Millwall Win To Climb Into Top Half Of Table

Millwall came from behind to win 2-1 at the New Den against Sheffield Wednesday to take them up to the heady heights of 11th place in the Championship.

Two second half goals from Lee Gregory and Steve Morrison were enough to turn the game around following the Lions going into the half time break a goal down after Wednesday had dominated large chunks of the first half.

Millwall came into the game with forward Aiden O’Brien sidelined with an ankle problem and defender Byron Webster still a long-term absentee with knee trouble. January signing Harry Toffolo is still awaiting his debut while veteran Australia forward Tim Cahill is building up his match fitness.

Although the visitors also had their problems with Wednesday striker Jordan Rhodes missing the game due to illness and he is probably one of Wednesday’s stand out players so a massive loss for the visiting team.

Once more the Lions allowed the away team to dominate possession, a common theme at the New Den this season. Incredibly Wednesday had almost two thirds of the possession and yet could only manage one shot on target in total as Millwall’s back four really have turned into a solid defence. Almost a nil wall! The Lions on the other hand had 12 shots in total of which four found the target and more importantly 2 found the back of the Yorkshire teams net.

With this victory Millwall moved up to nose bleed territory this season as they sit nicely in 11th place with all thoughts of relegation now out of the Londoners nightmares. Dare I mention that the Lions are on such a good run that they are only 8 points off of a play off place to the Premiership. OK maybe it’s a fantasy but Neil Harris’s men have done a brilliant job so far in 2018 and are shared on 45 points with Leeds United, Ipswich and Norwich City. All three teams were not in action tonight so Millwall leapfrogged all 3 on a superior goal difference.

Millwall had been winless in eight league matches against the Owls (D3 L5), since a 2-1 win as far back as September 2005. Also both teams had found the net in each of the last seven league meetings, with no goalless draws between the teams in league competition since December 1947 so it was likely to be a scoring affair.

However the game was far from easy as Sheffield Wednesday led at half time thanks to a Joey Pelupessy goal. He cut in from the left hand side and produced a sweetly struck shot to give the visitors the lead two minutes before the interval.

But Neil Harris’ side responded, first through Gregory’s close-range header in the 52nd minute and then just nine minutes later, Morrison turned in Jed Wallace’s cross from the right to turn the game on it’s head.

There were 13 minutes of stoppage time after Wednesday’s Jordan Thorniley was stretchered off in the second half, but Millwall saw out victory to extend their fine unbeaten run in the league to seven matches.

Striker Lee Gregory sparked the turnaround as he headed home from close range after Jake Cooper turned a free-kick from the right back across goal. Jed Wallace then won the ball on the right hand side of the penalty area and slid his pass across the six yard box to Morrison, who turned in for his third goal of the season.

Wednesday haven’t won this year and are without an away win since Boxing Day and have just one league victory since manager Jos Luhukay was appointed at the start of January. The Owls flap uneasily in 16th place after this defeat.

The Lions are now unbeaten in their last 7 league games with four wins and 3 draws and they last went on a longer run without defeat in the second tier back between March and August 2014 (11 games).

This win showed the Lions have the bottle for coming back from a hostile situation and this was another fine example of the discipline particularly in defence that the team now show.

If you fancy a bet on Millwall for the forthcoming matches then follow this link.

Millwall’s 3 Point Meal In The Midlands

Hungry Millwall won by a goal to nil against lowly Birmingham City for their third straight away win of 2018 in the Midlands to push them still further from the relegation area.

A Fred Onyedinma strike 13 minutes from the end of the game gave the south Londoners the points in a match they deserved to win. Blues goalkeeper David Stockdale made a fine save to deny Onyedinma, but he finished at the second attempt.

The Lions spent 2017 relying heavily on home form in the Championship as the home form kept them away from the relegation area but in 2018 that is 9 points out of 9 as they continue searching for mid table safety which is getting closer by the match.

Millwall once again set their stall early relying on defence and allowing the home team to dominate possession and playing on the counter attack up to the lone striker. Despite having only 39% of the play the Lions never looked in any particular trouble as Birmingham managed their only chance on target in second half stoppage time when Jordan Archer blocked Harlee Dean’s low effort. City are the Championship’s lowest scorers with just 22 goals and it’s easy to see why as Millwall held them off with few troubles.

Meanwhile in comparison the London team had 6 shots on target as the game turned into a bit of a nibbly affair with 15 fouls per team as the Lions went closest in the first half when Marc Roberts headed George Saville’s cross come shot off the line.

City have now failed to score in 16 of their 32 league matches although both sides came into the game in good form, with Blues winning four of their previous seven league matches and Millwall unbeaten in five, and their confidence showed with chances created at both ends.

Birmingham had the better of an entertaining first half, with Craig Gardner’s effort deflected past the post by Saville, and Jeremie Boga’s free-kick narrowly off-target.

Millwall were more attacking in the second period as Stockdale was forced to make a decent save from Jake Cooper following Onyedinma’s opener and give Millwall enormous credit they could have scored on at least two other occasions.

But Millwall, who had failed to win away from home in their first 13 attempts this season, survived the pressure and their threat grew after the break and were met with little resistance from the men in blue.

Millwall, who secured their first league double over Birmingham in 19 attempts, stay 14th, while Birmingham move up a place to 19th courtesy of Bolton’s 2-0 defeat at QPR.

A jubilant Millwall boss Neil Harris said:

“He (Onyedinma) is up and down with his performances because he is young. But when he comes off the bench with 20 or 25 minutes to go that is the kind of impact I demand as a manager.

“I was a little critical of our first-half performance. The second half was much better with a really good goal and we could have had two of three more. It’s three wins in a row on the road, which isn’t bad for a team which couldn’t win away from home at the start of the season.”

While a disappointed Birmingham boss Steve Cotterill lamented:

“We didn’t play with enough zip or enthusiasm and this is what disappointed me. We didn’t play badly, but we didn’t perform anywhere near the level we have previously achieved. We looked flat and the ground was quiet with no atmosphere.

“We need to go on another good run, but it has never been plain sailing. Unfortunately it is going to be topsy-turvy for the rest of the season. It’s not nice to accept that, but we’ve been down at the bottom since day one. It is a difficult job but one I’ve got to do.”

Millwall have now broken the away day hoodoo and are almost guaranteed Championship football next term. Harris and his merry men are marching confidently.

Time for  a bet on the Lions? Then follow this link.

Millwall and Derby Play Out A Dull Affair

No goals – no excitement – no win for Millwall and visitors Derby County as they drew 0-0 in an incident starved match at the New Den on Tuesday night.

In case you had just creosoted the garden fence in expectancy of another late January frost it might have felt better to watch the creosote dry rather than be haunted by a dire 0-0 draw in freezing temperatures in South London.

The biggest cheer of the night went to Australia international Tim Cahill who was not in Millwall’s squad but was re-introduced to the home fans after his re-signing for the Lions in the transfer window on Monday, on a deal until the end of the season. Oh and how they could have used him on the pitch as the Londoners lacked any sort of creative spark in the middle of the pitch.

Once again Millwall put up the barricades at home in the defence as they had possession of the ball for a measly 41% of the game. This appears to be an ongoing occurrence in almost every home game Millwall have played in over the season and it really is surprising no team has turned up and played them at their own game.

The Lion’s target is obvious for this season, stay in the Championship division and consolidate and look to make inroads on the play off area of the division for next season by hook or by crook. So if you want pretty football then the New Den is not the place to be this season. Maybe next though.

Neil Harris’s game plan is working though at home as the Lion’s are picking up draws and victories with the odd defeat. This conflicts totally to Millwall’s dreadful away record of mostly defeats with the odd draw and even more unique win to keep them on course for a mid table position.

Here they played an in form second placed Derby team looking to take control and possession of the game and come away with three points. It didn’t work as Millwall were resilient to withstand the 59% of possession the visitors had on the night. Yet a lot of the play was in the middle of the park and County couldn’t muster a sausage roll in the wintery conditions let alone a goal.

Millwall’s Harris made three changes to the side that started the previous league game, the superb 4-3 win at Leeds United and seven from Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round draw with Rochdale.

Former Rams trainee James Meredith faced his former club once again, having been part of the side that lost 3-0 at Pride Park just before Christmas and Derby defender Jason Shackell was not eligible to face his parent club due to the terms of his loan deal.

The Lion’s Shaun Hutchinson made a goal saving block to deny Derby’s Matej Vydra while the hosts were not given a penalty when Lee Gregory was caught by a high foot.

Derby County keeper Scott Carson in excellent form between the sticks this term did well to save Jed Wallace’s effort with his legs and at the other end substitute Ikechi Anya did find the net for the visitors seven minutes from time but was correctly flagged offside. A real pity for Anya as he had only been on the pitch for 2 minutes and the first time in a Derby shirt since August.

Still the Londoners moved up a place in the Championship table to 14th above County’s arch rivals Nottingham Forest, but might have taken all three points had Hutchinson been given a spot kick when his shot appeared to strike a Derby hand late on in the match.

As for Derby, they remain in second but have a slim lead over third placed Aston Villa that was cut to one point after the claret and blues won 1-0 at Sheffield United.

Gary Rowett’s Derby side struggled to test Lions’ goalkeeper Jordan Archer throughout the game as Millwall shut up shop fr another valuable point against a top six team.

If you fancy a bet on Millwall for the forthcoming matches then follow this link

Late Preston Goal Pegs Back The Lions

A goal for Preston’s Callum Robinson ten minutes from time was enough to deny Millwall another home win in a 1-1 draw at the Den.

Millwall were offered no help by a determined Lancashire team in a rough and tough Championship scrap after Aiden O’Brien had given the Londoners a first half advantage.

A whopping 30 fouls were committed in a game in which both reams were well…. Committed. The away side had far more possession than Millwall, a startling 61% of the game and yet managed just the three shots on target. If that sounds poor then the fact Millwall had just the single shot during the match speaks volumes. Preston came into the knowing a win could put them into the play off positions so they shut up shop from the off and let Millwall do all the running and chasing. The ploy worked a treat eventually but for large swathes of the second half it looked as though Millwall were heading for a fourth win in five home league games.

At home the Lions have been the real deal this season helping Millwall’s bid for survival no end. Following promotion from League One in May via the play-offs their reliance on staying up has been built on their home form so far this campaign and this point leaves them sitting fairly safe in 16th but they must not rest on their laurels. Despite the Lions picking up 25 of their 31 points in south east London, they are yet to win away from The Den since their return to the Championship.

So the game plan on the road needs to change and a couple of away wins would be extremely welcome.

Preston are 10th in the table, just two points off the play-off places, having only lost one of their last 11 league matches, while Millwall remain seven points above the relegation zone.

It was Aiden O’Brien who opened the scoring in the 43rd minute, steering Jed Wallace’s low cross from the right wing into the bottom corner of the Preston net.

It could have been the winner if it were not for Callum Robinson’s equaliser with only 10 minutes left on the clock, chesting in from a couple of metres out after latching on to Greg Cunningham’s ball.

In fact it could have been even worse for the home team as Preston could have taken all three points, however James Meredith blocked Daryl Horgan’s shot with the clock running down.

Before this Millwall’s Lee Gregory thought he had scored a second, only to be flagged offside while Robinson meanwhile, was a constant threat for the Lilywhites, testing Jordan Archer from range and sending two other efforts off target in the first half before finally sneaking in behind a half asleep Millwall defence to grab a deserved point for the visitors in front of a crowd of 11,751.

 

Millwall boss Neil Harris had a few words of regret:

“When you’re 1-0 up at home at half-time, it’s disappointing not to get three points but they’re a good side, a competitive side, an aggressive side in the way they press and the way they play. They’re a team that’ll be in the top six come end of the season.

“But I thought there were two very fine calls today. Both should have gone our favour. Ben Pearson should have been sent off because it was identical to Jake Cooper’s second yellow card at Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the season, so I don’t understand that one and secondly, Lee Gregory goes through one-on-one and was clearly three yards onside. I’ve watched it through two different angles and he was clearly onside. Two fine margin decisions at 1-0 that could have affected the outcome of the game.”

Preston manager Alex Neil said:

“I think it’s harsh to say Ben Pearson should have seen a red card. I thought the first booking was really disappointing and he didn’t really deserve it, and I think Ben’s frustration was the same as mine.

“Within a game, there are a lot of 50-50 decisions and you’re hoping they’re going to get spotted evenly. I feel we didn’t get our fair share.

 If you fancy a bet on Millwall for the forthcoming matches then follow this link

Lions Eaten Alive By Rams

Millwall succumbed to a 3-0 defeat following a frenetic, fast paced, furious first half five minute display from Derby County that left the visitors still clear of the relegation zone but sitting uncomfortably in 17th place in the Championship.

An in form Derby County demolished Millwall as the home team recorded their sixth win in the last seven games to move into the top three in the table as David Nugent scored a brace for the Rams.

Home fans would have been celebrating Christmas by the half time break as the visitors found themselves 3-0 down after 28 minutes and with no chance of a comeback. As it is Millwall’s away form this season has been dreadful and a hammering looked on the cards. However a resilient second half display meant the Londoners went home with at least a bit of pride at Pride Park intact.

No presents from the Derby back four who were stout in defence and Millwall will feel slightly aggrieved as for 85 minutes of the game they matched Derby tackle for tackle, shot for shot and man for man in a game where possession was almost equal (52% to the home side) and shot count was 14-13 to Derby.

In fact Millwall made more of the attacking opportunities with more corners than Derby (11 as opposed to 6) yet it was simply a couple of errors from Millwall where they fell asleep for 5 or 6 first half minutes and Derby tamed the Lions with those errors.

Pity any Derby fan that took a quick toilet break and went off with a nil nil scoreline and came back to find themselves 3-0 up as Nugent flicked in the opener from Chris Baird’s cross and Matej Vydra’s superb 25 yard shot made it 2-0. I have to say that from a reporters point of view I had this unfortunate situation happen to me once while reporting and came back from a toilet break where Aldershot had been winning 3-1 to find them 4-3 down. Cold January evenings in Hampshire beware!

David Nugent was all hustle and bustle and fired in the third before the break from Bradley Johnson’s pass and it was all over bar the mince pies for the travelling away support.

Millwall have now failed to win any of their 12 away league games this term, started well with Neil Gregory having an effort cleared off the line. This run had seen them fail to find the net in eight of their 11 previous fixtures.

Millwall had the better chances in the second half, with Scott Carson in excellent form making three or four world class saves most notably from Lee Gregory’s close-range strike.

Millwall manager Neil Harris was realistic about the afternoons action:

“We’ve had a lot of big moments on the road this year where we’ve not taken our opportunities at key moments and been punished. We made three or four errors and conceded three goals, we had numerous clear-cut chances and have not taken them and that’s the realism of where we are.

“I said to the players that anyone who was getting a little bit ahead of themselves after seven points in three games, that’s a reality check, so we’ll take it on the chin and move on.”

An elated Derby County boss Gary Rowett said:

“I’m really pleased with a clean sheet but we probably didn’t deserve one. Millwall deserved a goal but we could have scored a couple more and some of our attacking play was excellent. I know it sounds a bit cliched but I’m not really bothered about the other results, bothered where we are in the league or how many points we’ve got.

“Once you start doing that, you then start making decisions and judgements based on other people and it’s about what we do. If we maintain what we are doing we will finish in a very strong position.

“The point is, we’ve got to keep trying to be better and the players are doing that. They are buying into what we are trying to do and everyone is working incredibly hard.”

If you fancy a bet on the Lions follow this link.

 

Millwall Win A Major Shot In The Arm

 

A cracking 3-1 home win over high flying Sheffield United at the New Den was enough to take the points as the Lions produced probably their display of the season to lift themselves slightly away from the danger zone in the Championship on Saturday.

Just as importantly this was a lift in morale that the Lions needed urgently as they got back to winning ways following a 6 match winless streak.

Following a dismal November where the Lions failed to pick up a win it was not surprising that Sheffield United in third place and looking for automatic promotion to the Premier League started full of pace and passion and showed oozes of eagerness. Yet the recent 5-4 match against Fulham seems to have jolted them in defence and despite enjoying a whopping 63% of possession away from home were unable to convert the possession into goals as the Lions defence held firm in the first ten minutes without too many warning signs.

Indeed it was the home team who took the lead on 14 minutes when some good work from Steve Morison set up Lee Gregory to turn and finish on the counter-attack. United kept coming forward in response to their early deficit but played too many cross field passes and more times than not ended back up at square one or would lose the ball in a promising position.

Any neutrals would have been hard pressed to work out whom was the home side at this point as the Yorkshire outfit worked the Millwall midfield with increasing dimensions and the Blades David Brooks equalised brilliantly with a volley from a tight angle with 41 minutes on the clock to restore parity.

After recent poor displays by the home side it would have been easy to fold as the two teams went into the half time break at one apiece however Millwall showed tremendous resilience though and were not to be undone in front of an attendance of 12,669 down in South London.

Mahlon Romeo finished well in a one on one situation to restore the hosts’ lead on 66 minutes, not bad for a defender and Jake Cooper headed in Jed Wallace’s free kick to finish the match off with 3 minutes left on the clock and ensure that Sheffield United would fall to a seventh league defeat. They drop down to 4th with this loss.

The Lions were without a win since 21 October but this win lifts them up to 17th as both QPR and Barnsley around them both fell to defeats.

Sheffield United were poor in front of goal, managing just two shots on target as they slipped to a third game without a win but that is to take nothing away from Millwall who showed grit, steel and a few stud marks on their way to the 3 points.

United now trail second-placed Cardiff by six points while Millwall are now 6 points clear of the relegation zone.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was honest in his post match interview:

“The blame 100% totally lies with me and the team. We haven’t done enough to win but they have. This game wasn’t won tactically, in my opinion. It was won because they got to more first and second balls from the off. When we got to grips with that, we didn’t punish them when we were on top.”

Millwall manager Neil Harris had the last laugh though:

“We had a conundrum at half-time. Do we leave it as it is and hope that we get a back in the game and our 4-4-2 shape dictates play, or do we change it?

“We made a brave decision to change to a 3-5-2 to match them up, and you’ve got 10 minutes to do it and try and get messages to players. They’re never going to let me down on effort, determination, desire to play for this club, and there were some real moments of quality as well.”

If you fancy a bet on Millwall for the forthcoming matches then follow this link

 

Brighton Slip Up, Newcastle Win Championship As Blackburn Go Down

Newcastle United bounced back into the Premier League at the first atempt as champions as they snatched the Championship title away from Brighton on a dramatic final day.

A huge boisterous crowd of 52,276 at St James’ Park witnessed goals from Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba and Dwight Gayle as the Magpies secured a deserved 3-0 victory over Barnsley for Rafa Benitez team in front of owner Mike Ashley. Manager Benitez has insisted for weeks that promotion was the only objective, but as he prepares for the talks with Ashley which will determine whether or not he remains on Tyneside, he will do so with a bonus piece of silverware sitting in the trophy cabinet.

Barnsley keeper Adam Davies did well to turn Atsu’s fierce shot over the bar after the winger had tricked his way past Elder with the visitors under intense pressure, and he excelled himself a minute before the break to deny the same man as he fired hard and low towards the far post.

However Perez hd notched the first with a nice flick on to open the scoring after 23 minutes.

Substitute Massadio Haidara blazed over from 12 yards just before the break and Perez tested Davies seconds after it as Newcastle dominated but struggled to kill off the game.

That changed when Davies dived to save Perez’s stinging 59th-minute effort, only for Mbemba to follow up from close range and make it 2-0.

Davies was called up once again 10 minutes later to tip over Mitrovic’s header and Shelvey struck the foot of the post two minutes later, but opposite number Rob Eliot had to make late saves from substitutes Marley Watkins and Elliot Lee to preserve his clean sheet.

Substitute Gayle added a third at the death and news of Villa’s equaliser sent the home fans into raptures.

Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw against Brighton was due to the Villa Park club’s goal from Jack Grealish in the last minute of a nervous encounter between the two clubs. Brighton should have wrapped up the game with a couple of chances and took the lead with a Glenn Murray penalty for which Nathan Baker was went off after clipping Sam Baldock in the box.

That was after 63 minutes but the 10 man Villa came back well to snatch a point.

With Newcastle Champions and Brighton runner up the four play off places up for grabs were all assured going into Sunday’s final games of the Championship. ready stayed in 3rd after thumping stuggling Burton 4-2. Reading had led 3-0 and were cruising it before two goals in 3 minutes for Burton put them right back in the game only for Grabben to clinch a 4th for the away side with six minutes to play.

Sheffield Wednesday nabbed 4th place despite losing 2-1 at home to an inform rampant Fulham who finish the season in 6th and play Reading in the play off semi Final.

Huddersfield finished in 5th after losing to Cardiff in a heavy 3-0 defeat and looked out of sorts in a poor run in to the season where they ended with a minus 2 goal difference. Fulham below them ended with a plus 28 goalscoring record Huddersfield will entertain Sheffield Wednesday in the other play off match.

Down at the bottom of the Championship it was mayhem as 3 big teams were battling for survival, Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers and it was certainly a day for drama as all three teams won which meant relegation for Blackburn Rovers after winning the Premier League in 1995.

To rub salt into the wounds Blackburn were relegated to League One on goal difference, despite beating Brentford at Griffin Park by a superb 3-1 margin. Rovers began in the final relegation place, level on points with Forest with an inferior goal difference.

Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick and Danny Guthrie’s strike put Rovers ahead, before Lasse Vibe flicked one back. Craig Conway’s spot-kick made it 3-1, as Bees’ Harlee Dean saw red but Forest and Birmingham City wins sent Rovers down.

Britt Assombalonga grabbed a brace as Nottingham Forest avoided relegation on goal difference with an emphatic win over Ipswich 3-0 victory at a sell out City Ground.

Assombalonga’s penalty settled early nerves and Chris Cohen’s deflected strike made it 2-0 after the break.

With relegation rivals Blackburn and Birmingham both winning, Forest’s safety was still not certain. 1-0 or 2-1 would have seen Forest and Blackburn equal so they had to be careful and not concede or put the result beyond doubt and they did the latter when Assombalonga then sealed victory with a fine solo strike to ensure Blackburn drop out and Forest stay in the Championship.

Harry’s luck was on the shine again as old Redknapp did another saviour act as Che Adams scored the only goal of the game at Ashton Gate as Birmingham ensured survival in the Championship. With both Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers winning their games, Blues also had to win to stay up.

But Redknapp’s side kept cool to earn their second straight victory. Blues’ goal came on 16 minutes from striker Adams, only playing as last week’s sending off was overturned following the game against Huddersfield Town.

Relegated Wigan finished the season with a 1-1 home draw against Leeds United and bottom placed team Rotherham who have had a horrible season by anyone’s standards ended on a brightish note by not losing. Their final match of the campaign also ended 1-1 although Tom Ince rescued Derby with a late penalty.

Finally Wolves beat Prestom 1-0 whilst Norwich hammered QPR 4-0 in a game of little relevance but a nice way to end the season nonetheless.

Late Grealish Goal Spoils Brighton’s Party

A last minute Jack Grealish goal earned the claret and blues a 1-1 draw and meant Brighton were robbed of the Championship title on the last day of the season leaving Newcastle United to be crowned as Champions.

His speculative shot from 25 yards squirmed to Brighton keeper David Stockdale’s left hand side and into the corner of the net in the 89th minute to leave Brighton players agahst and shellshocked. It was the only mistake Stockdale made in a solid performance but was enough for the Championship crown to end up in the North East.

Aston Villa for large chunks of the match looked exactly like they finished, a mid table Championship club with one or two decent performances but without full solidarity.

The Premier League-bound Seagulls were beaten by Bristol City and Norwich in their past two games with only three points required to seal top spot.

Glenn Murray’s penalty after Sam Baldock was fouled by Nathan Baker, who was sent off for the challenge, looked to be sending them towards the title.

However, Grealish’s equaliser handed top spot to Newcastle, who needed to beat Barnsley at home and happily obliged.

Brighton had their chances to win it and Baldock should have made it 2-0 with the goal gaping but Villa played a bit of a Jeckle and Hyde game, good in sections of the match and opened up at the back at will in others. Their point against Brighton means the Villa finish 13th in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League last season and lets be fair over the course of an up and down season that’s about right.

Sadly for the Seagulls, Chris Hughton’s side, who confirmed their return to the top flight on 17 April, also miss out on a fourth league title in 16 years with no other current EFL team having won more league titles since 2000 than the Seagulls.

Henri Lansbury who always sounded like a firm of London estate agents wasted their clearest opportunity prior to Murray’s opener, heading over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy. He also missed a chance in the second half and had a fairly rotten game all in all.

Visiting goalkeeper David Stockdale was also forced into several smart saves, the best to deny Conor Hourihane from long range although he looked to be at fault for Grealish’s late equaliser.

Having played the last half an hour with 10 men following Baker’s straight red card, the 31-year-old keeper was wrong-footed by the Villa midfielder’s strike despite appearing to initially have it covered.

Brighton will now have to pick themselves up after their stuttering end to the season as they prepare for their first top-flight campaign for 34 years. However Hughton is a man of immence experience and did good jobs managing for both Spurs and Newcastle in the Premiership so the blue and white stripes should be in good hands with Hughton holding the reigns.

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce sporting cuts and bruises thanks to a couple of mole removals during the week was frank and to the point when interviewed after the game:

“We’re 31 points behind Brighton and that’s unacceptable. I’ve got to have a squad of players who can mount a challenge otherwise I won’t be sitting here [next season]. We’ve finished 13th and that’s the lowest I’ve finished in my career.

“The draw put a bit of a dampener on it [for Brighton] but they have got promoted. For us to be 31 points behind them shows the work I’ve got and we’re as jealous as hell.”

A deflated Brighton boss Chris Hughton:

“Today is a negative day, it’s difficult, but there are far more pluses. What these lads have achieved this season has been magnificent. David [Stockdale] has been excellent for us all season and he had made two very good saves from free-kicks before. There’s never any portion of blame. We have to accept it as a team.

“For us the season is finished and we have achieved our goal. We’re playing in a division where there are some very big teams, who have spent big money, and we have managed to come in the top two.”

Brighton will need a couple of players with good experience to bolster their squad in the summer and one would imagine Villa will have a huge clear out sooner rather than later so they have a good chance of being in Brighton’s situation. Lucky they have a manager with experience, strength and a good record and with the right backing Bruce can provide Villa with a good promotion challenge next season.

Premier League Round Up – Week 22nd – 26th April 2017

Due to the two FA Cup semi finals, the Premier League fixtures were rather depleted on Saturday with only 4 matches. Bournemouth having been destroyed by Spurs the previous week sought their revenge on the flailing Middlesbrough and beat them by the exact same scoreline of 4-0 with King scoring after 2 minutes and Afone notching the second after 16 minutes and affectively game over. The north east team were shabby and never look like scoring these days and that’s another nail in their coffin for Premier League survival.

 

West Ham and Everton treated us to a forgetful 0-0 draw. Middlesbrough’s defeat was great news for the two teams above them in Swansea City and Hull City who both registered 2-0 home victories to put the pressure on each other. It’s almost certainly one of these two that will join the inevitable relegation of Sunderland and probably neighbours Middlesbrough too. Llorente and Carroll did the damage for the Swans over Stoke City whilst the impressing Markovic and Clukas grabbed the two goals for Hull City over a deflated Watford.

 

Sunday saw Manchester United continue their great away run and Wayne Rooney return and score for United against Burnley in a straightforward 2-0 win at Burnley.
The club skipper’s first start since March 4 came in place of the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, set to miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury – as United won comfortably to extend their unbeaten run to 23 league matches. Anthony Martial gave United the lead with his 25th United goal, completing a terrific counter-attack with a cool finish after swapping passes with Ander Herrera. And United’s advantage was doubled by Rooney before the interval, the club’s record goalscorer on hand to turn home a loose ball after Tom Heaton could only parry Martial’s effort. This could be the lifeline for Rooney’s missing season.

 
Big Sam’s the man. He has Crystal Palace firing on all cylinders and beating the big boys. Following impressive wins against Chelsea and Arsenal they shook up a fairly erratic Liverpool team with a 2-1 win, taking them seven points clear of the bottom three. Christian Benteke returned to haunt Liverpool with a double as Crystal Palace took another huge step towards securing Premier League safety with this victory at Anfield.Sam Allardyce’s men looked to be in real trouble in February, but their triumph on Merseyside makes Premier League survival almost assured. Talk about a turnaround for both Allardyce and Benteke.

 
Monday saw Newcastle promoted to the Premier League and Tuesday saw Chelsea go 7 points clear at the summit with a 4-2 win against Southampton. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds as Southampton were in this game for large chunks of the match. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were both back in the starting line-up after the win over Spurs and were key figures, the Belgian putting Chelsea ahead with a low shot after five minutes. Former Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu bundled in an equaliser for Saints before Gary Cahill headed the title pace-setters back in front right on half-time with a brave header not a million miles away from Diego Costa’s flailing boot, a moment that effectively decided the destination of the points. Diego Costa confirmed Chelsea’s supremacy with a header early in the second half before scoring his second with a low shot late on and was the goal of the game with some neat Chelsea one two’s leading to breaking the Southampton defence. Ryan Bertrand, another former Chelsea man, was on target in the dying seconds and spoilt the party a bit but the victory was secured for Conte’s men and the points difference expanded for 24 hours at least.

 
Wednesday saw Tottenham claw back Chelsea’s lead to 4 points with a Christian Ericssen beauty with 11 minutes before full time deciding the match in Spurs favour over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

 
Arsenal beat Leicester by a goal to nil at the Emirates with Robert Huth’s own goal helping the Gunners to a win with 4 minutes of the game to go. The home supporters at Emirates Stadium seemed set for a deflating evening before Nacho Monreal’s shot found the bottom corner via the German defender’s chest. Alexis Sanchez had rattled the bar and been denied by Huth’s last-ditch challenge in the Gunners’ best chances before the goal.

 
In the yawnathon bottom of the table match between a stagnant Sunderland and a mundane Middlesbrough, both of whom forgot how to score this season (Jermaine Defoe being the exception to the rule) then any thoughts of this being a high scoring game could be eradicated with the Dodo. Middlesbrough produced a rarity with a goal, a rarity with a win and that’s about it really, 1-0 to Boro. These two can renew their acquaintancies in the Championship next season.

 

Saturday 22 April

AFC Bournemouth 4 – 0 Middlesbrough
Scorers: King 2, Afobe 16, Pugh 65, Daniels 70
Hull City 2 – 0 Watford
Scorers: Markovic 62, Clucas 71
Swansea City 2 – 0 Stoke City
Scorers: Llorente 10, Carroll 70
West Ham United 0 – 0 Everton
Sunday 23 April
Burnley 0-2 Manchester United
Scorers: Martial 21, Rooney 39
Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace
Scorers: Coutinho 24 / Benteke 42, 74
Tuesday 25 April
Chelsea 4-2 Southampton
Scorers: Hazard 5, Cahill 45, Costa 53, 89/ Romeu 24, Bertrand 90
Wednesday 26 April
Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City
Scorer: Huth 86 O.G
Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland
Scorer: De Roon 8
Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Scorer: Eriksen 78

League Round Up – Weekend 04/05/06 March 2017

Chelsea jumped ten points clear on Monday with another win, this time 2-1 against West Ham in a score line that puts West Ham in a much better light than they deserved. Another wonder goal from the Belgium international Eden Hazard and a second from Diego Costa was enough to seal it despite an injury time goal from Lanzini. Continue reading “League Round Up – Weekend 04/05/06 March 2017”



The team behind EnergyCasino and EnergyBet bring you the latest gaming, betting and sports news. Insider information, expert commentary and exclusive offers all in one place. Make sure you don’t miss a thing.