Tag Archives: attacking

Lawrence Booth: England were dominant but India took their eye off the ball

Lawrence Booth: England were dominant but India took their eye off the ball

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UPDATED:

10:47 GMT, 17 December 2012

In the end, it was easy. If you’d told England supporters after the first-innings debacles at Ahmedabad with ball and bat that their team could afford to block out the final five sessions of the fourth Test to make sure of a series win for the annals, they would have asked what you were on and where they could get some.

But in providing the ballast for England’s series-clinching 352 for 4, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell – the two centurions from Warwickshire – merely underlined the momentum shift that has played itself out over the past few weeks.

Dominant at Ahmedabad, India got cocky. MS Dhoni started asking for pitches designed for the sole purpose of humiliating England and wreaking revenge for 2011. They did what no cricketer should ever do: they took their eye off the ball.

Leading from the front: England captain Alastair Cook was dominant with the bat

Leading from the front: England captain Alastair Cook was dominant with the bat

England, meanwhile, were fortified by events in the second half of the first Test. Alastair Cook, a colossus in this series until he was defeated in Nagpur by negative bowling, a duffer of a pitch and the umpiring of Kumar Dharmasena, made 176 and Matt Prior 91. India’s spinners, it turned out, were no Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman or Rangana Herath.

It helped that England picked the right team in Mumbai. In came Monty Panesar for Tim Bresnan, and a pitch of pace and bounce played right into their hands – for the inclusion of Panesar, with his extra pace, meant England now possessed the superior spin attack.

In a spin: England's spin bowlers of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar out performed the Indian spinners

In a spin: England's spin bowlers of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar out performed the Indian spinners

It helped that Kevin Pietersen had a post-reintegration point to prove. For attacking intent, only Virender Sehwag’s opening-day century at Ahmedabad could even begin to live with Pietersen’s 186 at the Wankhede.

Batting for glory: Jonathan Trott was able to bat for the majority of the final day to see England home to the draw they needed in the final Test

Batting for glory: Jonathan Trott was able to bat for the majority of the final day to see England home to the draw they needed in the final Test

And it helped that Cook, having told his players that – when it came to fluffing their lines against spin in Asia – enough was enough, was a captain on a mission.

At Kolkata, Jimmy Anderson joined in the fun, finding reverse-swing that proved beyond his Indian counterparts, and combining with Steven Finn on the third afternoon in another game where the nature of the pitch had proved a pre-match distraction for the Indians.

And at Nagpur, England won an important toss – at last! – and so were able to keep control of their destiny on a pitch that ensured the fourth Test was played in slow motion. Joe Root proved an inspired pick, and Anderson was outstanding once more, especially on the third evening, when India’s hopes of a big first-innings lead evaporated in an hour.

For many reasons, this must rank as one of England’s finest series wins – home or away. They arrived with a reputation as poor players of spin in Asian conditions, and with the Pietersen saga still a tangible undercurrent.

They had a new captain, who could have been granted a tougher assignment for his first series as full-time leader. They were up against a team that had lost only four series at home out of 40. And they were written off after the first Test.

At least in Australia two years ago they arrived with hope and a little expectation. Here, victory has been a bolt from the blue. At the end of a wondrous year for British sport, the cricketers have finally joined in.

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Montrose 2 Rangers 4

Montrose 2 Rangers 4: Shiels shines as McCoist's men extend winning run to six

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 15 December 2012

Dean Shiels created a goal and scored himself inside two second-half minutes as Rangers came from behind to edge an open and entertaining Irn-Bru Third Division contest at Links Park.

Montrose were twice denied late equalisers by the frame of the goal before Robbie Crawford secured the points with virtually the last kick of the ball.

Shiels set up Kevin Kyle to put Rangers ahead midway through the second half and then finished off a clinical break to seemingly end the visitors' struggle against Montrose, who led for six minutes through Lloyd Young's strike before Lee McCulloch netted a penalty.

Top of the league: Rangers' captain Lee McCulloch celebrates his goal

Top of the league: Rangers' captain Lee McCulloch celebrates his goal

Match facts

Montrose: Sandy Wood, McNally, Jonathan Crawford, Campbell, Watson, Lloyd Young (Johnston 88), Winter, Masson (Morton 81),
Richard McIntosh (McLeish 75), Leighton McIntosh,Garry Wood.

Subs Not Used: David Crawford,David Gray.

Booked: Jonathan Crawford,Masson,Johnston.

Goals: Lloyd Young 16, McLeish 76.

Rangers: Alexander, Argyriou, McCulloch, Hegarty, Wallace, Little, Macleod, Hutton, Templeton (McKay 63), Shiels (Naismith 75), Kyle (Crawford 90).

Subs Not Used: Currie,Cole.

Booked: Hutton.

Goals: McCulloch 23 pen, Kyle 67, Shiels 69, Crawford 90.

Att: 4,205

Ref: Bobby Madden

But home substitute David Gray soon scored a wonderful lob and Garry Wood and Scott Johnston both hit the woodwork.

The victory was the least convincing of a six-match winning run for Rangers but Montrose deserve credit for their display as they showed why they had been on a six-match unbeaten run.

They showed their attacking intent in the opening minutes when Wood and then Jamie Winter came close with ambitious long-range efforts.

Andrew Little had Rangers' first effort on target when his angled drive was parried by Sandy Wood but Montrose stunned Ally McCoist's men in the 16th minute when Young ran unchecked on to Stephen McNally's long throw and dispatched a cushioned first-time volley into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Rangers had an immediate chance to equalise when Lewis MacLeod threaded the ball through for Little but Wood was quickly out to block.

Wood then pushed Kyle Hutton's free-kick delivery on to the post.

The Ibrox side did not have long to wait for the equaliser though and it was a cheap give-away by Montrose when McNally made an ill-advised tackle on David Templeton in the box, getting some of the ball but coming from the wrong side and through his opponent, with few complaints at Bobby Madden's decision.

Centre-back McCulloch sent Wood the wrong way for his 17th goal of the season.
The goal failed to turn the game though. Garry Wood came close from long range before his namesake in goal parried MacLeod's effort after Little's flick had put him beyond the home defence.
Templeton shot over after good hold-up play from Kyle but Montrose had the best chances in the latter stages of the half.

Young hit another first-time effort that Neil Alexander pushed over brilliantly, and the enterprising wide midfielder then fired wide following a one-two with Wood.

Spot on: McCulloch slams home a penalty to help Rangers on their way to victory

Spot on: McCulloch slams home a penalty to help Rangers on their way to victory

Winter came close in injury-time when Alexander dived to push wide his driven 35-yard free-kick.
Wood saved from Shiels just after the break but Montrose were quickly on the front foot and McNally came close with a header.

McCoist brought on Barrie McKay for Templeton in a bid to find a much-needed cutting edge, but the 67th-minute breakthrough came from a scrappy piece of play.

Hutton and Shiels got in each other's way on the edge of the box and Rangers appeared to have lost their chance but the Northern Ireland international got up and steered the ball into the path of the unmarked Kyle to shoot into the bottom corner from 16 yards.

McCoist's men had some breathing space two minutes later. Hutton helped the ball on to McKay on the left after a Montrose set-piece had been cleared and the teenager ran 60 yards before releasing the ball for Shiels, who guided the ball into the far corner.

Helping hand: Kevin Kyle was also on target as Rangers won for the sixth game in a row

Helping hand: Kevin Kyle was also on target as Rangers won for the sixth game in a row

But Montrose refused to lie down and substitute Gray got them back into it with a goal out of nothing in the 76th minute, latching on to Leighton McIntosh's lay-off and guiding a first-time effort with the outside of his right foot over the head of Alexander and into the net from the corner of the box.

The hosts came so close to levelling moments later when Wood ran on to McIntosh's header-on following a goal kick.

Wood also lobbed Alexander but the Rangers goalkeeper this time turned round to see the ball hit off his bar and fall into his arms.

Wood saved well from MacLeod but Montrose were again denied by the frame of the goal when Scott Johnston volleyed off the inside of the post from 12 yards following a free-kick into the box in injury-time.

Rangers soon restored their two-goal lead following another break when Crawford took his time to make space and guide the ball in off the post after Wood had saved from McKay.

Rene Higuita does Scorpion Kick against Brazil Masters in India

Higuita's head over heels… again! Colombian legend executes Scorpion Kick in India

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UPDATED:

09:42 GMT, 10 December 2012

Rene Higuita is up to his old tricks again. 17 years after his famous Scorpion Kick against England, the former Colombia No 1 recreated his moment of genius in an exhibition match in India.

The 46-year-old, who is now retired, was playing for the Indian All-Stars in Kolkata, taking on the mighty Brazilian Masters at the Yubabharati Stadium.

Up to his old tricks: Rene Higuita executes a Scorpion Kick during an exhibition match between the Brazilian Masters and Indian All Stars in Kolkata

Up to his old tricks: Rene Higuita executes a Scorpion Kick during an exhibition match between the Brazilian Masters and Indian All Stars in Kolkata (below)

Head over heels: Higuita

World Cup winners Bebeto, Dunga and Juninho Paulista were among the big names involved as the Samba stars. But it was Higuita who stole the show with his trademark trick.

Before the game he promised Indian fans: 'I will give you one of my best shows on Saturday. It will be my way of saying thanks to this city.'

The same skill – acrobatically diving heals over head to clear the ball off the goal-line – was beamed around the world when he cleared a shot from Sportsmail columnist Jamie Redknapp at Wembley in 1995.

Brazil-liant: Former World Cup winner Bebeto starred for the Brazilian team

Brazil-liant: Former World Cup winner Bebeto starred for the Brazilian team

Higuita, however, was unable to stop the Brazilian Masters cruising to a 3-1 victory.

But he told Firstpost Sports: 'I believed that the goalkeeper is just like the 10 out-field players. If given a chance he should help in the attacking intent of the team.'

Who said 'keepers were crazy

VIDEO: Re-live Higuita's stunning Scorpion Kick at Wembley

Newcastle v Wigan live

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Newcastle v Wigan – as it happens from St James' Park

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UPDATED:

20:02 GMT, 3 December 2012

Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Barclays Premier League as Newcastle host Wigan at St James' Park to conclude the weekend's fixtures. Alan Pardew will hope to arrest a slide which has seen his team slip to four successive defeats, while the Latics will aim for three points to move above the Toon in the table.

Newcastle 0 Wigan 0

Newcastle: Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Gutierrez, Tiote, Anita, Marveaux; Ba, Cisse.

Subs: Harper, Tavernier, Ferguson, Bigirimana, Ranger, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi.

Wigan: Al Habsi; Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa; Stam, McCarthy, Gomez, Jones, Beausejour; Di Santo, Kone.

Subs: Pollitt, McManaman, McArthur, Boselli, Fyvie, Lopez, Golobart.

1 min: Close! Tiote unleashes a drive from 25 yards and the ball flies just wide of Al-Habsi's right-hand post with only 20 seconds on the clock.

1 min: We're under way…

7.58pm: The players are out and Wigan are wearing red for the first-time since their promotion season way back in 2004-05…

7.55pm: Not long now until kick-off and I'm looking forward to seeing how these two sides will line up. We'll see a back four from Newcastle and a back three from Wigan but in front of that both managers have room to manouevre… Pardew could opt to play a traditional 4-4-2 or he could operate with Cisse on one flank and Marveaux alongside Anita and Tiote in the middle to try and match up with Wigan's engine room. The Latics will probably have Gomez playing slightly ahead of Jones and McCarthy but Jones can also operate a left wing back, which would free up Beausejour to operate in a more attacking role in support of the big man Di Santo. We shall see…

WEEKEND PREVIEW SPLIT: Newcastle v Wigan

7.45pm: We should be guaranteed a game full of attacking intent tonight. Wigan are never a team to sit back and Newcastle's fans demand will demand they attack at home.

7.35pm: This has to be one of the worst runs Newcastle have been on since Alan Pardew took over. Last season's manager of the year sees his side sitting 12 points off the fifth place that they finished in last season, but they surely couldn't ask for a much kinder fixture to get their season back on track. Wigan have never won at St James' in seven attempts and have lost three of their last four games.

7.25pm: Wigan have injury problems of their own, especially at the back where both Ivan Ramis and Antolin Alcaraz are missing. Midfielders Albert Crusat and Ben Watson are both out too but we can still expect the usual 3-5-2 from Roberto Martinez's side with Stam and Beausejour as the wing backs.

7.20pm: The teams are in and it looks like 4-4-2 for Newcastle, who have Yohan Cabaye, Steven Taylor and Hatem Ben Arfa all missing through injury.

7.15pm: The home side are languishing in the bottom half of the table after a run of five games without a win and will be desperate for a victory to kickstart a stuttering season.

7.10pm: Good evening everyone and welcome to Sportsmail's live coverage of Newcastle v Wigan from St James' Park.

Ecstasy before agony: Newcastle lost at Stoke last Wednesday despite Papiss Cisse handing them the lead

Ecstasy before agony: Newcastle lost at Stoke last Wednesday despite Papiss Cisse handing them the lead

Newcastle 0 Manchester United 3: Match report

Newcastle 0 Manchester United 3: Evans and Evra make case for the defence

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UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 7 October 2012

Manchester United leap-frogged rivals City into second position in the Barclays Premier League with a convincing 3-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson loaded his team with attacking intent – selecting three forwards, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck to start.

But it was two defenders who forged an early lead for the visitors, with two headed goals in the first 15 minutes. Victory was sealed in the 70th minute when Tom Cleverley's cross found the top corner.

There was controversy in the 50th minute when Papiss Cisse's shot looked to have crossed the line before David De Gea could claw it back. TV replays were inconclusive and defeat means the Magpies remain 10th in the league.

More to follow…

Good Evans! The United defender headed the visitors into the lead in the 8th minute

Good Evans! The United defender headed the visitors into the lead in the 8th minute

Match facts

Newcastle: Harper, Santon, Perch, Williamson, Ferguson, Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba.

Subs: Alnwick, Simpson, Anita, Bigirimana, Obertan, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi.

Booked: Gutierrez, Tiote.

Man United: De Gea, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Carrick, Welbeck, Rooney, Kagawa, van Persie.

Subs: Lindegaard, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Scholes, Wootton.

Booked: Ferdinand, Kagawa, Van Persie.

Scorers: Evans 8, Evra 15, Cleverley 71.

Attendance: 52,203

Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Latest Premier League results, fixtures and table

London 40 Salford 28: Craig Gower inspires stunning fightback

London 40 Salford 28: Gower inspires stunning fightback

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UPDATED:

16:34 GMT, 4 August 2012

Craig Gower inspired the London
Broncos to a stunning comeback triumph as seven second-half tries saw
off Salford 40-28 at the Twickenham Stoop.

The Londoners trailed 28-6 at the interval, but Gower guided them from
the brink with a try and four goals, as well as creating three further
scores.

For Salford it was a bitter pill to swallow as their Stobart Super League play-off hopes took a mighty jolt.

Going over: Luke Dorn of London Broncos scores a try

Going over: Luke Dorn of London Broncos scores a try

The Broncos made one change from the 17 that ran the Catalan Dragons close last weekend, Will Lovell replacing Jason Golden as interim coach Tony Rea looked for the first win of his short reign.

Salford were forced to move Stuart Howarth to scrum-half after injuries to both Marc Sneyd and Sean Long, although they were able to welcome Vinnie Anderson back into the fold.

The Reds were looking for the double after spanking the Londoners 44-12 back in March, while London needed the two points to give themselves any chance of moving off the foot of the table this season.

But it was the hosts who made the brighter start, taking the lead inside five minutes when Luke Patten's loose pass was intercepted by winger Omari Caro who had a clear run to the line.

That score was quickly matched though, Danny Williams' break allowing Sean Gleeson to canter over and bring the Reds back within two points.

Outnumbered: Omari Caro of London Broncos is tackled by Gareth Owen and Chris Nero

Outnumbered: Omari Caro of London Broncos is tackled by Gareth Owen and Chris Nero

On 14 minutes Salford eased into the lead, Anderson taking advantage of some poor cover defence to cross in the corner.

The visitors were looking to attack all over the pitch, and that attacking intent was rewarded with a third try when Patten's break allowed Ashley Gibson to touch down, with Daniel Holdsworth adding the extras to make it 14-6.

Gibson then added his second as the tries kept coming, and with 31 minutes on the clock Matty Ashurst added a fifth against more woeful London tackling.

There was still time before the break for Jodie Broughton to get his name on the scoresheet, strolling home after yet more atrocious Broncos defending.

To their credit London came out with renewed vigour after the break and they were first on the board once more, Gower finishing off a smart break from Julien Rinaldi and adding the extras himself.

Minutes later the hosts added another try, Tony Clubb on hand to pick up the pieces after David Howell had slapped back Gower's cross kick.

Whether it was London increasing the tempo or Salford taking their foot off the gas is debatable, but the contest had a very different feel entering the final quarter.

And that got even tighter on 67 minutes when Kieran Dixon made it a one score game when he scorched over in the corner after a flowing move.

Amazingly the Broncos were to score again seconds later, Chad Randall snaffling a short kick-off and releasing Chris Bailey for a run to the line.

London were to move ahead in sensational fashion with nine minutes remaining, Jamie O'Callaghan bursting over after Michael Robertson stole a booming Gower kick from the grasp of Gleeson, with Lovell and Luke Dorn adding further late scores to wrap up a stunning triumph.

Euro 2012: Spain won"t try to be more exciting against Portugal – Andres Iniesta

Spain won't change game plan to try and be more exciting against Portugal, says Iniesta

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UPDATED:

17:35 GMT, 26 June 2012

Andres Iniesta says Spain are not going to change their style and believes the lack of entertainment in their games is due to opponents setting out purely to defend against the world champions.

Spain's performance against France in their 2-0 quarter-final win was viewed in many quarters as lacking in attacking intent with their possession football failing to provide much in the way of a spectacle.

But Iniesta says their short-passing possession game, which has brought a European Championship and World Cup triumph, won't be abandoned.

Plenty to say: Andres Iniesta (left) and Alvaro Arbeloa (right) speak ahead of Spain's semi-final with Portugal

Plenty to say: Andres Iniesta (left) and Alvaro Arbeloa (right) speak ahead of Spain's semi-final with Portugal

'We have our own style, our own game which has brought us success. We have won two trophies with this style but any opinions are valid and I respect them,' he said ahead of Wednesday's semi-final with Portugal at the Donbass Arena.

Euro 2012

Euro 2012 email button

'This is the method that brought us success – we can't forget that a few years back, we changed the history of Spanish football nor can we forget the way that we did it,' he said.

Iniesta suggested the lack of excitement was largely to do with the way opponents have clammed up against Spain.

'Once you have a team that always attacks but you attack against a closed defence of an opposition who don't leave you spaces, of course it is not as attractive as an open match with two teams that want to win,' he said.

But the Barcelona wide-man rejected the notion that criticism showed a lack of respect for Spain's achievements.

'No. Football is great in this respect, not everyone likes the same thing, not everyone can agree on everything and a diversity of opinion is what makes it special,' he said.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said the team's record, with the Euro 2008 triumph followed by World Cup success two years later spoke for itself.

'We don't want to stagnate, we want to go forward but winning two trophies has been proof of our qualities.

Fever pitch: Spanish fans in front of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday

Fever pitch: Spanish fans in front of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday

'So we look to play in our style, people don't like it but it is our style – people have to complain about something,' he said.

Portugal's
approach has been based around a fast counter-attacking game, mainly
through wingers Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, and Del Bosque said he
expected Wednesday's opponents to play in the same fashion again.

'They are very stable, they have stuck with the same starting lineup and don't except any change except for (the injured striker Helder) Postiga.

'They are stable and their coach (Paulo Bento) really knows what he is doing. We will see if they do something new but I'm expecting the same Portugal we saw in the other four games,' he said.

England issues for France match – Martin Keown

Martin Keown: Parker could bring fresh dimension to England's attack

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UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 10 June 2012

Get Parker on side

Scott Parker's defensive side of his game is magnificent but there is an adjustment I’d like to see him make going forward.

Get side on: Scott Parker should adapt his attacking technique

Get side on: Scott Parker should adapt his attacking technique

At the moment when he receives the ball he is too square on, which means he generally has to turn around and pass backwards as his next move if the opposition close him down.

If, like Steven Gerrard, he received the ball side on, he’d have the choice of driving forward too and that’s important at this level.

Danny’s a fast learner

After getting injured a few weeks ago, Danny Welbeck might not have been sure of his place in the England squad but he took his first international goal last week so coolly. He seemed confident, not doubting himself.

Fast learner: Danny Welbeck has great pace

Fast learner: Danny Welbeck has great pace

He has such pace and mobility, which England haven’t always had up front in recent years, and he can make a massive difference. When I played, I wanted our striker to be as fast as the opposition’s front man. With Welbeck, that is certainly the case.

Beware Benzema

Germany's Mario Gomez did little against Portugal and then came alive in the box to win the game. The best strikers are like that and Karim Benzema also falls into that category.

He improvises well for his finishes and is in great form, having come to life under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. It’s odd marking one striker between you as you feel redundant on occasions, so John Terry and Joleon Lescott must keep their concentration or Benzema will punish them.

Menace: Karim Benzema will test England

Menace: Karim Benzema will test England

Andrew Strauss enjoys some much-needed time in the middle at Trent Bridge

England captain Strauss enjoys some much-needed time in the middle at Trent Bridge

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

16:55 GMT, 12 May 2012

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UPDATED:

16:55 GMT, 12 May 2012

Andrew Strauss enjoyed some valuable
time in the middle ahead of England's upcoming Investec Tests with West
Indies as the LV= County Championship match between Nottinghamshire and
Middlesex finished in a draw.

Middlesex were set a nominal target
of 298 to win in 51 overs after lunch but on a slow Trent Bridge wicket
with some uneven bounce, a successful run-chase never looked likely.

Batting practice: Andrew Strauss

Batting practice: Andrew Strauss

Strauss and Sam Robson batted for 35 overs to reach 87-0 for the visitors before both sides agreed to a draw, with the England skipper making 43 and Robson 39.

Earlier, Notts had declared their second innings closed on 174 for seven, Steven Mullaney (73) and Michael Lumb (55) both making half-centuries, while Middlesex off-spinner Ollie Rayner added four for 67 to his first innings 143 not out.

At the start of the day a positive result was a distinct possibility with Notts 145 ahead on 22 for three in their second innings.

The position of the hosts immediately worsened as Steve Finn had Riki Wessels plumb lbw with the first delivery of the day, but Lumb and Mullaney put on 110 for the fifth wicket to settle any nerves.

By lunch Notts were 124 for four with both batsmen passing 50 just before the interval – Mullaney in 97 balls with six boundaries, Lumb in 104 deliveries, having hit eight fours.

Having stretched the lead to 247, Notts tried to increase the run-rate in the afternoon session to reach a suitable declaration target.

Rayner picked up two more wickets as a result of the attacking intent, Lumb miscuing a sweep to Finn at fine leg and Mullaney slicing a drive to deep cover.

In between, Notts captain Chris Read played on to Finn, who was quick and hostile throughout the innings, finishing with three for 47, and certainly bowled better than his would-be England colleague Stuart Broad.

Broad opened the bowling in Middlesex's second innings but offered little threat, aside from one delivery that found Strauss' outside edge on 26, only for Read to drop his diving attempt to take the catch in front of first slip.

There were very few alarms apart from that chance, with Graeme Swann bowling accurately but without threat from both the Pavilion and Radcliffe Road Ends.

Strauss batted for 132 minutes and finished with seven fours from 113 balls, while Robson hit four boundaries in facing 99 balls.

West Brom 0 Aston Villa 0: Given and Hutton earn handy point for under-fire McLeish

West Brom 0 Aston Villa 0: Given and Hutton earn handy point for under-fire McLeish

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UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 28 April 2012

Aston Villa edged closer to Barclays
Premier League survival after collecting a hard-earned point against
West Brom at the Hawthorns.

But it needed a controversial
refereeing decision by Mark Clattenburg to deny Albion victory after
Villa defender Alan Hutton clearly used his arm to block a goal-bound
header from Liam Ridgewell.

Peter Odemwingie's back heel is saved by Shay Given

Close: Peter Odemwingie's back heel is saved by Shay Given

MATCH FACTS

West Brom: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Brunt, Mulumbu (Andrews 79), Dorrans, Thomas, Odemwingie, Long (Fortune 69). Subs Not Used: Fulop, Shorey, Dawson, Cox, Scharner.

Aston Villa: Given, Hutton, Cuellar, Dunne, Lichaj, N'Zogbia (Gardner 74),Clark (Carruthers 90), Herd, Warnock, Agbonlahor, Heskey. Subs Not Used: Guzan, Collins, Ireland, Bannan, Weimann.

Booked: Warnock,Hutton,Clark,Heskey.

Att: 25,984

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

But Clattenburg and his assistant failed to spot the incident and the visitors survived to earn their 16th draw of the campaign.

Alex McLeish's side deserved their share of the spoils on the balance of play and were again left to rue failing to be more clinical in front of goal
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Chris Herd and Charles N'Zogbia all failed to make the most of gilt edged chances and Albion's Ben Foster was the busier of the two keepers.

The return of experienced defender Richard Dunne after a two and a half month lay-off with a broken collarbone also brought a steadying presence to the Villa back four.

Villa looked full of attacking intent in the early stages and Charles N'Zogbia found Stephen Warnock in space and his shot was blocked by Billy Jones.

But Albion nearly caught out Villa during their first serious counter-attack.

Under pressure: West Bromwich Albion's Peter Odemwingie is challenged by Aston Villa's Richard Dunne (right)

Under pressure: West Bromwich Albion's Peter Odemwingie is challenged by Aston Villa's Richard Dunne (right)

Carlos Cuellar failed to make clean contact on his attempted clearance from Shane Long's cross-shot after a determined run by the Republic of Ireland striker. The loose ball broke to 11-goal leading scorer Peter Odemwingie whose close-range back heel was blocked.

The first clearcut chance fell to Villa midfielder Chris Herd after 26 minutes.

Dunne showed good control to the right of Ben Foster's goal before sending over a low cross which landed in Herd's path. He struck his shot firmly enough but it flew straight at Foster who was able to make the save.

Feeling the heat: Villa boss Alex McLeish

Feeling the heat: Villa boss Alex McLeish

Agbonlahor, without a goal in 20 league games, then used his pace to get clear of the Baggies back four. But his touch was heavy inside the area and Foster was able to block his eventual shot.

Foster then blocked another shot from Agbonlahor, whose pace was causing problems for Jones, with his feet.

Warnock became the first player to be yellow carded after 36 minutes for bringing down Long who needed treatment before being able to resume.

Hutton followed Warnock into referee Mark Clattenburg's notebook after pulling back Jerome Thomas.

Cheeky: West Brom fans with a show of support for McLeish

Cheeky: West Brom fans with a show of support for McLeish

Brunt looked to handle a ball into the box from Hutton but Villa's penalty appeals were waved aside.
Albion were incensed when denied what appeared to be a clearcut penalty four minutes into the second half.

Ridgewell climbed above the Villa defence to power in a header from Graham Dorrans' corner. Hutton, who had already been booked, appeared to scoop the ball over the bar with his arm. But Clattenburg turned aside Albion's appeals.

Albion were looking sharper and Gareth McAuley headed just wide from a Brunt free-kick.
But Foster again came to Albion's rescue when he blocked a fierce close range attempt from N'Zogbia after he was completely unmarked from Agbonlahor's accurate cross.

Tempers were becoming frayed and Clark and Heskey were booked in quick succession for challenge on McAuley.

Cuellar came to Villa's rescue when he headed Odemwingie's shot off the line.
Albion were now looking more dangerous and Jonas Olsson was only inches too high with a header from a Thomas cross.

Villa probed for a winner in the closing stages and a mix-up between Olsson and Foster saw the ball break to Agbonlahor.

His cross was turned back by Heskey to Herd whose shot was blocked by Olsson.
Given produced a superb save with seconds remaining to keep out an Odemwingie volley from Thomas' cross.