The grueling Championship fixture list continued Tuesday evening as all twenty-four teams met across the league. Cardiff City Stadium saw the return of Ipswich Town – the previous meeting in 2013 a 0-0 draw – as Russell Slade took charge of his second home game in four days.
Ever epitomised in British football’s second tier, competition is tight – four points separated the top seven going in to the evening – and with two undefeated records put to rest on the weekend the league continues to throw up plenty of intrigue.
Chris Martin made it ten games unbeaten for Derby with a late penalty against strugglers Blackpool. The 1-0 victory puts Steve McClaren’s side in pole position whilst Jose Riga’s team are now five points from safety as the Championship’s bottom placed club.
In new boss Slavisa Jokanovic’s second game Watford took on promotion rivals Nottingham Forest at Vicarage Road. The Hornets topped the Championship by a point going in whilst Forest were three points and four places behind in fifth. The hosts twice took the lead; however, Stuart Pearce’s side were able to respond on each occasion through on-form Forest winger Michail Antonio to keep scores level at 2-2.
Middlesbrough came into a top-six clash having won five of their last seven, drawing two. They travelled to Molineux where Kenny Jackett’s Wolves have seen the ball in the back of the net at both ends of late, shipping eleven goals in their last four whilst scoring nine. However, a valuable clean sheet was earned as Wolves eased past Aitor Karanka’s challengers, Bakaro Sako and Nouha Dicko making it 2-0. It is the Midlands-sides second victory in eight games, whilst the loss was Middlesbrough’s first in seven; the North Eastern club still however, sit a place above their opponents in third.
Fourth-placed Norwich hosted fourteenth-placed Leeds, the scores level going into half time at Carrow Road. The Canaries have started to fall away from the top of late and the blip continued after initially going ahead through Russell Martin’s header. United equalised through Souleymane Doukara to tie the scores at 1-1, the draw leaving Neil Adams’ team winless in four.
THE CHASING PACK
Bournemouth started the day as emerging contenders for a play-off place on the back of two victories versus Bolton and Charlton respectively – ending the Addick’s unbeaten run in the process. Their visitors Reading have enjoyed an indifferent start to the season, winless in five after a promising trio of results in early September. It was to be the Cherries’ day once more, Bournemouth coming away 3-0 winners to leave Eddie Howe’s side resting in eighth place.
Conversely, Charlton started in eighth - and were 1-0 up at half time as they entertained twenty-third place Bolton Wanderers. The Addicks then added a second through Johnnie Jackson before Dean Moxey pegged one back for the visitors. The score stayed 2-1 as Charlton continued their fantastic run of form under Bob Peeters after Saturday’s blip versus Bournemouth - though Bolton will feel unlucky with the result having been wasteful in front of goal, enjoying the lion’s share of possession.
Cardiff City hosted Ipswich Town, the Tractor Boys coming into the game on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run - four wins and four draws, and sat in the final play-off spot. Cardiff made it two record-breaking victories in four days, coming away 3-1 winners. The Bluebirds are now just three points away from the top six, sitting in tenth position – a point and a place behind our visitors.
Fulham travelled to Rotherham on the back of a revitalising victory against contenders Norwich. As the second half panned out it was clear that Rotherham were quite guilty of the old cliché, being most vulnerable when you’ve just scored as each of Cottager’s equalising goals came less than five minutes after Rotherham took the lead. The eventual score 3-3 when skipper Dan Burn headed home in the final stages. Fulham now sit in twenty-second place - level on points with Birmingham, though the London side have conceded more.
Birmingham entered the day one point above the drop zone in twenty-first and that is where they stayed after a loss to hosts Rovers, who sit now comfortably mid-table, a place behind the Bluebirds.
Brentford are proving that they are a side that can cope well with the demands of the league at this quarterly stage, entertaining Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park. Brentford entered the game above their visitors by a place and a point; much stayed the same as one of two goalless draws was played out – the other being Uwe Rösler’s Wigan, as they hosted Ian Holloway’s Millwall. The Latics are now winless in eight, as are our upcoming weekend opponents Lions.
Huddersfield hosted Brighton, the scores level – one apiece - after forty-five. It was to stay that way, 1-1 as the final whistle blew. The draw does no favours for either manager leaving both teams in the bottom half, though Terriers can be proud of their home form avoiding defeat since 20 September. Sami Hyypiä’s side are now winless in nine, Kazenga Lua Lua sent off in the dying embers for the away side.
Interestingly, none of the bottom eight changed position after Tuesday’s results – of the sixteen above however, only Middlesbrough were unmoved in third. Twenty-eight goals were scored compared to last week’s thirty-two, half of the round’s games ending in a draw.
Derby’s Chris Martin has caught up to Forest’s Britt Assombalonga in the top scorers chart – both have nine. Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has racked up an impressive eight, while his team-mate Matt Richie is currently second in the assists chart – to Forest’s Michail Antonio.