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Some things from the weekend ~ 07-01-13

Luton, Oldham, Doncaster, Wimbledon

icon weekendFA Cup ~ All change at Wolves after Luton defeat
Wolverhampton Wanderers sacked manager Stale Solbakken after losing 1-0 to Luton in the FA Cup third round. The Norwegian has been in the job just six months but, with Wolves lying 18th in the Championship, defeat to non-League Luton spelled the end of his tenure. The only goal of the game came from Alex Lawless just after half time to give the Hatters victory over a team 59 places above them in the league ladder. Luton will now face a trip to Norwich City in the fourth round.

Meanwhile, Wolves are set to appoint Doncaster Rovers manager Dean Saunders as Solbakken's replacement. After the game Luton manager Paul Buckle praised the 9,638 crowd at Kenilworth Road: "I thought we deserved to go through. It was an exciting tie when it came out and certainly lived up to its expectation. Our fans were phenomenal against Wrexham here in the play-offs, it was electric, but I think this topped it. The noise levels were incredible and we just spoke about wanting more of this. This is why I’ve come to Luton, why the players have come to Luton. I didn’t have to come, the players didn’t have to come. We all came because of this."

FA Cup ~ Oldham fightback stuns Forest
Oldham Athletic turned a 1-0 half-time deficit into a 3-2 victory against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. It was Forest manager Alex McLeish's third game in charge since replacing Sean O'Driscoll but he has yet to win. Things were going well when Oldham's Matt Smith turned the ball into his own net on 13 minutes but two second-half goals from Robbie Simpson and a Jose Baxter free-kick sent Oldham through, despite a late Billy Sharp consolation goal. Oldham, lying 19th in League One, will now welcome Liverpool to Boundary Park in the fourth round.

After the match McLeish said: "We were woeful in the second half. We were sloppy in everything we did and paid the penalty for it. We warned the players at half time that they had to be professional in the second half but we had to be a lot better than that. We gave the ball away cheaply, didn't close them down quickly enough and it was all very half-hearted. Their big lad up front [Smith] caused mayhem in the second half and we didn't deal with it. Our centre-halves had to be ugly and rugged to deal with the threat."

League One ~ Doncaster win but lose Saunders
Doncaster Rovers made the most of their game in hand over Sheffield United to move into second place, level on points with leaders Tranmere. Rovers left it late against Colchester United at the Keepmoat stadium, with David Cotterill scoring the only goal of the game in the 84th minute. The defeat was Colchester's eighth in a row in the league, equalling a club record and leaving them just one point above the relegation zone. Doncaster, meanwhile, have lost once in ten matches and whoever they get in to replace the departing Dean Saunders will be eyeing automatic promotion.

In his final post-match interview as Doncaster manager, Saunders said: "Last week's game [against Sheffield United] emotionally and physically took its toll on the players and you could see that today we were a yard short. That's four games without the opposition having even half a chance against us, without scoring a goal they've not had a half chance against us, only long-range shots. That's the Preston game, Sheffield United, who scored from a penalty and a goalmouth scramble and Oldham they didn't get a chance either. So we're defending great and when we don't string it together like today we kept a clean sheet and stayed in the game."

League Two ~ Wimbledon out of the relegation zone
AFC Wimbledon won their second away game in a row and in doing so moved above Plymouth Argyle and out of the relegation zone. The team picked up just two points from their final six league games of 2012 but started 2013 with a 3-2 victory over Torquay United. They followed this up on Saturday with a 1-0 win at Rochdale – their first back to back league wins of the season. Paul McCallum scored the goal after 56 minutes. Rochdale later had Joe Rafferty sent off for two bookings.

Wimbledon manager Neil Ardley said: "With two away games on the trot you'd be happy with four points let alone six. We had a game plan and we worked hard at it. We had a 20-minute spell where the quality flowed and we took our chances. We did it, we got that goal and our fortunes favoured better quality on the ball."

Conference ~ Cambridge continue their climb
Cambridge United extended their unbeaten run to nine league games with a comfortable 4-1 home win against Stockport County. Richard Money's side started December in the relegation zone but they haven't lost in the Conference since a 6-2 mauling at Newport on November 6. Liam Hughes scored twice, his first goals since November 2011, before top-scorer Tom Elliott completed the scoring against his old club with his 13th goal of the season.

Speaking after the win that lifts his side to just three points outside the play-offs, Money commented: "I said on Tuesday you need different types of performances to be successful in this league. Tuesday [a 1-0 win against Braintree] was one, because we had to stand up to a team that was very aggressive and get the all-important goal. Today we thought was going to be a bit more of a football match and that enables us to play our football as well, and when we get it rolling like that we're a handful." Tom Hocking & Matt Ramsay

Comment on 07-01-2013 13:03:20 by JimDavis #748426
Bitterly dissapointed that Alex McLeish was taken by Nottingham Forest. After his efforts at Birmingham and Aston Villa, I would have loved to have seen him at Wolves.
Comment on 07-01-2013 17:57:00 by geobra #748558
The two shock results in Italy were also a tale of two goalkeepers. Gigi Buffon was at fault for both goals in Sampdoria's 2-1 win at the Juventus Stadium, where the visitors came from behind despite playing for an hour with 10 men. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Matteo Perin, who may be Buffon's successor, made a series of stunning saves before Pescara scored twice in the second half to end Fiorentina's unbeaten home record. With Lazio, who beat Cagliari 2-1 on Saturday, moving to within five points of Juventus, the title race is on again, just. But nobody really thinks Juventus can be caught. And certainly not by Roma, 4-1 losers at Napoli, or Inter, who lost 3-0 at Udinese, their fourth away defeat on the trot after starting with six wins. They don't do things by halves!
Comment on 07-01-2013 19:27:58 by geobra #748591
I also wish that I could persuade my Italian friends that a cup in which Luton, Macclesfield and Aldershot are still in while at least a quarter of Premiership are destined to go out is a beautiful thing.
Comment on 08-01-2013 02:38:19 by madmickyf #748760
JimDavis, you are being sarcastic aren't you?
Keep working on your Italian friends Geobra they may yet see the light!

Whilst I'm very proud of the Hatters performance against Wolves it still hurts to be called "non-league Luton", we've been a Football League team for the vast majority of our history and that is how I still like to think of us. To me Crawley, Stevenage & Fleetwood are still "non-league" clubs even though they are currently in the FL. Maybe you could humour me by using the phrase "Luton Town (a league club temporarily in the non-league)"?
Comment on 08-01-2013 09:23:34 by geobra #748801
'Non-League' is a stupid expression, as all teams play in leagues. Why not replace it with 'fifth / sixth etc level', especially now that there is a pyramid and all clubs can aspire to the Premiership (in theory)?

Luton will have to do better than losing to my home town club, Woking, if they want to get back to where they belong.

Anyway, there's a strong case now for incorporating the Conference National into the Football League as 'League 3'.
Comment on 09-01-2013 02:37:46 by madmickyf #749154
I think the calls for the Conference to become League 3 will only grow louder if Bristol Rovers & Plymouth are relegated this season. Fourteen of the 24 clubs in the BSP this season have played in the Football League (if you count the resurrected Newport & Gateshead) so it arguably more like League 2 than it is like the Conference South & Conference North.
Comment on 09-01-2013 08:59:30 by geobra #749178
At the very least there should be four up and four down between League 2 and the Conference National. The former league clubs now seemingly stuck in Conference National must surely be wishing that this were so, but perhaps when they were in League 2 they thought they were safe with only two going down. They know better now, to their cost.
Comment on 09-01-2013 10:34:38 by Biscuitman #749194
Non-League merely means non-Football League, non-League being the leagues which were/are outside the Football League when membership of that was effectively a closed shop. Hence the capital L. Nothing at all to do with the system of the competitions.

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