The Predictorship: Week 15 – Gooooooooooaaaaaaaaaalan!

Never have I been so delighted to have two Predictorship points snatched from my grasp in the dying minutes of a match. Omer Golan’s last-gasp winner for Israel against Russia beautifully dashed the hopes of those sitting on 1-1 predictions and miraculously kept alive England’s Euro 2008 ambitions.

Speaking of grasps and point-snatching, many of us were also banking on a 1-1 draw between Scotland and Italy, and two points were collectively heading our way until the referee inexplicably awarded a free-kick to the Italians despite a blatant shoulder charge that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the rough and tumble of the NFL.

There’ll be no Tartan Army in Austria and Switzerland next summer, and it’s all thanks to some short-sighted Spanish officials. Go on: haul me up before the FA, fine me and warn me about my future conduct, but the TV cameras never lie …

So what does all this mean for the Predictorship? Mike Dufficy (112 points) remains at the head of the class for a third consecutive week, with Cathryn Harker (109) and Dave Taylor (109) separated by alphabetical surname difference alone in second and third. Dave regains some impetus after a barren six-week spell that has produced just four 1-0 results (including two surprising ones this week).

Alex Iskandar Liew and Dave McAleer write the other Week 15 headlines with 10 points apiece, and Alex is the only predictor to take home three perfect scores: the games in Norway, Germany and Northern Ireland.

Mark Lawrenson’s failure to predict all 10 fixtures on the BBC Sport website, and his insistence on throwing in an obsolete Macedonia-Croatia prediction for good measure, brings him a return of zero points. An unlucky 13-place drop in the latest standings swiftly follows.

European Championship Qualifying Results (Week 15): Wales 2-2 Republic of Ireland (1); Scotland 1-2 Italy (7); Israel 2-1 Russia (2); Norway 1-2 Turkey (2); Germany 4-0 Cyprus (6); Holland 1-0 Luxembourg (3); Czech Republic 3-1 Slovakia (2); Northern Ireland 2-1 Denmark (8); Spain 3-0 Sweden (0); Portugal 3-0 Armenia (5).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.

Highest Score (Week 15): 10 – Alex Iskandar Liew and Dave McAleer.
Average Score (Week 15): 6.56.
Prediction of the Week (Week 15): Ben Wallis (Wales 2-2 Republic of Ireland).

Top of the Table (Week 15):

1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) – 112 pts
2. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) – 109 pts
3. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) – 109 pts
4. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) – 107 pts
5. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) – 104 pts
6. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) – 102 pts
7. Blackburn Rovers (Sally Moon) – 101 pts
8. Philadelphia Eagles (Gabe Bevilacqua) – 100 pts
9. Everton (Hope Arnold) – 99 pts
10. Dartmoor Rovers (Jill Taylor) – 99 pts

For the record …

Week 14: Rob Dimery is the pride of Cheltenham with a season’s best 13 points, which is good for a nine-place leap up the table to 29th. Rob claims nine correct results – missing out only on the Tottenham v Wigan tussle – and four spot-on scores, including Chelsea 1 Everton 1. For the second time this season (not even a boast the leaders can make), Iain Starr registers a score of 11 or more and there are 10s all round for Cathryn Harker (who reaches a new high of 2nd), Sally Moon, Wendy Nathan, Ben Wallis and Nick Watson. Leader Mike Dufficy breaks the 100 point barrier and leads Cathryn and a faltering Dave Taylor by four points.

Week 13: Mike Dufficy returns to the top of the table for the first time since week 5 after out-scoring Dave Taylor nine to six. Mike stands a couple of points shy of a round century of Predictorship points, with Dave two points behind the Channel Islander and Nigel Birrell two points behind Dave in third. Wendy Nathan surges into the top 10 courtesy of the week’s top score of 11 and guest predictor Mark Lawrenson hovers just outside the top 10 after filling his boots with 10 points. Down among the muck and nettles, Trevor Morris continues his remarkable renaissance with nine points and a new high of 36th.

Week 12: Holidaying Forest fan Matthew White barks up the right tree with a top score of the season-equalling 12 points – featuring four correct scores – to surge into the top five for the first time this term. With nine points each, Nigel Birrell, Sally Moon and Marion Waller are the next best things. Nigel lingers just two points behind Mike Dufficy and three adrift of Dave Taylor, who has a “shocker” (four points) but remains at the top for a seventh consecutive week. Happy Hammer Wendy Nathan is the only contender for ‘Prediction of the Week’, walking off with the imaginary prize for a sumptuous Manchester United 4 Middlesbrough 1.

Week 11: Gabe Bevilacqua rises to fourth in the table following an impressive 11-point week – with three correct scores to boot – but Dave Taylor and Mike Dufficy, who both register 10s, still lead the way with 86 and 81 points respectively. Nigel Birrell loses ground after picking up “just” eight points but the Charlton man remains in third, three points behind Mike. Steven Dunlop, David Roberts, Gary Waller and Matthew White all claim 10 points as the average score reaches 7.60. Stewart Newport’s computer problems and “forgetful brain” result in a 13-place slide for the Wanderers of Wycombe.

Highest Score (Week 14): 13 – Rob Dimery.
Highest Score (Week 13): 11 – Wendy Nathan.
Highest Score (Week 12): 12 – Matthew White.
Highest Score (Week 11): 11 – Gabe Bevilacqua.

Average Score (Week 14): 7.00.
Average Score (Week 13): 6.82.
Average Score (Week 12): 5.29.
Average Score (Week 11): 7.60.

Predictions of the Week (Week 14): Patrick Bevilacqua, Sally Moon and Wendy Nathan (Reading 1-3 Arsenal).
Prediction of the Week (Week 13): Marion Waller (Everton 3-1 Birmingham).
Prediction of the Week (Week 12): Wendy Nathan (Manchester United 4-1 Middlesbrough).
Predictions of the Week (Week 11): Mike Dufficy (West Ham 3-1 Sunderland) and Ted Warland (Wigan 0-2 Portsmouth).

Most Popular Correct Prediction (Week 14): Liverpool 2-0 Fulham (17 Predictors).
Most Popular Correct Prediction (Week 13): Aston Villa 2-0 Derby (17 Predictors).
Most Popular Correct Prediction (Week 12): Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal (8 Predictors).
Most Popular Correct Prediction (Week 11): Arsenal 2-0 Bolton (11 Predictiors).

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