In the first of a new series, Alex Hendley assesses the top six’s results.
Leicester City 4-1 Derby County
Fourth placed Derby County tested their resolve against a rampant first placed Leicester City, who took the lead in the first half through Ritchie De Laet’s first goal in over a year.
Dominating the game, Leicester went 2-0 up through David Nugent’s lucky deflection, before De Laet put it past the wrong ‘keeper to drag the score back to 2-1. This was cancelled out abruptly through Nugent’s penalty kick (how many have they had now, five million?) and a final goal from Jamie Vardy saw the result to a comfortable finish – sending the Rams back home with their woolly tails between their tired legs.
The result saw Derby stay in fourth, though losing ground on all three teams above them, and saw Leicester consolidate their position at the top of the league with another three points. This result shows what form Leicester are in, and many would put them a sure cert for automatic promotion now.
However, Derby slip further behind City, Burnley and QPR, and need to win their next game against Brighton and Hove Albion if they want to stay in touch with the top.
Yeovil Town 1-2 Burnley
Another win for the mighty Clarets never fails to brighten my day. Placed second at the start of the weekend, Burnley looked to keep up with Leicester in a 3pm kick off against second bottom Yeovil Town.
In their first trip to Huish Park in their history, Burnley got off to a great start when super Danny Ings grabbed his 21st goal of the campaign with a stunning shot into Mark Stech’s net giving the Clarets a deserved lead at half time, despite Yeovil doing reasonably well in possession. Sam Vokes tapped in Dean Marney’s unselfish pull back to put the Clarets 2-0 up after hitting the post earlier on, to give Burnley a comfortable lead. Comfortable enough, in fact, to see out the victory despite Kieffer Moore’s effort bringing the score to 2-1 with just over ten minutes left.
This game showed Burnley’s credentials to the max, putting a weaker team to the edge of a 2-0 sword, and were able to grind out the result following a late scare. Burnley stay in touch with Leicester at the top of the pile and extend their gap down to sixth to eleven points. This game must truly be a symbol of the Sean Dyche reign, with swift attacks resulting in creating a comfortable lead, before seeing the game out to earn the three points that see Burnley retain an automatic promotion place.
Ipswich Town 1-3 Queens Park Rangers
QPR started the day in third place, looking to book their ticket to automatic promotion town should Burnley slip up, however that place as we’ve seen is otherwise reserved. However, ‘Arry had to take his wheeler dealing (how much money have they spent again?) R’s up to sixth placed Ipswich who were looking good themselves.
However, three goals in 23 second half minutes saw QPR create an unassailable lead through Niko Kranjcar, Gary O’Neil and Armand Traore. Despite Tommy Smith’s bicycle kick grabbing one back for the hosts, QPR still returned to London with an outstanding win away from home. Poor old Mick McCarthey, when will he stop getting “mullered” eh?
However, I still feel QPR are underachieving, with their money and players they should have won the league twice by now. Who knows the trouble they’ll be in if Redknapp doesn’t get them into the Premier League, however they did their best to make sure we never find out with this great result. QPR are breathing down Burnley’s promotion chasing neck and this result confirms they will do their best to steal our ticket.
Ipswich’s fortunes however took a downturn, dropping all the way to ninth after Brighton and Hove Albion took three points against Birmingham City to book their place in next week’s review.
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Nottingham Forest
I conclude my round up of Top Six ups and downs at our near neighbours Bolton, who entertained fifth placed Nottingham Forest. Forest’s entertainment was kicked up a notch two minutes after half time when Jamie Paterson slotted them the lead, despite possibly being the worse team in the first half. Bolton came back stronger and their hard work paid off when Matt Mills headed in with 15 minutes to go and the Wanderers would hang on for the well-earned draw.
This game extended Forest’s unbeaten run to nine games and after thrashing West Ham 5-0 in the League Cup they are surely on the high rise right now. Despite Bolton underachieving, a point is a good point for Forest when you’re coming home from the Reebok and it consolidates their place in the play-offs, especially with all the swapping of places below them. They remain however, nine points off Burnley and with their next game against an (unfortunately) improving Blackburn Rovers side, they’ll need to keep striving for more.
Overall, a tough weekend for the Top Six, with many internal clashes and away games, saw five of the six unmoved. Boring eh? Not so boring, however, is Burnley’s automatic promotion place that they are holding on to; however my team to watch next week is unfortunately QPR. Back at Loftus Road, ‘Arry will want to take our place with a win against 12th Huddersfield Town.
How will the Top Six look in May? Comment below.