The demanding Championship schedule continued with its third game in seven days – the league’s fourteenth overall – providing plenty of entertainment throughout with only one goalless draw across all twelve fixtures.
Fulham and Charlton Athletic featured Friday evening, caretaker manager Kit Symons moving the Cottagers out of the relegation zone with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Addicks – their fifth win under the ex-Wales defender’s guidance. Scott Parker opened the scoring six minutes in, Hugo Rodallega adding two more in the twelfth and eighty-ninth. The defeat puts Bob Peeters’ side in seventh place, only their second this campaign.
Derby County were the only team in the eventual top six to lose this weekend – it was the Rams’ first defeat in eleven league matches, bringing to an end an exceptional run of form. Wigan Athletic were the team that stole all three points from iPro Stadium; the final score 2-1. Wigan had drawn four consecutively prior to their visit, three of which were goalless. Uwe Rösler can be pleased with a performance that lifts Latics four points clear of relegation after initially seeing his side go behind to John Eustace’s close range finish - seconds after on-loan Rams stopper Jack Butland saved James Tavernier’s penalty.
After the interval Latics leveled, then turned the tie on it's head - both times through winger James McClean, his fourth in nine appearances this term - leaving the Northern side 19th with 15 points. Steve McLaren’s outfit do however remain table-toppers by the slimmest of margins thanks to a superior goal difference in comparison to Watford and Wolverhampton Wanderers, who sit in second and third respectively.
The Hornets drew 1-1 at Riverside Stadium, Kike giving Middlesbrough the lead before substitute Troy Deeney leveled proceedings on the hour mark. Ex-Chelsea player Slaviša Jokanović is Watford’s fourth man at the helm this campaign, overseeing his third match in charge and the continuation of an eight-game unbeaten streak. Last weekend’s victory at Hillsborough preceded Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest, another point gained on Saturday leaving the team firmly in contention for the automatic promotion spots; Middlesbrough remain two points below in fifth.
Wolves meanwhile are enjoying a second impressive resurgence in form after promotion from Sky Bet League One last term. Thoroughly recovered from their loss against Huddersfield at the start of October, they defeated our upcoming opponents Leeds United at Elland Road 2-1 - though Kenny Jackett’s side did initially go behind. United – who sit eighteenth with sixteen points - have since sacked Darko Milanic, a 32-day reign brought to an end. For high-flying Wolverhampton, two draws have now been followed by victory over fellow early contenders Middlesbrough mid-week, another win earned on Saturday after second-half strikes from James Henry and Leon Clarke secured all three points.
Manager-less Birmingham City found their selves on the end of an 8-0 mauling, inflicted by Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth who opened the scoring within three minutes through Brett Pitman – though the home side did go a man down three minutes later.
David Edgar received a straight red for bringing down Callum Wilson as the striker was clean through on goal and from then on in The Cherries made the most of their man advantage, going on to break their winning margin record. Blues remain in the bottom three after a trio of defeats whilst The Cherries are storming the Championship of late, four straight wins and a comfortable ‘goals scored’ column helping Eddie Howe’s team to fourth place.
Bolton recovered from Tuesday’s defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic to beat Brentford 3-1, all the goals scored in the final half-hour as Bolton went two ahead before Brentford responded. The win is new man Neil Lennon’s second in three games and only Wanderers’ second home win of their campaign, moving to within three points of safety whilst Mark Warburton’s side drop to thirteenth.
THE CHASING PACK
Blackburn Rovers defeated Nottingham Forest away from home by 3 goals to 1, Matty Fryatt initially putting Forest ahead. Alex Baptiste pegged one back after the break before Rudy Gestede’s header gave Rovers the lead. Jordan Rhodes scored the final goal on seventy-seven minutes, completing a well-worked turnaround. The result leaves the pair still tied on points (22), Stuart Peace’s Forest seventh; Gary Bowyer’s Blackburn eighth.
Ipswich Town hosted Huddersfield, a 2-2 draw the eventual result leaving Town two points off the top six – a place above Cardiff City in tenth. Conversely, The Terriers have fallen to seventeenth though they can take inspiration from their fight-back having gone two down by the hour mark, recording their sixth game without defeat after some early struggles.
Russell Slade saw defeat for the first time away at Millwall – a solitary goal taking all three points for our hosts. Competition with the South London side has become a series of tightly contested affairs of late, producing just four goals in our last five meetings. In Sheffield, Norwich were held by the home side in the round’s only goalless draw – the result leaves the Canaries sixth, winless in five.
STATS AND FACTS
Britt Assombalonga failed to add to his tally of nine, watching an impressive curling effort cannon back off the post – Derby’s Chris Martin caught the forward up with his penalty Tuesday, whilst Callum Wilson’s strike in Bournemouth’s rout puts him level with the league’s leading scorers. In total, thirty-six players found the net this weekend.
Cherries’ Matt Richie has rose to ascension on the assists’ chart with eight, Forest’s Michail Antonio his nearest competitor creating six goals. Sheffield Wednesday have accumulated the most cards with twenty-nine yellows and three reds, whilst Bournemouth are the league’s angels having not suffered a single sending off, picking up just sixteen yellows all campaign.