THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Premier League ~ Wigan seem to be turning things around
Following four wins in their first 29 games of the season, Wigan Athletic have now won five of their last seven. Saturday's 4-0 home victory against Newcastle was just the latest in a turnaround that has included victories over Stoke, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. Roberto Martinez's team were bottom of the table after drawing at home to West Brom on March 17, but their form since has taken them three points clear of the relegation places. With games against Blackburn and Wolves to come, their chances of spending an eighth year in the Premier League look good.

"Our aim is to stay in this league and we haven't got enough points, that's the reality," Martinez said. "We have another two big games, two big finals. There will be surprising results and you can expect big performances. You're never safe with your aim, you need to get as many points as you can."

Championship ~ Southampton complete consecutive promotions
Southampton returned to the top division after a seven-year absence by beating League One-bound Coventry City 4-0 at St Mary's on Saturday. The promotion is the Saints' second in two years, having moved up from League One last season. Nigel Adkins' side finished second, with an identical home record as last season, with 16 wins, four draws and three defeats. Saints stars such as Mick Channon and Terry Paine lined up to congratulate the team and their manager. Even Coldplay drummer Will Champion got in on the act, tweeting: "Congratulations to the Saints, back where we belong, at last."

Cardiff City confirmed their place in the play-offs by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park. The result means they will host West Ham on Thursday, while Birmingham travel to Blackpool on Friday. Cardiff have not played in England's top division since 1962 but the other three play-off teams were relegated from it last season.

League One ~ Exeter, Chesterfield and Wycombe are relegated
The League One relegation places were wrapped up on Saturday as Exeter, Chesterfield and Wycombe all lost. Exeter's 4-1 loss at Carlisle, who hope to make the play-offs, was their 17th away defeat of the season, the worst in the division. Having finished eighth last season, Exeter boss Paul Tisdale said “I'm disappointed, but I am pragmatic with my appraisal of where we are and how we have played this season. There are things we need to do from here. I'm a realist as well and know it is the start of a new process for us. I have to look to the future and not dwell on this for too long. It was always going to be a tough season for us in the league, but I thought we were going to be better this year. I would look back across the last 12 months and look at the decisions I have made and question them."

John Sheridan's Chesterfield lost 3-2 away to Yeovil, confirming their relegation back to the basement after only one season in League One. The club had hopes of escaping the drop after three victories in a row, but they threw away the lead twice at Huish Park, before Andy Williams' goal ten minutes from time won the match for Yeovil. It is a disappointing end to a season that included victory in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley in March.

Wycombe also surrendered a lead, this time at home to Notts County. Late goals from Dele Adebola and Alan Judge – prompting many “Judge sends Wycombe down” headlines – means the club will be relegated alongside Chesterfield, who they were promoted with last season. Wycombe manager Gary Waddock says they will come back stronger next season, though they will need to tighten a defence that has conceded 86 league goals this season – the worst in the Football League.

League Two ~ Swindon champions, Shrews up, Macclesfield down
Swindon Town won the League Two title on Saturday with an emphatic 5-0 win over Port Vale. Paolo di Canio wore a T-shirt in tribute to his late parents after the win and thanked them or their support after the game. "Before my mum passed away," the Italian said, "I looked at her suffering every day but she did not say anything, she just tried to support us. She tried to look after us and said 'wear a jacket because you will feel cold' and other things, so how can you not have the energy to keep going and do something special for them?"

Shrewsbury will finish as runners-up after beating Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 in front of a crowd of 9,441, their biggest ever home attendance at New Meadow. The club dropped out of the third tier 15 years ago and spent one season in the Conference in 2003-04. Their manager, Graham Turner, lead the club to the old Division Three title in 1979 and, 33 years later, has repeated the promotion feat. "I sincerely want to thank every fan that has watched us or cheered us on this season," he said. "The support this club has is terrific and they’ve waited a long time for this promotion. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring them success."

Macclesfield Town slipped out after 15 years in the Football League following a 2-0 home defeat to Burton Albion. Two goals in the final ten minutes confirmed relegation for the Silkmen, who have not won since the New Year's Eve. It is likely they will face life in the Conference with a new manager, after current boss Brian Horton confirmed he was unlikely to continue in the role next season. Tom Hocking

 

Comments (4)
Comment by geobra 2012-04-30 14:00:09

Of the 160 teams that play from the Premiership to the Conference North and South, Shrewsbury are, along with Manchester City, the only one that has not lost at home in the league. And that could change tonight.

In Italy's Serie A, Atalanta made themselves safe with three games to go after a 2-0 win over Fiorentina despite having started the season with a 6-point penalty. Whatever the eventual outcome, which will be decided off the field and could still produce some unpleasant surprises, the 52 points they have taken on the field are a remarkable achievement and a testimony to the way the directors, players and fans have stuck together in what has been a very difficult year for the club.

To judge from his performance in Lille's 2-1 win over PSG last night, whoever eventually lands Eden Hazard will be getting a top class player.

Comment by ingoldale 2012-04-30 18:25:07

I've been following Eden Hazard since I lived in France for the first time during 2007 and the first Hazard made an appearance on the scene in the 2007/8 season. Whilst he is a fantastic player, I feel he is yet to make an impact in the big games at the top level. He has failed to impose himself on the Belgian national side an during this years Champions League he failed to make his mark again.

I think this is important because at 21 he is regularly put in the same bracket as Ronaldo, Messi and Rooney yet by the age of 21 they had all managed to flourish at the very highest level. A great talent but not the finished article by any means.

Comment by ingoldale 2012-04-30 18:25:56

P.S If any English clubs want to buy a quality French player - Olivier Giroud is class.

Comment by StephL 2012-05-01 00:44:18

I'm Belgian and I follow our national side home and away - Hazard is at best frustrating. I have yet to see a decent game by him for the Red Devils.

Related articles

Alan Ball: The man in the white boots by David Tossell
Hodder & Stoughton, £20Reviewed by Mark O’BrienFrom WSC 374, March 2018Buy the book Early on in this detailed and warm biography...
Mauricio Pellegrino on defensive as Southampton’s talent well dries up
Embed from Getty Images // The Saints manager seems reluctant to take the handbrake off his team despite his predecessor being sacked for...
Micky Adams: My life in football
by Micky Adams & Neil MoxleyBiteback Publishing, £20Reviewed by Neville HadsleyFrom WSC 372, February 2018Buy the book By his own...