The Trawler

A Don deal, James for England?

January 30, 2012
By Will Tidey
(Archive)

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

MK Dons swoop for Smith

Left Newcastle to become the Don
APLeft Newcastle to become the Don

Newcastle United midfielder Alan Smith has completed a shock loan move to League One MK Dons for the rest of the season. The former Manchester United and England utility man, who joined Newcastle for £6 million in 2007, has found himself surplus to requirements under Alan Pardew, and not started a game for over a year.

With the Dons battling for promotion to the Championship, manager Karl Robinson believes the 31-year-old Smith could prove a key acquisition.

"I believe adding his character to our team could be the difference in helping us achieve our promotion ambitions," said Robinson. "...His talent is undoubted and the experience he will bring into the dressing room is unrivalled."

Still up for the Cup

The FA Cup fifth round draw was made on Sunday night, with no fewer than ten Football League teams still alive in the competition.

League Two Crawley Town were rewarded for their impressive win at Hull City with a home tie against Stoke - the first time Premier League opposition will have visited the Broadfield Stadium.

Elsewhere, Stevenage of League One will entertain Tottenham, after seeing off Notts County, and Championship Brighton will take on Liverpool at Anfield, after a Mike WIlliamson own goal saw them past Premier League Newcastle at the Amex Stadium on Saturday evening.

The last time a club outside the top flight won the FA Cup was West Ham in 1980. With the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City already out this year, could it happen again?

James for England?

Veteran goalkeeper David James excelled again for Bristol City on Saturday, but the 41-year-old's heroics were still not enough to avoid a 1-0 Championship loss away to Reading.

James saved two penalties at the Madejski Stadium, the first from Reading's high-profile loan signing Jason Roberts. Roberts was sharp enough to bury the rebound, and with City reduced to ten men after Louis Carey brought him down to concede the spot-kick, the newly flush Royals held on to move into fourth.

The best moment of the match was arguably James' second penalty save from Jobi McAnuff, however, which saw the former England international dive high to his left in injury time. Is it too late for a recall?

Chelsea in for Forest teenager

Patrick Bamford: Tracked by Chelsea
PA PhotosPatrick Bamford has joined Chelsea

Nottingham Forest striker Patrick Bamford has already been linked with Tottenham and Liverpool, but it seems Chelsea are now leading the race for the signature, after making a bid of £1 million.

Bamford has only made two substitute appearances for Forest so far, but the 18-year-old has been in prolific form for the club's academy team - scoring nine times in his last two games. Chelsea have seen enough to guarantee £1 million for his services, with a further £500,000 included dependant on appearances.

Di Canio corner

Swindon ended their FA Cup run with a 2-0 defeat to Leicester City, and for once their manager Paolo Di Canio took the whole thing in his stride.

City's Paul Konchesky perhaps should have been sent off for a dangerous, studs-up challenge in the first half, but a philosophical Di Canio refused to get upset about it. "Paul is a friend," he said. "We played together at Charlton. He is a good guy. I like the way he plays, he is tough, he is nasty - in the right way.

"My opinion is clear but I saw Paul just now and we talked about life and family things. We did not talk about the tackle. It is not important now."

Next up for Swindon, a six-pointer against promotion rivals Southend United on Tuesday night.

Shake-up required

New Preston manager Graham Westley is without a win in three games in charge. He saw his League One side reduced to ten men and beaten 2-1 by struggling Yeovil on Saturday. But at least he secured this week's "telling it like it is" award with a fired up rant after the game.

"This football club has been on the back foot," Westley said. "They took 16 points in 13 games before I came here and when you are losing games and not winning points it happens for a reason.

"It happens because fitness is not right. It happens because the mentality is not right and if you have got people who want to take excuses into games you are not going to win anything."

Sounds like a tough week ahead on the training ground.

Rovers blow hot, then cold

Bristol Rovers made it two straight wins for new boss Mark McGhee with a 2-1 victory against Bradford, but the players were treated to an icy reception after the game regardless.

"The boiler had broken and I ended up having a freezing shower," said Rovers goalscorer Lee Brown. "But I'm happy to put up with it after that performance."