19 April 2003

Aston Villa (1) 2 (Alback 11, 78)
Chelsea (0) 1 (Terry 89)

Aston Villa practically assured themselves of Premiership survival with a
win over Chelsea, who remain in that vital fourth spot despite the defeat.
Marcus Allback was the Villa hero with both goals, firstly with a fine
volley after Gareth Barry chested down Joey Gudjonsson's cross and then with
a good turn and shot after Darius Vassell's header found him in the area.
John Terry pulled a late goal back, heading home a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
corner with was helped on at the near post, however it was too little, too

Bolton (1) 1 (Okocha 38)
West Ham (0) 0
RED CARD: Pearce (West Ham) 90

Absolutely massive result at the bottom as, not only does Bolton's win
officially relegate West Brom, it also puts a six point gap between West Ham
and Bolton & Leeds for the final drop spot. The only goal was worthy of
winning any game as Jay-Jay Okocha collected the ball in his own half, ran
half the length of the pitch and then drilled home a beauty from all of 25
yards. Late on, the Hammers lost their cool, notably Ian Pearce who not only
brought down Andre in full flow, but then in the free-for-all which
followed, pushed over Gudni Bergsson to earn a justified red card.

Charlton (0) 0
Birmingham (1) 2 (Dugarry 20, Savage (pen) 55)

Birmingham are almost safe after a good win at faltering Charlton.
Christophe Dugarry scored his second goal in as many games to open the
scoring, cheekily back-heeling in at the near post from Geoff Horsfield's
cross. The win was secured when Robbie Savage converted a penalty after he'd
been brought down by Chris Powell.

Everton (0) 1 (Unsworth (pen) 58)
Liverpool (1) 2 (Owen 31, Murphy 64)
RED CARDS: Weir 83, Naysmith 89 (Both Everton)

Liverpool move above Everton into fifth place after winning the Merseyside
derby at Goodison Park. Michael Owen opened the scoring on the half hour
with a fierce shot from the edge of the area after he'd cut in from the left
having been found by Danny Murphy, however the hosts levelled matters when
Jamie Carragher tripped Gary Naysmith in the area, resulting in David
Unsworth almost breaking the net with his bullet of a penalty. Parity lasted
just six minutes before Murphy put Liverpool back ahead with a curling
effort after Dietmar Hamann had been tackled, however it went from bad to
worse for Everton who ended the game with nine men thanks to two late
dusmissals. Firstly David Weir saw a second yellow card for a foul on Steven
Gerrard and then Naysmith saw similar after tripping El-Hadji Diouf.

Fulham (0) 2 (Legwinski 69, Clark 86)
Newcastle (1) 1 (Shearer 39)
RED CARD: Griffin (Newcastle) 63

Managerless Fulham have also almost guaranteed Premiership survival after
coming from behind to beat Newcastle, who remain third despite the close
attention of Chelsea and the two Merseyside clubs. The visitors took the
lead when Alan Shearer nodded in a Hugo Viana corner, however the game
turned when Andy Griffin was shown a second yellow card for a dopey tackle
on Luis Boa Morte whilst in full flow. Just six minutes later, Sylvain
Legwinski equalised with a superb long range effort which crashed into the
net via the post and with time running out, former Newcastle star Lee Clark
cracked home the winner from the edge of the area after the ball was held up
for him by Boa Morte.

Man United (2) 3 (Van Nistelrooy 20, Scholes 42, 61)
Blackburn (1) 1 (Berg 24)
MISSED PEN: Dunn (Blackburn) 47

Man United remain three points clear at the top after seeing off an
impressive Blackburn side at Old Trafford. Ruud van Nistelrooy opened the
scoring with a firm far post header from a David Beckham cross, however
within four minutes, former United defender Henning Berg looped a header in
from a cross by David Dunn which was hopelessly misjudged by Fabien Barthez.
The home keeper was injured in the incident and was subbed at half time.
Prior to that though, United regain the lead when Paul Scholes blasted the
ball after Phil Neville's cross was only half cleared. Barthez's
replacement, Ricardo, began his Premiership debut by conceding a penalty
just a minute into the second half, taking down Andy Cole as he burst
through and was perhaps lucky to escape a red card. However, he stayed on
and then compounded the decision by saving Dunn's penalty. Blackburn's
chance had gone and on the hour, Scholes wrapped up the points from close
range after good work from Ryan Giggs and Van Nistelrooy.

Middlesbrough (0) 0
Arsenal (0) 2 (Wiltord 48, Henry 82)

Arsenal remain three points adrift of Man United but have a game in hand
after winning at Middlesbrough. After a goalless first half, the Gunners
took the lead when Sylvain Wiltord shot into the bottom corner after good
work from Thierry Henry. However, not to be outdone, Henry scored the second
himself with a blistering free kick from the left corner of the penalty area
which ripped into the roof of the net.

Southampton (2) 3 (Ormerod 31, Beattie 45, Svensson (A) 53)
Leeds (0) 2 (Kewell 80, Barmby 90)
RED CARD: Smith (Leeds) 61

Southampton show no signs of letting up ahead of the FA Cup Final after
seeing off Leeds, who still arent safe from relegation. Brett Ormerod
following up his goal last weekend with the opener at St Mary's as he netted
from close range after Anders Svensson's shot had been saved and on half
time, Ormerod's header gave James Beattie the the chance to double the lead
which he did with a bobbled effort into the corner. Svensson then added a
third as Leeds fell apart, crashing the ball home after a good run and pass
from Beattie and on the hour, Leeds' misery was finalised when Alan Smith
was shown a second yellow card for kicking Michael Svensson. Late on, Leeds
gave the scoreline some respectability as firstly Harry Kewell broke the
offside trap to latch onto Gary Kelly's pass and shoot home and in stoppage
time, Nick Barmby volleyed into the net after Michael Duberry headed on Ian
Harte's cross.

Sunderland (0) 1 (Stewart 70)
West Brom (2) 2 (McInnes 39, 42)

Typical of West Brom's season that even when they win, it's counteracted
with disappointment as despite victory at already relegated Sunderland, the
Baggies are also down due to Bolton beating West Ham. Both West Brom goals
came from Derek McInnes, firstly he bobbled the ball in after Mart Poom
fumbled a cross and then was on hand to scramble home after a Jason Koumas
free kick was blocked by the keeper. Marcus Stewart got a late consolation,
clipping in after Shaun Thornton's shot was saved, however it's no relief to
either club to know that they'll play each other again next season, but not
in the Premiership.

18 April 2003

Spurs (0) 0
Man City (2) 2 (Sommeil 3, Barton 21)

Manchester City recorded a rare away win, beating Spurs 2-0 at White Hart
Lane to put a massive dent in the European hopes of their hosts. Spurs were
a shambles in the first half, especially defensively where the backline
handed City three golden chances in the first three minutes. Firstly Nik
Anelka shot wide after a weak header by Ledley King gave him a shooting
chance after just eight seconds and within a minute, Shaun Wright-Phillips
chipped over the bar after another error sent him free. A goal was no
surprise and it duly arrived when Ali Benarbia's corner was headed in by an
unmarked David Sommeil to net his first Premiership goal. Wright-Phillips
then forced Kasey Keller into a brilliant save before the lead was doubled
just before the half way stage of the half. Anelka was sent clear after
Robbie Fowler dispossesed Antony Gardner and although Anelka's half hit shot
was saved, the ball fell to Joey Barton on the edge of the area who drilled
home what was also his first City goal, albeit via the head of Keller,
anxiously racing back to cover his net. The second half saw an improvement
from the home side and whilst Schmeichel was forced to make decent saves
from Teddy Sheringham and Robbie Keane, a dramatic comeback rarely looked
like coming.

16 April 2003

Arsenal (0) 2 (Henry 51, 61)
Man United (1) 2 (Van Nistelrooy 24, Giggs 63)
RED CARD: Campbell (Arsenal) 82

The Premiership title remains on a knife edge after the two leaders, Arsenal
and Manchester United, battled out a 2-2 draw at Highbury on an evening of
high drama and controversy. United began well and took a deserved lead
midway through the first half as Ruud Van Nistelrooy flicked on a long
clearance forr Ryan Giggs to collect. He found the Dutchman again on the
right flank and after beating Sol Campbell, he cut inside, ahead of Martin
Keown, before clipping the ball over the advancing Stuart Taylor. The
youngster was a late replacement for first choice David Seaman who was taken
ill and the Gunners` cause took a further blow when Patrick Vieira went off
injured on the half hour. For the most part, United defended solidly in the
first half, restricting Arsenal to very few chances and only late on when
Robert Pires had a shot deflected over by his own man, Freddie Ljungberg,
was Fabien Barthez's goal threatened. The second half began with Arsenal
turning the game around thanks to two massive strokes of good fortune. Six
minutes in, Robert Pires found Ashley Cole in the area and as he found space
for a shot, dragged his effort wide of the target, however it struck Thierry
Henry on the back of the leg and spun beneath Barthez to level the scores.
Ten minutes later, Campbell's pass from midfield sent Henry through on goal
and he made no mistake slotting in from the edge of the area, however
replays showed the Frenchman a couple of yards offside when the ball was
originally played. The lead lasted just 66 seconds as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
crossed deep from the right and Giggs powered the far post header past
Taylor and into the net. Tempers rarely flared for a changed, however in the
final ten minutes, Campbell caught Solskjaer in the face with a flayling arm
and whilst the intent and power of the contact were both questionable, the
referee, after advice from his assistant, showed the centre-back a straight
red card. In stoppage time, Henry came close to completing his hat trick,
however his fierce volley was blocked by the legs of Barthez. The draw keeps
United three points clear at the top, however Arsenal have a crucial game in
hand. Personally, my money would be on United as they look more capable of
grinding out results at present.

Gary Dowden - Joint Admin Topica Premier-L list
Leeds United and Scotland and proud of it