It’s been a busy week for Crown Football, with two games in the Championship, League One and League Two for some of our clients.
Preston North End goalkeeper Chris Maxwell has signed a new contract, committing him to the club until at least the summer of 2020. He earned a place in the side in September and has retained the No.1 spot since, making 29 appearances so far this season, in which time the team have only lost four league games in the Sky Bet EFL Championship. The Welshman spoke after putting pen to paper and is targeting the next step with the club: “I’m absolutely delighted. It is fantastic knowing that I’m going to be here for an extra year as well. It gives me an opportunity to help progress Preston North End and hopefully progress myself in the process. When I first came here I said I wanted to make the No.1 shirt my own, I wanted to play week in, week out for Preston North End and at the moment I’m doing that.”
On Friday evening, it was the West Midland’s derby as Josh Dacres-Cogley’s Birmingham City were hosted by Wolverhampton Wanderers, live on Sky Sports 1. Both teams have been struggling for form of late, with Zola only having won one game since taking charge in December. However, the 10-man blues stunned Wolves earned their first away win under Gianfranco Zola as they inflicted a fourth straight league defeat on local rivals Wolves. Victory ended Birmingham’s three-match losing run and delivered Zola a second win from his 15 games in charge, while Wolves slipped to 20th in the table following Burton’s draw with Blackburn (Sam Gallagher didn’t feature due to injury).
On Tuesday evening, Blackburn Rovers boosted their Championship survival chances with a gutsy 1-0 victory over Derby County who are now winless in six league games. Craig Conway scored the only goal of the night when he smashed home a 58th-minute penalty after Sam Gallagher was brought down by Alex Pearce. The win was no more than Rovers deserved. However, they remain in the relegation zone with an inferior goal difference. Newly promoted Blackburn boss, Tony Mowbray, said: “They showed some qualities that we’re going to need over the course of the remaining games – resilience, togetherness, putting bodies on line, working hard. You have to win football matches all different ways. I’m delighted for the players, supporters and the club but this is just one step, there’s 13 to go.”
Grimsby revived their League Two play-off hopes with victory over Colchester. On-loan Evertonian, Calum Dyson, was an isolated figure for much of the game, but he lit up Blundell Park with a blistering burst of pace that led to the only goal of the game. Sam Jones nicked the ball in the middle of the park and fed the rangy striker – who had the ball at his feet, facing goal, for the first time in the game. He tore upfield to devastating effect, ripping past Colchester’s back-line and into the box, there, he showed superb composure to pull back and feed Jones, who slid home his first goal for the club – despite the best efforts of George Elokobi on the line. Having previously been in and out of the game – just like he had against Mansfield – Dyson had produced a real moment of quality to get the fans off their seats and lay on the goal to earn those all-important three points.
An early goal for Morecambe, gave the Shrimps a narrow victory over Calum Dyson’s Grimsby! Morecambe have only lost one game in 2017, despite the club having trouble behind the scenes. Ryan Edwards, leading out of the back 4, has only conceded 5 goals in 10 games, including 4 clean sheets. His excellent performance at the weekend earned him a place in the League 2 team of the week. On Tuesday evening, Morecambe played away at Portsmouth and came from behind to earn a point at Fratton Park, with Ryan earning himself a place in the EFL Team of the Week with another standout performance.
An Arsenal Under-23s side, captained by Ben Sheaf, including Danny Welbeck, Carl Jenkinson and Rob Holding, convincingly beat Chelsea 4-1 at London Colney on Friday afternoon. Danny Welbeck got on the scoresheet as our under-23s recorded a 4-1 win over London rivals Chelsea. The win sees Steve Gatting’s side move level on points with the Blues in the Premier League 2 table – with Rob Holding’s goal getting the ball rolling. Donyell Malen doubled the advantage, before Reiss Nelson turned home our third goal of the game. Ike Ugbo pulled one back for the visitors, before Welbeck converted from the penalty spot after Malen was dragged down. Next up for Ben is the North London Derby on Friday, where Arsenal host Tottenham.
Corey Whelan captained Liverpool U23 on Tuesday evening, as Connor Randall grabbed a stoppage-time winner concluding the group stage of the Premier League Cup by beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0. The young Reds consolidated top spot in Group G and impressively march on to the knockout rounds, with West Brom eliminated as a result of their defeat.
Here are this week’s games to look forward to from Crown Football: