Bailey breaks Latics' hearts

BY foxsports • January 19, 2013

Celtic boss Neil Lennon reckons his team looked sharp after their winter break as they comfortably beat Hearts 4-1.

On a poignant day for the club, Lennon believes the performance was a fitting tribute to fellow Irishman and Celtic legend Sean Fallon who died on Friday.

The Hoops manager said: "I think the players wanted to give Sean a good send off and I think he would have been happy with that as well.

"That's probably the best we have played at home. We challenged them today and the players did everything we asked of them."

Georgios Samaras and Lassad Nouioui were among the goals, but Gary Hooper will again be in the spotlight as he grabbed a brace.

And Lennon remains confident the striker will sign a new deal with Celtic as discussion on a contract extension continue.

Lennon added: "That was Gary at his best. I thought he was brilliant. He got his two goals today but I thought his all-round game was top class.

"We had a chat last night and wanted to make our position clear to him and he was quite happy with that."

The visitors were the first side to register an attempt on goal in a quiet opening with Kieron Cadogan's tame strike proving comfortable for Michael Ingham.

The Minstermen had threatened very little in the first half until Michael Potts brought a save out of Jamie Young on the cusp of half time. The midfielder collected Matty Blair's header before seeing his dipping volley tipped wide by the Shots goalkeeper.

With time running out, Aldershot had Young to thank as he produced a smart save down to his left from Potts. A positive run down the left by Blair started the move before he once again teamed up with his fellow midfielder who brought the best out of Young.

Aldershot top scorer Craig Reid then had the chance to win all the points for his side late on but he could only blaze over the bar after substitute Michael Rankine set him up.

The west African nation have never made it to the knockout stage of the competition, losing all three of their group matches last year, and kick off their 2013 campaign against Group B rivals Mali in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

Their opponents finished third in 2012 and can boast a host of players from the English Premier League and Ligue 1.

But Daouda, 29, who plies his trade in South Africa for Chippa United, reckons the team have learnt from their experiences 12 months ago and are a better side this time around.

He told cafonline.com: "Playing in the 2012 African Nations Cup has been a positive experience and it will be put to bear in South Africa.

"The objective of the entire team is different compared to last year and so are my personal targets. I will be less nervous and highly motivated this time round.

"Each of the teams (in the group) stand an equal chance and we will fight to qualify to the next round.

"Our focus is very different as we are better motivated now, backed by the entire country, especially our president, Issoufou Mahamadou, who doled out substantial financial support toward our preparations.

"Our strength has been the fighting spirit and unity of the team. Every player is motivated by the solidarity within the team. We also have an experience trainer in Gernot Rohr."

Ghana and Congo DR are the other two teams in the group.

Mali are captained by former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita, who now players for Chinese side Dalian Aerbin.

The 33-year-old is in the twilight of his career, but still wants to win the African title for the first time for Mali.

"I have a lot to offer to the team and will play my part to steer the team to go far at the tournament in South Africa," he said.

Andy Robinson gave the well-drilled visitors the lead just before the break, converting from the spot after Harlee Dean brought David Amoo down.

The Bees hit back when Dean redeemed himself, getting ahead of marker to glance home Jake Bidwell's near-post free-kick.

But Adam McGurk skipped past two defenders to fire in a low angled drive at the near post for the winner after 66 minutes.

It was tough on Uwe Rosler's side who had the clearer chances, Marcello Trotta and Clayton Donaldson forcing good saves from keeper Owain Fon Williams.

The stopper was lucky to stay on the pitch after lashing out at Harry Forrester after the pair clashed in the box.

Tranmere were thankful for the referee's leniency as he went full length to deny Sam Saunders' goal-bound free-kick almost on full time.

Brentford pressed deep into six minutes of injury time when Dean almost levelled with a low drive, but his effort was blocked.

An army of volunteers worked through the morning to clear snow from the pitch to get the game on but it seemed they would regret that decision after a sluggish start by the hosts.

The Blades opened the scoring after just over a minute when Nick Blackman's inswinging corner was headed home by a towering Harry Maguire.

Jeff Hughes had a good chance to level for County on 11 minutes after poor defending from the Blades but he scooped his shot over.

The home side had a mountain to climb after 24 minutes when Francois Zoko was sent off, first receiving a booking from referee Mark Haywood for protesting a free-kick before seeing red as he continued his outburst.

However the away side never really pressed home their advantage and after 80 minutes Judge glanced home an Alan Sheehan free-kick to give the Magpies a point.

The hosts were the better side from the first whistle at Boundary Park and could have been in front two minutes after it, but Richard Wood volleyed straight at keeper Dean Bouzanis after he flapped at a corner.

Matt Smith squandered Oldham's best chance of the first half when one-on-one with City keeper Joe Murphy, firing straight at his feet.

Stephen Elliott put City in front on the hour mark, five minutes after coming off the bench. Gary McSheffrey's left-wing cross reached the stooping striker at the back post and he headed in.

Elliott thought he had added an identical second 15 minutes later but it was judged not to have crossed the line.

Smith then leapt highest from an 89th-minute corner to notch what he thought was the final goal, but the Sky Blues kept pushing and when a deep cross found its way to Bailey he lashed home a powerful volley.


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