It’s Jake the lad as Pil­grims progress

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - From Richard Tan­ner

PLY­MOUTH are off the bot­tom of the table af­ter their 1-0 win at Brad­ford.

Jake Jervis (below) gave the vis­i­tors – un­beaten in their last five games – the lead 10 min­utes be­fore half-time, with Brad­ford’s Tony McMa­hon miss­ing from the penalty spot in the 78th minute.

The de­feat saw the Ban­tams miss the chance to close the gap on lead­ers Shrews­bury and Wi­gan, who both had a week off due to the in­ter­na­tional break.

Scun­thorpe made up ground on the sides above them af­ter a dra­matic late goal from

Neal Bishop de­liv­ered a

1-0 home win over Bris­tol Rovers.


– looking for new own­ers – fell to a

3-2 de­feat at home to Portsmouth.

Pom­pey went ahead af­ter

52 min­utes when Brett Pit­man con­verted a loose ball but the home side were level in the 73rd minute, with Viv Solomon-Ota­bor scor­ing at the far post.

Ben Close net­ted with 11 min­utes left, only for team-mate Oliver Hawkins to head the ball into his own goal to level things up again in the 83rd minute.

But Pit­man snatched all three points for the vis­i­tors just four min­utes from time.

Ki­ef­fer Moore’s last-gasp equaliser earned Rother­ham a 1-1 draw at lo­cal ri­vals Don­caster.

An own goal from Richard Wood put Rovers ahead just af­ter the hour mark but Moore grabbed his 13th goal of the cam­paign in the sixth minute of in­jury time to earn a point.

Chuks Aneke’s goal just be­fore half-time proved enough to give MK Dons a

1-0 home win over Fleet­wood. At the other end of the table Northamp­ton main­tained their im­prove­ment with a 2-1 win at Ox­ford.

Ash Tay­lor put the Cob­blers in front af­ter 11 min­utes but Ox­ford were level just be­fore the break through Wes Thomas.

Northamp­ton were ahead again in first-half stop­page time when Chris Long pro­duced a strong fin­ish.

De­spite Neil Danns put­ting Bury ahead in the

39th minute, the vis­i­tors dropped to bot­tom spot af­ter Josh Parker headed a late equaliser for Gilling­ham in a 1-1 draw at the Pri­est­field Sta­dium.

GRANIT XHAKA has told North­ern Ire­land to stop whinge­ing about the penalty de­ci­sion that over­shad­owed the first leg of their World Cup play-off.

The Arse­nal mid­fielder in­sists Switzer­land are the “bet­ter team” and will fin­ish the job of qual­i­fy­ing for next sum­mer’s fi­nals in Rus­sia in the St Jakob Sta­dium here to­day.

The Swiss missed sev­eral chances in Belfast in a game de­cided by the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion of Ro­ma­nian ref­eree Ovidiu Hate­gan to award a penalty for hand­ball against Corry Evans, af­ter he had blocked a Xher­dan Shaqiri shot with his shoul­der rather than his arm.

Xhaka clearly thinks the Ir­ish have made too much of the in­ci­dent and, con­sid­er­ing Switzer­land’s su­pe­ri­or­ity at Wind­sor Park, are lucky to be still in with a chance of reach­ing their first World Cup fi­nals since 1986.

He said: “I don’t know why it is such a big topic and why there is so much dis­cus­sion about it. “We should leave this dis­cus­sion apart. To dis­cuss whether it was a penalty or not, it’s not in­ter­est­ing for us and in the end it was a de­ci­sion by the ref­eree.

“We are a good team, we showed in the first leg that we are a bet­ter team than North­ern Ire­land and we want to show that again to­mor­row and qual­ify for Rus­sia.

“We were men­tally and phys­i­cally at a very high level in the first leg but I think we can play even bet­ter. We want to make his­tory and make our fans proud.”

The odds are cer­tainly stacked against the Ir­ish. Their op­po­nents are ranked 11th in the world and are bid­ding to qual­ify for their fourth suc­ces­sive World Cup fi­nals and fifth ma­jor tour­na­ment in all, while they have not lost in Basel since Eng­land beat them in a Euro qual­i­fier in Septem­ber 2014. North­ern Ire­land boss Michael O’Neill says his play­ers have to for­get about the penalty in­ci­dent which over­shad­owed the fact his team failed to per­form to their usual level in the first leg.

“There was a lot of emo­tion in the dress­ing room af­ter the first leg which is nat­u­ral,” he said. “We can take mo­ti­va­tion from that but it’s gone.

“We have all dreamed of get­ting to the World Cup. We’re 90 min­utes away from do­ing that ir­re­spec­tive of the other night, so we’ve got to go out and do our all. “The fo­cus now is on try­ing to get the re­sult that could take us through. We know we can play bet­ter.

“We’ve watched the game back and looked at where we can be bet­ter. We have to be bet­ter in pos­ses­sion than we were. “And we have to put more pres­sure on them than we did. We didn’t press the ball as well as we could have done.

“The fact it’s only one-nil means we have still got a lot to play for and that a bet­ter per­for­mance can hope­fully give us a bet­ter re­sult.

“Switzer­land are in a very strong po­si­tion but a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion comes with that. We can’t go kamikaze, we have to re­spect the qual­ity of the op­po­nent.

“If it stays nil-nil we’re in the game and we have a ca­pa­bil­ity of get­ting an away goal and then we would have to see how they would re­act to that.”

And O’Neill will hope for a bet­ter per­for­mance from the ref­eree af­ter Thurs­day’s fi­asco. He in­sists he no prob­lems with the of­fi­cial ap­pointed –

■ XHAK AT­TACK: Granit Xhaka says the Swiss de­served their win at Wind­sor Park

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