Player round up from Sophie Beresford.
Neil Taylor made a rare substitute appearance following an injury to right back Angel Rangel. I don’t want players to get injured (though I don’t object to seeing Joey Barton kicked up the bum once in a while) but if Taylor can play right back, there could be a place for both him and Ben Davies in Swansea’s and Wales’ starting line-up. Davies and Ashley Williams played 90 minutes as Swansea beat Aston Villa 4-1 at home and all but guaranteed they’d be playing in the Premier League next season.
James Collins returned to action as a 33rd-minute substitute as West Ham United lost for the seventh time in nine matches. West Bromwich Albion took all three points in a 1-0 win, their first at home under Pepe Mel.
WBA got their first home win under Pepe Mel. Boaz Myhill was an unused substitute for West Brom.
On Sunday, Craig Bellamy returned from a virus and was a 74th-minute substitute, but he couldn’t prevent from them losing 4-0 at the home of relegation rivals Sunderland. Cardiff fall to the bottom of the table and need a miracle. Not to mention three points against Chelsea. Cardiff should have had a penalty for handball, but that might easily not have been enough for a win. Declan John and the eligible but uninterested Ben Turner were unused substitutes for Cardiff.
Joe Allen provided one of Liverpool’s best efforts on goal with a volley, but neither he nor his team-mates could find the back of the net as they lost 2-0 at home to Chelsea. Liverpool had won their previous eleven games and were unbeaten in 16, but they must rely on Manchester City to drop points if they’re to win their first Premier League title.
Joe Ledley made his twelfth consecutive start for Crystal Palace as they lost 2-0 at home to new title favourites Manchester City. This is Palace’s fifth season in the Premier League, but the first in which they’ve survived relegation – something that seemed completely impossible when Tony Pulis became manager. Wayne Hennessey – a former Man City youth player – and Danny Gabbidon were unused substitutes for Palace.
On Monday, Aaron Ramsey returned to Arsenal’s starting line-up as they beat Newcastle United 3-0 at home. It’s a sixth consecutive defeat for Newcastle, but Arsenal are just three points away from securing Champions League football. Ramsey, who helped set up the winning goal, was one of Arsenal’s stand-out players in an excellent team performance. Paul Dummett kept his place in Newcastle’s starting line-up.
On Friday, Tom Lawrence started for Yeovil Town in a 2-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion. This confirmed Yeovil’s relegation following their first ever season in the Championship. Brighton were briefly in the play-offs following this win, but subsequent results mean that Andrew Crofts will be playing for Brighton in the Championship next season.
On Saturday, Jonny Williams completed only his second 90 minutes for loan club Ipswich Town as they lost 1-0 at promoted Burnley. This was Burnley’s 26th win of the season and it ends Ipswich’s admittedly very faint hopes of getting into the play-offs. David Jones started for Burnley – as he almost always has this season. Perhaps Ryan Giggs could have another go at talking him into making himself available for Wales – if he’s not too busy with his new job.
Emyr Huws was a doubt after leaving the field with a head injury in his last game, so he can probably be forgiven for failing to find the target with a weak header when Birmingham had their first chance to score. However, St Andrews hasn’t been Birmingham’s favourite place to play this season – very unfortunate, under the circumstances – and a 3-1 home defeat to Leeds United leaves the Midlands side in the relegation zone.
Danny Collins and David Vaughan started for Nottingham Forest as their play-off hopes came to an end. With two wins from their last two matches, there was reason for optimism, especially as hosts Bournemouth had recently forgotten how to win, but it was Bournemouth who took all three points in a 4-1 victory.
Morgan Fox set up Charlton Athletic’s only goal in their match against Blackburn Rovers. This could be Fox’s first assist in professional football (but it’s difficult to be sure as it’s not always possible to find out who set up the goals). Unfortunately, Fox’s goal was no more than a consolation as they lost 3-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers, also failing to score from a penalty when Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson had a world-class moment. Simon Church was a 70th-minute substitute for Charlton.
Jake Taylor got onto the pitch for the first time since March for Reading and you could say it paid off: Reading beat Doncaster 3-1 with a beautiful deep cross from Taylor providing the assist for the winning goal. This result puts Reading back into the play-offs, but Doncaster are just a point above the bottom three and winless in six games. Chris Gunter and David Cotterill started for Reading and Doncaster respectively.
Andy King started his third consecutive match for Leicester City and was praised for his ‘dangerous runs’ - which I’m sure refers to his feet, though his best attempt on goal came from a header. Leicester now have 99 points following a 2-0 away victory over Huddersfield Town. Joel Lynch was available for Huddersfield after serving a ban, but wasn’t in the squad.
Steve Morison was on the bench again for Millwall, but he was needed as early as the 16th-minute when a team-mate was injured. Morison was a threat, but Millwall needed a stoppage-time equaliser to draw 1-1 at Queen’s Park Rangers, but although they are only two points from the relegation zone, they’re unbeaten in seven. Jermaine Easter was an unused substitute for Millwall.
Jack Collison was left on the bench by Wigan Athletic, and it’s fair to say there probably was something wrong with the team selection on Saturday. Wigan lost 2-0 at home to Blackpool, who had won just two of their last 28 matches. Wigan had a penalty, but were unable to capitalise due to an exceptionally good save from Blackpool keeper Matt Gilks. Following this match, Wigan hadn’t yet confirmed their place in the play-offs, but they had a game in hand.
On Friday, Kieron Freeman returned to Sheffield United’s starting line-up after spending three matches as a substitute. Home side Port Vale took the lead, but Sheff Utd came back to win 2-1. Ben Davies was a 78th-minute substitute for Sheff Utd.
On Saturday, Joe Walsh started for Crawley Town against Bradford City on the 29th anniversary of the Bradford stadium fire. Bradford took all three points in a 2-1 home victory. After the match, John Gregory said that his team rely too much on players including Walsh to clear opponents’ efforts on goal. Walsh was also active at the other end of the pitch when he set up a chance that went begging after just six minutes.
Wes Burns was a 70th-minute substitute for Bristol City as they drew 0-0 at home to Crewe Alexandra. Crewe could have won it late on, but a point was enough for them to move out of the relegation zone. George Ray, who signed a new contract this week, was on the bench with Billy Waters. Dave Richards was on the bench for Bristol City.
A fine tackle from James Wilson helped Oldham Athletic to keep a fifth clean sheet in seven matches against Carlisle United. Oldham, who were already safe, are now unbeaten in eight matches following a 1-0 away victory. Carlisle, who probably really regret losing loanee Tom Lawrence to Yeovil Town, are four points from safety.
Dave Edwards scored yet again as champions Wolverhampton Wanderers got their 100th point of the season. They drew 1-1 at Coventry City (or rather at Notts County), which was enough to ensure League One football next season for Coventry. Lee Evans also started for Wolves, but Sam Ricketts, surprisingly, was dropped to the bench and didn’t appear till the 84th minute.
Owain Fôn Williams had another good game for Tranmere Rovers, denying several Leyton Orient attempts on goal. However, his good work was undone with two pieces of bad luck: a tangle which saw the ball rebound from the goalkeeper’s chest and a mis-hit clearance. This puts Tranmere back in the relegation zone for the last game of the season. Ash Taylor nearly found the back of the net with an instinctive backheel, but Jake Cassidy, who has been unwell, only lasted 45 minutes. Lloyd James was a 59th-minute substitute for Orient.
Gareth Roberts was an unused substitute for Notts County, who moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over Swindon Town. Louis Thompson returned from a hip injury in the 61st minute, but that was probably the only good news for Swindon Town, who had two players sent off in a mass brawl, including Thompson’s brother, the possibly-eligible Nathan Thompson, with Louis also picking up a yellow..
Craig Davies was dropped to the bench for Preston North End, only making an appearance in the 75th minute, though he had time to worry the Gillingham keeper with a low shot. By that time, the score was already 3-1 to home side Preston and that was how it finished. Preston have won their last five at home and haven’t lost at home in 2014. Elliott Hewitt played 90 minutes for Gillingham, who are now safe from relegation.
Craig Morgan started for Rotherham United as they hosted one of his former clubs, Milton Keynes Dons. Despite having a player sent off early in the second half, MK Dons were winning 2-0 after 78 minutes, but two late goals from Rotherham, shortly after Nicky Adams had joined the fray, gave them a share of the points. James Loveridge was a substitute for MK Dons and only a very good save stopped him from scoring.
Lloyd Isgrove scored his first professional goal, got an assist and was named in the Sky Bet Team of the Week as Peterborough United won 4-2 at Shrewsbury Town. Tom Bradshaw scored with a volley just before half-time with Joe Jacobson getting the opening assist, but the defeat means Shrewsbury are relegated from League One. Paul Parry played the first 45 minutes for Shrewsbury.
Michael Doughty was an 83rd-minute substitute for Stevenage, who won for the first time in eleven matches. They beat Walsall 3-2 and although they were already relegated, the result does move them off the bottom of the table, if nothing else.
Darren Jones kept his place in Wimbledon’s defence as they lost 3-0 at home to Morecambe. It’s just a shame he didn’t keep his place when he slipped, allowing Morecambe to score. It’s not been a good week for Wimbledon, who also suffered a three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player, though this didn’t affect the relegation picture as Wimbledon have long been safe. Aaron Morris was an unused substitute for Wimbledon.
Craig Jones was excellent at right back, according to his manager, as Bury got what was ultimately a disappointing draw against Portsmouth. Bury had been 3-0 and later 4-2 ahead, and it looked as though they were going to hold on for a 4-3 win, but Portsmouth scored again in the third minute of injury time. Both teams move into the top half.
Christian Ribeiro was on the bench as Scunthorpe United had a day of mixed fortunes. They lost the match and ended their record-breaking 28-match unbeaten run, but due to Fleetwood Town’s failure to win, this was enough to see Scunthorpe promoted back to League One at the first attempt. Eliot Richards had the chance to score from distance for Exeter City, but a 2-0 home victory sees them safe from relegation.
Freddy Eastwood was a 90th-minte substitute for Southend United, who confirmed their place in the play-offs with a 1-1 draw at Fleetwood Town. Chris Maxwell was in goal for Fleetwood, who were two points behind the automatic promotion places after this match, but Chesterfield won their game in hand, taking the third automatic promotion place for themselves and leaving Fleetwood in the play-offs.
Lewis Price was available for Mansfield Town after receiving clearance to continue his emergency loan spell, but he was on the losing side as Torquay United won their third consecutive away match. Unfortunately for Torquay, who thoroughly deserved their 3-1 victory, the other results did not go their way and they were relegated from the Football League.
Troy Brown played for a lacklustre Cheltenham Town, who lost 2-0 at Rochdale. The most exciting moment was probably when Brown was clattered by a team-mate, but this led to Rochdale’s first goal. Rochdale’s victory means they are promoted from League Two and also gave them top spot in the League Two table.
Kaid Mohamed played the full match for Bristol Rovers as they won 2-1 and dumped opponents Wycombe Wanderers into the relegation zone. However, Rovers are themselves not out of danger yet. They will replace Wycombe in the bottom three if they lose, Wycombe win and Northampton Town get at least a point. And a Wycombe victory is a possibility: they face relegated Torquay United.
Andrew Hughes returned to Newport County’s starting line-up while Mike Flynn dropped to the bench, but it was a disappointing performance from Newport County, who lost 1-0 at York City. Newport were also without Darcy Blake, who injured his rib before the game. York were unbeaten in 16, but Newport arguably should have stopped them from scoring. Aaron Amadi-Holloway was an unused substitute for Newport.
Owain Tudur Jones was an unused substitute as Hibernian lost 2-1 at home to the relegated Heart of Midlothian. Hibernian are 8th, but they’re only a point ahead of the relegation play-off place.
Adam Matthews went straight into Celtic’s starting line-up after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Celtic’s 6-0 victory keeps them on target for 101 points.