THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Premier League ~ Newcastle aim for Champions League
Two 2-0 victories over Swansea City and Bolton Wanderers for Newcastle United over the Easter weekend confirmed their status as Champions League challengers. They have now won five games in a row and have pulled level on points with a faltering Tottenham. Should Newcastle reach the Champions League they will be there on merit. Papiss Cissé, who has scored ten goals in nine games for the club, has added an extra spark to the team. Alan Pardew's squad seems to have more strength in depth, as they have continued winning despite missing Cheick Tioté against Bolton and captain Fabricio Coloccini for the two previous games.

Championship ~ Birmingham's season soon to be even longer
Before the Easter weekend Chris Hughton suggested his Birmingham City side should be used to hectic match schedules. Birmingham, who lie fourth in the table, played their 56th game of the season against third-place West Ham at Upton Park yesterday. Hughton will have been delighted when his side took a 3-1 lead before half-time, but two West Ham goals in the second half left the teams with a point each. The result has little bearing on Birmingham's league place, as they remain firmly in the play-offs. The extra two – or perhaps three – games will test the Birmingham players' mental and physical toughness at the end of a gruelling season where they gave the Europa League their all.

League One ~ Orient slip towards relegation zone
Leyton Orient are facing a serious threat of dropping into League Two after a 3-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Exeter City. Orient are in their sixth season in League One and only just missed out on the play-offs last year, when they finished seventh. Although still four points above 21st-place Wycombe, Russell Slade's men have won only twice in 13 games, scoring once in their last four. Before the game Orient captain Matt Spring emphasised the importance of the clash: "The Exeter game is doubly important, if we don't get anything out of that we are going to be deep in it."

League Two ~ Crewe in hunt for play-offs
Crewe Alexandra stretched their unbeaten run to 12 games with a 3-0 victory over Bristol Rovers yesterday. Steve Davis named an unchanged side from the one that drew at Crawley on Good Friday and they were 2-0 up inside ten minutes. The comfortable victory meant that Crewe took advantage of slip-ups by Oxford, Cheltenham, Gillingham and Aldershot. They are top of the League Two form table and now only outside the play-off places on goal difference, a marked improvement from their previous seasons since being relegated from League One in 2009.

Scotland ~ Plenty of goals seal title in Scotland
Celtic were not the only side to run riot on their way to clinching a title in Scotland over the weekend. In the Third Division, Alloa Athletic hammered Elgin City 8-1 and, with second-place Stranraer losing 2-1 to Clyde, secured promotion in the process. Paul Hartley's side have bounced back to Division Two in his first year as manager, following their relegation last season. They have only lost once at home all term and the win was their seventh in a row. "It was just a fitting way to win the title," said Hartley. "Some of these guys have been playing 15, 16 years and they've never won a medal. I was just delighted for them." Tom Hocking

Comments (2)
Comment by jameswba 2012-04-10 14:07:41

'The extra two – or perhaps three – games will test the Birmingham players' mental and physical toughness at the end of a gruelling season where they gave the Europa League their all.'

Well said. Exactly why I really hope they come back up.

Comment by ian.64 2012-04-10 15:10:35

I wouldn't mind them coming back up either, although this may give a guy called Paul, a Bluenose, more opportunities to get on local phone-ins. He's the ultimate in boring and uses the phrase 'y'know' so frequently it could almost be classed as a weapon. God I hate him.

I have a great deal of time form Chris Hughton. When mooted as a manager for West Brom, he turned down the opportunity, but did so with such courtesy and respect that he rose a lot in my estimation. All the best to him.

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