BY STEVE MITCHELL
Three of this weekend’s FA Cup semi-finalists were in action this week, as teams continue to catch up with fixtures disrupted by the atrocious winter weather at the start of 1979.
West Bromwich Albion closed the gap on leaders Liverpool with a home win over Derby County, whilst Chelsea all but said farewell to top-flight football after a 6-0 thumping by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
ALBION STAY IN THE TITLE HUNT AFTER NARROW WIN OVER DERBY:
The Laurie Cunningham/Ally Brown partnership worked wonders once again for West Bromwich Albion, as they beat Derby County 2-1 to move within six points of leaders Liverpool with two games in hand.
The forward pair got both the Baggies’ goals in the second-half to keep their title hopes alive, after Andy Crawford had given the visitors a surprise half-time lead.Embed from Getty Images
Ron Atkinson’s side have been severely hampered by the domestic fixture pile-up, whilst having to also compete in the UEFA Cup where they recently lost out to Red Star Belgrade.
It’s a credit to the side from the Black Country that they are still fighting for the First Division crown, despite playing three times a week for almost two months and many neutrals would love to see them pip the Merseysiders to the title in May.
CHELSEA DOWN & ALMOST OUT AFTER CITY GROUND MAULING:
Chelsea are preparing for life back in the Second Division after being hammered 6-0 by Nottingham Forest last night. Danny Blanchflower’s side are eight points from safety at the foot of the table and after yesterday’s second-half collapse, even the staunchest of fans must now believe their fate has been sealed.Embed from Getty Images
A goal down at half-time thanks to a Martin O’Neill effort, the west London club capitulated after the interval in which O’Neill went on to grab his hat-trick, Tony Woodcock added two more before Garry Birtles completed the rout.
Chelsea’s goal difference now stands at minus 39, having let in a staggering 70 goals this term.
BIRMINGHAM GRAB THE SLENDEREST OF LIFELINES IN THEIR RELEGATION BATTLE:
The damage has probably already been done, but Jim Smith’s Birmingham City side rustled up a plucky performance at St. Andrews on Tuesday night to beat Norwich City 1-0.
A Don Givens goal in the first-half gave the club from the second city the two points which takes them above Chelsea in the table, but leaves them, like the Stamford Bridge side, eight points from safety.
ARSENAL MINDS ELSEWHERE AS THEY ARE BEATEN BY BOLTON:
Arsenal are getting ready to face Wolves on Saturday in the FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park and the Gunners looked to have their minds fixed on this game, as they were beaten 4-2 by Bolton Wanderers at Burnden Park on Monday.Embed from Getty Images
A brace from Alan Gowling and two penalties from Frank Worthington saw off an under-strength Arsenal, who replied with goals from David Price and midfielder Mark Heeley.
WOLVES WARM UP FOR FA CUP SEMI WITH HOME DRAW AGAINST MANCHESTER CITY:
Unlike Saturday’s opponents, Wolves can ill afford to take their minds off league duties with John Barnwell’s side fighting for their First Division lives. A 1-1 draw at Molineux on Tuesday night against Manchester City keeps them three points from the drop with a game in hand on 20th placed Queens Park Rangers.
Willie Carr had the hosts in front at the break, but England international Mick Channon replied for City to keep them out of any potential danger in 15th.
UNITED RETURN HOME UNSCATHED AFTER AYRESOME PARK DRAW:
Manchester United came back from two goals down at half-time against Middlesbrough, to earn a draw at Ayresome Park on Tuesday.
Dave Sexton will also be relieved that his players returned to Manchester with a clean bill of health as they prepare to face Liverpool at Maine Road on Saturday in the FA Cup semi-final.Embed from Getty Images
A David Armstrong penalty and a Mark Proctor goal had put the home side in a strong position before United replied in the second-half through Gordon McQueen and Steve Coppell.
VILLA AND COVENTRY SHARE THE POINTS IN MIDLANDS DERBY:
Aston Villa and Coventry City played out a 1-1 draw at Villa Park last night; a result which does nothing to help either club’s late charge for a European spot next season. Allan Evans was on target for the hosts, striker Garry Thompson replying for the Sky Blues, who remain two points clear of Ron Saunders’ men.
WHITE HART LANE STALEMATE AS SPURS ARE HELD BY SOUTHAMPTON:
A game being played between two teams, whose respective seasons are all but over, could only ever have ended up goalless.
Both Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton are nicely placed in mid-table; positions that their respective managers, Keith Burkinshaw and Lawrie McMenemy, would have probably settled for at the beginning of the season, having both been promoted last term.
MONDAY MARCH 26:
Bolton Wanderers 4-2 Arsenal (Gowling 2 Worthing 2 pens; Price Heeley)
W.B.A 2-1 Derby County (Cunningham, A Brown; Crawford)
TUESDAY MARCH 27:
Birmingham City 1-0 Norwich City (Givens)
Middlesbrough 2-2 Manchester United (Proctor, Armstrong pen; McQueen, Coppell)
Wolves 1-1 Manchester City (Carr; Channon)
WEDNESDAY MARCH 28:
Aston Villa 1-1 Coventry City (Evans; Thompson)
Nottingham Forest 6-0 Chelsea (O’Neill 3, Woodcock 2, Birtles)
Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Southampton
League Division One table after close of play on 29 March 1979
|3||West Bromwich Albion||28||18||6||4||57||27||30||42|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||32||5||10||17||31||51||-20||20|
FRIDAY MARCH 30:
Everton v Norwich City
SATURDAY MARCH 31:
FA CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Liverpool v Manchester United (at Maine Road)
Arsenal v Wolves (at Villa Park)
Bristol City v Birmingham City
Ipswich Town v Manchester City
Middlesbrough v Tottenham Hotspur
Nottingham Forest v Bolton Wanderers
Q.P.R v Derby County
Southampton v Leeds 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