THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Chelsea, Palace, Blades and Bristol Rovers

icon weekendPremier League ~ Chelsea focus on the football
Chelsea ended a difficult week with a 4-1 victory over Norwich City at Stamford Bridge. Much of the focus was on John Terry and Ashley Cole, following the fallout from the FA hearing earlier in the week and things didn't start too well for Roberto di Matteo's team as they fell behind to a Grant Holt shot after 11 minutes. It didn't take the Blues long to assert their authority as Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard put them 3-1 up by half time. Branislav Ivanovic got their fourth on 76 minutes to continue Chelsea's unbeaten start to the season.

They go into the international break on 19 points, four clear of second-place Manchester City from seven games. Norwich remain winless in 19th.

Di Matteo said: "We're pleased that we're going into this international break at the top of the Premier League. We have so many more games to play but we're in a good position and have a lot of confidence. As long as we don't have many injuries, we'll keep chipping away and try to win as many games and points as we can. I still think Manchester City – if you look at their squad – and Manchester United will be up there."

Championship ~ Zaha gives Palace edge over Burnley
Crystal Palace came back from 2-0 down to beat Burnley 4-3 and continue their excellent run of form. The Eagles lost their first three league games but have since gone unbeaten, dropping just two points from a possible 21 since the start of September. The star of the game was 19-year-old Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who scored his side's opening two goals to bring them level. Damien Delaney and Glenn Murray then put them game beyond Burnley's reach, though Charlie Austin made it 4-3 with his 15th goal of the season. The win means Palace are in fourth position, three points behind leaders Cardiff City.

Their manager, Dougie Freedman, praised his young winger: "Wilfried Zaha has decided this year that he is going to commit himself to football. He is certainly a young man who has got huge potential and hopefully he can fulfil that. I think this is the place to fulfil it because he is expressing his talent week in, week out in front of a very good crowd. I have seen him play better than today but I have very high standards with Wilfried."

League One ~ Blades cut down Orient to remain unbeaten
Sheffield United maintained their third position in League One with a 1-0 victory away to Leyton Orient. Following a quiet first half Nick Blackman scored a spectacular 59th-minute winner for the Blades, curling a shot past Ryan Allsop in the Orient net from 25 yards. It was United's third away win in a row and they are still unbeaten in the league so far this season. Their keeper, Mark Howard, had to be stretchered off in the 11th minute after slipping while taking a goal-kick but his replacement George Long managed to keep a clean sheet.

After the game Orient manager Russell Slade said that United were "the best side" they had played so far this season. United manager Danny Wilson was pleased with the way his side performed: "I thought we were totally in control. I think for large parts of the game we dominated the play. I wasn't too happy with the situations that developed and that final ball, but overall the performance was very strong and we didn't have many problems if I'm quite honest."

League Two ~ Rovers roll over ten-man Northampton
Bristol Rovers got their first home win of the season with a 3-1 victory over Northampton Town. The victory was only the Pirates' second of the season and moves them up to 20th position. Northampton were reduced to ten men in the first half for a second game in a row after Anthony Charles fouled Derek Riordan but it took Rovers until the 53rd minute to establish a lead. Tom Eaves put his team ahead and four minutes later Garry Kenneth made it 2-0. Adebayo Akinfenwa pulled a goal back for Northampton but Oliver Norburn made the points safe six minutes from time. During the game former Rovers director Kevin Spencer was asked to leave the Memorial Stadium and has since been banned because he "has been consistent in his criticism, which is unbecoming of an ex-director" since resigning from the board in 2006.

Mark McGee, the Rovers manager, believes the win is just the start for his team: "I still think there is enormous amount to come from us. We can certainly play a lot better, but I think the boys deserved to win in the end. I'd seen this result coming for a few weeks now, because I think we have started to slowly improve in general over the last four games. We haven't played too badly in most games, although there have been a couple of obvious exceptions. I'm just happy we've at last given the supporters a result to celebrate, because I've never felt they have put us under any pressure over what has been a difficult start to the season."

Conference ~ Cambridge cash in their new Money
Cambridge United got their second 4-1 victory in a row as they beat Mansfield Town at the Abbey Stadium. The match was Richard Money's first as U's head coach, having been appointed last week. He has taken over from Jez George, who reverts to a director of football role after leading the team since February 2011. United were without a win in eight matches before ending that run at Barrow last weekend and they gave Money an excellent start on Saturday. Michael Gash put the U's ahead after nine minutes, before second-half goals from Luke Berry, Tom Elliott and Rossi Jarvis made the game safe. Jake Speight got a late consolation for the Stags.

Money praised George's work: "I put the team out to perform on Saturday, but they’re Jez George’s players and the work that Jez and Nolan [Keeley, development coach] and the rest of the staff have done to get them this far has been outstanding. I feel pretty lucky I’ve got such a good group and a young group to work with. If they listen as well as they have done over the first three days and apply themselves as well as they did on Saturday, then who knows what we can achieve from here." Tom Hocking

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