Southampton 0-0 Manchester United

Manolo Gabbiadini continued Southampton’s woes from the penalty spot becoming the third consecutive casualty in a goalless draw against Manchester United.

Eric Bailly had been adjudicated by the linesman to have handled the ball with his arm inside five minutes, but Gabbiadini’s spot-kick was wisely telegraphed by Sergio Romero.

Southampton then withstood an early surging run from Bailly, which saw the defender cut into the box only to have Fraser Forster halt the chance.

Anthony Martial capped off an opening quarter hour of mere half chances when he dragged a shot wide after Wayne Rooney’s sublime touch led to a smart pass through the defence.

With the game limping towards half-time, Cedric did enough to head a dangerous cross aimed at Marouane Fellaini behind for a corner.

Nathan Redmond, at the other end,  played a one-two with Steven Davis before opening up for the shot, which was deflected by Fellaini and into the grasp of Romero.

Southampton started the second half brightly with Dusan Tadic’s powerful free-kick drawing a punching save before Oriol Romeu was denied from point-blank.

Romero continued his inspired performance as he kept James Ward-Prowse from finding the top corner with a curling effort from outside the box with 59 minutes gone.

United, who clearly had an eye on the Europa League final next week, rarely threatened, and Juan Mata found the outside of the upright after Forster was stuck in no-man’s land after Rooney broke into the box.

Anthony Martial had United’s best chance with 18 minutes remaining, but he struck the base of the far post before Mkhitaryan blasted the rebound over the bar.

Jay Rodriguez nearly found a late breakthrough when he flashed a shot wide of the far upright.

Southampton: Forster, Targett, Yoshida, Stephens, Cedric (Pied 69), Romeu, Davis (c), Ward-Prowse (Boufal 77), Redmond, Tadic, Gabbiadini (Rodriguez 62).

Unused subs: Hassen (GK), Caceres, Clasie, Austin.

Goals: None.

Bookings: Romeu (10).

Manchester United: Romero, Bailly, Jones, Smalling, Darmian, Tuanzebe (Carrick 63), Fellaini (Ander Herrera 75), Mata (Rashford 69), Rooney (c), Mkhitaryan, Martial.

Unused subs: Pereira (GK), Mitchell, McTominay, Lingard.

Goals: None.

Bookings: Jones (51).

Middlesbrough 1-2 Southampton

Jay Rodriguez ended Southampton’s goalless run at 312 minutes in a win 2-1 at relegated Middlesbrough.

Claude Puel, who made seven changes to his side, saw Rodriguez notch his first goal since January when the striker met Shane Long’s cross first time to beat Brad Guzan for pace nearing half-time.

Nathan Redmond came off the substitute’s bench at the break and added his career best seventh Premier League goal, but Southampton found a way to make their final away trip a difficult one.

Long — looking to end a personal drought of 11 appearances without a goal — would clip the crossbar with his spot-kick shortly before Patrick Bamford pulled one back for the hosts.

It was mere consolation for Boro, who make an immediate return to the Championship having won just three games at the Riverside Stadium.

George Friend headed wide of Fraser Forster’s upright, which was the epitome of a trying opening 30 minutes.

Long nearly linked up with Rodriguez’s run at the far post, but Guzan did well to prevent the cross from reaching its intended target.

The two, however, finally gave Saints fans their first goal to cheer for since a 4-2 defeat at Chelsea on 25th April.

Jordy Clasie sent Long scampering down the right side before Rodriguez met a cross with a scooping volley.

Redmond, who had replaced Sofiane Boufal at half-time, made it 2-0 with an equally impressive effort that found the top-right corner with 57 minutes gone.

Guzan drew more ire out the home supporters when he brought down Long and referee Anthony Taylor didn’t hesitate to point to the spot. But Long was left with wry smile on his face as he failed to convert.

Bamford erupted when he bundled in his first goal since April 2015, as it set up a nervy finish for Southampton.

Calum Chambers almost fired Boro level in added time, but Fraser Forster fought off the attempt to secure Southampton’s first victory in six games.

Middlesbrough: Guzan, Fabio, Chambers, Gibson, Friend, Clayton, Forshaw (Leadbitter 60), de Roon, Downing (Fischer 60), Bamford, Negredo.

Unused subs: Dimi (GK), Barragan, Bernardo, Traore, Stuani.

Goals: Bamford (73).

Bookings: Clayton (66), Gibson (86), de Roon (90).

Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Yoshida, Caceres, Pied, Clasie, Romeu, Hojbjerg (Davis 74), Boufal (Redmond 46), Rodriguez, Long (Austin 87)

Unused subs: Hassen (GK), Targett, Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Austin.

Goals: Rodriguez (42), Redmond (57).

Bookings: None.

Liverpool 0-0 Southampton

Fraser Forster denied James Milner from the spot and Liverpool of all three points, as their bid for Champions League took a subtle hit.

Jack Stephens was adjudicated to have handled the ball inside the area, but Forster held firm pushing aside the penalty with a strong right hand.

The Southampton goalkeeper then kept out Marko Grujic’s header late in stoppage time to preserve a goalless draw at Anfield.

Liverpool, who has not scored against Southampton in four attempts this season, leads fifth-place Manchester United by five points with two games remaining. United, however, has two in hand.

A match largely void of excitement was brought to life when Liverpool was awarded a penalty after it was adjudicated that Jack Stephens had handled the ball in the area.

But following yellow cards for unsportsmanlike conduct to Cedric Soares and James Ward-Prowse, Milner had his attempt from the spot saved as he looked for the bottom left corner.

Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana all had half chances over the final quarter-hour, but none concerned Forster enough.

The Saints’ shot stopper had one last act of brilliance to ensure his team left with a point, as he was able to lift Marko Grujic’s goal-bound header over the bar.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner, Lucas (Lallana 69), Winjaldum (Grujic 87), Can, Coutinho, Firmino, Origi (Sturridge 69).

Unused subs: Karius (GK), Moreno, Alexander, Klavan.

Goals: None.

Bookings: Lovren (89).

Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Yoshida, Stephens, Cedric, Romeu, Davis, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Tadic, Boufal (Redmond 61), Gabbiadini (Long 69).

Unused subs: Hassen (GK), Pied, Caceres, Hojbjerg, Rodriguez.

Goals: None.

Bookings: Cedric (65), Ward-Prowse (65), Bertrand (90+2).

West Brom 0-1 Southampton

Jordy Clasie’s sensational strike lifted Southampton over West Brom at the Hawthorns.

Clasie, who has played just four minutes since 31 January, struck beautiful into the top corner from the edge of the box in a 1-0 Premier League victory.

Fraser Forster denied Craig Dawson a sure leveller from point-blank in added time with a reaction save off the line.

Southampton remained in ninth in the standings, but moved to within four points of their counterparts with eight games left.

Forster palmed away an effort from James Morrison before Nacer Chadli hit the follow up over the bar with the hosts looking for an early goal.

Saints dominated possession and it paid off when Clasie fired into the top corner on 26 minutes after being teed up by Tadic, who had received the ball in the box from Shane Long’s cut back.

Chadli had a chance to reply to Southampton’s opening goal, but his open header was blocked aside by Forster.

Long, who was without a goal for a sixth straight game, missed an opportunity to double the lead when he headed wide from a perfect delivery by Ryan Bertrand on the stroke of half-time.

Nathan Redmond continued to impress and he also came close after the restart only to see his volleyed effort saved on 68 minutes.

Chadli then fired an attempt straight at Forster from outside the area before Tadic curled a shot wide of the far post at the other end.

Forster, who kept his 11th clean sheet, preserved all three points as he stopped Dawson’s volley from a last ditch corner in extra time.

West Brom: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nymon, Fletcher (c) (Robson-Kanu 66), Livermore, Morrison, Phillips (McClean 62), Chadli, Rondson.

Unused subs: Myhill (GK), M Wilson, Yacob, Field, Brunt.

Goals: None.

Bookings: Evans, Phillips.

Southampton: Forster, Bertrand, Yoshida (c), Stephens, Cedric, Clasie (Reed 84), Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse (McQueen 71), Tadic, Redmond (Sims 71), Long.

Unused subs: Hassen (GK), Caceres, Pied, Rodriguez.

Goals: Clasie (26).

Bookings: Cedric, Forster.

MUSIC: Creature Comfort

1000x1000

Within the Ruins [Victory Records, 2009]


In honour of the upcoming release of WITHIN THE RUINS‘ fifth full-length in March, this is an unpublished article I did for my high school journalism class ahead of their debut album in 2009. The band was my first proper interview as I was just getting in journalism and I had the pleasure listening in on practice for new songs. Bar some minor phrasing changes — I mean what was a thinking back then — and some dressing up, in its entirety is my article, “Creature Comfort”.


WESTFIELD, M.A. — On a narrow street within earshot of Westfield Vocational Technical High School, the murmurs of students heading home is replaced up to three times a week by the low rumble of hometown metal band Within the Ruins hard at work.

The five-piece quickly become an up and coming name in the Western Massachusetts scene after their inception in 2003 and were rewarded with a contract by Victory Records, a Chicago based label, in mid-2008 following the successful releases of Driven By Fear (2006) and Empires (2008).

Victory Records had high hopes the band would usher in a new sound to its ever-growing roster that had the likes of A Day to Remember, Between the Buried and Me, The Autumn Offering, and other marquee names already on it.

Within the Ruins would not disappoint.

Their debut with label entitled Creature will continue to propel the band — who escaped the barrage of metalcore in favour of a unique style of fast paced tempos, technical guitar riffs, erratic breakdowns and unpredictability — on an upward trajectory.

According to guitarist Joe Cocchi, each new song must be better than the last.

Whether it is getting caught up in the skilled chaos of the drums or flurry of lead lines harmonised to perfection, Within the Ruins gives listeners a reason to bang their heads.

When asked what they thought attracted Victory Records, Kyle Marcoux leaned forward in his chair pondering the thought.

“I’ll be trying to figure that out until the day I die,” he said before concluding, “Do enough hard work and hopefully it pays off.”

The exciting and goofy band, which practices in a make-shift room full of studio equipment attached to Cocchi and Kevin McGuill’s house, has come a long way and ensured to catalogued all the stories.

And it’s the experience that makes it all worth the travel, of sleeping on floors and van troubles.

“I can’t wait to go the mall and be like [makes sigh noise],” Drummer (McGuill) says as he imagines seeing Creature in stores.

The accomplishment of Victory Records has left the band wanting more: bigger tours, farther destinations and new audiences.

“It doesn’t really stop,” said Cocchi, who is also Within the Ruins’ main songwriter. “You always gotta keep trying to get better and further.”

Within the Ruins sets out on tour in March in support of Creature, which is available in stores on February 17.

MUSIC: Aversions Crown invades Earth with Xenocide

aversionscrownxenocidecd

Aversions Crown [2017, Nuclear Blast]


Otherworldly has become synonymous with AVERSIONS CROWN, and Xenocide is certainly ‘out of this world’ heavy as the deathcore outfit continues to progress with new vocalist Mike Poida.

Right from the offering, AVERSIONS CROWN seduces the listener with furious drumming – provided by the technically gifted Jayden Mason – and ominous guitar leads in “Prismatic Abyss”.

Poida, meanwhile, showcases the range of his voice, which has added a completely new depth to the band because of his versatility. One of his biggest highlights of the album comes during “Ophiophagy” and is an aggressive overtone against a hauntingly clean background.

“I fear not your name.”

– Aversions Crown, “Erebus” –

Despite not abandoning what has worked on previous releases, AVERSIONS CROWN has built upon a sound that perfectly makes use of time and space. Further, the band continues to give fans fresh releases and lifts their feet off the ground with destructive breakdowns.

Xenocide is a can’t miss album that carries its listener on a defiant adventure of chaos and leaves them wanting more.

Zion Tordoff: The grind

tordoff-cover-standing

Feature article originally printed in the September through December edition of the Lancashire Spinners’ Born and Red Magazine and on www.lancashirespinners.co.uk. Photos courtesy of and credited to Deng Top 50.


ZION TORDOFF CASUALLY plucks the ball out of the air before breaking up the floor without a second thought. By the time he reaches midcourt it’s evident what is going to happen next. In three swift steps he drags his six-foot-six frame from the 3-point line to being airborne with the basketball rolling off his fingertips towards the orange rim. Count it. Two points.

After landing, he jogs back up the floor as if nothing’s changed. It’s become so routine through countless repetition that he expects that result every time. And it’s only adding to confidence already brimming over ahead of a first full season in National League One.

From January, when he made the initial leap to the Spinners from Division Three, until now, there’s a noticeable difference in the way Tordoff plays.

“That’s my guy,” said Kyle Carey, who watched his former Lancashire Spinners team play USA Select from his dorm room on the University of Northern Colorado campus 4,485 miles away.

Carey was so fluid attacking the rim during his season with the Spinners, as well as in the Elite Academy Basketball League with Myerscough College. In 36 games in Bury he racked up 357 points of total offence, ranked fourth on the team. He also had a team season- high of 35 points in a win over Kent.

If there’s anyone you want in your corner, it’s someone who has been there, done it and has the t-shirt to boot.

“I had to let him know I was proud of him and what he’s accomplished this year,” Carey continued. “He’s really put people on notice.”


tordoff-driving

Zion Tordoff drives the basket during the Deng Top 50 All-Star Game. Photo: Deng Top 50


SHORT OF A KITTEN cleverly placed atop his shoulder, à la Rob Gronkowski 2014, to complete the look, Zion Tordoff is the real deal on and off the court. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for him to admit it.

“I would like to think all this attention is down to the hard work I’m putting in on and off the court,” said Tordoff. “I’m really just taking it all in stride and I’m thankful that I’m in such a positive and supportive environment.”

He’s leaned on the success he saw first-hand by the 2015-16 No. 1 overall Deng Top 50 prospect — and former Myerscough and Spinners teammate — Carey, who secured a scholarship to Division I university in America.

Not to mention Carey was in a similar position when he entered the season with a chip on his shoulder following the 2015 Deng Camp.

“In terms of attitude and action on the court, Kyle is a big inspiration. We’re really good friends and it was great to be able to watch him work on his game and see what confidence can do for young players,” said Tordoff.

Carey’s message to Tordoff is simple: stay focused.

That’s something Tordoff doesn’t need to be told twice, as he is dedicated to basketball whether it is in the weight room or getting up last-minute reps after practice. He’s even surprised himself at times with the amount of effort and time he’s devoted. And he tries to squeeze every ounce out of trainings to make the most of them.

“Zion has a tremendous work ethic,” said Spinners and Myerscough College head coach Neal Hopkins. “He’s also just a great teammate, who is well-respected in the locker room because he does his job to the best of his ability every time he is asked to. He never stops learning and is well-receptive to coaching, which allows me to do my job.”

“Everything I’ve been able to do basketball wise is a reward for the principles I set for myself: work hard, learn, don’t settle and believe.”

— Zion Tordoff, Lancashire Spinners forward

The 17-year-old Tordoff earned his first place on the England Under-18 roster, which competed at the Division B European Championships in Macedonia at the end of July. The team underperformed by its standards and finished ninth, but reeled off five-straight wins to close out the tournament.

And he made it an objective to take full advantage of his 15.5 minutes per game, ranked fifth on a loaded roster that included the No. 1 overall player from the 2016 Deng Camp, RJ Eytle-Rock, who narrowly edged him out for the top spot.

“It was a big blow to miss out on the U16 Division A European Championships,” admitted Tordoff. “I know I was close, but the coaches made their choice. It showed me sometimes things don’t go your way, but the key is to focus on the big picture.”

Tordoff, who talks quickly and with an unmistakable enthusiasm, made the Under-18 roster a year ahead of schedule. He averaged 8.8 points and three rebounds in eight games, scoring in double figures in half of them.

A 16-point effort against Georgia to close the Championships capped off a brilliant experience, which also included a team-high in a win over Iceland.

“Not only making the team, but being successful as well, was down to my hard work and growth as a player,” he said. “The coaches and environment at Myerscough College had me mentally and physically ready for the demands of playing at that level.”

Standing at six-foot-six, the Bradford native was always going to be prepared.

In January he made the jump from playing with Myerscough College’s Division Three team under the watchful eye of Hopkins to the Spinners in Division One where he made his debut against the Essex Leopards.

It was fearless.

“Everything I’ve been able to do basketball wise is a reward for the principles I set for myself: work hard, learn, don’t settle and believe,” Tordoff said. “I know I will make mistakes along the way, but that is what will help me grow as a player.”

Prior to joining the Spinners, Tordoff was averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds in Division Three, as well as 13.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in the EABL for Myerscough.

His performance through the season earned him a place in the 2016 Under-17 HoopsFix All-Star Classic game where he led Team Black to a come-from-behind win and was awarded Most Valuable Player honours. Tordoff finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals.

“I have the ability to deal with both success and failure,” he said. “So much of this game is mental and I’ve put in a good body of work where my confidence has reached an all-time high. But my own expectations as I continue to progress to high levels of basketball will never allow me to become complacent.”


zb7a2590

Tordoff (right) poses with two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng (left). Photo: Deng Top 50


IT’S NOT A complicated formula.

“I love the grind,” Tordoff said. “It’s just fun to me, along with the process of getting better – believe in the hard work and stick to the plan.”

The shot is smooth. With his hands up and ready to receive a pass, it’s a quick catch and shoot, a motion that lasts just over half a second before the ball is released.

“Zion is fundamentally sound, but he’s also just trying to be himself,” said Hopkins.

In the team’s opening practice of the season there was a moment that stood out where Tordoff got hold of the ball on the edge of the 3-point line before a sweeping move from left to right helped him step past Connor Murtagh, a former Great Britain Under-20 player, and towards the baseline. He took off and then accepted contact mid-air from David Ulph (a stone heavier), as he casually lofted a left- handed floater over a swatting hand into the hoop.

There was no pomp. No circumstance.

“On court I can come across as being super serious,” Tordoff laughed. “But I like to have a bit of fun … live in the moment because life is good.”

One glance at his SnapChat and it’s consistently full of laughs he’s having with teammates before or after practice, and around Myerscough during lunch or in the dorms.

Newcomer James Banton is a regular feature, often mischievously up to no good.

Tordoff is going to continue being himself, which is calm, but never short of a recognisable smile.

“Basketball is taking me to places I might have never experienced otherwise,” he said.

Self-proclaimed as humble — though it can be confirmed as fact — Tordoff finished with a fitting joke after being asked about his Deng Camp photo-shoot: “GQ have been in touch.”