Players score Golf Day victory

Neil McDonald won the battle but lost the war at the West Ham United Ryder Cup Golf Day.

Now in its second year, the annual event saw the assistant manager and his fellow staff take on eight players at the London Golf Club in Kent, where midfielder and scratch handicapper Gary O'Neil is a member.

McDonald and Big Sam were paired against No1 seeds O'Neil and James Collins in the opening greensome, with the more senior pair pulling off an outstanding 4 and 3 victory.

Unfortunately, the staff were unable to maintain their form throughout the day, with the players winning the trophy courtesy of a 7 1/2 to 4 1/2 overall success. McDonald also lost his perfect overall record during the afternoon singles, when he was narrowly beaten 2 and 1 by O'Neil.

"Myself and Sam were in a team together and we beat the number one seeds James and Gary," said McDonald. "We are chuffed because it keeps our perfect record going since I have been playing with two points out of two.

"We complemented each other very well, Sam had a good five iron, a good seven iron and was good with the putter and I have been driving really well.

"The sledging was fierce and they were the number one seeds so we wanted to put them off as much as we could. They did it too and now Ginge is dropped and Gary is never allowed to play golf again!"

The assistant manager also believes that the Golf Day will boost the players' morale ahead of Saturday's visit of Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City to the Boleyn Ground.

"It was great, but the weather was absolutely atrocious. This is the second time we have held this competition and unfortunately it has rained on both occasions. Thankfully that has not had an effect, as both the players and staff were out in their numbers and it was great for team spirit."

Last weekend ended in disappointment but, according to McDonald, the Golf Day was a great way for the players to relax ahead of Saturday's big game.

Indeed, Kevin Nolan and his team-mates showed no ill-effects by producing a consistent all-round display on the course. The skipper teamed up with Andy Carroll to defeat head of player recruitment Martyn Glover and his assistant Greg Mathieson in the greensomes, while George McCartney and Jack Collison overcame Wally Downes and groundsman Ian Denny. In the afternoon, O'Neil, Collins, Mark Noble and George McCartney all won their singles matches to secure overall victory, but Development Squad coach Ian Hendon scored a fine 4 and 3 win over James Tomkins.

Now the golf is out of the way, the focus turns to Manchester City.

"We were very disappointed with the performance against Wigan but we will move onto the next game against the champions. We have still had a very good start to the season and the pressure is all on them. We just need to go out and play the same way we have all season at home and hopefully we will get something out of the game.

"It is a good time to play them and we would certainly prefer to play them at home first because our record has been very good and we want to continue that as much as we can.

"It is going to be very difficult playing against the champions because they are good, no matter what their form. They have got some excellent players who I am sure will respond well under the pressure of a full house at Upton Park."

McDonald remained tight-lipped on any possible changes following last weekend's defeat, stating that whoever takes to the field will need the fans' full support for their biggest task yet.

"The fans have been brilliant so far and they certainly came in their numbers for the trip to Wigan, but the home fans have also been exceptional. It has been a full house every time.

"That is lifting the players and it is giving them so much confidence and I would like to think that the way we have played and the amount of goals we have scored has excited them too. I am sure everybody is very happy with the team at the moment."