a record crowd of 90,000 fans packing the home of football for what was an anticipated meeting between the old guard and the new generation, with no few than four knockdowns and a see-saw clash for the IBF, IBO and WBA world heavyweight titles at Wembley Stadium.
Both fighters came out a bit conservative to start off with and not showing the other their hand so to speak in this unification bout, but both boxers landed a couple of jabs and hooks now and then, as it was very much a feeling out process in the opening round with Joshua landing more of the jabs.
At the start of the second round it saw the Ukrainian throwing some good punches and brought a mark under the eye of the British fighter, as Klitschko was certainly the aggressor in the round early part. Joshua though came back at his rival late on and caught his opponent with a couple of hefty punches himself too in the final minute.
Wembley Stadium was rocking with the noise from the home fans cheering their fellow countryman on, and it was first heavyweight title fight since Frank Bruno won the WBC title against Oliver McCall back in 1995. The fight was very evenly poised with a scientific start with neither man wanting to commit too early in the bout and get caught.
‘AJ’ came flying out of his corner in the third, with the IBF champion starting out strongly much like his opponent had done in the previous round and saw him landing some d ecent shots on rival to begin with.
Klitschko though seemed to take the shots that were coming in from Joshua, but you could see that the man nicknamed ‘Dr Steelhammer’ wasn’t comfortable when he was under pressure. Joshua was clearly having the better of the early rounds and saw him not making too many mistakes, if any, against a very savvy veteran in his opponent.
After three rounds of boxing it saw the Brit seemingly on top in the fight at that point in time, but Klitschko then seemed to stun AJ with a hard right hand and followed it up with a left hook, that saw Joshua being caught and needed the man from Watford to defend a bit better.
The fifth round was certainly not one for the boxing purists in attendance, as both fighters seemed to forget the art of defence and were just swinging hell for leather and saw Joshua putting his rival down to the canvas with a few combination shots.
Klitschko was knocked down to the canvas for the first time since 2005 when he faced Nigerian Samuel Peters and the Ukrainian picked himself back up and got back into the fight.
After being knocked down for the first time in 12 years, it saw drama to the second half of the round, with Klitschko coming back after Joshua had almost tired himself out looking for a knockout and now the British fighter was needing to try and see out the round and was deep deep trouble.
AJ was literally holding on to try and see out the round, after he was out on his feet from taking some solid shots from Klitschko and had Joshua now teetering on a possible stoppage.
The home fans bellowed out ‘Oh Anthony Joshua’ to the tune of White Stripes song ‘Seven Nation Army’. Wladimir Klitschko was then trying to measure his shots and it could be argued that his approach on his then tired opponent would cost him later on.
After a stunning fifth round where it looked like Joshua was going to finish the job and then somehow saw Klitschko then on the verge of victory himself, it made for a fascinating and exciting second half to this heavyweight contest.
Klitschko used his boxing brain in the sixth and looked to have far more gas in the tank than say that of his opponent, with AJ looking still weary from the previous round and saw Joshua hitting the deck after a beautiful right hand caught Joshua flush in the face and send the IBF champion down to he canvas for the second time in his career.
Joshua was clearly now in survival mode and had Klitschko buoyed by the knockdown and was able to just getting at his opponent a bit more through his jabs. As the round ticked away, it saw Joshua in all kinds of trouble and was forced to cover up again and try to recovery quickly.
Round seven saw the home fighter breathing a bit heavier in the contest and that fifth round seemed to have taken a lot of Joshua, and with the British fighter having never gone past seven rounds before, it was clear that he would need to show a lot of character and grit if he was force his way back in to this fight.
Klitschko now had his opponent right where he wanted him for the taking and saw the home crowd trying to will their man on and help get him back into the contest, having been out of sorts in the previous couple of rounds.
The Ukrainian now was on the front foot and saw him landing with his trademarks jabs and leave his opponent struggling to keep them out and have Klitschko content. It did feel almost like he was setting him up for a possible knockout punch as Joshua was still a bit stunned from the last two rounds.
In the eighth round, the 41-year old Ukrainian continued to use the jab on Joshua and having his opponent still trying dig some reserves back for a recovery, and late in the round it saw AJ letting his opponent know that he could still come back as he landed a good shot.
As we moved toward the ‘Championship rounds’ of the contest, it saw Joshua catching his opponent with a couple of good punches but saw Klitschko able to soak up the blows, as there wasn’t much venom in the strikes.
Prior to round ten it had the scorecards around the boxing fraternity at ringside all in favour of the elder statesman by a couple of points and continued to work behind the jabs, with the IBF champion showing glimpses now and then mounting a comeback.
Both men were gutting it out and showing their warrior instincts in this bout, with some clean punches being landed by both fighters and seeing the fight swaying one way and then other and making it hard to predict who would come out on top.
When the bell rang to signal the start of round eleven, it saw Joshua getting his second wind and come out swinging and have Klitschko in early some trouble and surprised everyone, not least Klitschko, who seemed to have the upper hand in the second part of the fight.
Joshua had weathered the storm of the past few rounds and now with some new found energy he had found from deep inside, he showed his championship class and threw a fight changing punch to turn the fight in his favour.
AJ from nowhere connected with a beauty of a right uppercut on his opponent and that one punch had Klitschko reeling and stunned badly, which led to Joshua catching him with a few more punches that put him down on the floor for the second time and looked to have swung the fight his direction again.
The man who had dominated world boxing with his brother for overa decade then was sent crashing to the mat a second time almost less than twenty seconds later, and that had the Wembley crowd thinking that the job was done from Joshua, but his rival still had some more fight left in him.
Credit to Klitschko for still hanging in there and refusing to lay down, but the referee stopped the fight with thirty-eight seconds remaining of the round to go and give Anthony Joshua a famous victory over the legendary Wladimir Klitschko to become the new IBO and WBA heavyweight champion of the world.
It brought an end to one of the most dramatic heavyweight fights in history, and will go down as one of the most entertaining championships bout and possibly greatest boxing match in the UK.
After the conclusion of the fight it had an American journalist making the comment seconds after the fight, “We’ve had the Rumble in the Jungle, the Thriller in Manilla and you can add this too as the ‘War at Wembley’.
In 95′ British boxing fans were made up for Frank Bruno when he was finally a world champion and had everyone glad to see that good guys could be champions. Roll on nearly 22 years later, and Anthony Joshua has perhaps taken on the mantle of the new ‘People’s Champ’ tag in British boxing.
Victory for the London 2012 Gold medalist saw him adding the IBF and WBA belts to his IBO version that he already had in his possession, and from going from possible defeat to and getting off the canvas to pick up a stunning win and do in the fashion that he did, it will certain go down for now as his greatest victory on his impressive resume.
It was truly one of the most incredible fights seen at Heavyweight for some time and with all the negativity of heavyweight boxing over the last 20 years and at times well deserved, this one fight alone shown that their a new era possibly for the sport to come back and grab people’s attention again.
Anthony Joshua spoke to Sky Box Office on his win and said the following; “19-0 and three years into the game. As i said, I’m not perfect, but I’m trying.
Joshua also was quick to praise his opponent too by saying; “As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and respect your opponent, so massive respect to Wladimir Klitschko for taking part.”
He added “In terms of the boxing arena, he is a hall of famer, a role model and I’ve got nothing but love and respect for him.”
The defeated Wladimir Klitschko received a loud ovation from the 90,000 strong crowd that packed the famous stadium out, and told the fans “I love you too Guys. I hope you all enjoyed the fight. Both fighters were really giving their best. The best man won tonight and it’s an amazing event for boxing.
“Two gentlemen fought each other. I say gentlemen, as boxing came from England, so truly was gentlemen that fought one another. Anthony was truly better than I. It’s really sad that i didn’t make it tonight, as i was planning to do it. But it didn’t work.”
Of course, there could still be a rematch between the two fighters again and if nothing come of that, then it may well have be the final time we see Wladimir Klitschko in a boxing ring. The man dubbed ‘Dr Steelhammer’ has been in the ring since 1996 and fought for 21-years after making his debut in a four-round fight in Hamburg, Germany back in 1996.
Meanwhile, for ‘AJ’ Anthony Joshua it brings new possibilities for the Watford man going forward. As he won’t be short on takers, after the IBF and WBA federations have their mandatory challengers line-up and also have Detonay Wilder interested in facing Joshua too.
Another name to throw in is one Mr Tyson Fury, who him himself beat Klitschko in his last fight over in Germany and could see an all British fight that fans have been interested to see as the two have some history as well.