Ipswich midfielder Liam Trotterâ€™s (great name) dismissal at the hands of referee Mark Halsey for an innocuous one-footed challenge during their FA Cup defeat against Portsmouth has enraged the usually mild-mannered Nick Watson and this column, standing as it does for all that is good, fair and indeed righteous about the beautiful game, whole-heartedly endorses his sentiments.
â€œTwo years running we get players unjustly sent off in the third round â€“ can you believe it?â€ fumed Nick after the Tractor Boysâ€™ 10 men surrendered their unbeaten home record to Pompey. His consolation, inexplicably overlooked by the Predictorshipâ€™s Statto-in-residence (whoever he may be) is the joint top score of the season so far, 13, recorded in week 20, a total matched only by the excellence of Cheltenham Townâ€™s Rob Dimery in week 14. Weâ€™re happy to put the record straight.
The Preliminary Round of The Predictorship Cup, like its little brother The FA Cup, threw up its fair share of shocks at the weekend. Already out of the competition are last yearâ€™s winners Sheffield Wednesday (Janet Jones), ousted by Tom Palmerâ€™s Southampton, and inaugural Cup winners Millwall (John Collins), mauled by Pete Yoderâ€™s Wolverhampton Wanderers. The Predictorship Cup engraver will be scratching a brand new name onto the trophy in May. Let’s hope for his sake it’s not those aforementioned Wanderers of Wolverhampton.
Seven teams are through to Round 1 on 26th-27th January and there are four Preliminary Round replays this coming weekend. Here are all the details:
1. READING RESERVES (Rob Molloy) (38) 4-6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Simon Gold) (24)
2. WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (Pete Yoder) (33) 6-3 MILLWALL (John Collins) (27)
3. SUNDERLAND (Trevor Morris) (36) 6-6 LINFIELD (James Bradley) (41)
4. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Janet Jones) (37) 4-5 SOUTHAMPTON (Tom Palmer) (26)
5. LIVERPOOL LAWRO (Mark Lawrenson) (23) 5-7 EVERTON (Hope Arnold) (31)
6. WYCOMBE WANDERERS (Stewart Newport) (29) 3-3 THE NIL-NILS (Norma No Mates) (43)
7. IPSWICH TOWN (Nick Watson) (22) 6-2 Q.P.R. (Gary Waller) (30)
8. WINCHESTER CITY (Nicola Savage) (39) 6-6 PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) (25)
9. QUEENS PARK RANGERS (Marion Waller) (35) 6-5 CHELTENHAM TOWN (Rob Dimery) (34)
10. ARSENAL (Ted Warland) (28) 5-6 STARSENAL (Iain Starr) (32)
11. BUNCH OF LOSERS (Michael Whitty) (40) 3-3 CYPRIARKOS F.C. (Neil Hayes) (42)
* Figures in brackets show league position on 5th January.
Preliminary Round Replays (12th-13th January)
1. LINFIELD (James Bradley) (41) v SUNDERLAND (Trevor Morris) (36)
2. THE NIL-NILS (Norma No Mates) (43) v WYCOMBE WANDERERS (Stewart Newport) (29)
3. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) (25) v WINCHESTER CITY (Nicola Savage) (39)
4. CYPRIARKOS F.C. (Neil Hayes) (42) v BUNCH OF LOSERS (Michael Whitty) (40)
In the league, eight is the weekâ€™s top score, shared by the two Daves, McAleer and Taylor, Sally Moon, Saleel Sathe and Jill Taylor. Mike Dufficy, who has never been out of the top five this season, has a bad day at the office (five points) but is still seven clear of Dave Taylor.
FA Cup Round 3 Results (Week 23): Chasetown 1-3 Cardiff (5); Bristol City 1-2 Middlesbrough (5); Chelsea 1-0 Q.P.R. (2); Everton 0-1 Oldham (0); Huddersfield 2-1 Birmingham (1); Ipswich 0-1 Portsmouth (3); Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United (1); Burnley 0-2 Arsenal (10); Luton 1-1 Liverpool (0); Stoke 0-0 Newcastle (1).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.
Highest Score (Week 23): 8 â€“ Dave McAleer, Sally Moon, Saleel Sathe, Dave Taylor and Jill Taylor.
Average Score (Week 23): 5.58.
Predictions of the Week (Week 23): Sally Moon (Huddersfield 2-1 Birmingham), Jill Taylor (Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United) and Marion Waller and Ted Warland (both Luton 2-2 Liverpool).
Top of the Table (Week 23):
1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) â€“ 169 pts
2. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) â€“ 162 pts
3. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) â€“ 160 pts
4. Manchester City (Christine Butters) â€“ 159 pts
5. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) â€“ 157 pts
6. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) â€“ 156 pts
7. Crystal Palace (Dave McAleer) â€“ 156 pts
8. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) â€“ 155 pts
9. Blackburn Rovers (Sally Moon) â€“ 153 pts
10. Liverpool Reserves (Saleel Sathe) â€“ 153 pts
Delia Smith = big news …
“Mark Halsey: less popular in Ipswich at the moment than a Delia Smith cookbook” – unidentified commentator on Match of the Day.
“Right under Delia’s nose, League 2 strugglers Bury stepped up to the plate at Norwich” – another unidentified commentator on Match of the Day.