Bolton 2-1 QPR
The weekend’s action got off to a controversial start at the Reebok on Saturday with Bolton securing a vital three points in a 2-1 win over relegation rivals QP to climb out of the bottom three.
It was the visitors who came close to opening the scoring in the 17th minute when Djibril Cisse’s delicate chip to the back post was hammered against the crossbar by strike partner Bobby Zamora. The controversy started moments later when QPR were wrongly awarded a corner. Clint Hill connected with Joey Barton’s corner at the near post and looked to have given the visitors a 1-0 lead only for the officials to rule that the ball hadn’t crossed the line. QPR were fuming with the decision and with good reason; the issue of goal line technology might come up again in the next few days as the pressure mounts on Platini and co to introduce some help for officials with the FA releasing a statement after this game explaining that they have “a strong desire to see goal-line technology introduced as soon as possible”.
Things didn’t improve for Mark Hughes’s side when Darren Pratley gave the home side a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute. A well worked corner led to a cross by Tim Ream and Pratley timed his arrival to perfection to power a header home from close range. It was nearly an instant reply from Qpr with great play by Cisse but the chance was wasted by Shaun Wright Phillips.
It was controversy again in the 48th minute when Cisse equalised for Rangers. The Frenchman looked marginally offside from Wright Phillips through ball but the flag stayed down as Cisse finished neatly past Adam Bogdan. Maybe it was justice following Hill’s effort in the first half but it was a perfect start to the second half for QPR. The game looked to be heading for a 1-1 draw which didn’t suit either side but that was until the introduction of Ivan Klasnic with ten minutes left. The Croatian was only on the pitch for six minutes when excellent work by young on loan winger Ryo Miyaichi presented him with a great chance for a winner and he didn’t disappoint with a cool finish past Rangers keeper Paddy Kenny.
A massive three points for Owen Coyle’s side which see’s them climb above QPR and out of the relegation zone where they will hope to be come the end of the season. Next up for Bolton is an Fa cup quarter final at Spurs before they go to Villa Park to face Aston Villa in another huge league game. QPR will be looking to bounce back when they welcome Liverpool to Loftus Road on March 21st.
Wolves 0-2 Blackburn
The other relegation six pointer took place at Molineux where two goals either side of half time by Junior Hoillet saw Blackburn move three points clear of the relegation zone while Terry Connor’s men are now firmly stuck in the bottom three. A poor performance by Wolves is highlighted by the fact that this was Blackburn’s first clean sheet of the season and it’s hard to believe that the protests before the game by Wolves fans will be the last time we see angry fans at Molineux.
Chances for both sides early in the game were squandered with Yakubu having one effort saved by Wayne Hennessey before he headed wide while at the other end Matt Jarvis had a great chance when he found himself in a perfect position at the front post but he couldn’t react quick enough to David Edwards cross. It was just two minutes before the break when the deadlock was broken when a long throw by Moten Gamst Pederson was flicked on by Wolves debutant David Davis into the path of Hoillet who finished with a superb half volley to beat Hennessey. Steve Kean’s side doubled their lead in the 69th when Wolves lost possession in the Blackburn half and Yakubu laid the ball off to Hoilett who made no mistake with an excellent left footed strike from 25 yards as the Rovers fans taunted Wolves with chants of “You’re going down”.
Wolves finally began to apply some pressure on Blackburn but debutant David Davis lifted a great chance over the bar. Paul Robinson was called into action to deny Jamie O Hara and then Steven Fletcher before substitute Nenad Milijas missed the target with a great chance to pull a goal back for the home side. Fletcher had one last effort saved by Robinson before the final whistle was greeted with boos from the Wolves fans. Terry Connor faces a massive battle to lift his side and it will be a huge ask with Manchester United up next at Molineux next Sunday. For Steve Kean and Blackburn they will be hoping to continue this form when Sunderland come to Ewood Park on March the 20th.
Norwich 1-1 Wigan
With wins for Bolton and Blackburn on Saturday Wigan visited Carrow Road on Sunday knowing they needed to get something from the game to stay in touch with the sides in and around the relegation zone. For Norwich, they knew a win would take them up to the lofty heights of 8th and only one point behind Liverpool.
Hugo Rodallega was restored to the Wigan line-up and he could have given the Latics the perfect start on four minutes when he got on the end of Maynor Figueroa’s deep cross but he couldn’t direct his header on target. Norwich began to take over after this and with their first real attack on ten minutes they scored the opener. Ali Al Habsi’s clearance went straight out of play and a quick throw in by Adam Drury found Simeon Jackson who crossed to Wes Hoolahan who nipped in ahead of Gary Caldwell to give the Canaries the lead. Wigan responded well and Rodallega set up Jean Beausejour but his shot was tame and straight at John Ruddy. Twenty six minutes in and Victor Moses created a great chance for Rodallega but his shot was well saved by Ruddy.
The home side then had a penalty appeal turned down when captain Grant Holt took a shot which seemed to strike Gary Caldwell on the arm but referee Kevin Friend waved play on. A cross by Emerson Boyce in the 37th minute was deflected against the crossbar before being cleared for a corner. Just two minutes before half time Jordi Gomez had a long range effort which Ruddy failed to hold but Rodallega couldn’t finish the rebound. Into injury time and Rodallega had another shot which Ruddy parried but the Canaries stopper got up to claim the ball ahead of the in rushing Victor Moses.
Drury’s cross at the start of the second half found Holt in the middle but his excellent header was off target and a minute later Wigan had a great chance to equalise after a neat one-two between McCarthy and Gomez left McCarthy with a one on one with Ruddy but his effort was well saved. The Latics did get themselves on level terms in the 68th minute after a superb through ball by substitute Shaun Maloney found Victor Moses through on goal and he rounded Ruddy to slot home into an empty net. With just six minutes remaining Elliot Ward headed wide with Al Habsi scrambling to get across and two minutes later at the other end more good work down the left by Maloney set up Diame who somehow managed to send his effort over the bar from seven yards. Both sides went in search of a winner with Jackson’s cross finding Steve Morrison who must have thought he had scored a winner only for Al Habsi to produce a brilliant save to earn Wigan a well deserved point.
Next up for Roberto Martinez’s side is a home game against West Brom and they will soon have to start picking up some wins if they are to climb out of the relegation zone. For Paul Lambert’s Norwich a trip to the North East to face Newcastle awaits next weekend as they go in search of a first win in four.
Aston Villa 1-0 Fulham
In form Fulham went to Villa Park to face out of form Aston Villa but it was Alex McLeish’s side who emerged with the three points from Saturday’s encounter thanks to a late winner from young Austrian striker Andreas Weimann.
Villa nearly took the lead in the 17th minute when Danny Murphy gave the ball away inside his own half and the ball broke for Gabriel Aghbonlahor but his shot was well saved by Mark Schwarzer. Murphy was involved again ten minutes later when he came off second best in an aerial challenge with Stephen Ireland with blood pouring from his face with what looked like an accidental elbow. A well worked free kick by Fulham just before half time saw Andy Johnson’s cross go right across the face of goal.
The visitors had a similar chance early in the second half when Damien Duff flashed a cross in that somehow managed to evade everyone in the box. Aston Villa were unlucky not to take the lead on sixty one minutes when Marc Albrighton hit the crossbar following a pull back by Alan Hutton. Duff and John Arne Riise combined at the other end moments later with Riise finding Duff inside the penalty area but the Irishman hit the outside of the post. With twenty minutes remaining McLeish decided to give Weimann a chance and the youngster repaid the faith his manager had shown with an injury time winner. Gary Gardner shot from just outside the box and Weimann seemed to be the only player alert as Scwarzer failed to hold onto the ball and the youngster bundled it home to secure a vital three points for the home side.
It was a first home win for Villa since November 5th and McLeish will be hoping they won’t have to wait as long for the next one as they welcome Bolton to Villa Park on March 20th. For Martin Jol and Fulham they will be hoping to bounce back from this defeat when they face Swansea at Craven Cottage on Saturday.