International Break

International break can be a quiet time for photographers, but we made sure to keep ours busy.

We shipped Marc Atkins out to Dortmund for the Poldolski Show – er, I mean the Germany v England friendly – before bringing him back for the World Cup Qualifier against Lithuania where he teamed up with Mark Leech.

Meanwhile, Simon Stacpoole visited the less continental Glasgow for the Scotland v Slovenia match.

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The Boys Are Back

That’s right, we’re back on the blogging scene and what better way to return than with a selection of our images from this weekend’s Premier League?

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WBA v Arsenal – Nacer Chadli of Albion puts his hand in the face of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Mark Leech
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Palace v Watford – A fan points out Palace manager Sam Allardyce as he enters Selhurst Park – Marc Atkins
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Spurs v Soton – Fans are silhouetted as they photograph the building work at WHL – Marc Atkins
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Man City v Liverpool – Pep Guardiola throws water in frustration – Simon Stacpoole
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Man City v Liverpool – Robert Firmino of Liverpool is fouled – Simon Stacpoole

Like what you see? More photos available via Welloffside

Offside’s FA Cup Third Round – Non-League, Lower League and Premier League

A New Year and some new stadiums for the likes of Crystal Palace, Southport and Gateshead. The weekend that everyone looks forward to in the football calendar year, the FA Cup Third Round. With ‘banana skin’ ties in sight for the Premier League sides, Offside’s team of photographers were there to capture the best of the action.

Simon Stacpoole - Young Southport fans
Simon Stacpoole – Young Southport fans

Simon Stacpoole was on the sidelines on the ‘Big Day Out’ for Non League Southport as they travelled to Championship High-Flyers Derby County. With nothing but a Derby win looking to be on the cards, Southport made sure that this was to be no easy task to get through for the Rams.

Simon Stacpoole - Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos saves from Mitchell Austin of Southport
Simon Stacpoole – Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos saves from Mitchell Austin of Southport

With Derby in full control as expected Craig Bryson went close after hitting the post while Paul Coutts and Ryan Shotton had chances of their own to break the Southport resistance. The non league side were not just defenders for the 90 minutes however. Just after the break Richard Brodie headed just wide from in front of goal putting their travelling fans in belief they could cause an upset.

Simon Stacpoole - Richard Brodie of Southport looks dejected after squandering a chance to score
Simon Stacpoole – Richard Brodie of Southport looks dejected after squandering a chance to score

It was in heartbreaking circumstances that the result was determined when in the last minute of stoppage time, Luke Foster of Southport tackled the oncoming Johnny Russell giving the referee no other alternative but to point to the spot. Derby dangerman Chris Martin made no mistake from 12 yards and ensured no upset at Pride Park.

Paul Roberts - A Gateshead fan shouts after a foul against his side
Paul Roberts – A Gateshead fan shouts after a foul against his side

West Brom were hoping to evade a slip up at home to Gateshead. With Tony Pulis taking to the reigns in his first match as Albion boss, the pressure was on to impress and not trip up against Non League opposition at home.

Albion settled the home crowds nerves with 2 goals just before half time after seemingly being outplayed by Gateshead. It was two quickfire goals from Berahino and Anichebe that separated the teams at the break, which was then always an uphill task for Gateshead.

Paul Roberts - Victor Anichebe of West Bromwich Albion fires past Ben Clark of Gateshead to extend the lead
Paul Roberts – Victor Anichebe of West Bromwich Albion fires past Ben Clark of Gateshead to extend the lead

After half time Berahino started where he left off scoring in the first minute of the second half which all but settled West Brom into the hat for the fourth round. Now Gateshead just wanted to keep it respectable as the pressure from the Premier League team increased. With the Albion players out to impress their new manager, Gateshead crumbled and conceded a further 4 goals to the quality of the Premier League.

Berahino added another 2 to his tally before Chris Brunt and Steve Morrison got on the scoresheet to install a thrashing upon Gateshead, leaving Tony Pulis very relieved after a nervous first half hour.

Marc Atkins - Jak Alnwick of Newcastle United and Leonardo Ulloa of Leicester City battle for the ball
Marc Atkins – Jak Alnwick of Newcastle United and Leonardo Ulloa of Leicester City battle for the ball

It was an all Premier League affair down at the King Power stadium between Leicester and Newcastle. Marc Atkins caught the action through his lens for Offside.

Marc Atkins - Marc Albrighton of Leicester City is fouled by Lubomir Satka of Newcastle United
Marc Atkins – Marc Albrighton of Leicester City is fouled by Lubomir Satka of Newcastle United

With Newcastle having to adapt to life without recently departed manager Alan Pardew, Leicester used this chance to keep that winning feeling going after a couple of good results in the League. Both teams made seven changes to their sides from their matches on New Years Day.

Remy Cabella thought he had put Newcastle in the lead only to see the flag raised for offside. Leonardo Ulloa opened the scoring in the 39th minute after he headed home an Anthony Knockaert cross. He could have doubled the advantage had he not headed wide in front of goal.

Marc Atkins - Tom Lawrence of Leicester City tangles with Haris Vuckic of Newcastle United
Marc Atkins – Tom Lawrence of Leicester City tangles with Haris Vuckic of Newcastle United

The second half was very quiet and Leicester went closest to scoring but for a great save from Jak Alnwick to deny Chris Wood from a diving header. Leicester ran out 1-0 winners but the job now for both sides, is to focus on the League and gain some momentum.

Mark Leech - Match scarves on sale
Mark Leech – Match scarves on sale

Fog, Ice, Sun and the white cliffs of Dover. Sunday started on the very edge of the nation where Crystal Palace travelled to the Crabble, home of Dover Athletic. Mark Leech made the trip down the M2 to capture the best of the action. This was an FA Cup third round tie in all its glory.

Alan Pardew stepped into the dugout for Palace for the first time. Not many Premier League teams would have fancied an away trip to a non league side in the third round, but that was the first challenge he faced. There was a real cause for an upset given Dovers impressive 16 match unbeaten run.

Mark Leech - Kevin Doyle of Palace shoots
Mark Leech – Kevin Doyle of Palace shoots

Palace quickly took control of the match with Scott Dann heading in from close range on the 10th minute. He done exactly the same 20 minutes later giving new boss Pardew very little reason to worry about an upset. The two goal cushion at half time killed off the game making the second half a very forgettable one.

Mark Leech - The ball sails high as young boys stand in the trees to see the match
Mark Leech – The ball sails high as young boys stand in the trees to see the match

It got worse for Dover, who failed to register a shot on target, when Dwight Gayle got the third and Kevin Doyle scored from close range to put Crystal Palace into the hat for the next round. A banana skin very much avoided by Alan Pardew.

Another Premier League v Non League tie got underway at Stoke who welcomed visitors Wrexham. Simon Stacpoole was at the heart of the action.

Simon Stacpoole - Stoke mascots hold out their hands as they wait for the players to emerge in the tunnel
Simon Stacpoole – Stoke mascots hold out their hands as they wait for the players to emerge in the tunnel

5,000 Wrexham fans packed the away end at the Brittannia stadium hoping to beat a team 97 places above them in the football ladder. Another spice was given to the game being that Stoke boss, Mark Hughes, is from Wrexham. The first half was pretty non existent with very little in the way of chances for either side.

Simon Stacpoole - Connor Jennings of Wrexham shoots
Simon Stacpoole – Connor Jennings of Wrexham shoots

In the 73rd minute Mark Carrington sent the travelling fans into ecstasy after powering home a header from a Connor Jennings cross. Being as late in the game as it was, it gave the fans a dream of being in the fourth round for the first time since 2000.

Wrexham loan keeper Jon Flatt had the game of his life to keep out the quality of the Premier League strikers denying Peter Crouch. It took all but 7 minutes for Stoke to equalise through Marko Arnautovic slotting the ball home from close  range. Wrexham now had to hope for a replay as the pressure grew from the home side.

Simon Stacpoole - Marko Arnautovic of Stoke scores their 1st goal
Simon Stacpoole – Marko Arnautovic of Stoke scores their 1st goal

Two minutes from time Stephen Ireland broke the hearts of 5,000 welshmen as he scored the second goal to make it 2-1. Then in stoppage time Ireland pounced again to get a second and make it 3-1 relieving Mark Hughes of an embarrassing defeat at home. A far from convincing display from the mid table Premier League side.

Simon Stacpoole - The tattoo on the back of Marko Arnautovic of Stoke
Simon Stacpoole – The tattoo on the back of Marko Arnautovic of Stoke
Simon Stacpoole - Stephen Ireland of Stoke scores their 2nd goal
Simon Stacpoole – Stephen Ireland of Stoke scores their 2nd goal

After a New Years Day hammering from rivals Tottenham, Chelsea were looking to get back on track at home to Championship outfit Watford. Marc Atkins was the man for Offside to snap the action at Stamford Bridge.

Marc Atkins - Luminous pink FA Cup branded footballs rest on the goal netting
Marc Atkins – Luminous pink FA Cup branded footballs rest on the goal netting

In a much familiar story to most third round matches this weekend, the Premier League leaders were far from their best in the first half which brought on the changes from Mourinho at half time. The introduction of Willian and Diego Costa created a much needed energy in the second half that in the end proved too much for Watford to handle.

It was the Brazilian substitute who gave Chelsea the lead with an arrowing effort into the top corner of the net giving the keeper no chance. Remy went to better his teammates effort with an impressive half volley that hit the back of the net to double the Blues lead and effectively see them through to the next round.

Marc Atkins - Loic Remy of Chelsea celebrates scoring the 2nd goal in front of the fans
Marc Atkins – Loic Remy of Chelsea celebrates scoring the 2nd goal in front of the fans

Kurt Zouma rounded off the second half effort with a powerful header into the top corner which condemned Watford to their 5th loss in 6 FA Cup ties against Chelsea. The Blues progress through and still have the Quadruple in their sights.

The last game on Sunday stayed in the Capital to showcase Arsenal v Hull, a rematch of the Final back in May with Gunners taking the trophy. Ryan Smyth was at the Emirates for Offside.

Ryan Smyth - Theo Walcott of Arsenal warms up in his first match since injury
Ryan Smyth – Theo Walcott of Arsenal warms up in his first match since injury

Theo Walcott made his return to the Arsenal side since suffering from a serious injury. It didn’t take the Gunners long to get going with exciting prospect Joel Campbell keeping Steven Harper on full alert. Per Mertesacker gave Arsenal the lead when he escaped his marker from the corner, and headed down into the net leaving Harper with no chance.

Ryan Smyth - Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal sticks his tongue out as he makes a pass.
Ryan Smyth – Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal sticks his tongue out as he makes a pass.

After the opening goal it always looked very comfortable for Arsenal. Hull did grow in confidence after the break, seeing a lot more of the ball compared to the first 45 minutes. Arsenal began to get frustrated with chances going begging. They would not want a replay up North on a Tuesday night, so the second goal was vital.

Arsenals talisman Alexis Sanchez wrapped up the game with less than ten minutes to go. A superb solo effort saw him wrap the ball around his foot to curl it past Harper and into the bottom corner. This was by no means a classic like the final back in May, but Arsene Wenger will be pleased to have escaped any dramas.

Ryan Smyth - Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal scores their second goal.
Ryan Smyth – Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal scores their second goal.

Monday saw the mouthwatering clash of the third round between AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool, a remake of the 1988 final that still lives long in the memory. Marc Atkins was at KingsMeadow for Offside.

Marc Atkins - Mario Balotelli of Liverpool takes to the pitch at AFC Wimbledon
Marc Atkins – Mario Balotelli of Liverpool takes to the pitch at AFC Wimbledon

If Wimbledon were to pull off the shock of ’88 again, it would be the biggest shock of the Third Round in this years competition. Liverpool started brightly keeping the ball as expected to tire out their League Two opposition. It took all but ten minutes for the man of the moment Steven Gerrard to pounce and make it 1-0 to the reds.

Marc Atkins - Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates
Marc Atkins – Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates

Wimbledon rallied together and were not going to go out lightly. Liverpool’s achilles heel hit them again as a set piece caused confusion in the Reds defence. Adebayo Akinfenwa stretched a leg to poke the ball past Mignolet and the Wombles were level.

Liverpool still had their Premier League class about them, with Coutinho being a real livewire on the pitch. After coming out in the news that Steven Gerrard will leave Liverpool at the end of the season, it only seemed right that he should grab the headlines once more. So he did just that on the hour mark with a sublime free kick. Reminiscent of his early days at Liverpool, he shows the Reds just what they are going to miss when it comes to next season.

Marc Atkins - Sean Rigg of AFC Wimbledon leaps over a tackle from Emre Can of Liverpool
Marc Atkins – Sean Rigg of AFC Wimbledon leaps over a tackle from Emre Can of Liverpool

Liverpool withheld the late pressure from Wimbledon and scuppered a few chances along the way themselves. Liverpool now travel to Bolton in the next round. As for Wimbledon, last night was just a testament to how far they have  after everything that happened, since ‘that’ day back in 1988.

 

Look out for our work in 2015 and beyond on Twitter at @welloffside, our official website welloffside.com and our new Photo Shelter site welloffside.photoshelter.com.

Simon Stacpoole – Offside’s very own BT Sports Photographer of the Year nominee

All images via welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com.

It’s been another great year for Offside, as highlighted by our post on the best images from our team of photographers in 2014.

Yet 2014 has been an exceptional year for one of our number especially, with Simon Stacpoole ending the current calendar period with a nomination for the BT Sports Photographer of the Year award.

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His portfolio of pictures that have been submitted to the judging panel have been included in this post, which showcases the range of his work over the past year. Continue reading “Simon Stacpoole – Offside’s very own BT Sports Photographer of the Year nominee”

Offside’s best pictures of 2014

All images via welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com.

Simon Stacpoole - Diego Costa of Chelsea puts his hand across the face of Martin Skrtel of Liverpool.
Simon Stacpoole – Diego Costa of Chelsea puts his hand across the face of Martin Skrtel of Liverpool.

It’s been another great year for sport and for Offside Sports Photography. Below are our best 24 shots of 2014, as chosen by Mark Leech.

Marc Atkins - Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal shows his skill, looking one way and playing a long pass in the other direction.
Marc Atkins – Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal shows his skill, looking one way and playing a long pass in the other direction.

Over the course of 2014 we saw the World Cup in Brazil, Glasgow host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the inaugural staging of the Invictus Games, Wimbledon, the Ashes and much, much more. Continue reading “Offside’s best pictures of 2014”

Offside’s Christmas countdown: Santa in the stands

Santa in the stands. All images via welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com.

Paul Roberts - A Stoke fan dressed as Santa prior to kick off,
Paul Roberts – A Stoke fan dressed as Santa prior to kick off,

Hey kids! It’s Christmas. Santa’s coming, and he’s bringing friends.

Mark Leech - Burnley fans wearing Santa Claus hats.
Mark Leech – Burnley fans wearing Santa Claus hats.

But don’t worry about easy access chimneys and keeping a clean flue for the big man to shimmy down. In the world of football at least, Santa Claus is coming to town via the turnstiles. Continue reading “Offside’s Christmas countdown: Santa in the stands”

Offside’s Christmas countdown: Boxing Day football

Boxing Day football. All images via welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com.

Boxing Day football isn’t so much a tradition as an institution in England.

Mark Leech - The sun shines on the Arsenal fans on the North Bank during the 2004 Boxing Day fixture.
Mark Leech – The sun shines on the Arsenal fans on the North Bank during the 2004 Boxing Day fixture.

In decades gone by, before the rise of the Premier League and decent transport links, the day after Christmas Day could be relied upon to offer fans a festive derby match against a great local rival.

Offside - Fulham's Graham Leggat helps Ipswich keeper Roy Bailey after scoring his third of four Boxing Day goals in a 10-1 win in 1963.
Offside – Fulham’s Graham Leggat helps Ipswich keeper Roy Bailey after scoring his third of four Boxing Day goals in a 10-1 win in 1963.

Continue reading “Offside’s Christmas countdown: Boxing Day football”