Category Archives: Championship

Sky Bet Championship Weekend Review

Leeds continue their march towards the Premiership. In form Bees put pressure on top two. Bottom two suffer heavy defeats.

League leaders Leeds United strengthened their position at the top of the table after completing a 3-1 victory at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

The visitors took an early lead when Patrick Bamford slotted home after just seven minutes. Kalvin Phillips curled in a superb free kick to give the visitors a two-goal lead at the interval.

Adam Armstrong pulled a goal back for Rovers with an outstanding free kick, only for Mateusz Klich to restore Leeds two goal advantage for their 11th win on the road this the season.

High flying Brentford strengthened their play-off place with a 3-0 victory against Wigan Athletic at Griffin Park and turned up the heat on their bid to gain automatic promotion.

Said Benrahama’s hat trick, saw the Bees set a club record after a fifth successive win without conceding a goal. The Algerian forward has now hit an impressive 14 goals for the season.

The heavy defeat ended what has been a turbulent week in the Latics history after the club went into administration on Wednesday. The loss to Brentford also saw Joe Garner see red late in the game.

Josh Onomah’s stoppage time winner kept Fulham’s automatic promotion hopes on track after the 95th minute winner was enough for the Londoners side to grab all three points against Birmingham City at Craven Cottage.

A fourth successive defeat resulted in Bristol City removing Lee Johnson from his post immediately after the 1-0 loss to Cardiff City at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

Danny Ward climbed off the bench to net a late winner for the Bluebirds, who are now unbeaten in five games and keeps them in the play-off mix. Remarkably, this is the 16th goal scored by a Cardiff substitute this season.

The East Midland derby between Derby County and Nottingham Forest lived up to its billing with both sides getting a share of the points at Pride Park.

The hosts were indebted to Chris Martin’s 97th minute goal to rescue a point against fellow promotion hopefuls Forest. Martin bundled the ball home from close range moments after Rams substitute Martin Waghorn received a straight red card. Earlier it was the visitors who drew first blood when Joe Lolley struck for Forest.

Huddersfield’s hopes of pulling away from the bottom three and Preston’s play-off aspirations both suffered a blow as they played out a goalless draw at The John Smiths Stadium on Saturday.

A remarkable afternoon from Ivory Coast international Yakou Mieite helped Reading to their first win in four games with a 5-0 victory against lowly Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.

Mieite completed an 18-minute hat trick before he added his fourth of the afternoon in the 62nd minute. George Puscas header was the icing on the cake for the visitors on 57 minutes, who are now nicely positioned in the middle of the table.

It was an afternoon to forget for The Hatters, who remain at the foot of the table and five points adrift from safety with five games to play.

Stoke City handed out a 4-0 drubbing to Barnsley at the Bet 365 Stadium on Saturday.

The Potters raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening ten minutes through Sam Vokes and Tyrese Campbell.

Cambell bagged his second of the  afternoon before the interval, with substitute Tom Ince netting three minutes from time to complete a comprehensive victory which leaves Stoke two points clear of the bottom three and Barnsley still four points off Safety.

Swansea City continued their challenge for a play-off place after a 2-1 victory against Sheffield Wednesday at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

After a goalless first half, the deadlock was broken when Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster scored. Andre Ayew struck the Swans second goal from the penalty spot. Atdhe Nuhiu headed in an injury time consolation goal for Wednesday, who drop to 15th place.

Jordan Hughill’s delicious lob proved the winner as QPR defeated Middlesborough by a single goal at the Riverside on Sunday. The defeat leaves Neil Warnock’s side in the bottom three, one point away from Hull in 21st place.

West Brom closed the gap on leaders Leeds to just a single point after a 4-2 win over Hull City on Sunday afternoon.

Charlie Austin opened the scoring for the Baggies in the fourth minute, only for Kevin Stewart to level for Hull, before Ahmed Hegazi  restored West Brom’s lead before half time.

Hull quickly drew level inside three minutes of the restart through Mallik Wilks header. Within seconds West Brown regained the lead for the third time in this enthralling match when Kamil Grosicki scored.

Grady Diangana restored West Brom’s two goal advantage with fifteen minutes to go. Deep into injury time Albion were reduced to ten men when Hegazi spoilt his afternoons work by picking up his second yellow of the game. However, the result left WBA with a healthy five-point cushion over the play-off pack with five games remaining.

 

Derby County Vs Nottingham Forest PREVIEW

The race for the play-offs heats up with The East Midland’s Derby between Derby County and Nottingham Forest.

Indeed, in my opinion, there is no bigger Derby match as both sides from the A52 go head to head once again for the prize of three points. For both teams a win will surely cement their place in the play-offs at the end of the season.

Matches between the two sides have produced lots of strange things in the past. Early Goals, Red cards, Manager’s fighting on the touchline etc etc. But this match will be even more strange. As this will be the first time this fixture will take place without fans. But both sides have to get on with it as best as they can. Forest will certainly relish the opportunity of playing without the roarkus Derby home support.

Both sides come into this fixture in good form since the season restarted.  Forest have picked up seven points from their three games. Derby, meanwhile, have taken the maximum nine on offer from their three matches.

Forest currently sit in 4th place on 67 points from 40 games, while Derby are lying in 7th on 60 points, one point off the final play-off position that is currently occupied by Cardiff City.  

The teams have already met twice this season, once in the League, while the other match took place in the  League Cup early in the season. Subsequently, Forest came out on top in both matches.  

In the League Cup, Forest won 3-0 thanks to goals from Sammy Ameobi, Joe Lolley and Joao Carvalho. While in the League, Lewis Grabban scored the only goal of the game as he latched on to a shocking mistake in the Derby backline.

As mentioned previously, both sides have good form coming into this game, with Forest beating Bristol City 1-0 in midweek and Derby winning by the same score line at Preston North End. Derby’s form has improved significantly since Wayne Rooney has got into the swing of things which has transformed them from midtable to play off contenders.

Lewis Grabban is Forest leading goal scorer on 19 for the season and will be looking to be the first Forest Player to hit 20 in a season Since David johnson and Marlon Harewood did it in the 02/03 Season.

The final run of games will certainly have a big say on where both clubs will finish. Forest’s Remaining Matches are: Fulham (H), Preston (A), Swansea (H), Barnsley (A) and Stoke (H)

Derby Remaining Matches:  West Brom (A), Brentford (H), Cardiff (A), Leeds (H) and Birmingham (A)

One thing is for certain, this game is sure to be a cracker!

Referee for this Match is Darren England

Karl’s prediction:  2-1 Forest win

This Match is Live on Sky Sports and BBC Radio Nottingham from 12 noon KO 12.30

 

Championship Review: Warnock starts with win. Leeds go marching on.

The man who simply can’t live without football, Neil Warnock recorded a victory in his first game in charge of Middlesborough as the North East side completed a 2-0 victory against fellow strugglers Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium and lifted Warnock’s side two points clear of the relegation places.

71-year-old Warnock- who is now in charge of his 16th club in a distinguished managerial career- has been out of work since Cardiff sacked him in November 2019, masterminded a crucial victory against Michael O’Neill’s side, who are now just a single point above the bottom three.

Goals in either half from Ashley Fletcher and substitute Marcus Taviner was sufficient enough for Boro to claim a crucial victory.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table Marcelo Bielsa’s team returned to the championship summit after defeating Fulham 3-0 at Elland Road, thanks to goals from Patrick Bamford, Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison. Fulham could well suffer repercussions from the game with forward Aleksandar Mitrovic clearly smashing his elbow into the face of Ben White. Tony Harrington, the referee, totally missed the incident, but it could now be on the radar of the FA’s disciplinary department. If found guilty the Serbian international could well be facing a lengthy ban.

Derby County’s Tom Lawrence and Matt Miazga of Reading were both shown red cards in a feisty encounter at Pride Park, which Derby went on to win 2-1.

Tension had been simmering between the two players all afternoon and it exploded after the final whistle with both players squaring up to each other. Miazga appeared to swing a punch at Lawrence, who then appeared to retaliate by head butting the Reading defender. Miazga responded by slapping Lawrence across the face before other players separated the pair.

Lawrence had earlier given Derby the lead with Wayne Rooney scoring Derby’s second from the spot before Andy Rinomhota headed Reading’s consolation late on.

Luton Town took a big stride towards escaping from the bottom three after a 1-0 away win against 10-man Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.

Luton moved off the bottom of the table through a James Collins second half header. Swansea had substitute Jordon Garrick sent off late in the game for a punch on Collins.

Millwall and relegation threatened Barnsley had to settle for a share of the points in a stalemate encounter at Oakwell that finished 0-0.

Birmingham City salvaged a 3-3 draw at home to struggling Hull at St. Andrews.

Josh Magennis and James Scott had put Hull 2-0 up inside 16 minutes, before Gary Gardner pulled a goal back with Dan Crowley on hand to make it 2-2 at the break. On loan Liverpool midfielder Herbie Kane restored Hull’s lead, but with time running out Gardner grabbed his second of the afternoon with an 88th minute leveller for the hosts.

Charlton Athletic continued their impressive form after the restart of the Championship season after Darren Pratley’s 12th minute header was sufficient enough to beat QPR  1-0 in the London Derby at the Valley.

Cardiff City leapfrogged Preston North End to move into the Championship play-off places with a 3-1 win at Deepdale.

After a goalless opening 45 minutes Cardiff’s Joe Ralls headed home in the 69th minute to give the Bluebirds the lead. Daniel Johnson’s 12th goal of the campaign drew Preston level four minutes later, but late strikes from Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Robert Glatzel wrapped up victory for the Welsh side.

Wigan made it eight games unbeaten after a 2-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers at the DW Stadium.

The game exploded into life late in the match  with both goals coming in the final ten minutes with Lee Evans and Michael Jacobs netting for the home side and dent Rovers chances of moving into the play-off mix.

A goal in each half from Connor Wickham and Massimo Luongo gave Sheffield Wednesday a deserved 2-1 victory at Ashton Gate against Bristol City.

The Owls took a 13th minute lead when Wickham rose unchallenged to head in Jacob Murphy’s corner. Luongo’s fine volley in the 59th minute put the visitors well on the way to winning. Despite Nahki Wells heading home for the hosts in the 68th minute, Wednesday held on for the win.

Nottingham Forest continued their push for automatic promotion with a convincing 3-1 victory against Huddersfield Town at the City Ground.

A brace from Lewis Grabban withing three minutes in the second half put Forest in control. Ryan Yates headed a third for the hosts five minutes from the end before Karlan Grant converted a penalty in the 97th minute of the game for a scant consolation for the visitors to leave Town still in the bottom three of the Championship.

https://247-football.com/2020/06/29/forest-solidate-play-off-place/

FOREST SOLidify PLAY OFF PLACE

A brace from Lewis Grabban and a late strike from Ryan Yates secured Nottingham Forest a vital 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town at The City Ground.

A goal either side of half-time from Grabban, which took his tally for the season to 19, put daylight between Forest and their struggling visitors and Yates put the icing on the cake with a near-post finish five minutes from time.Juninho Bacuna was shown a straight red card late on for a dangerous lunge on Nuno Da Costa before Karlan Grant scored a penalty in the final minute of six minutes of stoppage time after Joe Worrall shoved Fraizer Campbell to the floor inside the box. The win moves Forest seven points clear of the pack chasing the play off places and seven points behind the automatic promotion places.

The Reds should have been in front inside four minutes. Joe Lolley went on a strong run down the right-hand channel and pulled the ball back into the penalty area for Sammy Ameobi but having picked his spot, the winger crashed his effort against the base of the post.

Brice Samba was called into action on 15 minutes as he was forced to push behind a curling free-kick from Alex Pritchard from the edge of the penalty area before two resulting corners from Huddersfield caused problems with Forest at full-stretch to clear the danger.

The visitors were enjoying the better of the exchanges midway through the first half. A clever free-kick routine saw Karlan Grant drill an effort towards goal from inside the box but Ameobi did well to turn it the ball over the crossbar from inside his own six-yard box. They had a strong shout for a penalty when Ben Watson tripped Pritchard but the referee saw nothing doing.

Two minutes before the interval and Forest had the breakthrough. A deep corner from the right drifted all the way out to Centre Back Joe Worrall in the left-hand channel, he delivered an excellent ball back into the penalty area and an unmarked Grabban produced an excellent thunderous first-time volley to beat Jonas Lossl at his near post.

Just 50 seconds into the second half, Forest doubled their advantage. Ameobi slipped a ball through behind the Huddersfield back four and Grabban let it run in front of him before he slid a low strike under the body of Lossl into the back of The Terriers’ net. As Huddersfield were pushing for a goal at one end, Forest were looking to extend their lead at the other and they sealed the points with five minutes to play. Yates got across his man at the near post and was in an excellent position to stick a foot out and send Lolley’s corner into the net from close range.

Huddersfield saw their afternoon brought to a disappointing end courtesy of Bacuna’s late red card. Referee David Webb had already awarded Huddersfield a free-kick before Bacuna hacked Nuno Da Costa down with a poor challenge on the halfway line and it was enough for Webb to show the former FC Groningen man a straight red.

The visitors did grab a consolation goal in the final minute of stoppage time after Worrall shoved Campbell to the ground inside the penalty area. Grant stepped up to thump the ball beyond Samba into the corner of the net to give them a late goal to take back to West Yorkshire.

Nottingham Forest head coach Sabri Lamouchi was pleased with the victory over Huddersfield but felt there was room for improvement in the performance.

“It was a good result but I am not so happy with the performance because we can play much better. I know that but I am probably impatient with the players because after three months, the most important was to win today and congratulations to the boys.

“To play at The City Ground when usually the fans are always behind us, to play in an empty stadium in this atmosphere is so strange. So congratulations to the boys, the great performance was to win. I am not happy for the goal we conceded or the way we played sometimes, but I am happy because it is a fantastic gift for me from the players after exactly one year here. “It was important to win for the confidence and for the next game in three days. On Wednesday we play again and then against Derby. Now we start the final rush and we are in the race.It is a tough schedule, tough for us but for all the teams. Now we start the money time.”

Read a full review of championship matches this weekend here: https://247-football.com/2020/06/29/championship-review-warnock-starts-with-win-leeds-go-marching-on/

Leeds United finally show their cutting edge!

A crunch game at the top of the Championship is a good time to start being able to finish off your chances. Well, ideally it’s something that you’d be doing all season. Although with Leeds, it can never be that straightforward.

In the end, however, a match against third place Fulham – key challengers for automatic promotion – towards the end of the season is a pretty good game to start finding that clinical edge.

Patrick Bamford after having a graphic displayed by Sky Sports pre-match highlighting his woes in front of goal compared to Aleksander Mitrovic, cooly slid in Leeds’s opener from the edge of the area in the 10th minute. 

True to form, Marcelo Bielsa decided that despite scoring, Bamford’s all-round game was not good enough and hooked him at half time. Him along with Helder Costa, who provided the assist. 

It felt like a true ‘Bielsa’ moment – valuing the system and team above all else. Subsequently, it worked a treat as Costa’s replacement Ezgjan Alioski grabbed a second on the break.  Just before fellow half time substitute Pablo Hernandez provided a gorgeous pass to set Jack Harrison free for a third. 

The Whites were clinical, incisive and displayed calmness when openings presented themselves. So, after a season of struggling to put away chances, why did Leeds suddenly click in front of goal? 

Leeds have had the most shots per game in the league with 16.3. They’ve also had the most on target with 5.2 per game and the most off target with 7 per game. They’ve even hit the woodwork more times than any other side in the Championship – having struck it 15 times this season. 

Swarming teams, dominating possession (Leeds’s average of 59.7% is the highest in the league) and creating chance after chance yet missing them has become typical for the Whites. 

Yet against Fulham on Saturday, they scored three goals despite having far less shots than their average of 16.2 – only managing 10 attempts. Of these 10 shots, however, half were on target – a far better ratio than their average.

Of these five shots on target, three were scored. It far outstrips their usual shot conversation rate of around 13% for the season. 

The answer to this puzzle is indicated by the possession stats from this game.  

In sharp contrast to most of their matches this season, Leeds only had 43% possession. This meant that they were playing on the break more often than usual, something which can often lead to a higher quality of chance being created.

In most games, the opposition tend to accept that Leeds will dominate the ball and fall back in numbers to defend. Leeds’s excellent possession play and speed with the ball still yields chances in good areas but more often than not the circumstances they are shooting are rather difficult.

Defenders are likely to be snapping at their heels and there will often be bodies to shoot through. Leeds’s players will often only have a split second to get their shot off before a defender comes clattering towards them. 

Against Fulham, Bamford was under no pressure as he stepped up to slot the ball accurately out of Marek Rodak’s reach. For their second, a counter attack left Fulham defenders flailing and off balance.  This provided Alioski time to steady himself before finishing easily into the bottom corner. 

Despite Harrison being under pressure from a defender behind him for Leeds’s third, a higher line than what the Whites usually face gave Hernandez space to pass into for Harrison to have a free run at goal. 

Some of Leeds’s most frustrating defeats have come alongside some of their highest possession statistics. They managed 69% against Cardiff last week, 70% in their 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest and a remarkable 77% in their 1-0 loss against Wigan. Losses against teams adept at packing the defence and being able to strike directly and on the counter. 

Ultimately, Fulham – who have the second highest average possession in the Championship with 58.4% – and their tendency to want the ball gave Leeds the opportunities they desired. Opportunities with more space in behind and more time for Leeds’s players to be able to pick their spots.