While we look to maintain or build on our gap at the top against Peterborough United at home, Saturday sees the rest of the league in action and some interesting fixtures that yet again could have an impact on league standing for many.
Call 0845 345 1400 for tickets.Don’t forget, this Saturday is our Ambassador Day, where season ticket holders can bring adult guests for £10, with all children able to join in the fun for just £1. A special match-day programme will also include exclusive Ambassador discounts for use in the Club Superstore. This is your day – so make the most of it!
EAGLES GET THE BLUES
Second placed Crystal Palace aim to keep pace with us on Saturday as they travel to Birmingham City and a side looking to break back into the top half. Ian Holloway’s side conceded a late equaliser to his former club Blackpool at Selhurst Park last Saturday, and that result meant that Palace had gained only one win in their last four matches which have all seen former ‘City and Wales defender Danny Gabbidon as non-playing substitute. Hosts Birmingham have won just once in their last six games and that 1-0 defeat at Wolves last weekend when Marlon King scored an own-goal left them six points off the bottom three. Former Cardiff City winger Chris Burke has been left out of the starting line-up for the past three matches, though he has come on from the bench in those games.
‘BORO v WOLVES
Middlesbrough haven’t put back to back Championship wins together since late-October/early-November, but they have currently won two of their last three games and aim to maintain third spot and top two pressure when they face bottom-half Wolverhampton Wanderers at The Riverside Stadium.
It was Ishmael Miller, on loan from Nottingham Forest since mid-September, who came on from the bench to score the winner in the 3-2 victory at Peterborough last Saturday. Meanwhile Wolves seem to be on the road to recovery with two consecutive wins. Victory at ‘Boro could lift them into the top half of the table.
EARLY START FOR TIGERS & TERRIERS
Hull City, currently level on thirty eight points with ‘Boro, could make third place their own this Saturday if they can beat mid-table Huddersfield Town at The KC Stadium and Middlesbrough drop points. It was the loan pair of David Meyler (Sunderland) and Robbie Brady (Manchester United) who scored in their impressive 2-1 win at play-off challengers Watford last weekend; their first goals since joining Hull on loan in early-November. Hull face a Huddersfield side who haven’t tasted victory in five matches and who will have Keith Southern back in midfield after his three-match suspension. After falling down the table following an impressive season opening, the Terriers will be hoping for festive form, starting this weekend in the 12:30pm kick-off.
FOXES TO THE DEN
Two vital points were dropped by fifth club Leicester City last weekend when they drew 2-2 at home to Barnsley - and it was only a last-minute goal by Foxes substitute Jamie Vardy that gave them one point when none looked likely, denying the Tykes their first win in ten games. Leicester now face a difficult match at seventh placed Millwall whose thirteen-match unbeaten run came to a decisive end when they lost 3-0 at Ipswich Town last Saturday. Millwall will need to find their scoring touch soon if they are to stay in contention – they have netted just once in their last three games.
VITAL GAME AT OAKWELL
At the other end of the table, the South Yorkshire derby between Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday at Oakwell (5.20pm) assumes massive importance in view of their respective positions. Barnsley are twenty second, the Owls are twenty third and three points behind. The Tykes gained that confidence-boosting draw at Leicester last weekend, but it was a seventh consecutive defeat for Wednesday against Bristol City at Hillsborough, The Robins scoring twice in the last four minutes to win 3-2 And boost their hopes of getting away from the bottom three.
SEAGULLS AND FOREST
Brighton and Nottingham Forest are level on points in eighth and ninth positions respectively, and they face each other at the Amex Stadium with the prospect of a play-off position for the winners. Brighton have now lost just once in nine matches following their 2-2 draw at Charlton last weekend, but so far they have been unable to put a consistent run of victories together. As for Nottingham Forest, Billy Sharp and Dexter Blackstock scored in last Saturday’s 2-0 home win against Burnley, and both have now scored twice in their last three matches.
WATFORD’S DEENEY SCORES AGAIN
Watford’s 2-1 home defeat by Hull City last Saturday was their first reverse in eight games, and they go to Burnley who are in the lower half of the table this weekend. Troy Deeney scored again for Watford last weekend in the last minute when they were 2-0 down, and it was his ninth goal of the season – seven in his last six games. As for Burnley, it’s now one win in their last six and top scorer Charlie Austin has scored just once in those six matches.
ROBINS HOST RAMPANT RAMS
Bristol City, in twenty first place and level on points with the bottom three will look to build on that win at Sheffield Wednesday when they face tenth club Derby County at Ashton gate. The Robins had winger Albert Adomah to thank for that win at Wednesday with a free-kick just before time, his fifth goal of the season. Derby will go to Ashton gate with that 3-1 home win against Leeds behind them, and they are now three points off the play-off places and looking dangerous.
LEEDS v IPSWICH
A run of three consecutive wins for mid-table Leeds United came to an end at Derby, and they now face lowly Ipswich Town at Elland Road. But despite their inconsistent form, Leeds are only four points off the top six. It could be difficult against Ipswich who under Mick McCarthy are unbeaten in four games and have won their last three without former Bluebird Michael Chopra being in the starting line-up, though he has come on from the bench in those games.
A mid-table clash at Bloomfield Road sees Blackpool at home to Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers for a tasty encounter. Unbeaten in their last seven games, Blackpool gained a Cardiff helping draw at Palace last Saturday with a last-minute goal from substitute Nouha Dicko who has been on loan from Wigan since mid-August. As for Blackburn, it’s now one win in eight after our emphatic victory at Ewood Park last Friday, and manager Henning Berg is now revamping his coaching-staff.
BOLTON v CHARLTON
The remaining fixture sees under-achieving Bolton Wanderers, in eighteenth place at home to mid-table Charlton Athletic. Wanderers have just one win in their last seven matches and were 2-1 up at Huddersfield last Saturday before a late equaliser denied them victory. Meanwhile Charlton’s good run continues. It began with their 5-4 home win against ourselves on November 6th and they have now won four and drawn three of their last seven.