By Ronan Murphy
Former Republic of Ireland under-19 goalkeeper Rob Elliot had a nervy start to his first ever Premier League game, conceding against Southampton in the third minute. However, the Chatham-born 26-year-old improved as the game went on, and helped Newcastle United to a 4-2 victory, even assisting Papiss Cisse's goal with a long-ball launched forward.
Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni was at Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon to watch Norwich City defeat Everton 2-1. Mark Bunn started in goal for the Canaries, with Anthony Pilkington replacing Wes Hoolahan late on as Norwich chased the game. A fit-again Seamus Coleman returned to the Everton lineup, and did well in his first game back, making some threatening runs down the right. Darron Gibson was also in action for the Toffees.
Hull City were on the receiving end of a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers, missing out on the chance to close the gap at the top of the Championship table. A second-half strike from Robbie Brady was little more than a consolation goal for the Tigers, with Brady's set-piece sneaking through the wall and into Adam Bogdan's net.
Mick McCarthy's Ipswich Town earned a point from their trip to Huddersfield Town, ending with a scoreless draw against their fellow relegation-battlers. Goalkeeper Stephen Henderson pulled off a fantastic double save to keep out Huddersfield in the second half, keeping the Tractor Boys four points above safety.
McCarthy's former club Wolverhampton Wanderers continue to struggle under new manager Dean Saunders, going down 2-1 to Cardiff City to remain in the relegation zone. Matt Doherty was the only Irish starter for Wolves, but both Kevin Doyle and Kevin Foley were introduced in the second half as Saunders searched for his first win.
League One top scorer Paddy Madden became the first ever Yeovil Town player to score in eight consecutive games as he netted after six minutes in their 1-1 draw with Doncaster Rovers. Madden now has 11 in his last eight, helping Yeovil to a playoff spot.
Billy Clarke took his tally to 12 for the season with the only goal in Crawley Town's away win over Leyton Orient. The diminutive Corkman curled in from the edge of the area after just 11 minutes.
Sheffield United took top spot in the third tier as Swindon Town could only draw with Preston North End. Ireland under-17 call-up Will Hayhurst gave Preston the lead before substitute Adam Rooney grabbed an equaliser for Paolo Di Canio's side.
Bradford City put their League Two campaign on hold to take on Swansea City in the League Cup final, but after their heroics against Arsenal and Aston Villa in their momentus run, the minnows could not continue that form against Michael Laudrup's side. Donegal defender Carl McHugh started for Bradford, but could do little as the Premier League side eased to a 5-0 victory.
A close-range effort from Barry Corr helped Southend United to a 2-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers, and keeps them just two points behind the playoff positions.
After netting a hat-trick last weekend, Paul Heffernan was on the scoresheet again for Kilmarnock. Heffernan had threatened Jamie Langfield's goal on a number of occasions before finally netting with a scrappy finish in the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen.
Perth Glory's woes continued in the A-League with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Western Sydney, but Irishman Liam Miller was once again the star performer for Glory, looking commanding in the centre of the field.
Los Angeles Galaxy finished their pre-season friendly campaign with a 2-1 victory over Colorado Rapids. Captain Robbie Keane's shot was parried to Marcelo Sarvas for Galaxy's equaliser, but Keane was later booked for a dive in the area as they looked for a winner.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Goalkeeper: Stephen Henderson (Ipswich)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Lanre Oyebanjo (York), Alan Bennett (AFC Wimbledon),
Midfielders: Robbie Brady (Hull), James McCarthy (Wigan), Patrick Cregg (St Johnstone), Will Hayhurst (Preston)
Forwards: Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock), Billy Clarke (Crawley), Paddy Madden (Yeovil)