Torquay v Bradford preview

Atletico Madrid were unable to leapfrog Real Madrid into second

spot as they were held by Valencia.

A 1-1 draw in the Vicente Calderon stadium was not enough to

move above their city rivals as Valencia produced a spirited

display to keep their own Champions League hopes alive.

Jonas surprised the home side inside five minutes but Radamel

Falcao promptly beat the offside trap at the other end to stab the

ball home and restore parity within a minute.

Despite home pressure after the break, that’s how it stayed and

the result leaves Atletico a point behind Real with Valencia just a

point outside the top four themselves.

Earlier on Sunday, bottom-club Deportivo La Coruna recorded

back-to-back victories for the first time this season after a

narrow win over fellow strugglers Real Mallorca.

Victor Casadesus gave Gregorio Manzano’s side the lead but a

wonderful goal from Silvio put Deportivo back on level terms before

the break.

Veteran defender Carlos Marchena gave the visitors the lead

early in the second half and Riki extended the advantage, before

Alfaro scored late on to set up a tense finish. But Deportivo held

on to keep their hopes of survival alive with the Galician side now

just four points from safety.

Osasuna were another side whose hopes of avoiding relegation

were handed a huge boost after they came from a goal down to win at

Valladolid in fine fashion.

An own goal by Ruben gave the hosts an early lead but two goals

by Kike Sola within 10 minutes after half-time put Jose

Mendilibar’s side ahead. Miguel De Las Cuevas then scored his first

goal for the club to make sure of the points and lift Osasuna seven

points clear of the drop zone.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad’s hopes of a Champions League place

suffered a setback as they were held to a draw at Espanyol. In

fact, they left the Cornella-El Prat grateful for a point after

Javi Lopez’s own-goal inside the final quarter of an hour denied

the hosts all three points.

It was the second time Sociedad had come from behind in the

match, David Zurutuza scoring either side of strikes from Sergio

Garcia and Christian Stuani in an eventful first half.

Sociedad remain in fourth but are now just a point clear of

Malaga in fifth as the race for the final Champions League spot

heats up.

The Italian, who left Swindon in February, will take charge from

Monday morning as the replacement for Martin O’Neill who was sacked

on Saturday after the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Chairman Ellis Short said: “Paolo is hugely enthused by the

challenge that lies ahead of him. He is passionate, driven and

raring to get started.

“The sole focus of everyone for the next seven games will be to

ensure we gain enough points to maintain our top-flight status.

“I think that the chances of that are greatly increased with

Paolo joining us.

“Our fans have shown tremendous patience and understanding this

season.

“They have continued to back the team in huge numbers, both home

and away, and that is something that continues to inspire all of us

in our drive to give them the successful club they deserve.

“That remains our primary aim.”

The Sunderland job is only Di Canio’s second in management after

his spell at Swindon and he was a big success in Wiltshire, guiding

the Robins to promotion to League One.

Di Canio, 44, played for Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and AC Milan

before making a move to Britain where he played for Celtic,

Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton.

Within minutes of Di Canio’s appointment, David Miliband

announced he has resigned from his role as vice-chairman and

non-executive director of the club due to Di Canio’s “past

political statements”.

Within seven games of the Premier League season left Sunderland

are just one point above the relegation zone.

The evening started well for the Bavarians when Nikola Djurdjic

headed them in front in the second minute, but goals from Takashi

Inui, Stefan Aigner and Alexander Meier turned the game around.

Sercan Sararer brought Furth back to within a goal, but they

were unable to find an equaliser as they remain rooted to the foot

of the Bundesliga, 14 points from safety with seven games left.

Frankfurt are now fifth, level on points with fourth-placed

Schalke and still in the hunt for a place in the Champions League

next season.

Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking saw his side relinquish a

two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against former club Nurnberg.

Diego and Ivica Olic had put the Wolves into a commanding

position, but Nurnberg mounted a spirited comeback to take a share

of the spoils thanks to second-half goals by Timmy Simons and Per

Nilsson.

On-loan midfielder Adam Reed is expected to make his home debut

for the Minstermen against their relegation rivals.

Reed, drafted in from Sunderland last week, made his first

appearance for the club in Saturday’s goalless draw at Bristol

Rovers.

Striker Michael Coulson could make his first start since

damaging knee ligaments in October.

Coulson returned as a second-half substitute on Saturday and is

set to be involved again.

Teenager Tom Platt is hoping to retain his place, but fellow

midfielder Scott Kerr remains doubtful with a calf strain.

Defender Lanre Oyebanjo returned on Saturday after missing the

previous four games due to a calf injury, while centre-half Chris

Doig is hoping to shake off a knock.

City – three points from safety with five games remaining – are

chasing their first win in 17 league games in a bid to escape an

instant return to the Blue Square Bet Premier Division.

Pilgrims boss John Sheridan is hoping Saturday’s goal hero Jason

Banton will be fit to feature on Easter Monday.

Banton scored a brilliant solo goal in first-half stoppage time

as Sheridan’s side overcame Devon rivals Exeter City 1-0 in front

of League Two’s biggest gate of the season, 13,251, at Home

Park.

The on-loan Crystal Palace forward. who has now scored six goals

in 11 games since joining Plymouth, was substituted after 72

minutes.

“Jason hasn’t trained all week,” Sheridan said. “He has had a

bit of a stiff back. We will just have to assess him. It might be a

case of changing one or two because we have got a long trip and we

had a very hard game against Exeter. Whoever comes in I expect them

to fill the boots of the player they replace.”

Anthony Charles and Warren Feeney are set to miss out again

while midfielder Lee Cox (shoulder) is an injury doubt. He was

replaced by Luke Young at half time against Exeter and will be

assessed ahead of the clash with a City side four points below the

Pilgrims.

Gulls manager Alan Knill has a selection dilemma at left-back

for the Easter Monday encounter.

Former Arsenal youngster Tom Cruise is available again having

served his one-match ban for the red card he picked up against

York.

But his place in the side was taken by long-serving defender

Kevin Nicholson in the 1-0 loss at Northampton, leaving Knill with

a decision to make.

Scot Craig Easton is sidelined again with a calf injury while

Billy Bodin and Nathan Craig are pushing for starts should Knill

decide to freshen things up after the long Friday night trip to

Sixfields.

Strike duo Rene Howe and Elliot Benyon looked lively once more

against the promotion-chasing Cobblers and they are set to continue

their partnership upfront.

Torquay sit four points above the relegation zone having lost

just one of their last five games.

Bantams striker Nahki Wells could return to the starting

line-up.

Wells has started among the substitutes in the last four

matches, but set up the equaliser for James Hanson in Friday’s home

draw with Southend after stepping off the bench and is pushing for

a recall.

Midfielder Ricky Ravenhill recovered from a shin injury to start

against Southend, but Nathan Doyle and Will Atkinson could come

into contention if manager Phil Parkinson wants to add some fresh

legs for a second game in four days.

Matt Duke is hoping to return in place of Jon McLaughlin as

Parkinson continues to rotate his goalkeepers, while defenders Carl

McHugh and Michael Nelson are also pushing for recalls.

Bradford are chasing their first league win in four games on the

road as they bid to keep their outside play-off hopes alive.