What an unforgettable year 2012 has been! From the lower depths of League Two to the top half of League One, Crewe Alexandra have been on a one way train ride to the top. November 2011 saw Crewe appoint a new manager, Steve Davis, who, at the time was the assistant under Dario Gradi. Struggling for form and with fans grumblings getting louder by the game, Crewe sat in 18th in League Two, dangerously close to visiting a territory that I myself hadn’t experienced as a fan, non league. What happened next can only be described as outrageously unbelievable (Kammy’s next catchphrase)!
Crewe started 2012 with a 1-0 loss to Morecambe at home. Not ideal. After a handful of solid wins and a terrible game against Barnet, which saw us have two men sent off and lose 2-0, Crewe made the long trip down to Essex to play Southend, who had already demolished us 3-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. In the sunshine Crewe recorded their 17th and last loss of 11/12 season. Now, this is where the outrageousness begins…
With a little help from a few wonder goals from a youngster named Nick Powell, the Alex started climbing the table. A fitter looking Crewe Alex were taking the field and grinding out results, which earlier in the season seem next to impossible. What a time it was to be following the Railwaymen. Even teams like United couldn’t match our unbeaten form.
Crowds were improving and the away followings had never looked so healthy. Hundreds descended on the likes of Crawley, Torquay and Hereford, with thousands making the short trip to Macclesfield. The crowd were out in force and it was certainly making an impact on the results.
With the unbeaten running continuing, Crewe broke into the play-off positions just before the season came to an end. “Dare to Dream” was a phrase bounded about. What had started as a, “let’s make sure we have a solid season after the terrible start and build for next season”, had turned into “WEMBLEY, WEMBLEY”…Crewe had the famous end of season form and we planned not just to scrap into the play-offs, but to gain promotion….
Which we did!!! After dispatching Southend 3-2 on aggregate in the Play-off semis after the two legs, it really felt as though we had turned a corner. Some 3 months and 16 games previous, they had been the last team to defeat us…it seemed fate that we had to avoid defeat in the second leg to progress to Wembley.
On a hotter than the sun sort of day in May, the arches of Wembley glistened in expectation and with us beating Cheltenham just over a month earlier, it’s safe to say Crewe went their as favourites and nothing less than victory would satisfy 13,000 hungry Crewe fans. One of the goals of the new Wembley set us on our merry way, Nick Powell who was a certain to leave in the summer scored a stunning goal and apart from a few close encounters, victory was never in doubt.
What a season, what an unbeaten run, what a team!
But how long would that unbeaten run last? We had been promoted into a league, which, initially looked very strong…. We couldn’t do the unthinkable could we? No, we couldn’t. Our first league game against a strong Notts County saw us lose for the first time in almost half a year. The inevitable sale of Nick Powell happened in the summer. Man Utd snapping him up. We released a number of players who had been so strong in the run which saw us gain promotion. The likes of captain Dave Artell and Lee Bell had literally put their bodies on the line to get us to League One, but they were soon cut from the team to make way for a younger looking side. Steve Davis took risks, bought in some relatively unknown players, and as I write this now…it seems to have paid off.
After a run of 3 wins in 12 in all competitions and the sale of captain Ashley Westwood to Aston Villa, the opening few months hadn’t been as successful as we had hoped. We had been turned over by Brentford and tactically mastered by Oldham, but I wasn’t worried. There were enough positive signs not to be downbeat and I’m sure king Steve had some tricks up his sleeve.
With 11 wins out of the last 19, Crewe sit in 10th place in League One, 3 points off the play-offs and almost certain of safety from relegation. It’s been a truly unbelievable journey. Watching the team who you genuinely think can beat anything that’s in front of them is exciting. Who says our journey on the train can’t continue to the next station?
It’s difficult to sum up last year in one word, but I think “Paradise” just about covers it.
Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger
What a time to be a Crewe fan! The star of last season gets sold to one of the biggest clubs in the world, once again showing what a fantastic academy we have in place, we win our first competitive game of the season 5-0 and our transfer window actually excites the fans…oh, and we’re also unbeaten since January.
After the mammoth season Crewe fans experienced last year, nobody could blame us if we hoped for some downtime and an opportunity to recover from the sunburn after our epic win at Wembley in May. Realistically, this was never going to happen. At the start of June, we saw one of our most gifted youngsters get a deserved move to Manchester United. 18 year old Nick Powell, scorer of one of the best goals at Wembley last season, moved to the Manchester giants for a fee believed to be around £4 million.
I personally thought this was great news. Crewe were never going to be able to keep hold of him and it was the first transfer of an Alex player to a top flight side since Dean Ashton’s £3 million pound move to Norwich back in 2005. Our youth system, so famous for the likes of David Platt and Danny Murphy, was back on the map.
With the departure of Powell, this left a gap in the side. He had been the top goalscorer last season and had created a number of others. Our manager Steve Davis had easily won over the fans with the results and promotion, but now he faced another hurdle to climb. The transfer window.
I’m pleased to say he delivered! Five new faces came into the squad, and from what we have seen already, quality has been added. Mark Ellis, was the first to arrive. We had seen from our matches against Torquay that he was a solid defender and its fair to say with the departure of David Artell, we needed a strong centre halve to be brought in. Another stand out signing was Mathias Pogba from Wrexham for a free. Brother of Paul, Mathias is a striker who will battle for the ball and cause problems for the opposition defense.
He was prolific in pre season and followed that up in the Capital One Cup, scoring two against Hartlepool. As well as filling the left back role and bringing in another winger, eventually we signed former Northampton man Abdul Osman. We have two sensational creative centre midfielders in Ashley Westwood and Luke Murphy, but we desperately needed another body in the centre of the park to add some hustle and bustle in the centre, and that’s what we have found.
Looking to what we already have, this season will see Max Clayton take it up a notch. He has already scored two last minute winners last season, as well as scoring a fairly important goal in the playoff semi-finals at Southend! He has just turned 18 years old and there is no doubt he will be the player everyone will be talking about this season. Like Pogba, he has already notched two goals already in the easy Capital Cup 5-0 win over Hartlepool (Jeff wont be amused) and has also had a decent pre season.
I’m excited and optimistic about the coming season. I think we can continue our unbeaten run, but as we haven’t lost in such a long time, it will be important that we react well when we are eventually beaten, as lets be honest, we are not going to go the whole season without losing. I would say I would be happy with staying in the division, but would it be bad to expect a top half finish? I think not…We have the squad, we have the manager and we have the belief.
Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger
“Nick Powell, 17 years of age, stared in the recent England Under 17s World Cup in Mexico. The attacking midfielder came on as a sub in 18 games last season and showed great skill and potential, but couldn’t find the back of the net. He has already shown in pre-season that he is ready to make a step up and start contributing to Crewe’s goal tally.”
This is what I wrote on August 1st, when writing a preview for WAGU on Crewe Alexandra for the upcoming season. Over 30 appearances and 12 goals later, I wanted to write a follow up on possibly one of the most gifted footballers I have ever seen coming through the ranks at Crewe.
I am not saying that I am the next Paul the Octopus, predicting the future, as 95% of Crewe fans had a very good idea who would be the main man come the end of the season. It’s only been the last few months where football fans around the country have started to mention his name, and for the time being if they could keep quiet and let him get on with his work, that would be appreciated.
Last night I was having dinner with my family and I was talking to my Dad about the latest Crewe game and goings on. Although we no longer live in the area, my Dad has always been interested in the latest developments and attends the occasional away game with me. Of course, we started with the exceptional win over top of the league but the conversation quickly turned to Powell. I reminded my Dad of the first time he had seen him….Last season, away at Shrewsbury. Powell, 16 at the time, came on as a late substitute when we were winning 1-0 and proceeded to tease the Shrewsbury defence with various tricks and step overs.
It was always clear that this boy had talent; from his 18 substitute appearances last season, the majority of fans got to see what he was about, but this season (as you would expect) he has taken it up a notch. Recent goals against Gillingham and Swindon have thrust him into the spotlight, as well as winning the League Two Apprentice of the Year award. He showed a number of strengths against Gillingham; A sweetly struck shot from 30+ yards giving the goal keeper no chance, as well as a tidy finish in the box and to add to that, a brilliant assist after winning the ball on the halfway line. It’s not just his technical ability on the football pitch which stands out, he reads the game like a seasoned pro.
Something that I personally like about Powell is his arrogance. He knows he is a sensational player. He lets other players know he is a sensational player. He lets opposition fans know he is a sensational player. The swagger he has adds to his game and although it has divided the Crewe fans, as long as he is banging in the goals, we are all happy.
Rumours this week are that a 5 million pound bid from Chelsea is about to come in. I think it would be too early to go, but a move to a top Premier League club doesn’t come around often. Dario, Steve and the board won’t let go of him too easily…Ultimately, they want the best for his career, so won’t stand in his way in the future, but it’s important for him to gain more first team experience instead of potentially getting thrown into reserve squads in the top leagues. Ipswich were reported to have had a bid turned down last January. Rightfully so…he won’t leave Crewe unless its to a Premier League side, or big Championship team.
For me, I think he needs to stay at Crewe until next January. We have played very well under Steve Davis and sit 3 points of a playoff position which looked so unlikely 3 months ago. The top 7 is a possibility, and if we can squeeze through, half a season in League One would be good for Nick.
The world is certainly his oyster. I think a lot of Credit must go to Dario and the backroom staff. Powell wasn’t rushed into the team and although a lot of pressure has been on him this season, he seems to be dealing with it well. Lets hope he can carry on this form and drive us into a playoff place where he will have the opportunity to shine infront of the cameras and show the country the whole package!
Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger
Before my visit to Valley Parade on Boxing Day, I could have written a novel full of superlatives to describe Crewe Alexandra’s start under new manager Steve Davis. However, after a truly dismal display, I will keep them locked in a chest and possibly throw away the key.
Bradford was not a fun trip. Over the last few seasons, I have seen some terrible games away from home. The Alex had a shocking run last season which saw us lose 10 away games in a row. I was there at the majority and I therefore feel as though I can judge how bad an away day has been.
I left the living room with the blazing fire and warm turkey sandwiches to embark on a 3 hour drive to pick up my companions and head up the M6 to Bradford. The ground itself is spectacular for a League Two side. Once a Premier League venue, Valley Parade is built into a hillside and is quite a view for a Crewe fan. I approached the game feeling optimistic about the 90 minutes ahead; under Steve Davis, the team had started to look like a decent outfit who could finally defend and grind out results. After a solid draw against top of the league a week before, I genuinely thought I was going to see my team take all 3 points from a struggling Bradford side.
90 seconds into the match, Crewe’s defence exploded, as did my expectations.
A “fluke” goal had not been the start I was hoping for and the game had a feeling of… “What’s changed?” Crewe competed, but the same weaknesses (Defence) were being exposed by the opposition who deservedly lead at the break. The team came out of the dressing rooms with extra belief, we attacked their goal with flare, but then a penalty turned into a nightmare for us. I say this, as it completely changed the game. Great work by Nick Powell on the right and after a slight touch (Debatable) he flung himself onto the grass and the referee pointed to the spot. Cue celebrations by the Crewe fans. Not all though, including myself, who knew full well of Crewe’s record of converting penalties.
What followed could be described as one of the most painful 30 minutes I have ever watched. After a long delay, Lee Bell struck the penalty onto the underside of the bar and down onto the line. The ball was cleared and the chances of Crewe coming away with anything disappeared. After this, the Bradford fans were in full voice and to cut a long story short, they scored two goals and inflicted a first league defeat under Steve Davis.
What was positive to come out of the trip was the players reaction at the end of the match. Bell and Tootle both raised their hands to apologise, the team seemed devastated. This is a side of the team that has not been shown before. Steve Davis walked right over to the fans to applaud them and it genuinely seemed like their performance was a total one off.
The problem Crewe have is goals. Last season they were the top scorers in the division and would just outscore teams. However, after big names left in the summer only 5 teams have scored less. The January transfer window will be interesting. Crewe won’t spend money, but I expect them to be busy in the loan market. A centre forward and centre back need to be brought into the team. We have the potential to be up there at the end of the season competing for the play-offs. Davis has brought fresh ideas to the team which have been welcomed. Just an extra 25% needed to be that team who will be making a late surge come the second half of the season.
Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger
What an innings by an exceptional man and ambassador to football.
Dario Gradi has announced he will be stepping down as Crewe Alexandra manager, handing over the reins to former Nantwich Town and Northwich manager Steve Davis. Having spent 26 years in charge of the first team from 1983 to 2007 and then from 2009 to 2011, Gradi will continue in his role as Director of Football at the club and focus the majority of his attention to the club’s Academy.
Legend is a word which is banded about far too often in today’s game, but it is a word which will appear numerous times in this blog. In 2007, Dario decided to give his assistant at the time, Steve Holland, a crack at managerial duties. It’s fair to say the two years that followed were not Crewe’s most successful. Holland, who had made a name for himself at Alex’s academy, wasn’t the right man for the job, lasting 16 months before leaving the club at the bottom of League One in December 2008.
Following Holland’s departure, Dario stepped in for a short period whilst the search for a new manager went ahead. Former Stoke City boss Gudjon Thordarson was appointed – his approach to the game was not favoured by fans and Crewe were relegated to League Two at the end of the 2008/09 season. After a poor start to the following campaign, which saw Crewe win four out of fifteen games, Thordason was sacked.
Once again, Dario was back at the helm. At the time, he made it clear that he would be taking over responsibilities of the first team until a suitable manager was found. After two years, it seems he is satisfied to leave the responsibility in Steve Davis’ hands.
During the last couple of games, the fans’ frustration has been very clear. Chants at the Torquay game at the weekend from the supporters calling for Gradi to go were getting louder and in his post-match interview he commented on what he heard. Gradi said that he would go when he felt it was time to go.
The performance on Saturday was woeful and Torquay got their tactics spot on, crusing to a 3-0 win. It was one of the worst games I had seen for quite a while. Despite this, I decided to make the trip to Oldham on Tuesday night and that didn’t do Dario many favours. After a battling performance for 65 minutes, Crewe just lost the spirit and went down 3-1 to a poor, but lucky Oldham side in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
I have always been 100% behind Dario as he has done so much for the club, but maybe this is the time for a change, to see if Crewe can try and pull something together, to emerge with a successful season and bright future.
There is no doubting that Dario Gradi is a legend (how many other managers can boast that there is a music group named after them?) But after 26 years at the helm, it does seem like the right time to step down and concentrate fully on the Academy. Gradi will hopefully help nurture more players like Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy, Robbie Savage, Rob Jones, Neil Lennon, Geoff Thomas and David Platt, all of whom have Dario to thank for making them the players they are and were.
Although the 70-year-old Gradi may be taking a step back, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in charge again if things don’t improve, Crewe is in his heart and as we have seen in the past, it may be hard for him to let go completely. It’s safe to say you should watch this space with interest!
1404 not out?
Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra blogger
The vast majority of football matches see a couple of goals scored per game at most. However on occasion, there can be matches where both sides go goal crazy, scoring at will. These make great spectacles for the neutral but can often leave the fans of the teams involved embarking on an emotional rollercoaster during 90 minutes of action-packed football.
Cardiff City and Barnsley scored eight goals between them on Saturday, as the home side ran out 5-3 winners at the Cardiff City stadium in one of the most entertaining matches of the Championship season so far. There have been many similar matches in Football League history, where the attacking teams have field days and the defences are pretty much non-existent. Here are ten games with big scorelines which gave those paying fans in attendance more than their money’s worth.
10: Cardiff City 5 Barnsley 3 2011
It is South Wales where this weekend’s top ten begins with Cardiff’s victory over Barnsley. As the visiting side, Keith Hill’s Barnsley scored three times but still went back home to Yorkshire with nothing to show for their efforts, instead rueing the five goals they had to pick out of the back of their net.
Kenny Miller got things going ten minutes in as he slotted a low finish into the bottom corner of the goal and it was soon two, Joe Mason tucking home the rebound after Peter Whittingham’s powerful free-kick was parried by Luke Steele. Former Cardiff loanee Danny Drinkwater pulled a goal back for Barnsley with a deflected free-kick but two minutes later the Bluebird’s Icelandic midfielder Aron Gunnarsson volley his side 3-1 into the lead.
Drinkwater hit the bar early in the second period but Cardiff extended their lead when Don Cowie rounded Steele before stroking the ball into the net cooly. Gunnarsson then grabbed his second as he finished off a good team move from eight yards out to make the score a seemingly comfortable 5-1 to the hosts. However Jim McNulty headed home Danny Butterfield’s corner on 82 minutes to give the visitors a glimmer of hope and then four minutes later, Ricardo Vaz Te rifled a low shot past David Marshall to make it a nervous last few minutes for Cardiff, but they secured an entertaining victory.
9: Peterborough United 5 Bristol Rovers 4 2008
Under the management of Darren Ferguson, Peterborough United have served up their fair share of entertaining matches, scoring goals for fun whilst sometimes allowing their opponents the chance to stick a few in their net too. One such occasion came in League Two three years ago as they and Bristol Rovers scored nine goals in a game.
Craig Mackail-Smith gave Posh the lead after sixteen minutes, linking up well with strike partner Aaron McLean before shooting home and returning the favour seven minutes later, setting up McLean who made it 2-0. Rovers’ Steve Elliott then reduced arrears with a back-post header to make the score 2-1 going into the break.
In the second half Mackail-Smith scored his second from the penalty spot before Shane Blackett put through his own net to hand Rovers a lifeline at 3-2. Mackail-Smith then grabbed his hat-trick with a left-foot finish to cap off a fine solo run but Rovers pegged back their hosts once again, Jeff Hughes tapping in from close range. With seven minutes to go Scott Rendell looked to have wrapped things up for Peterborough, heading in to make it 5-3 but Rickie Lambert curled home a superb free-kick two minutes later to set up a grandstand finish – Posh holding on to claim a memorable victory.
8: Grimsby Town 6 Burnley 5 2002
Prior to this game, Grimsby had found goals hard to come by in Division One but they ended up sharing eleven with Lancashire outfit Burnley on an amazing night at Blundell Park. On-loan Crystal Palace striker Steve Kabba opened the scoring for Town before Burnley frontman Gareth Taylor equalised.
Steve Livingstone rose highest to nod a left-wing cross into the bottom corner of the net for 2-1 to the hosts but Ian Moore levelled again as he controlled a ball into the box and lashed home a left-footed effort beyond Danny Coyne. Steve Kabba scored his second to make it 3-2 and Stuart Campbell made it four, tapping in Terry Cooke’s cross. However before the break Burnley were back in it as Robbie Blake’s acrobatic volley saw the scores at 4-3 going into the break.
In the second period Burnley equalised, Gareth Taylor’s finish the eighth goal scored in what was already an outstanding match. It got better as Alan Pouton scored a penalty for 5-4 to Grimsby then defender Simon Ford made it 6-4 with half an hour to go, heading past Clarets goalkeeper Marlon Beresford from a corner. However Robbie Blake’s penalty ensured a nervy final seven minutes for the Mariners but they held out for a remarkable 6-5 victory.
Later in that same season Burnley were involved in another thriller, this time shipping seven goals at home to Ray Lewington’s Watford. Wayne Brown gave Watford the lead at Turf Moor, heading home Neal Eardley’s corner thirteen minutes in but Gareth Taylor equalised for Burnley two minutes later.
Watford went back ahead not long after when Micah Hyde converted Gavin Mahon’s centre for 2-1 and another Eardley corner asked questions of the Clarets’ defence, Neil Cox this time nodding into the back of the net to give the visitors a two goal cushion. On 29 minutes Watford had a fourth, a young Michael Chopra, on loan from Newcastle United beating the offside trap to score. Steve Davis made it 4-2 on 35 minutes then Taylor scored his second four minutes later to make it 4-3. Watford restored their two goal leads seconds after the restart, Paulo Vernazza’s through ball finished off by Chopra despite the attentions of the on-rushing Marlon Beresford. Howver Taylor had one final say in the first half, netting his hat-trick with an unstoppable shot which flew past Hornets’ goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain. The score was an incredible 5-4 at half-time.
The goalscoring continued in the second half as Chopra completed his hat-trick, tapping into an empty net after good work down the right by Eardley and the 19-year-old netted his fourth in injury time, rifling in a Jason Norville cross to round off an emphatic away win for the Hornets.
6: Chesterfield 5 Crewe Alexandra 5 2010
One of the best matches in the Football League last season without question, as League Two sides Chesterfield and Crewe shared ten goals at the B2Net stadium. Crewe went in front after just four minutes as Luke Murphy headed home at the back post and they doubled their lead two minutes later as Lee Bell flighted a free-kick over the Spireites’ wall and into the net beyond ‘keeper Tommy Lee. Alex were crusing seven minutes afterwards as Byron Moore raced through the home side’s absent defence to slot home for 3-0. The ever-prolific Jack Lester gave Chesterfield some hope with a 23rd minute header but Shaun Miller rounded Lee and made the score 4-1 at the break.
With sixteen minutes to go that’s how the scores remained but Chesterfield were defending an unbeaten home run which they clearly did not want to let slip, Lester grabbing his second of the match to peg Crewe back. Danny Whittaker then scored from the penalty spot to make it 4-3 and the comeback was well and truly on, however Clayton Donaldson swept home a fifth for Crewe to re-establish their two goal lead.
Chesterfield were not done though and won another penalty when Craig Clay was felled in the box, Whittaker rifling it in to make it 5-4 with a minute of normal time remaining. Incredibly the hosts found their equaliser two minutes into stoppage time when Clay powered home a low drive into the bottom corner to send the home fans wild and rescue an unlikely point for his side.
5: Accrington Stanley 7 Gillingham 4 2010
On the same day, at the same time as Chesterfield and Crewe were playing out their thriller, Accrington Stanley and Gillingham served up a match equally as epic with eleven goals scored at the Crown Ground.
Sean McConville opened the scoring for Stanley on thirteen minutes but Gillingham hit back through two neat finishes from Mark Bentley. Andy Parkinson equalised for the hosts as he slammed home his first Football League goal for three years, latching onto Terry Gornell’s through ball. Charlie Barnett then gave them the lead, his cross-shot finding the top corner of the net before half-time.
Ten minutes after the break Gillingham levelled, Cody McDonald embarking on a long run before clipping the ball over the onrushing Stanley ‘keeper Iain Dunbavin for 3-3, however it soon started going wrong for the Kent outfit. They had not won away from home for 17 months prior to this match and that run would continue. The hosts were awarded a penalty which Phil Edwards dispatched and on 62 minutes he scored his second, again from the penalty spot after Terry Gornell was brought down in the box.
Gornell beat the offside trap to score his side’s sixth nine minutes later and despite Adebayo Akinfenwa’s 79th minute penalty, Jimmy Ryan scored a minute into added time to make the final score 7-4 to Accrington in what was a pulsating match.
4: Ipswich Town 6 Crewe Alexandra 4 2004
Portman Road has played host to some of the most memorable matches in Ipswich Town history and this one is right up there with the best of them, the Tractor Boys prevailing in a ten goal thriller against Crewe Alexandra in Division One.
A mistake by Crewe defender presented Tommy Miller with the chance to give Ipswich the lead early on and he fired beyond Clayton Ince for 1-0 before making it two after nine minutes with a cracking left-foot drive. Dean Ashton volleyed home to keep Crewe in the game and played a part as Alex equalised after the break, the striker’s cross turned into his own net by Ipswich centre-back John McGreal.
On 55 minutes Shefki Kuqi nodded Matt Richards’ cross past Ince to put Ipswich back in front but the Suffolk club scored another own goal, this time Richards undoing his good work earlier as a parried shot richocheted off him into the net. Dutch winger Martin Reuser curled a fine effort past Ince as Ipswich went back in front, then the Crewe stopper could not do enough to keep Pablo Counago’s effort out and the score stood at 5-3 to the hosts with sixteen minutes left on the clock. James Robinson made it 5-4 on 82 minutes with a shot from twelve yards but Kuqi settled Town nerves two minutes from time, his cool finish completing a 6-4 success for Joe Royle’s side.
3: Leeds United 4 Preston North End 6 2010
An extraordinary match from last season’s Championship. Newly-promoted Leeds United, on the fringe of the play-off spots hosted Preston North End at Elland Road, the visitors suffering an inconsistent start under manager Darren Ferguson.
It was North End who drew first blood through Jon Parkin, tapping in after Leeds’ Shane Higgs parried a cross. Luciano Becchio’s header levelled the game and it was another header which put Leeds in front, Alex Bruce beating North End goalkeeper Andy Lonergan. Lloyd Sam set up Davide Somma to make the score 3-1 to Leeds on 27 minutes before Somma scored again to make it four. Parkin almost immediately pulled a goal back for Preston before the break, but few inside the ground would’ve predicted the events of the second half.
Keith Treacy made it 4-3 nine minutes after the restart from a corner as the home defence began to look rattled. United defender George McCartney hauled down Paul Coutts in the box to give Preston a penalty, which captain Callum Davidson dispatched with ease high into the net for the equaliser. Preston completed the comeback incredibly with 25 minutes remaining as Parkin scored his third of the night, blasting home a low left-foot shot and with eleven to go Iain Hume made it 6-4 to the away side, heading in Billy Jones’ diagonal cross from the right, what a game.
2: Peterborough United 4 Cardiff City 4 2009
An amazing comeback at London Road. Peterborough United, the Championship’s bottom side, faced fourth-placed Cardiff City in December 2009 and the two shared eight goals in what was ‘a game of two halves.’
Cardiff had the better of the first and took the lead through Wales international Joe Ledley after being set up by Peter Whittingham, he then grabbed his second with a header from a corner. Jay Bothroyd made it three, the striker cut in from the right before firing an unstoppable left-footed strike into Joe Lewis’ bottom corner and on 38 minutes it was 4-0, Whittingham curling a free-kick into the back of the net. Cardiff looked to be crusing and ready to cement their spot in the play-offs.
Peterborough manager Mark Cooper must have given the mother of all half-time team talks as his side roused themselves for the second 45. Substitute Josh Simpson began the comeback six minutes after the break following good work down the left from Craig Mackail-Smith then Charlie Lee scored a second for Posh, nodding home George Boyd’s cross. Cardiff’s resolve was tested to the limit in the final 22 minutes as the hosts dominated and with a minute of normal time remaining, Boyd’s dipping volley set up a tense finale. Incredibly Peterborough pulled off the comeback two minutes into injury time as Simpson levelled, rifling in from close-range after the Cardiff defence failed to clear a long throw-in. Posh were still bottom but had played their part in a fantastic match.
1: Burton Albion 5 Cheltenham Town 6 2010
League Two strugglers Burton Albion and Cheltenham Town met at the Pirelli Stadium in March 2010, where they played out one of the most incredible matches in Football League history with goals aplenty and a stirring comeback from the away side.
Burton went in front just two minutes in as Shaun Harrad volleyed home after evading his marker, before the Brewers’ forward doubled the lead from the penalty spot and the score remained 2-0 going into the break. Justin Richards scored a tap-in for Cheltenham to make 2-1 early in the second half and the Robins equalised three minutes later, Medy Elito smashing a shot low into the net after Michael Pook’s cross.
On 56 minutes Burton went back ahead after Cleveland Taylor’s cross was deflected into his own net by Michael Townsend and 16 minutes later striker Steve Kabba looked to have made things comfortable for the home side again, making it 4-2 from close range after some poor Robins defending. With six minutes to go however the visitors were back in it, Pook crashing a free-kick low into the net from the edge of the area to set up a nervous finale. Kabba scored again just a minute later, sliding in at the back post to meet Harrad’s low cross and it seemed as if Burton had sealed it.
Two minutes after that Pook scored his second as his 20-yard shot deflected off a Burton defender and beat goalkeeper Artur Krysiak for 5-4. Mark Yeates’ side then equalised again in the 90th minute, Justin Richards slotting past Krysiak after a long-free kick was flicked into his path by Julian Alsop. Amazingly Cheltenham were not done and managed to find a winning goal, Pook completing his hat-trick in the fourth minute of injury time with a rising drive from 25-yards to snatch a 6-5 win for the away side as the Pirelli Stadium scoreboard went into meltdown. It was a vital three points for Cheltenham as they moved six points clear of the drop zone while Burton were left wondering just how they’d lost the game – unbelievable.
Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up podcast member and blogger
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As the away side in a football match, you are expected to keep things tight and make life difficult for your hosts. More often than not a well-fought draw will do and if you pick up a close victory, even better.
Thrashings in football aren’t a regular occurrence but they do happen. However it is rare when the visiting team hands out a pasting to their hosts. Last week Andy Hessenthaler’s Gillingham did just that with a 6-1 victory at League Two strugglers Hereford United, so today Toppo’s Top Ten looks at those occasions where the visiting team has a field-day in front of goal, leaving the home fans heading for the exits early.
10: Burnley 2 Sheffield Wednesday 7 2003
Sheffield Wednesday were already relegated by the time they travelled to Turf Moor for a Division One fixture in 2003 – you wouldn’t have known it though looking at the final score.
Paul McLaren opened the scoring for the visitors with a long-range effort which Burnley goalkeeper Nic Michopoulous failed to save. Two minutes later Ashley Westwood added a second with a close-range tap-in Brian Barry-Murphy’s cross. Defender Richard Wood made it 3-0 to Wednesday, his first senior goal coming minutes after Burnley striker Ian Moore was sent off.
Burnley manager Stan Ternent hauled off the goalkeeper replacing him with sub-goalie Marlon Beresford and the Clarets pulled one back through a Robbie Blake penalty but in truth it was a miserable first half for the hosts and things didn’t improve. A minute after the break, Richard Evans beat Beresford with a cross-cum-shot from 35 yards before Blake made it 4-2 with a left-footed drive.
Chris Turner’s Wednesday quickly restored their three goal advantage as Steven Haslam scored from Alan Quinn’s free-kick and within seven minutes they scored again. Burnley’s French defender Artur Gnohere put Grant Holt’s cross past his own goalkeeper before the travelling Owls capped off a memorable afternoon, Quinn hitting an excellent 30-yard drive past Beresford for an 7-2 success.
9: Crewe Alexandra 1 Coventry City 6 2002
In February 2002, Coventry City visited Dario Gradi’s Crewe Alexandra in a Division One fixture where the hosts had a shocker. The Sky Blues were still harbouring hopes of a play-off spot while Crewe went into the match having won their last four games in a row. By the end of this 90 minutes though there was only one emphatic winner.
The first goal came on 37 minutes when a Lee Hughes cross was spooned into the air by Alex goalkeeper Ademole Bankole and Laurent Delorge knocked it into the net. Crewe equalised in injury time when Shaun Smith curled in a corner and Rob Hulse powered a near-post header into the back of the net, but seconds later Coventry were back in front when £5 million signing Hughes turned Steve Foster before driving in a curled shot from 15 yards.
Two minutes after the break striker Hughes made it 3-1 as he beat Bankole to the ball, nodding home Lee Mills’ flick-on from a long throw-in. After the Crewe defence failed to clear a cross ten minutes later, Hughes saw his shot blocked but it fell to Delorge who slammed it home to extend the visitors’ lead.
Midfielder David Thompson made it 5-1 after a mix-up in the Crewe backline and then with 20 minutes to go Hughes completed his hat-trick as he ran onto Thompson’s through ball, outmuscled Efe Sodje and Bankole before finishing easily. Gradi hauled ‘keeper Bankole off, replacing him with Clayton Ince but by then the damage had well and truly been done.
8: Hereford United 1 Gillingham 6 2011
Hereford United have made a poor start to the League Two campaign this season and their misery was compounded last week as Gillingham inflicted a 6-1 home reversal on them.
West Ham loanee Frank Nouble opened the scoring after good interplay with Chris Whelpdale before Garry Richards made it two five minutes later, his looping header beating Bulls ‘keeper Dave Cornell from Danny Jackman’s cross. Luke Rooney scored the Gills’ third on 38 minutes as his driven cross-cum-shot deflected off a home defender and into the net.
3-0 down at the break and things didn’t get better for Hereford as Jackman netted a fourth for Gillingham three minutes after the restart as he curled an excellent effort into the top corner of the net from wide on the left. Hereford missed a penalty midway through the second period but it was Gillingham who scored again, Whelpdale’s low effort bobbling over the diving Cornell and in.
On 82 minutes the visitors added a sixth when Stefan Payne netted his first senior goal with a strike from 20 yards but Hereford did salvage some pride, as with three minutes to go as Sam Winnall powered home a free-kick from 25 yards. Despite that it was the Bulls’ worst home defeat since returning to the Football League.
7: Millwall 1 Watford 6 2010
Millwall went into this Championship encounter against Watford proudly defending a ten month unbeaten record at home, but the Hornets ended that run in style.
John Eustace bundled home Don Cowie’s corner after seven minutes to give Watford the lead, which Jordon Mutch extended six minutes later, lashing the ball into the back of David Forde’s net after seeing his first effort blocked. Marvin Sordell’s left-footed effort two minutes into first-half stoppage time tricked over the line and saw Millwall 3-0 down at the break.
Nine minutes after the restart another Cowie corner led to a Watford goal as Adrian Mariappa headed the visitors into a four goal lead. Liam Trotter reduced arrears two minutes later but soon after Danny Graham rifled a powerful finish into the top corner to restore the four goal cushion for Malky Mackay’s side. They made it 6-1 added time as Martin Taylor directed a header low into the bottom corner to compound Millwall’s misery.
6: Reading 0 Bristol Rovers 6 1999
Having moved to the new £50 million Madejski Stadium in August 1998, four months later Reading put in one of the worst performances seen at the ground as they slumped to a 6-0 home defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers.
The Division Two fixture in January 1999 saw Rovers’ pick up one of their best-ever away victories while The Royals were left embarrassed, particularly when the half-time score was 0-0. In the second half Jamie Cureton ran onto a through ball and slotted a composed finish beyond the advancing Reading goalkeeper for 1-0. The striker then made it two from the penalty spot and soon completed his hat-trick, knocking in after a defensive mix-up between Elroy Kromkeer and Chris Casper. Jason Roberts then set up strike parter Cureton for his fourth goal – all of them coming within the space of 20 minutes.
More poor home defending allowed Roberts, a £250,000 summer signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers, to score twice and make it 6-0 to Ian Holloway’s men.
5: Bradford City 0 Portsmouth 5 2003
On their way to the Division One title and promotion to the Premier League in 2003, Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth travelled to Valley Parade in their final league match, where they hammered Bradford City 5-0.
Italian defender Gianluca Festa marked his final appearance for Pompey with a goal, his left-footed shot beating City goalkeeper Aidan Davidson to open the scoring. Svetoslav Todorov hit a quick-fire double after the break to make it 3-0 and was then felled by Bantams defender David Wetherall in the box for a penalty.
The Bulgarian striker stepped up and converted the spot-kick to complete a ten-minute hat-trick. Former England winger Steve Stone finished off the rout on 67 minutes with a well-struck right foot shot to give Pompey only their second victory at Valley Parade in 14 attempts and the best possible preparation for life in the top flight.
4: Hartlepool United 1 Plymouth Argyle 8 1994
Plymouth Argyle made the long trip north to Hartlepool United for a Third Division clash in May 1994 and left Victoria Park with all three points and a hatful of goals scored. Dwight Marshall set the visitors on their way with a 29th minute strike and Steve McCall added a second ten minutes later. Richard Landon and Paul Dalton made it 4-0 at half-time and there was no let-up after the break as Landon hit number five. Steve Castle added yet another goal before Hartlepool midfielder Nicky Peverell grabbed a consolation effort with 20 minutes remaining. Landon completed his hat-trick on 77 minutes to restore Argyle’s six goal advantage and midfielder Paul Dalton completed the scoring with a minute to go, as the Devon side racked up a remarkable 8-1 away win.
3: Oldham Athletic 1 Cardiff City 7 2002
Division Two promotion rivals Oldham Athletic and Cardiff City met at Boundary Park in March 2002, where it was the visitors who prevailed by some scoreline.
Veteran Scottish goalkeeper Andy Goram played for Oldham the club between 1981 and 1987 and was brought in by boss Mick Wadsworth to resolve a goalkeeping crisis for this match, but he found himself conceding seven goals. Scott Young put the Bluebirds ahead early on before Leo Fortune-West and Peter Thorne gave them a 3-0 lead after just 23 minutes.
Andy Campbell made it four half an hour in before Oldham’s Matty Appleby was sent off. Fortune-West hit the fifth and his second of the afternoon just before half-time and after the break striker Campbell completed his hat-trick, netting in the 64th and 73rd minutes. Stuart Balmer pulled a goal back for Oldham, a mere consolation sixteen minutes from the end which did little to gloss over a very poor performance from the Lancashire outfit.
2: Torquay United 1 Scunthorpe United 8 1995
In October 1995 Scunthorpe United equalled their club-record victory as they thrashed a lacklustre Torquay United 8-1 at Plainmoor. Torquay had made the Division Three playoffs the season before but lost in the semi-finals to Preston North End, however they suffered a play-off hangover at the start of the 1995/96 campaign which culminated with the 8-1 reversal at the hands of the Iron.
Future Torquay striker Andy MacFarlane caught the eye as he netted four goals but the manner of the defeat hit Torquay chairman Mike Bateson hard, admitting he could have sacked the vast majority of the players who took to the field for the game. Instead he relieved manager Don O’Riordan of his duties in a bid to turn around the club’s fortunes. See the goals from the game in the clip below.
1: Norwich City 1 Colchester United 7 2009
Colchester United manager Paul Lambert inspired his side to a remarkable 7-1 win at newly-relegated Norwich City on the first day of the 2009/10 League One season, putting himself in the frame for the manager’s job at Carrow Road in the process.
As Norwich City began life in the third tier for the first time in half a century, no one saw this result coming. Kevin Lisbie gave the U’s the lead after ten minutes, Clive Platt netted twice, David Fox netted from a free-kick and Lisbie found the net again as Norwich were 5-0 down within 38 minutes. Cody McDonald netted for the Canaries after the break but David Perkins’ volley and Scott Vernon’s close-range finish made it 7-1 to the visitors – a fantastic performance from Lambert’s side inflicting Norwich’s heaviest home defeat in their 109 year history.
Norwich sacked manager Bryan Gunn within a week of the thrashing and turned to the man who helped deliver it, Lambert being appointed Norwich boss soon after. He galvanised the Norfolk outfit and led them to promotion as Champions, before embarking on a memorable season the following campaign as the Canaries finished 2nd in the Championship to secure Premier League football for the first time since 2005.
Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up podcast member and blogger
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After Peterborough United’s 7-1 demolition job over Ipswich Town on Saturday, it is only fitting that this week’s top ten takes a look at some other big victories in Football League history.
Football is all about putting the ball into the opposition’s net and the vast majority of league fixtures will be settled by a couple of goals at the most. Sometimes there are dull, drab affairs with little goalmouth action, however occasionally there are matches which go against the norm.
Defences go walkabout while attacking sides run riot, having the sort of goal-gluttinous day they can only dream about. One goal quickly turns to two, two to three, three to four…..you get the picture. As one team bangs them in, the other looks on in bemusement and suffers complete embarassment. Such games go down in folklore – for the winning team anyway. Here’s ten memorable games from the Football League where one of the sides involved went goal-crazy:
10: Portsmouth 6 Leicester City 1 2010
Seven games into last season, both Portsmouth and Leicester found themselves nestled at the wrong end of the Championship table. Pompey, under new boss Steve Cotterill, were attempting to rebuild after Premier League relegation months before, amid financial woes which saw Cotterill working with a small, depleted squad. Leicester, having finished in the play-off spots the season before also had a new man in charge, Paolo Sousa, but the Portugese only picked up five points from his first seven matches and it was about to get worse for The Foxes.
Having beaten Pompey in the Carling Cup a few days previously, Leicester stayed on the South Coast ahead of this Friday night fixture, which got off to a bad start as centre-back Michael Morrison handled the ball in the box ten minutes in, Liam Lawrence converting the resulting penalty. Lawrence added a second twelve minutes before the break and as the teams headed off at half-time with the score 2-0, few could have predicted what would happen during the next 45 minutes.
Thirteen minutes into the second half David Nugent’s finish from a tight angle made it 3-0 then the striker turned provider for Dave Kitson, as he set up the former Reading man who netted with a chipped effort. Down to ten men after Migel Vitor rugby-tackled Nugent during the first period, Leicester’s defending went array follwoing Steve Howard’s consolation goal for 4-1. Kitson grabbed his second after the Foxes failed to clear a corner and then Michael Brown went on a sauntering run from midfield before slotting home from an acute angle to make the score 6-1. Leicester were humbled and Sousa was axed not long after with former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson arriving to steer the East Midlanders to mid-table safety come the end of the season.
9: Burnley 2 Sheffield Wednesday 7 2003
This game involved a side already relegated from Division One. Neutrals looking at the scoreline would’ve thought that team were Burnley, instead it was Sheffield Wednesday, doomed to the drop, who would sign off their campaign in the second tier with a thumping victory at Turf Moor.
Paul McLaren opened the scoring for the visitors with a long-range effort which Burnley goalkeeper Nic Michopoulous failed to save. Two minutes later Ashley Westwood added a second with a close-range tap-in from the brilliantly named Brian Barry-Murphy’s left-wing cross. It got worse for the hosts as Ian Moore was sent off on 21 minutes for a cynical challenge on Barry-Murphy.
Defender Richard Wood made it 3-0 to Wednesday, his first senior goal coming as he volleyed home Grant Holt’s header. Burnley manager Stan Ternent hauled off Michopoulous, replacing him with sub-goalie Marlon Beresford. The Clarets pulled one back through a Robbie Blake penalty but the substitution failed to stem the flow of goals. A minute after the break, Richard Evans beat Beresford with a cross-cum-shot from 35 yards before Blake pegged The Owls back again with a left-footed drive.
Chris Turner’s side quickly restored their three goal advantage as Steven Haslam scored from Alan Quinn’s free-kick and within seven minutes they had another. Burnley’s French defender Artur Gnohere put Grant Holt’s cross past his own goalkeeper before Wednesday set the seal on their performance as Quinn hit an excellent 30-yard drive past Beresford for an unexpected 7-2 away win.
8: Oldham Athletic 1 Cardiff City 7 2002
In the 2001/02 season both Oldham Athletic and Cardiff City were gunning for promotion from Division Two and the sides met at Boundary Park in March 2002, where Cardiff sent out a real statement of intent, leaving their hosts stunned.
It was a nightmare return to the Latics for veteran Scottish goalkeeper Andy Goram. He played for the club between 1981 and 1987 and was brought in by boss Mick Wadsworth to resolve a goalkeeping crisis, which he could not solve as he shipped seven goals. Scott Young put the Bluebirds ahead early on before Leo Fortune-West and Peter Thorne gave them a 3-0 lead after just 23 minutes.
Andy Campbell made it four half an hour in before Oldham’s Matty Appleby was sent off making his side’s day even worse. Fortune-West hit the fifth and his second of the afternoon just before half-time and after the break striker Campbell completed his hat-trick, netting in the 64th and 73rd minutes. Stuart Balmer pulled a goal back for Oldham, a mere consolation sixteen minutes from the end which did little to hide the total embarassment his side suffered.
7: Nottingham Forest 7 Swindon Town 1 2006
After Nottingham Forest suffered relegation into League One in 2005 they struggled to adapt to life in the third tier under manager Gary Megson. A series of humbling defeats at the likes of Yeovil and Oldham saw Megson leave by mutual consent in February with the team 13th in the table, four points off relegation. Assistant manager Frank Barlow and coach Ian McParland jointly took charge until the end of the season and resided over an fantastic run which nearly saw the Reds reach the playoffs as they won 8, drew 4 and lost 1 of the pair’s 13 games in charge. The highlight came during their second match in the dugout as the Reds ran riot against Swindon Town.
Nicky Southall bagged a hat-trick as the Reds stuck seven past their visitors at the City Ground, Southall opening the scoring just three minutes in with a half-volley which flew into the top corner. Wes Morgan and Ian Breckin nodded home corners to make the score 3-0 before the half-hour mark. After the break Swindon continued to ship goals as Forest’s passing football and the pace of Nathan Tyson down the left stretched them, Southall heading home his second goal before rifling home from close-range to complete his hat-trick. Morgan scored his second from another corner before Jerel Ifil received his marching orders for Swindon.
Football League journeyman Trevor Benjamin netted a consolation for The Robins, but Forest finished off the rout as Jack Lester’s deflected effort looped into the net to complete a memorable afternoon’s football for the Reds.
6: Preston North End 6 Cardiff City 0 2009
Two teams hoping to secure Championship play-off spots met at Deepdale in April 2009 and while the result may not have instantly affected Cardiff’s chances of a top-six finish, come the end of the season they would go on to rue their heavy defeat.
Neil Mellor opened the scoring on 17 minutes as his strike deflected into the net off Cardiff defender Roger Johnson then made it two on 41 as he got the final touch to another deflected effort, this time from captain Paul McKenna. Billy Jones then conceded a penalty, offering the Bluebirds a chance to get back into the game, but Ross McCormack saw his spot-kick superbly saved by Andy Lonergan.
In the second half Jon Parkin made it 3-0 as he raced onto Mellor’s pass and slotted a composed finish beyond the on-rushing Stuart Taylor and Mellor contributed to Preston’s fourth as his cross was headed into his own net by Mark Kennedy. Mellor was soon replaced but the goals kept coming as sub Chris Brown headed a fifth with fifteen minutes to go and Lee Williamson completed the scoring, making it a 6-0 thrashing four minutes from the end.
On the final day of the season Preston beat QPR 2-1 while Cardiff lost 1-0 against Sheffield Wednesday leaving the two sides level on points and a goal difference each of +12. By virtue of goals scored it was Preston who occupied the final play-off place having scored 66 goals to Cardiff’s 65 – an agonising near miss from Dave Jones’ men courtesy of that 6-0 defeat.
5: Millwall 1 Watford 6 2010
Newly-promoted Millwall went into this Championship encounter against Watford proudly defending a ten month unbeaten record at home. Ironic then that their defenders went missing as the Hornets racked up an unexpected five-goal win at the New Den in September last year.
John Eustace bundled home Don Cowie’s corner after seven minutes to give Watford the lead, which Jordon Mutch extended six minutes later, lashing the ball into the back of David Forde’s net after seeing his first effort blocked. Marvin Sordell’s left-footed effort rolled over the line two minutes into first-half stoppage time leaving Millwall 3-0 down at the break.
Nine minutes after the restart another Cowie corner was not dealt with by the Lions and Adrian Mariappa took advantage, heading Watford into a four goal lead. Liam Trotter reduced it to three two minutes later but that was as good as it got for the hosts, Danny Graham rifling a powerful finish into the top corner to restore the four goal cushion for Malky Mackay’s side. They got a sixth in added time as Martin Taylor directed a header low into the bottom corner to compound Millwall’s misery.
4: Peterborough United 7 Ipswich Town 1 2011
Darren Ferguson returned to London Road midway through last season and steered them to promotion via the League One play-offs. He’s done it before in 2009 but as was well-publicised, he left the club a few games into the Championship season which saw Posh relegated amid a host of managerial changes. You sense the club has learned from that experience, Ferguson too from his unsuccessful time as Preston boss and all parties are better for it now. At the weekend they hosted Paul Jewell’s Ipswich Town and blew them away with a performance which has made the rest of the league sit up and take notice. The loss of 35-goal man Craig Mackail-Smith to Brighton left some fearing whether Posh would have the firepower to compete in the second tier but with Paul Taylor, Lee Tomlin, and Grant McCann finding the net they have goals in the team. It was the visitors who went in front though as midfielder Keith Andrews slammed a 25-yard effort in off the post. Paul Taylor levelled with a fine volley from the edge of the area and Tomlin made it 2-1, chesting down a lofted ball forward, skillfully turning away from his marker and hitting an excellent shot into the far top corner. Taylor then pounced on a loose ball and sprinted away from the Ipswich defenders before slotting a composed finish past goalkeeper David Stockdale. Soon it was 4-1 as Tomlin grabbed his second, running onto McCann’s superb through ball and cooly rolling the ball through the ‘keeper’s legs.
Ipswich winger Lee Martin then saw red for a rash challenge on Mark Little and the controversial decisions continued as, 71 seconds after the break, Town subsitute Tommy Smith was sent off for bringing down Tomlin in the D, outside the penalty area. Despite that, the referee gave a penalty which McCann stepped up and scored with applom. Ten minutes after the break it was six as Lee Frecklington’s low cross was converted, via a deflection, by McCann for his second. In injury time the impressive Tomlin completed his hat-trick, following up on his cleared effort to make it 7-1, leaving Ipswich boss Paul Jewell reflecting on what he called an ‘embarassing’ defeat.
3: Hartlepool United 1 Plymouth Argyle 8 1994
This Third Division clash in May 1994 saw a relegated side host a promoted one and the gulf in class was easy to see, Plymouth Argyle thrashing United as they looked forward to a place in the third tier. Dwight Marshall set the visitors on their way with a 29th minute strike and Steve McCall added a second ten minutes later. Richard Landon and Paul Dalton made it 4-0 at half-time and there was no let-up after the break as Landon hit number 5. Steve Castle added yet another goal before Hartlepool midfielder Nicky Peverell grabbed a consolation effort with 20 minutes remaining. Landon completed his hat-trick on 77 minutes to restore Argyle’s six goal advantage and midfielder Paul Dalton completed the scoring with a minute to go, as the Devon side racked up a remarkable 8-1 away win.
2: Crewe Alexandra 8 Cheltenham Town 1 2010
One of the stand-out performances in the Football League last year came at the Alexandra Stadium as Crewe Alexandra decimated visitors Cheltenham, hitting eight goals as they chased a play-off place.
Clayton Donaldson opened the scoring for the hosts four minutes in, slotting home from Shaun Miller’s pass. The latter then added the second as he tapped in from Danny Shelley’s pass before Shelley laid on the third for Donaldson. Joel Grant made it four just before half-time and Cheltenham pulled one back after the break, Wesley Thomas with a close-range finish. Alexandra midfielder Ashley Westwood scored his side’s fifth as he converted Matt Tootle’s cross and Donaldson completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Steve Elliott handled in the area. Grant scored his second with a tap in and got his own treble with two minutes remaining as he netted Crewe’s second penalty of the match, awarded following a trip on Donaldson in the area. It would be a long trip home south for the travelling Cheltenham fans.
1: Norwich City 1 Colchester United 7 2009
As Norwich City began life in the third tier for the first time in half a century, no one could have predicted their opening day result at home to Colchester United as the visitors secured a memorable 7-1 victory in front of a stunned Carrow Road.
Kevin Lisbie gave the U’s the lead after ten minutes, Clive Platt netted twice, David Fox netted from a free-kick and Lisbie found the net again as Norwich were 5-0 down within 38 minutes. Cody McDonald netted for the Canaries after the break but David Perkins’ volley and Scott Vernon’s close-range finish made it 7-1 to the visitors – a fantastic performance from Paul Lambert’s side inflicting Norwich’s heaviest home defeat in their 109 year history.
Norwich sacked manager Bryan Gunn within a week of the thrashing and turned to the man who masterminded it, Lambert being appointed the new boss at Carrow Road. He galvanised the team and led them to promotion as Champions, before embarking on a memorable season the following campaign as the Canaries finished 2nd in the Championship to secure Premier League football for the first time since 2005.
Written by Steven Toplis, We Are Going Up blogger
Tweet Steven at @steven_toplis with your suggestions for Toppo’s Top Tens.
Four games into the season now for Crewe and after shipping 10 goals, we find ourselves in the bottom two in the Football League and out of the League Cup.
Whilst writing my first blog, I found myself talking about excitement, optimism and expectancy, but now (I am aware I shouldn’t be making a U Turn after half a month of football) I am dreading the remaining 43 league games we have left.
Crewe Alex are a unique football club. People always recognise them for (trying to play) attractive passing football and through their leader, Dario Gradi, who is in his 28th Year of management with the Railwaymen. Crewe’s structure is a great base for any football club, but this season, it’s just not working.
Crewe have played some excellent football in the opening four games. Dominated large parts of each game they have played in, but we have lost all four. Rotherham on Tuesday night was an example. Crewe had plenty of chances in front of goal and seemed to be keeping Adam Le Fondre extremely quiet. That was until midway through the first half when two defensive errors gifted him a simple chance to open the scoring. Which he did.
Never mind, Crewe would get back into it (I thought). More pressure from The Alex led to missed chances and fans started to get more frustrated with the fact we couldn’t make the most when dominating a match. Cue another defensive error. 0-2.
Sighs, negative chanting, fans leaving the ground. Still around 20 minutes to go, but it was once again the same old story for Crewe and a lot of fans had had enough.
After hitting back via a well worked goal and then continuing to pepper the goal with no reward, I began asking myself if Crewe would ever get a point this season. Ok, maybe a bit extreme, but if we couldn’t win or draw when we were playing some fantastic football, when were we going to finally get off the mark?
It has come out in recent weeks that Dario’s mentality is, “as long as we can score more than them, we will be fine” that was evident last season as we finished as top scorers of the division, but failed to make the playoffs. After Clayton Donaldson, the league’s top scorer, left on a free, Dario had a whole summer to find a replacement. We are still waiting. This has meant a lack of goals, which means no points. (Points mean prizes)
According to the senior players, the camp remains confident, but as we continue this tough run of games, will the fans share the belief that we can do something this season? The play-offs seemed a high possibility at the start of August, but now I’m just hoping that we avoid the clutches of the Blue Square Premier and remain a respected club in the Football League.
Written by Hugh Wilson, We Are Going Up’s Crewe Alexandra Blogger