There were a number of high-scoring games in the Football League this weekend as no less than nineteen sides scored three goals or more in their respective matches. The game at the Cardiff City Stadium was no different where the home side overturned a two goal deficit to overcome local rivals Bristol City 3-2 – and they did it all without star man Craig Bellamy.
The midday kick-off was a thrilling encounter for the neutrals though Bristol City manager Keith Millen will be less than happy as the Robins’ collapse leaves them at the foot of the Championship table. It was a good day for the Welsh side though as the result pushes them closer to league leaders Queen’s Park Rangers while their other immediate rivals also dropped points.
Bristol City enjoyed a great start to the game and caught the home side napping twice in eight devastating minutes. First, Jon Stead’s neat control and run on the corner of the box lured Mark Hudson into committing a needless foul. The chipped ball in found an unmarked Steve Caulker who headed past Tom Heaton in the Cardiff City goal. Then, two minutes later, a floated corner in was headed down by Marvin Elliot allowing Stead to poke home from close range.
However, it was clear to see just why the Robins are facing a relegation battle this season as their shape in the middle of the park was absolutely atrocious. There was too big a gap between defence and midfield and Cardiff soon swamped it. The capital city side possess great firepower with the likes of Michael Chopra and Peter Whittingham and those two combined to set up Jay Bothroyd to clip into the corner after twelve minutes.
Into the second half and the home side did not relent. In fact they received the perfect tonic immediately after the interval when Whittingham’s right wing free-kick evaded everyone and nestled into the far corner of David James’ goal. The former Aston Villa man repeated the trick in the 78th minute when he bent a 20-yard free kick up and over the wall to complete a remarkable comeback for his side.
Portsmouth continued their recent revival by defeating Watford 3-2 in a pulsating match at Fratton Park. Pompey had taken the lead through a fabulous Hayden Mullins 30-yard strike before Martin Taylor headed the Hornets level. The visitors then took the lead through Stephen McGinn but Dave Kitson soon drove home to tie the game. However, Michael Brown was the home side’s hero as he blasted in from the edge of the box to settle the encounter.
Sheffield United and Burnley went one better as they netted six goals between them at Bramall Lane – and all of them were scored in the second half. The visitors went into a 2-0 lead early in the second half through Dean Marney and Chris Eagles before Daniel Bogdanovic and Ched Evans levelled for the Blades. But then, just as the Lancashire fans celebrated what seemed a likely victory after Jay Rodriguez’s ninetieth minute strike, Mark Yeates’ battled his way through to strike past Brian Jensen in the fourth minute of injury time to earn his team a share of the spoils.
Promotion contenders Ipswich Town also dropped points as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat to Coventry City. It was the Sky Blues’ first win at Portman Road since 1994. A missed penalty from Wes Hoolahan consigned QPR and Norwich City to a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road though the result does maintain the west London side’s unbeaten start to the season. Leeds United striker Luciano Becchio scored a stunning volley in front of the Sky TV cameras to put more pressure on under-fire Middlesbrough boss Gordon Strachan. His side crumbled to a 2-1 home defeat and now sit just two points above the relegation zone.
Into League One and the stand out game took place at London Road where nine goals were scored between Peterborough United and Swindon Town. Posh ran out eventual 5-4 winners thanks to a late Kevin Amankwaah own-goal. The home side raced into a 3-0 lead in just over 20 minutes thanks to Craig Mackail-Smith’s brace and Lee Frecklington’s strike. However, the visitors then scored three of their own as Dave Ball netted twice and Matt Richie crashed in from 25-yards. George Boyd and Charlie Austin each then scored in the second half to level the game at 4-4 before Amankwaah ran the ball into his own net in the third minute of injury time.
There were goals too at the Valley where table-toppers Brighton & Hove Albion crushed Charlton Athletic 4-0 to end the London side’s unbeaten home record. It was a fabulous performance from Gus Poyet’s men as Inigo Calderon, Glenn Murray, Kazenga Lua Lua and Matt Sparrow did the damage. The Premiership seems a very long way away for Addicks fans right now.
The chasing pack all won too as play-off contenders Bournemouth overcame MK Dons 3-2 (a game which also saw seven yellow cards and a sending off), Sheffield Wednesday beat Yeovil Town 2-0 away from home and Huddersfield Town defeated Southampton by the same score line. All three teams now lie within just one win of the automatic promotion places.
Brentford secured a vitally important win as they comfortably saw off relegation rivals Tranmere Rovers 3-0 at Prenton Park. Midfielder Kevin O’Connor scored two, the second a thumping 35-yard hit from a free-kick. The result means the home side now replace the Bees at the bottom of the League One table while the visitors are just one goal from safety.
The glut of goals continued into League Two where Hereford United won 4-3 in the proverbial “six-pointer” against Northampton Town. It was yet another stunning comeback on this mad weekend as the visitors recovered from Leon Mackenzie’s first half hat-trick to score four unanswered goals in the second half. Stuart Fleetwood bagged a brace while James McQuilkin and Mathieu Manset also scored. Things got worse for the Cobblers when Ben Tozer was sent off for violent conduct late on. The result means the Bulls are now just one point from safety.
Bury also won 4-3 against Torquay United to step up their promotion push. The Gulls went into a 2-0 lead thanks to Chris Robertson’s header and Chris Zebroski’s long-range strike. However, after Ryan Lowe had scored from the penalty spot, Nicky Ajose and Steven Schumacher added further strikes for the visitors. Though Zebroski momentarily pegged the Shakers back, Mike Jones completed the turnaround and put his side within just one point of the automatic promotion places.
Chesterfield went to the top of the League Two table thanks to a combination of their fine 2-1 win away at Wycombe and Port Vale stuttering to a 0-0 draw at home to Gillingham. Craig Davies struck twice for the Spireites and only missed out on a hat-trick when his long-range effort crashed against the bar. Gillingham’s draw against the Valiants marked a club record 33 winless away games for the Gills. Remarkably, they remain sitting comfortably in mid-table.