Presenting the inside scoop on the latest Football League news

Team of the week: The Championship

The Championship played havoc with betting coupons once again with all of the bottom three picking up wins to close the gap on safety, whilst other teams at the wrong end of the table picked up some vital points. Find out here who made The72 Championship team of the week.

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Kasper Schmeichel – Leicester City – Throughout the course of the season so far Schmeichel has been a spectator for large parts of the games. However, he was called into action several times in the first half to deny Leeds the lead. Pulling off a number of top saves the best of which coming when he stood tall and denied Ross McCormack from point blank range. The keepers performance gave them the chance to go out and steal a vital win late on through a David Nugent goal.
Ryan McLaughlin – Barnsley – The Liverpool loanee made an instant impact for the Tykes playing his first game for the club on Saturday at home to Blackpool. He added a toughness to the defence which had shipped 42 goals and kept just 2 clean sheets before Saturday. It seemed Barnsley were going to be certainties for relegation, however under Danny Wilson they have started to put some form together and have a great chance.
Daniel Ayala – Middlesbrough – The upsurge in form at Middlesbrough under Aitor Karanka has been something that the special one himself would be proud of. At the heart of the turnaround has been a solid defensive unit that Ayala has been a main part of. The man on loan from Norwich showed his class as a defender once more in his sides 1-0 win over Charlton and Middlesbrough have shown interest in acquiring the Spaniard on a permanent deal. Boro have kept five clean sheets in their last six league games and have taken 16 points in that time.
Danny Shittu – Millwall – The win on Saturday for Millwall was a massive result as they were on the verge of falling into the relegation zone. Shittu was a rock at the back for Millwall, from the first whistle to the last he was determined to not let Ipswich get off the mark. The experienced Nigerian is showing no signs of hanging up his boots soon and with performances like Saturday’s, Ian Holloway will be looking to keep the defender on the pitch for the foreseeable future.
Jake Buxton – Derby County – The Derby centre half was called upon to deal with the threat of Leandro Ulloa who has taken on the void left by Ashley Barnes at Brighton. Buxton was on form keeping the tricky forward quiet for the majority of the game. Coming off the back of three defeats in all competitions it was time for Derby to go back to basics and a no nonsense display from the defence set the tone for a vital 1-0 win to get back on track.
Michael Brown – Leeds United – After the embarrassing display against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend Brian McDermott would have challenged his players to get some respect back from the fans. Brown is well known for his physical marshalling of the midfield and led from the front for United in a much improved display against league leaders Leicester. The veteran enforcer was in and amongst the Leicester midfield all game giving them no space to play and his fine work should have seen Leeds at least take a point from the game.
Garath McCleary – Reading – The creative playmaker has had a quite season by his standards, but put in a great display in Reading’s 7-1 demolition of Bolton. He was at the heart of the Royals attacking play throughout the game leaving Bolton players in a daze. McCleary added end product to his display with two assists to help his side return to the top six. The first came setting up Adam Le Fondre with a neat lay off, before he helped the forward complete his hat-trick with a selfless pass to the forward when he could have easily scored himself.
Henri Lansbury – Nottingham Forest – The Arsenal youth graduate has seized his chance of regular football at Forest this season finally showing off the talent that made him one of the most highly rated products of the Arsenal youth system up there with the likes of Jack Wilshere. He netted twice from the penalty spot for his side at home to Blackburn in their convincing 4-1 win over their play off rivals. Forest are unbeaten since November and have cemented a place in the Championship’s top six.
James Hayter – Yeovil Town – Arguably the shock result of the weekend in the Championship came at St Andrews with Yeovil travelling back down south with all three points through a brace from Hayter. The first came when Birmingham’s Hayden Mullins’ mistake found Hayter who prodded the ball home. Just seven minutes later the lead was doubled when Hayter headed home a Joe Ralls cross. The striker now has 6 goals in his last 4 games and has got the Glovers believing that they have a chance of Championship survival.
Adam Le Fondre – Reading – In only his second league start since November, Adam Le Fondre showed Nigel Adkins why he should be a regular starter for the Royals. A first half hat-trick from the striker secured the points for Reading without even breaking a sweat. All of his goals were trademark finishes; inside the penalty area not giving the keeper a chance. Rumours have been building that Le Fondre is looking for a move away from the Madejski, but after a performance like Saturday’s, boss Adkins will be looking to keep the talented forward at the club. The emphatic 7-1 win over Bolton helped the Royals climb back into the top six.
Chris O’Grady – Barnsley – Cited as the key man in the Championship weekend preview, O’Grady did not disappoint for the Tykes. Before the game on Saturday the forward had not scored since October, but just like buses two came at once. His first came from the penalty spot with the last kick of the first half and he came out in the second half looking revitalised. O’Grady got on the end of a Jim O’Brien cross to double his tally and calm the nerves of his side for the rest of the game.

Star man

Adam Le Fondre: Making only his second start since November the poacher looked as though he had been scoring for fun of late. A composed set of finishes for the Royals put the game to bed before it had even start. An outstanding display in the art of goalscoring.
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