Championship review -Boro’s title?

The Championship takes another step closer to the end of season and it appears that Middlesbrough have a good chance of taking the Championship after taking all three points with an injury time winner. The league leaders had travelled to Bolton Wanderers and it would have looked like an easy win for the visitors. The already relegated Bolton had taken a surprise lead around the hour but the lead would just over twelve minutes when Jordan Rhodes levelled with the first of two. The league leaders seemed to not be able to find away through as they failed to convert many of their chances, but in added on time Rhodes headed home the winner to keep a little space between them and Burnley, who had beaten Birmingham to claim second spot ahead of Brighton.

The Clarets had found it hard work against the home side as they looked to keep their title chances alive. Having taken the lead in the first half Burnley looked like they could get a narrow 1-0 win but Birmingham levelled when Heaton could only parry a shot which enabled Maghoma to put the ball in the back of the net. There was relieve for the visitors when Andre Gray scored his sixth in nine games.

Brighton who had scored a 5-0 win on the Friday night against Fulham, saw their brief gap of one point increased to four following Boro’s win. The hammering they gave to Fulham, boosted their goal difference to plus 24. This though still not enough with Middlesbrough and Burnley having plus 32. The victory though gives them opportunity to close the gap depending on midweek results.

Midweek sees Burnley and Middlesbrough face off at Turf Moor. Middlesbrough won the previous tie 1-0 and a repeat of that will ultimately see Boro in the driving seat and a points gap. Should Burnley win then they will have a point advantage with a chance to increase it should they later beat Preston. Brighton will host QPR hoping to avoid a repeat of the the 2-2 draw where Seagulls had lost a 2-0 lead. A defeat could certainly hinder their chances but then so could a draw depending on the result between the top two. On Saturday though Brighton travel to Charlton. With the southeast London club all but relegated a victory should be Brighton’s, but seeing that Charlton scored a 2-0 win at home to Middlesbrough the visitors will certainly not take anything for granted.

Notably if we fastfoward to the final game of the season, Charlton, depending on previous results, could once again have a say on the promotion and title direction. They host Burnley. They will be only be playing for pride and to give the fans a good send off, but even a 1-0 victory for them could see Burnley’s title hopes or automatic promotion chances blown away. Unfortunately for the hosts, those chances of causing an upset may very well be nil. The result at Turf Moor saw the Clarets post a 4-0 win.

Middlesbrough host Brighton in what could be a tasty match. Brighton will hope to avenge their 3-0 defeat in the previous tie, they know that it could mean the difference between automatic promotion or playoff. It will certainly be an interesting end to the season. Two automatically go up so someone will be disappointed.

That Giggs goal and Dan’s top 5 – Dan Raywood blog post

Today marks 17 years since that Ryan Giggs goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi final. It’s a goal that has been analysed over and over since.

As a Spurs fan, I should take some pleasure in the goal, but part of me feels it lacks some of the magic of other “long and winding goals”. So I decided to present my top five similar efforts, including one by Giggs himself.

Number 5 – Ryan Giggs

Let’s start with this, as Giggs picks it up in his own half, is mostly unchallenged until Patrick Viera makes an effort, pushes past Dixon and Keown and scores a nice finish with a shot over Seaman.

Number 4 – George Weah

Slightly better as it does involve a longer run having collected it in his own penalty box, and he gets past two paltry Verona challenges before rolling it in.

Number 3 – Saeed Al-Owaira

A legendary goal from an excellent tournament. He gets the ball in his own half, is generally unchallenged by the Belgian running alongside him, gets past one dizzy defender on the 18 yard line and executes a very nice finish.

Number 2 – Roberto Baggio

Often forgotten, but still excellent. The divine ponytail exchanges passes in the Czech half before he is given incredible amounts of space (for a player of his ability) and the finish is excellent. The Charlie George-esque celebration makes it extra special.

Number 1 – Diego Maradona

“You have to say that’s magnificent” declared Barry Davies. He gets past 3 England defenders, takes it around Shilton whilst under pressure. One of the greatest of all time.

Chasing the Football League Dream

Whilst of course many football fans will be keeping their eyes on the exciting title race in the Premier League, there are of course those at the other end of the scale who dream of seeing their club taking their place in the Football League. Two teams come the end of the season will find themselves taking their place, one automatic the other through the playoffs.

The chase for the automatic spot is down to a two horse race between Cheltenham and Forest Green. Four games to go and four points difference, it appears Cheltenham have the the edge. No only the added bonus of a superior goal difference. Cheltenham’s plus 50 compared to Forest Green’s plus 28, gives them advantage should the two finish equal on points. Cheltenham

Cheltenham hosted Grimsby and with the visitors who had three games in hand on the league leaders had looked to strengthen their very slim hopes of automatic promotion. If anything for the Shrimpers, they were looking to strengthen their play off position but unfortunately for the visitors it was a case of back to back defeats as they went to a 3-1 defeat.

Given that Forest Green had been on a bit of a winless run consisting on three draws in a row, it was vital for the team to get a result against playoff chasing Wrexham. Unfortunately for second place Forest Green, it was another one for the draw column. In fact it was a second goalless draw in four games.

Dover continue their run and hunt for Football League participation.Having been on a good run, they suffered a shock 3-0 defeat against Boreham Wood. A home game against relegation threatened Halifax could have proved tricky, but a 1-0 win kept them firmly on the tail of Grimsby.

Tranmere Rovers, looking to return to the League fell victim to another relegation threatened side. This time it was Welling who made it three games unbeaten. Unfortunately for the strugglers they appear to be running out of games.

Chasing the playoff spots just outside the top six are Braintree, Eastleigh and Wrexham. The run in looks to be very exciting and a close run thing. Who will take the automatic spot and who will get a day at Wembley? We’ll have to wait and see.