Cardiff run riot as they return to winning ways against 10-man Sunderland

Cardiff City got their promotion push firmly back on track after clinching a first win in five matches by comfortably dispatching 10-man Sunderland on home turf, courtesy of a second-half double from Callum Paterson and a sweet Joe Ralls strike before Anthony Pilkington completed the rout in stoppage-time. For Chris Coleman, it was a miserable return to Wales. Coleman enjoyed plenty of special moments at the Cardiff City Stadium during a six-year reign as Wales manager which ended when he took over Sunderland in November. Continue reading...

FA Cup: talking points from the action in the third round

Mark Robins’ eye-catching Coventry deserve their headlines, Liverpool have a bargain in Andrew Robertson and Wolves are already good enough for top flight Amid all the hoopla over the departing Mark Hughes, it is right to take a moment to praise Coventry City. They were deserved winners of the third-round tie at the Ricoh Arena, despite giving up the greater number of chances to the visitors. The Sky Blues played with a determination and energy you might expect of a team assuming the David role in a Goliath encounter. But they were also calm on the ball and often quite cute on it, too. Their play was all the more striking, given the starting XI had an average age of 24 (and that is including the 36‑year‑old midfield warhorse Michael Doyle). Especially eye-catching were the rangy 18‑year‑old midfielder Tom Bayliss and the full-back Jack Grimmer, whose sweetly hit 25-yard Continue reading "FA Cup: talking points from the action in the third round"

Middlesbrough’s Rudy Gestede kickstarts FA Cup stroll past Sunderland

Middlesbrough are in the fourth round of the FA Cup and it was as straightforward as that. First-half goals from Rudy Gestede and Martin Braithwaite gave Tony Pulis a comfortable afternoon, and Adama Traoré again gave the new Boro manager reasons for optimism. Sunderland, however, are another story. They, too, have a new Welsh manager – Chris Coleman – but whereas Pulis has inherited a strong squad and a club in financial health, Coleman has not. Sunderland are up for sale but unwanted, they are bottom of the Championship and Coleman saw his leading scorer, Lewis Grabban, return to his parent club, Bournemouth, on Friday. Continue reading...

Can you teach the art of goalscoring? Kevin Phillips is trying at Derby County

The last Englishman to win the European Golden Shoe talks about how strikers have changed, Harry Kane’s improvement and his own managerial ambitions By Sean Cole for The Set Pieces, part of the Guardian Sport Network There are no sure things in football but Kevin Phillips came pretty close to guaranteeing goals wherever he went, scoring 282 in his 20 years as a professional. Putting the ball in the net may look simple but even the finest strikers struggle to explain the art of goalscoring. It’s often spoken of in terms of instinct, a sixth sense for where the ball might land. Having spent his whole career scoring goals, Phillips is now trying to teach others how it’s done in his role as a first team coach at Derby County – although he admits there is no magic formula. “I have many debates about whether you can coach instinct,” Continue reading "Can you teach the art of goalscoring? Kevin Phillips is trying at Derby County"

Can you teach the art of goalscoring? Kevin Phillips is trying at Derby County

The last Englishman to win the European Golden Shoe talks about how strikers have changed, Harry Kane’s improvement and his own managerial ambitions By Sean Cole for The Set Pieces, part of the Guardian Sport Network There are no sure things in football but Kevin Phillips came pretty close to guaranteeing goals wherever he went, scoring 282 in his 20 years as a professional. Putting the ball in the net may look simple but even the finest strikers struggle to explain the art of goalscoring. It’s often spoken of in terms of instinct, a sixth sense for where the ball might land. Having spent his whole career scoring goals, Phillips is now trying to teach others how it’s done in his role as a first team coach at Derby County – although he admits there is no magic formula. “I have many debates about whether you can coach instinct,” Continue reading "Can you teach the art of goalscoring? Kevin Phillips is trying at Derby County"

Sunderland delight as Josh Maja sinks Fulham to end barren home year

As the final whistle blew a joyous smile spread across Josh Maja’s face and looked as if it would take some removing. Five minutes after stepping off the bench to make his league debut for Chris Coleman’s side, the 18-year-old striker expertly turned his marker, shot low and scored the goal that would secure Sunderland’s first home win for 364 days. The 12 months since Watford were beaten here on 17 December last year have been particularly grim – and sometimes downright gruesome – for the Wearsiders but, remarkably, a crowd of 25,904 turned up to see Maja lift Sunderland out of the relegation zone and offer hope of a brighter future. Continue reading...