It’s Jake the lad as Pilgrims progress
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