Saturday, 2 March 2013

Match Report: Derby 0-1 Crystal Palace

Julian Speroni saved Conor Sammon’s late penalty as Crystal Palace secured a first away win since November with a 1-0 victory at Pride Park tonight. Yannick Bolasie clinically scored the game’s only goal for the promotion hopefuls, who looked good value for the three points until captain Mile Jedinak fouled substitute Ben Davies in the penalty area with three minutes remaining. However, Sammon’s powerful spot-kick was brilliantly deflected onto the bar by the Argentinian shot-stopper to consign Nigel Clough’s side to a first home defeat of 2013. Palace manager Ian Holloway received a welcome boost with Wilfred Zaha, on loan from Manchester United after joining the Premier League leaders in January, returning from a dead leg that had kept him out of Saturday’s defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. The returning forward had to wait just five minutes for his first opportunity - a long ball upfield was flicked on by Glenn Murray and Zaha’s change of pace allowed him to sear in behind the Derby backline, only to then shoot straight at Adam Legzdins. Palace were enjoying the better of the opening exchanges and Murray’s lay-off for Stephen Dobbie might have brought the opening goal had the former West Brom man’s 20-yard shot not deflected into the side-netting. The breakthrough came in the 13th minute in freak circumstances. Eagles skipper Jedinak won a thunderous challenge inside his own half and the ball went flying up field to Bolasie, who took full advantage of Derby’s AWOL backline to coolly round the keeper and fire home. Palace might have had a second three minutes later when Jedinak’s 25-yard thunderbolt cannoned off the crossbar, while at the other end only the excellent Damien Delaney’s last-ditch challenge prevented Sammon going clean through on goal. Derby began to play their way into the game; Jamie Ward had a volleyed effort parried behind by Speroni, before John Brayford’s low cross was only half-cleared to Craig Bryson, who shot straight at the veteran keeper. A delightful one-two between Paul Coutts and Chris Martin put the former clear down the right, and after his low cross had deflected towards the penalty spot Norwich loanee Martin drew a good save from Speroni. A quick visiting counter attack five minutes before half-time saw Bolasie play in Dobbie, but the Scot sliced his shot wide. Another swift break saw Bryson deny Bolasie a second when he headed the Frenchman’s 44th-minute effort off the line with Legzdins in no-man’s land. Derby were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in first-half stoppage time when Peter Ramage appeared to haul Martin down inside the box, but Sammon should have levelled seven minutes after the break when Martin’s clever overhead kick played Michael Jacobs in down the left channel and the substitute squared to the Irishman, only for Speroni to smother his effort after the former Wigan forward hesitated. Legzdins did well to deny the visitors a second goal after 65 minutes when he brilliantly tipped Jonathan Williams’ 20-yard effort over the bar, after the substitute had gone on a dazzling run from the halfway line. Derby were enjoying the better of the second half, but when the ball dropped to Jacobs unmarked 12 yards out he wastefully dragged his volley wide. The hosts were struggling to fashion clear-cut opportunities, but Speroni had to be alert to push away Richard Keogh’s low drive from the edge of the box, before Sammon’s penalty woe capped a miserable night for the home fans.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Match Report: Charlton 0-2 Nottingham Forest

Radoslaw Majewski and Henri Lansbury were on target as Nottingham Forest swept aside 10-man Charlton 2-0. New Forest boss Billy Davies this week called on his two midfielders to chip in with more goals after both broke their ducks in Tuesday's 6-1 drubbing of Huddersfield. And they were clearly paying attention as Polish midfielder Majewski, who had not found the net in his first 20 games, made it four in two matches while Lansbury doubled his tally for the campaign. Davies can now boast a draw and two wins from his first three games since returning to the City Ground, with his in-form side moving ominously towards the play-off places. Charlton were already up against it but Yann Kermorgant did them no favours by getting himself sent off for clashing with Greg Halford in the 37th minute. The French striker aimed a kick at Forest defender Halford off the ball and, after consulting with his assistant, referee Andrew Madley showed him a straight red card. Charlton made it to the break all-square but lasted just eight minutes of the second half before Majewski struck. Reid found the Pole in the area and, although his touch appeared heavy, it took him past a couple of defenders before he prodded the ball past Hamer. Lansbury then had a shot deflected narrowly wide, but the former Arsenal midfielder's luck was in on the hour mark. Hamer badly fumbled a weak shot from Simon Cox and Lansbury was gifted a tap-in from inside the six-yard box. It was almost 3-0 moments later but Hamer managed to scramble Elliott Ward's flick against a post, before Majewski wasted another good chance when he blasted over the top again.

Match Report: Blackburn 0-0 Leeds

Blackburn and Leeds played out an uneventful goalless draw at Ewood Park - a result that does little for either side's npower Championship play-off hopes. Leeds pinned the hosts into their own half for much of the early action but the only save of note in the opening 45 minutes came when Paddy Kenny denied Rovers forward Colin Kazim-Richards. Ross McCormack wasted Leeds' best chance shortly after half-time while Blackburn's top scorer Jordan Rhodes brought Ewood Park to its feet with a shot into the side netting. Rovers returned to their miserly defensive ways following Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at Hull to keep a fifth clean sheet in nine games under Michael Appleton but strike pairing Rhodes and DJ Campbell were badly starved of service. It was a similar story for Leeds, whose attacks lacked the bite given to them by Luciano Becchio before his deadline day move to Norwich. If Middlesbrough beat Millwall in this evening's late kick-off, Neil Warnock's Whites will lie eight points shy of the top six with 13 games to play - one more than Boro - and a point ahead of Blackburn, who also hold a game in hand.

Match Report: Brighton 1-0 Burnley

Brighton boosted their Championship promotion chances as a goal from David Lopez secured a 1-0 victory over Burnley at the AMEX Stadium. Wayne Bridge's cross from the left was flicked on towards the back post by Andrea Orlandi where Lopez volleyed home , with poor marking from the visitors contributing to their problems. The game had begun brightly enough but was short on clearcut chances, although Brighton keeper Tomasz Kuszczak was forced to tip a Junior Stanislas ball over the bar. Orlandi then headed a whipped corner from Vicente over at the other end before the hosts took the lead. Burnley rallied and Jason Shackell twice went close to grabbing an equaliser. His goalbound header was cleared off the line by Albion midfielder Gary Dicker, before Kuszczak pulled off a superb save with the ball heading for the bottom corner from Dicker's second effort. Grant McCann hit a half-volley over in the closing stages and Dean Marney shot wide after Danny Ings crossed from the byline. But Gus Poyet's side held out as they moved back into the play-off places.

Match Report: Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Crystal Palace

Sheffield Wednesday made two changes for the visit of Crystal Palace to Hillsborough in the Championship. Wednesday made two changes from the side which drew 0-0 at Birmingham in midweek. In came captain Anthony Gardner and Kieran Lee for Martin Taylor and Jeremy Helan who dropped to the bench. There was no place for Manchester United-bound Wilfried Zaha, the £15m winger ruled out for the visitors with a dead leg. The Owls came close to opening the scoring on 21 minutes, Kieran Lee’s right-wing cross picking out Leroy Lita but his header was too close to goalkeeper Julian Speroni. Lewis Buxton and David Prutton also had long-range efforts that flew over the crossbar. Lee’s volley, from Michail Antonio’s back-post cross, was blocked in a packed Palace box and Connor Wickham was unable to react quick enough to stab home the loose ball. At the other end, David Prutton was left winded after throwing himself in front of Scott Dobbie’s 25-yard drive. Dobbie forced Chris Kirkland into a fine save at his near post at the start of the second half, before Buxton threw himself in front of Glenn Murray’s effort. Dave Jones introduced Jeremy Helan and Gary Madine as substitutes to try and force a goal, but Palace broke away and Yannick Bolasie toe-poked an effort which Kirkland did well to save one-handed. But the Owls finally broke the deadlock in the 80th minutes, Antonio’s cross picking out Lita whose header crashed into the net off the underside of the bar. And Lita should have wrapped up victory in stoppage time when Madine sent him scampering away, but he could not beat Speroni in a one-on-one.

Match Report: Watford 2-1 Derby

Watford sit second in the Championship tonight after Matej Vydra’s 20th league goal of the season and Joel Ekstrand's first for the Hornets helped them battle to a 2-1 victory over Derby County at Vicarage Road. Alex Geijo, Joel Ekstrand and Ikechi Anya could, and probably should, have put Watford at least a goal in front before Vyrdra showed them how it should be done with an exquisite finish to make it 1-0 after 35 minutes. It looked the Hornets had made the game safe midway through the second half when Joel Ekstrand bundled in an Almen Abdi corner to score his first goal in yellow. Although Jamie Ward halved the deficit from the penalty spot five minutes later, Gianfranco Zola’s men held for the three points on a day when promotion rivals Hull City and Crystal Palace were both beaten and Leicester City could only draw. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but the Hornets once again showed the ability to grind it and leave their automatic promotion fate in their own hands with 12 games to go and leave them five points behind leaders Cardiff City. Like for the 2-0 win at Ipswich Town on Tuesday night, Zola opted to make three changes as his side sought to go through a calendar month unbeaten for the first time this season.Cristian Battocchio came in for Jonathan Hogg in midfield, Vydra returned for Fernando Forestieri, while Geijo started a game for the first time since the 2-0 defeat at Bristol City as Troy Deeney was rested to the bench. This meant the Hornets strikers started a match together for the first time since the 6-1 victory at Leeds United in November. Nigel Clough made just the one change to the side that drew 1-1 against Bolton Wanderers last time out, with Ben Davies replacing Kieron Freeman at right-back. The Hornets were quickly out of the traps and missed a great opportunity to take the lead in the sixth minute. Vydra showed superb strength and tenacity to get in between the Rams’ central defensive pairing of Richard Keogh and John Brayford and squeeze in a shot which keeper Adam Legzdins was quickly off his line to block. However, the ball ran to Geijo on the edge of the area and he tried to steer it into the unguarded net with a cushioned right-footed half-volley, only to slice it wide. Another chance came the hosts’ way soon after when Anya’s cross from the left reached Marco Cassetti on the opposite side of the area and he struck a powerful shot which the keeper managed to parry out to safety. Derby had been on the back foot in their opening stages but they carved out their first opening in the tenth minute when Jeff Hendrick found Ward on the right side of the area and he came back inside on his left foot before curling a shot wide of Manuel Almunia’s right-hand post. It took a superb challenge from Keogh to prevent Vydra having a clear run on goal after almost being picked out by Geijo’s pass. The Hornets then got a little sloppy though, and were perhaps fortunate not to be punished when a Michael Jacobs shot was partially blocked and almost broke to one of three unmarked team-mates but Almunia was able to save. After the game had gone through a quiet spell, Anya injected some life into it when he showed superb skill down the left, including a lovely flick over his own head, to break into the area. Although he was unable to pick a team-mate out with his low centre, Watford kept the attack going, which reached its next stage with Geijo setting up Vydra for a right-footed strike which was deflected behind. Almen Abdi took the set-piece from the right and his delivery was allowed to bounce in the area and run to Ekstrand who, from six yards out, blasted horribly over the top when he should at least have hit the target. That was a bad miss by the hosts and another one was to follow in the 33rd minute. It started when Geijo received the ball near halfway with his back to goal, he turned it around the corner to Vydra, who managed to get in ahead of the Derby backline and then sprinted clear. It was perhaps a surprise the Hornets top scorer did not go it alone but he unselfishly squared to Anya, who contrived to miss a largely unguarded net from six yards out. The Hornets had not been playing that well but could quite easily have been 3-0 up. But they were not to be so wasteful with their next opportunity in the 35th minute when the home side’s striking ace reached a significant landmark. Again Geijo was the creator, again finding Vydra, who sprinted clear from around 40 yards out before hitting a lovely low right-footed finish from 18 yards which rebounded off the inside of Legzdins’ near post and rolled across the line before nestling in the opposite corner of the net to make it 1-0 with his 20th league goal of the campaign. Having taken the lead, the Hornets suffered a serious blow two minutes before the break when Nyron Nosworthy played his keeper into trouble near the right side of the penalty and after tangling with Ward, Almunia went down holding his left hamstring. The former Arsenal stopper tried to continue after receiving treatment but after catching one ball, he immediately threw it into touch and signalled to the bench that he could not continue. Jonathan Bond came on and was soon involved in the action, making a confidence-boosting solid save to hold on to Craig Bryson’s effort from the right side of the area. Ben Davies became the first player to be booked in first-half stoppage time after scything down Vydra. Abdi’s resultant free-kick from left of centre around 22 yards couldn’t beat the wall but the ball broke for Anya, whose right-footed strike from the edge of the area was fumbled back into the box by Legzdins before the ball was hacked to safety. Clough made a double change at the start of the second half, with Jake Buxton coming on for Michael Hoganson and new signing Chris Martin replacing Jacobs. Conor Sammon hit an early shot wide after the restart and then Bryson saw an effort blocked around five minutes later as the Hornets found attacking opportunities hard to come by in the early stages after the resumption. Watford’s first effort of the second period came in the 56th minute when, following a throw-in from the left, a Geijo back heel released Abdi on the left side of the area and he tried to catch Legzdins out with a toe-poke towards the near post but the keeper was not deceived. Ward then saw yellow after leaving Anya in heap but as the half progressed, the Hornets were still struggling to get going and while not living dangerously, they weren’t making the game too comfortable for themselves either. But that was to all change in the 68th minute. Cassetti tried an ambitious shot from a tight angle on the right side of the area following a deep Vydra cross which was deflected behind. Abdi took the set piece from the right and Ekstrand went to connect with his head, the ball appeared to strike his chest but it was still enough to take it past Legzdins and make it 2-0. Within five minutes though, Derby were given hope when referee Mark Haywood awarded them what looked a soft penalty for an apparent push at a corner but Ward made no mistake, slamming the shot down the centre of the goal to bring it back to 2-1. Just prior to that goal, Mason Bennett had replaced Sammon and then after the spot-kick Zola made his first change as Hogg came on for Geijo. The Hornets could have made the points safe with 11 minutes left when Anya was sent racing clear on the left but he failed to pick out Vydra after squaring across the area. However, Vydra managed to win it back and after poleaxing Keogh with one shot, Battocchio then tried a curler from the edge of the box which wasn’t too far wide. By the same token though, Derby were inches away from levelling when Ward slid in and only just failed to connect in the six-yard box with a Paul Coutts delivery which was fizzed in low from the right. Watford wasted another great counter-attacking opportunity with three minutes later when Abdi sent Hogg away into space down the left, he squared for Vydra, but the Czech international’s first touch was poor and the chance went begging. Vydra was replaced by Deeney for the closing stages but the Hornets were able to play most of the three minutes of injury time in the opposition half to make it three wins in succession and 13 points out of a possible in a very successful February.

Match Report; Bolton 4 -1 Hull

Hull dropped out of the automatic promotion places in the Championship after an early three-goal blitz from Bolton earned the hosts a 4-1 win at the Reebok Stadium. Darren Pratley grabbed the opener from close range, powering home a header after Chung-Yong Lee had picked him out with the cross . Lee was also involved in the next goal, the South Korea international playing the ball back to Mark Davies under pressure and he fired home from 20 yards, despite Tigers keeper David Stockdale getting a hand to the ball . Craig Dawson then made it 3-0 after just eight minutes, with the defender powering home a header despite the visitors' desperate attempts to scramble the ball off the line. Steve Bruce's side slowly improved after the break and manager's son Alex nodded a close-range header past the post after he had latched onto a Robbie Brady free-kick. Republic of Ireland international Brady then pulled a goal back midway through the second half with a whipped free-kick that went through the wall and found the bottom corner . But that proved to be brief respite for the visitors, with Dawson scoring his second of the afternoon as he flicked home via the post after latching onto Marcos Alonso's mishit shot .

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Leicester Land Spurs Striker

Harry Kane has joined Championship promotion contenders Leicester City on loan until the end of the season at the same time as penning a new Spurs contract until 2017. It will be the second Championship loan of the 19-year-old striker’s career so far after he spent a successful spell at Millwall last campaign. England Under-19 international Kane also had a spell at Norwich earlier this season but was troubled by injuries. He goes straight into Leicester’s squad for their match against Blackpool on Saturday.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Ipswich 0-2 Watford

Watford kept the pressure on the Championship's top two with victory over strugglers Ipswich Town. Jonathan Hogg struck the Ipswich bar before Ikechi Anya finished a tidy move to give the visitors the lead. Town dug in and saw Michael Chopra's overhead kick saved before Tommy Smith had an effort ruled out for offside. The hosts continued to increase their foothold in the game but Nathaniel Chalobah's burst forward and finish was enough to see the Hornets home. Watford, chasing a return to the Premier League after a six-year absence, occasionally produced the slick passing and composure that has seen them win seven of their last 10 league games, while Town, unable to match their hosts for quality, displayed the grit and determination required for a Championship relegation fight.

Hull 2-0 Blackburn

Egyptian duo Gedo and Ahmed Elmohamady both struck as Hull City strengthened their automatic promotion charge against Blackburn Rovers. Gedo broke the deadlock by side-footing home Stephen Quinn's cross, his third goal in four games since signing on loan from Al Ahly. And Elmohamady sealed the points with a well-executed volley which gave Rovers keeper Jake Kean little chance. Blackburn's DJ Campbell mis-controlled from a great scoring position.Hull have won four of the last five league games and in Gedo and Elmohamady have found a potent scoring combination. Blackburn would have suffered a heavier defeat but for 22-year-old Kean, who produced excellent saves to deny David Meyler and Gedo before the latter scored in the 52nd minute. Robert Brady's corner fell to Stephen Quinn, whose fine cross into the middle allowed Gedo to side-foot back into the net. The busy Kean then produced another fine stop to deny Jack Hobbs from a corner before Hull establish added a second in the 67th minute. Brady's cross to the back post found Elmohamady who lashed the ball home first time to condemn Rovers to a first Championship defeat since 19 January.

Derby 1-1 Bolton

Jamie Ward's 10th goal of the season earned Derby a draw against Bolton. The striker tucked in a header from Michael Jacobs's cross nine minutes from time to bring the Rams level. It followed Richard Keogh's first-half own goal after he glanced in Jay Spearing's free-kick. Adam Bogdan saved Theo Robinson's close-range header late on as Derby secured a third draw in four matches with Bolton still searching for their first away win since November. Derby have won just one of their last seven Championship matches but Craig Bryson was close to putting them in front when he was off-target following Paul Coutts's cross.Bolton made the breakthrough in added time at the end of the first half when Spearing's inswinging free-kick from the right grazed the head of Keogh and the ball flew past the helpless Adam Legzdins. Bolton keeper Bogdan was called into action for the first time just before the hour mark. The Hungarian kept out Coutts's volley with a strong one-handed save low to his left.Bolton made the breakthrough in added time at the end of the first half when Spearing's inswinging free-kick from the right grazed the head of Keogh and the ball flew past the helpless Adam Legzdins. Bolton keeper Bogdan was called into action for the first time just before the hour mark. The Hungarian kept out Coutts's volley with a strong one-handed save low to his left.

Cardiff 0-2 Brighton

Cardiff City's lead at the top of the Championship is down to five points after Brighton's hard-earned 2-0 win. Midfielder Andrea Orlandi struck just before the interval to give the Seagulls a 1-0 half-time lead. Brighton's former Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak produced a string of good saves in the first half. And Leonardo Ulloa scored a deflected goal in second-half added time to seal the victory for Brighton and boost their play-off bid.With main rivals Hull and Watford both winning, it was bad news all around for Cardiff manager Malky Mackay on his 41st birthday. Middlesbrough's draw at Burnley leaves Brighton two points outside the promotion play-off positions. Much of the pre-match publicity had surrounded the decision by Cardiff City's Malaysian owners to hand out red scarves to the Cardiff fans. But it was the points given away which will be of greater concern to the supporters, though they still have an eight-point cushion over Watford in the automatic promotion places. The Bluebirds went into the game unbeaten in nine matches, having won seven of those. And for much of the first half, they looked the more likely to take the lead as Brighton goalkeeper Kuszczak had to be on his toes to keep a clean sheet. Craig Noone had a chance in the 15th minute after a strong run by Andrew Taylor, but his delicate attempt was saved by the Pole.

Burnley 0-0 Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough's slump continued as they were held to a goalless draw at Burnley but Tony Mowbray's side remain in the play-off places in the Championship. Boro have won just once in the league in 2013 and needed some smart saves from goalkeeper Jason Steele to earn a point at Turf Moor. England Under-21 international Steele saved well from Charlie Austin and Dean Marney in the first half. Substitutes Mustapha Carayol and Curtis Main went close for Boro late on.Burnley, who are now seven points off the top six with a game in hand, saw Steele at full-stretch to turn Austin's first-time effort from the edge of the box behind in a bright start. Marney then saw his near-post header kept out by the alert Steele before Boro finally mounted some pressure after the break. Grant Leadbitter hit a low free-kick wide, Main put a snap-shot wide and Carayol gave Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant his first serious work of the evening in stoppage time with a swerving, dipping long-range strike that was tipped over. Boro are still in sixth place in the table, but are now just two points ahead of Brighton, who have a game in hand.

Birmingham 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Jack Butland's brilliant early save from defender Miguel Llera helped earn Birmingham a point against fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday. The England keeper, sold to Stoke last month but back at St Andrew's on loan until the summer, clawed out Llera's header from a Danny Pugh corner. Striker Nikola Zigic missed a great second-half chance for Blues. But neither side could break through, the draw ensuring both avoided slipping closer to the bottom three. Wednesday, who have lost only one of their last 11 league games, are two points clear of the drop zone. Butland's stop from Llera was crucial as Birmingham, who started and finished the night four points clear of the relegation zone, kept a first clean sheet in 18 league matches. But they might have been celebrating a victory had Zigic been more ruthless in front of goal.

Barnsley 2-1 Wolverhapton

David Flitcroft is targeting the teams above his Barnsley side after they moved out of the Championship relegation zone. The Reds overcame an early deficit thanks to second-half goals from Chris Dagnall and Jacob Mellis, which eclipsed Bjorn Sigurdarson's early strike and extended a remarkable run of form under Flitcroft. It was their eighth win out of nine and the sixth in a row in all competitions, and after looking dead and buried before Christmas Championship survival is now in their own hands. With the way they are playing 39-year-old Flitcroft, who has been in charge since mid-January, is eyeing a further rise up the table. "Getting out of the bottom three was the first objective I set," Flitcroft said. "Five or six wins on the spin and now we are out of it and we are looking up. "It is the teams above that start thinking they are safe around Christmas. "We have got the momentum. We keep applying more pressure on the bottom 10 and that is the aim."