It’s the leap year weekend and much like women have an opportunity to ask their male partners to marry them (not that it’s a rule, feel free to ask us any time of the year!), it’s also an opportunity for football teams to start their late runs as we head into the business end of the season.
So without further ado, here’s this weekend’s award winners:
FANS OF THE WEEKEND: Carlisle United
(1,500) I love highlighting a terrific away following from League Two and hats off to the 1,500 or so Carlisle United fans that made the trip to Morecambe this weekend.
The Cumbrians rose to the occasion on the pitch as well, with Keith Curle’s side coming from a goal down to win 2-1. A vital three points as they look to make a late playoff push and it was an added bonus that Derek Asamoah scored his first goal for three months.
It was well deserved and with that kind of backing by the supporters, hopefully they can take this result and use it as momentum to make that late surge into the top seven in the division. The manager praised the support afterwards and rightly so, especially in the lower divisions, it’s fantastic to see.
GOAL OF THE WEEKEND: Armand Gnanduillet – Leyton Orient
There’s something for everyone to love about this goal from the Ivorian, it’s just a wonderful strike that helped his Leyton Orient team win 2-0 at home against Crawley Town.
The big 24-year-old received the ball around 25 yards out, took it on his chest and used his strength to hold off the defender. He then used his ability to quickly turn and hit a powerful strike towards goal, which rose beautifully into the top corner to give Kevin Nolan’s men the lead.
Gnanduillet went on to score a second in an excellent display and hopefully he can build on this kind of performance. He’s not always a big scorer but the ability he does possess was for all to see in this well taken goal.
MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND: Forestieri’s second yellow for “diving”
When both managers and even the player that fouled him thought it was the wrong decision, you know you’ve made a pretty big mistake as an official.
Late on in Sheffield Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Hull City at the KC Stadium on Friday night, Tigers defender Michael Dawson went in for slightly late, lunging challenge on Fernando Forestieri. Contact looked minimal, Dawson admitted afterwards that he did catch him, but the diminuative forward simply was trying to get out of the way of a potentially dangerous challenge.
However, the referee decided that the former Watford man had dived, giving him a second yellow. It was very harsh and it seemed like the Italian’s reputation led to the decision rather than what happened and even worse, the Owls may be unable to appeal as it was a second booking. Shocking stuff.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Charlton Athletic 3-4 Reading
You get plenty of these games that are a real rollercoaster of emotions near the end of the season but my word, this one must have stung Charlton Athletic fans, in more ways than one.
The away side went ahead thanks to former Addicks forward Yann Kermorgant but new signing Yaya Sanogo pulled Charlton level. However, it didn’t last long as Kermorgant grabbed his second and Ola John made it three just before the break.
However, Sanogo provided a huge boost as he netted his hat-trick to pull his side level, only for Deniss Rakels to win the game for the Royals in added time. A bitter pill for Charlton to swallow as they remain languishing in the Championship relegation zone.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: George Saville – Wolverhampton Wanderers
The former Chelsea man had not scored in his previous 15 games for Wolves but much like buses, you wait for one and two turn up at once.
The 22-year-old had an excellent early afternoon as his two goals helped his side end their current run of poor form with a 2-1 win against Derby County at the Molineux Stadium. Saville started things off with a long-range curling effort before nodding in the winner with four minutes remaining.
A much needed three points for Kenny Jackett’s side as they look to try and make something of an up-and-down season. They may not be playing for anything come crunch time but in the likes of Saville, they have a base to build off for the future.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Andre Gray – Burnley
Just when Burnley needed a hero to lift them up to top spot, up stepped their top scorer to pull out a victory from the jaws of defeat, in a local derby no less.
Bolton Wanderers had played well and deservedly went ahead in the second half but up stepped Andre Gray, putting on his Superman cape yet again. He popped up with two solid goals, earning Sean Dyche’s men a vital 2-1 victory as they rise to the top of the league.
It was a little harsh on the Trotters, who put in a real solid performance with the clouds lifting above their heads but the day belonged to Gray. He was on top form again and his goals will be crucial as Burnley look to bounce straight back to the Premier League.
TEAM OF THE WEEKEND: Wigan Athletic
Slowly but surely, Wigan Athletic are rising up the League One standings. Despite a terrible start to the season, the former FA Cup winners are back on the right track.
A great 3-0 home win against Bury, courtesy of two Will Grigg goals and a first from Ryan Colclough, earned them yet another three points. Gary Caldwell’s men are now in second and have their sights firmly set on top spot.
They are just two points behind and while Burton have a game in hand, they will be looking over their shoulders over the last few months of the season. The Latics are gaining ground at the perfect time and could be the team to beat in the third tier.