Craig Bellamy returned to captain Cardiff City against his previous side Liverpool, but although Cardiff took the lead twice and were still fighting in the 88th minute, Liverpool continued their excellent form with a 6-3 away victory. Joe Allen helped to set up the opening goal, but he probably isn’t very happy about it as the opening goal was Cardiff’s. Declan John announced prior to this match that Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was his idol. If it was an attempt to get into the starting line-up, it worked.
Ashley Williams scored in stoppage time for Swansea City in their away match at Everton, but it was the English club took the points in a 3-2 victory. Ben Davies also started for Swansea but wasn’t at his best, which could turn out to be good news for unused substitute Neil Taylor. This result leaves Swansea four points above the relegation zone and winless in five matches.
Liam O’Neil made his debut last weekend for West Bromwich Albion, but I neglected to mention it. So I’m mentioning it now. This weekend, he stayed on the bench with former Hull City keeper Boaz Myhill and watched home side Hull beat West Brom 2-0. West Brom have won only one match in 2014 and that was on New Year’s Day. They’ll have to make some changes – but hopefully they’ll lose to Cardiff first.
Paul Dummett played for Newcastle United at home to Crystal Palace. Newcastle took the points in 1-0 win, but they took their time about it. The teams had been playing for just over 95 minutes (including two lots of stoppage time) before Papiss Cissé finally got off his backside and scored the equaliser. Joe Ledley played 90 minutes for Palace while Wayne Hennessey and Danny Gabbidon watched from the bench.
James Collins returned to West Ham United’s starting line-up, but it didn’t help. Manchester United have suddenly remembered how to play football, and they beat West Ham 2-0 at Upton Park. Ryan Giggs didn’t feature for Man Utd, This is the only season so far when Giggs hasn’t scored a Premier League goal for Man Utd. Time is running out, but there’s probably more chance of a Giggs goal than Champions League football.
Danny Collins was in the unenviable position of being part of Nottingham Forest’s defence as they were thrashed 5-0 by Derby County. Collins was also the unlucky man the ball clipped on its way into the net for the opening goal. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was Derby’s biggest-ever win over fairly local rivals Forest, who could do worse than take a leaf out of Derby’s book after seven matches without a win.
Lewin Nyatanga kept his place in Barnsley’s starting line-up after being backed by manager Danny Wilson, and he didn’t do too badly. Visitors Bolton Wanderers only managed to score the one goal, and they didn’t manage that until the penultimate minute of stoppage time. Unfortunately, this was enough to ensure that Barnsley lost the match 1-0.
Emyr Huws lasted just 29 minutes for Birmingham City before being replaced due to a hip injury, though Reading nearly lost Hal Robson-Kanu in the opening 30 seconds, but he recovered following treatment. Robson-Kanu’s team-mate Chris Gunter managed not to injure himself, and his low right-wing cross set up Reading’s winning goal in a 2-1 away victory. Jake Taylor was an unused substitute for Reading.
Adam Henley struggled against Leicester City’s potent attack, and although the Blackburn Rovers defender’s performance improved in the second half, he suffered an ankle injury and left the field on a stretcher. But Blackburn must have done something right. They drew 1-1 at home, bringing Leicester’s 4-match winning run to an end. Andy King made a rare substitute appearance for Leicester in the 76th minute.
Loanee Jonny Williams started again for Ipswich Town and provided the assist for the winning goal in a 2-0 away victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. Williams is on loan from Brighton’s hated rivals Crystal Palace and the Brighton fans gave him the welcome they always reserve for Crystal Palace players, but it looks like Williams had the last laugh. At least until team-mate Aaron Cresswell decided to pull his shorts down.
Sam Vokes helped to ensure that his injured strike partner Danny Ings won’t be missed as Burnley visited struggling Charlton Athletic and beat them 3-0, extending their unbeaten run to 15 matches. Vokes won and scored a penalty in the 55th minute. Simon Church returned to Charlton’s starting line-up and could have opened the scoring, but as usual, he didn’t. Rhoys Wiggins also started; Morgan Fox was on the bench.
David Cotterill started again for Doncaster Rovers as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at home. Cotterill almost made it two with a free kick towards the close of the game, but one goal was enough to move Doncaster eight points clear of the relegation zone with three wins from their last four games..
Jack Collison made his Wigan Athletic debut as a 61st-minute substitute in their home match against Watford and nearly picked up an assist deep into stoppage time. Watford took the lead in the first half, but Wigan came back to win 2-1, their ninth win in ten matches.
Tom Lawrence played 90 minutes of Yeovil Town’s 2-2 home draw against Bolton Wanderers and provided the assist for the second goal. Lawrence is yet to score for the Championship club, but his performance was described as impressive, though he probably can’t save Yeovil on his own. Yeovil were 2-0 up, but they then missed a penalty, conceded two goals, and lost the chance to move out of the bottom three.
Dave Edwards did no harm to his chances of getting a contract when he returned to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ starting line-up and scored the winner in their 2-0 away victory against in-form Sheffield United. It was Sheffield United’s 125th anniversary, but Wolves weren’t in a sentimental mood. Lee Evans was promoted to Wolves’ starting line-up, but’s a measure of the strength of their team that captain Sam Ricketts had to make do with a cameo from the bench. For Sheffield United, Kieron Freeman started and Ben Davies was a 62nd-minute substitute.
It will come as no surprise to anyone to hear that Wes Burns came off the bench for Bristol City, but he didn’t really have the chance to snatch a winner as he wasn’t introduced until stoppage time. Away side Bristol City had been 2-0 ahead, but Colchester United scored two in seven minutes to take a share of the points.
Elliott Hewitt played in defence for Gillingham as they lost 3-1 at home to the improving Crewe Alexandra. Gillingham equalised in the 30th minute when Hewitt’s looping cross set up Amine Linganzi, but Crewe scored twice in the second half to take the points. George Ray was on the bench for Crewe.
James Wilson helped Oldham Athletic to keep a clean sheet as they got an important 1-0 home victory over Crawley Town. Fellow under-21 international Joe Walsh was in defence for the opposition and went close from a corner. This was only Crawley’s second defeat in eleven matches and the play-offs remain a possibility.
Craig Morgan started for Rotherham United against his former side Peterborough United and helped to keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 away victory. Nicky Adams’ first Rotherham United goal last weekend earned him a first Rotherham start and his manager named him as Rotherham’s ‘outstanding’ player in a very fine team performance. Lloyd Isgrove, on loan from Southampton, made his Peterborough debut in the 73rd minute.
Ash Taylor and Jason Koumas were both on the scoresheet but found themselves on the losing side when Tranmere Rovers travelled to Port Vale and lost 3-2. Taylor headed in from a corner while Koumas scored from a free kick. Jake Cassidy came close to scoring for Tranmere when he got past Port Vale’s Richard Duffy, but his shot went over the bar. Owain Fôn Williams was in goal for Tranmere.
Paul Parry’s crossing ability caused Bradford City more than a few problems and played a part in the winning goal as Shrewsbury Town ended their run of ten winless home matches with a 2-1 victory. Shrewsbury scored the winner just 42 seconds before the referee blew for full-time. Joe Jacobson was an unused substitute for Shrewsbury.
James Loveridge made his Milton Keynes Dons debut on loan from Swansea City as a half-time substitute and was described by a Milton Keynes paper as a ‘nuisance’ which sounds like a promising start to his football career. MK Dons scored three late goals to beat Stevenage 3-2 away. Michael Doughty was a 61st-minute substitute for Stevenage and is worryingly close to suspension with what I believe is his eighth booking of the season. Sam Wedgbury stayed on the bench.
Craig Davies played an hour for Preston North End and forced a number of saves in their 1-0 away defeat to Swindon Town. Swindon played a ‘young’ side that unfortunately didn’t include their young Welshmen – Louis Thompson missed out after injuring his ankle in training, Aaron Oakley is on loan at Chippenham Town and Liam Walsh wasn’t selected.
It was a disappointing weekend for Lloyd James, who played 69 minutes, had a shot brilliantly saved and got booked as Leyton Orient drew 1-1 at Walsall. This means they’re four points behind second-placed Brentford, having played two games more. It’s not even as though Walsall have been playing particularly well: they’re winless in ten.
On Friday, Freddy Eastwood kept his place in Southend United’s starting line-up when they travelled to Bristol Rovers. He didn’t find the back of the net, but players do tend not to in a 0-0 draw. Kaid Mohamed started for Bristol Rovers and struggled in the slippery conditions, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you whether he scored or not. Ellis Harrison was again an unused substitute for Bristol Rovers.
On Saturday, Lee Beevers made a surprise return to Mansfield Town’s starting line-up and helped to keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 at home to promotion-chasing Chesterfield. Beevers was also active at the other end of the pitch, shooting over from 20 yards out. Both Mansfield and Chesterfield have won only one of their last six matches.
Darren Jones started in defence for Wimbledon at home to Cheltenham Town, a team he played for on loan eleven years ago. Cheltenham’s Troy Brown opened the scoring in the fifth minute, but three goals in three minutes from Wimbledon plus a stoppage time winner ensured the home side took the points on a 3-2 victory. Connor Roberts was on the bench for Cheltenham.
Craig Jones could have given Bury an early lead, but his header went over the crossbar and their home match against Dagenham & Redbridge finished one apiece. Daniel Nardiello played the full match for Bury, but couldn’t find a goal. This result leaves Bury four points above the drop zone and winless in six.
Eliot Richards scored two goals as Exeter City claimed their first home win since October. Exeter beat promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town 3-0. Chris Maxwell was in goal for Fleetwood, who ended a five-match unbeaten run. Arron Davies was an 82nd-minute substitute for Exeter.
Portsmouth gave Daniel Alfei licence to attack more in their home match against York City, and Portsmouth’s best attacks did come from that side. But York had won their last four matches and did so again in a 1-0 victory. Portsmouth are just two points above the relegation zone and winless in five.
Christian Ribeiro was on the bench again for Scunthorpe United as they extended their unbeaten run to 22 matches. Their latest victims were Burton Albion, who are halfway between the automatic promotion places and 8th place. Scunthorpe’s win moved them into 2nd place as Chesterfield drew.
Darcy Blake signed for Newport County this week and went straight into the starting line-updespite not having played League football this season. His debut was impressive: he worked well with Newport’s other new centre back and Newport got a 1-0 away victory over Torquay United. Andrew Hughes nearly doubled Newport’s lead after the break, but his header hit the bar. Mike Flynn returned to the starting line-up for the first time in over a month and captained the side. Recent signing Aaron Amadi-Holloway came off the bench in the 75th minute. Billy Bodin started for Torquay and came close with a free kick and a shot from wide on the left.
Adam Matthews played 90 minutes as Celtic beat St Mirren 3-0 at home. Celtic need four points in order to win the title, though they could win it earlier depending on midweek results.
Gareth Bale played 90 minutes for Real Madrid, but he didn’t add to either his goals or his assists tally. Although Real were playing at home and scored a reasonably healthy three goals, it wasn’t enough when they were facing Barcelona, who won 4-3.