Results: The Premier League returns, but archery and horses take the spotlight

The English Premier League rumbled on yesterday with the eighth and ninth matches of the season. Manchester City were hoping to begin with the form that granted them a last-minute league win in 2011/2012, whilst Chelsea were aiming to be true title challengers once again. They were respectively facing the ever-lucky-not-to-be-relegated Wigan and Championship runners-up Southampton.

Lambert scores one of three British goals scored in yesterday’s EPL action.

Possibly as to be expected, both City and Chelsea were low on British stars in squads that cost hundreds of millions. The biggest English talking point pre-match was the inclusion of Jack Rodwell in the centre of City’s midfield, relegating James Milner and Nigel de Jong to the bench. The youngster managed to last the entire match and passed to his attacking-minded teammates with ease, but it was a relatively quiet afternoon for the former Everton player. Elsewhere, England regulars Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott will be disappointed with their performances, letting in two goals that, at one point, looked like providing Southampton with a shock win at the head of the season. On the flip-side, City’s southern opponents had a much larger British contingent and it was them that provided much of the ammunition for the afternoon. Despite being beaten three times throughout the match, Kelvin Davis was able to save a penalty from David Silva, although it was a terrible kick into the centre of the goal. Fellow “Davis”, Steven, rose from the bench to score Southampton’s second, with Rickie Lambert having already done so ten minutes earlier. Adam Lallana provided an assist in a successful first day for the newbies.

Chelsea came in with much to prove, finishing a lowly sixth last season. Much of the core of yesterday’s team was the same as their Champions League-winning strikeforce, although Drogba’s exit was supplemented by the dragged-on signing of Eden Hazard. He proved to be a shrewd choice as the Belgian provided assists for both goals in the 2-0 win against Wigan, including winning the penalty that Frank Lampard slotted past Ali Al Habsi. Following on from their European success, manager Roberto di Matteo seems to enjoy playing his left backs in a variety of positions; Ryan Bertrand spent much of the final in midfield. He was allowed back into his usual hunting ground during his time with Team GB, but the Premier League opener inexplicably saw him team up with Fernando Torres up front. From here, he failed to get a single shot in although he proved a valuable partner for the Spaniard.

Just so you know, Dundee United beat Dundee 3-0, Karen Carney scored Birmingham Ladies’ final goal in a 3-1 win against Lincoln whilst Team GB’s Fara Williams and Kim Little both netted for their sides in the 2-2 draw between Everton and Arsenal Ladies. Both of the latter two teams remain in the lead two positions of the Super League.

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England’s cricket saga threatens to reach ridiculous heights (or depths) at the moment. Not only are we likely to lose our number one Test ranking spot against South Africa, but the dressing room is falling apart and the team’s best batters are failing to do what is required of them.

Yesterday was the penultimate day of the entire test series between the two top sides but England continued to make a ridicule of that notion by coming short in the batting, bowling and fielding stakes. It had started fairly well by getting the tourists out for 351 but the problems returned when Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss were both bowled to make it 16-2. It’s another shocking sign that we tend to rely on our bowlers considering that our players rarely make centuries at the moment. What’s more, the player that has commanded the most media attention despite not being in the squad, Kevin Pietersen, yesterday crashed out for Surrey with a golden duck against Hampshire. During his quick visit to the crease, he must have been whether he should really have bothered to declare himself available for all forms of the national game. He’s disruptive and, judging by many of his recent appearances for his county (apart from his 234 no. against Lancashire), he’s gotten pretty rubbish, too.

So, England finished 315 & 16-2, chasing South Africa’s total of 660. Elsewhere, Surrey were defeated by Hampshire by 4 wickets in the CB40, Somerset overcame the whole of Scotland and Yorkshire were beaten by 3 wickets by Sussex, among other results in the competition nobody cares about.

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Just a week after the end of the Olympics, many elite athletes are already back doing their day job and winning medals. One such sport recovering from the four-year hangover was archery, which had a fairly low-key Olympics in 2012. Yesterday saw the end of the World Field Archery Championships, celebrating a form of the game usually taking place in rough, woodland terrain with competitors aiming at targets over a variety of distances. Britain’s most successful entrant was Olympian Naomi Folkard, Team GB’s highest ranked female archer, who had an iffy time at London 2012, winning just one match. This time, Folkard came away with two medals, including a team gold, beating the French 50-46 in the final. Individually, Naomi won bronze, overcoming Marina Szendey in the playoff. There was also bronze for Jon Shales in the men’s recurve. Not so great were performances by Jens Asbach, Tracy Anderson, Thomas Duncan and the men’s team, who finished 8th, 6th, 14th, and 10th, respectively.

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Ever heard of vaulting? No, not the gymnastic event that inexplicably scores higher than any other routine in the all-around event. Nor do I mean pole vaulting, that we spectacularly imploded at inside the Olympic Stadium. I’m referring to the equestrian activity, that sees one or two people perform gymnastic routines on top of a moving horse. Odd, yes. Like dressage in reverse, the shapes that are pulled by a pair of young gymnasts whilst a horse barrels around a corner are probably quite a sight, but I’ve only seen still photos, so the amazement is lost, it has to be said.

Vaulting is one of those sports that, shockingly, is quite under the radar and it was almost impossible to find some results for it. Going through the official French site, it appears that Joanna Eccles of Britain won the singles female category, something she has done before. She was also second in the paired event with her sister, Hannah Eccles. Hooray!

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It was the second day of the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) yesterday afternoon but the first proper race day after the team time trial (which I missed so I have no idea what that is). Team Sky, without the likes of Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins, the latter preparing for the Tour of Britain, skulked in the background of the peloton for much of the day, although they took their share of the workload in the last 20km. This allowed sprinter Ben Swift to be in the running in the final stretch, although setting off too early cost him and he trundled home in third. Even so, the main focus is on Chris Froome, who lost no time on the red jersey. Sky, meanwhile, are tenth in the overall ProCycling standings.

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As I mentioned earlier, archery wasn’t the only Olympic sport returning to normality this weekend. Rowing provided a whole host of memorable highlights during the Olympics, but that wasn’t to be repeated in this year’s World Senior and Junior Championships. Since 2012 is an Olympic year, the boat classes that competed in London aren’t invited to the event in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, so that leaves events like the lightweight eight and coxed pairs to duke it out. With this in mind, Great Britain had a very low-key event and didn’t manage to win any senior events. They did, however, see the junior men’s eight cross the finish line first, something the senior team struggled to do on home water.

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Karl Pryce provided two late tries for Bradford Bulls as they overpowered Huddersfield Giants and closed the gap to seventh place to three points. Pryce, making it 13 tries in 19 appearances in 2012, helped the debt-ridden club climb back into the play-off positions. That was at the expense of Hull KR who, despite leading 14-8 at half-time, succumbed to a close 31-30 defeat to rivals in the table Wakefield.

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Snooker returned to its home in Sheffield this weekend. Don’t get too excited, though – it’s only a qualifier for a Chinese ranking tournament, offering the best prize in Asia of £125,000 for the winner. As expected, there were no major stars who had to begin in the first of four rounds. The real tussle begins today, with the likes of Steve Davis and Barry Pinches competing against yesterday’s winners.

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MotoGP returned to Indianapolis this weekend but it was a disappointing day of racing for Britain’s Cal Crutchlow. For the first time this season, Crutchlow crashed out of the race and failed to earn any points, ending his race from seventh position. Despite this setback, he remains in fifth place overall but is now 119 points behind current leader Jorge Lorenzo.

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The final day of golf’s Wyndham Championship was suspended yesterday for “inclement weather” (supposedly alternatively known as “pissing it down”). As it is an American competition, Britain’s representation was low – Scotland’s Russell Knox is tied 38th on -6, 7 down on leader Sergio Garcia, whilst England’s Gary Christian is another point behind tied 46th. Action resumes again today.

About archangelffx

An aging music and sports enthusiast who has nothing better to do but write lists of stuff.
This entry was posted in Archery, Cricket, Cycling, Equestrian, Football, Golf, MotoGP, Rowing, Rugby League, Snooker, Vaulting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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