As we approach the busy festive period in the Football League, the West Midlands sides experienced another mixed week of results. In the Championship Birmingham picked up four points from their two games, an away win against strugglers Barnsley and a home draw against Doncaster. In League One, Wolves again surrendered top spot following a defeat to promotion rivals Peterborough, whilst Walsall lost ground on the playoff places after a defeat to Port Vale. Finally, Coventry returned to winning ways, away at MK Dons.
Starting in the Championship, Birmingham extended their unbeaten run to four games this week. Firstly on Saturday, they collected their 5th league win of the season at Oakwell with a superb 3-0 victory. From the outset City were on top, helped by the home side’s inability to tackle, Paul Caddis carried the ball forward before firing low into the corner to open the scoring after 13 minutes. Barnsley’s generous hosting continued when M’Voto pulled down Zigic needlessly in the area to give Caddis the opportunity to double the lead from the spot after 22 minutes. Nikola Zigic then completed an easy afternoon’s work when he put Clark’s men 3 up before half time to ensure Blues achieved back to back away wins for the first time since March.
Blues followed up their win with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Doncaster at St Andrews. When Lee Novak opened the scoring after half an hour, many of the home fans were dreaming of the top half. However, after a turgid second half display they let Rovers back into the game with 12 to go following a stunner from David Cotterill. Blues now find themselves four points ahead of the relegation zone as they face two teams close to them in the league in Middlesbrough and Bournemouth.
Dropping down into League One, Wolves’ 11 game unbeaten run came to an end at London Road, as they fell to a 1-0 defeat, only their second reverse of the season. In a tight affair, the home side won the game with a free kick from their captain Bostwick with 11 minutes to go. Although Wolves didn’t create a great deal of clear cut chances, Jackett still had a right to feel aggrieved after what seemed to be a clear handball from former man Mark Little was waved away by the official. With Leyton Orient drawing against Sheffield United, Wolves find themselves second on goal difference.
Meanwhile, Wolves’ Black Country rivals Walsall lost 2-0 home at Port Vale, giving their rivals their first win at Walsall since 1947. Goals either side of half time were enough for The Valiants to run out comfortable winners and leapfrog The Saddlers in the table. Tom Pope opened the scoring after 20 minutes, before Tomlin doubled Vale’s lead with 25 to go. With 17 shots on goal, Walsall will be disappointed to not have registered a goal, however this continues their early season form, which has seen them only score 19 goals, the worst in the top half. Dean Smith’s side sit in 10th place and four points off the play off places as we enter December.
Finally, in arguably the stand out result of the weekend for our teams, Coventry returned to winning ways to beat MK Dons 3-1 away from home. After two heavy defeats in a row and conceding a first half penalty, it would have been easy for the Sky Blues to capitulate. However, Coventry’s loan men saved the day, Chris Dagnall got Pressley’s side back on level terms before Chris Maguire took centre stage in the last five minutes scoring two exquisite free kicks to send the 7000 away fans home happy. The man from Sheffield Wednesday could help to catapult City back towards those play off places. Pressley recognised the character his young side had shown; ‘When we go through dips like we do then we ask the question ‘how is their character and how is their mentality? Today that young group of players gave the perfect answer.’ City now find themselves only 7 points off the playoffs and 7 off the relegation zone. On this showing you feel the only way is up.