Liverpool held on for a desperately needed win at Anfield against Aston Villa with the returning Daniel Sturrdige getting a brace to help the cause. A 20 yard strike from James Milner settled some Liverpool nerves with a goal after just 69 seconds. In the second half Milner combined with Sturridge with a neat one two setting Sturrdige clear to make it 2-0. But far be it for Liverpool to do it the easy way, Rudy Gestede converted a low cross from Alan Hutton to put Villa back in it. Within a minute Sturridge struck again after a classy back heal from Coutinho set it into the strikers path to make it 3-1/ Villa were not done and Gestede struck again with a header from a Jordon Amavi cross. Gestede could have had a hat trick forcing a save from Simon Mignolet but Liverpool finished the game strongly with another chance for Sturridge and the reds, despite making hard work of it, took the points.
An Alexis Sanchez hat trick saw Arsenal put an end to Leicester City’s unbeaten record at the King Power stadium. Jamie Vardy put the foxes ahead scoring from a tight angle finishing off a sweeping counter attack, Arsenal deserved their equaliser when Santi Carzorla’s through ball put Theo Walcott away to level the scores. Sanchez first came from a close range right foot shot just after the half hour. Mesut Ozil lobbed a through ball to Sanchez to head home his second and he completed his hat trick with a fine strike from long range. Vardy got a second for Leicester to give them some hope but Olivier Giroud rounded off the scoring getting on the end of a Nacho Monreal cross. The win moves Arsenal up to fourth place, Leicester drop down to sixth.
Nottingham Forest played in a Thursday night game at Huddersfield earning an away point. Ryan Mendes put Forest ahead in the first half with a volley after getting on the end of an Eric Lichaj header and striking the ball with perfect technique to open the scoring. Chris Burke could have sealed the points 10 minutes from time when he hit the post and Chris O’Grady could not slot the rebound home. The miss was costly as moments later Emyr Hews strike was deflected and looped over the keeper Dorus De Vries hitting the bar and bouncing down over the line to grab a point for the Yorkshire side.
A late flourish from Derby County saw them earn a win at MK Dons to maintain their much improved recent form. All the goals came in the second period, Bradley Johnson gave Derby the lead with a strike after pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box. Josh Murphy capitalised on some poor defending to level but Tom Ince then came into his own setting up Darren Bent with a low cross which Bent converted, and Ince himself sealed the win with a left foot shot to make it three and moved Derby just a point off the play off places.
Clinical finishing was the difference in a 10 minutes spell in which both Blackpool and Shrewsbury Town had chances, but it was Shrewsbury who had the finishing touch to keep Blackpool rock bottom of League 1. After a tight first half Shrewsbury took the lead on 70 minutes when smart work from Sullay Kaikai set up Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro to score. Mark Cullen could have equalised within 2 minutes but the shot was saved. Four minutes later Larnell Cole set up Akpa-Akpro again to add a second for the French born Ivory Coast striker. Again within two minutes Jack Redsham put a chance wide to get Blackpool back in it. The win moves Shrewsbury three points clear of the relegation zone, Blackpool are firmly stuck right in it.
Tyler Blackwood came on as a substitue for Newport County to give them a priceless away win at in form Carlisle. The goalscoring hero for Carlisle Alex Gilliead has a shot saved in a first half where Carlisle had more possession but could not find the opening goal. Luke Joyce for Carlisle and Scott Boden for Newport both had cahnces to score just before the break, but the deadlock was broken in the second half when a Lenell John-Lewis cross was met by Blackwood to head home the winner. Newport are still bottom but are now only one point behind Crawley and Dagenham & Redbridge.
Mansfield Town earned a point at home to in form Plymouth in an even game at Field Mill. There were late chances for either side to win it, Craig Tanner had a shot blocked and Hiram Boateng’s header was save by Mansfield keeper Brian Jensen. At the other end Mitch Close put an effort from range just wide and Lee Collins could not put a free header on target. A satisfactory point for both sides in the end will aid both sides play off push.
Notts County are creeping back into contention after a recent return to form. Izale Mcleod, who could have had a hat trick in the first 12 minutes, got the games only goal against York City after being sent through to score from a ball from Liam Noble. Adam Campbell had a header well saved and Michael Edwards hit the post in the second half in a game Notts controlled and could have had more goals. The win leaves them in 13th, however the division is so tight they are now only two points off the play off places.
Southport were blown away by a first half storm from Grimsby Town at Haig Avenue to keep Southport in the relegation zone. Craig Clay got the first from range to give Grimsby the lead, A Craig Disley header from a tight angle converted Jack Mckreth’s cross to make it two and on 33 minutes Gregor Robertson crossed for Jon-Paul Pittman to head in and make it three. With the damage done, the second half was a formality, A Josh Gowling header from close range made it four to end the scoring and just before the end Gary Jones was sent off for Southport to complete a miserable day at home for the Seasiders.
High flyinmg Bromley moved up to fourth place after three first half goals saw off Chester City. Moses Emmanuel got the first after a curling shot beat keeper Jon Worshop. Ross Hannah put a chance to level wide before a powerful Louis Dennis effort from range made it two. Joe Anderson set up Emmanuel to volley home the third Chester made a fight of it in the second half and John Hunt had a shot well saved, but they could not break through and Bromley maintain their good form to take the three points.
Tranmere Rovers move up to sixth place in the table after a late winner gave them the points at Cheltenham. Aman Morgan-Smith had the ball in the net for Cheltenham but it was ruled out for offside. Tranmere controlled most of the game though, Matt Hill had an effort cleared off the line The game was won in the 90th minute when Andy Mangan was given time to turn and shoot and the smart finish gave Tranmere the deserved points in the end. Tranmere are now just one point away from the play off places as they appear to be coming back into form.
Queen Of the South and Falkirk played out a drab 0-0 draw at Falkirk stadium on Friday night. Falkirk’s Bob McHugh came closest for Falkirk with the only shot on target in the whole game, Will Vaulks missed a couple of chances as Falkirk had marginally the better of the game. On the face of it this is not a bad point for Queens but the Dumfries side were poor offering very little going forward and appearing happy to restrict Falkirk. They got there point but there is still little sign of Queens recovering from their thrashing by Rangers, since when their form has declined significantly..
Liverpool (1) 3 (Milner, Sturridge 2) Aston Villa (0) 0 (Gestede 2) – At Anfield, Liverpool
Leicester Ciry (1) 2 (Vardy 2) Arsenal (2) 5 (Walcott, Sanchez 3, Giroud) – At The King Power Stadium, Leicester
Huddersfield Town (0) 1 (Huws) Nottingham Forest (1) 1 (Mendes) – At The John Smith Stadium, Huddersfield
MK Dons (0) 1 (Murphy) Derby County (0) 3 (Johnson, Bent, Ince) – At Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
Shrewesbury Town (0) 2 (Akpa-Akpro 2) Blackpool (0) 0 – At Gay Meadow, Shrewesbury
Carlisle United (0) 0 Newport County (0) 1 (Blackwood) – At Brunton park, Carlisle
Mansfield Town (0) 0 Plymouth Argyle (0) 0 – At Field Mill, Mansfield
Notts County (1) 1 (McLeod) York City (0) 0 – At Meadow Lane, Nottingham
Bromley (3) 3 (Emmanuel 2, Dennis) Chester City (0) 0 – At Hayes lane, Bromley
Southport (0) 0 Grimsby Town (3) 4 (Clay, Disley, Pittman, Gowling) – At Haig Avenue, Southport
Cheltenham Town (0) 0 Tranmere Rovers (0) 1 (Mangan) – At Whaddon Road, Cheltenham
Falkirk (0) 0 Queen Of The South (0) 0 – At Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk