English League 2

Mixed emotions for Burnett

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Sat, 23 Mar 2013 20:04:00

Switzerland missed the chance to build a dominant lead in World Cup qualifying Group E after a 0-0 draw in Cyprus.

Ottmar Hitzfeld's men pulled two points clear of second-placed Iceland but they would be enjoying a four-point cushion had Haris Seferovic scored in second half stoppage time.

Cyprus, meanwhile, move off the bottom and above Slovenia thanks to a point earned from an impressive display in which Dimitris Christofi twice went dangerously close.

Gokhan Inler warmed Antonis Georgallides' palms first but it was Cyprus who would dominate the early exchanges.

Compact football allowed Christos Theophilou in for a free header before Konstantinos Charalambidis blasted just past a post.

Xherdan Shaqiri then spurned a clear chance and the Swiss were nearly punished when Yann Sommer tipped Christofi's drive to safety. Konstantinos Makridis came even closer when he hit the upright in the 33rd minute.

Cyprus pressed on after the break and Sommer did well to push another Christofi thunderbolt over his crossbar. Shaqiri then repeated the trick at the other end with Georgallides equally wise to the move.

Both sides enjoyed late chances to score a winner, with Georgios Efrem's dipping drive being held by Sommer three minutes from time.

Then, seven minutes into time added on, Seferovic nodded the ball just off target from six yards out.

In difficult conditions due to the falling snow, neither side were able to break the deadlock but the 0-0 scoreline was viewed positively Yates.

The visitors went closest to winning it as Kaid Mohamed crashed a shot against a post after good work by Jermaine McGlashan shortly after the break.

Barnet's best moment fell to midfielder John Oster but he fired just wide of Scott Brown's goal.

Cheltenham fell to fifth in the table but moved a point closer to the top three, pleasing Yates.

He said: "I'm proud and pleased we haven't got beaten as this is a tough place to come and the conditions were difficult as well for both sides.

"We wanted to give our strikers a little bit more to work with and we did that in the last 20 minutes. I wanted us to make space in behind them and use the wings, and we did that for most of the game. We couldn't quite finish it off and as the game went on we got a bit bogged down with the pitch.

"We had to make a few changes as the game went on and that gave us a bit more of a threat in the wide areas.

"I felt a bit for the boys and the paying supporters as well because even though that could be an important point for us, it wasn't the most entertaining game to watch because of the weather and conditions."

Play-off outsiders Oxford had won their last three games on the road but Ben Harding grabbed the crucial winner as Cobblers maintained their promotion push with a ninth straight home success.

U's boss Wilder said: "I'm disappointed not to be going away with all three points let alone one. I don't think we deserved to get beaten, especially based on our second-half performance.

"But, as has been the case all season, we've not done it in the final third. We got into some great positions in the second half and I also thought we had the better chances in the first half.

"But we conceded more than two minutes into first-half stoppage time, Andy Whing got took about by Clive Platt and before we know the ball is in the back of the net.

"We gave it a right go in the second half but for the second week running we've not punished teams. We need players to be brave enough to take a chance.

"We kept going right to the end and that's what we'll do right to the end of the season but we know we've got to win a lot of games now to get into the play-offs. Northampton are a very strong side, especially at home, and we pushed them all the way."

In difficult conditions due to the falling snow, neither side were able to break the deadlock but the 0-0 scoreline was viewed positively by both Bees boss Edgar Davids.

The visitors went closest to winning it as Kaid Mohamed crashed a shot against a post after good work by Jermaine McGlashan shortly after the break.

Barnet's best moment fell to midfielder John Oster but he fired just wide of Scott Brown's goal.

Davids was left satisfied with a seventh home game unbeaten.

"The game should absolutely have gone ahead - I've played in worse," said the former Holland international. "We did quite well against a team that is higher in the table and we knew it would be hard.

"I have great faith in this team and we were unlucky not to win. We put pressure on them and I'm happy that we did that.

"They are a strong side and it was hard to play on this pitch. You have to bring more to the table against a good team and we did well. At the end I think we were the better team.

"We are making a lot of progress and it's easy to stop playing football, but we kept playing the way we want to. It's about character and my team showed big heart.

"Every game is a final now and we will take it one game at a time. We have to get our points and get good results. It's do or die for us and there's no other way."

Rovers got off to a flying start with an own goal from David Mirfin after just five minutes. Iain Hume made it 2-0 after 39 minutes and although the Iron hit back through Mark Duffy two minutes later, a Chris Brown strike early in the second half sealed victory for the league leaders.

A scrambled late reply from Karl Hawley was unable to prevent Scunthorpe from slipping to a 10th home defeat of the season

"We have been playing better than this in recent weeks without getting the results," said Laws. "But the goals we conceded were atrocious from our point of view. You cannot give a team like Doncaster a start like that.

"There was no real danger when the ball came into our box for the first goal, but the ball ends up in the back of our net.

Our reaction was to look nervous. We defended poorly, passed the ball poorly and with all the mistakes we were making in the first half, it was inevitable Doncaster would score again.

"We then got ourselves back into the game before half-time and needed to start the second half well - but we concede another early goal and the game is gone.

"The defensive mistakes we made left us with too much to do against a team like Doncaster and, to be honest, I don't think we did well enough to deserve anything from the game.

"We are fighting to avoid relegation but giving goals away like we did does not help our cause. We had been improving defensively, but not today."

A fourth successive defeat leaves Scunthorpe in the bottom four - and Laws admits there is no easy way out.

"Our hands are tied, we have what we have got and we have got to try and lift the players again," he added.

Ben Harding has scored only two goals this season but both have produced crucial 1-0 victories, the midfielder grabbing the winner on Saturday as Cobblers edged past Oxford to maintain their promotion push.

Boothroyd said: "Every time we have the bad weather we have lots of people turn up to help us out and when you have commitment like that it's only right that you repay those people.

"To get the three points is terrific although I thought we did our best to give them at least a point in the second half. When you're in front you have to make sure you play the game in their half but there were three or four occasions when we just gave the ball back to them.

"It's a difficult one for me because I wanted to go in there after the game and shout at them but we won so I didn't, I just left them alone. I'll tell them off on Monday. Our goalkeeper was terrific for us and the first-half performance was very good. It's a very good result for us."

Their 3-2 derby success away to the relegation-threatened Iron was a 13th away win of the season for Rovers, who took full advantage of their title rivals' matches being postponed due to the snow and freezing weather conditions.

"We are quite comfortable with the position we are in," said Flynn. "You can see we have a group of players who work really hard for each other and that will stand us in good stead in the closing weeks of the season.

"I am delighted that our match managed to beat the winter weather and it could turn out to be an important weekend for us. I would certainly rather have the points on the board than have matches in hand. All we need to do now is try and keep the players relaxed and focused.

"What will it take to win promotion? More performances just like this. We are now learning how to see games out."

Doncaster got off to a flying start with an own goal from Scunthorpe defender David Mirfin after just five minutes. Iain Hume made it 2-0 after 39 minutes and although the Iron hit back through Mark Duffy two minutes later, a Chris Brown strike early in the second half sealed victory for Rovers.

A scrambled late reply from Karl Hawley was unable to prevent Scunthorpe from slipping to a 10th home defeat of the season.

Flynn added: "We know Scunthorpe are a team who come out of the blocks quickly, so it was important for us to start well.

"We had numerous good opportunities in front of goal that we did not take, and when that happens teams can come back at you.

"Scunthorpe would have got massive encouragement by their goal just before half-time, so it was important for us to start the second half well too - and we did with another early goal. But credit to Scunthorpe, they kept going well."

The visiting Daggers took the lead after just five minutes when Shaun Beeley was adjudged to have handled inside the penalty area, Medy Elito converting the resulting spot-kick.

But Town levelled just a minute later - Junior Brown may have intended his ball from the right channel as a cross, instead it crept in at the back post.

Winger Gareth Evans then completed the turnaround early in the second half when he cut in from the left and fired home an unstoppable 20-yard shot.

Burnett said: "We didn't work their goalkeeper enough. But we controlled a lot of possession.

"I think they had one shot second half. It was a screamer, but I'd like to be able to take one shot and win a game. It wasn't meant to be.

"I felt we played okay, not great, but probably didn't threaten them enough.

"We made two changes, just to liven things up, to give people some hope. You make substitutions, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

"It didn't work and I'm bitterly disappointed because I think we were good enough to get something out of the game."

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