THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Premier League ~ Pulis thinking only about Stoke
Tony Pulis insisted he was not insulted by Roberto Mancini's refusal to shake hands after the game at the Brittania Stadium. Stoke dealt a blow to Manchester City's title hopes in the 1-1 draw, leaving Mancini angry about the home side's physical style. "We get labelled a lot of things,” responded Pulis. "But we don't moan. You didn't see Glenn [Whelan] moan, or players surround the referee. It won't affect me, my club or the supporters." It was announced last week that Stoke's season ticket sales are on course to reach record levels, surpassing even last year. Fans will no doubt be lining up to see more wondergoals from Peter Crouch.

Championship ~ Burnley turn to youth for entertainment
Burnley's 2-2 draw at home to West Ham on Saturday means they are firmly set for a mid-table finish in the Championship this season. Although Eddie Howe's side have won only three of 14 games since the turn of the year, they are 15 points clear of the relegation zone and ten from the play-offs. With the club requiring others forms of entertainment, their FA Youth Cup semi-final against local rivals Blackburn Rovers is providing the perfect distraction. Over 10,000 fans saw Blackburn win the first leg 1-0 at Ewood Park and another big crowd is expected at Turf Moor on Wednesday night for the return fixture.

League One ~ Noble makes impact at Hartlepool
Hartlepool's Ryan Noble scored the only goal of the game against Yeovil on Saturday. The young striker, who was signed on loan from Sunderland last week, scored from six yards out to give the Hartlepool their first win in six games. Neale Cooper, the Hartlepool manager, said last week that Noble could become a “right good player” for his team and he did not disappoint. Yeovil will be disappointed, though, having missed a string of good chances after dominating the possession at Huish Park. The defeat leaves Yeovil 16th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.

League Two ~ Burton Albion flop yet again
Burton Albion have now lost eight games in a row and are without a win since Boxing Day, following their 4-0 defeat at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday. The latest result has led caretaker boss Gary Rowett to brand the side "not fit for purpose". "I'm hugely disappointed," he said. "There's a lack of honesty in the team at the minute. At the start of the season we were all in it together and all pulling together, but I just think now there are a few who have given up the ghost." The club had a good start to the season and were in fifth place following their Boxing Day win over Northampton. Since then it has been downhill and a turnaround seems a long way off.

Conference
~ Protests at Lincoln's relegation clash
Lincoln City's vital 2-0 victory over fellow relegation-strugglers Newport County was overshadowed by a disagreement between a group of fans and the club's board. Supporters' group "Save the Imps" organised a protest before the match, which was attended by around 200 people, who are demanding the sacking of chairman Bob Dorrian and manager David Holdsworth. The Imps are locked in a battle to avoid their second relegation in a row, after they slipped out of the Football League last season. In response to the planned protests the directors called the organisers a "disgrace", saying: "The outcome of such actions will almost certainly have a detrimental effect on the players and now, more than ever, is the time for positivity not negativity." The disagreement did not affect the players too much. The win moved Lincoln above their opposition and two points clear of the relegation zone.

Greece ~ Olympiakos crush Asteras as their run continues
Greek Super League leaders Olympiakos came from two goals behind to beat Asteras Tripoli 7-2 in Athens on Sunday. The league's leading scorer, Kevin Mirallas, scored four goals for the first time in his career, as the home side extended their winning run to seven games. The result was revenge for Olympiakos, as Asteras are one of only two teams that have beaten them in the league this season (2-0 in November). Olympiakos are four points clear of rivals Panathinaikos, though the game between the two sides was abandoned last week due to crowd trouble. Panathinaikos are currently appealing the points deduction they received as a result, which would all but hand the title to Olympiakos. Tom Hocking

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