Tranmere Rovers 0 Vauxhall Motors 2. CSC QF, Report.

Tranmere Rovers v Vauxhall Motors. 

Wednesday 16th February 2022, 745pm ko.

@Prenton Park.

Cheshire Senior Cup, Quarter Final.

Mick McGraa’s Motors progressed through to the Cheshire Senior Cup Semi Final with an impressive performance which resulted in a 2-0 victory against Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night.

It was a lightning start by the visitors as they scored through Michael Burkey, a fantastic finish as he cut in from the left following a strong tackle by a hosting player in the lead up.

The first half was very much dominated by The Motors, some brilliant passes taking the ball into promising areas as an experienced front line came up against inexperienced defenders. This was typified when McGraa’s men should’ve been awarded a penalty, claims dismissed to the bewilderment of many. 

Craig Cairns blew an amazing opportunity to double the lead as he pounced on a poor back pass to the keeper, Mateusz Hewelt making another impressive stop as he stood up well to deny a certain goal. 

The half grew to be a little bit more balanced. Rovers were awarded two free kicks in promising positions, both causing a small amount of trouble to The Motors shot stopper.

Showing that they were still in the tie, Alan Morgan’s side looked promising on the counter attack. Max Fisher had the best chance of the opening stages. However, the first yellow card would soon be given to a Rovers man and no goal would be scored by them on the night. 

Finally doubling their lead, to make the game comfortable, Haydn Cooper netted after a scramble in the box. The goal brought on a rendition of ‘Que Sera Sera’ from the visiting fans sitting in the main stand.

Fantastic in both attack and defence throughout the game, a strong tackle was put in on Ryan Stratulis as the playmaker had the goal in his sights. Stratulis was then subbed off, looking hurt.

There could be no doubt as to who the deserved winners were when the final whistle came, Motors winning 2-0. They will now go on to face Stockport County away from home in a highly anticipated Semi-Final.

Man of the match: Motors captain Thomas Mitchell. 

Tranmere Rovers Team, managed by Alan Morgan: Hewelt, Capps, Cain, Haley, Dwyer, Fisher (Mills), Jones, Bamgbose, Stratulis, Timlin, Taylor. 

Vauxhall Motors Team, managed by Mick McGraa: Dixon, Gouldbourne, Heath, Thelwell, Mitchell, Cooper, Knapper, Riley (Drummond), Cairns (Sample), Holmes (Scarisbrick), Burkey (Kelly). 

Jord Scott interview.

Jord Scott Interview.

Jord Scott has had some great experiences in football at his young age and his love for football and the components that surround footballers and coaches behaviours is something that he also has a passion of understanding that little bit better as he continues his own great work.

I caught up with the manager at Poulton Royal’s first team to discuss his time in the game so far and the steps that he is taking to improve the skills that he has already built. 

Hi Jord, just to start our chat off, would you be able to talk about your love of football? When did you first start to watch the sport, did you grow up in a sporting environment and when did you make the decision to start coaching?

Hi Ethan, thank you for having me, I have been keeping tabs on the good work you’re doing with our West Cheshire friends at West Kirby. As a club we wish Nathan and all of the lads at West Kirby all of the best for the rest of the season.

I was the same as most young kids who walked on muddy, long grassed parks after school, dreaming of scoring that winning goal at Wembley for your club, wheeling away to celebrate with your fans. My youngest memories of football were playing heads and volleys at Flynns piece in Wallasey with my brother and a few of my friends. The routine would be the same most days, in from school, out to the park, in for tea, game of FIFA, bed and then start it all over again the next day. 

My very first memories of being coached how to play football was at Belvedere fields in Wallasey. From the age of around 4/5, every Saturday morning my brother and I would go to a coach-led session where we learnt the key fundamentals of the game; running, jumping, kicking, throwing, shooting etc. These fine motor skills are vitally important to be learnt at a young age as it gives a player the foundations to be able to then develop their skills and progress. 

I was always football mad as a child. I’d be pestering my dad most days to go to the shop to buy football stickers and cards to go into the Panini book. One season I remember going to the lengths of buying a Ricardo Gardiner card off Ebay to complete all of the cards for each club that season. The Tranmere squad used to be pinned up on my wall in my bedroom with a signed Ian Goodison shirt every season until I was a teenager, cliche, I know but they were the best days of my childhood. 

In regards to coaching, it was cricket where I had my first experience of coaching. My brother and I played for New Brighton Cricket Club where I was fortunate enough to be the captain of my age group from 12 all the way up to 16. Within that time, I helped the coach, Kev Bowe who has sadly passed now, with the sessions. Helping carry and set up the equipment for the session, gaining key organisation and leadership skills through helping Kev. When I was 15/16 I was asked to lead the sessions, ensuring that the key components of the session were directly linked to our next game to better our opponents. I really enjoyed coaching our group of players and would always ensure small details were seen as important to the group. For example, we would look at our next opponents and discuss their league position, points, runs, wickets etc so we all, as a group, had the best possible knowledge and understanding going into the game. These experiences from New Brighton Cricket Club was one of the main, if not the biggest influence on my decision to study a teaching degree at University and currently teaching at a secondary school.

When you made that decision, how long did it take you to get your coaching badges and a little bit of recognition in the game? Did you have some good contacts and what do you think are the key ingredients to being a good coach? How would you describe your playing style?

The decision to go into football coaching was again unconventional. Until the age of 21, I had never considered doing my coaching badges. I was still playing full time. I played for Manor Football Club when I was a child and from 15 played for an open aged Tranmere Rovers side. I also played for my University team, Edge Hill, until the age of 21. In my final year of University, whilst playing an away game in London I sadly got injured which resulted in a grade 3 tear of my Anterior Cruciate Ligament and a grade 2 meniscus tear in my knee. This, in effect, ended the training every night, injury free player and entered a much more cautious and calculated player. As many people who have had the same injury, you’re in the unknown. Some players never play again, some partially recover and a smaller number make a full recovery. 

The specialists and physios told me I was looking at an absolute minimum recovery period of 8 months but a more realistic timeline of 10-12 months to make a full recovery. With it being a double injury, ACL and meniscus, I had to wear a leg brace from my hip to the middle of my shin for 3 months, with the degree and movement of the brace turning by 5 degrees every week. This was the first time I had been injured for more than 3/4 weeks. After the operation, I had a decision to make. Do I mope around for the next 12 months or do I try to make the best out of a bad situation and enhance my knowledge of the game? As a player, you do see the game in a completely different light than when you’re coaching and managing. As a player, you turn up to training and matches, play and go home, which is fine, as a player you know no different. Managing and coaching is completely different and for me, more enjoyable and I always advocate for young players to do their coaching or refereeing badges to see the game from a different angle. 

I was fortunate enough as a post graduate in my first teaching job to work in a school where the headteacher understood the key values of sport and physical activity. This allowed me to coach the school football side and plan fixtures for the team to play. Through my sport and physical activity work at the school, I networked and moved to another school which allowed me to become in contact with Symon Stanley, head of PE at the school and the manager of West Kirby Youth Team. I asked if I could come down and watch the games and then eventually was asked to become a coach on his management team. The team was in the West Cheshire Youth League, a good, competitive division which is the feeder to most West Cheshire sides. The majority of the players in Symons Youth side would play at 11 on the Saturday morning then be playing in West Kirby Reserves team, in West Cheshire Division 2, at 3 o’clock that same day. This allowed the players to gain vital men’s team appearances at a good level, being competitive in every game which enhanced their game knowledge and experience at a young age. 3 of the players who were in that Youth side still play regularly for me now in my first team; Ben Wagstaff, Luke Brady and Nathan Quest. All 3 of them players now are at the age of 21 having 60/70 appearances within a covid stricken couple of years and have become experienced in this league at such a young ages. 

With me still recovering from my operation, it was a great experience for me to be at a good, stable West Cheshire Football Club in West Kirby coaching a really exciting young side. By being at West Kirby, it allowed me to complete my FA Level 2 coaching badge which I found informative and set a good foundation for me to potentially have a career in football. I always want to thank Roy (Chairman of West Kirby), Symon Stanley (Youth team manager) and Austin Daulby (assistant manager) for the opportunity to coach at West Kirby Football Club. 

Who were the first team you managed, what lessons did you learn as time passed by and what were your initial ambitions for yourself as a football manager?

At the end of the 2017/18 season we decided, as a management team, to leave West Kirby to become the management team at Heswall Reserves. It was a no-brainer for us at the time, Heswall has a rich history in West Cheshire with good players and great facilities. My role was the assistant manager, with Symon Stanley being the manager. We were fortunate that the majority of players from the West Kirby Youth team came over to Heswall with us with the additions of experienced West Cheshire players such as Ian Collinger and Jonathan White. Again, a cliche but that season was a massive learning curve for our young players as well as Symon and I who had never coached or managed in the West Cheshire mens divisions before. I remember our first away game of the season was away to Maghull Reserves. Anyone from the Wirral, who is in football knows the difficulty of playing away to Liverpool sides. Maghull had 2 yard dog centre halves, quick wingers and an old school centre forward who was a 6 yard merchant goalscorer. We lost 3-1 and I definitely think the lads slept well that night and the forwards woke up with lumps and bruises on their shins on Sunday morning. 

We finished fourth to bottom that season with a stronger end to the campaign. Heswall, being a big and ambitious club, wanted a change of personnel at the end of the season. This did leave the players and I club-less as well as Symon deciding to hand up the clipboard and retire from managing. I had around 3/4 months left of my rehab so I was at a bit of an in-between stage of carrying on coaching / managing at a different club or continuing with my rehab and being a player again. I knew the players would go wherever I did if I did want to continue coaching. I knew these players were good enough to play in West Cheshire and made the decision to continue as a player coach / manager. Jonathan White and I met with Tommy Carroll, the player / manager / secretary of Poulton Royal Football Club (West Cheshire Division 2) about the possibility of becoming their reserve team for the next season. Poulton Royal had been successful in previous years, gaining promotion from West Cheshire Division 3 and trying to stabilise themselves as a division 2 side. 

I explained to Tommy that we were a young side who enjoyed playing football and the ambition for me, in the next season was to give our lads more experience of this division as well as aiding the first team with good, young players who were in-form from the reserves. The discussions were positive with Tommy who shared the same ideas as I and ultimately became an easy decision to move to the club. 

We gained a good relationship with Jimmy O’Gorman and Manor Club JFC in the pre season leading up to the campaign, playing them as well as offering some of their young lads minutes for us in friendlies which we then later signed. Jimmy’s son, James as well as Jacob Howard and Kyle Evans all joined the club from Manor. The three were all 16 at the time and with discussions with Jimmy, felt they had outgrown their youth division and were ready to train with adults. At Royal we train twice a week so the lads got up to speed pretty quickly and have been fantastic for us since being at the club. Jacob, becoming the Football Clubs youngest ever scorer at 17, James playing for the first team in that season and Kyle eventually joining the Steven Gerrard Academy and travelling to Spain to play for Alicante City FC. This relationship was key for us, as it provided a natural feeder of players into the reserve side which was important for us as the season went on. These young players, added together with experienced players at the level, Jonathan White, Steven Casey and Jon Christiansen provided our young players a good platform to develop and learn as young footballers. 

The season became condensed due to COVID-19 so we only played 16 games in the 2020/21 campaign. Still, even though it was condensed, our objectives were still met, to give our young players experience of the division to ultimately progress in the 2021/22 season. We reached the quarter final of the league cup and the semi final of the Wirral Amateur Cup, losing in the last minute against a very experienced Ellesmere Port Town side. We were proud of our efforts that season and knew we were in a good position to progress in the following season. 

At the end of the season, Tommy approached me and offered me the first team manager’s role. The committee had made a decision for the club to go to West Cheshire Division Three and create a solid foundation for the club and build from there. I gladly accepted the role and never looked back. We merged our good, young players with more experienced players from the previous 1st team to form the squad we currently have. 

Management in sport brings a lot of success, but what for you (results and trophies aside) constitutes success in the lower leagues?

There are many variables to each football club with many different opinions on what success is. If you asked any supporter or player they will say to gain promotion and win all of the trophies available come May is a successful season but realistically each club will have their own targets and objectives on what they deem success to be. Success to Poulton Royal last season was to integrate good, young, local footballers into the West Cheshire Division to hopefully have long and sustainable careers at this level and above. This objective was met last season. To be successful, you always have to evaluate all aspects of an organisation, look at what is working and look at what could be improved, we are not different. At the end of the season, the committee, the first team and reserves were all in agreement that the club had underperformed on the pitch this season but had significantly improved off the pitch. 

We were proud to give 15 players under the age of 20 a minimum of 10 games between the two sides across the 2020/21 West Cheshire season. Personally, of course I would have liked more points on the board but speaking for my reserve side last year, I viewed the 2020/21 season as a success. I am extremely proud of how inclusive and diverse we are as a Football Club, we will never say no to a player to come and train with us no matter what level of ability they are, we believe that there are many skills outside of footballing ability that can be taught and learnt in a football club. A football club/ team should allow players to have a sense of belonging and a group of friends they can see on a regular basis and have support from. We are proud to have a player in our squad who is in a same sex relationship and we have furthermore supported the LGBT+ community with our captains armband being rainbow, showing our support as a Football Club. 

We are just over the halfway point of the 2021/22 season with us sitting 2nd in the division with a very realistic chance of gaining promotion to West Cheshire 2. We currently have 41 points from 18 games, winning 13, drawing 2 and losing 3. In terms of success, we are a financially stable Football Club who train twice a week with a squad of players who have won over 75% of their games this season so far. We are 36 points better off than the whole of last campaign with our young players who we integrated into the division last season, being key first team regulars this season who have had an enormous impact to the success of our season so far. 

The committee and management staff are ambitious and will not allow the club to stagnate, our vision is to expand the Football Club to ensure there is always a natural feeder into the reserves and first team and become a solid football foundation for younger players, no matter of their ability to be involved within a club where they can call home. 

When did you first get involved with Cammell Laird F.C and Poulton Royal F.C? Were these clubs that you had always known of throughout your footballing journey and why did you want to go to both clubs?

In November 2021 I was put in contact with Stuart Humphreys, the Director of Football at Cammell Lairds 1st team who allowed me to go and observe training sessions and as of recently, been active in doing bits of coaching with them. Cammell Lairds are currently 10th place in the North West Counties Division One South with the ambition of the club this season is to cement their place in the top 10 of the division at the end of the campaign. Cammell Lairds has a great foundation in the heart of local Wirral football, with them being most Tranmere fans’ second team. The majority of the players at Lairds are young, Wirral based players who ‘get’ the club. Lairds don’t have the luxury to have an extensive budget and do fantastically well with the resources they have at the club. 

With both clubs; Cammell Lairds and Poulton Royal training twice a week, it is allowing me to be near enough full time in football (in the evenings), outside of my teaching job. I thoroughly enjoy being in the football environment and this is a realistic route I have looked at for a future career. I am currently studying a MSc, Masters in Mental Health at Edge Hill University and soon to enrol on to the SENCO award for my current occupation. As much as these qualifications were originally catered towards my teaching job, there have been many aspects of my masters which overlaps with football and has really helped my thoughts around players, staff and volunteers at both clubs. 

In terms of football, my next badge to complete is my UEFA B licence which I am looking to enrol on in the near future. Gaining experience as a manager at Poulton Royal as well as observing and learning of the management staff at Cammell Lairds, Stuart Keir, assistant manager Josh and Director of Football Stuart Humphreys has enhanced my knowledge of the game at a higher level. I am really enjoying my time at Cammell Lairds and can’t thank them enough for the support they are currently giving me. 

Focusing on 2021/22 in comparison to years gone by, how would you say this season is going for both clubs and what do you see as realistic aims for the future?

As stated previously, our objective for last season at Poulton Royal was to allow our young players to gain experience and give them vital minutes throughout the season. However, like all managers will tell you, it is a results business and you’re ultimately judged on results. We knew as a management team and a squad of players that the model of bringing through and developing young players would only take them so far if we had a similar season in the 2021/22 campaign and our aim was to finish on a higher points total to the previous season. 

I gave the players the option in the summer if they wanted 2 or 3 weeks off before beginning pre season with a unanimous decision of 2 weeks. It was really pleasing to see the lads were chomping at the bit to get going again which allowed us to have a 7 week pre season which included training twice a week plus a game. We had a great pre season, being unbeaten, winning 6 and drawing 1 out of the 7 games we played. I appreciate it was pre season and some people disregard pre season games as, ‘just for fitness’ but I do feel you set the standards in pre season which takes you through the season. 

We began the 2021/22 campaign away at Capenhurst Villa, a good football club at this level and you always know you’re going to have a tough afternoon there. We lost 4-2, we were really poor and gave needless sloppy goals away. We came away from the game and reflected as a group, we knew the performance wasn’t good enough and we were miles off the pace of where we needed to be. Thankfully, in the first month of the West Cheshire season games came thick and fast and we got the chance to redeem ourselves on the bank holiday Monday away at Heswall. We gave a debut to our new right back Alex Lowe and also saw the return of injured Jonathan Pom, a Poulton Royal legend who averages a goal every 2 games for the club. At half time we were 1-0 due to great play from 17 year old Anthony Evans who tricked his way into the box to eventually being hauled down by the Heswall defender. Dan Lamara stepped up to convert. Similarly, in the second half, Anthony was at it again, driving at the defence to be brought down again in the box for penalty number 2. It was a similar result from the spot as Dan Lamara scored and we came away from Heswall with all 3 points. We went on to win 10 out of the next 11 games which springboarded us into second place with a real ambition of promotion. There is now a collective aim at the Football Club to gain promotion to a league which we feel, at a minimum, we should be in. 

Since you’ve been at the clubs you’re at, they would’ve started off with aims on and off the pitch and some changes would’ve happened since your initial involvement. Where do you see those initial ambitions being now? Have the clubs exceeded or are they close to matching what they set out to do? 

As a management team we are really fortunate to have such a good relationship with Tommy Carroll (secretary) and the committee, meeting regularly to review and discuss all matters of the club. From the first day we walked through the door there has never been any pressure on us to win a certain amount of games or be in a certain position in the league. You hear of management teams having really bad experiences at clubs due to unrealistic expectations from the committees and we are really fortunate that we have a family approach at our club. Of course, there is an expectation to compete in every game and look to gain the maximum points every time your team walks on to the pitch but there is a realistic approach at Poulton Royal. We do not have the finance to be offering players large amounts of money to play for us but we do what we can to cover expenses and ensure that the culture is that we play for the badge and not for the back pocket notes. 

I have not long turned 26 and this is my first full season in management. I am fully aware that throughout this season I have/ am going to make mistakes due to my lack of experience but I always try to ensure that I am doing more right and wrong. Having the experience of my assistant manager, Jon Christianson and 1st team coach Jonathan White, both having over 15 years experience at this level is a huge help as well as my younger cousin, Benjamin Hughes who is a brilliant person to have around the club as well as being our goalkeeping coach. 

My personal aim is to complete my UEFA B badge as well as gaining more experience as a manager and coach at Poulton Royal and Cammell Lairds and manage at the best possible level I can. I do believe that I am capable of managing in the North West Counties and beyond but fully appreciate that to be at that level I will need to continue with the degree of hard work and be successful at my current club. 

How would you say that both clubs operate, in terms of training time and the finances that they have at their disposal? What are some of the difficulties that are encountered in part time football that may not even be contemplated higher up the footballing pyramid?

We are really fortunate at Poulton Royal that we have a squad of 26 players who will always get involved in fundraising events to help the club. I believe it is important for the players to have a purpose when fundraising and can see that the money goes directly back into the club. For each of our fundraisers we ensure that there is a goal and objective for the event, whether that be to buy more training gear or going towards training costs, equipment etc. We have 3 fantastic sponsors in WV construction, Wirral Gas and the Saddle Inn who have supported the Football Club for many years and we can’t thank them enough for the sponsorships they give us. 

Of course, all football clubs would like to have a bigger finance wallet as there are always things you would like to do and would like to buy. Since my time at Royal, I have always ensured that the Football Club comes first before requesting funds and we are really astute with the things we buy. We ensure that the equipment has longevity and the culture at the club is to respect all of the equipment at our disposal. 

If people are reading this interview and didn’t know about Poulton Royal or Cammell Laird beforehand, why should they come to a game and where can they get any of the latest updates? Who are some of the names to look out for when watching either team?

Another great question, Ethan. I think if you’re at a loose end on a Saturday afternoon and you love your football then please support your local Football Clubs. The money generated by buying a coffee or a chocolate bar goes directly into the club to support them. 

I am obviously biassed to us at Royal, we are an attacking, fit side who presses from the front and score goals. As said previously, we are second in the division with a real chance of promotion, hopefully this is enough to persuade people to come down and watch us. With this interview taking place mid season, I am going to keep the names of our best players on the down low but we are a good side with fantastic young players. Similarly, Cammell Lairds are in a good run of form too, winning the last 4 league games on the spin and have stabilised them in the top 10 of their division. I am really pleased to be part of two football clubs who want to develop young players. 

Finishing our chat off, focusing on the women’s and children’s set ups at both clubs. How would you say the women’s teams are doing, if there is one, and how would children get involved with the clubs if there were ever spaces for them to join?

At Royal, we currently only have one adult mens team, the 1st team with the potential of having a reserve team in the 2022/23 season. The ambition of every Football Club is to have as many children, women and men playing and being associated with your club and we are no different. Our medium to long term plan of the club will be to add children’s, women and community sides to the club. I personally believe that when a child comes to the Football Club aged 5 that their ambition should be to want to be in the 1st team when they are an adult. That creates ambition and a sustainable model as a natural feeder from youth to adult football to the reserves and 1st team. The women’s game is growing rapidly and it is great to see so many female teams on the Wirral. As a teacher, I see first hand the work that the FA are doing to try and enhance the women’s game and I do hope it continues to grow.

Football Audio Description’s importance.

Ollie Stockdale – Audio Description at Cardiff City F.C.

I spoke to LJMU Sports Journalist Ollie Stockdale who is part of Cardiff City’s Football Audio Description team about the need for what he does. He also explains his love for the game, goes into depth about his upbringing in a sporting environment and describes how he believes Cardiff City F.C’s season has been so far.

Hi Ollie, to start our chat off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been a football fan? What are some of your earliest footballing experiences that helped you fall in love with the sport?

Being born in Cardiff, it won’t surprise you to hear that my first sport was rugby! I played at my local rugby club Pentyrch RFC from the age of six. I had kicked a football around before that, but I do remember very well playing football in the school playground with a sponge ball every breaktime! I particularly loved the summer because that was the only time the school field was dry enough for us to play on a full scale pitch with actual goals! I fell in love with the game then and pestered my dad until he let me join the local team.

What is Audio Description?

Audio description is a specialist form of commentary. It is a much more descriptive form of commentary compared to standard radio or television commentary.

It is sometimes found in theatres and museums but in the past decade, audio description has also been introduced into some football grounds.

Audio description exists to enable blind and partially sighted people to access sporting and live action events more fully by providing all the significant visual information that a blind or partially sighted person may need.

At a football match this could include clothing, emotions, players’ body language, position on the pitch, action off the ball and even information about what is happening in the crowd!

When did you first get involved with description commentary and how did this opportunity come about? Has the football media always been of interest to you?

I have always been interested in football and the discussions and disagreements on and off the field, as well as being an avid watcher and player of the game. I had started to do some live commentaries of Liverpool games on my YouTube channel which were gaining quite a few followers. One of them sent me Cardiff FC’s advert looking for new audio describers and I decided to apply. I was only 16 at the time and didn’t hold out much hope but I was lucky enough to be selected for ADC training. I’ve never looked back.  

Do you believe that Audio description is important in sport and have you had much praise in terms of people telling you how much it helps them get closer to their club?

Making sport accessible to people with disabilities is hugely important and I’m very proud to be part of a service that does that. We’ve had excellent feedback from fans from clubs across the country who appreciate the service that is run by Alan March Sport. We try to bring fans closer to the action and bring the game alive and I think we do that pretty successfully. But there’s still work to be done – only a few football clubs currently offer audio description service as standard so the uptake needs to be much greater if we are to give blind and partially sighted fans a better experience.

What are the AD team like at Cardiff City and who are the other clubs that have an AD team?

The audio description team at Cardiff City FC is fantastic. It’s run by Andrew and overseen by Alan. The team consists of Jez and Ivan who are both a delight to listen to, I could listen to Jez for years and Ivan has a scarily good memory about Cardiff. There are many other clubs that provide audio description, clubs like Southampton, Leicester and Wolves in the Premier League and clubs like Nottingham Forest and Cardiff in the Championship and again with lower league clubs like Mansfield and Wrexham. However, audio description isn’t solely limited to football clubs, Alan March Sport provides audio description across a wide variety of sports and activities and events.

Now focusing solely on Cardiff City, how can people find your written work about the club as well as your audio description work?

Most of what I do is on my Twitter feed ‘@OllieStockdale1’; there’s stuff on there about audio description but also articles I’ve written for Dai Sport and All Out Football relating to Cardiff City.

Also, how would you describe The Bluebirds’ season so far?

It’s been pretty dreadful to say the least. They are way off the play offs and battling against relegation.  It’s been a season with glimpses of promise like the wins over Forest and Peterborough and with the FA Cup run that ended with a creditable effort at Anfield. But it’s also been a season full of frustration for Cardiff fans, like the hammerings given out by West Brom and Blackburn in September and the frustrating losses to Bristol and Swansea. Further frustration from Cardiff fans as they saw beloved Welsh striker Kieffer Moore leave on a fee of £3.78 million to close rivals Bournemouth, after initially being priced around £10 million when clubs showed interest earlier in the year. Hopefully for Cardiff they can avoid relegation and start a fresh next season.

  • ‘Audio description is a specialist form of commentary. It is a much more descriptive form of commentary compared to standard radio or television commentary’.

West Kirby 3 Marshalls Reserves 1 Match Report.

West Kirby 3 Marshalls Reserves 1 – The Match Report. 

West Kirby won 3-1 against Marshalls Reserves on Saturday afternoon, they now hope to gather some positive momentum going forwards in their league campaign.

The hosts were able to be in control throughout the first half and when they managed to bring the ball into attacking areas they looked dangerous instead of wasteful. 

The first goal came on the 15th minute mark after James Harris beat two men in the box before squaring the ball to Harrison Hindley who fired past the two defenders that were standing on the line.

A quarter of an hour later, the scoreline was doubled. Carl Murphy laid a through ball to James Harris, involved in the build up once again, on the left of the box. Harris’ accurate cross found the head of Sam Haley, his glancing header sailing into the far side’s top corner.

The visitors managed to get themselves back into the game on the stroke of halftime, netting a penalty before the whistle blew.

It became a more balanced showing in the second half as the Marshall Reserve players were tasked with finding the equaliser. Both sides would create chances and passion was shown in the form of strong tackles. 

West Kirby would seal the game off with a goal with fifteen minutes left, Jordan Chwalko the scorer. However, the visitors continued to push hard in their search for a goal and were arguably unlucky not to find the back of the net through their efforts.

Man of the match: James Harris. The debutant looked a threat throughout the game as he managed to assist two goals.

The victorious manager, Nathan Brooks, spoke after the final whistle of the commitment and dedication that he has seen from his players since his appointment.

“The players have worked incredibly hard since we arrived at the club, especially over the past few weeks in some tough situations. So, I am really pleased for them today as they fully earned our first three points. We competed all over the pitch, in particular Ciaran Gregory, Carl Murphy & Harrison Hindley who I felt won most if not all of their individual battles. However, in all honesty every player can be proud of their contribution, they were a credit to the club”.

West Kirby F.C team:

Lewis Burrows, Dave Hird, Dan Smith, Lewis Boardman, Adam Chwalko (c), Ciaran Gregory, Connor Eccles, Harrison Hindley, James Harris, Carl Murphy, Sam Haley, Jordan Chwalko, Josh Sutton, Patrick Carpenter, Sam Parker.

Hartlepool United F.C meeting the opposition.

Hartlepool United meeting the opposition.

Following a poor afternoon away at Walsall, where Micky Mellon’s Tranmere lost 1-0, The Whites are back in action as they travel to the North East where they will come up against Hartlepool United this Tuesday night.

It’s vital that Rovers start winning on the road as they have dropped points in their last two games, games in which they probably expected to win against opposition that are further down the table. Tonight brings a relatively similar challenge and if Mellon’s side are to occupy the three automatic promotion places they need to show what they’re capable of producing in these fixtures.

Hartlepool United currently sit 15th and are in good form. 

The two clubs have met many times before with a certain play-off game that Tuesday’s visitors won’t want to remember but to find out more about the hosts, I spoke to Dan Patton who made sure to mention it!

How long have you been supporting Hartlepool United and what were your initial reasons for doing so?

I’ve been supporting Pools since I was a bairn, my dad took me to a game when I was very young and I fell in love with the club since then. Falling in love with Pools is not good for your health though that’s the issue.

What were your expectations going into this season and how do they compare to those that you have now as we’re a few games into the second half of the campaign?

I wouldn’t say expectations were very high amongst the full fanbase, but personally I was optimistic coming into this season, knowing the quality we had in certain areas of the squad. 

Now I think there’s a lot more optimism and confidence in the full fanbase, after promising performances and a great January transfer window. The majority of people think we can really push on now.

Graeme Lee is Hartlepool manager after being appointed in December 2021. How would you describe his time at the club so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm?

So far he’s done well, given the circumstances. We’ve had cup runs in the FA Cup and Papa Johns, while the league form has been lacking. However, I think a turn around in league form is inevitable, with our recent system change and January additions.

Who would you say are United’s stand out players? Where will the key battles be on Tuesday night?

Timi Odusina. As of late the Centre Half has been exceptional, his pace and power make him very difficult to play against, and I’d imagine your forward players will have a hard time on Tuesday. Also Luke Molyneux, when played on the wing, he’s a very effective player, with a great left foot and an eye for goal.

How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe this game will pose different questions than the previous encounter (A 1-0 win for 6. Tranmere at Prenton Park in early September) between the two clubs? If so, why?

To be honest I think we dominated the reverse fixture in September, just couldn’t get the ball in the onion bag. I think realistically a draw is likely but I’m hopeful for a 2-1 win.

We will more than likely set up differently too, playing a 4-3-3 formation, instead of 5-3-2. This frees our forward players and allows us to be much more dangerous in attack, we will definitely take the game to Tranmere that’s for sure.

What starting eleven do you believe will be selected by Lee and how would you describe the playing style he’s managed to implement on his side so far?

Killip, Sterry, Byrne, Odusina, Ferguson, Morris, Crawford, White, Molyneux, Bogle, Grey.

I think since GL has been appointed we’ve played some really good stuff, especially in our most recent league game against Barrow. We keep the ball on the deck when we can and I think we’ve looked much better defensively since he was brought in.

Thinking of the previous meetings between Hartlepool and Tranmere, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?

The obvious answer to this would be the League One Play Off Semi Final in 2005. We won on penalties in the second leg to book our place at the Millennium Stadium. Unfortunately, we didn’t go on to win the final, but that is definitely the most important game between the 2 clubs. 

I also remember Nicky Deverdics scoring a beauty of a free kick in 2017 against Tranmere, ultimately a season to forget for us though.

As the January transfer window has now finished, were you happy with the business that The Pools were able to complete in terms of incomings and outgoings?

Very happy with the recruitment, with the additions of Omar Bogle, Bryn Morris and Joe White in particular, we’ve brought real quality into the squad. 

Omar Bogle will, without a doubt, score plenty of goals for us over the next 2.5 years and Bryn Morris is seen as a perfect replacement for the ageing Pools legend Nicky Featherstone.

Additions like this are the reason why I believe we can push up the table in this second half of the season and leave ourselves in a respectable league position, giving us momentum going into next season.

Walsall meeting the opposition.

Walsall meeting the opposition.

Tranmere are now back in good form, as they’ve hit back from a heavy defeat to win two and draw one of their last three league games. Their January transfer window signings have come to fruition as Kane Hemmings showcased his goal scoring ability in midweek, putting two into the back of Swindon’s net. Lewis Warrington is another player to keep an eye on, the midfielder from Everton’s Reserves but in a phenomenal performance against The Robins.

Up next for the Whites are Walsall, a side currently sitting in 21st and fighting to get away from the relegation zone on the back of a 1-0 loss against Keith Hill’s Scunthorpe United.

Ahead of this weekend’s encounter, I spoke to Walsall supporter Simon, who runs YouTube channel Walsall Fan TV. He spoke of The Saddlers’ poor start to the campaign and how he believes the upcoming fixture will pan out following the departure of manager Matt Taylor.

How long have you been following Walsall and what were your initial reasons for supporting the club?

I’ve followed Walsall since 1981, my Dad was from Walsall and took me to one game. I had to make my own way after that first game despite living seven miles away and being much closer to Wolverhampton Wanderers. My buddies tried to get me to support the Wolves but I like the underdog fight and that’s what Walsall have always had.

You produce many great videos relating to the club. How would you describe the content you produce and where can people find your work?

I run Walsall Fan TV (YouTube channel) and produce regular content: match previews, instant match reactions, matchday vlogs, livestream watchalongs and Walsall updates. The subscriber numbers have climbed from under 300 to over 800 in the last 12 months which is pleasing despite the poor performance of the team.   

What were your expectations going into the season and how do they compare to those that you have now as we enter the second half of the campaign?

We were expecting to be challenging top 7 or even perhaps top 3, but now we’ll do well to stay up.

Matthew Taylor is Walsall’s manager after being appointed in 2021. How would you describe his time at the club so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm?

Matt Taylor was brought in because of his coaching ability with young players at Tottenham, but the young Walsall players have gone back in their development this season and the first team have struggled to get any kind of consistency. The recent consistency of losing 7 on the bounce has led to his sacking earlier this week after we lost to bottom of the league Scunthorpe (with 10 men).

Who would you say are your stand out players?

Best fit Walsall players are Liam Kinsella (CDM) and Brendan Kiernan (LW)

How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe this game will pose different questions than the previous encounter (A 1-0 victory at Prenton Park on the opening day of the season) did? If so, why?

On current form it is an easy win for Tranmere (0-2), but Football is a strange beast and with the management change Walsall may spring a surprise. (1-0), but I’d take a point now.

What starting eleven do you think will be selected by Taylor and how would you describe the playing style he’s implemented on his side?

Matt Taylor switched from his immoveable 4231 to a 352 for his last two games without success. Neil McDonald may have other ideas. Continuing with 352 is likely but with players missing I’d go for a traditional 442. Rushworth, White, Meyanese, Monthe, Devine, Osadebe, Kinsella, Perry, Kiernan, with Miller and debutant Willock upfront, but who knows what’s in McDonald’s head.

Thinking of previous encounters between the two clubs, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?

Historically Walsall have got the better of Tranmere. The best recent memory was Walsall’s 3-1 win with Wes McDonald scoring a beauty for Walsall’s decisive second.

As the January transfer window has now finished, how would you describe the business The Saddlers were able to complete in terms of incomings and outgoings?

The transfer business last January nearly sent us into the National league and this one is as bad. Being short of striking options Walsall needed strikers but instead lost one loanee striker, Kieran Phillips. Otis Khan who scored two goals in his last appearance also left the club. The target man we desperately needed did not arrive. The only attacking player coming in was the promising but volatile Devante Rodney. Despite failing his medical, we signed him anyway on a two-and-a-half-year contract.  

The Bescot Stadium is the location of this weekend’s fixture as 2nd placed Tranmere travel to 21st placed Walsall.

Swindon Town F.C meeting the opposition.

Swindon meeting the opposition.

  • I’d like to start this feature off by paying my respect and sending my condolences to the Gidman family following the death of young Nate, who the majority (if not all) Tranmere fans will know about. Nate’s fight with brain cancer was brought to an end on Monday in the early hours. However, his fight was one that galvanised the SWA and helped them through their own battles during such tricky times. Nate scoring against Joe Murphy on the 18th December was an emotional day to remember. For me, it’s the moment of the season.
  • There will be a fundraiser at tonight’s game for the families chosen charity, ‘Children’s Brain Tumour Research Fund’. 

Tranmere are now unbeaten in two after drawing away to Barrow as they aimed for a period of stabilisation following a crucifying defeat against Forest Green. However, they will need to fight to get more points next to their name against what many see as their ‘bogey team’ if this unbeaten run is to be extended.

Swindon have had a relatively good start to the season themselves, currently placed eighth and one point away from the Play-offs. However, they have failed to win in four games (drawing three) thus they will aim to get back to winning ways this week.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s game at Prenton Park, I spoke to Swindon Town supporter ‘@OOCSTFC’ who gave his thoughts on the club’s campaign so far amongst their transfer window before discussing how he believes the ninety minutes will pan out.

How long have you been following Swindon and what were your initial reasons for supporting the club?

I’ve been following the club since 2007 as I was taken by my dad from a young age. Supporting Swindon runs in the family.

Your Twitter page is ‘@OOCSTFC’. Would you say that you’re a relatively big account in the club’s fan media and what are some of the funniest or most unusual events linked to Swindon Town?

I probably talk the most rubbish of all our media accounts! The most unusual moment has to be not celebrating a title due to Covid. However, after what happened to Tranmere that summer I’ll not go into details!

What were your expectations going into the season and how do they compare to those that you have now as we enter the second half of the campaign?

There weren’t any expectations at the start after a change of ownership late into Pre season. After the start we’ve had most wouldn’t accept less than top 7. Personally, I would be happy with being in the top ten.

Ben Garner is Swindon’s manager following his appointment last year, how would you describe the former Bristol Rovers boss’ time at the club so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm?

Garner certainly had a game plan. We’d dominate the ball and keep it on the deck. When it works it looks amazing. However, our lack of a ‘plan B’ has come back to bite us recently as we’ve dropped points far too easily. I think Garner will be here for at least another year.

What are your thoughts on the ownership at the club and who are they?

The club has recently been taken over by Australian Clem Morfuni after a long court battle with old owner Lee Power. Clem seems to have the club and fans at heart, a far cry from the old regime.

Who would you say are your stand out men and who, in your opinion, are Tranmere’s key players?

Due to injuries and suspension, two of our better players in Jack Payne and Louis Reed are unavailable. So, our two men to watch on Tuesday night will be Harry McKirdy who’s had a fantastic January (including four goals in one game against Northampton) and Welsh international Jonny Williams who, in my opinion, is a high end League One player. 

For Tranmere, I’d say your two central defenders who have bags of experience will be hard to break down – Peter Clarke and Tom Davies. Elliott Nevitt’s height gave us problems in August and may do the same tomorrow.

How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe this game will pose different questions than the previous encounter (A 0-0 draw at Swindon in mid August) did? If so, why?

I believe the game will pan out with us dominating the ball with you looking to catch us on the counter. We struggle to keep clean sheets, we’ve had one since October, whilst you are defensively solid.

My score prediction is 1-1.

What starting eleven do you think will be selected by Garner and how would you describe the playing style he’s implemented on his squad?

I believe the 11 will be – GK. Jojo Wollacott. CB. Brandon Cooper. CB. Jake O’Brien. CB. Akin Odimayo. RWB. Rob Hunt. CM. Ryan East. CM. Jonny Williams. CM. Ben Gladwin. LWB. Joe Tomlinson. ST. Harry McKirdy. ST. Louie Barry.

As mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t expect you to have much of the ball but it will mainly be in our half between the three central defenders and East as the ‘holder’ if you will.

Thinking of previous encounters between the two clubs, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?

Tranmere is one of the few clubs we have a good record against. My personal favourite has to be a 5-0 win just before Christmas when Tranmere were top of League One. Proper Di Canio masterclass.

As the January transfer window has now finished, how would you describe the business The Robins were able to complete in terms of incomings and outgoings?

In terms of outgoings, three loan players were recalled with two being sent back to League One clubs. Those are probably our biggest losses.

Louie Barry on loan from Villa is one for the future and not many players will go from Barcelona to Swindon! 

6 ‘5 O’Brien brings a bit of an aerial threat in both boxes which we’ve been missing all season. Hes’ Palace’s U23’s captain and looks a bright prospect too.

Litherland Remyca Reserves v West Kirby – Match Report.

Litherland Remyca Reserves v West Kirby F.C

West Cheshire League Division Two

Saturday 5th February 2022

West Kirby faced Litherland Reserves on Saturday afternoon in tough weather conditions and left feeling disappointed with a result that halted their progression under their new manager.

The first half was in truth, a relatively even contest as each side had a few chances of their own. However, as they would do throughout the ninety minutes, the hosts took advantage of the chances they were able to create as they put themselves in front in the opening ten minutes. 

Liam Morris rolled his marker before firing the ball powerfully into the bottom left side of the net.

In the 35th minute, they were able to double their lead through a Lennon Wherell strike.

The visitors got themselves back into the game late into the half, Litherland’s keeper unable to prevent Carl Murphy’s glancing header firing into the net after a brilliant deep free kick was placed into the box.

As the weather began to get worse, the hosts continued to impress as they managed to finish the ninety off in a very comfortable manner. 

Ten minutes into the second half, Ewan McDevitt placid himself onto the scoresheet with a drilled finish from outside of the box. 

It wouldn’t take too long for Jay Hughes to extend the lead, an exquisite wind-powered free kick flying into the goal from 30 yards out.

The fifth was scored by Jay Alty, Lennon Wherrel soon got his brace and the seventh saw John Graham adding his name onto an extensive list of goalscorers. 

It was a performance to forget for the visitors but one to remember for the hosts as West Kirby were probably glad that the whistle came when it did to avoid further damage.

Following the final whistle, visiting manager Nathan Brooks was full of praise for the winners. 

He said “Litherland are where they are for a reason, I thought they managed the game excellently. They played attractive football and moved through the thirds at a really good pace. I am certain they will be promotion contenders”.

West Kirby F.C man of the match: Carl Murphy who managed to link play up well and continued to look a threat the whole time he was on the field. 

West Kirby F.C line up, subs included: Lewis Burrows, Robbie Williams, Dan Smith, Patrick Carpenter, Lewis Boardman, Dan Lewis, Jordan Chwalko, Joe Haste, Josh Sutton, Sam Haley, Carl Murphy, Dave Hird, Harrison Hindley.

Barrow AFC meeting the opposition.

Barrow – meeting the opposition.

Tranmere got back to winning ways after a heavy 4-0 defeat, with a 1-0 win at home to Stevenage on Tuesday night at Prenton Park. The defeat brought a fantastic run of results to an end, a run that consisted of a 2-0 over Barrow on Boxing Day.

Since that festive encounter, The Bluebirds have been on a mixed run of form with two League wins from seven outings. However, they will be heading into the fixture against Rovers at Holker Street this Weekend in a positive frame of mind after beating promotion candidates Northampton Town 1-0 on the road.

Ahead of the game I spoke to Barrow supporter Taylor Nelson who gave his thoughts on the season so far, the transfer window that saw the return of John Rooney and discussed how he feels the upcoming ninety minutes will be played out.

What were your expectations going into the season and how do they compare to those that you have now as we enter the second half of the campaign?

Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect from this season. Our first season back in the EFL last campaign was a real struggle and I think we were served with somewhat of a reality check. There is quite a step-up when it comes to running a club in the EFL compared to a club in the National League League and we had to learn that the hard way. Surviving was massive for us and, personally, I wanted to see us make an improvement on that and learn from the past twelve months. It hasn’t been easy at all again this time around but I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to be in a position where we can keep our heads above water and maintain our league status again. The lower end of mid-table mediocrity seems to be where we’ll be headed.

Mark Cooper is Barrow’s manager and this is his first season in charge of the club. How would you describe Cooper’s time so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm?

Cooper’s appointment was a real indication that the board were keen to learn from the previous season’s errors. We went with an experienced appointment with somebody who has a proven track record at this level and in the EFL with clubs like Swindon and, more recently, Forest Green, opposed to the inexperienced managers we went with previously. It hasn’t been easy for him. He’s come into a squad that he is still working on moulding to his own style and I think we’re only just going to start seeing what the blueprint is. Again, it hasn’t been easy and there have been a minority of doubters but I do think the mass majority see that he is probably best equipped to bring us forward. I see this season as one which he can start to build for the future and the summer will be a real indication as to what he can do with the club.

Who would you say are your stand out men and who, in your opinion, are Tranmere’s key players?

Former Tranmere midfielder Ollie Banks is probably the pick of the bunch when it comes to players to watch for. I remember quite a few Rovers fans being disappointed when he was allowed to join us in January last year. He often dictates the tempo of our game and is a real menace from set-pieces, as highlighted quite a few times this season – in particular against Barnsley in the FA Cup recently. Tranmere are well-known for a defence-first approach. Interestingly, aside from Peter Clarke, I don’t think there’s many real standout names in the defence but they obviously work together excellently.

How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe this game will pose different questions than the previous encounter did (Tranmere won 2-0 on Boxing Day)? If so, why?

We’ll take a lot of confidence from our victory against Northampton and I’m hoping there is more to come from this group of players. However, Tranmere’s quality is obvious and I do expect a mightily difficult encounter. We often maintain a lot of possession but need to do more with it. Against a side who defend as stoutly as Tranmere do, we have to take our opportunities when they are afforded to us – otherwise, we’ll fail to get the breakthrough and that has been the case far too often. I think the first goal of the game will be massively important.

What starting eleven do you think will be selected by Mark Cooper and how would you describe the playing style he’s implemented onto his side?

I expect a largely similar side to that who played in midweek. It was a fantastic performance that has certainly lifted the mood a little after a pretty worrying few weeks, admittedly. We’ll look to keep the ball and work our way into the box however the recent acquisition of Aaron Amadi-Holloway provides us with another route which we were lacking for too long.

Thinking of the previous encounters between the two clubs, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?

None more so than that fateful night at Holker Street, unfortunately! Losing a game from 3-1 up so late into the game can never be forgotten. It certainly changes your perception on a result being ‘done.’

As the January transfer window has now finished, how would you describe the business The Bluebirds were able to complete in terms of incomings and outgoings?

The final 48 hours or so of the transfer window were massive for us. We brought John Rooney back to the club who was hugely influential in our promotion campaign and took no time in reintroducing himself into the team during the week. It was great to see him back in a Barrow shirt. Niall Canavan also joined the club from Bradford which I feel is somewhat of a statement. Capturing the captain of Bradford City on Deadline Day is certainly a way to improve your team and make the teams around you take notice. Elsewhere, we really bolstered our striking options which was massively important given our lack of goals throughout the season and I’m glad to see Amadi get off the mark. The only negative is that Offrande Zanzala, who was loaned out to Exeter in an attempt for him to regain his confidence after a poor spell with us, suffered an injury and will now require surgery. It’s a shame that what I would say was the marquee signing of the summer hasn’t quite worked out.

Everton v Brentford – Match Preview.

Everton v Brentford – Match Preview 

FA Cup 4th Round

Saturday 5th February 2022, 3pm K.O

Goodison Park

Frank Lampard’s tenure as Everton manager gets underway this weekend as Everton face Thomas Tuchel’s Brentford in the FA Cup 4th round at Goodison Park.

There has been some debate in the media throughout the past week regarding whether the former Derby County and Chelsea man was good enough to replace Rafa Benitez. However, if the Blues have a positive February and manage to remain in the cup then these doubts will almost vanish as The Toffees aim to have a period of progression that many thought would happen under the guidance of Italian Carlo Ancelotti. 

The 43-year-old was announced on Monday and his first few days have seen the club secure the services of attacking midfielders Donny Van De Beek, the Dutchman is on loan from Manchester United, and Dele Alli who signs on a 2.5 year deal from Antonio Conte’s Spurs. Away from the players Lampard has brought in, it will be interesting to see how left-back Mykolenko manages to benefit from the aid of coaches Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole. Everton’s coaching set-up now holds former players who you may expect to be in an all-time best 11 of England’s top division.

Toffees owner Farhad Moshiri spoke of the unity that needs to engulf the blue half of Liverpool if the club is to have success. This can be done by ensuring Goodison has an impassioned atmosphere on the weekend as Frank’s Bees travel north. 

Some would say that Brentford have started the campaign off in a better manner than their opponents, the visitors sit in 14th which is four points higher than the Blues. However, they have played three games more as Everton have had a few outings postponed for reasons such as a Coronavirus outbreak. Thus, although some have made a case for Lampard’s side being found in the Championship next year it is still very close at the bottom half of the table.

Frank’s side have definitely brought a breath of fresh air to the League though as games such as the opening fixture of the season, at home to Arsenal, stands out greatly in the mind. The atmosphere at Brentford’s new stadium has been applauded by many, Sky Sports Football pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville even managed a little dance there! 

To strive away from the three relegation spots, you need positivity and a sense of togetherness to get away from the rut that you have found yourself in. Thus, a great cup run would certainly do no harm. Lampard’s new found club hasn’t won the competition for 27 years, as The Bees have only got as far as the Quarter Final on four occasions with the last being further back than Everton’s trophy win. Another way you build that positivity is by having a successful transfer window by bringing in players of great quality, in that respect it would only be necessary to commend the signing of Christian Eriksen as Brentford captured the services of the former Spurs trickster on deadline day.

Regardless of the above, the modern landscape is almost typified by the head-to-head statistics as it shows that there isn’t that much between the two teams in terms of quality. The first meeting was in April 1936, the last was in November 2021 and Brentford have managed to edge out more wins thanks to an Ivan Toney penalty in that previous meeting. 

It will be interesting to see if Lampard is able to bring that head-to-head stat level this weekend as he embarks on a great new managerial adventure.

Officials.

Referee: Michael Oliver.

Assistants: Stuart Burt and Scott Ledger. 

Fourth Official: Andrew Madley.

VAR: Andre Marriner.

Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard.

Premier League teams in FA Cup action this weekend: Manchester United (v Middlesborough), Chelsea (v Plymouth), West Ham (v Kidderminster), Crystal Palace(v Hartlepool), Man City (v Fulham), Southampton (v Coventry), Wolves v Norwich, Spurs v Brighton, Liverpool (v Cardiff), Leicester (v Forest).