Seb’s Up For The Cup

Manchester United are coming to Wales and although there may have been problems at Newport County’s ticket office, their main striker is ready.

Seb Palmer-Houlden warmed up for this Sunday’s big FA Cup clash against United by deciding the Welsh League Two derby against Wrexham.

Palmer-Houlden – on loan from Bristol City – scored the only goal of the game in a hard-fought 1-0 win over 10-man Wrexham at Rodney Parade.

The visitors had defender Will Boyle sent off for a wild challenge on Shane McLoughlin in the 18th minute and County used their numerical advantage to great effect.

Palmer-Houlden’s deft flicked header from Ryan Delaney’s cross found the top corner for what proved to be the only goal in the 34th minute.

Now the striker hopes to make it a double by shocking United’s box office stars after beating Hollywood-backed Wrexham.

“We definitely want them to bring the stars,” said Palmer-Houlden.

“We always want to play the best players but, whoever plays, we’ll put in a performance.

“We’ve got to enjoy it because these moments don’t come around too often.”

The 20-year-old has scored six goals from 23 appearances in all competitions this season and reckons the goal that decided the League Two Welsh derby – and kept Wrexham from going top of the table – was one of his best.

“It’s probably the best header I’ve ever scored, even though it was a flick-on, I’ve lobbed a 6ft 6in keeper [Arthur Okonkwo]” he added.

“It’s the best goal of my career. They [Wrexham fans] were giving a lot of abuse towards our fans, so it was the natural instinct to go to their fans and ‘shush’ them and then go to our fans. It was brilliant, I can’t describe the feeling.

“Now we can go and think about Man United and what that brings. We can focus fully on it and enjoy the week to come. Bring on Man United!”


Bluebirds in a flap

Things are not so upbeat just along the M4 from Newport at Cardiff City.

In fact, former Cardiff captain Jason Perry has described his old club as a “circus” after manager Erol Bulut hinted he might quit after growing disillusioned with the lack of ambition at the Bluebirds.

In a BBC radio interview following Cardiff’s 3-1 defeat at Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, Bulut voiced his frustration with the club’s hierarchy and their January transfer window policy.

With nine days to go until the window closes, Cardiff are yet to make a single signing, a lack of activity Bulut claimed he was told would not be allowed to happen.

The Bluebirds’ defeat saw them slip to 14th in the Championship and they have now lost nine of their last 15 games.

“I’ve been saying it for years, Erol Bulut is finding out what every manager finds out when they step into the hotseat of Cardiff City… it is a circus above you, and there in itself is the problem at Cardiff City, and it will not change,” said Perry.

In recent weeks, Bulut’s tone has gone from upbeat and optimistic that he would be able to make signings in this transfer window, to more cautious, to genuine bafflement, and then Saturday evening’s outburst that sounded like a resignation note.

“I am not happy with many things,” he said. “I have to decide about myself and the future with the club.”

“I will make a decision about that. I have to maybe make a decision for myself on how my future will go with the club, because I came here to change some things in a positive way.

“I don’t know (if I will continue until the end of the season), I don’t know.”

Cardiff are six points adrift of the play-off places with seven clubs between themselves and sixth-placed Coventry City.

QPR’s victory over Millwall leaves Cardiff 13 points above the relegation zone with 18 matches still to go.


No fluke for Luke

Swansea City have had their share of turmoil, but there are signs they may be heading out of their own dark tunnel.

But in the battle between master and apprentice, new Swansea head coach Luke Williams – Russell Martin’s former assistant at the Swans – knows he still has some lessons to learn.

Jamie Paterson scored for the Swans against Martin’s Southampton, and also struck the post but the home side still lost 3-1 to a dominant Saints.

Williams admitted: “I need to try to get the message across to the players in a clinical way because we are not blessed with time at the moment.

“It will take time, but we need it to take less rather than more.”