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Weekend Football review
After a disappointing round of midweek fixtures across the West Midlands, how did our teams fare this weekend?
West Brom 1-1 Burnley
Burnley were the visitors to The Hawthorns on Friday night as West Brom looked to kick start their campaign.
It was always going to be a tough game as Burnley had invested heavily after their relegation from the Premier League last season, making Burnley one of the favourites for automatic promotion.
A win would take Burnley top of the table and when Burnley’s Nathan Tella was brought down in the box by David Button in the 30th minute, Burnley had the perfect opportunity to take the lead.
Former West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez stepped up and put the penalty past Button to give Burnley the lead.
It was a close game with both teams hitting the woodwork but unable to convert their chances. Much like most of the season so far, the Baggies lacked a killer instinct until late in the second half when debutant Thomas-Asante scored from 6 yards to earn West Brom a point.
98th minute equalisers seems to be en vogue in football this week and the Hawthorns erupted when Burnley failed to clear John Swift’s cross into the box and it fell for Thomas-Asante.
It was a fair result in the end but Burnley will feel hard done by conceding late on. The point leaves West Brom 15th in the league but with still only one win so far this season, their form needs to improve. With a trip to CBS Arena next week against Coventry, they’ll be looking to get all 3 pints as well as bragging rights.
Wolves 1-0 Southampton
Wolves had finally dipped into the transfer market and got themselves a striker in the form of Sasa Kalajdzic from Stuttgart. The £15m man made his debut at home to Southampton as Wolves got a much needed win.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Wolves and Kalajdzic as he pulled up just before half time with an injured calf, being taken off at the break, only playing 45 minutes.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Wolves, who cannot seem to keep strikers fit, as just before half time a Matheus Nunes cross found Daniel Podence alone in the box. Podence made no no mistake in slotting the ball past Saint’s keeper Bazunu to win the game for Wolves.
It was a much needed three points for Wolves and their first of the season. It will see the pressure be taken off manager Bruno Lage but with a trip to Anfield up next, it’s going to be tough for Wolves to get any momentum.
Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester City
With 9 goals in 5 games so far this season and with Villa’s poor record at home against Man City, it looked like Erling Haaland could be on course to get his 3rd hattrick in as many games.
Whilst the midweek loss to Arsenal saw an overall improvement on the pitch, Villa’s inability to not concede after scoring themselves proved to be their undoing again. The last team you really want to come up against is Man City when you keep leaking goals.
Villa started the game confidently and were able to restrict City to long distant and speculative chances. De Bruyne had a chance from 25 yards out and then turned provider for Gundogan 5 minutes later, with Gundogan unable to get his chance on target.
Things got tricky for Villa when Matt Cash, one of their most consistent performers, had to come off with an injury on 25 minutes. Replaced by Ashley Young, the substitution seemed to have disrupted Man City’s rhythm.
Man City kept chipping away but never created any clear cut chances. With Villa playing very much on the break, Young managed to win the ball from De Bruyne and Douglas Luiz managed to find Watkins who cut inside from the left and saw his chance deflected just wide.
4 minutes into the second half and the inevitable happened, Man City worked the ball down the right and a De Bruyne cross was met by Haaland alone at the back post to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Villa heads didn't drop, as has happened in games this season though and the home side seemed to gain momentum.
Ramsey won possession in the middle of the park and played a nice one-two with Watkins as Villa broke on the counter. With Ramsey one on one with City keeper Ederson, his first touch let him down and Ederson was able to get to the ball first.
Villa didn't give up though and after riding out a 5 minute spell where Man City hit the bar twice, Ramsey picked the ball up 30 yards out and drove into the Man City area. A low cross found Bailey 12 yards out and Jamaican smashed the ball past Ederson for his first goal of the season.
Villa then had the ball in the back of the net again with 10 minutes left on the clock. A disastrous offside call by the linesman on Coutinho, who was at least a yard onside, was given by the referee, before Coutinho placed the ball in the top corner. Because the referee had already blown his whistle and awarded the offside, apparently VAR cannot intervene.
It ended 1-1 and was a much better performance than many Villa fans have come to expect in recent weeks and give Steven Gerrard a little breathing room. Leicester City are next up for Villa who find themselves bottom of the table. The season starts here for Aston Villa.
Norwich 3-0 Coventry City
Fresh off the back of midweek defeat to Preston North End in their first home game of the season, Coventry travelled to Championship high fliers Norwich City.
Norwich, along with Fulham, have become somewhat of a yo-yo club in the last few years, with both sides taking it in turns to get promoted from the Championship then get relegated the following year. There wasn’t going to be an upset on the cards though, as Norwich took the lead within 15 minutes.
Coventry again conceded just before half time, on loan Villa midfielder Aaron Ramsey running into the box and squaring for the oncoming Josh Sargent, to add to Teemu Pukki’s first.
It was always going to be an uphill task for Coventry who have yet to register a win this season and the final nail in the coffin came 10 minutes from time when Dowell scored to make it three.
There isn’t much to cheer about for the Sky Blues at the moment, with 39% possession across the 90 minutes and only one shot on target, they also find themselves rooted to the foot of the table. Not even the most ardent Cov fan can be feeling positive!
Preston North End 0-1 Birmingham City
The Blues hadn’t won in 6 going into this weekend's fixture. They’d only won once, which actually took them top of the table, all season and had lost to Norwich at home midweek.
It was a must win for Birmingham, as all games are at this level but more so, to stop the rot. Tahith Chong was making his debut as a permanent Birmingham City player, signing on deadline day after being on loan at St. Andrews last term, one of three changes John Eustace made to the team that started against Norwich.
They were changes that made a difference as Maxime Colin, who also came into the starting XI, headed in from close to win the game for Blues in the 16th minute.
A long ball up top was held up by Hogan who played the ball out left to Jordan Graham. The midfielder took a touch and hit his cross to the back post where it was met by Colin to head home.
It will be a relief to City fans to get points on the board, especially away from home. With Swansea up next they have an opportunity to leapfrog them.
Bradford 2-1 Walsall
It has all started to fall apart for the Saddlers after such a promising start to the season. The loss against Bradford leaves Walsall without a win in the last 7 games in all competitions and only 2 draws.
A fairly even game, it all changed when a quick fire double from Bradford saw them go in with the lead at half time.
Bradford were well drilled and organised throughout the second half. Donervon Daniels managed to get on the score sheet for Walsall on the hour, but the Saddlers couldn’t find a way through.
Finishing the game with 24 shots, Walsall may feel like the game was theirs to take. Bradford had 3 on target and scored 2, proving at any level you need to take your chances.
Because of their bright start to the season though, this poor form hasn’t left them too far off the pace and a few good results could see them fly back up the table. Northampton travel to Poundland Bescott next, offering the perfect chance to gain ground on their rivals.
Solihull Moors 5-1 Altrincham
The rest of the West Midlands clubs could learn a lot from Solihull Moors. After suffering their first defeat of the season against Notts County midweek, the Moors bounced back in spectacular fashion, to put 5 past Altrincham.
Going in at half time 2-1 courtesy of Kelly and Maycock, Solihull were straight out of the blocks in the second half with Alex Ried scoring in the 48th minute.
Ried made 4 for Solihull and two for himself on 73 minutes and then completed his hattrick deep into stoppage time.
That sees Solihull 4th in the National League 3 points off the top of the league. Only 4 points separates top of the table Chesterfield and the final play-off spot, so it is very close at the top.
A trip to Maidstone is up next for Moors on their promotion push.
Women's World Cup Qualifier
Austria 0-2 England
The Lionesses didn’t hang about and use their success this summer as an excuse to take their foot off the gas.
England needed to win to confirm their qualification to next year's World cup in Australia and New Zealand. Despite Ellen White and Jill Scott retiring, the Ladies obliged with an early goal from Russo giving England the lead and Nikita Parris’ 69th minute goal earned the three points.
The win made it 9 out of 9 for Sarina Weigman’s team in qualification for the World Cup. It also meant a ninth clean sheet meaning England have a record of 70 goals for and 0 against.
It’s likely to be more of the same on Tuesday, when Luxembourg come to the BET365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, in the last of the qualifiers. The last game between the two sides finished in a 10-0 win for the Lionesses.
The game will be shown live on ITV kick-off 19:30
By Tom (sports editor)
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