ROUND-UP: Africans in the Football League
The Football League played its last round of fixtures before Christmas and Albert Adomah was outstanding in Middlesbrough’s 3-0 away victory over Brighton, to keep them top of the Championship over Christmas.
Bruno Ecuele Manga was introduced from the bench early on for Cardiff City, following an injury to Sean Morrison. Within two minutes of coming on the Gabon international narrowly missed with a header. Sammy Ameobi saw a first-half effort saved for the Welsh outfit, before shooting wide across goal in the second half. Jacques Maghoma and Demarai Gray both could have doubled Birmingham’s 1-0 lead after missing late second-half chances. However, a Blues’ penalty gave Birmingham a 1-0 home victory over Cardiff.
Albert Adomah was pivotal in Middlesbrough’s 3-0 victory over promotional rivals Brighton, condemning the Seagulls to their first defeat of the season. Adomah’s cross produced a goal to give Boro a fourth-minute lead at the AMEX, before the Ghana international netted a 44th-minute strike to double their half time lead. Emilio Nsue missed a chance shortly before the visitors struck their third.
Jonathan Kodjia was a real handful for former England goalkeeper Robert Green, with three good first-half chances and testing the Queens Park Rangers ‘keeper’s capabilities throughout the match. More chances for the Ivorian came in the second half, forcing Green into two further saves. “How he stopped Jonathan Kodjia scoring a couple of goals only he will know.” Bristol boss Steve Cotterill told BBC Sport. Nedum Onuoha had a chance in the second half for visitors QPR, but his defence couldn’t stay resilient for 90 minutes, as Bristol got their deserved equaliser 10 minutes from time in a 1-1 draw.
Hull City had a day to forget as they lost 2-0 to Rotherham. Moses Odubajo’s foul gifted the Millers a penalty and subsequently took the lead before the half-hour mark. Mohamed Diame replaced Odubajo after 55 minutes. Ahmed Elmohamady had a quiet game by his standards for the Tigers, while Chuba Akpom was in decent form but couldn’t find the goals Hull needed. His first effort flew over the bar, and saw another saved in the first half, before striking the post twice in the second, as the Tigers fell 2-0 behind.
Carl Ikeme saw four shots fly into the back of his net as Sheffield Wednesday convincingly beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1. Benik Afobe had given Wolves the lead from the penalty spot after 15 minutes, in what was an otherwise quiet afternoon for the Congolese striker, while Dominic Iorfa also featured.
Bengali-Fode Koita headed over after seven minutes, before his added-time effort was fantastically denied, meaning Blackburn Rovers left with nothing in a 1-0 defeat to Reading. Hope Akpan looked to cause upset against his former club, Reading, but his first-half effort was saved as Reading won their first game since Brian McDermott’s return to management at the club.
Into League One Gboly Ariyibi missed the opportunity to give Chesterfield the lead, shortly before Bradford secured the winner with 18 minutes remaining, with a 1-0 win moving Bradford up to eighth.
Deji Oshilaja squandered a glorious opportunity to get Gillingham’s fourth, as the Kent outfit won 3-0 away to Millwall on the final game before Christmas, to make the perfect present. The Nigerian also struck over the bar from close range with six minutes remaining.
Rochdale ran out 3-1 winners of Colchester United, but the Essex side took the lead after 21 minutes before George Elokobi’s foul inside the box allowed the home side to level, before going on to victory.
Sullay Kaikai missed with a header for Shrewsbury Town late in the game, as the home side looked for an equaliser after Nicky Ajose gave Swindon Town the lead. However, the Sierra Leonean was replaced moments later, due to injury and Jonathan Obika had a second-half opportunity to double Swindon’s advantage, as the Robins beat Shrewsbury 1-0.
Over in League Two, John Akinde saw an effort saved before squandering two further chances as Barnet looked to restore their lead, and with eight minutes remaining the Nigerian made it 3-2, and a further goal condemned Crawley to a 4-2 defeat.
Jabo Ibehre scored twice as Carlisle won 3-0 against Notts County at their home away from home, playing at Deepdale stadium, the home of Preston North End, after flooding at their home, Brunton Park. The Nigerian struck just before half time and again in the second half, as the Cumbrians moved within four points of an automatic promotion place. Derek Asamoah replaced the Nigerian with less than 20 minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Stanley Aborah squandered the chance for a late consolation goal for County.
Francois Zoko gave Yeovil Town the lead at Leyton Orient in first-half stoppage time, before the Londoners’ comeback in the second half earned them a 1-1 draw.
AFC Wimbledon drew 2-2 away to Newport County, but had Adebayo Akinfenwa converted his early second-half chance from close range or converted his header, then the visitors could have come away with all three points. Adebayo Azeez also squandered a second-half opportunity to win it for the visitors.
Stevenage were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Accrington Stanley after Armand Gnanduillet netted a scrappy first-minute goal to give the home side the lead. The Ivorian was left inspired by his early goal and tested Accrington ‘keeper Jason Mooney four more times, with his efforts saved on each occasion.
AFS Football League Player of the Week – Albert Adomah