It was another hectic afternoon across the English football league, with goals going in all across the country as we head towards the final stretch of the season. I have picked out the five most significant results from the divisions, with the promotion and relegation picture’s starting to become much clearer.
Late Ayew penalty punishes Boro
With Watford winning, a positive result for Graham Cooper’s Swansea was vital against play-off chasing Middlesbrough. The Welsh side left it late, but did get all three points due to an Andre Ayew brace, however it did not come without any controversy.
After a fairly drab opening half hour, Ayew put The Swans a goal to the good just before half time following a shot from a tight angle.
The real controversy occurred as the visitors thought they had levelled through Marc Bola midway through the second half, as he found the net with a thunderous effort past Freddie Woodman in the home goal. However, the referee disallowed the goal due to what he perceived as a foul by Yannick Bolasie in the build up, but with the replays showing that the Boro man clearly got the ball, it was a bewildering decision. Neil Warnock was understandably furious in his post match interview, claiming that all referees “want celebrity status”, as he hit out at Gavin Ward.
The away side then thought that they had at least claimed a point that they deserved, as Sam Morsy levelled as the game ticked over into injury time. This effort was in vein however, as deep into injury time Jake Bidwell was brought down by George Saville in the area, with Andre Ayew making no mistake from the spot for the hosts.
The Swansea celebrations were understandably wild after the net bulged, leaving them just one point below Watford in second, whilst Middlesbrough now sit seven points off sixth, with their play off ambitions fading away.
Dike strike helps Barnsley to seven in a row as they move into the play offs
No one would’ve predicted Barnsley to be involved in the promotion talk at this stage of the season, but what a job manager Valerie Ismael has done at Oakwell.
Despite their excellent recent form however, The Tykes did have to rely on a moment of brilliance to sweep aside struggling Birmingham City. This was delivered by Daryl Dike has he got his third of the season with a thunderbolt from the edge of the area to catch out Neil Etheridge at his near post early on in the second half.
The home defence held out for the remainder of the game, with the three points meaning they jumped ahead of Bournemouth who were held at Deepdale this afternoon. Meanwhile, Birmingham continue to nervously look over their shoulders as they sit just three points above the drop zone.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank continues to lead Burton away from danger
Burton’s revival after their switch of manager continued as they moved up to eighteenth after a very impressive win against high flying Peterborough.
Two goals just before the hour mark were enough for The Brewers to take all three points at The Pirelli Stadium, with Kane Hemmings and Hayden Carter both netting in an exhilarating five minute spell for the hosts.
Harrison Burrows netted a late consolation which was the only bright spark on what was a pretty gloomy away trip for Posh, who have allowed Lincoln to move too within just two points of them. Burton are now four points clear of safety with multiple games in hand. What a job Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank has done in turning this club around.
Cobblers blow away free-falling Pompey
Northampton scored four times in a blistering twenty-three minute first half spell that will leave Kenny Jackett puzzled as to what went so badly wrong for his Portsmouth side.
In midweek The Cobblers beat Plymouth at the PTS Academy Stadium, and when facing Portsmouth it was as if they just carried over that momentum into the first half. Ryan Watson got the opening two, with Fraser Horsfall and Sam Hoskins also getting onto the scoresheet to make it four for the hosts as both teams went into the half time interval.
I imagine some harsh words were exchanged inside the away dressing room a half time, but whatever was said the side that got sent out clearly didn’t show the correct signs to manager Jackett, who responded by making a quadruple substitution on the hour mark, and it was a sub Ellis Harrison who claimed a consolation for the visitors, but they could not do any further damage to the Northampton who held on to win 4-1.
Jon Brady’s side moved up multiple places to jump out of the relegation zone up to nineteenth, whilst Portsmouth’s worrying form continued, they now sit just two points above Accrington and Ipswich who are ready to pounce on any further slip ups.
Late Rowe equaliser preserves two unbeaten runs
Valley Parade played host to an intriguing affair between the two most in form teams in league two, as a late goal for the hosts meant the points were shared between Bradford and Bolton
Visitors Bolton dominated the ball and had most of the good attempts throughout the game which was a fantastic advertisement for league two football, with lots of quality on show between two sleeping giants who both believe they belong further up the pyramid.
A Nathan Delfouneso effort gave the visitors the lead in the dying stages of the game, a lead that manager Ian Evatt thought was thoroughly deserved on the balance of play. The three points would’ve moved Wanderers into the top six, however, these points were slashed to one as Danny Rowe slotted home a dramatic late equaliser for the hosts that preserved Bradford’s long unbeaten run.
Should they keep up their great form for the remainder of the season, both sides should be involved in a promotion fight, in what has been a very competitive league this year with the lead changing hands all the time.
That rounds up the five key stories from another great afternoon across the EFL. Nothing has been decided as of yet in any of the divisions, so it is all to play for as we head into the final few months of the season, a season which, despite the lack of fans, has been as captivating as ever.