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Author Archive for Nick Ames at Wembley

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Northampton overpower Exeter to clinch promotion to League One

Northampton Town will play in League One next season, whenever that might be, and rarely can a win in this fixture have been so comprehensive.This was a brutal, utterly convincing disposal of an Exeter side who were simply overwhelmed throughout. First…

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Salford City beat AFC Fylde to win first promotion to Football League

• Play-off final: Fylde 0-3 Salford• David Beckham sees Ibou Touray’s goal secure club historyThere is, once more, a team in red that Gary Neville and the Class of ’92 can feel proud of. Their Salford City side play in the Football League next season a…

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Harry Kane to the rescue as Tottenham Hotspur held at home by West Brom

Almost exactly 15 years ago, Gary Megson was appointed Lord of the Manor of West Bromwich. Had his team held on to Salomon Rondon’s early goal in what looks likely to be his only match in temporary charge, there might have been the temptation to bestow…

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Tottenham suffer more Wembley frustration after Swansea hold firm

The intense frustration for Tottenham is that, however anybody dresses it up, this was such a step backwards. Their disposal of Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, effected so clinically, was supposed to have shaken off all that talk of a Wembley jinx; it certainly looked the perfect platform for a routine evening against Swansea City, but once again they laboured at their temporary home and the familiar doubts returned as quickly as they had evaporated.

A dogged Swansea were worthy of their point despite failing, for the third time this season, to have a shot on target. They were rarely pulled apart, only wobbling to any considerable extent during a period midway through the second half in which Harry Kane struck the crossbar. By then Tottenham’s pressure had reached siege levels; the goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski played his part in keeping them out but the zest and clarity that marked Spurs’ form at White Hart Lane last season simply have yet to appear here in the Premier League.

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Alexandre Lacazette flickers in Arsenal display deprived of top-class animation | Nick Ames

Arsenal’s new striker had few opportunities to shine in the Community Shield but it should be different when he is flanked by Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil

For Arsenal the entertainment came in equal measure from the left boot of Thibaut Courtois and the ox-like shoulders of Sead Kolasinac. In the bigger picture Alexandre Lacazette’s slighter frame may carry more of a burden and, although this was no stand-out introduction to English football for their new forward, it will have proved a brisk enough sharpener.

That is the requirement, at least. With Alexis Sánchez still kept at a remove from the action there appears no prospect of a quick click into gear for the pair Arsène Wenger hopes will vindicate his decision not to sell the Chilean. Lacazette will have to play well immediately and, in a lively but predictably frayed encounter, there were glimpses of the devilment he will offer around the penalty area, even if few real clues were offered about Arsenal’s most equable attacking balance.

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Forest Green stun Tranmere to claim league place for first time

• Kaiyne Woolery scores twice in 3-1 play-off victory at Wembley
• Club are promoted to the EFL after 128 years in non-league

A year ago Forest Green were vowing to come back stronger after losing last season’s promotion final to Grimsby Town. They were as good as their word and, while the Gloucestershire club may be hard to pinpoint on a map, their name will become considerably more familiar when they make their Football League debut in August. This was a deserved victory over a frustrated Tranmere side that made crucial errors at both ends and the damage was done in a thrilling first half that swung both ways before opening up decisively. Kaiyne Woolery, a right-winger of considerable promise, was the hero with two of their goals, the first of which was among three that fitted their stage perfectly.

If the best of these shoot-outs are frayed affairs that blend quality and calamity in equal measure, for long periods this ticked every possible box. The floodgates opened when Woolery, who had already wriggled to the byline once, made a contribution of greater substance from infield. Perhaps Tranmere were confused by his drift into a deep pocket of space just inside their half; either way Woolery should not have been allowed to turn and drive forwards, his run culminating in a true left-footed shot from 25 yards that thudded low to Scott Davies’ right.

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AFC Wimbledon up to League One after Lyle Taylor sinks Plymouth Argyle

If the film script had already been written, it may need ripping up now.

Last month it was announced AFC Wimbledon will be the subject of a Hollywood film, and while their 14-year history has provided more than enough to enthrall they have just provided the most remarkable ending of all. Lyle Taylor’s instinctive flick 12 minutes from time and Adebayo Akinfenwa’s late, late penalty settled a scrappy, at times frantic League Two play-off final that they had shaded throughout and means Neil Ardley’s team, who have now won six promotions since 2004, will play League One football next season. Their opposition will include MK Dons and amid raw, emotional scenes it was hard to avoid getting swept away by the thought that, sometimes, history has a way of putting things in order.

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