Monday 03 December 2012
Blackburn Rovers kept their hopes of qualifying for the Elite Group Stage of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League by inflicting a 1-0 defeat on Group 1 winners West Ham United away at Rush Green.
A spectacular free-kick from Diogo Rosado after 77 minutes was all that separated the sides but it does not stop Ian Hendon’s side topping Group 1. The victory means that Rovers climbed to the third and final qualifying spot for the Elite Group Stage with their final group match.
Reading and Norwich City might have both dashed Rovers hopes of a third-placed finish but neither side were able to respond with wins of their own as the Royals shared a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Madejski Stadium and the Canaries succumbed to a 2-1 loss at Everton.
Reading twice restored parity in the second half through Tariqe Fosu and Craig Tanner after Nigel Neita and Thomas Eisfeld had each given the Gunners the lead. Tanner earned his side a point when he glanced a header by Niall Keown – the son of former Arsenal defender Martin – over the line in added time, but in the end a draw proved too little too late for the home side.
Norwich, meanwhile, fell short at Finch Farm where they got off to a poor start by conceding two goals inside the opening 13 minutes by Magaye Gueye and Conor McAleny.
Though Jacob Murphy outmuscled Tyias Browning to reduce the arrears 10 minutes before half-time, Everton held on for their fifth win of the campaign. With 17 points Alan Stubbs's side can still move above Rovers by winning their final match, although West Brom, who are a point better off, can dash their hopes by overcoming Bolton Wanderers on Monday.
Aston Villa moved back up to second place in Group 2 by emerging victorious from a five-goal thriller at Whitley Park.
After taking the lead on the half-hour mark when Michael Drennan lobbed Jak Alnwick, Newcastle levelled within two minutes as JJ Hooper connected with Marcus Maddison’s free-kick. The hosts were not on equal terms for long, however, as, two minutes later, Graham Burke converted a penalty awarded after he had been brought down in the area.
The visitors then doubled their lead four minutes into the second half when Samir Carruthers applied the finish his wonderful run deserved and although the Magpies, who struck the bar with a Yven Moyo header, pulled a goal back through Maddison on 62 minutes, Gordon Cowans's charges held on to move to within two points of leaders Tottenham Hotspur with two matches remaining.
The sides who finish in the top three places in Group 1 qualify for the Elite Group stage, along with the top two teams and the best third-placed finisher from Groups 2 and 3.
The remaining third-placed team from Groups 2 and 3 and clubs who finish fourth, fifth and sixth in the three sections go through to Qualification Group Tier 1, while the seventh-placed clubs plus the side to finish eighth in Group 1 go to Qualification Group Tier 2.
The two teams who top the Qualification Groups will compete in a play-off to reach the first semi-final, where they will meet the team that finishes top of the Elite Group Stage. The teams that finish second and third in the Elite Group Stage play in the other semi-final .
West Ham 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
Sunday, 2 December
Everton 2-1 Norwich City
Reading 2-2 Arsenal
Newcastle United 2-3 Aston Villa
Monday, 3 December
West Bromwich Albion v Bolton Wanderers, 1pm, WBA Training Ground
Southampton v Manchester United, 7pm, St Mary's Stadium
Sunderland v Stoke City, 1pm, Academy of Light
Fulham v Liverpool, 2pm, Motspur Park
Middlesbrough v Chelsea, 7pm, Riverside Stadium
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City, 7pm, AFC Telford United
For all the fixtures and the latest league tables, click here