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Preston remain in deep trouble in the Championship relegation zone, still rooted to the bottom of the league and unable to bridge the ten point gap to safety. Phil Brown does at least seem to be making them a more difficult side to beat, with three consecutive draws in the league. All came against decent sides and in a normal season would have been regarded as good results. However, North End contrived to throw away a two goal lead at Watford and on the balance of play may feel disappointed with just a point from the QPR game. The same cannot be said of their thrilling 96th minute equalizer from Billy Jones against Nottingham Forest to secure a 2-2 scoreline. Their sole defeat came at Hull, a 1-0 defeat ensuring that Phil Brown did not have a happy return.
Wigan are also in the relegation zone and find themselves in 18th place. Roberto Martinez does have plenty to be positive about, as his side gained a hugely creditable and deserved point in their last outing at Anfield thanks to a rare goal from Steve Gohouri. In their only other game over the last two weeks, Wigan were dumped out of the FA Cup by Bolton; although with Premier League survival of paramount importance, it is unlikely that many at Wigan will be unduly concerned with this result. Wigan will have to continue their improved play, with ties against both Manchester sides, Tottenham and Chelsea to come in the next five games.
Another side who must be looking over their shoulder are Morecambe. They have collected just one point from their last four games and look to be devoid of confidence. Undoubtedly the recent high point was Paul Mullin’s 88th minute goal to secure a 3-3 draw at Northampton. Unfortunately this was sandwiched between three defeats; including a recent loss to fellow strugglers Macclesfield. The Silkmen were tenacious throughout and prevented Morecambe from moving the ball quickly and supplying Phil Jevons up top. Fans can take some encouragement however, as club legend Danny Carlton has re-signed for the club after being released by Bury.
Although Blackpool have halted their alarming slump with four points from their last two home outings, the Tangerines are still just five points clear of the drop zone. Their first game resulted in a 1-1 draw with a pacey Aston Villa side; and this was followed up with a superb 3-1 win against Champions League chasing Tottenham. DJ Campbell continued his fine scoring form and Brett Omerod struck a third to ensure his place in pub quizzes for years to come; as he has now scored for Blackpool in all four divisions. However impressive this result was, Ian Holloway will be aware of the significance of their tie with Wolves at the weekend; another positive result and survival will look much more certain.
The region’s two non-league sides continue to occupy the top half of their respective divisions and buck the trend set by their more illustrious neighbours. Fleetwood continue to cling to the final Blue Square Premier play-off position after two wins from three games. Most impressive was a 3-1 win against Luton in front of a bumper crowd, courtesy of a brace from the rejuvenated Gareth Seddon, who continues to excel playing in his natural position of centre forward. The other victory came with a convincing 3-0 win over Grimsby. Finally, there was a bizarre story to come out of the club as it was revealed that midfielder Jamie McGuire has found Durham City’s missing away kit, which was taken when they visited Cammel Laird.
Although Lancaster city sit in a comfortable 10th place; their form has dipped alarmingly with three consecutive defeats in the last two weeks. There has been some respite however, with a 2-1 home scoreline sending the Dolly Blues through to the Presidents Cup final at the expense of high-flying Chester. In other news, there is now an official Lancaster University student’s supporters group for Lancaster City and details of this can be found on Facebook.