It was a busy day for the league with all twenty-four sides battling it out on Saturday, twenty-nine goals scored in the nineteenth round of games.
Leeds United defeated league leaders Derby County by a 2-0 margin, Mirco Antenucci’s brace ending County’s three-match winning streak. Despite the result, Steve Mclaren’s Rams are unmoved from the summit; though, their lead has been cut to a slender point.
In hot pursuit, on-loan Leeds striker Noel Hunt netted a 95th minute winner to give Ipswich Town all three points at The Valley in the day’s early kick-off. The 1-0 victory carries Mick McCarthy’s side to second place with four won and two drawn in their last six. Separated only by goal difference, Brentford – who have now won five on the bounce - hammered Wolverhampton 4-0 at Griffin Park, four different names on the score sheet for the Bees. Wolves drop down to 12th, just two wins in their last ten outings after a promising start for the newly promoted side.
Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers fought out a 1-1 draw, the pair placed fifth and sixth respectively. Patrick Bamford’s 83rd minute opener had home fans at Riverside Stadium convinced they would come away with all three points before Rudy Gestede leveled deep in injury time. Meanwhile, AFC Bournemouth met Millwall at Dean Court and though the hosts found their selves two up, Ian Holloway’s Lions fought back to earn a 2-2 draw. Eddie Howe’s team are now unbeaten in nine; the last three however have all been draws following a six-game win streak.
THE CHASING PACK
Watford’s barren run continued as Cardiff City emerged victorious at Vicarage Road. Russell Slade oversaw a solid 1-0 first away victory – Adam le Fondre scoring the all-important goal - to move to eighth in the league standings, two points from the play-off places.
Once-pace-setters Nottingham Forest fell to Birmingham City at St Andrew’s, David Cotterill finding the net inside ten minutes for the home side. Britt Assombalonga eventually found a reply for Forest in the dying embers of the match to take his tally to 12 though his good work was undone when the striker was dismissed for handball. The resultant penalty was dispatched by Paul Caddis to lift the Blues to 17th with a deserved 2-1 win.
Norwich City hosted Reading, similarly breaking the deadlock after ten minutes - Gary Hooper turning home Nathan Redmond’s cross. However, Reading summoned a response within four minutes through 19-year-old Jake Cooper – his first senior goal - and by half time he had added another, the Royals seeing out a 2-1 victory.
Fulham continued their march away from the relegation places with a 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion, taking all three points from the Amex. Darren Bent scored on his debut to put the Seagulls ahead but Kit Symons’ side had other plans, finding the net ten minutes later through Hugo Rodallega. Lasse Vigen Christensen – who provided for the leveller – then bagged the winner to march the Cottagers to 16th.
Bolton Wanderers defeated Huddersfield Town by a single goal, Craig Davies’ fifth of the season the difference. Wanderers are now unbeaten in four, the 1-0 win moving Neil Lennon’s resurgent side to 18th position; leapfrogging their visitors.
Cardiff City’s next opponents Rotherham United hover just above the relegation places following a 1-1 draw with bottom-placed club Blackpool. The Millers’ last victory came against Leeds United seven fixtures ago, though they do move above Brighton with the point gained. Blackpool are currently eight points adrift of nearest competitors Wigan Athletic, the Latics losing to Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 thanks to two Stevie May goals to stay 23rd.
STATS & FACTS
AFC Bournemouth own the best attacking record in the division with 37 goals to call their own. However, at home Watford reign supreme with 21 goals pleasing the Hornets’ faithful. Blackpool, meanwhile have scored just five in front of their own support whilst on the road, Bolton are the worst offenders – also with a tally of five.
Assombalonga reinstated his position as the division’s top scorer with his 12th on Saturday whilst Rudy Gestede and Daryl Murphy are hot on the forward’s heels, both counting 11 so far. Officials across the league have dished out 828 cautions and 35 reds so far, Brighton the worst offenders at this stage; Sami Hyypiä’s Seagulls have collected 40 yellow and three red cards.