August 20, 2012
AUCKLAND – The English Premier League kicked off over the weekend with Winston Reid and the Hammers making a winning start to their campaign back in the big time.
West Ham made a winning return to the English Premier League defeating Aston Villa 1-0 at home with All White defender Winston Reid exorcising the demons of his forgettable debut against the same opposition two seasons earlier and starring for the Hammers on their return to the top flight.
Reid made an uninspiring debut in the Premier League against Villa in the 2010/11 season in the unfamiliar position of right-back. But after a season of regular first-team football in the Championship at the heart of defence, he now seems more comfortable in the Premier League and opened the season by keeping England striker Darren Bent at bay.
Reid’s international teammate and All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen could expect to see some game time next weekend after being an unused sub in QPR’s 0-5 loss at home to Swansea City.
West Bromwich Albion stole the headlines on the opening weekend of action after their 3-0 win over Liverpool, but All White striker Chris Wood didn’t take part in first team action instead scoring for the U-21 side in their 3-1 win over Everton in the newly established competition.
Wood’s Oly-White teammate Tommy Smith and Ipswich Town opened their Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw against newly relegated Blackburn Rovers. Smith played all 90 minutes in the opener after earlier scoring in a 3-1 win over Bristol City in a midweek League Cup fixture.
Rory Fallon is still recovering from an abdominal strain but not fast enough to take a place on the match card as Aberdeen scored a 2-1 away win over St Johnstone. Fallon has missed the last two Scottish Premier League matches and a mid-week testimonial against a Manchester United XI at Pittodrie.
Greg Draper and The New Saints began their defence of their Welsh Premier League title with a 1-0 win over Airbus UK.
In Scandinavia, Kris Bright was unable to prevent FC Haka slipping into the relegation zone after a 1-2 loss in the Finnish Veikkausliiga. Haka sits one place below Kuopion Palloseura, the home of former All White Chris James – who was again an unused substitute over the weekend.
Football Ferns captain Rebecca Smith and her club side VfL Wolfsburg to a pre-season cup win in the Netherlands. The Frauen Bundesliga outfit triumphed in the four-team tournament that involved the hosts FC Twente, Ajax and French club Paris Saint-Germain.
Michael McGlinchey was able to get an early glimpse of the New Caledonian national team as the Central Coast Mariners wrapped up their two-game tour with a 4-2 win over the hosts at the Stade Numa Daly in Noumea. The Mariners had earlier shared honours 1-1 with Les Cagoues in a mid-week fixture.
The Wellington Phoenix tour which will see the franchise embark on an historic visit to India started in ugly fashion with All White Ben Sigmund dismissed in the pre-season fixture with the Newcastle Jets following an all-in brawl.
The ‘Nix eventually lost 1-3 and finished the match with 8 players, Football Federation Australia will review the incident with sanctions expected to be handed down to Sigmund and the other players involved.
Sigmund and the rest of the touring party are currently en-route to the sub-continent where they will take part in a four-team tournament.
In China, Chris Killen scored for Chongqing as they drew with Hunan 1-1 in Chinese League One action.
Fresh from the London Olympics, Football Fern Betsy Hassett did not miss a step returning to her University of California Berkley women’s soccer team, scoring twice in the Golden Bears' season-opening 3-0 win over Pacific University.
Hassett was left on the bench for the first half and once introduced made an immediate impact scoring in the 55th and 64th minutes. Hassett started in the 5-2 victory over San Jose State this morning.
Another Olympian, two-time representative, Ian Hogg has arrived in Portland to link up with the MLS franchise Timbers. Hogg was delayed from London and missed the opportunity to travel with his new teammates as they embark on a ten-day away trip.