As in politics, a week can be long time in soccer. Just ask Darren Randolph.
Nine days ago the goalkeeper was beaten eight times as Championship strugglers Birmingham City were humiliated by Bournemouth. On Saturday, things were vastly different as the 27-year-old was named man of the match after keeping a clean sheet in the goal-less draw with high-flying Wolves.
“We fought hard for the point, we had a game-plan, we stuck to it and we got the point,” Randolph, one of five keepers named in Martin O’Neill initial’s squad for the upcoming games against Scotland and USA, said. “We worked on shape and everybody’s positioning through the week, to have a solid base to work from and everyone stuck to their jobs for 90 minutes.”
New Birmingham manager Gary Rowett said of Randolph: “He was really, really good, some of the saves he made were fantastic.”
Elsewhere, former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy celebrated two years in charge of Ipswich with a 2-0 win at Blackpool. Ireland hopeful David McGoldrick opened the scoring before Daryl Murphy’s eight league goal of the season made the game safe. “They’re a good partnership,” McCarthy said after his striking duo had fired his team to within touching distance of a play-off spot.
An exquisite pass from Keith Andrews conjured up a stunning equaliser as Watford came from behind to beat Millwall 3-1 to go top. Andrews’ pass was turned in by Matej Vydra.
Derby began the weekend in top spot but dropped to fifth after conceding a late goal to lose 2-1 at Brentford.
“It was a disappointing afternoon for us,” Ireland defender and Derby captain Richard Keogh conceded after a second successive league reversal.
“We need to show character and we have learned a lot about ourselves to be honest. We hit top of the league, we wanted to push on and for whatever reason we haven’t done that and lost the last two league games.
“We need to make sure we change that mentality.
“We need a different mentality when we hit the top of the league, that’s what good teams do.”
Below Championship level it was a quiet weekend for the Irish.
There was one notable exception, however, as former Ireland international Liam Lawrence scored a penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage-time to hand 10-man Shrewsbury a 2-1 win at Dagenham. Lawrence’s strike lifted Shrewsbury to third after five successive League Two victories.
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