Connect 4, noughts and crosses, and Football Manager - How clubs have been filling the time without games

There may have been no games but that didn’t stop clubs from making their own entertainment over the weekend

Most clubs had to make their own fun on the first weekend of postponed fixtures
Most clubs had to make their own fun on the first weekend of postponed fixtures

“Just past the half-hour mark, with #SaintsFC holding their composure despite some early time-wasting tactics from the hosts.”

Ordinarily, not an unusual tweet to be sent out at 3.33pm on a Saturday afternoon during the football season. But Southampton FC’s social media editor was reporting on a rather one-sided game of noughts and crosses between the St Mary’s side and opponents Norwich City.

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The two teams had been scheduled to meet on English Premier League duty at the Canaries’ Carrow Road stadium on Saturday March 14 until the spread of coronavirus put paid to the football season for the foreseeable future.

“Well, we’ve reached the interval. In truth, only one team making any effort to play here, but we’re still waiting for the first real breakthrough.”

Norwich didn’t show up, so Manchester City offered to step in. “Unprecedented scenes here, as a controversial substitution is made right at the start of the second half...”

Despite the half-time change, neither team could find a winner so the match ended in a stalemate.

It might have seemed frivolous at a time when people are worried about the spread of coronavirus but Southampton used the occasion to remind people of the NHS’s latest advice about COVID-19.

Connect 4

UEFA suspended all Champions League and Europa League matches next week but English Championship sides Bristol City and Hull City completed a European double over Willem II and Bayer Leverkusen – at Connect 4.

Playing out the matches on Twitter, the Tigers and Robins recorded 4-0 wins over their opponents. Speaking after the match, a spokesperson for Leverkusen said: “Fell apart there at the end. Definitely need to work on making more meaningful connections in our build-up. We'll do a full analysis and try to remain positive. We go again sometime soon.”

Despite Dutch side Willem II adopting a 4-3-3 strategy, Lee Johnson’s side were too strong for the Eredivisie side and posted a resounding victory that was closer than the 4-0 scoreline suggested. Bristol City’s social media admin said after the game: “It was a tough game, I didn’t think we’d find a way through but the fans stuck by us and we got there in the end.”

Football Manager

Plymouth Argyle were due to travel to Morecambe for a League Two clash but when that match was cancelled, the Pilgrims decided to play out the match on Football Manager. Through Twitter. Argyle asked supporters to pick the formation and personnel as well as the gameplan, team captain and any in-match decisions such as substitutions and half-time team-talk.

The club’s Twitter account provided “live” updates from the game (which finished in a 1-1 draw), although some fans were understandably confused when logging into the social media site mid-afternoon.

Watford also simulated their postponed English Premier League meeting with Leicester City at Vicarage Road with the ten-man Hornets earning a respectable draw with Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes side, while Leyton Orient also went down the Football Manager route but ended up losing 1-0 away to Bradford City.

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