Tag Archives: Football league

CHAMPIONSHIP weekend round up

Changes at the top as Norwich go top, Reading drop to sixth and Bournemouth go second. Three wins from five moves Stoke City to seventh and one point of a play-off place. A third defeat in a row means Derby stay bottom, Wycombe remain in relegation places after draw with Brentford.

Canaries Top of the Table

Norwich picked a vital away win beating Middlesbrough by a single goal. Both teams had chances in the first half but Middlesbrough had a golden opportunity to take the lead early in the second half.

Some good work down the left allowed Marcus Tavernier to get the ball into the Norwich box. The Canneries were unable to properly clear the ball and Tavernier was brought down by Ben Gibson, resulting in a penalty. Tavernier took the kick and put the ball into the net but as he took the kick he lost his footing and was judged to have touched the ball twice. The referee disallowed the goal and Norwich were let away with one.

The let off sparked Norwich into life, Timo Pukki hitting a shot in the side netting. Tavernier’s poor luck continued as he blazed a shot over the bar from six yard box. Norwich got their goal after 72 minutes. Max Aarons playing a 1-2 with Emiliano Buendia, was then brought down in the box. Pukki had no problems with his penalty rolling the ball into the corner.

Norwich manager Daniel Farke told BBC Radio Norfolk:

“Middlesbrough is a tough place to go, they were on an eight-game unbeaten run and conceding just one goal in their last seven games so, that shows the size of the task today.”

Cherries Second half come-back

It was a fourth straight defeat for Reading as they drop to sixth place. After taking a two goal lead into halftime they were blown away by Bournemouth’s second half fight back.

It started so well for Reading Alfa Semedo winning the Royals a penalty after 4 minutes, when he was brought down by Begovic. Despite Begovic going the right way he was unable to stop Lucas Joao’s spot kick. It was 2-0 before the break as Oviemuno Ejaria’s through ball found Sone Aluko who guided the ball past Begovic.

The comeback started on 56 minutes as Dominic Solanke turned in from Lloyd Kelly’s cross. David Brooks’ pass cut through Readings defence and found Arnaut Danjuma who squeezed the ball in from a tight angle. Bournemouth took the lead after Brooks laid the ball off to Lewis Cook. Cook took a touch then sent a screamer of a shot into the top corner. The home side made sure of the points late on. Reading keeper Rafael giving the ball to Solanake, and after a scramble between them Solanke put the ball into the empty net.

Jason Tindle told BBC Radio Solent:

“We got ourselves in a difficult position at half-time and started slowly and I had to say one or two words and make a few tactical changes.

“We needed to come out and prove that this was a top of the table clash and, in the second half, we performed a lot better.

“That sort of result gives us confidence and the second half is our benchmark. We need to take it into the next run of games.”

Bristol City Pile pressure on Derby

Elsewhere, it is now three straight defeats for Derby after Bristol City win 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

Famara Diedhiou got the only goal of the game after 78 minutes. Antoine Semenyo breaking into the box from the right cuts the ball back to Diedhiou who placed his left footed shot into the bottom corner past David Marshall.

The win comes after Bristol City had a Covid-19 outbreak at their training ground. Dean Holden told BBC:

“To play like that after only one and a half day’s training this week was an unbelievable effort by the players.

“I can’t stress too much how well they did in the circumstances. During an international break you normally have two weeks to build up to the next game.”

Swansea City, meanwhile, beat Rotherham by a single goal. Matt Grimes netting his first of the season for the Swans. Grimes hit a shot from outside the box and going through a crowd of players the ball found the net. The win is Swansea’s third in a row at home as they look to reach the play-offs again this season.

Preston got their first home win of the season by beating Sheffield Wednesday by a goal to nil. The Owls had to play most of the game with 10 men after Josh Windass was given a straight red for a high foot. Tom Barkhuizen got Preston’s goal three minutes after the restart. Smashing home a volley from 16 yards out after Wednesday keeper Keiran Westwoods punch clear. With a first win at home Preston could mount a charge up the table if they can replicate their good away form.

Barnsley, however, left it late with two goals in the last five minutes to beat Forest 2-0. Barnsley twice struck the crossbar in the first half but had their keeper to thank for the goalless half time score. Jack Walton making three fine saves to keep the score at 0-0.

He made another in the second half as Forest looked to break the deadlock. The opening goal came from Callum Styles shotting from the edge of the box into the top corner. Cauley Woodrow got the second after good work from the right from Callum Brittain. Barnsley have four wins from five and now sit 13th.

Seven Goal Thriller

A goal feast at Stoke as they beat Huddersfield 4-3. The visitors took the lead as Carel Eiting volley from the edge of the box went in. The host’s levelled as Tyrese Campbell latched on to a loose ball in the box and smashed the ball into the net. Campbell gave Stoke the lead two minutes later, played into the box he rolled the ball under the keeper 2-1. Isaac Mbenza squared things up again at 2-2, played in by Eiting he rolled the ball under the Stoke keeper. Stoke pressed high as Huddersfield tried to play out form the back. Campbell getting the ball in the box and his shot going in off Richard Stearman.

Sam Clucas made it four for Stoke, with some good footwork he found a pocket of space and shot into the top corner. Huddersfield made it 4-3, Mouhamadou-Naby Sarr heading in from Mbenza’s free kick.

Elsewhere

Cardiff came from behind to draw with Millwall as Neil Harris made his first return to his former club. Matt Smith gave Millwall the lead on 35 minutes with his first of the season. Kieffer Moore scored his fourth Cardiff goal on 79 minutes to get a point for the visitors.

QPR went behind early to a Ben Wilmot goal after 3 minutes for Watford. Llias Chair made sure the points were shared with his third goal of the season. The draw drops Watford to fith. Five draws for QPR this season as they sit in 18th place.

Luke Berry gave Luton the lead on 69 minutes at Kenilworth Road. Sam Gallagher leveled for Blackburn three minutes later giving both sides a point. Both sides are unbeaten in three games. Luton are 10th while Blackburn are 14th.

Coventry City v Birmingham and Wycombe v Brentford both ended goalless. Coventry remain a point above Wycombe down the bottom. Brentford have now drawn four of their last five.

Norwich now lead the table and Reading having lost four in a row have dropped to sixth. The table will keep changing with only eight points from 12th to 1st.

Preston V Cardiff City Preview

Sunday’s early Championship fixture is between Preston North End and Cardiff City. Both clubs have four points from their opening four games prior to the international break.

Preston come into this match after a fantastic 4-2 win away at Brentford, while Cardiff held a free scoring Blackburn at Ewood Park last time out. Preston currently sit in 14th place whilst Cardiff are 16th.

Last season’s fixture saw the Bluebirds win 3-1 as they made a run into the playoffs. Historically, however, Deepdale has not been a happy hunting ground. Cardiff having lost by three goals in 2017,2016, 2010 as well as a 6-0 defeat in 2009. The latter resulting in the swing in goal difference that allowed Preston to beat Cardiff to the Play-offs.

Team News

For Preston Alan Browne is unlikely after being in close contact with with an ireland teammate who has tested positive for Covid-19. Browne has given a negative test but under current rules must still isolate for 10 days.

Preston Manager Alex Neil told Lancaster News:

“I presume at the moment that alan won’t be available, but I’m not quite sure. We need to take medical advice although we’ve already had some discussion with the doctor”.

Browne was forced to miss both of Irelands Nations League games this week.

There was, however, better news for midfielder Daniel Johnson:

“DJ to be fair was making good progress just before the international break. But he’d only trained once or twice with us before the Brentford game which wasn’t quite enough. He trained with us on Tuesday this week and hopefully will do so for the remainder of the week”.

Cardiff, meanwhile, will be without playmaker Lee Tomlin who is suspended after his red card at Blackburn. Joe Ralls will most likely play just behind the striker for Cardiff after returning from injury in the Blackburn game.

Kieffer Moore limped off during Wales’ game v England, but did play in the game against Ireland.

Speaking to Wales Online, Cardiff manager Neil Harris said:

“Kieffer’s come back to us. Fortunately he’s healing well, so has a good chance for the weekend”.

Another problem for Harris is the fitness of full back Joe Bennett who had to come off at Blackburn after just 13 minutes:

“Joe Bennett came off with a hamstring, so we have to keep an eye on that. We’ll have to wait and see”.

Key Players

Scott Sinclair has enjoyed a really good start to the season with three goals in four games. The winger who will know Cardiff well having been a former Swansea City player will be desperate to make it four goals. a wide player who likes to get into the box, he will be a handful for the Cardiff defence.

For the Bluebirds, Joe Ralls will need to be the creative force and push forward to support Moore. Cardiff forwards have often looked isolated this season so Ralls will need to be quick to support Moore when Cardiff play direct. He has the passing ability to open up the Preston defence and if Kieffer Moore can get into good spaces they can be a real threat. Preston will also have to watch out for his set piece play.

Where to Watch

This game is being shown live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 11:30 with a 12:00 kick off.

Prediction: Preston North End 1 – 1 Cardiff City

Two teams who have started slow and unlikely to change this weekend. Cardiff will be the happier side with a point away from home.

EFL Clubs vote for introduction of salary caps

The English Football League and the Professional Footballer’s Association appear to be on a collision course after clubs in Leagues One and Two voted in favour of the introduction of salary caps.

Fixed caps of £2.5 million for League One clubs and £1.5 million for League Two have been approved after a vote by clubs on Friday.

The EFL said the caps would take effect immediately and hoped it would help to get inflation under control and bring greater financial stability after the Covid-19 crisis.

It is understood that 22 League Two clubs voted in favour, with only two against. In League One, 16 clubs voted for the introduction of salary caps with eight against the idea.

As well as basic wages and taxes, the cap on total salary spending includes bonuses, image rights and agents’ fees, while payments earned from successful cup runs or promotions will be excluded.

Clubs in League One and League Two who exceed the cap by up to 5% will face a financial penalty. Further breaches would be referred to a disciplinary commission.

This news in my opinion is most welcome to lower league football. It has been known for a long time that some clubs in the lower leagues have clearly been spending well outside of their budget.

Take the financial troubles of Wigan and plenty of others who have been clearly functioning well out of their means. Clubs have been offering players silly money just to entice them to play at this level of football.

Fine, if you have the funds to back up this promise, not fine if you have not got the money available. This isn’t a case of players demanding silly money, it is their agents who are very much at fault.

In the current economic situation, we all live in at present, football is no different to any other industry. It will will have to tighten its belt otherwise there will be some clubs who could fall by the wayside.

Introducing salary caps makes financial sense. Just working out the maths as an example for League Two. An average squad of 25 will see a player on around £60,000 per year. Sounds pretty decent to me for a footballer. Considering most of the working population will lose their jobs or be working on a reduced salary for the time being.

By putting in to place a cap for clubs in Leagues One and Two, surely this should be extended to not only the Championship but also down to non-league level.

By bringing in salary caps you will always run the risk of losing some of the best players to other leagues, but to compensate this it will then help and bring through younger players with a chance of regular first team football and will give them a chance to move up the football ladder quickly.

However, there will always be doubts that some clubs will get around the salary cap system, like Saracens have been found guilty of in Premiership Rugby. Of course, there is the chance that will happen, but without some form of salary cap, quite simply Football will struggle to survive in the years to come.

 

 

Nottingham Forest 2 – Leeds United 0

Nottingham Forest produced a fine display in front of a vibrant sell-out City Ground crowd to close the gap to the automatic promotion places to just a single point.

Sabri Lamouchi made one change from last weekend’s defeat to Birmingham City as the returning Samba Sow replaced Ryan Yates in the centre of the Forest midfield. There was also a place on the substitutes’ bench for new signing Gaetan Bong following his arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion.

The match started fairly slowly, Forest’s first effort on target coming from Thiago Silva whose long-range shot was easily saved. Forest also had a good penalty shout when Joe Worall was pulled to the ground from a corner kick.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men were looking dangerous coming forward but as is so often the case lacked the cutting edge in attack. Ezgjan Alioski came close as his effort deflected off Joe Lolley on the edge of the Forest box but fortunately for The Reds, it drifted wide of Brice Samba’s goal.

Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area Forest made the most of that scare as they hit the front two minutes later. Ameobi got his head down and drove into the Leeds penalty area following a good one-two with Yuri Ribero, Ameobi had the option the cross to Lewis Grabban who was in a good position but lashed a shot beyond Casilla who looked as if he was expecting Ameobi the cross to the delight of the ecstatic Reds supporters.


Arguably, Forest deserved their advantage and they certainly should have doubled the lead ten minutes into the second half. A superb driving run from Lolley made space inside the final third, he laid the ball off to Lewis Grabban and despite shifting it cleverly to the right, he then drilled his shot straight at the legs of a floored Casilla.


Forest keeper Samba produced an outstanding save to keep Forest in front with 15 minutes to play. Liam Cooper was left unmarked inside the Forest penalty area and he met a left-wing corner and despite Samba being on the floor at the time, he stretched a hand up into the air to miraculously claw the defender’s header off the line. From some angles, in the crowd, the ball looked over the line but TV goal-line technology showed the ball was plum on the line when Samba punched it away.


In the final minute of stoppage time, Joe Lolley did superbly well to win the ball inside the Leeds half, powered on into the box and squared it to the supporting Walker who tapped home into Casilla’s unguarded net. It was a dream return to Forest for Walker who came on as a late substitute for Lewis Grabban to make his first City Ground appearance in around 2 years, during which he has enjoyed excellent scoring form in loan spells at Mansfield and Lincoln.

There was a big-game feel on Trentside and Forest were the team who left with all the glory. It was an absorbing, entertaining end-to-end contest, despite Leeds predictably having 70% possession they struggled to create a cut chance, with Forest once again proving they are hard to break down and looked by far the more threatening in an energetic, resourceful and clinical counter-attacking display.

Nottingham Forest boss, Sabri Lamouchi: “It was a massive result and a massive performance against a fantastic team. Leeds made more mistakes than usual, but we disturbed them without the ball. My players played with fight and determination and they played so well today. The players made me so proud and happy. We have 15 more games and we play again in three days. This league is crazy and you must be ready each game. My goal was to finish the season, the last time a [Forest] manager did that was 11 or 12 seasons ago.”

Match Stats

FORESTLEEDS
POSSESION30%70%
SHOTS1413
SHOTS ON TARGET61
CORNERS 38
FOULS 1114
Click above to watch match highlights on youtube

Should the FA Cup replay’s be scrapped?

Following the New Meadow 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury and Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp stated his first team players, nor himself, would appear in the replay back at Anfield.

Image result for shrewsbury town v liverpool
Shrewsbury’s Jason Cumming’s scored the equaliser on Sunday to take the tie back to Merseyside.

Since Klopp’s arrival to the Premier League he has shown no happiness towards the busy December period and the replay format of the cup, it seems he believes the players are requested to play too often, hindering their physical capability and lack of recovery time. Despite this, his team way ahead at the top of the Premier League do not seem to be suffering on the whole. A factor which is potentially being interpreted as ignorance when their competition is from the lower leagues who play more games than those in the top division with remarkably less money and resources.

A recent discussion on BBC Radio 5 Live heard how Great Britain hockey star Samantha Quek argued the FA Cup replay’s should be scrapped and the format should be changed to two separate pots of Premier League and Championship teams and another of the lower divisions. A disgruntled Tranmere fan was on the phone to explain how much the FA cup meant to a lower league team, not just financially but sentimentally, and rightfully so.

The FA Cup ties and replays are renowned for bringing extra revenue to smaller clubs which can become a vital input for changes that Premier League clubs do not have to think twice about. Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts explained how the money from the return trip to Anfield would allow for improved drainage of the pitch and cameras for analysis to be used in games. Something Premier League regulars may take for granted.

The FA Cup allows for extra distribution of money which is circulated within English football, vitally this money can reach the lucky lower league teams who make it through the rounds. But it is also the importance of sentiment that the cup brings. For a supporter, the FA cup can be a magical occasion and allows for that chance to visit a Premier League ground to watch their team play against some the world’s greats. Similarly for a player, who may have finished a day working, to then take to the stage lined up against world famous players, a great euphoric feeling which can’t be replicated.

Yes, the Premier league may be tasking for players who play a higher standard week in week out, but they are professional. Their clubs, if anything out of respect, should participate thoroughly in an FA Cup game as if it was any other game.