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  • Newcastle vs Manchester City (12.45pm) - Scott Wilson reports
  • Manchester United vs Sunderland (3pm) - Paul Fraser reports
  • Middlesbrough vs Wolves (3pm) - Richard Mason reports
  • MK Dons vs Hartlepool (3pm) - Nick Loughlin reports
  • Durham City vs Darlington (3pm) - Craig Stoddart reports

5:12pm

It's ended 2-0 to Boro here, and god knows how. They were second best to Wolves but a late penalty and a breakaway goal hands them the victory. They all count though, and Cardiff losing closes the gap between them.

4:56pm

FT: MK Dons 1 Hartlepool 0.

So that's a club record 21 winless games for Pools. 

First half was poor, second half improved. Perhaps the sort of game Pools would have lost heavily a few months and weeks ago. Defended well and they were under their share of pressure this afternoon.

 

4:52pm

FT: Middlesbrough 2 Wolverhampton 0

4:52pm

GOAL: Middlesbrough 2 (McDonald 90+4) Wolverhampton 0

4:51pm

Amar Purewal now has 14 goals while Mark Bell’s Darlington debut coincides with the team’s first clean sheet since September.

4:51pm

FULL-TIME: Manchester United 3 Sunderland 1

It's all over here. United are six points clear at the top of the Premier League again after overcoming Sunderland.

Goals from Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney did the damage, even if Fraizer Campbell pulled one back 17 minutes from time. 

Sunderland, who head for Southampton next Saturday, are just a point above the Saints, who are sitting in third from bottom spot with a game in hand.

4:50pm

FULL-TIME: Durham 0 Darlington 4 (Galbraith, Dowson, Purewal 2). Darlington’s lead over Spennymoor returns to seven points ahead of their game on Wed.

4:47pm

Well well well. Lifeline for Boro. Karl Henry handballs in the box and Marvin Emnes strokes home from the spot. Wolves are furious. They don't feel Henry could have done much about it and I'd be inclined to agree. His hands were by his side.

4:46pm

GOAL: Middlesbrough 1 (Emnes 88, pen) Wolverhampton 0

4:43pm

Durham’s Scott Fenwick heads over the bar after Darlington cheaply lose possession in their own half while trying to play keep-ball. Darlington down to ten men now - Terry Galbraith limps off and they’ve used all of their substitutes.

4:40pm

Darlington close to a fifth goal on the counter-attack. White shirts piled forward, Thompson played the ball with the outside of his boot into Michael Sweet’s path, but the teenager’s 18-yard shot was narrowly wide.

4:38pm

Durham make their first change, Spencer Brown on for Gary Shaw. Another good save by Darlington's Mark Bell, pushing away Scott Fenwick’s low drive. 0-4, ten minutes to go.

4:31pm

GOAL: MAnchester United 3 Sunderland 1, Campbell 73

 

FRAIZER Campbell, minutes after his introduction, has pulled one back. He rose underneath the crossbar to nod in Sessegnon's cross.

Maybe O'Neill needs Campbell more than he thinks he does. That was his first goal since February. 

4:30pm

Sub for Hartlepool - Poole on, Franks off. 

Franks been much improved this half on the first period. 

 

4:29pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

This game has been described by someone in the press box as a chess game. It's not chess. It's like watching two seratonin-starved anaemic teenagers playing World of Warcraft at 4am, while I sit in the corner, sobbing. Nothing at all to whet the whistle here. I'd rather go Christmas shopping. And I don't even need to.

4:29pm

GOAL: Darlington lead 4-0, Amar Purewal blasts home from ten yards after meeting an Adam Nicholls pull-back following a neat Terry Galbraith pass. 

4:26pm

Darlington have made a double substitution, Adam Nicholls and Michael Sweet for Chris Emms and David Dowson. Durham have yet to make a change, but at 3-0 down they’d have to come up with something bloody special to avoid defeat now. They did come close at 2-0 though, Conor Winter effort’s pushed over the bar by Mark Bell.

4:22pm

GOAL: Darlington lead 3-0 now. Amar Purewal flicked ball home, ala Danny Welbeck against Sweden, after a Galbraith pass.

4:21pm

It's still MK Dons 1 Hartlepool 0. But both sides have showed a lot more second half attacking intent. 

Pools have had their best chance - a firm Wyke shot saved by Martin. 

But the home side have cleared their own shot off the line and knocked a couple of teasing balls across the area as they push plenty of players forward. 

4:21pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Ledesma and Emnes come on for Williams and Miller respectively. Peculiar reception for Miller's exit, jeers from the Wolves fans - presumably as he's an ex-West Brom man - and cheers from the Boro fans, who seemingly find it appropriate to cheer off a player from their own team. 0-0.

4:19pm

Darlington’s second goal had been coming. Before Dowson scored they twice came close to scoring. A Galbraith free-kick, after Oates had felled Dowson, went over the bar after deflecting of the top of the Durham wall, and from Galbraith’s corner Brown headed off the top of the bar. 0-2.

4:17pm

GOAL: Two ex Durham players combine to make it 2-0 to Darlington, David Dowson lashing home after being played in by Stephen Thompson. 

4:17pm

GOAL: Manchester United 3 Sunderland 0, Rooney 59

ANOTHER one for United. This time van Persie's first touch took him between Cuellar and Bramble before crossing low for Rooney to tap in. 

4:16pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Boro just lack the cutting edge here. Smart passing found Luke Williams in time and space, but the youngster overplayed the chance. Richard Smallwood fired a shot into Ikeme's hands moments later. Williams has just gone close again, Ikeme gathering his shot at the second attempt. Boro have the lion's share of the chances here, but Wolves look dangerous on the break.

4:14pm

A second fine save by Quakers keeper Mark Bell, diving low to his right to keeper out a Craig Ellison shot on 54 minutes. Durham have played some attractive football at times and they’re certainly capable of grabbing a goal.

4:07pm

Early chance in the second half for Darlington. Durham’s Jack Walker got a vital foot in after Dowson had neatly controlled Thompon’s cross-field pass. From Galbraith’s resulting corner, Dowson saw a header saved low by Young. 0-1 still.

4:06pm

Still chances - at both ends. Van Persie guilty of wasting the best there though. Young's chipped pass sent the Dutchman clear and his lob over Mignolet dropped wide.

4:03pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

No changes at half-time as we get back under way. Not exactly a classic opening 45 here, but the half-time soup more than made up for it. Pea and ham. Classic.

4:02pm

And on comes Connor Wickham for the second half, off goes Fletcher. Scholes has also come on for United for Carrick.

3:58pm

Dear Santa, please can I have a laptop which does not have intermittent internet access, so that tweets can be sent when I press ‘tweet’? Such a laptop would also be of assistance when attempting to use the Echo’s live blog, and I know you’re a big fan of it, Santa.

Cheers.

3:49pm

HT: MK Dons 1 Hartlepool United 0. 

Poor first half all round. MK Dons keeping the ball - 61% possession - and the goal is one John Hughes will want to see again after his defenders pushed out leaving Ryan Lowe in the area to score. 

Pools had one chance first half, Jon Franks had a lob straight into David MArtin's hands. Scott Flinders the far busier keeper. 

3:49pm

HT: Middlesbrough 0 Wolverhampton 0

3:46pm

Further bad news for Sunderland. Fletcher struggling, holding his back. The striker has come back on, but it would be no surprise if he doesn't appear after half-time.

It's now half-time and Sunderland trail by two goals. Plenty to do - if only to keep the scoreline down to two after van Persie and Cleverley's goals.

3:43pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Game has settled down now. Boro are going through long spells of pretty passing football only for a lack of a final ball bringing the whole thing down. A bit like making a picture of the Taj Mahal on an Etch-A-Sketch only for the school bully to muscle in and shake it up. This game is almost as bad as that analogy. 0-0.

3:39pm

For all that Darlington have seen more of the ball and are leading 1-0, they have not given Durham keeper Gareth Young enough to do. Case in point, Thompson blasts over bar from edge of box after being teed up by Dowson. Attendance is 706.

3:39pm

For all that Darlington have seen more of the ball and are leading 1-0, they have not given Durham keeper Gareth Young enough to do. Case in point, Thompson blasts over bar from edge of box after being teed up by Dowson. Attendance is 706.

3:36pm

Cracking save by Darlington’s new keeper Mark Bell. After Stephen Harrison had been caught out when dealing with a cross-field ball, Durham's Scott Fenwick crashed a shot towards goal that Bell leapt to his left to save. 0-1 still.

3:32pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Couple of chances apiece here. Bakary Sako's corner was saved at the near post by Jason Steele, while Wolves fans called for a penalty after Kevin Doyle was felled in the aftermath. Their anger was almost compounded as Miller swept up the other end but his shot sailed over the crossbar. McDonald spurned a chance when he just missed Justin Hoyte's low cross. Another Sako set-piece had to be dealt with by Steele on 28 minutes when the England under-21 goalkeeper saved well from Sako's free-kick.

3:30pm

It took almost half an hour, but Durham finally enjoyed a little spell. Striker Scott Fenwick got the better of Joe Tait, but the resulting corner came to nothing and Darlington’s debutant keeper Mark Bell’s still not had a shot to save. 0-1 still, 31mins.

3:28pm

 

3:26pm

MK Dons shots 8 - Hartlepool shots 0 after 25 mins. Possession dominated by the home side, passing it to death.

3:25pm

More chances for Darlington. A Purewal shot on the turn was deflected wide by the despairing dive of Durham's Baitey, and from Galbraith corner’s Dowson flicked a header wide. A second goal is surely an inevitability if Quakers maintain this pressure.

3:22pm

GOAL: Manchester United 2 Sunderland 0, Cleverely 19

Two goals inside three minutes. This time Cleverley curls beyond Mignolet after playing a neat one-two with Carrick which neither Cuellar or Johnson had any answer to.

And as I type, Rooney has just volleyed narrowly wide from eight yards out. Sunderland are in for a long afternoon.

3:22pm

Yet another Darlington chance. After a David Dowson cross, Amar Purewal was beaten to the ball by Durham right-back Mark Baitey. Quakers need to make the most of this possession.

3:20pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Couple of chances for Boro here, and on-loan midfielder Josh McEachran is the architect. Firstly, the Chelsea man found Luke Williams with a tasty through-ball, but the chance is cleared after the Boro youngster shot against Ikeme, while McEachran slotted Ishmael Miller in with a perfect pass which evaded Roger Johnson and Kevin Foley. However, Miller couldn't make the chance count.

3:19pm

Another Darlington chance for 2-0, this time Chris Emms' shot saved by keeper Gareth Young following a nicely-weighted Stephen Harrison forward pass. Soon afterwards, Gary Brown’s overhead kick was saved by Young after the centre-back met Chris Emms’ cross. 20mins, 0-1.

3:19pm

Should be 2-0  to Darlington. Thompson’s cross to the near post met by David Dowson, but he lifted his effort over the bar. 16mins, 0-1.

3:17pm

GOAL: 16 mins in and Hartlepool one down at MK Dons. 

Ball returned to the area, defenders all pushed up and Ryan Lowe got in behind to finish. 

Pools furious with the assistant as they all appealed in vain for an offside flag. 

3:16pm

GOAL: Manchester United 1 Sunderland 0, van Persie 16

Young's trickery down the left turned Cuellar and Colback inside out. His low cross deflected off O'Shea and van Persie was on hand to fire high in to the Sunderland goal.

 

3:14pm

Sunderland fans in full voice here, despite United going close a couple of times. Mignolet looks set for a busy afternoon. 0-0

3:11pm

GOAL: Terry Galbraith penalty puts Darlington 1-0 up after eight minutes at Durham. David Dowson had been fouled by Graham Irving as he latched on to a perfectly-weighted Stephen Thompson through-ball. 

3:10pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

First chance of the game. Scott McDonald drags a shot wide of the post. Even stuff here, neither side going all out, it's a calm and pleasant game of football. At the moment.

3:06pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Chief disrupt-niks Wolves won the toss and promptly switched ends. So Boro will attack the North Stand in the first half. Which means I may get confused and leave at half-time thinking 'oh, that was a quick game'.

3:05pm

Four mins in and first change for Hartlepool - Evan Horwood forced off on four mins with a groin strain replaced by Darren Holden

3:04pm

Tactical reshuffle by Darlington. In a 4-4-2, Leon Scott is starting at left-back, Stephen Thompson is left-wing and Amar Purewal is up front with David Dowson. Terry Galbraith is in centre-midfield with Craig Gott with Chris Emms right-wing. 0-0, 6mins.

3:00pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Teams out. Two bubbling sub-plots today, for you minor sub-plot fanatics. George Friend is a former Wolve (Wolf?) but did not make an appearance, while Carl Ikeme, starting in between the sticks for Wanderers, spent a successful spell here at the Riverside last season while Jason Steele was out with hand-knack.

2:58pm

Your reporter at Durham City v Darlington is already regretting the decision to wear only one pair of socks. Foolish. Cold toes. Anyhow, the players are out.

2:55pm

TEAMS: Manchester United v Sunderland 

DANNY ROSE has failed to recover from an ankle problem in time to line up for Sunderland at Manchester United today.

The England Under-21s left-back has been replaced in the Black Cats team by Titus Bramble, which looks certain to mean a switch of role for Carlos Cuellar.

The boost for Sunderland is that £10m winger Adam Johnson has recovered from a dead leg sustained in the midweek win over Reading. He will start on the right, with Jack Colback likely to be filling Rose's left-back slot.

Wayne Rooney has also shrugged off illness to start for Manchester United behind striker Robin van Persie.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): de Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Smalling, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Valencia, Rooney, Young; van Persie. Subs: Giggs, Lindegaard (gk), Jernandez, Vidic, Welbeck, Scholes, Fletcher.

SUNDERLAND (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Cuellar, O'Shea, Bramble, Colback; Johnson, Gardner, Larsson, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher. Subs: Campbell, Wickham, McFadden, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Westwood (gk), Saha.

2:54pm

2:52pm

In this morning’s Echo, Durham City manager Adam Furness said: "We're really looking forward to Saturday. First and foremost it's another opportunity to get points on the table, but with the quality of players Darlington will bring - some of them ex Durham- it will be another measure of exactly how far we've come.

"We certainly competed with Spennymoor, so we know that if we perform to our best we'll have a good chance of getting something. If we don’t, and consistency has been an issue for us of late, then I'm sure we'll be in for a tough time.

"Our players will relish playing in front of a big crowd and as with the Spennymoor game, I think it will be another great example of the high standard of football in the Northern League."

2:52pm

Darlington hand a debut to new goalkeeper Mark Bell in today’s game at Durham City.

He arrived during the week from West Auckland and replaces Jack Norton, who has been released, as one of two changes in Martin Gray’s team.

Chris Emms returns at the expense of Adam Nicholls, who drops to the bench an also among the substitutes is youth team player David Mitchell.

New loan signing Michael Sweet is also on the bench for Quakers. The Darlington-born striker joined yesterday from Gateshead.

Durham are without centre-back Dan Madden and defender Steve Jones because of injury, but striker Gary Shaw has passed a fitness test.

Durham are 19th having lost three of their past six league matches, one of which was a 3-2 defeat at home to Spennymoor.

2:51pm

 

2:51pm

Durham City: Young, Baitey, Walker, Ellison, Irving, Oates, Shaw, Hotchkiss, Winterm S Fenwick, Dixon. Subs: Stoker, Jobling, R Fenwick, Allen, Brown

Darlington: Bell, Harrison, Brown, Tait, Galbraith, Emms, Scott, Gott, Amar Purewal, Dowson, Thompson. Subs: Porter (gk), Reay, Sweet, Nicholls, Mitchell

Referee: Paul Curry

2:42pm

 

2:39pm

FT: Newcastle 1 Manchester City 3

Full-time and Newcastle have lost 3-1. They displayed plenty of spirit and enterprise in the second half, but can't really argue that the better team won in the end.

2:33pm

Richard Mason, Middlesbrough v Wolverhampton Wanderers:

Teamsheets are out at Middlesbrough and there are a few changes for the hosts. Jonathan Woodgate comes back into the lineup, while Richard Smallwood and Luke Williams make their first league starts in a while. Williams has been out with a hip injury while Smallwood has provided decent assistance from the bench in recent games. Ishmael Miller gets a start up top after scoring the winner at Peterborough a week ago, while Nicky Bailey, Emannuel Ledesma, and Marvin Emnes drop to the bench.

Wolves, meanwhile, are unchanged and have won two of their last games after going two months without a win.

MIDDLESBROUGH (4-3-3): Steele; Hoyte, Hines, Woodgate, Friend; McEachran, Leadbitter, Smallwood; Williams, Miller, McDonald. Thomson, Emnes, Bailey, Ledesma, Jutkiewicz, Parnaby, Leutwiler.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-3-3): Ikeme; Ward, Johnson, Berra, Foley; Henry, Sako, Doumbia; Ebanks Blake, Sigurdasson, Doyle. Subs: Stearman, Nouble, Pennant, Batth, Davis, Forde, De Vries

2:24pm

Newcastle 1 Manchester City 3 (Yaya Toure 78)

Game over now as Manchester City score their third. Silva released Zabaleta down the left touchline and after the full-back squared from the byline, Yaya Toure stabbed home.

2:19pm

HARTLEPOOL United boss John Hughes has stuck with the same starting XI for his team's trip to MK Dons.

He was expected to switch to a 4-5-1 set-up, but has opted for the same set-up as the team which lost to Stevenage last weekend.

There's still no place for Peter Hartley as he recovers from conjunctivitus, while Simon Walton is omitted with teenager forward Zak Bogey included.

MK DONS: Martin, Lewington, Doumbe, Williams, Gleeson, Potter, Bowditch, Kay, Lowe, Chadwick, Balanta. Subs: McLoughlin, MacDonald, Smith, Chicksen, Powell, Sekajja, Ismail. 

HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Flinders; Richards, Collins, Baldwin, Horwood; Franks, Sweeney, Humphreys, Monkhouse; Wyke, Howard. Subs: McHugh (gk), Poole, Rutherford, Murray, Holden, Johnson, Boagey. 

Referee: Roger East (Swindon)

2:18pm

Quarter of an hour left for Newcastle to claim an equaliser. They certainly look capable of one, with Ba and Anita in particular causing problems.

City will hope to make the game safe on the counter-attack though and have introduced Dzeko for Zabaleta.

2:10pm

2:10pm

2:09pm

Newcastle well on top at the moment, but so far unable to claim an equaliser.

Cisse drilled over after turning Clichy in the area, while Ba drilled into the side netting from close range.

At the other end though, Krul did well to save Tevez's chip with his chest after Zabaleta released the Argentinian into the right side of the area. 1-2

1:57pm

NEWCASTLE 1 (Ba 51) MANCHESTER CITY 2

Newcastle get their reward for an extremely bright start to the second period.

Anita's corner was only cleared to Coloccini, who hooked in a cross from the left.

Ba beat the offside trap and calmly headed past Hart from the edge of the six-yard box.

Game on.

1:56pm

A big cheer has just gone up underneath the Stretford End at Old Trafford. By my reckoning, Newcastle must have scored!

1:54pm

1:54pm

1:53pm

Under way in the second half at St James' Park, and Ba has just headed Tiote's cross over the bar at the back post.

Santon has also just drilled a low shot into the side netting, with Newcastle at least showing plenty of purpose. 0-2

1:53pm

Arrived at Old Trafford. The sun was shining, but the clouds have gathered. The surface could be in for a soaking before kick-off.  

No news on teams as yet, but safe to say Sunderland have got a tough task on their hands this afternoon.

1:28pm

1:27pm

Newcastle 0 Manchester City 2 (Garcia 39)

Manchester City double their lead with a second goal that was an absolute shambles from a Newcastle perspective.

No one gets tight enough to Javi Garcia as he rises to head Silva's corner, but Davide Santon should still have cleared from next to the post.

Instead, Santon missed his attempted clearance completely and deflected the ball into the goal via his standing leg.

1:23pm

Samir Nasri has been the chief tormentor of the Newcastle defence so far, but he's just gone off with a groin injury. Kolarov on as Man City reshuffle things. 0-1

1:18pm

Newcastle creating chances here - Joe Hart was forced into his second smart save of the game to keep out Mike Williamson's volley - but the hosts are really struggling to cope with the speed of Man City's passing and movement.

Nasri is causing all kinds of problems down City's right-hand side, with Tevez and Aguero linking superbly in the area so far. 0-1

1:07pm

1:07pm

Remarkable few seconds sees David Silva hit the post from close range and Mike Williamson produce a sensational goalline block to prevent Aguero tapping home the rebound.

Newcastle under the cosh and unable to cope with Man City's slick passing on the edge of the penalty area. 0-1

12:59pm

12:58pm

Newcastle 0 Manchester City 1 (Aguero 10)

Newcastle might have started brightly, but Manchester City have scored with their first attack.

Yaya Toure unlocked the Magpies defence with a fantastic through ball to Samir Nasri.

Nasri unselfishly squared the ball across the six-yard box for Sergio Aguero, who had the simple task of slotting home.

12:50pm

Positive start from Newcastle results in Joe Hart making an excellent low save from Papiss Cisse.

Really good stop from the England man after Cisse swivelled and shot following Cheik Tiote's second-minute cross. 0-0

12:35pm

12:34pm

12:12pm

Here are the teams from St James' Park:

NEWCASTLE (4-3-3): Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Perch, Tiote, Anita; Cisse, Ba, Gutierrez.

Subs: Elliot (gk), Ferguson, Tavernier, Bigirimana, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi.

MAN CITY (4-3-3): Hart; Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Nastasic, Clichy; Garcia, Yaya Toure, Nasri; Silva, Tevez, Aguero.

Subs: Pantilimon (gk), Kolarov, Lescott, Rekik, Razak, Sinclair, Dzeko. 

Referee: Andre Marriner (Sheldon)

12:05pm

The early team news from St James' Park is that Newcastle make one change from the side that lost at Fulham on Monday.

James Perch replaces the injured Hatem Ben Arfa, who has suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

11:59am

Welcome to another action-packed day of live football action involving the North-East clubs.

First up, Newcastle host reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at St James' Park hoping to spring a surprise and bounce back from Monday's defeat at Fulham. 

The pick of the 3pm kick-offs sees Sunderland heading to Old Trafford to take on league leaders Manchester United. The Black Cats will be buoyant after Tuesday's much-needed win over Reading, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side will present their usual tough test.

In the Championship, Middlesbrough will hope to put their Capital One Cup disappointment behind them as they entertain Wolves.

Hartlepool travel to MK Dons in League One, while Darlington will attempt to arrest their own recent slump when they travel to Durham City in the Northern League.

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