Shrimps and Pirates share spoils

BY foxsports • February 23, 2013

Arsene Wenger was relieved to see Arsenal return to winning ways on Saturday, as they overcame Aston Villa.

An FA Cup humbling at the hands of Championship side Blackburn Rovers and a UEFA Champions League mauling by Bayern Munich had heightened tensions in and around the Arsenal camp heading into the weekend.

The Gunners were, however, able to collect a third consecutive Premier League success as Santi Cazorla struck twice against Villa to lift the Gunners to within a point of the top four.

"I am relieved, of course, because it was important to get the three points today," Wenger told Sky Sports afterwards.

"We are on a good run in the Premiership. We were affected by our two major disappointments we had, you could see that on the nervous side, but we have a good spirit in this team and they were focused and determined.

"Even when it came back to 1-1, we found the resources to win the game. We could have scored many, many more goals today, but the most important thing was to get the three points.

"In the last 12 games in the Premiership, we lost two - one was against Man City with 10 men from the start and one at Chelsea. We are on a positive run and let's continue that."

Fans

Wenger saw Cazorla break the deadlock with just six minutes on the clock, and he concedes that it was important for Arsenal to start positively in front of a disgruntled Emirates support.

He added: "It was very important.

"The fans were great. Our fans are intelligent and know that we are in the battle to get as close as possible to the top and that we need their support.

"No matter how disappointed you are after the Bayern Munich game, what is important is to stick together and get the points and the wins.

"It has been a very demanding week physically and nervously and it was important not to feel sorry for yourself. We responded in a strong way today."

The Spireites started brightly but Gillingham were only denied a goal by a stunning save from Tommy Lee in the 10th minute to turn away a low shot from Chris Whelpdale.

Lee rescued his team again six minutes later when McDonald broke clear on the left but Chesterfield responded when Marc Richards fired just over from the edge of the box.

The Gills had been in control in the first half without breaking through but they scored five minutes after the interval when a Myles Weston corner to the near post was flicked in by the head of McDonald.

Chesterfield brought on Jack Lester and the veteran striker twice went close but, despite seven minutes of stoppage time, Gillingham stood firm to stay top of League Two.

But they were probably the happier of the two sides after an uninspiring clash on a bobbly pitch at the Kassam Stadium.

Good scoring chances were few and far between, with Oxford edging the first 45 minutes and the Minstermen stronger in the second half.

Ashley Chambers' brave block prevented Tom Craddock scoring for the U's, and Michael Ingham also pulled off a fine save from Josh Parker.

York squandered the game's best chance when Matty Blair could only head Alex Rodman's cross straight into the arms of keeper Luke McCormick.

Alfie Potter set up Michael Raynes for a drive from the edge of the box in the second half, but the defender could only fire it straight at Ingham.

And when Adam Chapman did break into the penalty area late on, the midfielder lost balance just as he went to shoot.

The draw further dented Oxford's slim hopes of reaching the play-offs and means they have not won any of their last six at home in league and cup competitions.

Cobblers enhanced their chances of reaching the play-offs against a Plymouth side hovering just above the relegation zone courtesy of Cole's second-half blunder.

Plymouth started brightly, Maxime Blanchard tested Lee Nicholls who also denied Jason Banton, while Reuben Reid had a goalbound shot blocked and Guy Branston headed wide.

Northampton finally began to forge some openings - Roy O'Donovan saw his effort turned away by Cole, who also kept out Ben Harding's free-kick and Chris Hackett fired wide from the edge of the box.

Former Cobbler Anthony Charles forced Nicholls into action again just before the break but Northampton stepped up the tempo after the restart - O'Donovan heading wide, while Clarke Carlisle was also off target with a header of his own.

Adebayo Akinfenwa was introduced as the promotion chasers sought to make the breakthrough and it was the top scorer who was instrumental in Northampton doing just that in the 72nd minute. Akinfenwa forced Cole into a decent save but - from Harding's resulting corner - the Plymouth keeper could only help the ball into his own net under pressure from defender Kelvin Langmead.

Charles missed a late chance to earn a point when he headed wide from Barton's corner but substitute Jake Robinson missed a great chance to make the game safe for Cobblers when he shot over.

The home side took the lead with just 80 seconds on the clock. Striker Jack Redshaw received the ball 25 yards out and arrowed in a first-time, right-footed shot that gave Steve Mildenhall no chance as it flew into the bottom right-hand corner.

Redshaw went close to doubling the home side's lead with one effort cleared off the line by Tom Parkes before the visitors hit back early in the second half when Joe Anyinsah crossed from the left and Eliot Richards nipped in between defender and goalkeeper to head past Barry Roche from six yards out.

Both sides then came close to snatching the three points in a pulsating final 20 minutes.

Lewis Alessandra headed a Robbie Threlfall cross against the foot of the post before Richards wasted a glorious chance to double his tally, shooting tamely at Roche when through on goal.

Morecambe had penalty claims rejected deep to stoppage time when Chris Holroyd was bundled over but referee Carl Berry waved play on.


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