Franson Is A Sabre

After several weeks of rumours doing the rounds, free agent and former Maple Leaf, Cody Franson has penned a 2 year deal with the Buffalo Sabres.

Since making his trade moves before and during the draft, Sabres GM, Tim Murray has openly admitted that he was in the market for an experienced left handed defence man either from Free Agency or by another trade.

Well today Tim got his man, all be it a right handed defenceman, not quite the lefty he was after.  But will that really matter?  

Not really if you ask me, for me Sabres have now got a strong very experienced man on the blue line, he boasts a heavy shot and will quarterback one of the powerplay units I’m sure.

After missing out on Jonny Oduya, despite throwing a stupid amount of money at him, Sabres certainly needed to make a move and looking at some of the depth players we had already picked up in Carlo Colaiacovo and Matt Donovan a trade was really looking like an option but that might have meant giving up a fair amount.

In the end the addition of Franson certainly gives us a top 4/5 defenceman.  I can certainly see him lining up on the right hand side of our defence in October and actually gives us a balance with the depth guys.

Looking at the roster I perhaps wonder if he’ll line up alongside Josh Gorges in our top 4.

Interestingly too in Tim Murray’s interview he also mentioned that a deal with signed FA Pat Kaleta is still not dead in the water.  I’m still hopeful that Tim can find a role for the heartbeat of the Buffalo team I have followed for so long.

Here’s hoping!

Let’s go Buffalo! 

Here’s hoping that the Sabres can reach an agreement with Pat!


A Defining Draft Day for Tim Murray & The Sabres – Part 2

So after the morning trade by the Sabres, all eyes were now on the afternoon draft and expectation that the Sabres would select Jack Eichel as their 2nd overall pick in the first round.

The Duo of Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn heading to Buffalo

The Duo of Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn heading to Buffalo

Just as everyone was settling down for the actual Draft though rumours broke on social media that the Sabres were talking to Colorado Avalanche about center Ryan O’Reilly.

So what was the deal all about? Well it turns out i was all around the number 31 pick that the sabres had.  It was another large trade that saw Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, JT Compher and the 31st pick go to Colorado and in return the Sabres received Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn.

Both Zadorov and Grigorenko were decent enough prospects in Buffalo.  Zadorov played 60 games last season on the Sabres blue line in his first NHL season after being drafted as the 16th overall pick in 2013.

Meanwhile Grigorenko split the season between the Sabrs and their AHL affiliate in Rochester for the 2nd season in a row after he was drafted as the 12th overall pick in 2012.  His output is Rochester was fairly decent with 14 goals and 22 assists in his 41 appearances but he had just 3 goals and 3 assists in 25 games with the Sabres last season.

Also in the deal was JT Compher who was selected in round 2, 35th overall, in the 2013 draft.  He spent last season at the University of Michigan and will captain that team this season.

Ryan O'Reilly scoring for the Avs

Ryan O’Reilly scoring for the Avs

In getting O’Reilly the Sabres have gained a genuine number 1 centre who at only 24 has the potential to be a franchise player for some time.  He had 17 goals and 38 assists with the Avs last season and could be the perfect man to feed a fully fit Evander Kane this season.

With O’Reilly now in town It certainly gives you very good top line potential which I’m sure we will see develop during training camp and also pre season.

Jamie McGinn hopefully adding some scoring for the Sabres

Jamie McGinn hopefully adding some much needed scoring for the Sabres

Also arriving in Buffalo is Jamie McGinn who will be entering his 8th season in the NHL.  McGinn is a former San Jose Shark who was then traded to Colorado in the 2011/12 season.  Last season he only iced for 19 games but in his previous season he registered 19 goals and 19 assists in 79 games as well as 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 playoff games.

McGinn has also played on the same line as O’Reilly so it’ll be interesting to see if Dan Bylsma will look at utilising them together.

Finally the dust settled after the trade and the Sabres got down to the business of the Draft itself and following the Edmonton Oilers selecting Connor McDavid (#PrayForMcDavid) at the number 1 pick all eyes were on the Sabres.

The Sabres 2nd Overall Draft Pick - Jack Eichel

The Sabres 2nd Overall Draft Pick – Jack Eichel

In true Tim Murray style he kept things brief and to the point, walking up to the mic and simply saying “The Buffalo Sabres select Jack Eichel”.  Finally the Sabres have their man.

Eichel is a wonderful player and looks like he will be one of the superstars that the Buffalo Sabres need to finally win a Stanley Cup.  I for one am certainly excited to see him pull on a Sabres jersey.

Jack had 26 goals and 45 assists for Boston University last season in just 40 games, as well as playing on the US national team at the World Championships and also won the Hobey Baker Award for the best Collegiate Player last season.

Had Connor McDavid not have been in the draft, any other year Eichel would have been the number 1 overall pick.  I’m just glad we have him on our team.

So with the draft now done and dusted and having time now to sit back, catch my breath and look at what the Sabres have achieved during the draft it is safe to say that true to his word Tim Murray is making the Sabres better every day!

In fact on the Day in question I would say the Sabres got unbelievably better.  This draft day will certainly live in the memories of us sabres fans for a while and given the love for Tim Murray at the minute the atmosphere in Buffalo must be incredible.  It certainly is a defining day in the organisation’s recent history.

A Defining Draft Day for Tim Murray & The Sabres – Part 1

Following the end of a disappointing NHL season where the Buffalo Sabres couldn’t even win the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery to get the 1st pick all eyes were on the Sabres at the draft to see if they would make any moves.

A couple of days before the Drat rumours were flying around about various players the Sabres were chasing.  Cam Talbot was the main name doing the rounds as everyone knew the Sabres needed a number 1 goalie.

The Sabres at the start of Day 1 of the draft held 3 picks in the first round at numbers 2, 21 and 31.  I think deep down I always knew GM Tim Murray would make a move and in the weeks leading up to the draft Murray himself has said all along he would always listen to offers.

The 21st Pick was traded for goalie Robin Lehner & center David Legwand

The Sabres 1st round 21st pick was traded for goalie Robin Lehner and center David Legwand

The morning of the Draft saw the news break that Murray had traded away the 21st pick to the Ottawa Senators.

In return the Sabres received goalie Robin Lehner and veteran center David Legwand.

Lehner moving from the Sens was something that was always going to happen with the Sens having a lot of depth in the position with Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond seemingly being the main goalies battling for the number 1 spot in Ottawa, especially once Lehner has suffered a concussion part way through the season.

Kane and Lehner now on the same team in Buffalo

Kane and Lehner now on the same team in Buffalo

With Lehner only being 23, I would say it’s a great pick up for the Sabres with a goalie that really excites me and it also gives the team a genuine number 1 goalie.  Could the Sabres have picked up a goalie with the 21st pick or through the UFA list that can match the potential of Lehner? Probably not if I’m honest.

The interesting part of this trade for me though is the addition of Legwand and what role does he have with the team?

Legwand scoring in his time in Nashville!

Legwand scoring in his time in Nashville!

Legwand is a 34 year old 15 season NHL veteran, he played 14 of those seasons with the Nashville Predators including 3 season with an ‘A’ on his jersey before being traded to the Red Wings as part of the Eaves and Jarnkrok trade and then signing for the Sens as a free agent last summer.

He’s never had huge goal or point production but he still has a lot to offer the team that’s for sure and with the Sabres having such a young team his leadership skills both on and off the ice could well match that of Sabres Captain Brian Gionta.

To quote GM Tim Murray as he always says “We want to get better every day!”

Did the Sabres get better on the morning of the draft?  Absolutely no question in my mind, we certainly did!

But all this was just the beginning of an incredible day for all Sabres fans!

I’ll look at the Draft itself and also a surprise Trade that caught everyone by surprise a it happened moments before the Draft itself in Part Two.

The Sabres 2nd Overall Draft Pick - Jack Eichel

The Sabres 2nd Overall Draft Pick – Jack Eichel

Dancing Dan’s The Man In Buffalo!

It’s been awhile since my last blog post so I thought it was about time I caught up with some recent developments!

The 28th of May finally saw the announcement of the new Buffalo Sabres head coach.

After a couple of weeks following #Babwatch and it looking likely that the Sabres were going to appoint, former Detroit Red Wings Coach, Mike “Whitley Bay” Babcock as the new head coach.  The Sabres then lost out to the Leafs as they gave him a contract that he just couldn’t refuse.

Babcock turned down the Sabres to join the Leafs!

Babcock turned down the Sabres to join the Leafs!

It seems that an 8 year $50m dollar contract was an offer Mike just couldn’t refuse.

The Sabres had been reported as offering the same $50m dollar contract but over a 10 year period.

But who knows and we move on.  I personally thought that Babcock would have been a great fit for the Sabres and was pretty gutted that he had decided to join the Leafs.

As soon as the rumours that Mike had signed with the Leafs one name was instantly linked to the still vacant Sabres post and that name was Dan Bylsma, the former Pittsburgh Penguins coach who has also coached the United States senior mens team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Just days later a press conference was called by Tim Murray and on 28 May Dan Bylsma was formally introduced as the new Buffalo Sabres head coach.

Dancing Dan unveiled as Sabres Head Coach

Dancing Dan unveiled as Sabres Head Coach

So what can we expect from the Sabres under their new leader?

Well one thing that immediately stands out is the attacking brand of hockey that Bylsma got the Penguins to play.

With the young exciting roster that we now have, due to the rebuild that has taken place over the last 2 years, there is certainly plenty of potential to work with.  There is also the addition of the exciting prospect that is number 2 pick Jack Eichel, things have really taken a good step forward.

As Tim Murray says, his aim is to make the Sabres better every day and hopefully with the appointment of Bylsma he has done just that.  Over the next few week there are bound to be more changes as we head towards the start of next season and also into training camp.

There are still several areas of the squad that need looking at with the Goaltending situation being possibly the biggest question mark.  Next up though is the draft, again something that the sabres couldn’t win, as we select at number 2.

One thing’s for sure though, there will never be a dull moment being a Sabres Fan.  I look forward to seeing what “Dancing Dan” can do with this team.

Dancing Dan is our leader!

Dancing Dan is our leader!

Time For Some Green Fingers?

As the weather starts to get better and the days are getting longer, I now have another project on the horizon, one that was started last summer.

Where It All Began

The Small Bed Where It All Began

Early last summer Ellen and I decided that we wanted to give the garden a good crack and look at starting to grow some of our very own fruit and veg.

In the past my Dad had grown lots of different Veg in our garden.  Some successfully and some not so successfully.

So to begin with we decided to just start by digging over a small border at the side of our greenhouse.

When my Dad got older and found he couldn’t tend to the garden as much due to his ill health he decided make the garden pretty and put in lots of flowers that would come up annually and didn’t need too much looking after.

The bed after a couple of afternoons hard graft.

The bed after a couple of afternoons hard graft.

So Ellen and I began the task of removing the flowers, roots and all, and turn the bed into something we could have a go at growing some veg.

It was very hard going with so many roots from all the plants that had been put in.

We had already decided that we were going to grow some potatoes in growing bags from the pound shop and after purchasing some home guards we got them all bagged up and settled in.

Potato Growing Bags from the pound shop are a nice easy way of starting to grow!

Potato Growing Bags from the pound shop are a nice easy way of getting to growing!

Other items we grew were Spring Onions, Radishes in window boxes. Lettuce, Mini Cucumbers and Tomatoes in grow bags.  We also then had a go at Carrots, Beetroot and Courgettes in some larger grow bags,

Finally in the bed that we had cleared we grew some Shallots that had been reduced along with some Sweet Corn.

The first crop harvested were our Home Guard Early Potatoes which were fantastic and we had a really good crop.

Home Guard Earlies, a great first crop! A good yield too.

Home Guards, a great first crop, good yield too!

The potato growing bags make it really easy to grow spuds and we were even able to use the same bags and soil for a late crop as well.  I would certainly recommend using them to get started.

You may not get as many potatoes as you would putting them in the ground but for us 4 bags worked perfectly.

As the summer went on we found that everything seemed to grow well, even the beetroot after it had been attacked by slugs.  We also came across some bonus crops with 3 rogue blackberry bushes and also a bit of scrumping from next doors apple trees.


Nothing Wrong with a bit of Scrumping!

The only veg we did struggle with was the Runner Beans and also the Carrots.  The beans never pollinated properly after the flowers came out, so we never actually saw any beans appear despite the plants growing nice and tall.  The carrots on the other hand never had space to grow in the bag and by the end of the summer we just had tiny mini carrots!

So after so much success in our first year we are now starting to plan out for 2015.  Although we do still have lots of work ahead as we try to get so more bed space, hopefully a few days off work will help with that.

After taking out a subscription the Kitchen Garden Magazine we also have plenty of free seeds to have a go at.

Greene Army! The Mighty Pilgrims!

As with most people in the UK I do follow a football team and that team happens to be Boston United of the ‘Vanerama Conference North’


But Why Boston United?

But why Boston United? – Well its actually all down to my family roots.  Both my parents are from Boston, well Old Leake just outside, and my Dad was actually a Nottingham Forest fan and went to most of the games after they moved to Nottingham with Dad working on the Railways.

For many years I also had a Nottingham Forest season ticket and sat in the trent end alongside my Dad but after a while I soon got fed up and lost heart with it.

My Dad always kept an eye out for the Boston result and I too always liked to see how they were getting on.  Eventually we decided to go to a game and for some reason from that moment I was hooked on Boston United.

The Spayne Road Terrace at York Street!

The Spayne Road Terrace at York Street!

I’d fallen out with the big stadium team in Nottingham and liked nothing more than being at York Street in Boston standing on the Spayne Road terrace with a cup of tea and a sausage roll for just £1.50.

Although I still live in Nottingham and probably always will its only and hour and a half drive to Boston so making the odd game isn’t a problem.  I also have a programme subscription to make sure I don’t miss any of them and if any of you have ever seen a Boston programme you will know it’s one of the best reads in football, in fact it puts some of the major league teams programmes to shame.

I’ve enjoyed my trip to Boston a lot and even managed to convert a good friend of mine Craig into a Pilgrims fan.  Boston currently find themselves in 7th place in the Conference North looking to try and reach the playoffs, although this may take a huge effort as we seem to have play more games than the teams around us.

Current Manager Dennis Greene

Current Manager Dennis Greene

Under current manager Dennis Greene the club seems to have a lot of positivity around it although some fans are still staying away.

There has been some fantastic news this week though with the signing of new contracts by striker Dayle Southwell, defender Zak Mills and midfielder Grant Roberts.  Also announced was the pre-contract agreement with other striker Mark Jones.

This now means that Boston already have 8 players signed up for next season, with Southwell, Mills and Roberts joining keeper Sam Vince, defenders Scott Garner, Carl Piergianni and midfielders Kaine Felix and Kyle Dixon plus Jones to make it 9. This gives the club a solid base to build on for next season no matter what level we are at.

Kyle Dixon - A great pick up from Notts County.

Kyle Dixon – A great pick up from Notts County.

One of the best signing for me has been getting Kyle Dixon from Notts County.  Kyle was on Loan from Notts earlier this season but then when it expired moved to Telford in the Conference.  That didn’t really work out for Kyle and following his return, he was released by Notts and quickly signed by Dennis Greene for the remainder of this season plus next season as well.  Scholesy as he is nicknamed is a great midfielder and also happens to be mates with a good friend of mine too, so I expect a few more trips in the next few months.

The New Boston Community Stadium

The New Boston Community Stadium

Off the field things also look good as Boston will finally be getting a new stadium.  Massive work by the chairman David Newton on this one has finally seen the ambition realised and work will begin shortly on the development of the stadium.  Although the exact time frame isn’t yet known.

When it does happen though it can only be good for the football club and also for the development of Boston.

In the meantime however its back to York Street and hope that we can put a good run together for the rest of the season, starting with the visit of Bradford Park Avenue this afternoon.


More Buildings Taking Shape!

The Christmas Period was as busy as ever with Ice Hockey and seeing family taking up a lot of time.  I did however manage to progress with another building or two on my N Gauge model railway project.

The Large Box with its smaller brother!

The Large Box with its smaller brother!

The next buildings to take shape saw me build Metcalfe Kit PN133 N Scale Signal Box Set.  This kit comprises of 4 buildings in total, a large LNWR signal box, a smaller version of the signal box, a platelayers hut and a lamp hut.

Once again the kits are very detailed and the instructions are easy to follow.  Although it has to be said that building the steps is quite possibly the hardest thing I have had to do so far as placing each individual step on an N Gauge model is not a straightforward process.

The fully built Metcalfe Signal Box Set!

The fully built Metcalfe Signal Box Set!

Luckily though taking my time over a couple of winter afternoons saw me complete the kits and I’m very happy again with the results.

I was also give a couple more sets for christmas which I will build in due course.  Hopefully this year will also see the start of building the baseboards as I actually look to move this project further forward.

Sabres Trades are like Buses….

Just when you’re getting used to the idea of losing both Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford, Sabres GM Tim Murray then announces that he’s made a 2nd Trade on the same day.

Jhonas Enroth teming up with Lindy in Dallas

Jhonas Enroth teaming up with Lindy again in Dallas

This time the trade would the Sabres move on current starting goalie Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars to link up once again with former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

With the Stars in the hunt for a playoff place and needing a goalie Sabres GM Tim Murray said ‘it seemed like the right time to make a deal.’ Let’s hope hes right on this, at least it give us more time to look at guys and assess our needs before the end of the season.

In return for Jhonas going to Dallas the Sabres get Anders Lindback and also a conditional third round pick in the 2016 draft, although this could become a 2nd round pick should Enroth reach 4 playoff game wins.

Anders Linback is a now Sabre!

Anders Lindback is a now Sabre!

For me it’s a shame Jhonas is going as he’s shown signs that he is finally stepping out from the shadows of Ryan Miller that held the number one spot for so long.  Again though Enroth is an UFA in the summer and GM Murray admitted that we may go back in for him then.

Jhonas has posted a 3.27 GAA and a .903 SV% in 37 games this season, leading the team to 13 wins.  Lindback in comparison has a 3.71 GAA and a .875 SV% with 2 wins and 8 losses in 10 appearances this season, including last weeks 3-2 Sabres win over the Stars where both goalies went head to head.

The deal is a good one for the Stars as they are serious playoff contenders so need the depth at the goalie position.  I just worry that we will now see a similar situation with our goalies like we had at the end of last season with anyone who is fit donning the mask.

Murray says he’d like to see more of Neuvirth but the guy has had so so many injuries.  I’d personally like to see more of Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen but for now it looks like Lindback and Neuvirth will get the nod.

We still have several weeks until we hit the trade deadline and it wouldn’t surprise me to see another couple of movements involving the Sabres.  It is however vitally important for me that we keep the likes of Girgensons, Ristolainen and Zadorov who for their ages have been superb and I look forward to seeing them develop further.

One thing is certain though Tim Murray isn’t afraid to shake up the roster, but when you’re the worst team in the NHL I guess you have to do something.


Sabres Making Changes!

Well after my last blog about the Sabres the wheels have certainly come off the bus.  Since the turn of the new year the Sabres have won just 2 out of 17 games and now find themselves 30 out of 30 team in the NHL standings, this also included a 14 game losing streak!

Sabres GM Tim Murray

Sabres GM Tim Murray looking to rebuild.

Yesterday finally saw GM Tim Murray announce a trade, which was then followed quickly by a 2nd trade.

In his press conference the GM was very open, as he always seems to be, something that I really like and something that is very good to see.

In fact he was so open that he freely admitted that he was ‘pissed off’ with the Sabres 14 game losing streak that sees them sit as the worst team in the NHL.

Myers & Stafford on their way to the Jets.

Tyler Myers & Drew Stafford are heading to the Jets.

So at midday Murray announced that a trade had been made with the Winnipeg Jets.

On their way to the Jets are Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford along with prospects Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a 1st round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

Both Myers and Stafford have both been Sabres stalwarts for a long time, Myers though for me has not really show his real potential since 2009/10 when he won the Calder Trophy for the best NHL Rookie.  His season stats show he has 4 Goals, 9 Assists but a +/- rating of -15 through 47 games this season.

Stafford, who’s been with the Sabres since 2004, for me has possibly been one of the Sabres most consistent performers despite picking up a couple of injuries. His leadership has also been very good and he has 9 Goals, 15 Assists with a +/- of -18 through 50 games so far this season.  The other thing to note was that Stafford was an UFA in the summer so maybe the timing is spot on.

For me I think the timing of this trade is right, Sabres had to make a move and to get anywhere it was always going to be our better players that had to move.  Despite giving away a 1st round pick we still actually have 2 more available so that doesn’t really hurt us.

With the prospects its hard to say whether its a good or bad move, both though are players I expect to have decent NHL careers but only time will tell if we have traded away potential superstars.

Buffalo Bound - Kane & Bogosian

Buffalo Bound – Evander Kane & Zach Bogosian.

So in return for all this the Sabres will receive Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and college prospect goalie Jason Kasdorf.

Kane though we won’t see until next season due to him requiring to go under the knife to repair a torn labrum.

The Jets had made it clear over the last week or so that they were listening to offers for Kane but I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted a trade this big.

In 37 games with the Jets this season Kane has scored 10 goals and has 12 assists with a +/- of just -1.  With him being just 23 years of age it’s a really good fit with the Sabres and I will look forward to seeing in a Sabres Jersey for what could be an improved season next year.

Bogosian will however be on the ice in a Sabres jersey this season, he’s been a fair steady performer with the Jets with 3 goals and 10 assists in 41 outings so far.  His +/- is also a nice +1, he is a good strong guy and will also play possible in all situations.

The final part of this trade will also see College prospect goalie Jason Kasdorf join the organisation and give us further depth at this position.  Although not having any real standout superstar goalie we do seem to have plenty of potential depth at this position.

So overall, despite giving away a couple of our best players this trade has plenty of longer term benefits to the Sabres.  Myers & Stafford have been great players for us and I’m sure the fans will give them a massive ovation when they return some day soon but in the mean time this is just another step in the rebuilding process.

GM Tim Murray is not afraid to make big trades after all he traded with the Blues last year when both Ryan Miller and Captain Steve Ott were traded for Jaroslav Halak, who was moved on straight away, and also Chris Stewart.  Murray admitted in his press conference he’s very open that he will listen to any offers.  Although there are some guys he doesn’t want to let move on!

Sabres Turning The Corner?

Are the Buffalo Sabres turning the corner and starting to turn into a playoff team?  Well it’s certainly a long way off yet the the Sabres form over the last 10 games certainly gives me some hope.

Following possibly the worst start to a season for a long long while and being the worst team in the NHL by a long way, the Sabres have now won 7 of their last 10 games.

The latest win came with a 1-0 win over defending Stanley Cup Champions the Los Angeles Kings.  This young team certainly seems to have a lot of spring in it’s step at the moment.

At the back Jonas Enroth seems to be edging ahead in the race to be the starting net minder and with Josh Gorges return from injury the Sabres defensively look a lot stronger.

Up front Tyler Ennis is in fantastic form and Brian Gionta seems to be bringing great leadership.  One returnee from injury that for me is helping the team is the return of Patrick Kaleta.  For me he is one of the most underrated players on our roster and his return for me has been key in our recent good form.

Coach Ted Nolan is really believing in this team and giving them time to develop, although there is still a long way to go for us to get back into the playoff picture it certainly seems that things are on the up.

My other team over the pond, the Belleville Bulls, are still performing well and looking good for a playoff spot.  The excellent early season form though has now died off as a 7 game losing streak proved last month.

However form seems to have picked up over the last week or so and the team still sit 3rd in the Eastern Conference, hopefully the team can keep up the recent momentum and have a strong Christmas period.

Finally back over the pond to the Nottingham Panthers who find themselves at the right end of the table and challenging for the elite league title.

Now although the team doesn’t seem to be a team in the traditional ‘Sexy Neilson Hockey’ style, this team certainly epitomises the sense of ‘TEAM’.  An injury to Craig Kowalski has seen Mattias Modig return between the pipes for a 2nd spell.

The team densely as I have said before certainly look strong but the forwards have seem to struggle to find some consistency and form.  This hasn’t been helped by several injuries that we seem to pick up every weekend.

Panthers though despite this find themselves sat 3rd in the league and just a point behind the Clan and Steelers.  With a busy Christmas period coming up I’m sure we’ll see whether we are genuine contenders in the new year!

One thing I do have to say though is that there does seem to be a lot of parity in the league this year and it could be a real fight right down to the wire.