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Soccer

FA Cup first round draw: Ipswich to host Portsmouth in clash of former winners

Former winners Ipswich and Portsmouth will clash at Portman Road in the highest-profile of the FA Cup first-round ties in November.

Ipswich won the competition under Sir Bobby Robson in 1978, while Pompey were victorious in 1939 and as recently as 2008.

Skelmersdale United, the lowest-ranked team left in this season’s FA Cup, will travel to League Two Harrogate Town in the first round.

The North West Counties League Premier Division side won 4-1 at Stafford Rangers to reach this stage of the competition for the first time since 1971.

  • Notts County pull out of FA Cup over positive tests
  • Historic FA Cup sold for £760,000 at auction

National League North side Chorley face a journey of just eight miles to take on Lancashire neighbours Wigan, who shocked Manchester City to win the 2013 final.

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Two more former winners face long trips to face sides from the National League South.

Blackpool, winners of the famous ‘Matthews Final’ in 1953, travel to Eastbourne Borough, while 1911 winners Bradford City go to Tonbridge Angels.

The matches are scheduled to take place from November 7-9, and current coronavirus regulations mean all the games will be played behind closed doors.

FA Cup first round draw

1 Leyton Orient vs Newport County
2 Havant & Waterlooville vs Cray Valley (PM)
3 Sunderland vs Mansfield Town
4 Bolton Wanderers vs Crewe Alexandra
5 Oxford United vs Peterborough United
6 Exeter City vs AFC Fylde
7 Tonbridge Angels vs Bradford City
8 Walsall vs Bristol Rovers
9 Rochdale vs Chesterfield
10 Swindon Town vs Darlington
11 Barnet vs Burton Albion
12 Wigan Athletic vs Chorley
13 Tranmere Rovers vs Accrington Stanley
14 Oxford City vs Northampton Town
15 Maldon & Tiptree vs Morecambe
16 Bromley vs Yeovil Town
17 Torquay United vs Crawley Town
18 Eastbourne Borough vs Blackpool
19 Cheltenham Town vs South Shields
20 Stevenage vs Concord Rangers
21 Harrogate Town vs Skelmersdale United
22 Gillingham vs Woking
23 Charlton Athletic vs Plymouth Argyle
24 Hayes & Yeading United vs Carlisle United
25 FC United of Manchester vs Doncaster Rovers
26 Salford City vs Hartlepool United
27 Scunthorpe United vs Solihull Moors
28 Hull City vs Fleetwood Town
29 Colchester United vs Marine
30 Barrow vs AFC Wimbledon
31 Dagenham & Redbridge vs Grimsby Town
32 Cambridge United vs Shrewsbury Town
33 Brackley Town vs Bishop’s Stortford or St Albans City
34 Eastleigh vs MK Dons
35 Hampton & Richmond Borough vs Oldham Athletic
36 Boreham Wood vs Southend United
37 Ipswich Town vs Portsmouth
38 Port Vale vs King’s Lynn Town
39 Lincoln City vs Forest Green Rovers
40 Banbury United vs Canvey Island

Ties will take place on Saturday 7, Sunday 8 and Monday 9 November 2020.

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Soccer

Manchester United pass first squad depth test ahead of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s long winter


On a grainy Zoom call shortly after Manchester United’s late win at St James’ Park, the reporters on the other end of a bad line could just about make out Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s complaint about the line of questioning. “We’ve won 4-1 today,” he pointed out, “and you’re asking why I didn’t start one of the players!”

The United manager was responding to a question about Donny van de Beek, the £35m signing from Ajax who was named among the substitutes for the fourth consecutive Premier League game despite arguably his main rival for a starting berth – Paul Pogba – being dropped from the starting line-up.

With the return of the Champions League and Tuesday’s trip to Paris Saint-Germain in mind, Solskjaer had instead elected to play Fred and Scott McTominay in the centre of midfield. That partnership was not the only surprise. Injuries, suspensions and quarantine regulations somewhat forced his hand, but he also trusted the lesser-spotted Juan Mata and Daniel James to start in attack.

There are two ways of assessing the impact of these fringe players at St James’ Park. On the one hand, they were still level with a limited Newcastle side after 85 minutes. It was only once Pogba and Van de Beek replaced Fred and James respectively that United scored three late goals to secure all three points.

Then again, each of Fred, James, Mata and McTominay made important contributions to a dominant United performance and justified their selections. Mata played particularly well, maintaining the form he has shown in the early rounds of the EFL Cup this season and during the latter stages of the Europa League campaign last term.

No player set up more shooting opportunities for his team-mates than Mata, who at 32-years-old still has the guile that United often require to beat deep-defending opponents. “He’s played fantastic, Juan,” Solskjaer beamed in his post-match press conference. “He’s such a professional and everyone in the team knows his qualities. He’s been so patient waiting for his chance.”

James meanwhile was deployed in his preferred position, cutting in from the left flank onto his right foot, and he delivered his liveliest display in a United shirt for some time as a result. Though not best suited to playing against low blocks, James picked his moments to exploit the gaps that Newcastle regularly left open.

Only Rashford managed more shots on Karl Darlow’s goal than the Wales international, who has much still to prove as a United player, but finally took a step in the right direction. “Today he showed more positivity, he trusted himself,” Solskjaer said. “We work with all the players to express themselves and show what they’re good at.”

The selection of Fred and McTominay together was slightly over cautious. Without either Pogba and Van de Beek’s playmaking – meant United struggled to create much in the way of clear-cut opportunities. But Solskjaer’s desire to offer the back four greater protection after the 6-1 defeat to Tottenham – in which, he said, United were “a bit too open” – was understandable.  

Aside from a brief spell at the start of the second half, Fred and McTominay did that. Fred, in particular, remains United’s best defensively-oriented midfielder – more effective at pressing than first-choice Nemanja Matic while still a capable ball-winner, better on the ball than both Matic and McTominay too. Only Fernandes played more passes into Newcastle’s penalty area on Saturday night, despite Fred not playing the final 25 minutes.

It is only two months since the Europa League semi-final defeat, when Solskjaer openly admitted that United required greater squad depth having relied upon largely the same starting line-up throughout football’s restart. He then changed his tune towards the end of a disappointing transfer window. “I’ve seen many of the other players who didn’t play too well the other season, play really well,” Solskjaer insisted.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. United’s second string of players requires improvement but is good enough to beat opponents as limited as Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, who led only managed two real moments of attacking incision – the move which led to Luke Shaw’s own goal after only two minutes, and that which saw David de Gea brilliantly deny Callum Wilson at point-blank range.

Other than that, United were comfortably dominant, conceding seven shots while attempting 28 of their own. Many of those 28 shots were from range and work still needs to be done on breaking opponents down – the move for the decisive second goal only came once most of Newcastle’s players were caught up field attacking a free-kick – but there was no doubt that United deserved all three points.  

With Champions League football practically every week between now and mid-December, United need a reliable cast of rotation options. They need players who – when given the right roles and deployed as part of a coherent tactical set-up – are good enough to negotiate games against the Premier League’s middle order, allowing others to rest.

Trips to Everton, Southampton and West Ham after midweek Champions League games will tell us more over the next two months. Those three sides are all better than Newcastle. But at the same time, this was a positive start for some of Solskjaer’s second string ahead of United’s long winter.

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Soccer

Gareth Bale's first Tottenham spell was defined by super strikes

That mindblowing treble against Inter, the stupefying volley at Stoke and a thunderbolt against today’s visitors West Ham… Gareth Bale’s first spell was defined by super strikes and breathtaking displays, but what was his finest moment in a Spurs shirt?

  • Gareth Bale is set to make his second Tottenham debut against West Ham 
  • The Welsh star rejoined Spurs from Real Madrid on loan in the summer window
  • Bale,31, scored 55 goals in 203 appearances in his first stint in north London
  • Here, Sportsmail takes a look at his finest moments from that six-year stint  

Gareth Bale is in line for his second Tottenham debut when London rivals West Ham visit north London on Sunday – and if his first spell at the club is anything to go by then it could be another whirlwind ride.

The 31-year-old rejoined the club on a season-long loan deal last month from Real Madrid but has had to wait for his bow due to a knee injury suffered on Wales duty last month.

But Bale appears on the verge of a return to the Spurs side having built up his fitness over the international break, and fans are hoping he will provide more of the fireworks that saw him claim a former world-record move to the Spanish capital.

He scored 55 goals in 203 appearances in his first spell with the club, and here Sportsmail delves into Premier League and Champions League archives to look back at some of his best strikes in his first Tottenham spell…

Gareth Bale is in line for his second Spurs debut against West Ham after joining in the summer

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at some of the defining moments from his first spell at Tottenham

https://youtube.com/watch?v=DOFm_-6JcSc%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

Having scored five goals in their previous two games, including three against eventual runners-up Manchester City, Tottenham were expected to make light work of mid-table Southampton. 

The visitors created many of the better chances on the day but a piece of magic from former Saints man Bale ensured Tottenham remained on course to push Arsenal all the way for Champions League qualification.

Nine of Bale’s 21 goals that season came from outside the box – a Premier League record for a single season to this day – and the penultimate long-distance effort of the campaign began with him cutting inside and firing at goal while still running at full pelt.

But rather than result in an aimless attempt, it arrowed low and fizzed past the helpless Artur Boruc to the delight of a roaring White Hart Lane.

Bale scored nine league goals outside the box in 2012-13, including this against Southampton

9. Norwich (A) – January 2013 

Stunning solo goals have been frequent occurrences for Bale throughout his career and this 60-yard dash against Norwich salvaged a point for Spurs in a scrappy affair at Carrow Road.

A hopeful clearance from Benoit Assou-Ekotto found Lewis Holtby, whose flick was perfect for Jermain Defoe to lay back to the onrushing Bale inside the centre circle in the Spurs half.

But what had not appeared immediately dangerous soon had alarm bells ringing in the Canaries defence as Bale breezed past the challenge of Alex Tettey and beared down on the backpeddling Javier Garrido on the edge of the home penalty area in a matter of seconds.

Tettey and Garrido closed on him but were unable to prevent him from shifting the ball into an area conducive for him to fire into the bottom left corner, which he duly did despite the desperate last-ditch challenge of Michael Turner. 

Bale’s 60-yard dash at Carrow Road rescued a point for Spurs at Norwich in a scrappy affair

8. Manchester City (A) – January 2012

It will be chaotic match that will most likely be remembered for Mario Balotelli’s red card escape and injury-time winner from the penalty spot, but Bale’s sumptuous finish restored parity and was the fourth strike in nine crazy second-half minutes at the Etihad Stadium.

Aaron Lennon drove forward on the Tottenham left and checked inside to Bale with the visitors all of a sudden in the ascendancy after Jermain Defoe’s strike had halved the deficit following City goals from Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott.

However, rather than lashing the ball with power, the Welshman preferred to demonstrate his technical qualities here, sweeping home a delicious strike from just outside the area.

Joe Hart’s scrambling efforts were in vain with neither Gareth Barry nor Samir Nasri able to prevent Bale from exhibiting his finesse with a truly memorable goal.  

Bale’s equaliser at Manchester City saw him score the last of four goals in nine crazy minutes

7. Sunderland (H) – May 2013

Tottenham were well in the hunt for Champions League qualification ahead of the final day of the 2012-13 Premier League season, and their talisman struck to raise hopes of making it into Europe’s elite club competition.

They had found it difficult to find an opening against final-day opponents Sunderland at White Hart Lane, and with Arsenal – a place above Spurs in fourth – winning at Newcastle, Andre Villas-Boas’ side’s dream looked over.

However, cometh the hour cometh the man the saying goes and the Welshman did just that in trademark style, smashing home yet another stunning curling effort to lift the roof off at White Hart Lane.

He took one huge shimmy to cut in from the right before unleashing a devastating 30-yard effort that left Simon Mignolet helpless, and despite the day ending in glorious failure with the Gunners holding on in the north east, it was a reminder of just what Spurs would miss after he sealed his £86million deal to Real Madrid that summer.  

Bale put Spurs close to Champions League qualification with a stunner against Sunderland

6. Man United (A) – September 2012

There is no shortage of stunning individual efforts in this list and Old Trafford would be the stage of yet another showreel classic for Bale as Spurs ended their 23-year wait for a win at Manchester United.

The move once again originated around the centre circle, with Moussa Dembele slipping the ball to Bale just inside the United half.

Defoe provided an excellent decoy run to attract the attention of Jonny Evans, leaving the Welshman a clear run at veteran defender Rio Ferdinand, who was unable to deal with the Spurs star’s pace.

He had no issue darting past the former England defender before – this time with his right foot – showing commensurate composure to slot the ball into the bottom corner past Anders Lindegaard. 

Bale helped Spurs to their first win at Manchester United in 23 years with a stunning solo effort

5. Arsenal (H) – September 2007

Bale netted five Premier League goals against Spurs’ bitter rivals and you have to go all the way back to 2007 for his first which no doubt helped endear him to the home fans after a difficult start to life at the club.

Fifteen minutes into the first north London derby of the new season, the Welshman put the hosts into the lead and made a fool of Manuel Almunia by whipping a ball from the left of the area around the Arsenal wall and past the Spaniard at his near post.

It showed the prowess from set pieces that he naturally possessed and would continue to harness to send Spurs fans delirious as he became more experienced.

But the strike would prove futile as the Gunners stormed back with a double from Emmanuel Adebayor and a thunderbolt from Cesc Fabregas as they claimed a comeback 3-1 victory.

Bale scored five goals against Arsenal in his first Spurs spell, the first a free-kick in 2007

4. West Ham (A) – February 2013 

Bale at times single-handedly ensured Spurs remained in contention for a top-four finish during the aforementioned 2012-13 season, and it was his last-gasp stunner at West Ham that well and truly signalled he would ensure they would not fall away before May.

Bale had been fouled in the build-up but after the referee had played advantage, the ball was back at his feet with the Hammers keen to form two solid banks of defensive formation to ensure they were not played through.

However, what no defensive strategy can account for is a bullet from a magician, and that is exactly what Bale delivered in the 90th minute.

Again the shimmy onto his left was too quick for midfielders to react, as was the strike into the far corner which Jussi Jasskelainen did not even have time to dive for. 

He ensured Spurs would remain in the top-four hunt with a last-gasp stunner at West Ham

3. Lyon (H) – February 2013

In form in particular for the second half of the 2012-13 season, Bale was making Europe take notice of his talents too.

He had scored Spurs’ last four goals before they faced Ligue 1 side Lyon in the first leg of their last 32 Europa League tie with the French side.  

Bale had missed an open goal before he brought the home crowd to their feet by sending a dipping 35-yard effort swerving past Remy Vercoutre.

The game was full of stunning goals and after Samuel Umtiti’s rocket, the pressure once again fell on Bale’s shoulders deep into injury time, and he did not disappoint before arrowing another swerving set piece past the Lyon keeper to give them the advantage heading to France.

The set piece specialist was in full flow by now.  

A pair of excellent swerving free-kicks from Bale saw Spurs dramatically overcome Lyon

2. Stoke (A) – August 2010

Previous strikes have shown Bale can add finesse to his finishing quite as easily as merciless power, but no goal was quite as exquisite technically as his unforgettable volley at Stoke.

Bale had already netted in the first half at the Britannia Stadium but Ricardo Fuller’s equaliser meant Spurs had it all to do if they wanted to emerge victorious.

And the goal that would win it would be worthy of claiming a win in any match, beautifully slamming home a first-time volley from a clipped Aaron Lennon cross into the top corner. 

Bale celebrating with former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas after his brilliant volley at Stoke

1. Inter Milan (home and away) – October and November 2010

The Champions League ties against the Serie A side well and truly quietened the detractors as one of Europe’s rising stars delivered his pieces de resistance in a Spurs shirt.

A man down, and crucially 4-0 down at the San Siro, Spurs appeared dead and buried and headed for European humiliation in the group stages.

But a sparkling 21-year-old Bale saw the opportunity among all the misery, causing havoc in a miraculous second half that saw him net a mindblowing hat-trick to bring Spurs within inches of one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

Bale’s piece de resistance came with a memorable hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat by Inter Milan

Two of his goals came as a result of devastating finishes after surging down the left-hand side, much to the terror of an ageing Inter defence.

A few weeks later would bring a sense of deja vu as in early November at White Hart Lane he would deliver a performance that is remembered to this day by giving experienced Brazilian defender Maicon his toughest test during his career, terrorising him and setting up two of Spurs’ three goals in the 3-1 win.

Fans knew then that they had unearthed a world-class performer, and now Spurs’ fans mouths will be salivating at the prospect of Bale tearing opposition defences to shreds once again.

He then terrorised Maicon (right) nearly a month later as Spurs beat the Italian side at home




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Rugby

Exeter Chiefs lift first Champions Cup with thrilling victory over Racing 92

Racing were right back in the contest and Exeter needed to reassert themselves. Unsurprisingly, their forwards again came up trumps. The French side were once more powerless to stop drive after drive and this time it was Williams who prospered, with Joe Simmonds’ conversion making it 21-12 at half-time.

But Racing struck first in the second period, taking less than three minutes before Zebo arrowed over for another score and became only the fourth player to score two tries in a Heineken final.

It was a wake-up call for Exeter, yet they replied rapidly after wing Jack Nowell intercepted Russell’s ambitious pass 20 metres from his own line and found a supporting Slade, who scored and Joe Simmonds converted.

Back came Racing with a close-range score by Chat – Machenaud converted – and the game entered its final quarter with 52 points and eight tries scored.

A Machenaud penalty made it a one-point game with 15 minutes left, then Francis was yellow-carded, Joe Simmonds struck his clinching penalty and Exeter prevailed following an anxious wait before the whistle.

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Soccer

Reece James gets first England call-up, Raheem Sterling withdraws

Reece James has been promoted to the England senior squad for the first time but Raheem Sterling has withdrawn with an injury.

But Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho have been told to delay their arrival to St George’s Park pending further information on a social gathering all three players attended over the weekend.

Chelsea defender James will join the England senior set-up having originally been named in the U21 squad.

  • FA investigating Abraham’s surprise party
  • Man Utd’s Williams one of three called up to England U21s

James has started three of Chelsea’s four Premier League games this season and scored his first league goal with a stunning strike in the club’s opening win of the campaign at Brighton.

The 20-year-old is the fourth right-back to be included in the squad with Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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Raheem Sterling has withdrawn from the squad with a minor hamstring injury.

England play a friendly against Wales at Wembley on Thursday, before hosting Belgium and Denmark in the Nations League.

FA investigating Abraham’s surprise party

The FA is investigating after Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho were pictured attending a party in breach of coronavirus regulations.

Footage was shared by The Sun newspaper which showed Chelsea forward Abraham and fellow footballers Chilwell and Sancho at a party in London with more than six people on Saturday evening.

The party was organised as a surprise for Abraham’s 23rd birthday but it broke the “rule of six” – one of the government’s guidelines for people in England designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Abraham has apologised for the party but is adamant he had no knowledge of it being organised. There were temperature checks on arrival for guests, all of whom were Abraham’s family and friends.

Man Utd’s Williams one of three called up to England U21s

Manchester United defender Brandon Williams, Liverpool’s Rhys Williams and Bournemouth forward Sam Surridge have been called up to the England U21 squad.

The trio are included in Aidy Boothroyd’s squad ahead of the Euro 2021 qualifiers against Andorra and Turkey.

Their call-ups come after Japhet Tanganga, Tariq Lamptey, Reiss Nelson and Rhian Brewster pulled out.

Left-back Brandon Williams, who has been linked with a loan move to Southampton, has made 38 appearances for United, including two in the Carabao Cup this season.

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