Davids up for last-day drama
Sat, 20 Apr 2013 20:59:00
Barcelona and Real Madrid both won on Saturday, meaning the title could be decided next weekend.
Cesc Fabregas' 84th-minute strike earned a below-par Barcelona a narrow victory over Levante at the Camp Nou as they remained 13-points clear at the summit.
David Villa had seen a 16th-minute penalty saved by Keylor Navas, and that looked like it would prove a costly miss as Barca - perhaps with one eye on Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich struggled to break down a spirited Levante defence before Fabregas' late breakthrough.
The win left Barcelona 13 points clear of second-placed Madrid, who beat Real Betis 3-1 earlier this evening to briefly reduce the gap, and meant Tito Vilanova's side could win the title next weekend.
Mesut Ozil scored twice to ensure Real Madrid will go into their Champions League semi-final clash with Borussia Dortmund on the back of a Primera Division win.
Germany international Ozil broke the deadlock against Real Betis on the stroke of half-time and then wrapped up the scoring with his second right at the end.
In between those two strikes, Karim Benzema had put Madrid 2-0 up before Betis pulled a goal back through Jorge Molina's 73rd-minute penalty.
Granada are a point clear of the relegation zone after coming from behind to draw at home with Real Valladolid.
Patrick Ebert gave the visitors a surprise lead in the second half with a gloriously struck free-kick but Youssef El-Arabi levelled with 18 minutes remaining.
The hosts were the better side throughout the 90 minutes and pushed for a late winner but were unable to beat the outstanding Valladolid goalkeeper Jaime Jimenez.
The third-placed Bees will meet second-placed Rovers at Griffin Park to decide the final promotion spot in League One, with Rosler's side two points adrift after their 1-1 draw at already-relegated Hartlepool.
Victory is a must in the game, and Rosler admitted: "We have worked so hard in the last few months to be in the position where we have it in our own hands and now it all leads to the final day.
"It's a home game and we have enjoyed a great achievement in getting there - Doncaster have everything to lose and we have everything to gain."
He continued: "This wasn't the greatest game by any means, in the 25 minutes until they scored we were not at the races, then we lose our nerves.
"When we started to attack we scored and then in the second half we were the better team and had some very good chances.
"Tom Adeyemi had two chances to win the game, we know we can all play better, no question about it.
"Credit to Hartlepool, they showed character and didn't drop their heads after relegation.
"But we are where we want to be and are full of optimism - now we look forward to a full house at Griffin Park."
Pools started well and were good value for their lead, which came after 25 minutes when teenage prospect Luke James fired in after Jack Baldwin's shot had been cleared.
The promotion chasers levelled after 39 minutes when goalkeeper Scott Flinders, the club's player of the year, made a diving save to keep out Jonathan Douglas' header and Marcello Trotta turned to fire home a low shot.
The Bees did not create much in a flat second period, with their best chance coming in the 87th minute when substitute Tom Adeyemi broke into the area but Peter Hartley blocked his shot.
Hughes said: "In the last 15 minutes of the first half it was Brentford who got a hold in the game and in the second half it was backs to the wall.
"We had three young kids out there playing against a team who are going for automatic promotion, which will do them the world of good.
"In terms of effort it was different class, it's a real tricky playing surface, conditions weren't great for everyone and I wish Brentford all the best in their pursuit of promotion.
"We kept our focus on the game and we need to sit down and won't make any knee-jerk reactions after relegation."
The U's will go into the final game of the season at Carlisle next Saturday three points above the relegation zone, following fourth-bottom Scunthorpe's win at MK Dons.
Dunne said: "We're staring relegation in the face.
"It's a big week where you can either be a League Two player and disappear or a League One player and push on.
"It shouldn't go down to the last day of the season. I'm furious. We were lacklustre and let fear get in the way of everything.
"There was a big crowd and we were booed at the end and rightly so. We gave the fans nothing to cheer about.
"We had two or three opportunities, but there was desperation about our play and the whole game.
"It looked like we were waiting on MK Dons to do us a favour (against Scunthorpe), which they didn't.
"It's been in our hands for the last three games and we've picked up one point.
"Now it comes down to the last game at Carlisle, which isn't in our advantage. We have to give a better account because there are a lot of jobs on the line."
George Porter and Jabo Ibehre both went close for Colchester, while at the other end Steve McGinn and David McAllister registered efforts on goal in a drab first half.
Shrewsbury edged the second half, with U's goalkeeper Sam Walker denying both Jon Taylor and McAllister's long-range effort, but the spoils were shared in what was a lacklustre encounter at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Turner said: "To be totally safe is a relief, given all of the circumstances of the season.
"There was a lot of energy in our performance and in the second half we got ourselves in some good positions.
"We were a bit too anxious at times and got ourselves offside rather naively on several occasions. But we generally defended well and broke and passed well and it might have been better for us.
"There were some 20-year-olds in our back four and there were other young players in our side too.
"I would imagine it was as young a side that the club has put out for many years.
"But they worked hard and I thought that they did well. The experience will do them good.
"At this stage of the season you need the energy boost that young players can give you and that was the thinking behind it."
Since arriving at the club in February Grayson has not tasted defeat in front of his home fans, and Jeffrey Monakana's strike just before half-time helped them win their final home game of the season 1-0.
Grayson insists it is the least their fans deserve as Preston stretched their unbeaten run to four games with just two left to play.
"What we've said for the last couple of weeks is we want to finish the season in a positive manner and send the supporters home from Deepdale happy with what they've seen," he said.
"They've shown a fantastic attitude in wanting to win a game, working hard for the club and the shirt and showed some good quality at times.
"It's a positive place to be now we've finished the season at home and I'm delighted we got another win and another clean sheet and won the game in a comfortable, professional manner I would say.
"From the second-half I thought we were quite comfortable. I thought we controlled the game really.
"It would have been nice to have got another couple of goals but it's a clean sheet, a victory and sending the supporters home in a happy mood.
"Hopefully that will continue for a long time. We're really working hard on the training pitch."
Monakana struck in first-half injury time to settle the game, grabbing his fourth league goal of the season as he rifled home from 12 yards out.
Howe returned to Dean Court in October and has guided the Cherries to the Championship for the first time since 1990.
It is the second promotion Howe has had with the club after leading them to League One in 2010.
Goals from Steve Cook, Harry Arter and Brett Pitman were enough for Bournemouth to see off Carlisle and secure a club record eighth successive win.
Howe said: "It means everything. You can see the reaction of the fans and what it means to the town. It has had a huge impact on me and the players.
"I watched the club as a 10-year-old and used to come to games regularly. To even play a small part in the history of the club means so much.
"This is a big moment. I never thought we would see this day. The club was on the brink of going out of the football league only a few years ago. They were dark days. I'm a Bournemouth fan and have always had a special relationship with the club.
"I thought Carlisle played very well and when they equalised that spurred us on to the end of the game where I thought we were excellent.
"To win back to back games is incredibly difficult but to win eight in a row is amazing."
Howe added: "The title is something we want without a doubt. We are top at the moment and that is my immediate focus. We will go for it. I want to win the league."
Gareth Ainsworth conceded his Wycombe side did not deserve to be party poopers at Barnet.
The Bees claimed the win thanks to Jake Hyde's strike in their final game at Underhill to move out of the League Two drop zone, but only after Chairboys striker Joel Grant had a stoppage-time penalty saved.
"We didn't deserve to get a draw from the game," said Ainsworth. "That was probably the worst we've played since I've been in charge, I think the occasion got to a few.
"Barnet were hungrier, they wanted it more than us. We had a couple of injuries and it weakened us, there is a lot to work on.
"I'm glad we've done enough to be safe and luckily there wasn't much riding on this for us. There was plenty on it for Barnet and fair play to them. They've done what they had to do.
"We were very poor. I'm gutted for the boys because they tried, it wasn't a lack of effort, we just didn't turn up.
"We had a chance late on to get a point, but missing a penalty in the 92nd minute isn't great at any level. Joel Grant is devastated in there, he's really down but these things happen."
The Robins clinched a play-off spot with a 3-0 victory over Westley's men, who were forced to play with 10 men for 50 minutes following Dani Lopez's dismissal
Westley said: "We have been shown exactly what the play-off sides have got what we haven't in terms of organisation, physicality, mentality and attitude to winning.
"There are all sorts of gaps between us and we face a long hard pre-season to put in place the things that aren't in place.
"All the goals were preventable, two certainly were the result of the ball bobbling about in our penalty area.
"You don't see too many Stevenage sides letting goals in like that, our fans are used to seeing players put their bodies in the way and that's something we need to instil in the close season."
Lopez received his red card five minutes before half-time. Referee Gary Sutton was left with little option but to apply the letter of the law as the young striker raised his hands and appeared to slap Swindon skipper Alan McCormack.
Westley added: "I didn't see enough of the sending off incident to make a comment. People who did see it say that Dani was hit first and then tapped the fellow around the face.
"I'm not sure what level of aggression there was but the kid is in the dressing room crying his eyes out because he feels the decision was harsh. It certainly was if he was hit first."
Striker Jake Hyde netted the winner from a Luke Gambin cross in the 81st minute as Barnet brought to a close 106 years of playing at the famous old ground.
The fairytale ending was on the verge of turning into a nightmare when Tom Flanagan fouled Wycombe midfielder Bruno Andrade in the box in injury time.
But Joel Grant's spot kick was pushed wide by Graham Stack with Barnet moving out of the League Two drop zone with a one-point cushion ahead of their final fixture at Northampton.
And Davids wants the fighting qualities shown by his players to grind out a win against Wycombe to be displayed again when they travel to Sixfields to meet the Cobblers.
"We created enough chances to win the game but we had to really battle to get it," he said. "We came in with a mission and we started with our foot on the gas.
"We really went for it from the first minute right up until the last minute. Wycombe couldn't deal with our pressure - we were pushing right up inside their half.
"If you believe from the first minute to the last that you will win, most of the time you will get that chance. And with Jake, if you miss a lot chances, the laws of football suggest that you will eventually be able to score.
"Conceding that penalty at the end sums up the season for us. Every game we play there is an error and we just keep doing it.
"Northampton also play very directly and they have two very good strikers so it will be another tough battle for us."