Flying Kiwis – April 9

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Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

The Woodsman, midweek: “Everyone knows winning helps and that was the case at the weekend. There’s no getting away from it. Four on the bounce without a win does take it out of you. It was nice to get that bit of fresh air, to breathe again, and we go again. You want to get clear and safe as soon as possible. We can’t think about what other people do. We don’t have a hand in their business. We just do what we do and focus on us as Burnley and if we do the right stuff, we’ll be safe. It was always in our hands and that’s the way we looked at it. That’s still the case at the moment.”

Words of wisdom from Chris Wood who always keeps it in perspective. Following his part in earning that Connor Coady own goal last week on the way to a 2-0 win over Wolves, snapping a run of four games without a win since beating Tottenham, Burnley travelled down to Bournemouth to take on the Cherries knowing that they really kinda massively needed three more points given how ruthless their remaining fixtures are. And things took a big blow just a few minutes into it when Ashley Barnes accidentally headed his defensive header into his own top corner and Burnley were playing from behind.

Crisis time? Nah, not really. In the 18th minute Chris Wood popped up at the far post and get in there, lad! Asmir Begovic came leaping for it from the corner kick but couldn’t get a touch on the ball and Chris Wood basically had an open header from half a yard out. No dramas for that fella. None whatsoever. And within three minutes they were in front thanks to a poor defensive clearance and an excellent strike from Ash Westwood. Burnley responding in the perfect way after being put under pressure in the early stages. Twenty minutes gone and they were up 2-1. They were still up 2-1 at HT.

The Clarets then came out of the sheds and immediately Wood and Barnes linked up to create some danger. Soon enough, more of the same. Begovic fumbled the ball as Bournemouth yapped at the ref for a throw-in for a ball that never actually went out. Woody snapped it off the keeper, turned and stabbed it back to Barnesy while somehow keeping his balance and awareness. Barnes did the rest to make up for that OG at the start.

This was an end to end game and if Callum Wilson had been his usual sharp self then maybe we’d be talking about a 3-3. But Ben Mee and James Tarkowski were sharp and the Clarets bossed their way home after scoring the third goal. A huge victory on the path towards ensuring they’ll be back in the Premier League next season. They can make that all but certain by beating Cardiff next week.

Lancashire Telegraph Player Ratings: “Chris Wood (8) – One of his better displays of the season. Used his size well to hold the ball up and bring others in to play. Deserved his goal.”

By the way, the Fantasy Premier League jokers picked it. This was them in the lead up to the Bournemouth trip:

“The Burnley forward is owned by just 0.9 per cent of managers for his trip to AFC Bournemouth. Wood has an impressive record against the Cherries, scoring home and away in their two meetings last season. He travels to Vitality Stadium hoping to extend his strong second half to the campaign.

Wood struggled for output in the opening months, scoring just once in the first 19 Gameweeks. But from Gameweek 20 he has six goals in 13 appearances. The New Zealander also claimed his first assist of the season in last weekend’s win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He is set to face a AFC Bournemouth side who have lacked resilience of late. Eddie Howe’s men have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight home fixtures. Wood can profit to steer the Clarets closer to safety on Saturday afternoon and reward managers who take a punt on him.”

Up Next: Burnley vs Cardiff, Sunday at 2am (NZT)

Tyler Boyd – MKE Ankaragücü (Turkish Süper Lig)

Nearing half-time of the game, it’s Ankaragücü at home against Fenerbahçe, a team which has had a shocking season this time around but last season qualified for the Champions League playoffs having finished second in the Turkish SuperLig. Their starting eleven for this one included the likes of Roberto Soldado, Martin Skrtel, and Victor Moses. But nearing half-time it was Tyler Boyd who brought out all the pace he had in the tank to gas in behind the defence on the end of a long ball from midfield and, slipping it past the keeper, he put his side up 1-0.

It’s a smooth little finish but the real measure of this goal was in the run that he made and the pace that he showed along with it. Natural aspects of his game which are going to be effective wherever he plays. And it just goes to add to what’s been an absolutely brilliant spell in Turkey so far. In eight games he’s now scored three times and set up four more goals.

It didn’t last. Hasan Ali Kaldirim equalised in the 67th minute and the two side drew 1-1. But even that’s a good result for a club that was flirting with relegation when Boyd arrived and which looks to be doing more than enough to survive now as long as they can maintain this level the rest of the way. With seven games remaining they have a five-point buffer.

Also, some real biffo at the end of this game, as Hector Canteros (Anka) and Mehmet Ekici (Fener) were both sent off in stoppage time after a bit of a fracas. Some Fenerbahçe dude got hit in the face but Ankaragücü kept on pushing for a winner. The ball finally went out and some fellas got all up in each other’s faces. It had been a pretty rough game full of penalty shouts and Fenerbahçe in particular were frustrated at not turning more of their pressure into goals. Eh, that’s their problem. Our only problem is making sure the Turkish Süper Lig loses any broadcasting rights deals they have in the United States so that they never find out about the winger they never knew they needed.

Up Next: Sunday at 10.30pm away to Kayserispor (NZT)

Stefan Marinovic - Bristol City (English Championship)

Strange scenes midweek as Stefan Marinovic, who was supposedly healthy and took part in pregame warm ups, wasn’t even named on the bench for Bristol City. Not only that but they didn’t name a reserve keeper at all. A risky undertaking from manager Lee Johnson, the brave fella. They were away to an out of form Middlesbrough and with a couple guys short on fitness on a Tuesday night game he just figured the extra outfield option was the way to go.

Lee Johnson: “I think it's a game by game thing. It's a Catch 22 really. You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. I spoke to Kenny Dalglish a number of times and he tells me that Liverpool went for a whole season once only using 13 players. I think that, throughout history, if you look at the history, often there is a 4-5% chance in any one game, probably less, of a goalkeeper coming on, less than 1% coming on maybe even.”

He’s a gambler, old mate is. Knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. And it all paid off as a first half goal from Adam Webster earned the Robins a 1-0 win, a crucial victory in the race for the playoffs, and in the end he only used two subs anyway.

They then took on Wigan Athletic at home on the weekend and Marinovic was back on the subs bench. Didn’t get on though. As the history suggests, you only have a 4-5%, possibly even less than 1%, chance of using a sub keeper anyway. Right now Marinovic is the backup at Bristol City until something changes and he’s just training hard, building his reputation in the English game, and setting things up for his next move in the summer… whether that’s staying with Bristol City or moving elsewhere.

Bit of a rough one against Wigan for the lads. Fell down a goal as Reece James scored a screamer from distance that Max O’Leary didn’t even move for. Bristol City fought back with two goals in five minutes between the 65-69th minutes to take the lead and it seemed they were poised for another big win… until they conceded a proper goal-mouth scramble type in the 90th minute. Jeez, that’s a punch in the guts right at the end. Still sitting sixth on the ladder, one point behind Aston Villa with a game in hand while Derby County are also hovering within striking distance in seventh.

Up Next: Wednesday at 6.45am at home to West Brom (NZT)

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

Last game before they christen their flash new purpose built stadium, the Loons had to do it tough away to New York Red Bulls. Injuries to Miguel Ibarra and their superstar creator Darwin Quintero meant a change in formation to cope and that in turn meant a back three for the first time this season, with Brent Kallman coming in to join Mikey Boxall and Ike Opara at CB.

No dramas for Boxall, he’s seen it all before. As for the shuffled attack, well it started quite hushed but an Abu Danladi goal had Minny in front at the half as his speed began to cause some real problems on the counter attack. And based on their set up, it was all counter attacks for Minnesota. Yet Danladi succumbed to injury at the break and was replaced by Romario Ibarra… no dramas for that bloke either as he later put the Loons up 2-0 with a rebounded volley.

It was all working perfectly for Minnesota. The lead meant they were justified in continuing to play with men behind the ball, plenty of help for Boxall and company. NY Red Bulls were thwarted a few times by keeper Vito Mannone but eventually they did get a goal through Cristian Casseres with twenty minutes left. So on came some defensive subs and the Loons made it even scrappier. It worked. They held on for a 2-1 win despite a couple nervous moments and that puts the last couple stinker performances into the rearview mirror ahead of the big opening next week. Their first home game finally after five straight road games.

Michael Boxall: “Before we started we, obviously it’s not an easy stretch to go away from home with this amount of games, but we kind of set those targets at the beginning and then we got 6 from the first two games we kind of pushed it up a little bit and then maybe a little complacent in the next to and then had to put things right. So, it’s good to have a bit of momentum into opening our new stadium next week.”

Up Next: Minnesota vs New York FC, Sunday at 9am (NZT)

Abby Erceg – North Carolina Courage (American National Women’s Soccer League)

The Footy Ferns are currently in Spain playing Norway (it’s easier that way, for some reason). A team with a large amount of rotation lost 1-0 in the first game, an unofficial behind-closed-doors friendly, with the second game on Wednesday morning at 4am our time. Although it ain’t on telly by the looks of it.

So that’s where all the Fernies are at this week, but no sooner do they get back to their clubs than the NWSL begins over in the States. North Carolina looking to defend their title. Katie Bowen also doing her thing at Utah. Those are the only two kiwis left in the comp as Rebekah Stott has moved to Norway and Rosie White is in between clubs and prioritising the Ferns by playing in Aotearoa at the moment. Nobody else making that step up… yet.

In the meantime keep ‘em peeled for this long-awaited poddy…

Up Next: Sunday at 11am, NCC vs Chicago Red Stars (NZT)

Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)

Another week and another start for Billy T. These last two games he seems to have put a real case forward for him as a first eleven defender… although nothing’s safe when the team keeps on losing. After five games the Timbers, who were beaten finalists last year, are still yet to win their first game. One point out of a possible fifteen. The latest was a 3-0 defeat to San Jose Earthquakes who themselves hadn’t won a game until this one. Really not good for the Timbers at the mo’.

Playing alongside Larrys Mabiala at CB in a back four – the French Connection finally getting another go at MLS level – Tui couldn’t do a whole lot as Che Salinas tapped in at close range in the fifteenth minute. Maybe he could have been a little tighter on his man before the second goal but it wasn’t him who was left on his arse by Magnus Eriksson’s turn before Danny Hoesen tapped in from close range. Tuiloma had done the right thing in getting back on the line as cover but it doesn’t always work out. The third goal, two minutes later, he definitely coulda done better on as a burst of pace from Cristian Espinoza gained him the space he needed to slam it into the near post despite Tuiloma’s coverage. Just not quick enough to keep up.

At that point, three goals down with ten minutes remaining in the first half, they were pretty much buggered. They teased a comeback in the second half but Diego Valeri missed a penalty kick and they were probably luck not to lose by more.

Gonna be interesting to see who holds their places for the next game. Tuiloma has benefitted from injuries/suspensions in getting these last two games so we’ll find out soon if he’s done enough to crack the top team… in as much as the Timbers even have a top team right now.

Up Next: Away to FC Dallas on Sunday at midday (NZT)

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

The good news: for the first time since his debut in February (this being his seventh game for the club), Marco Rojas played a full ninety minutes for Sonders, in a game away to Vejle.

The bad news: they lost 4-1, making it three games without a win and leaving them pretty likely to end up in the four-team relegation playoff round in May – they have four games left to do something about that.

Up Next: SønderjyskE vs AGF, 5am on Tuesday 16 April (NZT)

Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

There are certain trends of the Rapids that followed on from Anthony Hudson’s time with the All Whites, but after more than a year in charge of the club most of those have dissipated by now and the Hudson Rapids are very much their own beast. The back three is gone. The kiwi signings have dried up, with just Deklan Wynne and Tommy Smith still there. They still struggle to score but they also concede silly goals which the All Whites at least never quite stooped to under Huddo.

Tommy Smith was suspended after his red card last week, so Deklan Wynne came back in to start. Still waiting on the two of them to share the field this season. Also, coming in for Smithy meant another game at centre-back for Wynne which these days is where he seems to be getting in more than anywhere. Dude’s played basically every position in the backline for the Rapids, not bad for a bloke who looked a specialist left-back back in the day.

Away to Orlando City, this was a cracking contest. The Rapids struck first as Kei Kamara capitalise on some poor defence being unable to cut out the chip over the top. That was within the first ten mins but then Nani, former Man United and Portugal winger, leapt up to nod in an equaliser on half an hour at the back post before Orlando City struck again on the break almost straight away with Tesho Akindele supplying the final touch.

Crazy footy and it got crazier as a lightning storm caused the game to be delayed by an hour. Late on it was Colorado’s time to bring the goods again as a magnificent cross from Cole Bassett gave Nicolas Mezquida a free header for 2-2 with half an hour remaining. Ten minutes later Bassett scored one of his own with a sharp finish and Huddo’s boys were up 3-2!

Buuuut they conceded a sloppy one in the 81st min and then an Axel Sjoberg handball gave Nani the chance to win it with 88 mins gone from the penalty spot, and he did exactly that. Absolute chaos throughout but the end result was a 4-3 win to Orlando City. Still just two points from six game for the Rapids. No red cards or own goals this time though, although a last minute penalty doesn’t really help things. There was a legit case however that Nani should have been sent off for a headbutt while the score was still 3-2, which would have changed things.

Anthony Hudson: “Well we have to not give away soft goals like we did. We give really not good mistakes. All the goals were really good football. Kei’s [Kamara] goal, Cole’s [Bassett] goal, there some of the runs, and movement, and passing. The cross from Cole, Niko’s header, the goals were brilliant. We have to work for it. But then we make mistakes and individual errors, and we gift teams goals. And then, once again, I have to talk about it because it happens every game”

By the way, including cup games, Anthony Hudson has been in charge of this team for 43 games now, of which the Rapids have won… eight. With 10 draws and 25 defeats. Scoring 45 goals and conceding 83.

Up Next: 1pm on Thursday at home to Seattle Sounders (NZT)

Clayton Lewis – Scunthorpe United (English League One)

New manager, same situation. Andy Dawson’s the caretaker boss for the Iron since Stuart McCall got the flick two weeks back but nothing too much has changed with the team and Clayton Lewis is still working his way into games from the bench. It’s been a slow integration for him but five of his ten subs appearances in League Two this season have come in the last two months so he’s as involved now as he has ever been with the squad. Easy to forget he’s only 22 years old as well.

Lewis played the last 18 mins against Shrewsbury as his lot sought to hang onto a 1-0 lead earned from a Kyle Wootton header in the first half. But with both teams looking to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone it was a fraught one and Adam Hammill’s 84th min own goal, an awkward one that bounced right in front of him from a ball across goal which he couldn’t quite avoid, ended up sharing the points in a 1-1 draw. With five games left Scunthorpe are two points clear of the drop zone.

Up Next: Sunday at 2am against Burton (NZT)

Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)

A couple spare goals in the first half and it was a 1-1 draw between Macclesfield and Morecambe that perfectly suits the Shrimps who have little left to play for. Bottom placed Macclesfield not so much but the point does keep them well in range of safety with a game in hand on Yeovil and Notts County though. Not the worst.

The first strike was a header from Zak Mills for Morecambe. Nicely guided into the bottom corner but of course everybody in the stadium will tell you that the real magic of the goal was in the rising header back across goal from Steven Old. Rack that up as an assist for old mate. But Elliot Durrell levelled soon after, striking past Old’s jockeying presence and the keeper kinda dove over it. Don’t worry, nothing much else happened. Although a flicked header from a free kick from Old might have won it.

Up Next: Morecambe vs Grimsby, Sunday at 2am (NZT)

Nikko Boxall – Viborg FF (Danish Division 1)

Things are feisty at the top of the Danish first division. Viborg have been up near the summit the entire season but in this final straight, with eight more games to play, they’ve failed to pull away and a 2-2 draw with Nykøbing coupled with Silkeborg’s win means they slip to second. Only winning two of six games since the winter break ended, that’s what you get.

Nikko Boxall didn’t play last week as his yellow card suspension kicked in but they won 4-1 without him anyway, a super helpful win over fifth-placed Lyngby. He was back in for this one but despite twice taking the lead, Viborg weren’t able to hold on for victory. Soren Christensen’s 82nd minute equaliser doing the damage.

Up Next: 11.45pm on Sunday away to Thisted (NZT)

The USL Crew

James Musa (Phoenix Rising) – Unbelievably the Rising drew another game as they had 23 shots and just two on target against a Fresno team that played fifty mins with ten men. But James Musa was on the bench and didn’t play so that’s probably why. Four games and four draws for this lot.

Elliot Collier (Memphis 901 FC) vs Sam Brotherton (North Carolina FC) – Our first USL Flying Kiwis Derby of 2019 and both dudes played! Collier back from a minor injury and Brotherton maintaining his spot at CB as usual. Collier on the right wing though so not a direct head to head. Memphis took the lead when a player who wasn’t Elliot Collier stole the ball off a defender who wasn’t Sam Brotherton and said defender completed a sloppy rugby tackle to concede a penalty (and earn a red card) which was scored by somebody not named Collier. An hour gone. Collier nearly made it 2-0 when he shuffled off his defender but his shot off the left was kicked away at a stretch by the goalie. Then NC tied it up with an impressive free kick from Marios Lomis which still shoulda been saved. 1-1 feels fair though. Mixed emotions and all.

Kyle Adams (Rio Grande Valley) – A 0-0 draw with New Mexico. Keeping things ticking over. But no Captain Kyle on this occasion, who wasn’t even on the bench which suggests an injury, although the Houston Dynamo did loan five players to the team for this game and three were defenders, all of whom started in the back four.

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