BY STEVE MITCHELL
LIVERPOOL MOVE FURTHER AHEAD AS TITLE RIVALS ALL SLIP UP:
After a month that has seen the domestic football calendar ripped to shreds, it was a welcome relief all round this afternoon, as the First Division managed to produce a full fixture list for only the second time since Christmas.
It turned out to be Liverpool’s day too; the league leaders moving five points clear at the top thanks to a 2-0 win over Derby County at the Baseball Ground.
The pitch at Derby could have been better, that’s for sure, but the Reds once again showed their class to return to Merseyside with two more precious points.
Scotland international Kenny Dalglish was magnificent once again, despite the visitors having to endure some early Derby pressure. The Rams almost went ahead in the opening minutes when striker Roy Greenwood’s shot was turned around the post by Liverpool keeper Ray Clemence.
That incident sprung the visitors into life however and on 11 minutes, they were in front in what was their first meaningful attack of the game. Graeme Souness picked out a slide-rule pass to his international team-mate Dalglish, who beat two Derby defenders before slotting home his 16th goal of the season.
Shortly after, more sorcery from Dalglish almost brought him and his team’s second of the afternoon, but the ball was scrambled away for a corner.Embed from Getty Images
Next it was the turn of David Johnson and Terry McDermott to get in on the act as they combined to play a lovely pass to Dalglish, he in turn, set up Ray Kennedy for a shot that flew over the crossbar from 20 yards.
The visitors were now in complete control and both Dalglish and Steve Heighway came close to doubling their advantage.
As the game headed towards half-time, Derby’s Steve Powell had a shot deflected over the bar by Ray Kennedy, before Greenwood centred for Bruce Rioch who tested Clemence with a header.
The home side came out guns blazing in the second-half, determined to get level as soon as possible. This, in turn, left spaces at the back for Liverpool to exploit and with Dalglish in this kind of form, Tommy Docherty’s men were playing a dangerous game as the notorious Baseball Ground pitch started cutting up.
It was turning into a riveting contest as both teams went looking for goals; Rams strikers Billy Caskey and Steve Carter both made Clemence work, then Liverpool full-back Phil Neal failed to round-off another excellent move by firing over from 10 yards.
On 70 minutes however, Liverpool killed off the home side’s challenge with what could be a contender for goal of the month; Terry McDermott collected the ball just over the half-way line and drove a low centre which looked to be aimed at Dalglish.
Ray Kennedy quickly seized on the situation, collecting the ball in front of the Scotsman and in full stride, shot past the Derby defence to fire home a superb goal.
That was the cue for Derby fans to head home, and for Liverpool to see out the final 20 minutes for two more valuable points.
ALBION SUFFER SHOCK HOME DEFEAT BY LEEDS:
West Bromwich Albion’s title challenge suffered a devastating blow this afternoon, after the men from the Black Country were surprisingly beaten 2-1 by Leeds United at The Hawthorns.
This despite Tony Brown’s magnificent opener for the home side, as he chested the ball down on the edge of the penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable shot past a helpless David Harvey.
Full credit to Leeds however, who have become one of the success stories of the season and when Scotland international Arthur Graham equalised two minutes after, with another superb effort, the home side seemed to lose belief that this would be their afternoon.
On the stroke of half-time, their fears were realised, when some good interplay between Graham and Currie culminated in Carl Harris’s shot being saved by Albion keeper Tony Godden before Graham tucked in the rebound.
The win moves Leeds up to fourth although they have played more games than the clubs around them. Albion slip to fifth with this defeat but they do have games in hand.
The two teams meet again at The Hawthorns on Monday, in the FA Cup fourth-round.
MARINER BREAKS EVERTON HEARTS AT GOODISON PARK:
A second consecutive defeat leaves Everton down in third position in the current table as their Merseyside neighbours disappear over the horizon. A first-half goal from England striker Paul Mariner ensured another miserable weekend for the blue half of the city after last Saturday’s defeat at Southampton.
ARSENAL BEATEN BY WOLVES AT HIGHBURY:
The shocks keep coming this afternoon; the latest one being Wolverhampton Wanderers’ surprise 1-0 win over Arsenal at Highbury.
The Gunners, who started the day in second place, lost vital ground on Liverpool thanks to a John Richards goal in the first-half.
WEEK 29 ROUND-UP:
Nottingham Forest’s good form continued as they beat Bristol City 2-0 at the City Ground. Defender David Needham and striker Garry Birtles got the goals that keep Brian Clough’s men in sixth.
Jimmy Greenhoff was on target for Manchester United again this afternoon from the penalty spot, but an Arthur Albiston own-goal ensured the Red Devils had to settle for a share of the points with Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
Down at the bottom, Birmingham City got a much needed win as they overcame Spurs at St. Andrews. Tony Towers was the Blues hero, scoring the only goal of the game in the first-half. Birmingham however, remain eight points from safety.
Chelsea were beaten once again this afternoon, going down 2-1 at Burnden Park against Bolton. David Burke and Neil McNab were on target for the home side, Eamonn Bannon grabbing Chelsea’s consolation.
Their West London neighbours, Queens Park Rangers, also lost to round off a miserable week for their supporters.
On Thursday, they saw goalkeeper Phil Parkes become the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, when he moved to Second-Division West Ham United whilst today, a Nick Holmes goal gave Southampton the points at Loftus Road.
Middlesbrough’s defeat at Norwich City keeps them in the relegation dog-fight; the Canaries bouncing back after this week’s 6-0 battering at Anfield, thanks to a goal from Martin Peters.
Finally, Manchester City Head-Coach Malcolm Allison finally had something to smile about as his side beat Coventry City 3-0 at Highfield Road. A brace from Mike Channon and a goal from Brian Kidd helped ease their relegation worries.
FIRST DIVISION RESULTS – SATURDAY FEBRUARY 24:
Arsenal 0-1 Wolves (Richards) (FULL MATCH PROGRAME BELOW)
Birmingham City 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Towers)
Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Chelsea (Burke, McNabb; Bannon)
Coventry City 0-3 Manchester City (Channon 2, Kidd)
Derby County 0-2 Liverpool (Dalglish, Kennedy R)
Everton 0-1 Ipswich Town (Mariner)
Manchester United 1-1 Aston Villa (Greenhoff J pen; Albiston o.g)
Norwich City 1-0 Middlesbrough (Peters)
Nottingham Forest 2-0 Bristol City (Needham, Birtles)
Q.P.R 0-1 Southampton (Holmes)
W.B.A 1-2 Leeds United (Brown T; Graham 2)
League Division One table after close of play on 24 February 1979
|5||West Bromwich Albion||24||14||6||4||49||24||25||34|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||26||4||10||12||24||38||-14||18|
MONDAY FEBRUARY 26:
FA CUP FOURTH ROUND:
W.B.A V Leeds United
FOURTH ROUND REPLAY:
Sunderland v Burnley
Crystal Palace v Wolves
Ipswich Town v Bristol Rovers
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal
FIFTH ROUND REPLAY:
Shrewsbury Town v Aldershot
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 27:
Manchester City v Norwich City
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 28:
FA CUP FIFTH ROUND:
Liverpool v Burnley
Oldham Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur
Derby County v Ipswich Town
Manchester United v Q.P.R
SATURDAY MARCH 4:
Aston Villa v Birmingham City
Bristol City v Manchester United
Chelsea v Liverpool
Coventry City v W.B.A
Everton v Q.P.R
Ipswich Town v Nottingham Forest
Leeds United v Norwich City
Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers
Southampton v Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v Derby County
Wolves v Middlesbrough
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler
PROGRAMMES COURTESY OF MILES MCCLAGAN https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/sets