Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Nugent returns to Haunt old Club

David Nugent scored against his former club as managerless Leicester ended their away-day hoodoo with a 3-1 victory at Burnley.Leicester were rewarded for their early intent, albeit through an unlikely source. With 20 minutes played Paul Konchesky, a summer signing from Liverpool, appeared on the left flank to seize a loose ball. He glanced up before scooping his shot against Lee Grant's fingertips and into the top corner.Burnley's response was immediate and when Sol Bamba's careless clearance bounced high and onto the head of Ross Wallace, he instinctively nodded the ball over Kasper Schmeichel and into the gaping net.It was former England cap Nugent, impressive throughout the first half, who had the visitors ahead in the 54th minute. Paul Gallagher stormed down the right wing before supplying a pinpoint cross for Nugent to head home gracefully from close range.The provider turned scorer eight minutes later. Referee Geoff Eltringham adjudged Andre Amougou to have body-checked Andy King in the penalty area, with Gallagher on hand to confidently power home the resulting spot-kick.

Palace Extend Unbeaten Run

Crystal Palace extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches after being held to a goalless draw by Portsmouth at Selhurst Park.The result left Portsmouth still looking for their first away victory in the npower Championship this season and they shaded a game of few chances.Portsmouth defender Ricardo Rocha did well to block a shot from Nathaniel Clyne before the visitors took control and Jason Pearce hit the crossbar with a header.Neither side took control at the start of the second half but Portsmouth had a half-chance when Joel Ward mis-hit a cross which Speroni had to claw away and Palace cleared away the resulting corner.Liam Lawrence saw a free-kick deflected just over before Luke Varney got away down the right and Speroni came rushing off his line but the Pompey frontman failed to get the lift on his shot with the goal gaping.An evening of frustration got worse for Lawrence when he hobbled off late on to be replaced by Erik Huseklepp and Palace pushed forward winning a succession of corners. However they could not make the breakthrough and had to settle for a point and a sixth consecutive clean sheet.

Bristol City hold Hammers

West Ham lost further ground to npower Championship leaders Southampton after drawing 0-0 against lowly Bristol City.Boss Sam Allardyce has this week brushed off criticism of his side's style of play, claiming teams that gain promotion need to know how to win ugly.But a stalemate at home to the side who kicked off propping up the division will be hard to stomach for the second-placed Hammers.In fairness they would surely have won at a canter had Frederic Piquionne's radar not deserted him in front of goal, while Kevin Nolan was twice denied by David James and Freddie Sears was a whisker away when he rattled a post.But City, full of confidence after a first win under new boss Derek McInnes on Saturday, were themselves a threat on the break and also hit the woodwork.
Julien Faubert and substitute Carlton Cole both missed late chances in a frantic finish, and Yannick Bolasie fired narrowly wide in the 89th minute as the Robins claimed a morale-boosting point.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Seagulls suffer Hammers blow

Brighton's early-season pace-setters have, by contrast, tumbled down the table after their winless run was extended to seven games.
The Seagulls could count themselves unfortunate, though, having created a host of chances to cancel out Nolan's 17th-minute strike. And they were architects of their own downfall after a bad mistake from Liam Bridcutt gifted West Ham what proved to be the winner.
Brighton manager Gus Poyet likes his team to play the ball out from the back, but not when they end up handing it on a plate to a player of Nolan's ability on the edge of the area. Bridcutt's heavy touch allowed the midfielder to nick the ball off him, stride forward and lash his shot past his old Newcastle team-mate Steve Harper.
Veteran keeper Harper had only joined Brighton on loan a few hours earlier and obviously did not have time to get his bearings, standing far too close to his near post and offering Nolan the rest of the goal to aim at.
Sam Allardyce's side had to see out eight minutes of stoppage time, following a nasty injury to Brighton's Gary Dicker.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Match Report: Brighton 0-0 Hull City

Brighton's winless run extended to a sixth game after they were held to a goalless draw by a resilient Hull.
The stalemate was far from dull, however, and the scoreline might well have been in double figures if not for the remarkable work of goalkeepers Casper Ankergren and Adriano Basso.Nigel Pearson's Tigers can now celebrate a run of seven games without loss in the Championship after an indifferent start to the season.In the early stages, Matt Fryatt's weighted drive was deflected away from danger by a brave Lewis Dunk. Then Craig Mackail-Smith, with five league goals to his name going into the clash, forced Basso to tip a fizzing shot round the post shortly before the half-hour mark.Aaron Mclean emerged as an attacking outlet for the Tigers in the 64th minute, arriving on the edge of the area to force a strong block from Ankergren, before reclaiming possession and stinging the Danish goalkeeper's palms with a fierce strike.The pressure increased on the visitors when Mackail-Smith forced Basso to punch the ball over his crossbar with five minutes remaining, with Dunk again appearing to block a late Mclean drive, but the points were shared.

West Ham Hammer Blackpool

Three goals in eight second-half minutes ensured a resounding 4-0 victory for West Ham as Blackpool's defence endured a torrid time.John Carew set the Hammers on their way with a 12th-minute header and Blackpool collapsed after the break as a Sam Baldock double and Jack Collison's strike completed the rout.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce had spoken during the week of his bitterness at being dismissed by Blackpool after leading them to the brink of promotion in 1996 and he gained some revenge with a dominant display at Upton Park.Blackpool had gone into the game high on confidence after winning 5-0 last time out and they actually looked the better team until West Ham opened the scoring.The Hammers needed just two minutes of the second half to double their lead as Matthew Taylor's header put Baldock clean through, and the striker held his nerve to slot coolly past Matthew Gilks.It was all over four minutes later and Matthew Hill was at fault as the ball was allowed to bounce in the area before Carew flicked the ball over Gilks and Baldock tapped in on the line. Collison then grabbed the fourth with a deflected volley.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Former England Manager to Quit Forest

Steve McClaren is considering walking away from Nottingham Forest, just three months after returning to English football.
McClaren could quit the City Ground after running out of patience with Forest’s lack of ambition under chairman Nigel Doughty.
Forest have offloaded nine players this summer and paid out only £2million on signings, leaving a distraught McClaren facing an uncertain future.
Former England manager McClaren is taking a few days to consider his options and is thought to be disappointed and frustrated at the lack of further additions, as he believes he is short of what is required to take the club to promotion.

Beckford Joins Leicester City

Beckford arrives to seal move
Leicester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson landed his man last night with the £4.5million capture of Everton striker Jermaine Beckford.Beckford becomes City's 12th signing under the former England boss and takes Eriksson's spending near to the £15m mark.The 26-year-old forward arrived at the King Power Stadium just 40 minutes before last night's 11pm transfer window deadline to complete the formalities of his switch to City.
Eriksson said: "He is a goalscorer, you just have to look at his record. We have always said we will take in a striker or wide player."Beckford, who signed a four-year deal that was confirmed by City just before midnight, said: "The size of the club attracted me as well as the manager and what he wants to achieve here at Leicester, and I see the club going places. We will go for the title."It was very difficult to turn it down and it will be very exciting to work with Sven, I can't wait to get started."Beckford admitted it was a "wrench" to leave Everton but said he has done it to "play more games and score more goals."

City had made an earlier bid for Beckford, believed to be around £2.5m, and pitched in again after finally giving up on Bristol City striker and long-time target Nicky Maynard.

Everton have signed striker Denis Stracqualursi – who had a trial at Leicester earlier this year without Eriksson pursuing the matter – on a season-long loan from Argentinian side Tigre, as well as Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe, which has convinced Toffees boss David Moyes it is right to sell Beckford.

The two clubs agreed a fee in the region of £4.5m earlier in the day and the Mercury understands that Beckford is not among the high earners at Goodison Park, so City were able to offer him an attractive package.

The big issue for City to overcome was persuading the former Leeds United player, who has spent the past four years aspiring to play in the Premier League, to drop down to the Championship – but Eriksson has won the battle.

Eriksson has finally landed the goalscoring striker he wants to end a protracted search which started in the summer.

He suffered frustrations along the way with targets Shane Long, then of Reading, opting to sign for West Brom, while Peterborough's Craig Mackail-Smith favoured a move to Championship newcomers Brighton. But Eriksson's focus had been on Maynard, making four bids for the 24-year-old striker, the last one understood to be in the region of £5m.

Bristol were not prepared to sell him and the player is holding out for a Premier League club move, possibly in January.

"I would guess it is over," said Eriksson earlier yesterday.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Brighton Land Major Transfer Coup

Brighton are poised to pull off a major coup on transfer deadline day with the "impact" signing of former Valencia and Spanish international star Vicente Rodrigues.The 30-year-old left winger is on the brink of teaming up with the table-topping Seagulls on a free transfer, subject to passing a medical.Albion expect to complete the deal today, although it does not have to be done before tonight's 11pm transfer window deadline since Vicente is a free agent.Vicente has been looking for a new club since Valencia released him at the end of last season after 11 years service.He won two La Liga titles with them under Rafael Benitez and the Copa del Rey and has been capped 38 times by Spain.Albion already have lots of competition in wide areas, provided by Craig Noone, Kazenga LuaLua and Will Buckley, but the chance to add Vicente to their Championship challenge was regarded as too good to miss.Although hit by recent injury problems, the former Levante wide man was twice targeted by Real Madrid earlier in his career.They made a bid of 36 million euros for Vicente, who was also linked in the summer with a move to Premier League Blackburn Rovers.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Max Gradel Leaves Leeds United

Leeds winger Max Gradel looks set to leave the club after French side St Etienne agreed a fee for his services.The Ligue 1 club announced the double swoop of Gradel and fellow winger Banel Nicolita on their website on Tuesday.
'ASSE has gone on the offensive,' a statement said. 'On Tuesday evening, agreements were reached for the arrivals of Romanian midfielder Banel Nicolita and Leeds striker Max-Alain Gradel.'Both players, who have been in the sights of St Etienne for several weeks, will on Wednesday undergo the traditional medical before completing the final terms of their contracts with ASSE.'Gradel, 23, was the club's player of the season last term after scoring 18 goals and making seven assists.The French club have not disclosed any details about the transfer fee, but said Gradel would undergo a medical on Wednesday before completing the deal.

The Ivory Coast international joined Leeds from Leicester in January 2010 after a successful loan spell.




Middlesbrough Bid £1M for Coentry's Lukas Jutkiewicz

Middlesbrough have made a £1million-plus bid for Lukas Jutkiewicz.Hard-up Sky Blues are already hoping to cash in on Ben Turner, who is wanted by Cardiff, before Wednesday night’s transfer window closes.And it remains to be seen if the club will resist such an offer for their highest-profile striker.The sale of the 22-year-old centre forward would certainly be a hammer blow to manager Andy Thorn, who has been desperately trying to draft in a replacement goal scorer for Marlon King all summer without success, and would leave him next to no time to recruit replacements.Cardiff have been trying to offload Jon ‘The Beast’ Parkin in a cash-plus-player deal – believed to be worth £750,000 – for Turner, although the big target man doesn’t seem to readily fit in with Thorn’s football philosophy.The City boss is also hoping the club shun any advances for Jutkiewicz who is the scorer of the Sky Blues' only two Championship goals so far this season, including the second half equaliser that earned a confidence-boosting point at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.But the forward would surely be keen on a move that would not only see him exchange Coventry’s survival battle for Boro’s promotion drive but earn him a hefty pay rise.Earlier this month, when Burnley expressed an interest, he declared: “It was nice to hear that they had put in an offer."It massages the ego a bit but I’ve been happy enough here and it’s up to Coventry to decide whether they want to sell me or not.“I’m Coventry’s player and they deemed that the bid put in was not acceptable to how they value me.”

Although already aware of his ability, Jutkiewicz will no doubt have caught Tony Mowbray’s eye when the Boro boss ran the rule over Coventry in their 0-0 draw with Watford at the Ricoh last week when the former Everton forward put in a typically industrious performance.

And if he needed further evidence of his ability, that was confirmed on Saturday when he headed home the goal to deny the manager’s side the full three points to take them to the top of the table.

Mowbray sat in front of reporters after the game and was asked if he is trying to do any business in the transfer market before the window closes on Wednesday.

The former Celtic and West Brom manager admitted that he is hoping to strengthen his forward line – where he currently only has seven-goal Marvin Emnes fit – with a couple of strikers, revealing that the club were “well down the line,” on a couple of deals, although there was no hint that Jutkiewicz was one of them.



Monday, 29 August 2011

Peterborough set to Complete Daniel Kearns Signing

Peterborough are poised to complete the capture of winger Daniel Kearns, according to his Irish club Dundalk.
Belfast-born Kearns, 20, started his career at West Ham before moving to Dundalk in August 2010 following his release at Upton Park.A statement on Dundalk's official website confirmed a deal had been agreed, adding the youngster will travel to London Road on Monday for a medical and to complete paperwork.Kearns himself told www.dundalkfc.com: "I'm delighted with it."It's a massive step for me. It's a massive opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it. And obviously I'm really looking forward to, hopefully, playing under Darren Ferguson, going in and getting a chance and showing him what I'm about."

Birmingham and Cardiff chase Ben Turner

Birmingham could be set to fight it out with Cardiff over the capture of Coventry defender Ben Turner ahead of Wednesday's transfer deadline.Turner was Coventry's stand-out performer over the opening months of last season before having to undergo a knee ligament operation which has sidelined him ever since.The Birmingham-born 23-year-old is now close to making his long-awaited return after the serious injury, but it could be that it does not come in the sky blue of Coventry.Cardiff are already in discussions with the cash-strapped club, with Bluebirds boss Malky Mackay telling the Western Mail: "It is something we are trying to get done and we are in talks with Coventry."The Welsh outfit have reportedly offered £750,000 as well as striker Jon Parkin in exchange for Turner, but their interest may well be rivalled by that of Birmingham, who have been monitoring the highly-rated centre-back for some time.Scott Dann appears likely to depart St Andrew's before Wednesday's deadline and some of the money gained would be ploughed back into a move for Turner, who came through the ranks at Coventry.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Match Report: Ipswich 2 Leeds 1

Late goals from substitute Jason Scotland and Keith Andrews helped Ipswich come from behind to beat 10-man Leeds at Portman Road.Ross McCormack headed the visitors into the lead during a first half they largely dominated.But Aidy White's dismissal for a professional foul on Jay Emmanuel-Thomas changed the balance of the game.With 13 minutes to go, Scotland fired in an equaliser from 25 yards before Andrews struck to win it for Town.The former Blackburn midfielder's late strike brought great cheer to the Ipswich fans, who had seen their side lose their previous four matches, including 7-1 and 5-2 losses to Peterborough and Southampton.However, it was cruel on Leeds, who had performed well in the first half and looked in control of the game until White's sending off in the 48th minute for fouling Emmanuel-Thomas as he bore down on goal.Prior to that, the visitors created a number of chances, with keeper David Stockdake saving well from McCormack and both Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel firing wide.It was no surprise when Scottish striker McCormack broke the deadlock, stealing in to convert a free header from Snodgrass's cross.But, after White's dismissal, the home side used their numerical advantage to come to the fore.United held out until the 77th minute, but they were powerless to prevent Scotland firing his side level with a sweetly-struck effort, five minutes after he had entered the fray.Gradel saw a penalty appeal turned down for the visitors and, with a point apiece looking the likely outcome, up stepped Andrews to drill a deflected effort into the net to send fans at Portman Road wild and consign Leeds to their worst start to a league campaign in 14 years.

Match Report: Portsmouth 1 Cardiff City 1

Kanu came off the bench to rescue a deserved point for Pompey against Cardiff.After a poor first half the Blues came alive and Greg Halford struck the post, before both the defender and Benjani had efforts cleared off the line.It looked like it was not going to be Pompey’s day when Andrew Taylor fired the Welsh visitors ahead with a neat finish.But Kanu met Tal Ben Haim’s cross 10 minutes from time to earn the draw that the Blues’ second-half display warranted.Steve Cotterill made two changes from the side that drew at Bristol City last week.Erik Huseklepp made his first start alongside Dave Kitson up front, while Joel Ward came in at right-back. Kanu and Aaron Mokoena dropped to the bench.Pompey’s new look strike partnership were lively in the early stages, although David Marshall remained untested in the Cardiff goal.But the Blues could have found themselves behind on 15 minutes when Darcy Blake turned in the box and fired a shot towards the top corner. Fortunately for the hosts, however, Jamie Ashdown managed to palm the ball onto the post.

At the other end, Pompey were still no closer to breaking the deadlock with Hayden Mullins volleying over from 30 yards.But the defence were doing their jobs and Jason Pearce continued his impressive start to his Blues career with a good tackle to dispossess Robert Earnshaw in the box.Cardiff were looking more dangerous as the half progressed, but Pompey almost took the lead with a fluke goal on 22 minutes.

Ward sent a cross into the box from wide on the right but the ball drifted, catching out Marshall and dipping onto the bar.However, it was still the visitors who were looking more likely to score and Ashdown was forced to come tearing off his line to deny Earnshaw.Luke Varney was not too far away for Pompey, turning and curling a shot narrowly over from just inside the box.But the Blues probably went in at the break happy to still be level after a disjointed first-half display.

Cotterill made a tactical switch at the start of the second half with Varney joining Kitson up front and Huseklepp going out to the left.And the Blues were inches away from opening the scoring on 49 minutes when Hayden Mullins was fouled 30 yards from goal.Lawrence laid the free-kick off to Halford, who launched a vicious strike that cannoned back off the post.The Fratton faithful were in no doubt about who they thought could make the difference, singing for Benjani as the Zimbabwean warmed up on the touchline. And Cotterill obliged on 61 minutes, bringing him on to replace Huseklepp.

Pompey were certainly looking brighter than before the break and were putting plenty of pressure on the Bluebirds back-line.Earnshaw was forced to clear Halford’s header off the line on 63 minutes. The ball came back into the box and after a mighty melee, some Blues players thought it had crossed the line – the referee, however, did not agree.Peter Whittingham then came to Cardiff’s rescue, somehow managing to clear Benjani’s close-range effort off the line.It looked to be only a matter of time until Pompey scored, but instead it was the visitors celebrating a goal on 71 minutes.Taylor burst forward from left-back, latched onto Craig Conway’s pass and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.

Ashdown then stopped the Blues from falling further behind by tearing off his line to block Earnshaw’s shot.

Cotterill brought on Kanu in place of Varney for the final 13 minutes as he tried to find a way back into the match for Pompey.

And it proved to be an inspired substitution as – three minutes later – Ben Haim swung a cross into the box and Kanu stooped to head home.

It could have got even better for the Blues in stoppage time, but Kitson twice had shots blocked in the box.

Match Report: Millwall 0 Barnsley 0

Josh McQuoid had the best chance as Millwall endured a frustrating afternoon at The Den as they were held to a goalless draw by Barnsley.

The Lions dominated the possession from the off and their best chance came with 15 minutes gone when McQuoid somehow managed to fire wide from two yards out.Jimmy Abdou also had a shot saved by Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele and in the second half Paul Robinson just failed to get a telling touch on Hameur Bouazza's free-kick.Barnsley lacked any real ambition but managed to hold on for a point to build on their first win of the season at Reading last weekend.

Match Report: Middlesborough 1 Coventry 1

A Lukas Jutkiewicz header 14 minutes from time rescued a 1-1 draw for Coventry against Middlesbrough at the Riverside.The Sky Blues remain winless this season but will be buoyed by the result against early pacesetters Boro.Marvin Emnes' first-half strike looked enough to give the home side all three points and six consecutive victories for the first time since 1995.Coventry defender Chris Hussey tried to clear but could only divert the ball into the path of the Dutchman, who finished clinically for his seventh goal of the season.But Jutkiewicz levelled when Hussey's dangerous cross landed at the feet of Roy O'Donovan. His shot was parried by Carl Ikeme but the ball fell to Jutkiewicz who headed the rebound in off the underside of the crossbar.Boro substitute Faris Haroun missed a golden chance to score the winner in the final seconds. He rose high and cannoned a header against the crossbar.

Match Report:Hull City 1 Reading 0

Robbie Brady's strike ended Hull's long wait for a home goal and victory as they beat Reading 1-0 in the npower Championship.The hosts drew a blank in their opening three home matches in league and cup but finally laid that ghost to rest with a battling performance at the KC Stadium.Aaron McLean saw his early shot blocked and Brady's effort was gathered by Adam Federici as Hull pressed.Reading had a chance to test City's defence midway through the half but the usually reliable Ian Harte lifted his free-kick over everyone and out of play.The Tigers continued to press after the break and the industrious Matt Fryatt saw another powerful right-footed effort turned behind by Federici, who then punched Tom Cairney's inswinging corner clear.They then seized the advantage in the 73rd minute when Brady drilled in from 25 yards, a goal which the Royals had no response to.

Match Report: Doncaster 1 Bristol City 1

James Hayter atoned for his second-half penalty miss by scoring the goal that earned Doncaster their first point of the season in a 1-1 draw with Bristol City.After a dismal start to the campaign, Albert Adomah poured more misery on Sean O'Driscoll's beleaguered Rovers by netting on the stroke of half-time.And, to the despair of the home fans, Hayter then blasted wide from the spot after Kyle Bennett was fouled in the box.But, after pressing for an equaliser, Doncaster got it as Hayter turned the hero when he rose to head home Milan Lalkovic's cross.Doncaster headed into the game as the npower Championship's bottom side, pointless and having lost five of their last six games in all competitions.

Match Report: Derby 1 Burnley 2

Charlie Austin struck twice in a 2-1 win to give Burnley their first npower Championship victory of the season and end Derby's 100 per cent start in the league.Burnley took the lead in the 49th minute when Treacy got to the byline and cut the ball back for Austin, who steadied himself with a touch before firing past Frank Fielding from six yards out.Clough's side came close to an equalising goal on two occasions. Ben Davies beat Jensen with a 10-yard shot but the ball was cleared off the line by Ben Mee. Davies was involved again shortly afterwards when his inswinging corner eluded everyone in the box and had to be hacked off the line once more by a Burnley defender.The Clarets then went straight down the other end and Treacy hit the crossbar with a shot from near the penalty spot on the hour.Burnley had not kept a clean sheet in the league for 15 matches and some sloppy defending midway through the second half ensured that was extended to 16 games. Bryson got to the byline after collecting the ball from John Brayford's throw-in and his driven cross was poked home by Robinson from inside the six-yard area.However, the Rams were not level for long. A long-range shot from Wallace was not properly dealt with by Fielding, who could only push the ball back out to Austin and he bagged his second goal off the game.

Match Report: Brighton 2 Peterborough 0

Stunning goals in each half from Craig Noone and Ryan Harley fired Brighton to the top of the npower Championship as they beat Peterborough 2-0.Brighton should have taken the lead in the seventh minute when Noone escaped down the left and pulled the ball back for Ashley Barnes on the penalty spot, but the striker missed the target.But three minutes later the hosts made the breakthrough they had been threatening. Noone collected a miskick from Peterborough goalkeeper Paul Jones and was allowed to move inside, shift the ball to his left foot and crash a low drive into the corner of the net from 20 yards.Peterborough almost drew level barely 10 seconds after the break when Paul Taylor put Lee Frecklington through to round Casper Ankergren but his shot was cleared off the line by Inigo Calderon.The second goal came in the 64th minute when Tommy Rowe fouled Ashley Barnes 30 yards out and Harley stepped up to curl a stunning free-kick past Jones and into the top corner.Peterborough's best opportunity of the second half fell to Rowe but his shot rolled past the post and with it went the visitors' chances of getting back into the game.

Match Report: Leicester City 3 Southampton 2

Rickie Lambert's controversial own goal proved decisive as Leicester claimed three much-needed points in a 3-2 win against Southampton.The Foxes were promotion favourites at the start of the season after making several acquisitions but it was Southampton who led the pack going into the game having won their first four matches. That made for an entertaining afternoon at the King Power Stadium, with the hosts finding themselves 2-0 up in the early stages through goals from Darius Vassell and Richie Wellens.Andy King was the orchestrator for the first, capitalising on being afforded too much space to send in a delicious centre, which Vassell nudged past Kelvin Davis and into the net.Jeffery Schlupp, looking a constant threat after replacing the injured David Nugent, held the ball up brilliantly before teeing up Wellens, who struck a gorgeous curler off the inside of the post from 25 yards for the second.Dan Harding pulled a goal back for Saints, nodding in Adam Lallana's cross, before the defining moment came just before the break when Lambert headed past his own goalkeeper. The goal was given, much to the visitors' dismay, despite Sol Bamba appearing to push the Saints striker.David Connolly then pulled another goal back for Nigel Adkins' men after the break - another header - but it proved in vain as Leicester claimed the points.

Match Report: Crystal Palace 1 Blackpool 1

Crystal Palace substitute Glenn Murray struck a second-half equaliser to deny Blackpool victory in their npower Championship match at Selhurst Park.Blackpool went close inside the third minute when veteran striker Brett Ormerod hit a 12-yard shot which drew a fine parried save from Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.Darren Ambrose then fired over from distance for Crystal Palace before Baptiste opened the scoring four minutes before the break when he swept home a right-footed shot from six yards after connecting sweetly with Barry Ferguson's cross.In the 67th minute, veteran Blackpool striker Kevin Phillips produced a weak shot from 12 yards when he should have done better and Palace's Dean Moxey then hit the bar from distance.Murray then entered the action and soon had a header saved by Gilks before he equalised in the 79th minute. Moxey crossed from the left flank and Murray arrived to sweep the ball home right-footed.Blackpool midfielder Keith Southern and Murray then both went close from distance but neither side could find a winner.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

West Ham 1 Aldershot 2

Danny Hylton's 89th-minute winner sent 10-man West Ham crashing out of the Carling Cup and put League Two side Aldershot into the second round.The Hammers led through a curling shot from Junior Stanislas but had debutant Callum McNaughton sent off for a professional foul after the break.That changed the game and Luke Guttridge equalised from close range after Ruud Boffin denied Alex Rodman.Hylton snatched victory from 12 yards out after a goalmouth scramble.That gave Aldershot their first win in this competition since the club reformed in 1992 and returned to the Football League in 2008.Holdsworth considers Sam Allardyce his mentor after playing under him at Bolton for four yearsBut for the third time this season West Ham were left to rue conceding an important late goal at Upton Park.Hammers boss Sam Allardyce made nine changes from the team that were held at home by Leeds in the Championship on Sunday and initially his side struggled to settle.It took took a superb save from Boffin to deny Jake Taylor when he ran through but West Ham weathered the storm and took the lead with a strike of real quality from Stanislas.The Shots were given hope when McNaughton scythed down Hylton after 47 minutes.And Dean Holdsworth's side piled on the pressure before Guttridge pounced to level with 12 minutes to go, reacting quickly after Boffin blocked Rodman's shot.

With West Ham hanging on, Michael Rankine and Jermaine McGlashan went close to winning it for Aldershot before Hylton found the bottom corner with a low angled shot.

Matt Taylor came close to equalising in stoppage time but could only fire into the side netting after latching on to a flick.

Ipswich Capture Sonko

Ipswich Town are set to sign former Reading defender Ibrahima Sonko on a free transfer.

Sonko has been looking for a new club since leaving Stoke Cityat the end of last season and he rejected a move to Greek side PAOK earlier in the summer.

He had been training with his old side Reading in pre-season, but Royals boss Brian McDermott revealed the centre-half turned down the club's contract offer.

The 30-year-old now looks poised to join the Royals' Championship rivals Ipswich after playing for the reserves in a behind-closed-doors game on Tuesday.

Ipswich boss Paul Jewell is anxious to improve his defensive options and is ready to add Sonko to his Portman Road squad.

Jewell is also in the market for a Premier League centre-half, and has been linked with West Brom's Pablo Ibanez and Aston Villa's Shane Lowry

Southampton Sign Bristol City's Fontaine in £1m Deal

Southampton have agreed a fee with Bristol City for centre half Liam Fontaine.

An initial bid worth £400,000 was turned down on Monday, but Saints returned yesterday with an improved offer, which was enough to tempt the City board into selling.

The club will reportedly pay £800,000 up front, with potential add-ons taking the fee beyond the £1m mark.

Fontaine, who had expressed his desire to talk to Southampton, travelled south last night to discuss personal terms.

The 25-year-old, who has been troubled with an ankle problem, must now complete a medical before his switch to St Mary's can be finalised.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Match Report: Millwall 2 Peterborough 2

Two goals in four frenetic minutes by Lee Frecklington and Paul Taylor left The Lions wondering what might have been as Kenny Jackett's side surrendered a 2-0 lead to let Peterborough United secure a share of the spoils in a pulsating Den encounter.There was plenty of thrills and spills in this four-goal feast, yet for the second time this season Millwall let their grip on a seemingly match-winning position slip.It was a night of mixed emotions for Lions boss Jackett, who had some positives to take from this performance - namely midfielders Liam Trotter and Hamer Bouazza getting on the scoresheet, the oustanding contribution of Jimmy Abdou in the engineroom and the immense display of skipper Paul Robinson at the back.
But the manner in which The Lions took their foot off the gas and subsequently let a 2-0 lead slip will be of some concern and immense frustration.It's fair to say that Posh owed a huge debt of gratitude to keeper Paul Jones to even be in a position to claw their way back into the game, with the former Exeter City stopper making a string of top drawer saves.However, that should not take away from the fact that The Lions relaxed, enabling Darren Ferguson's side to haul their way back to level terms and secure what had seemed the most unlikely of points.
Jackett made a tactical switch to try and negate the attacking threat of Posh, bringing Jimmy Abdou into the team in a compact midfield alongside Trotter and Tam Mkandawire, with John Marquis dropping to the bench.
Darius Henderson was the focal point of a three-pronged Lions attack, flanked by the ever-willing James Henry and Bouazza, with the duo's pace and flair posing a consistent and effective threat to the visiting defence.
It took a while for The Lions to settle into their new formation and Posh created the first real chance after five minutes when midfielder Tommy Rowe fired narrowly over from around 14 yards.
Henry then saw his stinging 25-yard free-kick clawed away by keeper Jones, before Lions skipper Robinson produced an excellent block to deny striker David Ball from close range as he prepared to shoot.
Abdou's looping header from a deep Tony Craig left-wing cross dropped wide of the post and then George Boyd smacked a shot against the foot of the post after home keeper David Forde had fumbled Grant McCann's 17th-minute corner.
The two teams continued to trade scoring chances as Forde was then forced to turn Grant McCann's 30-yard drive round the post, before Lions striker Henderson saw a flicked header pushed away yet again by Jones at the other end.
Jones was called into action twice in as many minutes, thwarting Bouazza firstly from a tight angle and then diving low to his right to push another daisy-cutter from the Algerian international round the post.
Henry was denied by the Posh stopper after half an hour before Millwall finally found a way through on 32 minutes, Trotter sweeping home Henderson's cross from close range for his second goal in successive games.
Trotter went close to grabbing his - and Millwall's - second goal just before the break, latching onto Henderson's flick and volleying goalwards, only for that man Jones to athletically tip his effort away.
The Lions did grab their second goal though, and what a corker it was too, 10 minutes after the restart. Henderson was again the provider, slipping a delightfully weighted ball through to the former Watford man. He in turn shimmied his way into the area, before arrowing the ball into the bottom left corner with a clincial finish.
It looked to be game over at that stage with The Lions having the measure of Posh. Jackett's men were, however, in for a rude awakening.
Posh grabbed a goal out of nowhere with a superb finish from Frecklington, who flicked up Ryan Tunnicliffe's 72nd-minute pass and volleyed past Forde to halve the deficit.
The Lions could have restored their two-goal advantage three minutes later when Jones again came to the rescue, this time tipping Trotter's curling shot onto the post.
That added further belief in the visiting camp that they could, indeed, get something out of this game.
And just 60 seconds later that proved to be the case. Skipper Robinson appeared to be fouled 10 yards inside his own half, but play was waved on and the ball found its way to substitute Taylor who had time and space to fire a low drive beyond the desperate reach of keeper Forde - to the despair of The Den faithful.
Trotter had a golden opportunity to tip the balance back Millwall's way when he picked up Bouazza's deflected shot, but failed to connect cleanly and Jones gathered with ease.
The introduction of John Marquis and Josh McQuoid coupled with five minutes of injury-time failed to conjure up a third, match-winning goal for the home side, who have no time to dwell on what might have been with a trip to league leaders Southampton looming on the horizon this Saturday.

Match Report:Leicester 1 Bristol City 2

City suffered their second home defeat in as many games this season as Nicky Maynard inspired Bristol City to their first win of the campaign.Maynard scored twice, either side of a David Nugent equaliser, to give the Robins victory King Power Stadium, having also missed a penalty during a frustrating first half for Sven-Goran Eriksson's Foxes.The former Crewe striker ultimately proved the difference between the two sides - making the most of two defensive errors to settle an even contest and leave City searching for form ahead of their weekend trip to local rivals Nottingham Forest.Showing five changes from the weekend, including a debut for Sean St. Ledger in place of skipper Matt Mills, City started well on Wednesday night - Nugent and captain Richie Wellens combining to release Lloyd Dyer down the right and his cross cut out just before it reached Paul Gallagher.It was the sort of the purposeful start the home fans were looking for, but when Sol Bamba pulled a long ball down on his chest and lost out to Jamal Campbell-Ryce on the edge of his own box, Gelson Fernandes' foul afforded the visitors their first sight of goal.Five minutes on the clock and Maynard made no mistake; fizzing a 20-yard drive in off the inside of the post from Neil Kilkenny's touch.But as the home side's tails started to lift, an error from St. Ledger cost them dearly.Bristol City's pressing game had been impressive all night - Maynard and Kilkenny particularly quick to close down space - and Maynard finally got his reward on 66 minutes.Bearing down on St. Ledger 10 yards inside the Foxes' half, Maynard stole possession before raiding away at pace.Bamba raced across to cover, but Maynard saw him coming, slipping past the Ivorian before slotting past Schmeichel with confidence.Knowing they would have to come back once more, City set about the task well and nearly found an equaliser on 77 minutes - King working his way into the box down the left before chipping into the box, where Gerken flicked the ball against the fortunate Lewin Nyatanga, who unwittingly found the arms of his goalkeeper.

Millen's visitors should have closed the game out in the final stages - substitutes Kalifa Cisse and Ryan Taylor both wasting glorious openings at the death.

But it was City that nearly produced the late drama when St. Ledger's high ball into the box was spilled by Gerkan under pressure from Neil Danns, and Bamba failed to find the unguarded target under pressure from Nyatanga.

Match Report: Cardiff 1 Brighton 3

Albion produced a stellar away-day performance to crush Cardiff City - who boasted a 100 per cent record in league and cup going into the game - and register the club's first win in the Welsh principality since 1984.
After an excellent 1-0 win at Portsmouth on Saturday, Albion stepped up a gear in Wales, with arguably their best performance of the Poyet era. Two goals from Ashley Barnes - either side of half-time - and another from debutant Will Hoskins put Albion in total command, before a late consolation penalty from Peter Whittingham.The Seagulls started in the same confident style that saw them triumph at Portsmouth on Saturday - with the midfield four of Liam Bridcutt, Gary Dicker, Romain Vincelot and Matt Sparrow showing great composure from the off and no fear of passing the ball against one of the top Championship sides in recent seasons.Vincelot and Barnes both saw marginal offside decisions go against them. Vincelot's effort drew a superb save from David Marshall, while Barnes thought he had sprung the home side's trap as he lashed a stunning volleyed effort into the net.Cardiff turned up the heat after the half-hour mark as the lively Robert Earnshaw, Kenny Miller and Craig Conway all tested Casper Ankergren in quick succession. Earnshaw and Miller tried their luck from distance, but it was the former Dundee United man Conway who went closest.Having popped up in space inside Albion's area, he was denied by the big Dane spreading himself and making a superb save. It was a vital stop from Albion's keeper to keep the scores level, as the Bluebirds threatened to take control.

However, Albion took the lead a few minutes later after a terrible error by home right-back Kevin McNaughton; his loose cross-field pass was intercepted by Barnes, who unleashed a ferocious drive which nestled in the bottom left corner of the net, leaving Marshall with no chance.

It was the perfect tonic for Albion, scoring just before half-time and they nearly doubled their lead early in the second half thanks to a great piece of opportunism from Craig Mackail-Smith. The hardworking Albion striker robbed Anthony Gerrard just inside his own half, played a clever one-two with Barnes, before charging into the box and firing a shot against Marshall's right-hand post.

Mackail-Smith's industry gave Barnes the chance for his second second. The former Peterborough man showed great energy to make up ground on Mark Hudson and nick the ball off the Cardiff man. He then turned to cut inside the home defender, and after Hudson clipped the Albion striker's heels Referee Keith Stroud had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Barnes stepped up to send Marshall the wrong way for 2-0.

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay immediately brought on French striker Rudy Gestede in place of Earnshaw, who for all his running, had caused Albion few real problems. Gus Poyet sent on Alan Navarro and Hoskins in place of Sparrow and Vincelot. Hoskins wasted little time in opening his Albion account, latching onto Mackail-Smith's pass and slotting cleverly past Marshall.

Cardiff grabbed a consolation in the 90th minute, after referee Stroud awarded a second penalty, for what looked a soft decision against captain fantastic Gordon Greer. He was adjudged to have pushed his fellow Scot Miller. Whittingham stepped up to score, but that did little to take the gloss off a stunning display in South Wales.

Match Report: Blackpool 0 Derby 1

Blackpool fell to their first defeat of the campaign as they were beaten 1-0 by Nigel Clough's Derby County.Despite dominating possession for much of the game the Seasiders couldn't find a way past the resilient Rams.Stephen Crainey had Blackpool's best opportunity of the first-half when his cross-shot was deflected narrowly over the bar, before the visitors took the lead through a second-half strike from Craig Bryson.The hosts continued to push for a leveller, with Taylor-Fletcher hitting the post late on, but Derby held on to end the Tangerines' 100% record and retain their own perfect start.It was a meeting of two teams with identical records at Bloomfield Road as the pair went head-to-head having both taken six points from their opening two Championship fixtures.Ian Holloway had stressed the importance of experience prior to the encounter and with that in mind there was one change to the side from the weekend, with Matt Hill replacing Craig Cathcart at the heart of the back four.Given the close proximity between the sides in the table, it was little wonder that the opening 45 minutes resembled a game of chess, with Blackpool dominating possession and the visitors happy to play on the counter-attack.Chances were few and far between as Holloway's side attempted to crack the Derby code, but Taylor-Fletcher's early cross along the six-yard box at least had the visitors' defence worried.Jamie Ward fizzed a carbon-copy effort across the face of Matt Gilks' goal on eight minutes, but the Tangerine Army had to wait until the 21st to witness the first effort of note, as Taylor-Fletcher drew a decent save from Frank Fielding with a 20-yard drive.A lack of pace in the Blackpool attack was telling but with Stephen Crainey an ever-willing runner down the left-hand side, the Scotsman very nearly gave his side the lead right on half-time.Taylor-Fletcher and Kevin Phillips combined well and the latter slid Crainey in on goal, but his drilled cross was deflected over the bar by a brilliant block from Bryson - when a shot was perhaps the better option.

The second-half continued in similar vein - Kevin Phillips was hungry to add to his weekend brace and he very nearly did when Taylor-Fletcher laid the ball into his path after a mazy run, but his drilled, 20-yard shot flew wide.Holloway sent on Billy Clarke in place of the tireless Brett Ormerod, in an attempt to break the stalemate.But, no sooner had the change been made and the Seasiders were a goal behind against the run of play.Rams striker Steven Davies lined up a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but while Gilks did well to palm his powerful effort away, Bryson reacted quickest to slot the rebound into the far corner.

The lead was flattering for a Derby side who had shown little ambition in the final third and it was the home side who continued to seize the initiative, with Taylor-Fletcher hitting the post with a shot from just inside the box after another winding run.

Elliot Grandin then made way for Tom Ince for the youngster's first taste of league action in tangerine and his impact gave the Tangerines a new dimension in attack.

A one-two with Clarke set the 19-year-old free inside the box on 80 minutes, but just as he looked to pull the trigger Taylor-Fletcher took the ball off his toes and denied him of a golden opportunity to level.

Craig Sutherland replaced Matt Hill late on as Holloway threw caution to the wind, but still they couldn't find a way past Clough's resilient side.

Pompey move to strengthen weak squad

Portsmouth are on the verge of adding to their thin squad with the signing of Norwegian international winger Erik Huseklepp.Huseklepp, 26, is set to sign a three-and-a-half year deal at Fratton park in a deal that will cost the club an estimated £1.5 million.The player spent last season in the Italian Serie A with Bari, where he made 14 appearences, scoring two times in the process.The move will provide Pompey fans with more reason for optimism, with boss Steve Cotterill appearing to be backed by the new owners in spending money on the squad.
"All is not yet set but the clubs have agreed (a transfer) and I will make it over to England for a medical test within a short while," The winger told Bergens Tidende.
Speaking of his new club, Huseklepp added: "The club is in a rebuilding phase and that is something I want to be part of. In the long run the club wants to get back to the Premier League and that is of course exciting."

Match Report: Leeds 4 Hull City 1

Leeds finally recorded their first league win of the campaign with an impressive performance against Hull.Ross McCormack headed United into the lead before Tom Lees put through his own net after inadvertantly converting Robbie Brady's cross.Lees made amends when he was on hand to poke in after Ramon Nunez's ball from a corner was spilled by Peter Gulacsi.Robert Snodgrass added a third with a 25-yard free-kick before Nunez made it 4-1 with a precise finish.The win places Leeds in 13th while Hull are in 18th spot.Scotland winger Snodgrass had an excellent game and went close when he forced Gulacsi to scramble at his near post.Hull then failed to deal with a Snodgrass cross but Nunez sent a weak shot wide before new signing Andy Keogh cut inside and drilled an effort over the bar.

The visitors had few clear-cut chances in the match. Substitute Aaron McLean had their best opportunity of the second half, but his header at the back post was comfortably saved by Andy Lonergan.

Match Report: Crystal Palace 2 - 1 Coventry

Crystal Palace struck twice in injury time to secure a dramatic victory over Coventry at Selhurst Park.
The Sky Blues, who are still searching for their first point of the season, grabbed the lead in 49th minute through Lukas Jutkiewicz.But Palace pulled level when Sean Scannell turned in a rebound after Wilfried Zaha's shot was saved.And in the fifth minute of injury time, Jermaine Easter hit his first of the season to steal all three points.In a dour opening 45 minutes, neither side had a shot on target and Coventry striker Gary McSheffrey was forced off with an injury in the 19th minute.Jutkiewicz broke the deadlock early the second half when Cyrus Christie's cross ricocheted off Palace defender Peter Ramage for the former Everton man to challenge Julian Speroni in the air, and the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.Palace almost hit back immediately but Scannell was denied by Coventry keeper Joe Murphy and substitute Zaha dragged a shot from the edge of the area wide.Roy O'Donovan and Paddy McCarthy saw efforts fly over the crossbar for the home side before Jutkiewicz was twice denied a second by saves from Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni.
Palace poured forward in search of the equaliser and Zaha was again just off target with a thumping drive.
But their luck changed in the final minute when Zaha's 20-yard shot was kept out by Murphy but Scannell pounced on to the bouncing rebound to send a spectacular scissor kick into the bottom corner.Then in the fifth minute of time added on Easter latched on to another parry from Murphy, again from a Zaha effort, and converted from close range to complete an unlikely turnaround.

Match Report: Barnsley 1 - 3 Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough fought back from an early own goal to snatch a win at Barnsley.Barnsley, still looking for their first win of the campaign, were gifted a fifth-minute lead when Stephen McManus put into his own net.
But Scott McDonald headed home Barry Robson's corner in the 11th minute before the latter tapped home two minutes later.Marvin Emnes, with his sixth goal in four games this season, completed the scoring on the stroke of half-time.Barnsley's first goal of the season came from an unexpected source when David Perkins' cross was stabbed into his own net by McManus under pressure.The visitors responded almost immediately, McDonald rising unmarked to glance home Robson's inswinging corner.McDonald then tore apart the home defence and found Robson who clipped the ball home to put the visitors ahead with 13 minutes on the clock.

Barnsley striker Danny Haynes beat the offside trap as the home side looked to get back on level terms, but his weak effort was kept out by Carl Ikeme.Robson was close to doubling his tally moments later but his curling free-kick drifted just wide.Emnes then added a third for Middlesbrough two minutes before the break when he latched on to McDonald's pass and steered the ball under Luke Steele.
Julio Arca and McDonald were denied by Steele as Boro continued to press after the restart, before Emnes wasted the best chance of the second half when he failed to steal the ball from Steele's feet in a moment of confusion.

Match Report: Doncaster 0 Nottingham Forest 1

Defender Chris Gunter scored the only goal of the game as Nottingham Forest beat Doncaster to record their first league win under Steve McClaren.The Reds had failed to score in their first two Championship matches and offered little by way of an attacking threat at the Keepmoat Stadium.However, Gunter's 31st-minute header proved enough.The result was harsh on Sean O'Driscoll's men, who were the better side for large periods.Former Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire made his Forest debut as manager McClaren made four changes from Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Millwall.Ishmael Miller, who arrived from West Bromwich Albion this week for an initial fee of £1.2million, had to settle for a place on the bench, along with highly-rated midfielder Lewis McGugan.Rovers made a bright start with James Coppinger and Kyle Bennett going close in the opening four minutes, the latter's 20-yard effort appearing to be tipped over the crossbar by Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp but referee Andy Woolmer gave a goal kick.Wes Morgan hooked wide from an Andy Reid free-kick at the other end but it was Doncaster who enjoyed the bulk of possession, with midfield trio John Oster, Simon Gillett and Giles Barnes linking well.But Forest made the breakthrough against the run of play moments after Derbyshire had seen a penalty appeal turned down when Gunter nodded home Brendan Moloney's deep cross.Camp showed good agility to palm away an effort from Coppinger that looked destined for the corner and ensure the visitors headed into the interval with their lead intact.

Gillett had a chance to equalise early in the second half when he was picked out at the far post by Barnes, but the former Southampton man failed to connect cleanly with his volley and Forest clung on for the victory.

Match Report: Ipswich 2 Southampton 5

Southampton made it three wins from three league matches following a seven-goal thriller at Ipswich.Rickie Lambert opened the scoring with a 12-yard finish and then curled his second into the bottom corner.
David Connolly converted Guly Do Prado's square ball to make it 3-0 before Town reduced the arrears thanks to strikes from Keith Andrews and substitute Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.The pacy Adam Lallana ended the comeback with two low efforts late on.Nigel Adkins's Saints have now scored nine goals in three matches and have won their last nine matches stretching back to last season.The visitors created other chances, with Lallana dragging his shot wide inside the first four minutes while Guly was also fractions off target with a fierce strike.Ipswich also had more opportunities to score. Midfielder Lee Bowyer picked up a lofted ball before firing a shot that was saved by former Town stopper Kelvin Davis.Aaron Cresswell came close to opening his Ipswich account but sent his left-footed strike wide.

Ipswich are 16th having lost two and won one of their three league fixtures.

Match Report: Portsmouth 1 Reading 0

Dave Kitson’s close-range strike was the difference as Pompey chalked up their first win of the new Championship season with a 1-0 success over Reading.The former Reading striker netted against his old club as he struck a smart low volley home from Liam Lawrence’s corner early in the second half of a cracking game at Fratton Park.The Blues had the better of the first half as Greg Halford rattled the bar with a shot from the edge of the box that, while Kitson and David Norris both missed glaring opportunities.But Reading had their moments as well as Jimmy Kebe’s diving header clattered the outside of Jamie Ashdown’s goal.
In an entertaining contest, Pompey again looked threatening after the break and got their reward when Kitson found himself unmarked in the box to fire home.And the return of Benjani as a 75th-minute substitute so nearly created the killer second goal as his cross found Luke Varney, only for the forward’s shot to clip the outside of the post.

But Pompey played out time without too much fuss as the clock ticked down with Jason Pearce outstanding in central defence on his debut to hang on to a vital three points to kick-start their campaign.

Match Report: Watford 0 West Ham 4

Carlton Cole and Scott Parker were on target to help West Ham to victory at Watford and make it back-to-back wins in the Championship.Sam Allardyce gave Cole his first start of the season and the striker, who is still expected to leave before the end of the month, grabbed his first goal since February.England midfielder Parker, another player whose future remains uncertain, put the seal on a convincing display late on.The unlikely figures of defenders James Tomkins and Joey O'Brien had put West Ham two up at half-time.
The relegated Hammers won only two away games all last season, but they have matched that tally after just two road trips this term.They beat Doncaster with a fifth-minute goal on Saturday, and opened their account even earlier at Vicarage Road.

Matt Taylor's free-kick was turned behind at full stretch by Hornets goalkeeper Scott Loach, and when Taylor swung in the corner Tomkins planted a firm header inside the far post after two minutes.Former Bolton midfielder Taylor was inches away from doubling the lead when he curled a free-kick over the wall and inches wide.But Watford looked dangerous themselves early on and Marvin Sordell's turn and shot forced a fine save from Hammers keeper Robert Green.Hornets skipper John Eustace then shot straight at Green from close range following a corner, and Chris Iwelumo put the rebound over the top.West Ham should have gone further ahead on the half hour when Mark Noble played Taylor's corner back across goal and centre-half Winston Reid, from all of three yards out, poked the ball wide.

The visitors got stronger as the first half drew to a close strongly with Noble fizzing a cross narrowly out of the reach of Kevin Nolan, Jack Collison heading Parker's cross over and Loach denying Cole.And their pressure told in added time when O'Brien, another of Allardyce's ex-Bolton brigade, burst forward from the halfway line, reached the penalty area and drilled a low shot across Loach and into the far corner.Watford are still looking for their first win of the season, but there was no way back for the hosts after Cole tucked in number three in the 70th minute.Left-back Herita Illunga crossed and Cole was on hand to sweep the ball past Loach.

Parker wrapped up the victory with a classy finish from 20 yards in stoppage time as the duo sent a timely reminder to one or two top-flight clubs with the transfer window closing soon.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Burnley set To Sign West Ham Striker

Zavon Hines is set to sign for Championship club Burnley after failing to land the contract he wanted at West Ham, according to reports.The 22-year-old striker has been out of contract at the club since the end of last season and looked certain to leave  some months ago.However at the beginning of last month it looked as if the two parties were edging towards a deal when Hines told his followers on Twitter that he hoped to remain at West Ham and was hopeful of signing a new deal.But despite being involved in the latter stages of the club's pre-season talks fell through, and the former England under-21 is now said to be set to join West Ham's Championship rivals Burnley for a nominal fee.Hines, who was named Young Player of the Year by KUMB.com readers at the end of the 2009/10 season made his first team debut under Alan Curbishley in West Ham's 4-1 Carling Cup defeat of Macclesfield - a game in which he also scored.Having failed to make any further appearances for the first team that season he played 15 times in 2009/10, making his first start for the club in the 1-0 defeat at Wigan in September. However his season ended abruptly in December 2009 when he was forced to endure surgery to fix a long standing knee problem - an injury that kept him out until November the following year.Sporadic appearances under Avram Grant despite being fully fit led  to Hines criticising the manager via his Twitter feed back in May, whilst the arrival of Sam Allardyce gave hope that his career at the Boleyn could be salvaged.

However that hope was short lived and his departure is expected to be confirmed by both clubs shortly.


Nottingham Forest Complete Miller Signing

Nottingham Forest have completed the signing of Ishmael Miller from West Bromwich Albion.The Reds have paid an initial £1.2million for the striker, who has signed a three-year City Ground contract.Manager Steve McClaren said: "Ishmael is still a young player but has loads of experience and a lot to prove."He wants to play, which is why he's coming to Forest."He's the type of player we want at the club, he's young and ambitious and fits the criteria perfectly."Miller launched his career with his home town club Manchester City and made 17 Premier League appearances, scoring one goal, before joining West Brom on loan.After a successful six-month spell at The Hawthorns - he scored on his debut and won his first England Under 21 cap during that time - he completed a permanent switch in January 2008.He has made more than 60 league appearances for The Baggies and has scored 14 goals.The 24 year old had a five-month loan spell with Queens Park Rangers in the second half of last season and helped Neil Warnock's men land the Championship title.

Miller is McClaren's fifth signing of the summer.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Match Report: Blackpool 2 Peterborough 1

Blackpool were in the fourth tier when they last secured back-to-back victories at the beginning of a league campaign in 1991.It's only taken a rollercoaster 20 years for that statistic to finally be rewritten as Kevin Phillips notched his first goals in tangerine colours to put the Seasiders' amongst the early promotion pack in the Championship.The evergreen 38-year-old proved he could be an integral part of a team seeking top-flight redemption by firing two poacher's efforts either side of half time in a frenetic encounter against newly-promoted Peterborough United.The Seasiders put in a solid performance at a sunsoaked Bloomfield Road, but had to endure a late rally from the visitors to seal the points after summer transfer target George Boyd struck what proved to be a mere consolation.Ian Holloway elected to retain the same starting line-up that won at Hull nine days earlier, and his side made a positive start when Phillips' close-range header drew Paul Jones into a fine save before Elliot Grandin rattled the post from the resulting loose ball.Peterborough weathered the early storm though and had chances of their own with Lee Frecklington firstly seeing his 25-yard effort cleared off the line by Keith Southern.Seasiders stopper Matt Gilks - who shook off an injury to start - then came to the rescue to deny both Lee Tomlin and David Ball one-on-one before making a fine save from Ryan Bennett's header.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Match Report:Birmingham 1 Coventry 0

Keith Fahey’s lone strike 18 minutes from time earned Birmingham their first win of the season.The Republic of Ireland smashed home substitute Adam Rooney’s low cross, just seconds after the striker had struck the post with a well-placed header.The goal also owed much to manager Chris Hughton’s own decision-making, as it came just three minutes after Rooney replaced Chris Wood up front.The Blues boss only made one change from last Saturday’s opening day defeat to Derby County, with Albion loanee Wood handed his first start for Blues at Rooney’s expense, and it paid off with his first win in charge.Hughton kept faith with the same 4-5-1 formation Blues started with at Pride Park.On the bench, new signing Jonathan Spector replaced Nathan Redmond while Scott Dann was named as a substitute for the second game running.Notable absences for Blues were Marlon King, Nikola Zigic and Cameron Jerome all still injured.For the visitors, former Blues favourite Gary McSheffrey made the starting line-up for Coventry and received a warm reception in appreciation for his four year stint at St Andrew’s from 2006 to 2010.Blues created a good chance just two minutes in, when Burke and Carr combined well down the right wing.Carr’s cross was tucked into Morgaro Gomis’ path by Wood and only a last ditch tackle prevented him opening the scoring from deep inside the box.At the other end, Blues had Curtis Davies to thank for heroically blocking Lukas Jutkiewicz’s effort, after the ball had fallen invitingly from Sammy Clingan’s right wing corner.Blues dominated the early possession but Jutkiewicz missed a golden opportunity with 19 minutes gone, firing wide of the left hand post.Goalkeeper Boaz Myhill then showed his agility to tip away Sammy Clingan’s well-struck long-range free-kick, which appeared to be creeping into the bottom right hand corner, half an hour in.McSheffrey was next to test Myhill from distance but the Wales international acrobatically turned the winger’s 30-yard effort behind for a corner five minutes before the break.Fahey won a corner in stoppage time when his own long-range effort was deflected wide by Clingan, but neither side could feel aggrieved by the blank score sheet at half time.But Blues improved after the break and Beausejour fired wide from Stephen Carr’s cross, five minutes after the re-start.Wood should have opened the scoring barely 90 seconds later, but could only Beausejour’s low left-wing cross over the bar from less than six yards out.Clingan did well to block Burke’s effort from Carr’s cutback and Gomis forced a corner, when his 25-yard drive was turned behind from distance by Murphy, as the home side increased the pressure.Wood then miscued Gomis’ cutback, albeit under pressure, with just over 25 minutes remaining, but McSheffrey fizzed a curling drive just over at the other end of the pitch.
With the game headed for a stalemate, Rooney replaced Wood and it worked almost immediately.Rooney headed Ridgewell’s deep cross against the post, but managed to turn the rebound into Fahey’s path for the opening goal 18 minutes from time.The Irishman then pulled a poor attempt well wide 12 minutes from time, as Blues pushed forward in a bid to rubber stamp victory.Steven Caldwell nodded Carr’s cross over the bat with 10 minutes remaining, after McSheffrey’s foul on the edge of the box.Blues suffered a late scare when Jutkiewicz headed over from a good position with two minutes left from Clingan’s corner, but they held on for a vital win.



Match Report:Ipswich Town 0 Hull City 1

Matty Fryatt’s second half goal was enough to give Hull City a 1-0 victory over the Blues at Portman Road. Town had the better of a first period in which ex-Hull defender Damien Delaney had hit the bar, but the Tigers improved after the break with Fryatt making the most of a defensive lapse with 14 minutes remaining.
Town boss Paul Jewell left new signing Keith Andrews, a former Hull player, on the bench, choosing to stick with last week’s side which beat Bristol City 3-0, with the exception of Tommy Smith replacing Ívar Ingimarsson, who is out with a thigh injury, on the right side of central defence.The Blues had the better of the early exchanges but with neither side particularly threatening. On nine Smith diverted a corner over under pressure after the second of two Town corners from the right.Former Blues loanee Liam Rosenior created an opportunity for Matty Fryatt on the edge of the area on 12 but the ex-Leicester man somehow managed miskick the ball in completely the opposite direction.An impressive Mark Kennedy run on 14 ended with the former Republic of Ireland international laying the ball across the six-yard box from the right but no one was there to add the final touch.After Tigers midfielder Paul McKenna had been lucky to avoid a yellow card for clattering into Lee Bowyer after the ball had gone, the Blues went close to going in front. Bowyer sent in a deep cross from the right and Martin just failed to get a touch at the far post, the winger, who had already swapped flanks from right to left, possibly not seeing the ball as it appeared from behind Rosenior at pace.
Left-back Aaron Cresswell went close to an extraordinary first goal for the Blues on 23. Spotting keeper Peter Gulacsi off his line, the former Tranmere man unleashed a dipping effort from 45 yards on the left, the ball nestling in the sidenetting. Moments later, Martin had a go from around half the distance, but went narrowly over.On 28 Hull’s left-sided on-loan Manchester United midfielder Robbie Brady broke through the middle and hit a low shot which Stockdale stopped without fuss.A minute later, Bowyer forced Gulacsi into a sharp save down to his left just inside the post after the former Leeds man had been found on the edge of the box by Cresswell. From the corner, Delaney headed wide.The former Hull City defender, who had been a doubt with an ankle injury, headed over again on 31, then Smith went even closer from another corner soon after with the Blues continuing to look the more threatening side.Hull were inches from a goal in the 38th minute when Corry Evans flicked on Tom Cairney’s corner on the right and Fryatt scuffed wide at the far post.Kennedy made another strong run into the box in the 43rd minute, his stabbed shot deflecting off Hull skipper Jack Hobbs and wrongfooting Gulacsi, who did well to get back across to save down to his right.
A minute later, from what was Town’s seventh corner, Delaney headed off the bar and over. The Blues were continuing to have the better of it as the game moved into injury time, a Martin cross flying across the area and somehow managing to avoid everyone.Blues boss Paul Jewell will have been happy enough with the first half display, the Blues having been on top against a hardly adventurous Hull side and creating a number of opportunities, both from longer distances via Cresswell and Martin, and Delaney and Smith’s closer efforts from corners. Hull had really only had the one opportunity when Fryatt failed to get enough on the near post corner.

David Stockdale made the first save of the second half, coming out to block Fryatt as he closed in on goal from the right.

A minute later, Robert Koren, who scored the goal which was the difference between the two sides at the KC Stadium last season, hit a 25-yard strike which Stockdale did well to push behind for a corner to his left. Soon after, a Town corner was semi-cleared to Bowyer on the edge of the area but his shot looped over.

Hull had started the second half the stronger side with the Blues unable to keep hold of the ball and bring the likes of Martin, Emmanuel-Thomas and Chopra into the game.

On 63 Hobbs headed Cairney’s freekick from just inside the Town half straight at Stockdale when if it had been a foot either side, the Tigers captain would have scored.

New loanee from Blackburn Keith Andrews replaced Mark Kennedy on 65 to make his debut for the Blues. Moments later Koren shot straight at Stockdale, prior to Emmanuel-Thomas sending a low ball into the six-yard box but too close to Gulacsi.

Chopra hit a 25-yard effort straight at Gulacsi on 69, prior to Josh Carson replacing the quiet Jay Emmanuel-Thomas wide on the right. Five minutes later, Leadbitter’s low shot flew wide.

The visitors went ahead in the 76th minute when the Blues were caught short at the back after Delaney and Cresswell pushed forward before Martin lost the ball on the edge of the Hull area. Hobbs played a long clearance towards Fryatt, who was left with only Smith to beat, which he did before slipping the ball past Stockdale.

Blues boss Jewell immediately switched to 4-4-2 with Nathan Ellington taking over from Bowyer and joining Chopra up front. Soon after, Town weren’t far away from an equaliser when Edwards crossed from the left and Martin headed goalwards but without the necessary power to beat Gulacsi.

On 86 Cairney was booked for an ugly challenge on Carson but Cresswell ‘s freekick flew straight into Gulacsi’s arms. Town were huffing and puffing but failing to create anything of note in front of goal.

As the game moved into injury time, Cresswell unleashed a fearsome 25-yarder which only just flew over.

Smith headed over from a corner, but the Blues weren’t really looking like getting back on terms and Gulacsi wasn’t seriously tested again before referee Danny McDrmid blew his whistle.

A disappointing second half in which Hull had been on top from the off, keeping the ball far better than Town and taking one of the game’s rare serious chances when it came.

Town, who had created enough chances before the break to have won it, never got going after the break with Martin, Emmanuel-Thomas and Chopra peripheral figures for the most part.

Aside from another impressive display from Cresswell, there were few positives for Jewell to take from a second 45 minutes little different to Tuesday’s defeat to Northampton.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Doncaster hit by injury jinx

Doncaster manager Brian O'Driscoll was left to rue his side's injury jinx after Ryan Mason became the latest member of his squad to suffer a serious blow.The midfielder, who is on loan from Tottenham, is facing several weeks out having been carried off with ankle ligament damage following a heavy challenge from Tranmere's John Welsh late in the Yorkshire side's 3-0 Carling Cup first-round victory.It came just three days after Rovers saw strikers Billy Sharp (ankle) and James Hayter (knee) both leave the Amex Stadium pitch on a stretcher in the club's 2-1 season-opening defeat at Brighton.Already out injured are James O'Connor, James Chambers, Martin Woods, Brian Stock, Adam Lockwood, Shelton Martis and Mark Wilson.O'Driscoll told BBC Radio Sheffield the extent of Mason's injury, saying: "He's damaged his ankle ligaments, it's non-weight-bearing so he's another one to leave the ground on crutches."We'll have to assess him in a couple of days, he's a Tottenham player so he'll have to go back for them to have a look at him but it's going to be weeks I think rather than days. Someone said we've run over a cat, I think we've run over a litter of black cats."

Southampton capture Fox


Burnley defender Danny Fox has joined Southampton.

The left-back joins the Saints for an undisclosed seven-figure fee after agreeing a four-year deal with the newly promoted Championship club.

Fox's departure from Turf Moor ends an 18-month stay with the Clarets for the Scotland international following his arrival from Celtic at the end of the January, 2010 transfer window.

The former Coventry City and Walsall defender, 25, went on to make 50 League appearances for the Clarets.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Lowe Hits Double As Bury Sink Coventry

Ryan Lowe struck twice in the final 15 minutes to sink Coventry and send Bury into the Carling Cup second round with a 3-1 win.The Sky Blues led in the 26th minute when David Bell crossed from the right flank and Roy O'Donovan headed home from six yards.Bury lost midfielder Steven Schumacher to injury in the 31st minute but they were level seven minutes later when Andy Bishop latched onto a pass from Lowe and fired home right-footed from six yards.O'Donovan almost grabbed his second in the 43rd minute when he tried his luck from distance and saw his effort well saved from Cameron Belford.Bury began the second with aggression and purpose and almost led six minutes after the restart. Mike Jones saw his 25-yard shot tipped over by Joe Murphy and then Bishop headed wastefully wide from just six yards out.However, Lowe put the Shakers ahead in the 75th minute when he rifled home Damien Mozika's pass and then added his second in the 88th minute when he again combined with Mozika to drill home from close range.

Portsmouth Dumped Out By Barnet

League two side Barnet pulled off one of the upsets of the night to snatch a 1-0 win at Fratton Park and dump Steve Cotterill’s side out of the competition.Lawrie Sanchez’s side only preserved their Football League status on the final day of the last campaign.But they were good value for the win as Sanchez grabbed the bragging rights over his old Wimbledon pal Cotterill.Bees captain Mark Hughes got the only goal of the game after 30 minutes after debut-making keeper Stephen Henderson had spilled a corner.The ball was worked out to the excellent Mark Marshall and Hughes was there to head home his cross.Izale McLeod had two one on ones saved and Clovis Kamdjo had a first-half header disallowed as the visitors ran the Blues ragged.It was much the same after the break with Pompey failing to find any rhythm.Greg Halford had a header from a corner midway through the half saved by Dean Brill.Sub Charlie Taylor later had two good chances to add a second, though, with Barnet deserving victors and Pompey left to lick their wounds.

Gardner closing on St Andrews switch

Anthony Gardner is poised to join Championship outfit Birmingham.The defender is currently out of contract and available as a free agent.He severed ties with Hull City at the end of last season, having seen out the campaign on loan at Crystal Palace.The Eagles were keen to take him back to Selhurst Park, but discussions regarding a deal have come to nothing.Nottingham Forest were also linked with the former England international at one stage, but they too have been unable to reach an agreement.That has left the door open for Birmingham to make their move for the towering centre-half.Gardner is understood to be due in the Midlands on Tuesday for a medical, before putting the finishing touches to a deal with the Blues.
Birmingham boss Chris Hughton has been in the market for a centre-half after offloading Roger Johnson to Wolves and seeing speculation mount regarding the future of Scott Dann.

West Ham keen on bringing McCartney back

West Ham are keen to take George McCartney back to Upton Park after emerging as the main club interested in signing the out-of-favour defender.Sunderland are desperate to offload the high-earning left-back and are willing to let the 30-year-old leave either on a permanent deal or on loan.But so far the Hammers are the only club who have held talks with Sunderland over McCartney - one of four defenders the Black Cats are actively looking to sell.McCartney, who spent much of last season on loan at Leeds, has been unable to rediscover the form from his first spell at the Stadium of Light since returning to Sunderland in a £6.5million deal from West Ham three years ago.But new boss Sam Allardyce, a good friend of Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, is on the lookout for fresh recruits as he plots a return to the Premier League.The Hammers are short of options at left-back after former England man Wayne Bridge returned to Manchester City following last season’s loan spell at Upton Park.

Congo international Herita Ilunga was at fault for Cardiff’s last-gasp winner in West Ham’s opening day defeat on Sunday and Allardyce feels McCartney would offer a more assured presence.

McCartney was held in high esteem from his two-year stint in the East End and West Ham are one of the few clubs in the Championship who would be able to pay the former Northern Ireland international’s wages in full

Monday, 8 August 2011

Miller to join Nottingham Forest

West Bromwich Albion striker Ishmael Miller is in talks with Championship club Nottingham Forest about a permanent move. It is understood that the two clubs have agreed a fee but a deal has yet to be finalised with the player.
Albion said on their website that the 24-year-old forward was set to have a medical yesterday and meet Forest manager Steve McClaren. "Ishmael looks like he will go to Nottingham Forest," added Hodgson. "I think he is at the age where he needs to be a No 1 player, not a guy who hangs around and gets 20 minutes every now and then."
Miller made six substitute appearances in the Premier League last season before going on loan to QPR in January. He scored once in 14 appearances during his spell in West London to win his second Championship medal, having scored nine goals in Albion's successful 2007-08 second-tier title campaign.

Reading's Shane Long set for WBA

West Bromwich Albion are poised to smash their transfer record to sign the Reading striker Shane Long, according to reports last night.Albion have held talks with Long's advisers over the weekend and are close to agreeing a fee of between £6m and £7m. It would surpass the £4.7m that the club paid Real Mallorca for the Spanish midfielder Borja Valero three years ago.West Bromwich's desire for a new striker is even more pressing as last season's leading scorer, Peter Odemwingie, is battling to overcome an ankle problem. Albion head coach Roy Hodgson is hoping to sign Long in time for Sunday's Premier League opener with Manchester United at the Hawthorns.It will be the first monetary outlay of the summer by Albion after Gareth McAuley, Zoltan Gera and Billy Jones arrived on Bosman free transfers and Ben Foster joined on loan from Birmingham City.Hodgson has been pursuing Long all summer after the 24-year-old scored 25 goals last season for Reading. West Ham last month failed with a bid thought to total around £7m with add-ons but Reading are believed to have told Long he can join a top-flight side if the price is right. Long has also been linked with Everton and Newcastle United.

Nottingham Forest set to sign Dutch Winger Wesley Verhoek

Nottingham Forest have agreed an undisclosed fee to sign Dutch winger Wesley Verhoek from ADO Den Haag.The 24-year-old is due to arrive in Nottingham on Monday to have a medical and discuss personal terms.Reds manager Steve McClaren has been looking to sign a wide midfielder for several weeks and had also been tracking Wayne Routledge.McClaren first became aware of Verhoek when the former England boss was in charge of FC Twente in the Netherlands.The versatile winger was also a target for new Rangers manager Ally McCoist, who confirmed in July that a bid had been made to Den Haag.Forest have so far only completed three signings in the transfer window, bringing in Andy Reid, Jonathan Greening and George Boateng.

But West Brom striker Ishmael Miller is also poised to move to the City Ground.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Arsenal close in on £12m Oxlade-Chamberlain deal

Arsenal are poised to complete the £12m signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton  and also hope to confirm two further additions to their squad this week.Negotiations for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who will be 18 next Monday, have been protracted, with Southampton understood to have been holding out for a sell-on fee of around 40pc. However, further talks have resulted in an agreement being neared on a deal that would involve Arsenal paying around £7m up front and then a further £5m dependent on various performance-related add-ons.The deal should be completed this week, with personal terms expected to be a formality. After such a difficult summer, the signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain represents a considerable coup for Arsenal. Liverpool had an offer turned down in January, while Manchester United also asked to be kept informed of any deal's progress.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has always made it clear that his preference is for Arsenal and, although he is unlikely to feature prominently in the Premier or Champions League this season, he will be given his chance in the Carling Cup and potentially the FA Cup.

Match Report:Reading 2 - 2 Millwall

Reading came back from a two-goal deficit to salvage a dramatic draw against Millwall thanks to substitute Mathieu Manset.Millwall had taken a stranglehold of the game courtesy of headers from Darius Henderson and John Marquis.The visitors appeared set for victory before the intervention of Manset, who pulled a goal back for Reading with a long range strike after 86 minutes.He followed that up with an equalising header from Jimmy Kebe's cross.Reading spent the summer nursing the wounds of their play-off final defeat to Swansea at the end of last season and it seemed they had not fully recovered.Royals striker Shane Long has been linked with leaving the club and he was struggling to make an impact as both sides cancelled each other out in the first half.The stalemate lasted until shortly after the break when ex-Reading striker Henderson struck as he got on the end of a cross from the lively James Henry.The goal stirred Reading and Long into greater action and the striker controlled Jem Karacan's pass before rifling a shot against the crossbar.Noel Hunt also came close to levelling for Reading but was agonisingly inches away as he strived to meet a drilled Kebe cross before Millwall doubled their lead after 62 minutes.Henry and Liam Trotter combined to set up Marquis to provide the finishing touch.Manset was introduced by Reading boss Brian McDermott and the substitution proved an inspired move as he scored twice to rescue a point for the home side.

Match Report:Nott'm Forest 0 - 0 Barnsley

Barnsley frustrated new Nottingham Forest manager Steve McClaren to earn a deserved point in an uninspiring draw.Forest had plenty of possession but created little - particularly in a tedious opening half.
The Tykes threatened sporadically thanks to the pace of Danny Haynes and Craig Davies and the latter wasted their best chance when he headed wide.The hosts improved after the break, Lewis McGugan firing wide and seeing a shot blocked but Barnsley survived.And Barnsley - also playing under a new manager in Keith Hill - were good value for their point despite Forest's slight improvement after the interval.McClaren's men passed the ball well enough but, apart from a promising five-minute spell before the break and a couple of periods of pressure in the second half, they barely looked like scoring.Veteran midfielder George Boateng provided a decent platform sitting in the centre of the midfield and fellow new signings Jonathan Greening and Andy Reid showed glimpses of their undoubted guile and creativity.But David McGoldrick was almost anonymous up front and their lack of a cutting edge was glaringly obvious.Hill's side were happy to surrender possession and in Haynes and the excellent Davies, they had the attacking threat Forest so missed and the best two attacking players on the pitch.Davies should have headed them in front from Jacob Butterfield's inviting free-kick but was unable to get control of his effort and headed wastefully over from six yards.
Forest whose only half-decent strike towards goal before the interval saw McGugan shoot wildly over, had not scored on the opening day of the season since 2006 when Julian Bennett grabbed the winner against Bradford City.Thankfully, as uneventful a first half of Championship football likely to be seen during the entire season improved on the turnaround but the excitement was still relatively low-key.McGugan almost broke the deadlock but he bobbled his effort just wide of the left-hand post following some neat build-up play involving Paul Anderson on the right.At the other end Nathan Doyle looked certain to head the visitors in front when he burst into the penalty area but Chris Cohen did brilliantly to ease the midfielder out of the way and he failed to connect with a teasing centre.Davies also tested home goalkeeper Lee Camp in the second period after a good solo run but the visitors settled for a point as Forest pressed forward in the closing stages.