Midweek player round up from Sophie Beresford.
Champions LeagueGareth Bale played 90 minutes for Real Madrid in a 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund. Real, however, progressed to the semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate victory. After a woeful first half which saw Real miss an early penalty, Bale was one of the players who improved in the second half as Real did enough to ensure they would play in the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive season.
On Wednesday, Ryan Giggs was an unused substitute for what is thought to be his last ever match in the Champions League. Manchester United’s current league position means Champions League football next season is highly unlikely and rumours suggest Giggs could hang up his boots once this season has drawn to a close. Man Utd lost 3-1 at the home of Bayern Munich, meaning Bayern win 4-2 on aggregate and Man Utd are out.
Sam Vokes might not be playing football for Burnley in the next six months due to the rupture of his anterior cruciate ligament, but he attended the away match at Barnsley as a supporter and watched his team-mates win 1-0. It could have been 2-0 had the assistant referee been slightly less vigilant, but one goal was enough for Burnley to extend their unbeaten away run to 10 matches. David Jones’ return to health meant substitute Brian Stock was not needed to replace him this time.
Hal Robson-Kanu was one of Reading’s best performers when they travelled to play-off rivals Bournemouth (I know it sounds mad, but it’s true: look at the table). Unfortunately it was Bournemouth who got the 3-1 victory, with Robson-Kanu scoring Reading’s consolation.. It was a very tough game for Reading’s Chris Gunter, who struggled defensively and couldn’t make his usual attacking runs. Shaun MacDonald came off Bournemouth’s bench in stoppage time, his first appearance for nearly a month; Jake Taylor was an unused substitute for Reading.
Tom Lawrence came close to scoring his second in two games for Yeovil Town when he hit the bar directly from a corner (I don’t know if he meant it but I’m sure he’ll say he did). Unfortunately, he wasn’t close enough and Yeovil lost 3-2 at Charlton Athletic. Rhoys Wiggins played in defence for Charlton with Morgan Fox on the bench. Simon Church was again absent from Charlton’s squad and missed the chance to face another former club.
David Cotterill scored his second goal in three games for Doncaster Rovers with a curling free kick from 30 yards out. Unfortunately, Doncaster suffered their second defeat in two games, with visitors Bolton Wanderers taking the points in a 2-1 win. Cotterill’s 18th-minute goal was the third of three goals in this match, but although under considerable pressure from Doncaster, Bolton extended their unbeaten away run to six matches.
Joel Lynch returned to Huddersfield Town’s starting line-up for the first time since recovering from a groin injury, but he wasn’t able to prevent his team from losing 2-0 at home to Ipswich Town. Jonny Williams played 75 minutes for Ipswich, who are now just two points form the play-offs. It wouldn’t be Williams’ first involvement with the play-offs: he started for parent club Crystal Palace when they won the play-off final last season.
Andy King returned to Leicester City’s starting line-up as they played at home for the first time since sealing promotion to the Premier League. Things didn’t exactly go as planned. Visitors Brighton & Hove Albion claimed a 4-1 away victory, ending their 21-match unbeaten run and becoming only the second club this season to beat Leicester at home in the league.
Emyr Huws scored a goal that has been described as both a ‘thunderbolt’ and a ‘dipping, curling shot’, but it was no more than a consolation in Birmingham City’s 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough. Birmingham are now just four points from the relegation zone, and with Barnsley and Millwall developing a worrying habit of winning games, it might be a good idea for Birmingham to do the same.
Danny Collins was given cause to wish he hadn’t got out of bed on Tuesday when he conceded a penalty, got himself sent off for two yellow card offences, and (assuming it’s possible to players to watch the match whilst having an early bath) saw his team extend their winless run to eleven matches. True, Forest did come back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at home to Sheffield Wednesday, but Forest are now four points from the play-offs.
Steve Morison was again a substitute for Millwall and had the chance to score following a parry from the Wigan Athletic goalkeeper. Morison’s shot was saved – but luckily for him, it didn’t matter as Millwall’s one goal was enough to prove their superiority over Manchester City by beating the FA Cup holders and semi-finalists. Jack Collison was another Welshman who nearly scored: he was very close to an equaliser from 12 yards out following a clever pass. Wigan remain in the play-offs while Millwall look like they might not go down after all.
League OneJoe Walsh started for Crawley Town as they lost 1-0 at the home of second-placed Brentford, who are now 9 points clear of third-placed Rotherham United. It would have been even worse for Crawley if Brentford had been able to capitalise on a slip by Walsh, but luckily for him, the shot was weak. Crawley have lost their last six and are only three points ahead of the relegation zone.
Elliott Hewitt has started Gillingham’s last nine matches, picking up two assists, but five of those matches ended in defeat, including, unfortunately, the Gills’ visit to Peterborough United. Peterborough consolidated their play-off place with a 2-0 victory, despite missing a penalty. Adam Birchall was on the bench for Gillingham for the fourth time this season.
Ben Davies scored a last-minute penalty to give FA Cup semi-finalists Sheffield United a 1-0 home win over promotion-chasing Rotherham United, ending their unbeaten run of 16 matches. Davies’ fellow Derby County loanee Kieron Freeman also started. Craig Morgan was the unlucky Rotherham player whose foul led to the penalty. Nicky Adams dropped to the bench for Rotherham, who had two penalty appeals turned down.
Darcy Blake’s Newport County career so far includes four matches and a red card. But he’s already done enough to convince Newport they’d miss him if he went elsewhere next season. Blake was back in the starting line-up as Newport lost 2-1 at home to his former loan side Plymouth Argyle. Andrew Hughes and Mike Flynn also started for Newport, while David Pipe and Aaron Amadi-Holloway were unused substitutes. With one win in their last ten games, Newport are seven points from the relegation zone.