BY STEVE MITCHELL
FRANCIS DEBUT ENDS IN FRUSTRATION FOR FOREST AT PORTMAN ROAD:
Finally, almost a month after completing his one million pound move from Birmingham City, England striker Trevor Francis made his First Division debut for Nottingham Forest this afternoon against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
After two months of fixture chaos, the East Anglian public could finally enjoy a Saturday afternoonâ€™s football and the added ingredient of seeing Britainâ€™s most expensive footballer, swelled the attendance to just under 28,000; despite the visit of Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup next Wednesday.
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Forest came into this game off the back of a 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal last Monday, their first home defeat for nearly two years and Ipswich were playing their third match inside a week, after seeing off Bristol Rovers in the cup and Derby County in the league.
The home side started brightly, and Scotland international John Wark tested Forest keeper Peter Shilton with an early effort, which the England custodian tipped expertly behind the post.
Warkâ€™s international team-mate Alan Brazil was next to test Shilton, but his long range shot was easily dealt with by the man from Leicester.
Ipswich were made to pay for their profligacy when a long ball from Forest midfielder Martin Oâ€™Neill fell at the feet of striker Garry Birtles, the young Englishman then somehow got the ball under control to deceive Town keeper Paul Cooper and put the visitors ahead.
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Ipswich players will not have forgotten their 5-0 hiding in the Charity Shield back in August and they came out in the second-half pushing for an equaliser. First Brazil saw another shot gathered by Shilton and then the Scottish striker finally got a deserved leveller, when an error by David Needham gifted him the chance to tie the contest.
Now the home side sensed they could take both points and skipper Mick Mills almost fired them in front, but his right foot drive flew agonisingly over the crossbar with Shilton well beaten.
Forest were hanging on with Francis a mere spectator on his big day. Wark flashed another shot wide after great work from Clive Woods on the left, as the clock ticked down. When the referee blew for full-time before Forest had the chance to take a last-minute corner, a thoroughly entertaining 90 minutes had passed in which the home side will feel they should have won.
LIVERPOOL ENDURE CHELSEA STALEMATE:
Another First Division debut took place at Stamford Bridge were Chelsea entertained league leaders Liverpool.
The West London club paraded their new signing, Yugoslav goalkeeper Petar Borota, who arrived this week from Partizan Belgrade for Â£70,000. With a reputation for being rather eccentric, Chelsea fans may have a new idol after he kept his goal intact despite intense Liverpool pressure.
Ultimately this result still leaves the Blues four points from safety at the bottom, but many people arriving at the famous old ground this afternoon must have feared the worst prior to kick-off.
EVERTON & WEST BROM CAPITALISE ON LIVERPOOLâ€™S DRAW:
After back to back defeats, Everton have closed the gap on their Merseyside rivals to four points after a 2-1 win at Goodison Park against Queens Park Rangers. Bob Latchford and George Telfer put the Toffees two-up before half-time, before young striker Paul Goddard pulled one back for Rangers in the second-half.
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West Bromwich Albion showed no signs of fatigue after their busy week which saw them finally overcome Leeds United in the FA Cup after extra-time on Thursday, having drawn 3-3 on Monday. Alistair Brown scored his third in a week as Ron Atkinsonâ€™s men ran out 3-1 winners against Coventry City at Highfield Road.
Bryan Robson and a debut goal for David Mills were Albionâ€™s other scorers; Garry Thompson getting a consolation for the Sky Blues.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
In a dress rehearsal for what could be an FA Cup quarter-final tie, Southampton beat in-form Arsenal 2-0 at The Dell. Austin Hayes and Malcolm Waldron gave Lawrie McMenemyâ€™s the points, as The Gunners drop to fourth in the table.
Aston Villa are the kings of Birmingham after a Gordon Cowans goal ensured a derby win over City at Villa Park. This result leave the Blues cut adrift at the bottom, nine points from safety with relegation now looking a certainty.
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Leeds United were surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw at Elland Road by Norwich City. A brace from striker John Hawley not enough for Jimmy Adamsonâ€™s men, who were pegged back thanks to goals from Kevin Bond and Justin Fashanu.
Manchester Unitedâ€™s recent good form continued with a 2-1 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate. The Robins had won the reverse fixture earlier in the season at Old Trafford, but goals from Andy Ritchie and Gordon McQueen ensured there would be no repeat. Gerry Gow scored Cityâ€™s consolation.
Manchester City won a Lancashire derby against Bolton Wanderers at Maine Road. Gary Owen scored his third goal in a week thanks to a second-half penalty, after Mick Channon had opened the scoring in the opening 45 minutes. Frank Worthington was on target for the visitors, who are looking anxiously over their shoulders at the relegation trap-door.
Wolves may be into the FA Cup quarter-finals, but their league form is giving huge cause for concern. Todayâ€™s 3-1 home defeat by Middlesbrough leaves them just a point ahead of Queens Park Rangers, who occupy the final relegation spot. Billy Ashcroft, Tony McAndrew and David Shearer were on target for the visitors, John Richards netting for Wolves.
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Finally, Tottenham Hotspur rounded off an excellent week by beating Derby County 2-0 at White Hart Lane. Both goals were scored by Argentinian star Ossie Ardiles.
FIRST DIVISION RESULTS â€“ SATURDAY MARCH 4:
Aston Villa 1-0 Birmingham City (Cowans)
Bristol City 1-2 Manchester United (Gow; Ritchie, McQueen)
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool
Coventry City 1-3 W.B.A (Thompson; Robson, Brown A, Mills)
Everton 2-1 Q.P.R (Latchford, Telfer; Goddard)
Ipswich Town 1-1 Nottingham Forest (Brazil; Birtles)
Leeds United 2-2 Norwich City (Hawley 2; Bond, Fashanu)
Manchester City 2-1 Bolton Wanderers (Channon, Owen pen; Worthington)
Southampton 2-0 Arsenal (Hayes, Waldron)
Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Derby County (Ardiles 2)
Wolves 1-3 Middlesbrough (Richards; Ashcroft, McAndrew, Ritchie)
League Division One table after close of play on 03 March 1979
|3||West Bromwich Albion||25||15||6||4||52||25||27||36|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||28||4||10||14||25||42||-17||18|
TUESDAY MARCH 6:
EUROPEAN CUP QUARTER-FINAL FIRST-LEG:
Cologne v Rangers
Birmingham City v Q.P.R
Coventry City v Liverpool
Middlesbrough v Everton
WEDNESDAY MARCH 7:
EUROPEAN CUP QUARTER-FINAL FIRST-LEG:
Nottingham Forest v Grasshoppers
CUP WINNERS CUP QUARTER-FINAL FIRST-LEG:
Ipswich Town v Barcelona
UEFA CUP QUARTER-FINAL FIRST-LEG:
Manchester City v Borussia Monchengladbach
Red Star Belgrade v W.B.A
Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers
Norwich City v Wolves
SATURDAY MARCH 10:
FA CUP FIFTH ROUND:
W.B.A V Southampton
Ipswich Town v Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
Wolves v Shrewsbury Town
Arsenal v Bristol City
Birmingham City v Coventry City
Derby County v Leeds United
Everton v Nottingham Forest
Middlesbrough v Aston Villa
Norwich City v Chelsea
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler