CHALLENGING AT THE TOP
A barnstorming run of form continued Tuesday evening in the Championship as Andrew Surman and Callum Wilson secured a sixth consecutive win for AFC Bournemouth – this time against Sheffield Wednesday, at Hillsborough Stadium. The 0-2 victory places Eddie Howe’s dark horse top of the Championship at the end of round sixteen; the Cherries have found the net an incredible nineteen times in their last six including their 8-0 dismantling of Birmingham City.
Tuesday’s win came in similar circumstance as Sheffield Wednesday – like Birmingham – went a man down, ex-Real Madrid man Royston Drenthe receiving a second yellow on the hour mark. Howe’s team found the opener five minutes later. The loss meanwhile, leaves Stuart Gray’s Wednesday 14th on 20 points after eight without a win.
Nottingham Forest hosted Brentford in one of two Wednesday fixtures, finding themselves two goals down by half time. Things did not get much better after the break for Stuart Pearce’s side – who started the season all guns blazing but have since gone ten games without victory – as they conceded penalty when Kelvin Wilson slid in three minutes after the restart. Forest did grab a consolation when Michail Antonio struck though the final score remained 3-1.
Middlesbrough thumped fellow promotion hopefuls Norwich City, 4-0. Grant Leadbitter was responsible for two including a penalty, after Patrick Bamford gave the Northern side the lead after just five minutes. Yanic Wildschut rubbed salt in the would with his fourth leaving Aitor Karanka’s side behind only Bournemouth who hold a superior goal difference.
Birmingham City defeated their guests Watford 2-1 at St. Andrew’s, ending the Hornets’ nine-game unbeaten streak and recording a first win in six for the hosts. The result keeps undefeated new man Gary Rowett’s team inside the relegation zone by a single point whilst Watford are still within touching distance of the summit.
Derby County beat Huddersfield 3-2 at iPro Stadium, on-loan Jordon Ibe opening the scoring for the high-flyers. County sit a point behind the league leaders having lost just twice in their last ten. Huddersfield meanwhile are comfortable in the middle of the table. Ipswich Town jumped above their opponents Wolverhampton as they came away 2-1 winners, both teams tied in fifth and sixth on 27 points.
THE CHASING PACK
Blackburn Rovers drew 2-2 with Millwall leaving Rovers just a point from the play-off positions, two defeats in their last ten outings. Millwall meanwhile have won once in their last ten and find their selves in sixteenth after a frantic match in which Lions boss Ian Holloway was sent to the stands having seen his side go a man down. Andy Wilkinson was the man on the end of the red card; however, Millwall were undeterred finding a late equaliser through Shaun Williams.
Meanwhile, Charlton Athletic drew by the same score line with Leeds United at Elland Road. The home side twice lost the lead to Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s goals leaving United winless in eight. Athletic are within six points of the top, three points from play-offs despite their relatively poor form of late whilst Leeds are 17th on 17 points.
Reading defeated Rotherham 3-0 to continue a curious statistic that has seen the Royals either score or concede three goals in their last six games – of which they have won one other. Jamie Mackie opened the scoring for the hosts before Simon Cox added two more after the restart to complete a routine victory.
Wigan were defeated by fellow strugglers Brighton by a solitary goal in front of the Falmer Stadium faithful. The home side’s goal came within a minute as Gary Gardner helped ease pressure on Sami Hyypiä’s underperforming Seagulls and they successfully held a clean sheet to record a vital 1-0 win.
In the other Wednesday evening fixture Lee Clark’s Blackpool were two goals up as half time lured on their visit to Craven Cottage. Fulham then staged a fight back that has typified their recent reversal of fortunes under now-permanent boss Kit Symons; though they were assisted by Tony McMahon’s dismissal just before Scott Parker halved the deficit.
World Cup star Bryan Ruiz scored directly from a corner on 73 minutes to pull things level, 2-2 the final result whilst Bolton’s 3-0 victory puts Wanderers to within touching distance of safety – just a point behind Birmingham and two behind Fulham, who are 22nd and 21st respectively. Blackpool remain rooted to the foot of the table.
AFC Bournemouth quickly evolved into the league’s highest scoring team having now found the net 33 times – their closest rivals are Watford on 30. The most solid defence so far has belonged to Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough who have conceded just 12.
Chris Martin leads the personal goal-scoring chart with ten goals, joined by Daryl Murphy this week who found the net against Wolves. Rudy Gestede is one behind on nine following his goal for Rovers, alongside Cherries’ Callum Wilson and Forest’s Britt Assombalonga, who last found the net on Oct. 18.
Matt Ritchie has been the supply line with a league-best eight assists, Michaeil Antonio his nearest competitor on six. Fulham’s Ross McCormack has five alongside Derby’s Johnny Russell and Birmingham’s David Cotterill.