League round-up: Swans keep up their pursuit after Kuqi batters the Rams
Sunday 21 February 2010
With two sides in the Championship's top six, Welsh fans must be anticipating a first-ever representative in the Premier League. But fourth-placed Swansea City and Cardiff City, a place and four points behind, are taking different routes, the Swans having the meanest defence in the division with 18 clean sheets while the Bluebirds are outscored only by West Bromwich Albion.
Neither of their matches yesterday were classics but Swansea won an ill-tempered affair at Pride Park when Shefki Kuqi's 66th-minute header was enough to beat Derby County 1-0. The goal came via a header from a free-kick awarded for Ram Jay McEveley's second yellow card and the Swans' Gorka Pintado also saw red for a lunge at Robbie Savage.
"We played against 14," Swans manager Paulo Sousa said, indicating his opinion of the officials. "We showed our spirit more than ever and it is difficult to beat us, but we need to control our emotions much better."
Two early goals in a three-minute spell by Barnsley's Daniel Bogdanovich saw Cardiff, last in the top division in 1962, beaten 2-0 at home. The striker prodded home from close range in the ninth minute and volleyed in his 10th of the season from 12 yards soon after.
Flavio Briatore's departure as chairman of Queens Park Rangers was marked by the team's first win of 2010 and first win for caretaker manager Mick Harford at the seventh attempt, beating Doncaster Rovers 2-1. Antonio German, 18 and making his first start, prodded in the rebound after Neil Sullivan's 25th-minute save to give Rangers the lead, and after James Hayter levelled Akos Buzsaky set up Jay Simpson's winner. "The club needs to appoint a football manager," Harford said. "If it's me, great. If it's not me they need to bring someone in, long-term, back him and give him the opportunity to take the club forward."
In the scrap to escape the bottom three, Craig Noone's equaliser earned Plymouth Argyle a point against sixth-placed Leicester City after a 1-1 draw. Argyle's Kari Arnason had earlier put through his own net. Carlos Edwards' 25-yard shot into the top corner after 15 minutes saw Roy Keane's Ipswich Town win 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday to move out of the bottom three.
Charlie Adam created a 41st-minute goal for DJ Campbell and later scored one himself as Blackpool reignited their play-off hopes by beating Reading 2-0 to go seventh, a point off a top six place. At Glanford Park Gary Hooper's injury-time penalty, his second goal of the game, earned Scunthorpe United a 2-2 draw with Watford, who had Tom Cleverley sent off and thought they had won the match with John Eustace's 90th minute header.
Neither of the top two won. Leaders Norwich City lost 2-0 at home to Southampton, Lee Barnard scoring twice, while Leeds United, second, needed a late Robert Snodgrass goal to earn a 1-1 home draw with Brighton.
John Miles' two goals saw Peter Taylor's first match in charge of Bradford City, his eighth club, end in a 2-0 defeat at Accrington. Rochdale beat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-1 to stretch their lead at the top to three points.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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