Watford 1 – 1 Wigan
Watford and Wigan drew 1-1 at Vicarage Road, a result which did neither side any favours with their respective goals at opposite ends of the Sky Bet Championship.
James McClean’s 51st minute goal earned the visitors a point, after Keinan Davis had given the hosts the lead just before half-time.
Fresh from their three-goal victory over Birmingham last week, Watford head coach Chris Wilder kept faith with the same starting 11 as they sought to maintain their play-off push.
Struggling Wigan made one change from their draw with Coventry, with Tom Naylor coming in for Ashley Fletcher.
The home side should have taken the lead after seven minutes. A long punt up the field by Daniel Bachmann was left alone by defender Ryan Nyambe who let in Joao Pedro – but the strike could only find the side-netting after rounding goalkeeper Ben Amos.
A lengthy stoppage saw Charlie Hughes on the floor for a Watford corner, and the defender was subbed after just 11 minutes by Omar Rekik.
The game was turning into a scrappy affair, with Watford generally having the better of the play – however, their crosses into the area were often overhit.
Jeremy Ngakia tested the Wigan goal with a volley seven minutes before the interval, but his effort was a foot wide.
Wigan offered little in the half, although Danel Sinani fired wide from outside the area on 42 minutes.
However, the home side finally and deservedly went ahead just before the interval. Davis picked up the ball from Pedro and produced an impressive solo run into the area before firing home through a group of defenders.
In an attempt to change the game in their favour, Wigan replaced Steven Caulker with Callum Lang for the second half.
The substitute played a significant part for the visitors six minutes after the restart, when his cross was met by McClean for the equaliser.
Watford remained dangerous and Imran Louza fired at Amos after good work by Ken Sema.
The Moroccan saw his curled effort hit the post after the hour mark, while Britt Assombalonga fired over the crossbar 15 minutes later.
Both teams looked for the winning effort, to help their position at their respective positions in the table, which started to lead to an open finish to the tie.
Lang managed to stretch the Watford back line with six minutes remaining, but his shot was weak and comfortably held by Bachmann.
Tempers were fraying in the latter stages, which saw Watford head coach Wilder yellow-carded in a heated exchange with the Wigan bench.
However, both teams came away from Vicarage Road with a point apiece.
Miami, SDSU knock off remaining No. 1 seeds before Elite 8
You know that feeling you get when a new team is going to win the title? You look at the finals matchup and say, “Suns-Bucks? Cool.” Occasionally, that feeling can happen in the semis, but it’s rare. Usually, there’s a blueblood like the Patriots, Duke, Alabama, Golden State, the Astros, or some team that you’re dreading because we’ve seen it and want a different fan base to experience euphoria — or just not the same fan base.
Well, we’ve reached the Elite 8 of the men’s NCAA tourney, and there are only two “powerhouses” left in the field, they play each other next round, and one of them (Gonzaga) doesn’t have a title. The other program is UConn, and even though the Zags or the Huskies will be in the Final Four, this tourney has that new champion smell.
I could be wrong, and UConn will continue beating opponents by 20 en route to a fifth title since 1999, which would be the most titles in the time period by two titles. Yeah, wild stat, right? If it feels like there are two, three, maybe even four schools that have had a larger impact on college basketball over the past 24 years, it’s because you’re right. Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Villanova come to mind, but what’s really on my mind is that we’re getting a non-traditional Final Four.
This doesn’t feel like an outlier
Here’s an even crazier stat (that you’ve likely already heard which is why I didn’t lead with it): This is the first year since seeding began in 1979 that no No. 1 seed has made it to the Elite 8. That could be why 2023 feels so strange. I mean, Alabama and Houston both lost, and neither game was a fluke.
San Diego State led at the break, and although Bama had a nine-point lead midway through the second half, the Aztecs needed a timeout and all of a minute and a half to erase the deficit. Then it was SDSU’s turn to build a lead, one they wouldn’t surrender, bringing the Brandon Miller era/saga to a merciful end with a 71-64 loss in the Sweet 16.
Houston… well, Houston had an even tougher go of it, getting drubbed by a Miami backcourt that did whatever they wanted. Isaiah Wong and Nijel Pack combined for 46 points, and forced the Cougars to play catch-up most of the game. The U went on a 16-4 run to push their cushion to 17 at the 10:06 mark of the second half, and cruised the rest of the way to an 89-75 W and their second-straight Elite 8.
The four teams joining UConn, Gonzaga, San Diego State, and Miami are FAU, Kansas State, Texas, and Creighton. As far as seedings go, we have a 2, two 3’s, a 4, two 5’s, a 6, and a 9 remaining. It’s not quite Reservoir Dogs level “Really, that’s who’s left alive?” vibes, but it’s close.
It’s up to you, UConn and Gonzaga, to maintain order
If you’ve been following the tourney closely — and who knows if you are because brackets started spontaneously combusting on opening day and haven’t stopped — UConn is the only squad in the Elite 8 that’s been comfortable in all three wins. Everybody else has had a game decided by single digits, and I don’t need to be the 16 millionth writer to tell you the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.
Wait, that’s The Rock’s line.
The hierarchy of power in college basketball has changed, and it’s up to you to decide how to feel about it.
My feeling is this: I’m always going to enjoy that new champion smell. It’s certainly better than the monotony of college football.
Sure, if the Huskies win, it’ll be just another weird UConn year where they caught fire at the perfect time. However, if it’s one of the other seven schools, even Gonzaga (but not Creighton; Cornhusker basketball until I die), I’ll be satisfied.
March Madness finally, truly fits the bill, and I’m happy lighting a couple of entry fees on fire to watch everything else burn.
Duncan Ferguson: I wouldn’t leave Forest Green for Everton or Real Madrid | Football News
Duncan Ferguson spent years as part of the backroom staff under several managers at Everton.
On two occasions he also took charge of the club on a caretaker basis, but was overlooked for the job permanently last season in favour of Frank Lampard.
Now, at 51, he has struck out on his own, and in January he took on his first permanent managerial role in charge of Forest Green in League One.
It has not been an easy start. There have been just two points collected from his first nine games in charge. Rovers lie bottom of the third tier, and are heading back towards League Two at the first time of asking after winning promotion last season.
But Ferguson was handed a five-and-a-half year contract by owner Dale Vince, and he is committed to building the club in the long-term.
Here, he spoke to Sky Sports pundit and former Everton team-mate Andy Hinchcliffe about not getting the Toffees job, his aims for Forest Green and more…
On his disappointment at not getting the Everton job
“I was considered for it. I went for an interview but I was unsuccessful, unfortunately. That was disappointing because you obviously want to be the manager of the club that you love and I felt like I deserved a chance at that and to take the team through to the end of the season.
“But the club brought in Frank Lampard, a man I have a lot of respect for. And to be fair he steadied the ship and helped the club avoid relegation.
“I was disappointed I wasn’t given that chance, but it is what it is. The club made a decision and it was the right one.”
On his long-term plans for Forest Green, and trying to attract Messi!
“I’m not sure I needed convincing but [me and the owner] definitely needed to have a chat about where the club was going, and what he saw as the vision of the club. Obviously it’s come a long way in the last four or five years.
“When I spoke to him I liked him right away. My first impressions were good and he told me where he wants the club to go. He offered me a long contract, and that showed his confidence in me.
“Obviously things aren’t going too well for us right now, and we might have to take a step back, but hopefully we’ll come forward again. We want to be in the Championship. That’s the aim. It’s where we want to be, and where I want to be as coach.
“If you’ve got strong views on the environment you might want to come here. I wonder if Messi has strong views on the environment! He could come here, couldn’t he.”
On his commitment to the club
“I love Everton, but I’m at Forest Green. The owner knows I’m a man of my word, and I’ve told him I won’t be going anywhere unless he tells me. And that’s it.
“It doesn’t matter if Everton come in for me tomorrow, or Real Madrid come in for me next week. I will not be leaving this club. That’s an absolute fact.
“He showed faith in bringing me to the club and he gave me a big contract. He showed that loyalty to me, and I’ll show that loyalty back to him.”
On Everton’s relegation battle and Dyche
“I thought Frank was one of the best I’ve ever worked with. He was absolutely fantastic, and his presentations and the way he spoke to players was the best I’ve ever seen.
“Obviously I keep an eye on the results and it looks like Sean is pulling it around. I can see why Everton went for him. He’s been there and done it.
“He’s got that experience. He’ll set them up how he thinks is right. He’s got a few good results recently and I’m sure Everton will be safe this season.”
Jim Crawford: Republic of Ireland U21s boss angered after ‘uneducated’ trolls racially abuse U15 players | Football News
Republic of Ireland U21s boss Jim Crawford has hit out at the “uneducated” trolls who sent “unacceptable” online abuse to members of the country’s U15s squad.
The Football Association of Ireland has condemned the attacks on multiple platforms, which came after the U15s boys’ team’s back-to-back 6-0 victories over Latvia earlier this week, as “vile and horrific” and is working with police and social media companies to identify and deal with those responsible.
Crawford, who was preparing his team for Sunday’s friendly against Iceland in Cork when the news broke, could not contain his anger.
He said: “I just want to get it out there that there’s certainly no place for racism in sport, in society.
“It comes from a minority, it comes from uneducated people and it comes from social media platforms where people can disguise their names, their identity. The unfortunate thing is that they have a platform.
“To hear that this morning, it just makes you angry. I just think it’s time that we all just work together on this and stamp it out because it’s unacceptable.”
The incident comes at a time when Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squad, which will face France in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday evening, mirrors the country’s diversity, with striker Chiedozie Ogbene, the first African-born player to represent the nation at senior level, Andrew Omobamidele and Adam Idah all of Nigerian heritage.
Crawford added: “These same people will be cheering goals if Chieo scores, Adam Idah scores, do you know what I mean?
“I just don’t know. Well, I do know. They’re ignorant, they’re uneducated, but they have to hide behind these fake accounts.
“It goes for racism, bullying and I do think social media companies have got to do something about this. They’ve got to do it because certain people think it’s a laugh and a joke, but it’s not, it’s a lot deeper than that.”
An emotional Crawford continued: “I’ve worked in the FAI now a long time and I know the work that development officers do on the ground, getting into schools, putting on Show Racism the Red Card programmes, and I’ve been involved in that myself.
“It’s something that I’m very strong about and every school I’ve been to, I’ve got the buy-in. But it’s just the minority, you know? It’s just a minority.
“I’ve run so many programmes with black kids loving football, and then I hear this goes on, you know?”
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