English League 2

Holdsworth eyes higher ground

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Tue, 01 Jan 2013 21:40:00

Iker Casillas wants to give Jose Mourinho no choice but to reinstate him in goal after he was dropped to face Malaga last month.

The controversial decision prompted much debate, especially after Real went down 3-2, with back-up goalkeeper Antonio Adan taking Casillas' place.

Mourinho claimed the decision was "purely technical" and insisted he did not regret dropping the Real captain despite defeat leaving them 16 points behind Barcelona.

Casillas has been only professional and discreet about Mourinho's decision and on Wednesday told reporters he is just determined to regain his position.

He said: "I'm training myself to fight, to fight and to recover the position. It is the goal that I have and that the coach selects me in the next game."

The Spain international added: "I feel good but I'm not a machine, I have to train every day and there are better and worse times, but I feel fine.

"Above Casillas is Madrid. The decision is the coach's.

"In any case, the day I no longer have the desire to work, I'll stop."

Higginbotham, 34, signed in time to make his debut in the 2-2 draw at promotion rivals Doncaster and played the full 90 minutes.

Blades central defender Neill Collins is expected to be sidelined for the next two months after suffering a triple fracture to his cheekbone in the Boxing Day win over Scunthorpe and boss Danny Wilson has moved swiftly to find a replacement.

Higginbotham, who has not featured for Stoke this season, has recently completed a spell on loan at Ipswich for whom he made 12 appearances.

He began his career at Manchester United, and commanded a seven-figure transfer fee on three occasions when signing for Derby, Southampton and Sunderland. He is currently in his second spell at Stoke.

Rommy Boco fired Stanley ahead after 65 minutes and the Benin international's ninth goal of the season proved to be decisive.

Cook's promotion-chasing side were guilty of squandering a host of opportunities either side of the goal and the Spireites boss said: "It was always going to be difficult. The (Stanley) lads were always going to be up for it with a manager coming back.

"It's a great win for Accrington but we are disappointed as we are looking for promotion but we have a habit of conceding goals and not taking our chances and with that you do not win games.

"It wasn't for lack of effort, we dominated for long spells for we couldn't finish but all we can do is keep working hard."

The Stanley boss took over following Cook's departure in October but has endured a torrid time and headed into the fixture with one win in 11 League Two matches to his name.

But Rommy Boco's 65th minute strike proved to be the perfect tonic.

"It was thoroughly deserved," said Richardson.

"Our goalkeeper Cameron Belford was Man of the Match but it could have been any one of XI. We haven't got we deserved in some games in December so it was nice to get a win to start the new year.

"January is a big month for us but, at the moment, I am just really pleased for every single one of the players.

"It was weird being in a separate dug out to Paul Cook as I learnt a lot of him when he was manager here and I was his assistant.

"I talk to him every day and have a lot of respect for him. I know the loss will hurt him but, if he had to get beat, he would have preferred that it was us he lost too."

The victory propelled the Shots to three points above the League Two drop zone.

The winner came in controversial circumstances as referee Carl Berry pointed to the spot, having adjudged David Stephens to have handled Sonny Bradley's goal-bound drive.

Craig Reid stepped up and confidently slammed the spot kick past Graham Stack, and things went from bad to worse for the hosts as they were reduced to ten men when Jon Nurse received his marching orders for a dangerous challenge on Dani Lopez.

And Bees boss Edgar Davids was enraged yet further as his men were denied a leveller, with Jake Hyde ruled offside having bundled home Ricky Holmes' near-post centre.

"It's a massive win for us today. I'm not going to apologise for pushing the players and striving for better," said Holdsworth.

"With the standard of the players in that dressing room, we want to be pushing up the division and it's really important that we do that.

"It wasn't going to be a classic game. Both teams are working extremely hard for their survival and wins. On the basis of that, to come here against a Barnet side that has been in confident mood is a fantastic win.

"It was handball - I don't think anyone does it intentionally now, but you can't have the ball touching your hand in the penalty area. My own personal opinion is that there wasn't intent.

"It looked, with the momentum Jon [Nurse] had going in on Daniel, that it could have been reckless. The referee hasn't got a rewind, but it looked quite a bad challenge."

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