Goal! Bristol City 2-0 West Brom (Scott 28)
West Brom in trouble here as the midfielder arrives with perfect timing to turn home a cross from the right. In the Championship, Watford miss a glorious chance to go ahead against the run of play at Middlesbrough, Matheus Martins striding through confidently before shinning his shot wildly over the bar.
Goal! Southampton 1-0 Blackpool
Romain Perraud rewards the handful of Saints fans at St Mary’s this afternoon by rifling a free-kick through the wall. Further down the pyramid, Jordan Garrick cuts in from the left and belts in a sublime goal to to mark the start of Forest Green’s Big Dunc era and Duncan Culley doubles up to make it Walthamstow 2-0 FC Romania.
James Tavernier fires home from the spot to give Rangers the lead against St Johnstone and, for now at least, reduce the gap at the top to six points. Aberdeen are in big trouble, 2-0 down at Hibs within 10 minutes thanks to a Josh Campbell brace. Aberdeen lost to sixth-tier Darvel last week, after which the chairman released a statement saying the result “added insult to injury” and that manager Jim Goodwin “has been left in no doubt that the Board and the fans are seeking an immediate response from him and the players”. Eeek.
Goal! Bristol City 1-0 West Brom
Sam Bell returns a half-hearted clearance with interest, bending in a great strike to put the hosts ahead. Elsewhere, former bright young thing Aaron Connolly rattles home from just inside the box to put Hull ahead against QPR in the Championship. And Gillingham go 3-1 up – four goals in the first 13 minutes – with a glancing header from Tom Nicholls.
Goal! Fulham 0-1 Sunderland (Clarke 6)
Sunderland go ahead at Craven Cottage after Jack Clarke pickpockets Kenny Tete and shapes a lovely strike into the far corner. The fun continues at Swindon, where Gillingham are 2-1 after getting a penalty for blasting the ball into a defender’s face.
Goal! Blackburn 0-1 Birmingham (Khadra 6)
Birmingham open the scoring at Ewood Park, Reda Khadra sneaking home an effort thanks to some suspect goalkeeping. Swindon and Gillingham have exchanged a pair of early goals within the first three minutes. And Walthamstow have taken an early lead against FC Romania, Duncan Culley converting coolly from the spot.
Our reports are in from Leicester’s narrow win at Walsall (the Poundland Bescot Stadium)…
… and Leeds’ defeat of Accrington (at the Wham Stadium):
Here’s Richard Woods: “Morning Alex. I’m settling down in front of i-follow at 7am in Vancouver to watch Morecambe vs the Mighty Gas, while sighing at what might have been, as I always do when FA Cup round four comes around. Any news on Stafford Rangers? I used to watch them when I was at university.”
I can tell you they host relegation-threatened Marske United (managed by former Sheffield United and Birmingham midfielder Curtis Woodhouse) in the bewilderingly named Northern Premier League Premier Division. All the news as I get it.
And Simon McMahon gives us the run-down north of the border: “Afternoon Alex. As well as St Johnstone v Rangers, there will be a few eyes on Easter Road this afternoon where Hibs ‘entertain’ Aberdeen. Both managers are under severe pressure due to indifferent league form and high profile Scottish Cup exits last week, Hibs to city rivals Hearts, and Aberdeen to sixth-tier Darvel in one of the great cupsets. What price the draw, a result that might keep both in a job, at least temporarily. Ross County host Kilmarnock in a match with big implications for the teams at the bottom, including Dundee United, who play Celtic at Tannadice tomorrow. In the Scottish Championship leaders Queens Park face third placed Dundee at Dens.”
A lovely little history lesson from Richard Hirst: “Can I crave indulgence for the old and grey and nominate Fulham v Sunderland as the Vic Halom Derby? Then I can wax nostalgic about the halcyon days of 4-2-4 (look it up kids) and the Fulham forward line of Conway, Halom, Earle and Barrett which terrorised Division 3 (more looking up) defences in 1969/70 and 1970/71 – culminating in promotion in 70/71, but not as champions thanks to losing a last match of the season shoot out with Preston for top spot, due in large part to a glaring miss by … Vic Halom.”
Also in that division, Duncan Ferguson’s Forest Green side go to Shrewsbury in the Scot’s first game ever as a full-time manager – his appointment at the New Lawn Stadium making him football’s most terrifying eco-warrior. And with Forest Green rooted to the bottom of the table, it’s an unenviable job. Can the man who once knocked out a burglar smuggle his new side to safety?
And in League One, Bolton go home from Charlton with a 2-1 win, Dion Charles punished some sohddy defending to tap in the winner after a wondergoal apiece by Aaron Morley and Albie Morgan.
In today’s early cup games, Leicester have crept past Walsall thanks to a jammy deflected goal from Kelechi Iheanacho and Leeds have put Accrington to the sword 3-1, Jack Harrison opening the scoring in tasty style:
January is always thick-and-fast season, but this may be the thickest, fastest January of them all. With a World Cup’s worth of missed fixtures to play, today’s cramming session takes in the FA Cup fourth round – including Blackpool’s trip to Southampton and Fulham against Sunderland (AKA the Steed Malbranque Derby) – as well as full-ish schedules in Leagues One and Two and another four in the Championship, including a face-off between two promotion hopefuls in Middlesbrough and Watford.
More exotically, Rangers host St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership, Barcelona head to Girona in La Liga, and in Germany high-flying Union Berlin head across town to Hertha. And in the Southern League Division 1 Central, Walthamstow FC host FC Romania – which should be a simple three points but as we all know, there’s no easy games at that level.
Needless to say, you’ll be kept up to date with it all here. Get the kettle on.