Peterhead match “like any other game” says Edinburgh City boss

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Edinburgh can go seven points clear tomorrow (Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh has revealed his side will approach tomorrow’s top of the table clash against Peterhead “like any other game.”

City lie four points clear of Peterhead at the top of Scottish League Two, but the Aberdeenshire side have two games in hand.

However a win tomorrow would edge Edinburgh seven points clear with their destiny in their own hands.

“It’s a game we can’t go into just hoping to sit back, we have to go and try and win the game because if they were to win it with their games in hand we’d be quite a bit behind them,” McDonaugh told EN4 News.

 

When asked if he would approach the game differently, the City boss said every game is just as important as the other.

“No I don’t think we have to approach it any differently at all,” he said.

“We have to just go and try and win the game. There’s 13 games to go and we’ve got Peterhead to play twice so it’s an important game but they’re all important games.

“There’s no point in beating Peterhead and then losing the next one or losing to Albion Rovers and beating Peterhead, they’re all worth three points so we just have to treat it like every other game.”

City head into the match looking to keep up momentum after a difficult January. A 3-1 win at home against Albion Rovers last weekend has got the team “back to winning ways” with a full squad now available.

McDonaugh has previously expressed concern to EN4 News about a lack of players, but the signing of Liam Henderson on loan from Hamilton Academical and a fitter squad have helped eradicate the issue.

“Before the players were there but they were just unavailable through injury or whatever,” McDonaugh explained.

“Even during that time we were able to keep winning but now we’ve got some players back it’s obviously harder to pick the team. But I think we’ll need everybody for the last three of four months of the season.”

Podcast: Interview with Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn

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Raith are underdogs in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup clash with Hibs (Credit: Raith Rovers / Facebook)

Ahead of Raith Rovers’ Scottish Cup tie away to Hibernian tomorrow, John Menzies speaks to the manager John McGlynn about the club’s prospects.

He also joins Luke Barry to analyse the match and give a prediction about the outcome.

 

 

Blair has “no concern” about Scotland’s defensive issues

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Blair isn’t worried about conceding late on last weekend (Credit: Bryce Donaldson)

Scotland Rugby assistant coach Mike Blair isn’t concerned about Scotland’s defensive issues despite conceding three late tries in their Six Nations victory over Italy last weekend.

Scotland beat Italy 33-20 at BT Murrayfield with tries from Blair Kinghorn, Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris helping them to the top of the table, but were 33-3 up with 10 minutes to go.

Blair admitted that Scotland made “poor” defensive decisions, but the coaching staff will leave “no stone unturned” as they prepare to host Ireland tomorrow.

“We were 33-3 up against the Italians but that last 15 minutes really hit home that if we do not get things right that teams will expose you,” he said.

“There were a few poor decisions in defence, perhaps a lack of energy, [which] meant that it was certainly a disappointing finish to the game. We are aware of that, we are aware of where our standards need to be to avoid that happening in other games.

“There is no concern. We have got a very hardworking coaching team who leave no stone unturned.

“We have conceded a few soft tries but that is nothing to do with our system. We just need to make sure the players are making smart decisions under pressure.”

 

 

Blair Kinghorn was one of the stand-out performers in last weekend’s victory, becoming the first Scottish player in history to score a hat-trick of tries.

Blair was quick to praise Kinghorn’s efforts even though he misses out on a starting spot against Ireland tomorrow.

“There’s not many who will doubt his ability after Saturday [match against Italy] and I think Blair has something like 80 or so games for his club Edinburgh already which, for a 22-year-old is crazy numbers,” Blair said.

“He’s building up a lot of experience early on in his career, obviously he’s a great talent, the height he’s got and the speed that he’s got on top of the superb handling ability that he has as well.

“We are all delighted with him, he is gaining experience all the time and already looks comfortable at international level already.”

Snowman Rally cancelled due to “unsafe conditions”

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Opening round of Scottish Rally Championship has been called off (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

The opening round of the 2019 Scottish Rally Championship has been cancelled tomorrow due to “unsafe conditions.”

The Snowman Rally in Inverness is traditionally the first Scottish rally of the season, with 76 crews entered to contest the 42-mile gravel event this year.

However rally organisers took the decision to cancel the event due to the recent snowfall in the Highlands.

Clerk of the Course Graham Provest said: “Further to an extensive review of the stages all week, we have had to take the decision to cancel the Snowman Rally.

“We have tried everything in our power to keep the event running but to no avail.

“The decision is due to extremely unsafe conditions – all the stages have a thick covering of ice over them and it would be irresponsible to take such a risk with with people’s safety.

“We are aware many will be disappointed with this decision and we can only apologise for you having to cancel your plans for a weekend’s sport.”

Gordon Adam, the Chairman of the Scottish Rally Championship, added: “The Scottish Rally Championship is fully behind the organisers of the Coogie Urquhart Snowman Rally and their decision to cancel the event.

“Of course we were all looking forward to what is always an exciting start to the year, but safety is paramount for our competitors, marshals, safety crews and spectators and we have a duty to ensure the risk to them is managed properly.

“We would like to extend our thanks to the organising team who have made a crucial decision in time to ensure minimal disruption to competitors and officials.”

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Garry Pearson backs the decision to cancel the event (Credit: Lindsay Photo Sport)

Garry Pearson, one of the frontrunners in the Scottish Championship, admits he’s “gutted” not to be competing tomorrow but respects the event’s decision.

“Of course I was gutted when I heard that we won’t be heading to Inverness this weekend but I respect the event’s decision wholeheartedly,” he said.

“Safety is everyone’s priority and we have to make sure the spectators and organisers are just as looked after as we are in the car.

“The Snowman is always a challenge that’s for sure and if it was just snow then we may have been able to go but ice is another matter and so very unpredictable.”

EN4 News says..

What are the implications of this decision for those involved? Well, there don’t appear to be any winners, but the decision has been made to ensure there are no major losers.

Check out the video below for more detail.

 

EN4 Sports Paper Roundup 25/1/19

EN4 News sports reporter Luke Barry is joined by Graham Millar and Lauren Archer to discuss today’s sporting headlines.

 

Is Sam Cosgrove the solution to Dons goal woes?

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Sam Cosgrove playing for North Ferriby United in 2017. Credit: Mattythewhite

As an Aberdeen fan, there’s not much to look forward to when the season starts; aside from the occasional big name signing — I’m looking at you James Wilson — us Dandies are now resigned to accepting that we’ll finish second; always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

That was until Sam Cosgrove appeared on the scene; the 22-year-old, six-foot, blonde bombshell. Cosgrove doesn’t have the best record in England, with only one senior goal in 30 games which came against Crewe for League Two side Carlisle United in 2018.

Yet, his double against Hamilton Academical on January 23 took Cosgrove’s tally to 11 goals for the season, with nine in his last eight games. Only Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos stands in his way, with 12 goals so far.

Cosgrove didn’t get off to the best start in Scotland after receiving a red card for a lunging tackle on Celtic captain Scott Brown, on his debut for Aberdeen no less. Eight minutes in and Aberdeen fans were worried that manager Derek McInnes had traded one tall, blonde striker with a habit of red cards for another.

Sam Cosgrove seemed to be just like Jayden Stockley, who finished his career with Aberdeen in typical Stockley-style. In the 2017 Scottish Cup Final against Celtic, Stockley was accused of catching Celtic defender Kieran Tierney with an elbow, forcing Tierney to rush to hospital. On the flip side, Stockley seems to be scoring goals for fun down south, which recently earned him a big money move to Preston North End.

Cosgrove began his form with a double against St Mirren in October, after 10 games at the beginning of the season without finding the net. Five more games without a goal followed including a game against Rangers where two yellow cards resulted in a first-half sending off. That seemed to be the shock Cosgrove needed, resulting in the run of nine goals.

The current form of the striker hasn’t gone unnoticed with fans. There is now a momentum on Twitter, calling for Cosgrove to be nominated — and rightfully so — for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. It first appeared on Twitter after Cosgrove scored his first Aberdeen goal, something which was laughed at by other fans. All it takes is a quick search on the social media site to see how passionate fans are, with mock-ups of Cosgrove accepting the award to fans singing his name.

I’m calling it now, Sam Cosgrove – Ballon d’Or winner 2020.

Scottish Football needs to improve its youth system

Rewind back to the 1980s and Scottish football is in full swing, with clubs recording success within Scotland and in European competitions. Clubs were full of homegrown players, who had been scouted and come through the ranks at their respective clubs.

Fast forward to the present day and only a handful of players receiving first-team minutes have come through the youth development systems put in place.

Looking back at how things used to be, Scottish football has taken a step backwards in terms of how they develop the youngsters coming through the ranks. Current Peterhead manager Jim McInally, who worked with the Celtic Youth Academy during the Martin O’Neill era, claims the pro-youth academies are “filled with young kids who will never make it”.

McInally believes the pro-youth system should be scrapped and the old “schools system” should be reinstated, where everyone should be playing for their school, something which isn’t currently happening. McInally is backing current Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, who wants to fix the problem from the bottom up. Strachan believes the coaching programmes in place need to be stripped down to the bare bone to a system that worked well for him and many other players coming through the ranks in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

Those at the very top of Scottish football want to see a commitment from clubs to begin producing players again, but do they have what it takes to make it? The Scottish FA’s performance schools are there to ensure the players receive enough coaching to hone their skills and techniques but believe it is the clubs’ responsibility to make sure the players learn the importance of team play. Scottish football is producing players who have an element of natural ability and have practised their skills perfectly but lack the physical attributes to survive top-level football or the ability to overcome any obstacles.

At the beginning of 2017, the Daily Record looked at which Premiership club played the most Academy players. To qualify, players must have continuous service with their club — excluding any loan deals — and have at least one year of youth football under their belt, before moving onto the first team.

Rangers had the worst record with its homegrown players, with only two from the squad at the time recording first team minutes; Barry McKay and Liam Burt. Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes gave four players first team minutes in that season, Dons veterans Andrew Considine, Ryan Jack, Peter Pawlett, and youngster Scott Wright.

Since 2017, Jack and Pawlett have left for Rangers and England respectively, with a number of new Youth Academy recruits coming through. Old Firm rivals Celtic share third place with Hearts, both of which have produced seven players to feature in first team games. Topping the table for development of youth players is Hamilton Academical with 13 players recording first team minutes. Hamilton has always had a strong youth development system, producing James McArthur and James McCarthy who made big money moves to the English Premier League.

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Lewis Smith making his debut against Aberdeen. Picture provided by Hamilton Academical Football Club.

One Hamilton Youth Academy player who has recently made the step up to the first team is Lewis Smith. Smith made his first-team debut in a league defeat against Aberdeen in October, and said: “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time so I was just determined to get on the pitch and show them what I can do”. Smith first got involved in football by “playing at his local boy’s club before being fortunate enough to be picked up by Hamilton”. When asked about Hamilton’s Youth Academy and the coaches, Smith had nothing but praise for the system and those who helped him through the way: “The coaches are very supportive here, most importantly George Cairns. George is a great motivator and it’s him I’ve got to thank for everything”.

The Scottish Youth system is an important feature for the development of players and an integral part of Scottish football as a whole.

2019 – Taking rock climbing to new heights

Only a few years back, rock climbing was considered a niche sport. Now, the number of social climbers and the newbies seem to have caught up with the adrenaline junkies and the muscly athletes which once dominated the sport.

Since the announcement in 2016 that climbing will be considered an Olympic sport, its popularity has boomed. With just a year and a half to go until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, more people are curious about exploring new heights, both outdoor and indoor.

In 2017, around one million people in the UK tried indoors climbing, with around 100,000 climbing once every two weeks or more, numbers from the Association of British Climbing Walls show.

Edinburgh climber Robbie Phillips thinks the sport has grown because it has become more accessible. With four walls in Edinburgh alone, there is room for the community to expand even further.

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Climbing “El Niño” on El Capitan – Credits to robbiephilips.co.uk

“The modern climbing wall caters for the community like they never did before. Climbing walls are more like social hubs, it is not a case that a climbing wall is something somebody just goes to have a climb or train, they are places people go to meet, hang out with friends, drink coffee and eat cake! This bolsters the community as a whole, brings everyone a little closer and creates more retention in the sport,” says Phillips.

Climbing walls are becoming alternatives to traditional gyms and more people are joining for either social or fitness reasons. Phillips points out that as climbing has a reputation of being adventurous, it encourages people to discover the explorer in them and to push their limits.

This rocky adventure is also becoming popular on the big screen. Last year, two big climbing documentaries were released in the UK, warmly welcomed by the growing audience: “The Dawn Wall” featuring Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, and “Free Solo” with Alex Honnold. Both set in the climbing Mecca of Yosemite, the experience of being on El Capitan is brought right to you in the cinema seat. With film tours such as Reel Rock and Brit Rock – where you can see Phillips star in “Blood Moon” – selling out shows and set to make returns, inspiration continues to flow from the cinema screen.

These films showcase the mental side of climbing, which Phillips thinks is one of the most interesting aspects to the sport. He says: “Climbing keeps you fit in nearly every way and certainly attracts the kind of people who like a mental challenge as well as a physical one.”

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Rock climbing challenges both the body and the mind. Photo: Maria Gran

It is no wonder climbing has become so popular as Phillips highlights the good things about the sport. As a low impact sport, anyone can give it a try, it is a great way to stay fit, and it offers a chance to become a part of a very supportive community. Phillips even compares it to another popular activity, video games: “You can go as hard as you want, as easy as you want and you can literally make up your own adventure or climbing session – it’s like the RPG of the sporting world.”

Sport Paper Review, Tuesday 9th October

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Today’s back pages (Photo Credit: Luke Barry)

David Ronney is joined by Fraser Munro to discuss today’s big sporting stories from the back pages of the daily newspapers.

Cold weather could leave Olympians without a competition

The world’s most famous sporting event is due to kick off in two days but the weather has taken a turn for the worse.

The events are set to be the coldest in over a decade. So cold, that it’s thought it may be too cold for it to snow, meaning fake snow will have to be used on the slopes of Pyeongchang in South Korea.

A wind chill of -7 hit the rehearsal of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games this week, causing spectators to get up and leave. It may not help that the stadium that the opening and closing ceremonies take place in has no roof or central heating – although it does have windshields.

The Winter Olympics start on Friday | Image Credit: Google

The cuts were made as a way to reduce costs at the games, but it could then cause people to stay at home, not wanting to brave the sub-zero temperatures. It’s thought that the games are the coldest since 1994 in Lillehammer, compared to the last two games in Vancouver and Sochi which were too warm.

However the organisers have reported that 35,000 spectators will be given heating pads, blankets and rain coats as a way of coping with the weather. It’s also thought that athletes, including members of Team USA, will wear heated coats to the event.

More to follow.

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