There were plenty of goals in the Championship this weekend, with Wigan, Leicester, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday all helping themselves to three goals or more. Very few teams in the top eight slipped up; Burnley avoided a potential banana skin at Yeovil, and Brighton’s 1-0 win over Birmingham propelled them into the play-off places for the first time all season. Charlton’s game with Barnsley at The Valley was postponed at the ridiculous time of 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon, while their relegation rivals Doncaster narrowly lost 1-0 at Blackburn. Bolton came from behind to earn a home point against Forest, and Huddersfield Town’s marquee signing Nahki Wells came off the bench to notch a last gasp winner against Millwall.
League leaders Leicester brushed aside in form Derby on Friday night, in front of the Sky TV cameras.
Belgian full-back Ritchie De Leat set the ball rolling for the Foxes in the first half, placing in a left footed shot from 15 yards, after playing a neat one-two with David Nugent.
De Leat’s strike separated the sides at the interval, despite the hosts’ dominance. However, City struck just three minutes into the second half to give themselves more breathing space. Jamie Vardy outmuscled former Leicester defender Michael Keane and teed up Nugent inside the area, whose effort was blocked by Buxton, only to ricochet into the back of the net via the foot of Nugent.
The table toppers seemed comfortable against their disappointing opponents, but it was the visitors who grabbed the all-important third goal of the contest, through a De Leat own goal. Buxton flicked on a Bryson corner, but the ball hit the unfortunate Belgian on its way into the goal.
However, County’s optimism was short lived, when Craig Forsyth naively brought down Vardy in the penalty area seconds after the re-start. Nugent did the honours from the spot, to put the Foxes further in the ascendency on the hour mark.
Minutes later, the encounter was put way beyond the reach of the Rams, when Jamie Vardy helped himself to a goal. Nugent dispossessed Hendrick midway through his own half, before sliding a pass through to Vardy, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner, leaving Lee Grant helpless.
After that, the entertainment of the contest dwindled, but Leicester really demonstrated their promotion credentials in front of the whole country, by sweeping aside a rejuvenated Derby side.
The second televised Championship match of the weekend featured two Yorkshire clubs in need of points quickly, but it was the hosts who claimed them triumphantly, with a memorable performance to match.
Towering full-back Reda Johnson opened the scoring around the twenty minute mark, finding acres of space in the penalty area to get on the end of Kieran Lee’s lobbed pass into the area, before poking the ball past Paddy Kenny from close range.
Lee was at the heart of the Owls’ second goal as well, receiving the ball on the left hand side from Wickham, before running into the box and unselfishly squaring the ball to a grateful Adthe Nuhiu, who arrived at the back post to tap-in from a few yards out, just before the interval.
The second period started with a moment of controversy; substitute Matt Smith had only been on the pitch for sixty seconds when he got himself questionably sent off for dangerously jumping into Johnson.
It seemed like there was no way back for McDermott’s men, but little did they know that it was about to get a whole lot worse, when Connor Wickham’s goal minutes later put Leeds in a perilous position.
The in-form frontman’s left-footed rasping drive from the left corner of the 18 yard box cannoned in off Kenny’s near post, after he took on Jason Pearce, who was caught ball watching. Fifteen minutes later, Chris Maguire’s 25 yard free-kick took a wicked and cruel deflection off Rudy Austin, which wrong footed Kenny and handed the hosts a fortuitous four goal advantage.
The introduction of Coalan Lavery gave the Owls fresh impetus, and the youngster notched his first two Wednesday goals from the bench in his first Championship outing after a successful loan spell at Plymouth.
Reda Johnson’s hopeful clearance found Lavery, who cleverly turned an over-committing Zaliukas on the halfway line, before running into the box and jinking his way past Pugh and Mowatt. Although a pass would have seen an easier option, Lavery opted to shoot, and thankfully his scuffed shot hit both posts before finding the net.
The away side’s misery was compounded in stoppage time, when Johnson combined with Lavery again, as the youngster managed to get his second goal in the blue and white. The big Beninian’s pass should have easily been intercepted by Marius Zaliukas, but instead the recent signing decided to back heel the ball right into a hungry Lavery’s path, and the diminutive Northern Irishman wasted no time in curling the ball in off Kenny’s right hand post.
Click here to see the match ratings article for this Yorkshire derby:
Out-of-form QPR got back to winning ways on Saturday with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Ipswich at Portman Road.
A lack of goals had been a problem for Harry Redknapp’s men prior to this clash, but this display will have eased Rangers’ attacking frets.
The talented Nico Kranjcar gave the R’s a second half lead, when he cut in from the left onto his stronger right foot and expertly placed the ball into the bottom right corner, taking on three Town defenders in the build-up.
Gary O’Neil doubled the advantage on the 66th minute, when Gerken parried a strike from the returning Charlie Austin into the path of the former West Ham midfielder Gary O’Neil, who reacted before Ipswich left-back Aaron Cresswell to score a simple tap-in.
Armand Traore put the contest beyond doubt with 16 minutes left to play, when Tommy Smith’s poor touch let Traore in behind, and he made no mistake from close range, poking the ball past a bemused Loach.
However, Smith soon made amends late on, as he connected with Steven Hunts’ out-swinging corner to score a spectacular bicycle kick from the edge of the area. The Tractor Boys’ celebrations were muted, as they knew that it was too little too late to stop the Londoners emerging with a vital three points.
After hitting the summit of the Championship in the opening exchanges of the campaign, Blackpool have dramatically fallen down the table. The Tangerines are currently enduring a horrible run of form; their latest defeat against Middlesbrough extends their winless run to eight games, as pressure continues to mount on manager Paul Ince.
Mustapha Carayol inspired Aitor Karanka’s men to a well-earned win, scoring a late second-half brace. His first goal was superb, as he cut in from the left touchline and went past Jack Robinson as if he wasn’t there, before curling the ball into Gilks’ bottom right hand corner, to put the Teesiders in the ascendency with just six minutes remaining.
Boro avoided a nail biting climax, as Carayol bagged his second in injury time. Albert Adomah pulled the ball back to Curtis Main from the byline, whose first time shot hit McKenzie and then fell to Carayol, who smashed home from eight yards, to secure a fine away win for Middlesbrough, who now overtake the Seasiders.
Despite dominating possession and having more shots on target, Watford lost by a solitary goal at home to a misfiring Reading side, who before Saturday’s encounter at Vicarage Road, were without a victory in four league outings.
Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss scored the only goal of the game, glancing in a powerful Jordan Obita corner just five minutes into the match.
The away side had to soak up a lot of pressure in the first half, Deeney went close twice, but it was Ikechi Anya who fluffed the best opportunity of the ninety minutes, as he blazed the ball over from close range after Deeney fizzed the ball across the face of the net.
Hornets’ loanee Alexander Merkel made the task of coming back into the game much harder, when he earned himself a red card for an awful two footed-tackle on Reading substitute Nick Blackman.
Nigel Adkins will be hoping that his team can really push on and challenge for promotion; the recent bad run saw them drop out of the top six.
Other Championship Results
Blackburn 1-0 Doncaster (Gestede 45)
Bolton 1-1 Forest (Paterson 47, Mills 74)
Brighton 1-0 Birmingham (Lopez 58)
Charlton P-P Barnsley (Due to waterlogged pitch)
Huddersfield 1-0 Millwall (Wells 90)
Wigan 3-0 Bournemouth (Fortune 5, Ward o.g 58, Lopez 90)
Yeovil 1-2 Burnley (Ings 19, Vokes 62 – Moore 80)