Category: Archive

Soccer Scene Aldo’s Tranmere cuts an enigmatic profile

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Joe Behan

If John Aldridge can’t explain why he is at the bottom of the First Division, and yet his Tranmere Rovers continue to defy the odds by beating the big guns, then who can explain?

Tranmere drew nil-all with Southampton, forcing Hoddle and Co. to travel to Prenton Park for the replay. Aldo will be even more fired up as he gets the chance to go back to his favorite Anfield ground, if Tranmere win the replay.

Tranmere’s Andy Parkinson beat Southampton’s offside trap twice to get into a one-on-one with goalkeeper Paul Jones, and the Rovers should have done better. Southampton had two goals disallowed, and so it seems that the goalless draw was fair. Nonetheless, the brilliant result for Aldo at The Dell is being overshadowed by Tranmere’s dilemma, which is incredible cup triumphs verses disastrous league defeats.

The former Irish international admitted that he is having sleepless nights because of the club’s league instability. Listen, John, it’s a cup thing. Don’t worry about it.

Aldo wants to go all the way in management and when pitched against the big boys, his ambition overflows and the Rovers are motivated beyond realism. It’s OK, John, get some sleep; we couldn’t ask for a better cup story. It’s now no surprise to see Tranmere beat Premiership teams.

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"The cup run is not deflecting attention away from the situation for me," Aldridge said. "I cannot sleep at night. You look forward to the cup games and pitting your wits against top opposition and top managers and we have done well again today. This was a great result, but the lads are very down in the dressing room because of the results in the league today."

Results that saw Tranmere go rock bottom in the league.

"I haven’t got a clue what the answer is, but we have not been scoring in the league and that has been our trouble," Aldridge said. "It can only give us a lot of encouragement defensively to come here and keep a clean sheet."

Support all around is rooting for Rovers in the League, but where would we be if it wasn’t for the cup?

Wycombe 2, Wimbledon 2

A guaranteed underdog will come out of this match up, and Wycombe stole a worthy replay with a dramatic comeback against Wimbledon. Yet another team reduced to 10 men, Wycombe came from a two-goal deficit to keep the Adam Park faithful believing. Wimbledon was on a roll with goals from Mark Williams and Patrick Agyemang, but this is the FA Cup and anything can happen.

Wimbledon’s keeper, Kelvin Davis, mistimed his clearance to give Michael Simpson a gift goal with the help of the woodwork. There was yet another mistake by Wimbledon’s Peter Hawkins when his back pass led to a free kick six yards from his goal. Steve Brown stuck the ball away for Wycombe and the cup continues to keep the underdog alive.

Bolton 1, Blackburn 1

Blackburn Rovers can come away satisfied with a 1-all draw against Bolton after fiery Gary Flitcroft was sent off in the ninth minute. Both teams are also battling it out for Division One promotion and now have yet another fixture on the schedule that may hurt one of them in the long run in. It was an all out affair in which Bolton threw everything at Blackburn, but the Gr’me Souness outfit stayed tight to the end with 10 men.

Blackburn deserved to be in front on the 40th minute and continued to win the battle of guts for the first hour. The cup continued to bring out the comic in the game. With a shortage of goalkeepers at Bolton, the Wanderers gave American goalie Jurgen Sommer the call-up. Stranded way off his line, the big injured Yank couldn’t jump for David Dunn’s free as the ball sailed over him and into Bolton’s net. Sommer continued to play with the injury and eventually his bravery helped Bolton to the replay, but his goal against was hilarious.

In the 62nd minute, Michael Ricketts, to Sommers joy, hit his 19th goal of the season to level things up. Obviously, both teams in the end would love a quarterfinal birth in the cup, although promotion is their Holy Grail, but based on this matchup, we are in for a replay thriller. Tackles were flying and Bolton could have snatched the win toward the end, but all is fair in soccer and war, so the Rovers and Wanderers live to fight another day, on March 7.

West Ham United 1, Sunderland 0

"I’m forever blowing bubbles" echoed in the Stadium of Light as Frederic Kanoute put West Ham past Sunderland into the FA Cup quarterfinals with the only goal of the game.

Hammers’ warhorse himself, Stuart Pearce, had a brilliant game and saved the day with nine minutes to go when he denied a point blank effort from Sunderland’s Oster. A great win for United that sees the great Irish hope, Niall Quinn, miss out on cup glory.

Tottenham 4, Stockport County 0

Cup reality begins to kick in even more with Tottenham Hotspurs destroying Stockport.

At last, Spurs manager George Graham is now getting the space he deserves from his critical supporters and reporters. The vast difference between Tottenham and County was stamped within the first five minutes of this cup annihilation. Ledley King put his crown on a Steve Clemence free to head past Stockport goalkeeper Lee Jones. Then Spurs proved why they are becoming one of the toughest teams to beat when County simply could not find a way through the White Heart Lane defense. A defense that now has five clean sheets on the trot in the Premiership

Supersub Simon Davies, an Under 21 Welsh international, hit his first goal for Spurs in the 30th minute. Just before halftime, the contest was put away when Stockport’s captain, Mile Flynn, put the ball into his own net to give Spurs an easy second half into the quarterfinals of the cup.

Straight after the break, Spurs made it clear that County were finished, but Davies wasn’t as he hit a spectacular second and Tottenham’s fourth. That’s nine games now that the London giants are unbeaten, and they have yet to lose at home so far this season. Now Stockport has to fight for Division One survival while Spurs rebuild under new ownership.

Spurs have won the FA cup eight times, five of them in the first year of a new decade, 1901, ’21, ’61, ’81 and ’91. Will the omen continue in 2001 for the legendary cup team?

Leicester 3, Bristol City 0

Leicester is on their way to the cup quarterfinals for the first time in 19 years. Bristol may think that the 3-nil result does not tell the true story, but many a side has fallen victim to that belief at Leicester’s Filbert Street. Despite great efforts by Bristol, it was Leicester’s flying start that upset the Second Division City. Within 15 minutes it was 2-nil and Bristol City’s Matt Hill had begun his cup nightmare.

The cup thing was at it again. Hill headed into his own net just after Leicester hit their first and at the end the unfortunate Hill handled the ball to give the Premiership side its third goal and a long-awaited spot in the cup quarterfinals. Muzzy Izzet and Robbie Savage were a little too skillful for Bristol, who can be very proud of a great cup run.

FA Cup Draw

Arsenal beat FA Cup holders Chelsea, 3-1; the Gunners face the outcome of the Bolton and Blackburn replay. Leicester, with home advantage, will play the winners of Wycombe vs. Wimbledon. Second Division Wycombe are the smallest side left in the Cup. West Ham drew Tottenham at Upton Park. Liverpool were too good for Manchester City, 4-2, and the Reds take on the winners of the Southampton vs. Tranmere romance. Bet Aldo is wide awake for this one.

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