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ANDREW VORCE - Monday, March 7, 2011
Stuart Holden's Bolton scrapped their way past Brad Friedel's wasteful Aston Villa while Clint Dempsey and Fulham won at home to Jermaine Jones' Blackburn in a feisty weekend in English action.

Bolton 3 - 2 Aston Villa

Brad Friedel will be furious with his team as they squandered chance after chance and allowed Stuart Holden's Bolton to fight back for the win.

Aston Villa lacked the killer instinct with chance after chance to put the game to bed gone begging. Darren Bent missed at least two chances, with Stewart Downing missing a sitter after being teed up by Marc Albrighton. Ashley Young even had a penalty saved in Aston Villa's flurry of attempts

The game was of the highest caliber as the game went from end to end. The first goal came in the 14th minute as Bent had already missed a guilt edged chance after being sent one on one with Jussi Jaaskelainen. Instead of rueing his chance the striker bounced back and finished his next opportunity. Holden failed to close down Kyle Walker and his inch perfect cross fell to Bent for the tap in.

Gary Cahill netted against his former club on the stroke of half time to send the teams down the tunnel on a level playing field. Martin Petrov whipped in the corner and the young Villa back four stayed with their markers but were unable to win the header as Cahill's header glanced past Friedel.

Villa had chance after chance but finally made it 2-1 as Marc Albrighton finished at the back post in the 64th minute. Albrighton's finish was a carbon copy of the miss a few minutes earlier on his cross to Downing. Young was awarded a free kick and the striker refused to look at the keeper to keep himself from being psyched out, but Jaaskelainen did make the save.

Cahill made Villa pay as he again won a header from a corner with Holden sending in the delivery. His header wad deflected wide and the defender reacted the quickest as his half volley hit the back of the net in the 75th minute. With just four minutes left to go Bolton completed the heroic comeback through a team effort.

Refusing to let the game ride out as a draw Bolton sent wave after wave of attacks at the Villa back wall which eventually broke. Daniel Sturridge sent in a deep ball which David Weater headed down to Ivan Klasnic who fired home the game winner.

The game was a full blooded one with multiple hard challenges, but the players did well to not over embellish a single challenge in the game. Bolton saw Johan Elmander, Holden, Jaaskelainen, Gretar Rafn Steinsson, and Wheater all booked. Villa also had Ciaran Clark and Walker booked to equal a total of seven yellow cards in the game.

Bolton face Birmingham on Saturday while Aston Villa play at home to Wolves on Saturday. Michael Bradley remained on the bench for Villa.

Fulham 3 - 2 Blackburn

Fulham's opener came in the 37th minute after chances at either side went begging. Clever play found Damien Duff on the right hand side of play and the winger cut in on his left foot and let rip. Paul Robinson was able to get a hand to it but the ball turned goalwards before he could stop it.

Just before the halftime whistle Blackburn leveled things up through a bit of fortune in the Fulham 18 yard box. The home team was unable to clear their lines and as the swarm of players grew as Grant Hanley's eventual shot ricocheted off of the head of Brede Hangeland for the own goal.

Referee Mark Clattenburg was forced to make his second decision on a penalty kick after earlier failing to award Andrew Johnson a penalty after Christopher Samba made a late challenge on the striker. Dempsey was the player fouled this time, skipping his way through the Blackburn defense before falling to ground. The referee gave neither decision.

Fulham eventually got the break through as Duff again pushed his team ahead. Moussa Dembele laid the ball off to the winger who again quickly took his shot and Robinson was beaten by the sheer velocity of it. David Hoilett equalized just six minutes later in the 65th minute after Jason Roberts kept the play alive as it nearly crossed over the byline. Taking a controlling touch with his chest Hoilett let rip from 12 yards out for the equalizer.

Clattenburg again was at the center of attention as Johnson looked to be fouled in the area as Hanley went to ground on the striker, but no penalty was given. On the ensuing corner kick Hanley grabbed Aaron Hughes to gain leverage and finally the referee pointed to the spot and gave the penalty. Having been sidelined for months with an injury, second half substitute Bobby Zamora stepped up to win the game.

Chris Baird and Dickson Etuhu were both booked for Fulham while Hanley, Jones, and Roberts were booked for Blackburn. Fulham face Everton on Saturday while Blackburn play host to Blackpool in a must win Saturday game.

Newcastle 1 - 2 Everton

Tim Howard will consider himself partly at fault for Newcastle's goal but Everton fought back to win on the road at St. James Park.

In the first time Newcastle threatened down the left hand side as Kevin Nolan was released inside the 18. Howard could only half save his close range shot as he parried it across the face of goal to the unmarked Leon Best who headed home into the empty net in the 23rd minute.

Leon Osman started and ended the equalizing goal in the 31st minute after picking up possession on the right flank. Skipping past a Newcastle midfielder the Everton man raced through the middle after being uncontested. He picked out teammate Mikel Arteta who was on the left hand side completely unmarked and the Spanish midfielder returned the ball for Osman to thump through the crowd and home.

Just four minutes later Everton had secured the win through a dangerous free kick delivered by Leighton Baines. The inswinging ball missed almost everyone but Phil Jagielka made the last ditch effort to get a foot on it and his shot hit off the underside of the crossbar and in for the game winner.

Best thought he had another in the second half but he was adjudged to have fouled his defender before winning his header which he sent over Howard. Everton controlled the second half however and could have scored three or four more by the final whistle.

Victor Anichebe, Baines, John Heitinga, and Tony Hibbert were all booked for Everton while Nolan and Steven Taylor were booked for Newcastle. Everton are back at home on Wednesday as Birmingham travel to Goodison Park.

Norwich City 1-1 Preston North End

Zak Whitbread and Norwich City tied Eddie Johnson and Preston North End in Championship action.

Whitbread started and went 56 minutes for the Canaries, though he had to be subbed of after an apparent back injury. Johnson went the distance for North End.

Chris Brown opened the scoring for Preston in the 60th minute after volleying a Keith Tracey pass.

Grant Holt though leveled the score only two minutes later for Norwich, after an Andrew Surman shot rebounded to him and he cleanly slotted home.

In the 72nd minute, the Canaries were gifted with a remarkable chance to take the lead after Preston's Darren Carter was called for a handball in the box. Wesley Hoolahan though missed the ensuing penalty kick.

Norwich's Henri Lansbury, Russel Martin, Holt, and Aaron Wilbrham received yellow cards, while Billy Jones and Iain Hume were booked for North End.

Leeds United 5-2 Doncaster

Eric Lichaj and Leeds United easily beat Doncaster in Championship play this weekend.

Lichaj started and went the distance for United.

Leeds opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Max Gradel drove a shot into the bottom left corner of Doncaster's goal.

Billy Sharp though tied the game before half time for Doncaster after he pounced on his own rebound and sneaked his shot by Leeds' goalie Kasper Schmeichel.

Frank Moussa gave Doncaster the lead only moments later when he broke free and left footed a shot from just inside the penalty area.

Though, with the celebration having barely just ended, Jonathan Howsen sent a shot in from 22 yards out to equalize for Leeds.

Luciano Becchio gave United the lead in the 75th minute after he received a pass from Leigh Bromby and shot home from 8 yards out.

Gradel scored again for United in the 82nd minute of the game when he fired a shot off of a rebound.

With only moments left in the game, Howsen scored again for Leeds when he found space and easily slotted home.

Paul Keegan of Doncaster was the only player booked for either team.

Carlisle United 3-4 Brighton

Frank Simek and Carlisle United went down to Brighton in a game featuring plenty of scoring.

Simek started and went the distance for the Cumbrians.

Tom Taiwo's shot from the edge of the box opened the scoring in only the third minute for Carlisle, stunning the Seagulls immediately.

It was the 17th minute when Brighton leveled the score as Ashley Barnes found Glenn Murray who beat Carlisle goalie Adam Collin.

In the 53rd minute, Barnes gave Brighton the lead with a powerful angled shot.

After clever passing from Francois Zoko and James Berrett, Ben Marshall was opened up and scored to give Carlisle the tying goal in the 60th minute.

Only moments later Barnes scored again for Brighton, having scored off of a shot that went off the post.

Harry Arter looked to have given the Cumbrians a decisive goal to give them the tie, but with only seconds left in the game Liam Bridcutt gave Brighton the dramatic winner.

Tommy Elphick received a yellow for Brighton while Craig Curran was booked for the Cumbrians.

Swindon Town 0-0 Walsall

Mike Grella and Swindon Town tied Walsall in League One play.

Grella started and went the distance for his new team.

With both teams desperately needing points in order to fight off relegation, neither team could produce any offense and help their cause.

Swindon nearly scored when Grella pounced on a Walsall mistake, but his shot went wide and did not get on goal.

Jonathan Douglas' header went off the post at the beginning of the second half for Swindon, but again luck was no on their side.

With moments left in the game, Town's Michael Rose let fly an impressive shot that was saved by Walsall's James Walker, preserving the tie.

Oliver Lancashite and Julian Gray were booked for Walsall.


Jonathan Spector was on the bench for Wolves who won 3-0 at home over Stoke City to lift themselves out of the relegation zone.

Marcus Hahnemann was on the bench for Wolves who battled to a 3-3 home draw with Tottenham.

Anton Peterlin dressed but did not feature in Plymouth's win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Jon-Paul Pittman played the final five minutes in Wycombe's tie to Aldershot.

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