RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
ANDREW VORCE - Sunday, February 28, 2010
Brad Friedel, Tim Howard and Landon Donovan were all on the losing end of the spectrum, while Stuart Holden's Premier League debut came with a victory over Marcus Hahnemann and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Aston Villa 1 - 2 Manchester United

Brad Friedel tried his hardest to keep Manchester United at bay, but Aston Villa were unable to hold onto an early first half lead as man of the hour Wayne Rooney headed home the winner.

Nemanja Vidic miraculously was able to stay on the field, only being punished with the penalty kick decision after hauling down Gabriel Agbonlahor inside the box. James Milner stepped up confidently, sending Thomas Kuszczack the wrong way to open the scoring in just the fifth minute.

In under 10 minutes the score line was equal, with striking partners Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen linked up for the equalizer. Berbatov stripped Richard Dunne of possession, and the Irishman's recovering tackle only served to play the ball into Owen's path. With dozens of similar goals under his belt, the out of sorts striker did what he does best and slotted the first time finish past Friedel.

In the end, it wasn't meant to be for Owen who limped off the field with three minutes to go in the first half, making way for United talisman Rooney. Friedel did impeccably well to save a Michael Carrick shot, while Park Ji-Sung had a shot rocket off the post just after the restart.

The game was put to rest in the 74th minute, with Berbatov sending Antonio Valencia into space with a clever one-two. Like plenty of Rooney goals this season, the Ecuadorian lifted his cross and the England striker made no mistake to loop his header past Friedel for the game winner.

Rooney later had another header hit off the post, but Villa duplicated when Emile Heskey's header was deflected by Vidic onto the crossbar. Both Patrice Evra and Vidic were booked for United, while James Collins and Stewart Downing were booked for Villa.

Up next for Friedel and company, a chance in the FA Cup against Reading next weekend.

Tottenham 2 - 1 Everton

Both Tim Howard and Landon Donovan will have some thinking to do after Everton's 2-1 loss at White Heart Lane.

Roman Pavlyuchenko scored his fifth goal in two games, starting in place of the injured Peter Crouch. With just 11 minutes gone, Jermaine Defoe was given the time and space down the flank to pick out his teammate on the back post. With mild pressure, the Russian earned his keep by sliding in his goal to an empty net as neither Howard or his Toffee back line put a name on the cross.

A trio of Croatians played keep away from the Toffee defense just around the penalty area, with Bedran Corluka and Niko Kranjcar linking up before Luka Modric chipped Howard to his back post in the 28th minute.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni got the Toffees within a goal in the 55th minute as the Spurs back line fell asleep. A long corner was nodded back goalwards, and the ball dropped in front of Heurelho Gomes but Yakubu acted fastest to smash home.

Donovan will be the news maker though, with the goal gaping and only two yards out, the on loan LA Galazy midfielder failed to convert from close range and Everton came up empty handed.

Mikel Arteta, John Heitinga, Phil Neville, and Steven Pienaar were all booked for Everton, while Modric was booked for Spurs. Up next for Everton, a home test against Hull City.

Bolton 1 - 0 Wolverhampton

Stuart Holden earned his first Premier League start for Bolton as Marcus Hahnemann's heroics were not enough for Wolverhampton.

Holden started the attack, taking a long corner to Lee Chong-Yong deep into the other side. With Adlene Guedioura pressuring, Chong-Yong turned his defender inside out before playing a neat pass back to Zat Knight who side footed his first goal for Bolton past Hahnemann from close range.

Hahnemann made save after save, linking up with Jody Craddock in the 30th to make a double save to deny Kevin Davies and Elmander. Wolves were unlucky not to find an equalizer, hitting either post and the cross bar, but the final inches not being made up as Wolves squandered their chances.

Karl Henry and Andrew Keogh were the only players booked in the outing. Holden will look to make it three starts in three matches when Bolton travels to West Ham, while Hahnemann and company next face Manchester united at home.

Watford 1 - 2 Newcastle

Jay DeMerit and Watford made it a tense final few minutes for visiting Newcastle but it was too little too late as the Hornets fell.

Newcastle are atop the Championship by six points, and got off to a flying start with the help of Andy Carroll. Danny Guthrie's free kick fell to Carrol, who redirected it across the face of goal where Fabricio Coloccini rose above Adrian Mariappa and his downward header was enough to beat Scott Loach in the fourth minute.

DeMerit was then the defender responsible for reaching Carroll, but the American captain could do little about the second goal. Guthrie chipped in a short corner to the near post, and Carroll flicked on and past the near post with DeMerit on his back.

Will Hoskins made it a nervewracking final few minutes when he ignored the offsides protests from around him to finish from close range. Jon Harley and Heidar Helguson were both booked for the Hornets.

Patrick van Aanholt, Leon Best, Kevin Nolan, Alan Smith, and Mike Williamson were all booked for Newcastle. DeMerit and Watford next take on Derby at Pride Park Stadium next weekend.

Stockport 4 - 3 Wycombe

The battle of the bottom feeders ended up being the game of the week in League One as last place Stockport County held off Wycombe at Edgeley Park in Stockport on Saturday.

Jon-Paul Pittman started up front and went the distance for the Wanderers while his American counterpart, Jemal Johnson started and went the first 77 minutes before yielding to David Poole.

Johnson also scored his second goal in as many matches for the Hatters who now are just five points behind Pittman and company in the league standings.

The hosts put four on the scoreboard before Wycombe netted their first. Richie Partridge opened the scoring in the 22nd and then less than a minute later George Donnelly doubled the margin.

Stockport's American striker added the third in the 53rd minute when he darted in from the right side of the area and sent a blazing left-footed shot into the back of the net.

Seven minutes later Donnelly added his second to put the Hatters up four. Wycombe then began making their comeback in the 67th when Matthew Phillips got the visitors on the board.

Phillips added a second goal for the Wanderers three minutes later and then all of the sudden the margin was halved.

Pittman played a deciding role in Wycombe's third goal as his 85th minute cross was knocked into the net by Stockport defender Owain Fon Williams.

Wycombe desperately pushed for a fourth in hopes of salvaging a miraculous draw but it was not meant to be.

Next up for Johnson and Stockport is a Tuesday date at Bristol Rovers while Pittman and Wycombe host Carlisle United on Saturday.

Northampton 2 - 1 Cheltenham

In only his second game for the club, Seb Harris came off the bench to score the winning goal for Northampton in a tough home match against Cheltenham.

Cheltenham had a vast majority of the possession, well over two thirds of the game. The visitors did little with it, however, only registering six shots, two of which forced Steele into a save.

After a goalless first half, Adebayor Akinfenwa pushed Northampton ahead just seven minutes into the first half. Liam Davis picked out the top scorer, and Akinfenwa did not disappoint, settling at the far post before rocketing his 14th of the season.

The equalizer came in the 78th for Cheltenham, with David Hutton picking out Marley Watkins. With the pressure on, the midfielder stayed true to convert at the far post. The game winner, however, came from Harris in the 85th when the American sent a flicked back header from the edge of the area looping into the far post. The American celebrated in style, running across the field before sliding on his stomach towards his fans and grasping the club crest.

Ashley Eastham and Josh Low joined Watkins in the book for Cheltenham, while Harris will hope to gain more minutes when Northampton travels to Port Vale.

Notes:

Clint Dempsey was out injured in Fulham's listless 0-0 draw at Sunderland.

Zak Whitbread is still out injured as Norwich claimed a 1-0 win away to Oldham.

Mike Grella watched from the bench as Leeds United drew 2-2 against Huddersfield at The Galpharm Stadium.

Kenny Cooper never left the bench as Plymouth fell 4-3 at Sheffield United.

Frank Simek rode the pine as Reading demolished Sheffield Wednesday at home with a 5-0 scoreline.