22 February 2004

Aston Villa (1) 2 (Vassell 21, Hitzlsperger 47)
Birmingham (0) 2 (Forsell 60, John 90)

Stern John came off the bench to score a sensational equaliser 30 seconds
from time to seal a dramatic comeback as Birmingham battled back from two
goals down to draw at Aston Villa in the 100th league second city derby.
Villa dominated the first half and took the lead when Gareth Barry found
space at the far post and picked out Vassell with a cross which was tapped
in from close range. The lead was doubled when Vassell found space on the
left and when his cross was only cleared to the edge of the area, Thomas
Hitzlsperger struck a first time shot which tore into the corner of the net
from 25 yards. Birmingham pulled one back when Robbie Savage played the ball
into sub Clinton Morrison on the edge of the area, he held it up for Mikael
Forsell to strike into the corner with the keeper rooted. With four minutes
of stoppage time almost up, Birmingham launched one final ball into the area
as Darren Purse hoisted a long kick forward. It was helped on by Forsell and
collected by Morrison and although his shot was brilliantly saved, it fell
to John who found the roof of the net from close range

Spurs (3) 4 (Brown 6, Defoe 13, 88, Keane 28)
Leicester (1) 4 (Doherty (og) 9, Ferdinand 51, Thatcher 72, Bent 77)
RED CARD : Scowcroft (Leicester) 69

Spurs committed footballing suicide at home to Leicester as they lost a two
goal lead against ten man Leicester and only rescued a point thanks to a
late equaliser. They took the lead when Michael Brown's 25 yard free kick
looked to be covered by keeper Ian Walker only for the ball to bounce under
him and into the net, however a taste of things to come arrived three
minutes later as Walker's long kick was allowed to bounce and Gary Doherty,
under pressure from Paul Dickov, thumped the ball into his own net. Spurs
then took over as firstly Simon Davies played in Jermain Defoe to fire
across the keeper and inside the far post and then, after Leicester failed
to clear a penalty area indirect free kick, Robbie Keane crashed the ball in
from a tight angle. However, a half time lead means little at White Hart
Lane and with memories of that FA Cup clash against Man City still fresh,
they conspired to give us the football version of Groundhog Day. Six minutes
after the restart, Johnnie Jackson was caught in possession on the edge of
his area by Steffan Freund and as the ball fell to Les Ferdinand, he
walloped it past Kasey Keller in the home goal. More memories of City
followed as Leicester were then reduced to ten men when James Scowcroft
caught Mauricio Taricco as he cleared the ball and was shown a straight red,
although a yellow may have been more appropriate. Not put off by this, the
visitors continued to rattle Spurs and when Steve Guppy swung in a corner,
Ben Thatcher got his head to the ball and thumped it into the back of the
net to make it 3-3. The home fans fury soon got worse as Doherty's underhit
back pass was intercepted by Dickov, allowing sub Marcus Bent to fire in and
put Leicester ahead! It didnt quite have the fairytale ending though as
Spurs levelled matters with two minutes to go when Ledley King ended a good
week personally with a cross for Defoe to belt home the equaliser in off the
bar. Late Spurs pressure didn't produce a winner, neither did it stop the
jeers at the final whistle.

21 February 2004

Bolton (1) 1 (Nolan 22)
Man City (2) 3 (Fowler 27, 31, Charlton (og) 50)

Man City won for the first time in the league since November after coming
from behind to win at Bolton. The hosts took the lead when City failed to
clear a corner, allowing Kevin Nolan to volley in a deflected effort at the
far post. The lead lasted five minutes before Robbie Fowler equalised with a
firm header from a corner and, four minutes later, he put City ahead with a
fine shot after John Macken had helped on David James's long clearance.
Victory was clinched early in the second half when Steve McManaman's cross
was intercepted by Simon Charlton who could only watch in horror as the ball
dribbled into his own net.

Charlton (2) 3 (Cole (C) 10, Euell 36, Jensen 90)
Blackburn (0) 2 (Cole (A) 74, Friedel 89)

Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel joined the elite group of goalkeepers to get
their name on the scoresheet, however his joy was short lived at Charlton.
The home side were two up by half time after Carlton Cole turned well and
shot home after Paolo Di Canio's cross found him in the area and then Jason
Euell swept the ball in after Graeme Stuart's free kick was headed on by Di
Canio again. With time running out, Andy Cole latched onto an awful back
pass by Radostin Kishishev to round the keeper and a defender on the line
before slotting in and the stage was set for Friedel's big moment at the
start of stoppage time as he tapped the loose ball into the net after Paul
Gallagher's shot was blocked. Remarkable, Charlton were back in front almost
straight away as Matt Holland's free kick was nodded on by Hermann
Hreidarsson for Claus Jensen to volley in, ironically via the out-streched
hands of Friedel.

Chelsea (1) 1 (Gudjohnsen 1)
Arsenal (2) 2 (Vieira 15, Edu 21)
SENT OFF : Gudjohnsen (Chelsea) 60

Arsenal move seven points clear at the top after coming from behind to beat
Chelsea for the second time in six days. The game also saw Eidur Gudjohnsen
and Patrick Vieira experience both the highs and lows that the game can
produce with the latter being the first victim as his miscontrol let in
Geremi down the left to cross for Adrian Mutu to flick on and Gudjohnsen to
smash in at the far post after just 27 seconds. Vieira made amends though as
he latched onto Dennis Bergkamp's perfect through ball to finish clinically
and six minutes later, the Gunners were ahead as keeper Neil Sullivan

flapped at a Thierry Henry corner, it then struck Gudjohnsen at the far
post, falling ideally for Edu to fire into the gaping net. Things went from
bad to worse for the Icelandic star on the hour as he was shown a second
yellow card - and subsequent red - for tripping Clichy in full flow.

Man United (0) 1 (Scholes 64)
Leeds (0) 1 (Smith 67)

Man United lost ground on the leaders after failing to hold onto a lead at
home to Leeds, who ironically go back to the foot of the table despite the
draw. The home side dominated and took the lead when Gary Neville's shot was
spilled by 18-year old keeper Scott Carson making his first ever start in
the Prem, and fell well to Paul Scholes to crash in the opener. Within three
minutes Leeds were level as Didier Domi's cross was met by the head of Alan
Smith who found the bottom corner from 12 yards. As a Leeds fan, it's worth
mentioning that the home fans observed the minute's silence for John Charles
absolutely perfectly and should be commended, especially considering the way
that a handful of Leeds fans treated the same respect for Sir Matt Busby a
decade ago.

Newcastle (0) 2 (Bellamy 63, Shearer (pen) 83)
Middlesbrough (1) 1 (Zenden 33)

Newcastle came from behind to win the north-east derby and move into fourth
place in the table. Boro took the lead when George Boateng found Boudewijn
Zenden on the left and his fierce shot from the edge of the area found the
bottom corner superbly. Craig Bellamy continued his decent form since
returning from injury as he latched onto a loose ball to tap in from close
range, however Ugo Ehiogu seemed to take the cross from Laurent Robert away
from his own keeper to allow the Welshman the opportunity. The winner came
late when Gareth Southgate was judged to have tripped Darren Ambrose in the
area, however replays suggested that any contact was minimal and that the
decision was a little harsh. None of that mattered to Alan Shearer though as
he drilled the penalty into the bottom corner.

Southampton (0) 3 (Phillips 58, Beattie (pen) 82, Fernandes 90)
Everton (2) 3 (Rooney 7, 78, Ferguson 32)

Southampton came from two goals down to deny Everton their first win of the
year in a dramatic finish at St Mary's. Wayne Rooney put the visitors ahead
early on with a terrific 30 yard shot into the bottom corner and the lead
was doubled when Duncan Ferguson met Thomas Gravesen's cross with a near
post header that left the keeper standing. Saints pulled one back when Kevin
Phillips fired home after a scramble in the area, however the two goal lead
was restored when Rooney thumped in a shot after being set up by Steve
Watson. Again the home side battled back as Tobias Linderoth tripped David
Prutton of the edge of the area, however the ref felt that contact was
inside and awarded a penalty, converted easily by James Beattie. The
comeback was completed at the beginning of stoppage time when Fabrice
Fernandes curled in a beauty from 25 yards.

Wolves (1) 2 (Ince 20, Cort 51)
Fulham (0) 1 (Malbranque 84)

Wolves move off the bottom after a narrow win over faltering Fulham. Paul
Ince put the home side ahead with a firm shot from 15 yards after Alex Rae
set him up with a cushioned header and the lead was doubled when Ian Pearce
sliced a clearance, allowing Carl Cort to nip in and bobble the ball home.
Steed Malbranque pulled a late goal back after Luis Boa Morte's shot was
saved, but the equaliser never arrived.

Gary Dowden - Joint Admin Topica Premier-L list
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