Monday 19 November 2012
Chelsea mounted an impressive comeback to recover from a three-goal deficit and share a high-scoring draw with Liverpool at St Helens.
The unbeaten Reds were cruising thanks to close-range goals from Michael Ngoo and Jack Robinson after the visitors failed to clear two corners and early in the second half Krisztian Adorjan headed in Dani Pacheco's cross to put the hosts in command under the watchful gaze of Brendan Rodgers.
However, the visitors staged a remarkable fightback as half-time substitute Jeremie Boga produced two quickfire goals and Lewis Baker scored from the penalty spot after Peter Gulacsi had brought down Patrick Bamford.
The Reds remain well-placed to qualify for the Elite Group stage, however, as they are nine points clear of third-placed Chelsea and Middlesbrough in Group 3.
Free-scoring Tottenham Hotspur edged ever nearer to Elite Group Stage qualification their fifth win in succession at Nantwich Town’s home ground.
Set-piece specialist Alex Pritchard put the visitors ahead with an early free-kick before the north Londoners were pegged back against the run of play by a 16th-minute equaliser from Mamady Sidibi, returning from a lengthy injury lay-off.
But after both sides had struck the woodwork Spurs reclaimed control, taking the lead through Christian Ceballos three minutes after half-time before Ryan Mason converted a 56th-minute penalty awarded for a foul on Andros Townsend, who put the game beyond Stoke’s reach three minutes later.
Spurs, who have now scored 22 goals during their winning sequence, are five points clear of Manchester United at the top of Group 2, having played two matches more than the Red Devils, who host Aston Villa on Monday night.
West Ham United became the first side to book their place in the Elite Group Stage after a narrow Barclays Under-21 Premier League home win against West Bromwich Albion on Friday night.
The Hammers left it late to beat Arsenal last week with last-gasp Paul McCallum winner and the striker was at it again at Rush Green, in front of a 300-strong crowd, pouncing to bundle in Rob Hall's free-kick with four minutes to go to seal a 1-0 triumph.
With nine Group 1 victories Ian Hendon's side are now guaranteed to finish in the top two and take part in the Elite Group Stage.
Reading, third in Group 1, were only able to close the gap on the second-placed Gunners to three points after being held to a goalless draw by sixth-placed Everton at Goodison Park.
Toffees midfielder Darron Gibson played 63 minutes on his long-awaited return from a thigh injury, which will have come as welcome news to first-team manager David Moyes, given that Phil Neville has been ruled out for the next two months after undergoing knee surgery on Friday.
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 .
Friday 16 November
West Ham United 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Sunday 18 November
Everton 0-0 Reading
Stoke City 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool 3-3 Chelsea
Monday 19 November
Bolton Wanderers v Blackburn Rovers, Lancashire FA, 7pm
Norwich City v Arsenal, Carrow Road, 7pm
Manchester United v Aston Villa, Altrincham FC, 7pm
Sunderland v Newcastle United, Stadium of Light, 7pm
Crystal Palace v Wolverhampton Wanderers, TBC, 7pm
For all the fixtures and the latest league tables, click here