Section: Championship

Championship: Notts Forest 2-1 Bournemouth

Dougie Freedman’s unbeaten start as Nottingham Forest manager stretched to five matches as they came from behind to beat promotion-chasing Bournemouth.

Andrew Surman fired Bournemouth into a third-minute lead from 25 yards as they looked to avoid a second successive defeat.

But Jamaal Lascelles shot through a crowded box to level before Henri Lansbury’s free-kick sealed the win.

The Cherries are four points off the Championship’s top two in fourth.

Eddie Howe’s men had previously gone four league matches unbeaten to raise hopes of automatic Premier League promotion but back-to-back defeats have dented their bid.

Forest on the other hand have now won four in five matches since Freedman replaced Stuart Pearce and have moved to within 12 points of the top six.

Surman’s delicious curled opener after three minutes was the least Bournemouth deserved in the opening exchanges as they pressured the home goal.

Forest held firm though and levelled as Lascelles sent a shot from the edge of the area through a crowded box for his first goal since April.

The hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time as skipper Lansbury converted a free-kick from 20 yards.

After the break Lascelles had a header cleared off the line and Lansbury curled another free-kick just over as Forest deservedly secured maximum points.

Read more at BBC Sport

Championship: Brentford 3-1 Bournemouth

Brentford rekindled their play-off bid as Bournemouth missed the chance to return to the top of the Championship.

The Bees went ahead through Jonathan Douglas, who rifled home after Yann Kermorgant was caught in possession.

But then a Brentford mistake let in Marc Pugh, who hit the post but buried the rebound to level the scores.

Alex Pritchard fired in a 35-yard free kick before half time and Pritchard crossed for Chris Long to add a third late in the game.

Half-time substitute Ryan Fraser had revitalised Bournemouth after an off-key first period, but was denied by the foot of the post and then by onrushing keeper David Button.

As the visitors poured forward, Brentford’s Jota also hit the frame of the goal and was denied twice by keeper Artur Boruc in the dying minutes, but substitute Long’s first goal for Brentford finally settled an enthralling end-to-end match between two of the Championship’s unlikeliest promotion contenders.

The Bees, who announced this week that boss Mark Warburton would leave at the end of the season, struck first when Kermorgant’s hesitation was punished as the lively Pritchard crossed and Douglas made no mistake with a measured left-foot finish.

Chants of “Warburton, Warburton” could immediately be heard around Griffin Park as the home fans made their support clear.

But Bournemouth levelled when Toumani Diagouraga inadvertently deflected a through ball into the path of Pugh, who rounded Button and though his first effort hit the post, he volleyed in the rebound.

Boruc was rescued by Steve Cook’s goal-line clearance from an Andre Gray effort, but the Pole was found wanting as Pritchard’s curling free-kick flew to the goalkeeper’s left and an attempted punch left both ball and keeper nestling in the net.

Warburton is leaving as he disagrees with owner Matthew Benham’s desire for a more statistics-based approach to recruitment.

But a wholehearted display from his players, who had to defend for their lives after the break, ensured Brentford prevailed by three to one in the day’s most important statistic.

Read more at BBC Sport

Championship: Huddersfield 0-0 Cardiff

Cardiff City’s winless run was extended to seven league games as they were held to a goalless draw at Huddersfield.

Cardiff, who have now drawn four matches in a row, had the better chances in a dour struggle.

Terriers goalkeeper Alex Smithies denied Eoin Doyle with a wonder save on the half-hour, adjusting his body in mid-air to tip over his header.

Huddersfield’s Tommy Smith was lucky not to be sent off in first-half injury time for a foul on Kenwyne Jones.

Smith, who was booked, appeared to be the last man when he brought Jones down on the edge of the box following a swift counter-attack by the Bluebirds.

The home side had an early chance through former Cardiff skipper Mark Hudson, who headed over a Jacob Butterfield corner, while Cardiff keeper David Marshall smothered at the feet of Nahki Wells.

Just after the restart, Matthew Kennedy’s low cross found Peter Whittingham alone near the penalty spot, but the midfielder’s shot was blocked by Hudson.

Huddersfield went close through shots from Butterfield and Smith, while Wells had a header saved on 65 minutes.

Cardiff, seeking only a second away win all season, soaked up Town pressure late on and hit on the break.

A timely intervention from Murray Wallace denied Jones and a shot from Craig Noone was charged down on 89 minutes as Huddersfield battled to avoid a third consecutive home defeat for the first time in 15 years.

Huddersfield drop to 16th place and are eight points above the relegation zone, with Cardiff one place and one point below the Yorkshire side.

Read more at BBC Sport

Championship: Wolves 5-0 Rotherham

Striker Benik Afobe’s brace helped a rampant Wolves maintain their Championship play-off push as they thrashed Rotherham United at Molineux.

Wolves took the lead when Kevin McDonald crossed for Afobe to fire home before Nouha Dicko doubled their lead.

Rotherham’s best chance came before the break when Matt Derbyshire nodded Adam Hammill’s cross on to the post.

But Wolves capitalised with Afobe finding a second before Dave Edwards and Bakary Sako sealed three points.

It capped off a good afternoon for the hosts who kept alive their play-off hopes but Rotherham slipped to 21st place, having now conceded 10 goals in their last three matches.

A spell of early pressure told for Wanderers when McDonald managed to pick out former Arsenal trainee Afobe who kept his composure to beat Rotherham keeper Adam Collin.

Minutes later, Wolves doubled their advantage when scorer turned provider as Afobe played Dicko through to notch his 10th goal of the season.

But Rotherham fought back in a lively first half, with former Molineux man Hammill finding Derbyshire whose header hit the upright.

After the break, home keeper Tomasz Kuszczak kept Wolves in control when Zeki Fryers whipped in a cross to the head of Derbyshire, but the Pole made a wonderful one-handed save.

Wolves found a third on the counter from a Rotherham corner as James Henry set up the onrushing Afobe to calmly finish.

The hosts did not ease off, however, as Sako whipped the ball to the near post towards Edwards who headed home a fourth.

Six minutes later, Wolves were five up after Rajiv van La Parra passed straight through to Sako to beat Collin and put them out of sight.

Read more at BBC Sport

FA Cup: Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough

Olivier Giroud struck twice as FA Cup holders Arsenal beat Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium to book their place in the quarter-finals.

The Gunners avoided going the same way as Manchester City had in round four against the Sky Bet Championship promotion-chasers with two first-half goals from the France forward in the space of as many minutes.

Giroud – out for three months earlier in the season with a broken fibula – blasted the ball past Boro keeper Tomas Mejias from close range on 27 minutes and before the visitors could recover, the forward sweetly volleyed home a corner.

Boro, who had been unbeaten in their last 10, worked hard enough, but never really stretched the Arsenal defence and have more important targets ahead over the closing weeks of the campaign in their bid to return to the elite.

Arsene Wenger’s side, meanwhile, looked to have found form again just at the right time ahead of a crucial run of games, which sees them take on Monaco for a place in the last eight of the Champions League.

Arsenal set the tone with a positive start as Santi Cazorla tested Mejias with a curling 25-yard free-kick which almost crept inside the right-hand post.

Left-back Kieran Gibbs, one of several fringe players handed a chance to impress, was inches away from connecting with another slide-rule pass into the Boro penalty area as the home side remained on the offensive.

Giroud had Mejias scrambling across his goal again on 14 minutes to acrobatically palm a curling shot away, with Alexis Sanchez, who had been a doubt because of a knee problem, putting the rebound into the side netting from the tightest of angles.

Boro, though, continued to defend resolutely, while also starting to offer a threat on the counter themselves.

Arsenal finally made their possession count on 27 minutes.

Cazorla, who had been running the game from a deep central role, picked out the overlapping Gibbs, who played a first-time pass into the six-yard box.

Giroud timed his run perfectly to blast the ball off the keeper and into the net.

Before the Championship side could recover, it was 2-0.

As everybody waited on the edge of the penalty area, Sanchez played a quick corner in from the left, which Giroud ran onto ahead of George Friend to volley past Mejias at the near post for his 10th goal of the season.

Boro were in danger of being overrun, as Adam Clayton made a goalline clearance after Sanchez almost finished off another sweeping Arsenal attack from Mesut Ozil’s through-ball.

When the Championship side were able to temporarily relieve the pressure, Albert Adomah’s 25-yard pot-shot was straight at Wojciech Szczesny, the Pole returning to the side in place of David Ospina.

Arsenal, who had laboured to a Premier League win over bottom club Leicester here in midweek, remained on the offensive in the second half.

Danny Welbeck’s angled chip dropped across the face of goal after more clever play from Giroud down the right.

Gabriel, making his debut, collected a first caution in English football when the former Villarreal defender clattered into Adam Reach as the Boro substitute broke quickly down the left.

As the hour mark passed, Mejias turned a rising drive from Gibbs over and then somehow got down to brilliantly tip away a glanced header from Sanchez as the ball looked to be dropping into the far corner.

Boro, though, still fancied their chances of getting back into the tie and Gabriel had to make a couple of important clearances.

It was almost 3-0 when Kenneth Omeruo blocked a bullet header from substitute Theo Walcott on the line, the England forward then denied by a save from Mejias after bursting clear down the right.

In stoppage time, a far-post header from Kike came back off the post, denying Boro’s superb 5,000-strong travelling support a late consolation.

Read more at ESPN

FA Cup: Derby 1-2 Reading

Yakubu guides Reading into FA Cup quarterfinals

Former Everton and Middlesbrough striker Ayegbeni Yakubu showed his class in front of goal as Reading swept into the last eight of the FA Cup at the expense of a Derby side reduced to 10 men for 50 minutes.

Derby looked the better side until full-back Stephen Warnock was sent off for a second yellow card in the 39th minute but Reading made the advantage count.

Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal was cancelled out by Darren Bent but Yakubu, who was signed as a free agent during the January transfer window but has cost English clubs a total of more than 25 million pounds in transfer fees, netted the winner.

Derby’s promotion ambitions dictated seven changes but there was no lack of cohesion from them and it took a good save from Adam Federici to keep out winger Simon Dawkins snap-shot within 90 seconds of the kick-off.

Next, Rams defender Richard Keogh was inches short of stabbing home a free-kick from Omar Mascarell but after a quarter of an hour Reading hit back to win a free-kick that let in Simon Cox for an angled shot that rattled the near post.

Derby swept back upfield for Dawkins to lay on a shooting chance that Jeff Hendrick fired over the bar and then Federici turned away a blistering low shot from Jesse Lingard, making his debut on loan from Manchester United.

The keeper then produced an even better reflex stop to beat away a powerful point-blank effort from Bent as Derby continued to press.

A long-range shot from Mascarell was drilled straight into the goalkeeper’s hands but a rapid break caught Derby undermanned at the back and Cox latched on to a header from Pavel Pogrebnyak to fire a thunderous shot just too high from the right of goal.

After so much Derby pressure, the odds turned in Reading’s favour when Warnock was sent off in the 39th minute for a lunge that left Jamie Mackie rolling in pain and produced a second yellow card from referee Craig Pawson.

It could have got worse for Derby when a shot from Danny Williams bounced up against Keogh’s raised hand off his thigh to prompt penalty claims but the referee waved play on.

Cox had a powerful shot blocked as Reading tried to make their advantage count and their extra man paid off in the 53rd minute when a rapid counter-attack ended with the same player escaping on the right to deliver a clever pass for Robson-Kanu to curl left-footed inside the far post.

Reading, who had previously lost to Derby in the Championship and the Capital One Cup this season, stayed in front for only seven minutes and it was the in-form Bent who scored.

A right-wing cross was just too strong for Bent to meet but the ball was crossed again from the left by Craig Forsyth and this time the England striker made no mistake from close range – his fifth goal in as many games since joining the Rams on loan from Aston Villa and his ninth in his last 10 FA Cup appearances.

Mackie fired wide from 12 yards after in what was becoming a rip-roaring cup tie and nine minutes from time Reading got back in front when a Derby attack fizzled out and left them short-handed at the back.

Cox swept the ball straight through Derby’s floundering back line and there was substitute Yakubu to underline his quality by powering forward and firing home a clinical left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

 

FA Cup: Blackburn 4-1 Stoke

Stoke knocked out of FA Cup as Josh King scores Blackburn hat trick

Ten-man Stoke suffered FA Cup embarrassment at Ewood Park as they were torn apart 4-1 by a second-string Blackburn side with Josh King, one of those fringe players, scoring a hat trick.

The 23-year-old, on only his 14th appearance this season and with just one league goal to his name, was a nuisance for a Potters defence which was severely hampered by the sending off of Geoff Cameron just before half-time.

Former Rovers boss Mark Hughes, a three-time FA Cup winner with Manchester United, could only watch as the ex-Red Devils youth team player sent his side crashing out of the competition and Rovers into the quarter-finals for the second time in three years.

King’s poacher’s finish equalised Peter Crouch’s early goal before he won the penalty from which Rudy Gestede scored his 14th of the campaign when he was pulled back by Cameron.

The 23-year-old Norway international had caused the visitors problems with his blistering pace before the break but he enjoyed the extra space available against 10 men for 45 minutes and twice raced clear to score with virtually identical goals just 10 minutes into the second half.

King, who attracted some interest from struggling Barclays Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, is out of contract in the summer and if this performance cannot persuade manager Gary Bowyer to offer him a new deal then it will certainly have made someone else’s mind up.

Despite beating another top-flight side Swansea at home in the last round, the priority for Rovers is to close the 10-point gap to the Sky Bet Championship places so, with that in mind, manager Gary Bowyer made eight changes from the midweek win over Rotherham.

Hughes, by contrast, was targeting some silverware and his only alteration from the team which lost to Manchester City on Wednesday was a switch of goalkeepers with England international Jack Butland replacing established number one Asmir Begovic.

There was a sense that Rovers were missing an opportunity and that was reflected in the crowd of 13,934, although that would have been more had police not objected to Stoke having an extra allocation of 2,000 on safety grounds.

When Crouch, on target for the third successive match, smashed home a 10th-minute Victor Moses corner it appeared the script was being followed.

Marko Arnautovic and Mame Biram Diouf had chances to put the game bed inside half-an-hour but let Rovers off the hook and King, at the heart of every real threat, took full advantage.

He should have equalised midway through the half with only the goalkeeper to beat but his shot grazed the crossbar and he also guided a header wide before, after 36 minutes, he deflected Shane Duffy’s powerful header past Butland from close range.

Having created a good chance for Gestede after stripping Philipp Wollscheid for speed, only for his team-mate to fluff his shot, King was fouled by Cameron in the eight minutes of stoppage time for three lengthy injury breaks.

The Stoke defender was shown a straight red card by referee Anthony Taylor and Gestede did not make a mistake with his second chance from the spot.

Rovers ensured there would be no turnaround of momentum in the second half as King – had scored five goals in his previous 68 appearances – twice raced through to slot the ball past Butland in carbon-copy goals within five minutes of each other.

Stoke were deflated and dejected and home fans took great delight in taunting their former manager.

It all got a bit too much for some of the visiting supporters, some of whom became involved in a minor scuffle with stewards and police late in the game.

Hughes ordered his players to go acknowledge what was left of the travelling fans at the final whistle.

It looked more like an offer of an apology but that should not take anything away from another impressive cup performance from Blackburn.

Read more at ESPN

Championship: Bournemouth 1-1 Huddersfield

Bournemouth returned to the top of the Championship on goal difference, despite being held by Huddersfield.

The Cherries are level on points with Middlesbrough and a point clear of third-placed Derby, both of whom are in FA Cup fifth-round action this weekend.

An excellent set-piece routine was finished off by Yann Kermorgant to put the hosts in front before half-time.

But Huddersfield striker James Vaughan turned in Jack Robinson’s shot midway through the second period to level.

The visitors responded well to their 4-1 home defeat by Wolves in midweek, producing a superb battling display against a Bournemouth team that have now drawn consecutive home games.

Huddersfield made a bright start but it was the hosts who created the majority of the game’s early chances.

Defender Steve Cook and striker Kermorgant sent headers off target for Bournemouth, who won 4-0 at Huddersfield on the opening day of the season, while Terriers goalkeeper Alex Smithies made saves from two Matt Ritchie attempts either side of Kermorgant’s opener.

That goal came when Matt Ritchie’s corner was played in low and Harry Arter allowed the ball to run through to Kermorgant, who drilled low into the net.

At the other end, Cherries goalkeeper Artur Boruc kept out Tommy Smith’s curling shot, but Huddersfield chances were rare despite their continuous endeavour.

And Vaughan’s equaliser, his third in as many games, came against the run of play after Bournemouth had dominated possession for large spells in the opening stages of the second period.

The impressive Smithies made further saves from Kermorgant, Ritchie and Arter, while Callum Wilson had an effort cleared off the line in the closing minutes as Bournemouth searched in vain for a winning goal.

Read more at BBC Sport

Championship: Blackburn 2-1 Rotherham

Blackburn kept up their chase for a play-off place as Jordan Rhodes’s late goal secured victory over Rotherham.

Midfielder Craig Conway gave Rovers the lead with a superb curling effort from 20 yards.

Rotherham were dominant after the break and deservedly drew level when Matt Derbyshire poked home Paul Green’s low cross.

But Blackburn snatched victory when Rhodes stabbed home a loose ball after poor defending from the Millers.

The winner came two minutes after the hosts had hit the post through Rudy Gestede.

Rotherham still had time to find an equaliser but Green put a free header wide when presented with a golden chance.

Blackburn remain ninth, ten points behind the final play-off position, occupied by sixth-placed Brentford.

Rotherham drop to 19th, just three points above the relegation zone.

Read more at BBC Sport

Championship: Huddersfield 1-4 Wolves

Striker Nouha Dicko scored twice to give Wolves’ promotion push a timely fillip with victory at Huddersfield.

Dicko fired under Alex Smithies after a through ball from Rajiv van La Parra and it was 2-0 when Conor Coady headed Bakary Sako’s corner into his own net after the break.

Benik Afobe’s strike made it 3-0 before James Vaughan got a goal back for the hosts from Sean Scannell’s cross.

Dicko made it 4-1 when he rounded Smithies to slot home in injury time.

It was a frustrating night for Chris Powell’s Huddersfield side after they created the better chances, with Coady’s own goal early in the second half proving a pivotal moment in the match.

The victory ended a run of three matches without a win for Kenny Jackett’s Wolves team and moved them to within four points of sixth-placed Brentford.

Huddersfield, 15th in the table, have won four and lost four of their last eight matches.

Read more at BBC Sport