Weekend Round up.
Weekend player round up from Sophie Beresford.
Half-time substitute Craig Bellamy returned to action for Cardiff City after two months out with knee and hamstring problems, but visitors West Ham United - one of Bellamy's many former sides - took the points in a 2-0 victory. Declan John started his fourth consecutive match for Cardiff, while Jack Collison returned to West Ham's starting line-up. This was West Ham's fourth away win of the season in all competitions, but only the second that wasn't against Tottenham Hotspur.
Boaz Myhill was an unused substitute for West Brom as they lost 1-0 at Southampton. This was the first match under new manager Pepe Mel. If he fancies taking a look at his other goalkeeper in the next match, I'm sure every football fan in Wales would appreciate it.
Danny Gabbidon kept his place in Crystal Palace's starting line-up as they lost 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur. Sadly, this ruined the delightfully odd fact that Palace had never lost to Spurs at White Hart Lane in the Premier League. Jonathan Williams made a 69th-minute substitute appearance for Palace; Lewis Price was an unused substitute.
Ryan Giggs was relegated to the bench following his own goal against Sunderland in the League Cup (this is quite possibly the first time the words 'Ryan Giggs' and 'relegation' have appeared in the same sentence). Manchester United bounced back from three consecutive defeats to beat Swansea City 2-0 at home. Ben Davies and Ashley Williams played in defence for Swansea, with no fewer than four Welshmen being named on Swansea's bench: David Cornell, Jazz Richards, Neil Taylor and (for the first time for more than a year) Lee Lucas.
On Sunday, Danny Ward sat on Liverpool's bench for the first time this season as they beat Stoke City 5-3 at the Britannia Stadium. Ryan Shawcross, who is eligible for Wales through the education rule, scored Liverpool's opening goal. Unfortunately for him, he's a Stoke player.
On Friday night, Andy King was left on the bench by Leicester City, but they didn't seem to miss him too much as they thumped in-form Derby County 4-1. Kieron Freeman was an unused substitute for Derby, but his weekend wasn't over yet. Freeman returned to Notts County on loan the following day.
Adam Henley helped Blackburn Rovers to keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 home victory over struggling Doncaster Rovers. Having failed to win their last three home games, this result must have been particularly welcome. Any result involving any number of points would be welcome for Doncaster, but they were unable to add to the 2 points they've got from away games this season. David Cotterill was a 79th-minute Doncaster substitute.
Danny Collins and David Vaughan were ruled out with ankle and thigh injuries respectively, but that didn't stop them from sitting on the bench for Nottingham Forest's 1-1 draw against Bolton Wanderers. In fact, Collins' recovery was so miraculous, he was even able to come off the bench in the 59th minute as Forest stretched their unbeaten run to 9 matches.
Bad news for Brighton and Wales: Andrew Crofts was ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing his cruciate ligament in the 82nd minute of Brighton's home match against Birmingham City. Brighton's 1-0 win moved them into a play-off berth, but they'll miss Crofts' work-rate and goals.
Steve Morison nearly scored with a header that would have put Millwall 1-0 up at Huddersfield, but he was denied by a fine save. Annoyingly, Huddersfield scored in the last minute, which meant they got the 1-0 win instead. No doubt new Millwall manager Ian Hollloway had something funny to say about it, but I wonder how many Millwall fans laughed.
Chris Gunter started for Reading as they got a 1-0 away victory over Watford - Reading's first win in six matches. Jake Taylor was again a late substitute for Reading. Perhaps he could be given a starting spot. It's possible I'm being over-patriotic again, but the fact Reading have scored two goals in their last five matches suggests things aren't quite right up front.
Sam Vokes scored Burnley's second goal in their 2-1 away victory over Yeovil Town, but away results remain a cause for concern. They were winless in seven prior to this match, despite the prolificacy of Vokes and strike partner Danny Ings. So how Burnley are still in second I have no idea. Brian Stock was an unused substitute.
Wes Burns came off the bench in the 90th minute as Bristol City drew 1-1 at Bradford and slipped to 23rd place. Things could hardly have got off to a worse start for Bristol C when Bradford scored in the first minute, but although they equalised ten minutes later, neither side could find a winner.
Sanchez Watt has said he'd rather play for England than Wales. A goal and two assists in four appearances (two from the bench) for Colchester United might not be quite enough to bring him to Roy Hodgson's attention, but a call-up from a much more interesting team might not be completely out of the question. Watt scored the first goal and assisted the second in a 3-0 home victory over Gillingham. His team-mate Mason Spence was an unused substitute.
Lloyd James got the assist for the opening goal as Leyton Orient beat Carlisle United 4-0 and stayed second in the table, a point behind Brentford. Tom Lawrence played 90 minutes for Carlisle. He might not have enjoyed watching the football results much since joining Carlisle, but with the equivalent of (almost) a goal every other game, things could be worse.
Joe Jacobson scored Shrewsbury's second of the match and his own fourth of the season, but couldn't prevent his side from losing 3-2 in Milton Keynes. Tom Bradshaw made a late appearance from the bench; Paul Parry and Dominic Smith were unused substitutes.
Kieron Freeman had a busy weekend, sitting on the bench for Derby County in Leicester before travelling north to Nottinghamshire to play 90 minutes for Notts County in his third loan spell with the club. Notts got a 2-1 home win over fellow-strugglers Sheffield United and are now just a point behind their opponents.
Sam Wedgbury made just his second start for Stevenage since September, but he didn't last long: he was replaced at half-time by Michael Doughty, who was on the bench for only the second time since his loan switch from QPR. Stevenage remain bottom after losing 1-0 at Oldham.
Mark Bradley played 90 minutes for Rotherham as they beat relegation-battlers Crewe Alexandra 4-2 at home and remained in the play-off places. George Ray was an unused substitute for Crewe, who are perhaps saving him for under-21 encounters, but he's likely to be available for the first team's next month after receiving a red card in the under-21s 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town.
Louis Thompson was a 63rd-minute substitute for Swindon as they beat Peterborough United 4-0, subjecting the away side to their fourth consecutive loss. Thompson's older brother Nathan played 90 minutes - I'm not sure if he's also eligible for Wales.
Owain Fôn Williams played for Tranmere as they drew 1-1 at home to Walsall. The goalkeeper probably won't be consoled by the view that the goal he conceded was a result of a particularly fine strike. Ash Taylor and Jason Koumas also started for Tranmere.
Lee Evans was glad he hadn't sorted out a loan move yet when he scored Wolverhampton Wanderers' second goal in a 2-0 home victory over Preston North End. Dave Edwards scored the opening goal, with Sam Ricketts also starting. Wayne Hennessey returned the squad after withdrawing a request not to play, but found himself on the bench as Aaron McCarey, who played last week in Hennessey's absence, kept his place. Jake Cassidy was also on the bench.
On Sunday, Joe Walsh scored an own goal when his team Crawley Town visited Coventry City, but on the whole been an excellent season for Walsh, who was named as 'Player of the Season So Far' by team-mate Sergio Torres. Walsh and Nicky Adams both played 90 minutes for Crawley, who had a fight on their hands after Coventry went 2-0 up after 82 minutes, but two goals in five minutes saw Crawley claim a draw. Aaron Phillips was an unused substitute for Coventry.
David Pipe made his fifth consecutive start for a Newport County side who snatched a 3-3 draw with a goal in the 90th minute at Accrington. Tony James, Mike Flynn and Andrew Hughes were all unused substitutes for Newport, who are outside the play-off places after three games without a win.
Aaron Morris signed for Wimbledon recently after recovering from a knee injury that has seen him sidelined since April. His contract with relegated Aldershot Town ended last season, but he made his return to league football in the 89th minute of Wimbledon's home match against Torquay. Sadly, the former Cardiff trainee couldn't celebrate his return with a win as Wimbledon lost 2-0, but it is good to see him playing again. Billy Bodin was an 81st-minute substitute for Torquay United as they ended a five-match winless run. Nathan Craig was an unused substitute.
Eliot Richards won a penalty for Bristol Rovers in a 2-1 home victory over Exeter City, but with Accrington and Torquay also winning, Rovers are only outside the relegation places on goal difference. Ellis Harrison made his first start since October for the home side. Arron Davies was a 62nd-minute substitute for Exeter.
Troy Brown played 90 minutes for Cheltenham Town, who are six points away from the play-offs after losing 2-1 at second-placed Burton Albion, who are unbeaten in 11 matches. Connor Roberts was on the bench for Cheltenham.
Daniel Nardiello played 90 minutes for Bury, but was unable to find the net in a fraught match that saw them go down to ten men in first-half stoppage time and lose 4-0 at Chesterfield (though there are worse things than losing to the team in third place). Gareth Roberts was an unused substitute for Bury.
Chris Maxwell recently returned from a loan spell at Cambridge United and left them in quite a healthy position - three points behind leaders Luton Town with three games in hand. His parent club Fleetwood Town aren't doing too badly themselves. The goalkeeper sat on Fleetwood's bench for their 1-0 away victory over Dagenham & Redbridge.
Christian Ribeiro must be enjoying the view from the top of the table. Scunthorpe United's 2-0 away victory over Mansfield Town means they are unbeaten in nine matches. The fact that Scunthorpe's good form coincided with Ribeiro's return to the first team must make victory all the sweeter. Lee Beevers was an unused substitute for Mansfield.
Daniel Alfei made his debut for Portsmouth following a loan move from Swansea City. He helped them to keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Oxford United, but with the teams below them all winning, Portsmouth are a point above the relegation places with one win in their last thirteen matches.
Freddy Eastwood was a 74th-minute substitute for Southend United in a 1-1 draw at Plymouth Argyle, who were on a bit of a run with three wins from their last four matches. This result saw Southend slip to fifth, but they're only two points outside the automatic promotion places.