By Ronan Murphy
Stoke City suffered a late defeat at the hands of Newcastle United at St James's Park on Sunday. The Magpies came from behind to score two late goals after Ireland international Jon Walters scored from the spot for Stoke. Walters won the penalty after being taken out in the area by Chieck Tiote and stepped up to send former Ireland under-19 goalkeeper Rob Elliot the wrong way. Marc Wilson and Glenn Whelan also played for the Potters.
Aston Villa secured an important 2-1 victory away to Reading and Ciaran Clark put in a commanding display at the back. Ireland under-21 international Samir Carruthers was on the bench for the Villans. Veteran defender Ian Harte, Stephen Kelly and Alex Pearce formed part of the Royals' defence, while Noel Hunt started in attack for Brian McDermott's side.
Norwich City could only draw with Southampton, but their disappointing afternoon started badly when Anthony Pilkington was forced off injured after just 35 minutes. Wes Hoolahan replaced the midfielder, but did not make too much of an impact.
Wolverhampton Wanderers suffered yet another defeat under manager Dean Saunders, and find themselves just a point above last place following a 3-1 loss to Nottingham Forest. Matt Doherty scored a header to level the game in the second half, but Forest regained the lead just 90 seconds later.
Former Wolves boss Mick McCarthy had a better afternoon with Ipswich Town, drawing 0-0 at Peterborough United. Stephen Henderson looked sharp once again in the Tractor Boys goal, keeping a clean sheet to keep them four points above relegation.
Veteran striker David Connolly took his Portsmouth tally to four goals in three games with both goals in his side's 2-0 win over Bury. The win sees the troubled club move off the bottom of the table thanks to Connolly's close range efforts.
Preston North End moved further away from the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over Stevenage. Will Hayhurst was on target for the hosts, scoring his third goal of the season.
Former Republic of Ireland under-21 international Jay O'Shea found the net with a fine finish to open the scoring in Chesterfield's 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers. The win keeps the Spireites within nine points of the playoffs with nine games remaining.
Northampton Town climbed to fourth position with a comfortable 2-0 win over relegation-struggling Accrington Stanley. Cork striker Roy O'Donovan scored the second on the half hour mark to close the gap at the top of the table.
Anthony Stokes started for Celtic against Ross County, but had a disappointing afternoon as the Bhoys lost 3-2 in the SPL. Alan Maybury and Eoin Doyle featured for Hibernian in their 0-0 draw against Hearts in the Edinburgh derby but Hibs manager Pat Fenlon was left stunned when his side had a clear goal disallowed after a Leigh Griffiths free-kick crossed the line.
Newly instated LA Galaxy captain couldn't help his side to victory in the Concacaf Champions League quarter finals as they played out a 0-0 draw against Herediano on March 7.
The Russian Premier League restarted after its winter break, but there was no place on the Spartak Moscow bench for Aiden McGeady as the Ireland striker returns to full fitness after injury.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Goalkeeper: Stephen Henderson (Ipswich)
Defenders: Matt Doherty (Wolves), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Alan Maybury (Hibernian)
Midfielders: Will Hayhurst (Preston), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Jay O'Shea (Chesterfield)
Forwards: David Connolly (Portsmouth), Jon Walters (Stoke), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)