BY STEVE MITCHELL
LIVERPOOL PICK UP ANOTHER POINT TO CLOSE IN ON THE TITLE:
On what could have been an uncomfortable afternoon for the champions elect, Liverpool produced a professional performance to dominate Nottingham Forest in a goalless draw at the City Ground.
Having secured their passage into the European Cup Final on Wednesday, the reigning First Division champions were second best to the side that is undoubtedly the best in the country right now.
There was a capacity crowd in Nottingham this afternoon and gates were locked an hour before kick-off, as the home fans saluted their club’s mid-week heroics in Cologne. Having already dumped Liverpool out of the European Cup at the first-round stage back in September, expectation was also high that Brian Clough’s side could put on a repeat performance, but the visitors never looked in danger of having their goal breached.
From the moment Graeme Souness’ powerful shot hit Forest defender Kenny Burns before falling to newly crowned Football Writers’ Player of the Year, Kenny Dalglish, who blasted wide, Bob Paisley’s side took control of proceedings.Embed from Getty Images
Make no mistake, there has not been any love lost between the two clubs this season and the game was condensed for large parts, into a midfield battle featuring Liverpool hard-man Jimmy Case and Forest’s Northern Ireland international Martin O’Neill.
The visitors always carried the greater threat however and Case was involved in their best chance of the opening 45 minutes when he passed to Terry McDermott who, unfortunately for him, chipped the ball over the crossbar.
Case again played his part when a Liverpool move, which also featured Dalglish, saw Steve Heighway (In for David Johnson who was suffering from flu) place a tame header into the hands of goalkeeper Peter Shilton.
Forest sorties were few and far between, but we finally saw the talents of million pound man Trevor Francis, who was playing in a much more deep lying midfield position, as he set up John Robertson whose effort was turned behind by Ray Clemence for a corner.
The England custodian thwarted Robertson again on the half-hour mark, after great work from full-back Viv Anderson.
The second-half started in much the same vein as the first, with Liverpool taking the game to the home side without really forcing Shilton into doing any serious work. The longer the match went on, the more it looked as though both teams would be happy with a point.Embed from Getty Images
Forest’s European exertions were beginning to catch up with them and Liverpool looked happy to return to Merseyside unbeaten, with easier games to come in the next couple of weeks.
In fact, it was Liverpool’s big central defender Alan Hansen who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the second-half, but his 30-yard effort never looked like beating Shilton.
This point for the league leaders could be the one that clinches the title and they head to Burnden Park on Tuesday for a match against struggling Bolton Wanderers before back to back home games against Southampton and Aston Villa.
By the time Paisley’s men arrive at Ayresome Park to play Middlesbrough on May 11, the title could be back in the Anfield trophy room.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
West Bromwich Albion’s title hopes may have disappeared, but Ron Atkinson’s men look certain to be playing in the UEFA Cup next term after a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough. Mickey Burns gave Boro a first-half lead, but Ally Brown was on target after the break to secure a share of the points.
For so long they looked like title contenders, but now Everton will also have to settle for UEFA Cup football next season. An Andy King goal at Goodison Park this afternoon, was enough to beat already relegated Birmingham City and keep the Toffees in fourth spot.
The race for the other European places is hotting up; should Nottingham Forest win the European Cup in Munich next month, it will free up an extra UEFA Cup berth with Leeds United, Arsenal, Ipswich Town, Aston Villa and Coventry City still all in with a chance of making it.Embed from Getty Images
Leeds played out a goalless draw at Ashton Gate against Bristol City, whilst Ipswich beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Portman Road. Arnold Muhren and Alan Brazil got the home side’s goals, with Glenn Hoddle securing a Spurs consolation from the penalty spot.
Arsenal, of course, has a chance of playing in the Cup Winners Cup if they beat Manchester United in next month’s FA Cup Final. Today, the Gunners recovered from their mid-week thumping at Aston Villa, by grabbing a home point against Norwich City; Steve Walford scoring for Arsenal, Justin Fashanu replying for the Canaries.
Aston Villa beat relegated Chelsea 2-1 at Villa Park thanks to a Graham Wilkins own-goal and another from John Deehan, to take his tally to three in a week. Tommy Langley got Chelsea’s consolation.
Relegation threatened Queens Park Rangers dented Coventry City’s hopes of European football next season, with a 5-1 demolition of the Sky Blues at Loftus Road. 17-year-old striking sensation Clive Allen netted a hat-trick and there were further goals from Don Shanks and Mickey Walsh (penalty). Ian Wallace scored for the visitors, who went in at half-time all square at 1-1.
Rangers’ joy would have been short-lived however, with the news that Derby County had secured a precious point at Old Trafford against Manchester United in a goalless draw. This result all but condemns QPR to Second-Division football next season and this will be confirmed if they fail to beat Leeds United at Elland Road on Friday.
Manchester City, who have reportedly placed Asa Hartford and Peter Barnes on the transfer list, went down 1-0 against Southampton at The Dell thanks to a first-half goal from Trevor Hebberd and Wolves, who secured their First Division status on Tuesday, drew 1-1 with Bolton Wanderers at Molineux; John Richards on target for the hosts, Neil Whatmore replying for Bolton.
Arsenal 1-1 Norwich City (Walford; Fashanu)
Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea (Wilkins G o.g, Deehan; Langley)
Bristol City 0-0 Leeds United
Everton 1-0 Birmingham City (King) (FULL MATCH PROGRAMME BELOW)
Ipswich Town 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Muhren, Brazil; Hoddle pen)
Manchester United 0-0 Derby County
Middlesbrough 1-1 W.B.A (Burns; Brown A)
Nottingham Forest 0-0 Liverpool
Q.P.R 5-1 Coventry City (Allen 3, Shanks, Walsh pen; Wallace)
Southampton 1-0 Manchester City (Hebberd)
Wolves 1-1 Bolton Wanderers (Richards; Whatmore)
League Division One table after close of play on 28 April 1979
|2||West Bromwich Albion||36||20||11||5||67||33||34||51|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||39||6||13||20||41||62||-21||25|
MONDAY APRIL 30:
Southampton v Manchester United
Wolves v Nottingham Forest
TUESDAY MAY 1:
Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool
Everton v W.B.A
Manchester City v Birmingham City
WEDNESDAY MAY 2:
Aston Villa v Ipswich Town
Nottingham Forest v Southampton
FRIDAY MAY 4:
Leeds United v Q.P.R
SATURDAY MAY 5:
Birmingham City v Arsenal
Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa
Chelsea v Ipswich Town
Coventry City v Wolves
Derby County v Middlesbrough
Liverpool v Southampton
Manchester City v Bristol City
Norwich City v Nottingham Forest
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
W.B.A v Manchester United
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