Tag Archives: FA Cup

Who is Alfie Devine? Spurs’ Youngest Ever Player and Goalscorer Profiled

Debuts don’t come much better than Alfie Devine’s for Tottenham in their 5-0 thumping of non-league Marine in the FA Cup on Sunday.

The Warrington born midfielder, who is the son of former St Helen’s rugby player Sean Devine, wasn’t even born when Jose Moutinho was revealed as Chelsea boss in the summer of 2004.

At just 16 years and 163 days Devine broke his first record of the day when he was introduced by Mourinho at half time. His first appearance for the club, with Tottenham already 4-0 up and cruising, made him Spurs’ youngest ever player, overtaking his Under-18 teammate Dane Scarlett, who had held the record since his debut in November.

The second record he broke was the icing on the cake. After receiving a pass from Lucas Moura, the young midfielder cut inside and drilled a low effort inside the near post. His name was again written into the history books, this time as the club’s youngest ever goalscorer.

His huge grin after scoring shows just how much it meant to him, and he more than held his own in his cameo appearance, looking comfortable on the ball and strong in the tackle, attributes familiar to anyone who had watched Devine previously at youth level. The game marked the latest milestone in the creative midfielder’s rapid ascent since joining Tottenham in the summer.

Devine started out in Liverpool’s academy, but was released aged 11 and moved on to Wigan, where he really began to make a name for himself. Given his immense talent, which has been evident from a very young age, Devine’s development at Wigan was fast tracked, so much so that he made his debut for the Latics’ Under-23 side aged only 15.

He really caught the eye last year, as did many of his teammates involved in Wigan’s magnificent FA Youth Cup run which was halted by Manchester United at the quarter final stage. Devine started that game at Old Trafford, having appeared as a late sub in Wigan’s fourth round victory over Tottenham.

He signed a new deal with the club in June of last year, but was sold just a month later as a result of the club going into administration and needing to raise funds. The Athletic reported that Spurs had to tussle with the likes of, “Celtic, Rangers, Leeds, Brighton, West Ham and Chelsea” to secure Devine’s signature, evidently displaying that the midfielder was a wanted man.

They also revealed that whilst it was the club’s head scout who pursued the player, the move was, “rubber stamped by Jose Mourinho, who even went to Devine’s medical in the summer to meet him,” conveying just how highly the Portuguese boss rates the midfielder.

Spurs got their man last July, in a transfer which cost them around £300,000. Despite his young age, the club were keen to fast track at every opportunity, and he trained with the first team during pre season before appearing in friendlies against Ipswich and Reading.

He started with the Under-18s this season, scoring twice and assisting another in seven games before quickly moving up to the Under-23s, scoring on his debut against Derby County. He hit the headlines last month after a nasty challenge on Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater in an Under-23 game, which led to a mass brawl before both he and Drinkwater received their marching orders. He has played four games in total so far for the Under-23s.

That incident with Drinkwater hasn’t deterred Jose Mourinho however, as Devine has been a regular fixture in first team training alongside fellow youngsters Dane Scarlett and Harvey White. Coaches are said to be impressed with both his ability and attitude.

Devine has also caught the eye on the international stage, having represented England regularly at Under-16 level. He played in the Sportchain AGS Cup in December 2019, picking up the player of the tournament.

His former Wigan coach lavished praised on him last year stating:

“Alfie is one of the best players I have worked with; he has a mature head on young shoulders.”

Many Tottenham fans are already drawing comparisons between Devine and the likes of Oliver Skipp, who is currently on loan at Championship side Norwich, and Harry Winks, given his capability of playing as a deep lying playmaker.

His task now will be to establish himself at Under-23 level, and to continue to train well with the first team when presented with the opportunity. Given the condensed nature of this season, he could make his Premier League bow before the season is out and will definitely be in contention for the next FA Cup game depending on the quality of Spurs’ opposition.

The Guardian included Devine in their list of the best 20 talents at Premier League clubs, and on the evidence of his showing in Crosby, it seems justified as there is plenty more to come from the young midfielder.

FA Cup Preview: Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City

FA Cup third round weekend sees this all Championship tie at the City Ground. Forest have only beaten Cardiff twice since 2012 with the Bluebirds winning ten times. Cardiff won 2-0 when the sides met in Nottingham earlier in the season with Kieffer Moore scoring both goals. Home advantage hasn’t been such a factor this season and Forest will be glad of that as Cardiff have won on their last six visits to Nottingham.

Team News

For Forest Luke Freeman is close to a return to the side after two months out. Chris Hughton could use this game to rest some key players. Cyrus Christie, Yuri Ribeiro, Samba Sow and Lewis Grabban among those who may miss this one.

Cardiff have a centre half problem Sean Morrison went off early against Wycombe. Aden Flint has returned to Cardiff from Sheffield Wednesday but is injured. Filip Benkovic has returned to Leicester City and Sol Bamba also carrying an injury. Lee Tomlin is still not ready as is on-loan Jordi Osei-Tutu. Kieffer Moore is still out with a hamstring tear.

Manager Thoughts

Forest Manager Chris Hughton insists that they will be taking the FA Cup seriously,

“This competition has a special place for me, as a player, a coach and as a manager. The feel of the cup is always there, we all know the circumstances this season are very different to other seasons because of no supporters and a different general feel, but whenever the FA Cup comes around there is that little spark and that is through everybody.

“For them, I think they will want to get back to winning ways. I don’t know what team they will put out but my thoughts are that they will go strong. They had their last league game that was called off so I anticipate they will go strong.

“We are probably, with regards to form, going into it a bit different, but we all know that in one-off games that can go quickly out of the window. We have a strong reason for wanting to win the game and so have they.”

Cardiff boss Neil Harris will miss the fans as they help to make the Cup special,

“If you take the fans out of it, you’re taking away a massive chunk of the FA Cup,” he began. “But it’s a competition that I enjoy and we’re taking seriously, as always.

“I was very fortunate to have played or managed in Quarter-Finals, a Semi-Final and a Final, so I’ve had a great affiliation with the competition, but it’s not the same without the fans.

“It’s the best cup competition in the world for two reasons: because the fans buy into it in the UK and because the underdog status gives you the opportunity to play in a cup final.

“It’s a game I want to win and I’ll be picking a team accordingly to win the game.”

Prediction; Nottingham Forest 1-0 Cardiff City

Cardiff have had a poor showing in cup competitions in recent years and given the amount of injuries Cardiff are carrying, Forest will finally beat the Bluebirds at home.

FA CUP MATCH PREVIEW: Newport County v salford city

Cup games hold special memories in recent years for Newport. In the 2018 FA Cup Leeds United were beaten at Rodney Parade, before Tottenham were held in the next round. In 2019 Leicester City were beaten 2-1 in the FA Cup third round. After a draw at the Riverside, Middlesbrough were knocked out by two goals to nil. Manchester City were the next visitors to South Wales, but County fell to a 4-1 loss.

Newport have been at the giant killing act again this season in the EFL cup. Swansea and Watford have both lost to Newport, while Newcastle needed penalties to get past the League Two side.

Salford are looking to make the FA Cup third round for the first time. Its only the second time City have made the second round after being knocked out by Hartlepool in a replay in 2016.

Recent Form

This all League affair sees leaders Newport play 7th placed Salford for a place in the hat for round three. Newport beat Leyton Orient by 2-1 in Round One away. While Salford needed extra-time to beat Hartlepool by two goals to nil.

Newport have lost just one of their last eight league games. Their last match was a 1-1 draw with Walsall both goals coming in the first half. Prior to this they won 1-0 against Port Vale with a 96 minute winner from 41 year old Kevin Ellison.

Salford, meanwhile, head to south Wales on the back of two wins. A first half blitz saw a 3-0 win over Bradford City. Two late first half goals from Ashley Hunter was enough for a 2-1 over Morecambe.

Managers Thoughts

Newport boss Mike Flynn is hoping that his side’s cup runs won’t impact their league form as they have in past seasons:

“It’s going to be hectic and hopefully we come through unscathed with a lot of points and the third round of the FA Cup to look forward to.

“It’s always tough at this level and Lennie Lawrence (former County management consultant) would always say that cup success means league failure.

“I didn’t believe him at first but the more we did that, the more it happened. We’ve got a better squad this season so I am hoping that we might get away with both.

“Looking back it did affect our league form, 100 percent. It’s the injuries we picked up, the travelling, the excitement around the big games.”

“They have an unbelievable squad for this level and have spent big to bring in quality. They should be one of the favourites for the league, quite comfortably really.

“They will be a handful because they have pace, creativity, solid defenders. They have a big squad to choose from and there are players there who are on a fortune.”

Salford manager Richie Wellens also spoke ahead of the game saying it’s likely there’ll be changes to the side given the hectic schedule:

“I think with the games we’ve got coming up, we’ve got two away games after this against Carlisle and Barrow, and especially with a Wednesday-Saturday, which is not ideal if I’m being honest, it gives us an opportunity to give a few of the lads who played in the last game at Rochdale an opportunity to play while some of our experienced players we’re trying to look further down the line and we’ll make sure we’ll give them a little bit of a rest this weekend.

“It means we can get home quicker so in terms of when the players are having their evening meal and are going back to bed they can, it’s not really changing their body clock.

“We’ll give the young players a chance to improve in a bit more of a competitive environment than Rochdale was and then it’s up to the young players to take their chance. Irrespective of what team Newport pick I’m looking to get a good performance from them and get to the third round.”

Key Players

For County Josh Sheehan can pull the strings in the midfield. Having a Whoscored.com pass completion of 83.1%. the midfielders good performances for Newport have not gone unnoticed as he was called up to the Wales squad for the last international window. He made his debut as a half time sub against the USA. He has also got one goal so far this season.

Salford forward James Wilson is the highest rated Salford player on Whoscored.com with an overall rating of 7.3. With five goals from his 12 appearances this season. Starting in the last round it’s likely he’ll be called on for the visit to Newport.

Prediction; Newport County 2-1 Salford City

Even without the fans Rodney Parade is a fortress for Newport especially in Cup games. Newport will be out to win this to set up a possible big FA Cup tie in South Wales once again.

Marine AFC make history

Eighth-tier Marine from Crosby in Liverpool produced a faultless penalty shootout to stun League Two Colchester United on Saturday to reach the Emirates FA Cup Second Round.

The Northern Premier League Division One North West side nicknamed the Mariners held the U’s to a 1-1 draw after extra time after going ahead in the first half through Anthony Miley.

In the shootout it was the visiting semi-professionals who held their nerve from the spot, firing home five from five and reaching the second round with a 5-3 win on penalties.

The 21-year-old midfielder James Devine slotted the winning spot-kick and subsequently sent rapturous joy through the Marine ranks. Before which former Liverpool, Tranmere Rovers and Carlisle United defender David Raven was also successful from the spot.

Marine were in the first round for the first time in 25 years winning their first away match in the competition proper in their history, and are now in the second round for the first time ever.

Marine will host Havant and Waterlooville in the next round with second round ties due to take place on the weekend of 28 November.

Despite their now historic cup run already, the side who play their games at the Marine Travel Arena now won’t play another match due to COVID-19 restrictions until their second round clash.

Manager Neil Young and most certainly Raven, who played one Premier League game as well as one FA Cup outing during his time at Anfield, will likely be dreaming of a Third Round tie against one of the local big boys.

Liverpool and Everton both enter the completion at the next stage, whilst a clash with number 13 would see the Mariners face a side from just over the Mersey River, Tranmere Rovers.

Regardless of the outcome it’s been a fairy tale thus far for Marine, one they only hope continues.

AFC Wimbledon HIT BY COVID

AFC Wimbledon, literally a few days after celebrating their momentous return to Plough Lane, have been hit by the COVID Bug.

Following the game against Doncaster Rovers, a number of the first team squad, returned positive tests.

As a result of this the weekends FA Cup first round tie at Barrow was postponed, to allow the affected players time to self isolate and recover.

24 Hours after this news was announced, the club then implemented a 14 day Fire Breaker, and everyone at AFC Wimbledon, is now isolating as a precaution

What this means is that the clubs next home game at Wigan, has also been postponed, till the results are known.

It isn’t known how the players contracted the virus, though in the games previously to being back at Plough Lane, the club were playing fixtures in the North, which as is known at this time, is where the majority of the worst cases are.

How Does This Affect The FA CUP for Wimbledon

Because this is a different competition to the EFL and as it was the the first round, it means that the club will treat the game as if were a replay and it will take place on a later date

So Both Barrow and AFC Wimbledon will be in the draw taking place tonight on BBC2, with them both having the Number 30 ball.

AFC Wimbledon’s next scheduled league game, ironically, is back in the north against Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena. At this time the game is planned to go ahead