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Monday, 20 February 2012

The View Outside The Premier League: Forest Force Vital Win And Plymouth Enjoy An Away Day Romp


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Sqf hugh larkin

The Football League and Blue Square Premier came out of two weekends of virtual hibernation to stage full programmes, apart from a few games made void by FA Cup involvement. In the Championship the most important victory was arguably Nottingham Forest's home win over Coventry City.

This was a real six-pointer and defeat dealt a major blow to Coventry's survival prospects. For Forest it was finally some relief after what has been a truly dreadful start to 2012. The club were already nose-diving towards League One before the tragic news of the death of owner Nigel Doughty.

There have been a lot of fingers pointed at Forest players for lack of effort this season but Steve Cotterill will have had no complaints about the shift against the Sky Blues. Better still, his goal shy players managed to hit the net twice.

Gareth McLeary and Robbie Findley were on target; neither were regulars at the start of the season but after the failure of bigger names, Cotterill may look for more from former fringe players.

During the afternoon Doncaster Rovers appeared to be heading for a strong result at Leeds but a late rally denied Rovers even a point and ensured that Forest established a small cushion to the bottom three. The club have also benefitted from Portsmouth's drop to administration and for the first time in ages there's a bit of optimism on the banks of the Trent.

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Happy days for Plymouth Argyle fans with their team posting a thumping away win at Accrington Stanley. Dagenham & Redbridge and Hereford United were both beaten at home, so Argyle fans could hardly have enjoyed a better day.

For the first time in an age Plymouth actually ended the day with three teams below them. Alex McDonald bagged two of the four goals at Accrington to make it three in three games since he joined on loan from Burnley. More and more, it seems that Plymouth will win their fight to stay in the Football League.

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After Lee Clark's shock dismissal by Huddersfield in midweek there was another example of how tough a manager's job is. Clark was heaved out with his club lying fourth - yes, fourth- in League One, so Martin Allen's removal at Notts County was less surprising - but then again, defeat to Hartlepool only left the Magpies in eleventh spot.

It remains to be seen if Huddersfield have shot themselves in the foot by jettisoning the boss who delivered a record 43-match unbeaten run earlier in the season. There are contrasting views about his tenure at the Galpharm - though results are impressive on the face of it, some fans point to the money he has had to spend and fallouts with various players.

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It was real red letter day day for the teams facing relegation at the bottom of League One. Walsall, Rochdale, Chesterfield, Exeter and Scunthorpe all racked up wins leaving Wycombe the big losers on the day as they fell at Walsall.

The bottom is looking increasingly congested and it would be a brave soul who forecast which four clubs are going to make the drop to League Two.

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Ipswich Town's very strange campaign continued. Paul Jewell's team posted a fourth victory on the bounce and two of those wins saw them dismantle promotion contenders West Ham and Cardiff City.

Yet this is the same Ipswich that lost seven games in a row not long back and have also had two runs of four successive losses this season. The Tractor Boys have now accelerated up to 16th in the table and lie closer to the play-offs (10 points away) than the relegation places (15 points away).

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Hugh Larkin

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