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Monday, 13 February 2012

The View Outside The Premier League: The Gulls Fly High But The Owls Crash Land


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Sqf hugh larkin

Another weekend of fixtures badly affected by the freezing conditions. Without undersoil heating it was the games in the far south and west that had the best chance of surviving and Torquay, Exeter City, Bristol Rovers and Hereford United all took advantage while others were forced off.

Torquay jumped two places in League Two to fourth after battling to a single goal win over promotion rivals Shrewsbury Town. This was the sixth win on the spin for Martin Ling's side and their eighth unbeaten.

Taiwo Atieno bagged the winner. The 26-year-old really qualifies for the title of journeyman professional as Torquay is the eleventh stopover in his career that has taken him in and out of the Football League. There aren't many well-known names at Plainmoor but the manager has them playing decent football.

Martin Ling was noted for his cultured style as a player at Swindon and Leyton Orient and he's formed a good impression as the boss at Orient and then Cambridge United. At the moment the Gulls are certainly the form team in the division.

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Exeter City were also able to beat the freeze and dented Sheffield Wednesday's promotion hopes by fighting back from a goal down to take all three points.

The win is a vital boost to the Grecians' hopes for survival. Teams below them have games in hand but getting points on the board is always critical in a relegation battle and being able to play while others sat the day out may be key to the rest of the campaign.

As for Wednesday, the result is a setback after a solid run that boosted them to second place in the table. The long journey back to South Yorkshire won't have been made easier by the news that Sheffield United's match went ahead and the Blades won comfortably.

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Back in League Two both Bristol Rovers and Hereford United were able to make progress in their campaigns against the drop. Hereford were only able to force a point from the match at Edgar Street but as the visitors were league leaders Cheltenham, this counts as a point won rather than two dropped.

Better still, the three teams below the Bulls were all inactive; again, points on the board are better than games in hand. Bristol Rovers also enjoyed a morale-boosting win over Morecambe and the Gas now look well capable of staying clear of the drop zone. Meanwhile, Morecambe's season is still in freefall.

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In the Championship a lot of matches did make it, although Ipswich's game with Middlesbrough had to be abandoned after frost seeped back into the pitch once the hot air covers were removed.

Boro fans had a long disappointing trip home and the same can be said of Burnley supporters. Eddie Howe's squad have been especially effective on their travels and this looked like a good time to visit Southampton.

The Saints managed to notch only their second win since the turn of the year though. Billy Sharp was brought from Doncaster to add edge to the promotion push and the striker netted his first goal for the South Coast side.

The win keeps Nigel Adkins's side hot on the heels of West Ham and maintains some distance to Birmingham City, who are positively charging up the table. On current form Chris Hughton's side will be revising their targets - in October a play-off berth would have been more than acceptable but even an automatic slot appears possible at the moment.

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The cold snap has virtually sent the Blue Square Premier into hibernation. This weekend only Stockport County beat the freeze but it was Newport County who took more satisfaction from a 2-2 draw.

County came back to force a precious point after having a man sent off; both sides are in a precarious position with the Welsh side just in the bottom four and Stockport sitting just outside the drop zone.

KickNews.net - Football News & Transfers

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Hugh Larkin

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