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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Northern Ireland v Russia postponed

Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Russia has fallen foul of the weather for the second time in 24 hours, with hostile conditions rendering Windsor Park unplayable.

The Group F clash was initially due to take place on Friday night but heavy snow and plummeting temperatures in Belfast saw the fixture postponed after three inspections by Norwegian referee Tom Hagen and the FIFA delegation.

A revised kick-off time of 3pm on Saturday was set but with no let-up from the elements the referee decided to cancel the fixture, which will now need to be fitted in elsewhere in the limited international calendar.

Conditions in the Northern Irish capital were arguably even worse on Friday, with city centre power cuts adding to the problems. Officials, including representatives from both associations, met again at 10am and the decision was made an hour later.

The Irish Football Association responded quickly to criticism over the postponement.

"Covers are for frost - not snow," said IFA spokesman Geoff Wilson. "We would have had to get the covers off the pitch early on Friday and there was still snow falling.

"We are going to look at the pitch for the new stadium. Part of it will be a little bit of a plastic pitch in addition to the normal grass. "There will be areas we will look at with the new redevelopment.

Wilson also insisted covers would not have saved the fixture.

"Experts have said that for the first part of Friday the snow was protecting the pitch," he added. "But you have to get back to the fact that the conditions were awful and horrendous."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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