Tuesday 16 April 2013
Manchester United remain hopeful of winning the Elite Group after completing a well-earned victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Salford City Stadium.
A win for the Londoners would have been sufficient to see them progress to the semi-final stage as group winners but United had other ideas as Ryan Tunnicliffe’s 56th-minute goal took Warren Joyce’s side back above Liverpool and into second place.
In an eventful match the hosts had to shuffle their pack after just 10 minutes after Frederic Veseli was forced off the field on a stretcher with what looked like a hamstring pull. Tottenham soon came close to opening the scoring through Christian Ceballos and Younes Kaboul, but both were denied by Ben Amos.
United soon carved out chances of their own with Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard sending efforts just wide and Lawrence Vigouroux denying Tunnicliffe shortly before a power cut shrouded the pitch in darkness towards the end of the first half.
With light restored in the second half Ceballos sent a shot against the bar but once Spurs had lost Kaboul to injury United assumed control, Tunnicliffe giving United the lead following a fine move involving Reece James and Lingard.
Lingard was prevented from doubling the hosts’ lead by Vigouroux, while Larnell Cole struck the post with a fierce shot as United, who have a game in hand over Spurs, held on for the victory that takes them within five points of the leaders.
An added-time winner by Sanchez Watt earned Arsenal a dramatic victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in Telford.
After in-form striker Chuba Akpom had scored twice within three first-half minutes to give Steve Gatting’s side a comfortable lead, the hosts hit back in the second half with goals by Sam Whittall and Lee Evans, the latter’s 78th-minute header coming after the dismissal of Danny Boateng for a professional foul on former Arsenal player Samir Bihmoutine.
Only last week the Gunners had lost 3-2 to Liverpool courtesy of a last-minute winner but this time it was their turn to seal victory at the death as Watt, who had been denied minutes earlier, broke through to slide a left-footed shot under Alijaz Cotman from 12 yards. Arsenal lie fifth in the Elite Group, six points clear of Wolves.
Everton came from behind to complete a hard-fought victory over Middlesbrough and stretch their lead at the top of Group 1 to three points.
The Toffees, for whom Tony Hibbert completed 90 minutes as he steps up his rehabilitation from a long-term injury, were up against it as early as the second minute when Ryan Brobbel seized on a defensive error picked out Bradley Fewster to score from eight-yards out.
Everton levelled on the half-hour as Matthew Kennedy connected with a pinpoint right-wing cross by the impressive Chris Long. At the other end goalkeeper Mason Springthorpe pulled off a string of saves to deny the hosts, including a superb stop from Lewis Sirrell’s stinging drive, and Alan Stubbs’ side stretched their unbeaten sequence to 12 matches when Apostolos Velllios scored a 52nd-minute penalty after Sirrell had handled in the area. Everton are now three points clear at the top of the section with a game in hand.
Aston Villa missed the chance to close the gap at the top of Group 1 after being held to a draw by Chelsea at Villa Park.
After Alfie Crooks had given the home side the lead with a first-half strike, Milan Lalkovic equalised from the penalty spot for the Blues, but with nine minutes remaining, Villa had a chance to take all three points only for Chelsea keeper Jamal Blackman to save Daniel Johnson's penalty.
Villa now lie three points behind leaders Everton with Chelsea five points further back in fifth place with two matches remaining.
Blackburn Rovers moved eight points clear of last-placed Sunderland following a routine win over a young Black Cats outfit.
Goals from John O’Sullivan and Jordan Slew earned Blackburn victory against a side including multiple scholars and a schoolboy – second-half substitute Ethan Robson, who will join the club's Under-18 squad this summer.
Rovers were ahead after just 60 seconds when Micah Evans eluded two Sunderland defenders before sliding a pass through to O’Sullivan, who beat Jordan Pickford with an emphatic strike from the edge of the area.
Although Sunderland, who remain without a win in the second phase, went close on several occasions through Ryan Noble the visitors doubled their advantage with 20 minutes remaining as Slew received the ball wide on the right and dispatched a 25-yard shot that squirmed under the otherwise impressive Pickford.
Group 2 leaders Reading suffered a surprise defeat at Crystal Palace, who earned their second victory of the second phase thanks to first-half goals by Kwesi Appiah.
Set-pieces proved the Royals’ undoing as Appiah headed the hosts in front from a third-minute corner, and followed in at the far post with an almost identical effort from another corner on the half-hour mark.
The damage could have been worse for the visitors, who were indebted to goalkeeper Jonathan Henly for denying Alex Nimely, the provider for the first goal. Reading remain four points clear of Norwich City and Newcastle United who both have two games in hand.
John Ruddy kept a clean sheet as Norwich City kept their play-off hopes alive with a narrow away win over Bolton Wanderers at Lancashire FA.
The Canaries’ England international goalkeeper, Ruddy, who has been out for five months with a thigh injury, made his second consecutive appearance for Scott Marshall’s side as Norwich earned three vital points thanks to Jamar Lozar’s winner late on in the first half.
City were the team on the ascendency throughout the first period, with Loza and Ewen McNeil going close to edging them in front, before Loza finished well on 41 minutes after being teed up by Sam Kelly.
Bolton pushed in the second half and striker Jack Sampson might have scored but for an excellent save by Ruddy who helped City hold on for a win that takes them to within four points of Group 2 leaders Reading with two matches in hand.
Monday 15 April
Manchester United (Tunnicliffe) 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Wolverhampton Wanderers (Whittall, Evans) 2-3 Arsenal (Akpom 2, Watt)
Southampton P-P West Ham United
Aston Villa (Crooks) 1-1 Chelsea (Lalkovic)
Middlesbrough (Fewster) 1-2 Everton (Kennedy, Vellios)
Sunderland 0-2 Blackburn Rovers (O'Sullivan, Slew)
Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Norwich City (Loza)
Crystal Palace (Appiah 2) 2-0 Reading
Download full fixture list here | For full results click here
To view the league tables after the qualificaton stage, click here