Championship Report: Week 11 (Oct 16)
Queens Park Rangers remain top of the Championship despite a goal-less drew at home to Norwich City.
Sven Goran Eriksson got off to an unbeaten start as Leicester City draw against Hull City. Sheffield United and Burnley fight out a a six goal thriller and Cardiff City reduce QPR’s lead at the top of the table to four points as they comeback from two goals down against bottom placed Bristol City.
Swansea kept up their pursuit of an automatic promotion spot by beating fellow contenders Reading at the Madejski Stadium, whilst Watford’s hopes are dealt a blow as Pompey continue their great run of form to beat the Hornets. Ipswich’s title hopes were dealt a blow as well as they lost to Coventry who sit just outside the play-off berths on goal difference.
Former Scunthorpe fans favorite Billy Sharp heaped misery on his former club with a brace that killed off them off against local rivals Doncaster Rovers.
The hosts took the lead with a Martyn Woolford header from a Eddie Nolan cross on only 11 minutes to put the Vikings on the back foot. The Iron almost doubled their lead in identical manner with another great cross from Nolan, but Woolford could only head wide. The home side continued their pressure with Michael Collins going close on two occasions but they couldn’t extend their lead. The visitors managed weather the storm and pulled back level on 31 minutes against the run of play from Scunthorpe old boy Billy Sharp. John Oster lobbed a sweet pass behind the Scunthorpe defence, though it was an error from Rob Jones who misjudged the ball that allowed Sharp to gain possession and fire home from 12 yards.
The Vikings grew in confidence in the second half and on 59 minutes Sam Hird made a well flighted long pass to Sharp who was brought down by a clumsy challenge by Jones in the penalty area. Sharp made no mistake from the spot and Donny took the lead. The Vikings continued their pressure and on 72 minutes James O'Connor nodded home a third from a James Coppinger cross, leaving the Iron's ruing their missed opportunities int eh first half and extending their win-less run to six matches.
Bottom placed Bristol City traveled across the Seven Bridge to Cardiff and put the home side on the back foot within minutes only for the home side to make a dramatic comeback and claim all of the points. Bristol got off the mark on six minutes as Steven Caulker nodded in a Jamie McAllister free-kick. The visitors then doubled their lead two minutes later from Jon Stead's close-range strike. Marvin Elliott nodded on a Cole Skuse corner with the ball breaking to Stead six yards out and the big striker firing the ball into the top corner for his third of the season. Jay Bothroyd received a pass from Michael Chopra on 12 minutes which he clinically finished from 12 yards to calm the host’s nerves. The home side continued to apply pressure throughout the rest of the first half but to no avail.
The Bluebird’s constant pressure bore fruit as the second half started when Peter Whittingham blasted home a beautiful strike into the bottom corner from 30 yards within a minute of the restart. The visitors would have been in worse trouble if the Robins’ keeper David James had not been equal to most of what the host fired at him. However, on 78 minutes Whittingham produced a wonderful free-kick. Bristol City’s skipper Louis Carey brought down Whittingham 25 yards out. The midfielder dusted himself down and curled a wonderfully taken free-kick around the flailing James into the top corner.
The Swans are two teams this season, one with Scott Sinclair and one without. Unlucky for his ex-club Reading this weekend, the one that turned up included Sinclair.
Swansea went close from Nathan Dyer who hit the bar and striker Stephen Dobbie was denied twice by Adam Federici who was on fine form for the hosts. But there was nothing he could do to prevent Sinclair. Welsh international Dave Cotterill saw Sinclair free at the edge of the box and threaded a beautiful pass to the ex-Chelsea man. The winger deftly rounded the despairing dive of Federici and fired home with ten minutes of the first half still remaining. However, while Swansea were in control, they didn’t have it all their own way. Jobi McAnuff of Reading had a wonderful chance with a fantastic 25-yard free kick which was skillfully turned over the crossbar by Dorus de Vries in the Swans’ goal.
Reading came out fired up for the second half and had the majority of the play but could not penetrate the resilient Swansea defence.
In the run up to this weekend’s fixtures, the top of the table clash between first and third looked like it would at least produce a few goals. However, with a home side that had not conceded at home all season it was never going to be a goal fest.
Norwich City were on fine form as they entered the competition and looked like they would take the lead when Grant Holt was brought down by Clint Hill in the QPR box. Unfortunately for the Canaries, the normally dependable Wes Hoolahan dragged his penalty wide. Abel Taarabt, who has been in spectacular form in front of goal so far this season, had a number of chances but was unable to convert his opportunities when they came. Kaspars Gorkss also let a gilt edged chance slip as Andrew Crofts cleared off the line for Norwich.
Paddy Kenny for QPR and John Ruddy for Norwich were both spectacular in front of goal and saved their teams from defeat on a number of occasions. But both managers will be happy with the point after a scintillating contes that left QPR with an intact home record, but Norwich short of their record of scoring in all their away ties this season.
Mark Yeates snatch a vital point with a 94th minute injury time goal for the Blades after going behind in the last minute of the game against Burnley.
The home side got off to a great start against high flying Burnley with Daniel Bogdanovic setting up Johnny Ertl. Ertl fired a thunderous effort from the edge of the area, but his attempt was tipped over the bar by Burnley keeper Brian Jensen. The visitors gradually got into the game and on the half hour could have taken the lead. Unfortunately, Andre Bikey could not totally control his header which went over from three yards following a great Daniel Fox corner.
With the second half only four minutes old, Chris Eagles broke down the right wing curling in a beautiful cross which Dean Marney nodded home with aplomb. The Clarets doubled their lead on 54 minutes as Tyrone Myers was clumsily brought down in the box by Ert, allowing Eagles to rifle home the penalty. The Blades pulled a goal back three minutes later when Tyrone Mears slipped, allowing Bogdanovic to steal the ball and slot home his first goal for the club. Fox was almost given a straight red card for challenge on Ertl before the hosts equalised. Ched Evans slotted home from a Yeates cross to make it two-two with five minutes remaining. The game was far from over and many fans will be ruing the fact that they left to get to their cars as a thrilling finale ensued. Jay Rodriguez raced into the box to shoot home a low finish in the last minute of regular time. However, it was far from over as Yeates capped a superb display with an 18-yard strike from a Stephen Jordan cross to snatch a point for the hosts.
Portsmouth continued their current fine run of form as they beat Watford at Fratton Park in a game that had four second half goals in the space of 13 scintillating minutes.
Hayden Mullins gave the home side the lead on 17 minutes when he produced a spectacular 30-yard strike. The Hornets’ John Eustace and Jordon Mutch both had good long range attempts but weren’t able to breach the Pompey defense.
Watford increased the pressure on the home side in the second half and drew level through a Martin Taylor header. Taylor got on the end of a well flighted Jordon Mutch corner on 67 minutes before the Hornets took lead three minutes later. Stephen McGinn connected with a Michael Bryan cross and fired home from six yards out. However, the Hornets lead lasted only two minutes as Dave Kitson claimed the ball 20 yards from goal and rifled in a low right-foot strike into the bottom corner to tie the game again. With time running out for both sides it was Pompey’s Michael Brown who ceased the day as on 80 minutes he took a speculative shot form the edge of the box that Scott Loach the Watford keeper could do nothing about.
Sven Goran Eriksson took the reins of the Foxes for the first time this weekend as ex-Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson brought his Tigers into town.
Andy King got the Swedish manager’s tenure off to a fantastic start on only three minutes. King squeezed the ball in from a tight angle despite the best efforts of Matt Duke in the Hull City goal, who could only manage to get his hands to the shot. The home side had much of the first half possession but couldn’t penetrate the Hull City defense. The Tigers defender Anthony Gerrard, the cousin of England skipper Steven Gerrard, made a superb block to stop Welsh international King from a sure goal.
The Tigers came out in the second half with renewed vigor as Slovenian international Robert Koren rifled in a 30-yard shot that Foxes keeper Chris Weale could only parry into the net. Leicester’s Paul Gallacher fired over late in the game but it was the visitors that finished strongest. Weale was alert again to prevent two of Hull City’s substitutes. First Nick Barmby almost clinched the winner with a spectacular volley, then substitute Kevin Kilbane then nearly won it for Hull with his first touch, however his header was blocked by the Leicester keeper.
Palace remain firmly seated in the relegation zone after another loss. The clash was a tightly fought South London derby and chances were few and far between. On 53 minutes Theo Robinson latched onto a Steve Morison flick-on and neatly fired home to leave the Eagles win-less in five matches.
The home side’s struggled increased as Claude Davis was sent off for an alleged stamp late in the game. This left Palace boss George Burley without the services of the big center back for the next three matches.
Preston North End’s mini revival was brought down to earth with a resounding bump at Derby County’s Pride Park. North End had gone into the clash on the back of a three game unbeaten run but the Rams had other ideas about ncreasing their streak.
Alberto Bueno passed to left-back Dean Moxey, who made a cross/shot that Andy Lonergan should have been dealt with, but the Lilywhites goalkeeper failed to read the attempt and was beaten at the near post on 21 minutes. Blackburn Rover’s loanee Frank Fielding, making his debut, was tested for the first time 26 minutes but he easily dealt with Jon Parkin's strike. The hosts then doubled their lead when Shefki Kuqi headed on for the Spaniard Bueno who then headed home from six yards out to record his third goal of the season.
The visitors woke up in the second half but were unable to penetrate the Rams defense. Keith Treacy fired in a long range effort that Feilding parried and the young keeper then made a second reflex save to stop Sean St Ledger's resultant header. The Rams then added insult to injury as Treacy was sent off for bringing down Russel Anderson in the penalty area and Robbie Savage scored from the spot kick in stoppage time.
The Sky Blues hadn’t won at Portman Road since 1994 but Ipswich couldn’t stop Aidy Bootroyd’s Coventry who are now level on points with the Tractor Boys.
It took the visitors 19 minutes to take the lead when Sammy Clingan's corner found Aron Gunnarsson at the far post. Gunnarsson headed the ball back across the box to Platt, who nodded the ball past Ipswich keeper Marton Fulop. Fired on by their goal, the visitors applied more pressure, but it was Ipswich midfielder Jake Livermore who almost drew level with a sweet 25-yard strike that went wide of the post by a matter of inches.
The Tractor Boys pushed forward on the Coventry goal in the opening minutes of the second-half. Jason Scotland came close with a point-blank range shot that forced a great save from Keiren Westwood on his 250th career appearance. Unfortunately for Ipswich, they were caught on the break as Coventry counter-attacked and Lukas Jutkiewicz was clumsily fouled by Gareth McAuley. The striker picked himself up and converted the penalty himself on 56 minutes. Just two minutes later, Scotland halved the lead when his first-time strike from a Jaime Peters cross found the back of the visitors’ net. The hosts dominated the remainder of the clash, coming close again from Scotland but his strike from 12 yards was superbly knocked around the post by Westwood.
Forest suffered only their second defeat of the season this weekend against Barnsley. The Tykes got off to a fantastic start on four minutes from Nathan Doyle who, despite being under a cloud from his recent arrest for possession of cocaine, scored his first goal for the club. The Barnsley winger Adam Hammill played a beautiful ball back from the byline for Doyle to sweetly fire into the bottom corner from 12 yards. Chances were limited in the first half but Dexter Blackstock came closest for the Tricky Trees as he had a good shot on goal blocked by Barnsley skipper Stephen Foster in first half injury time.
The second half saw the Tykes double their lead when Blackstock fouled Goran Louvre to give the home side a penalty on 56 minutes. Veteran striker Andy Gray crisply put the ball past Lee Camp in the Forest goal to collect his 100th goal of his senior career. The visitors soon saw an opportunity to turn the game their way as Lewis McGugan fired a low shot into the bottom corner on 68 minutes to bring the game back to within touching distance. But late substitute Jacob Butterfield put the game to bed on 87 minutes. Butterfield drove a left-footed finish into the bottom corner from a Hamill pass from the edge box.
In the weekend’s late fixture, two of the Premier League’s fallen sides clashed at the Riverside Stadium. Only a few years ago both club were fighting it out in Europe’s elite cup competitions but this weekend for Boro, and Gordon Strachan at least, it was an battle to get back to winning ways.
Leeds’ Davide Somma took the lead for the visitors with a strong low left-footed shot into the bottom corner that Jason Steele couldn’t stop on only 12 minutes. Simon Grayson, celebrating his 100th game in charge of the Whites, saw his side dominate the first half but despite all the pressure they could only go in at half time one goal up.
The Smoggies looked like a new team in the second half and on 53 minutes Kris Boyd nipped in front of Richard Naylor to toe poke home the equaliser from a Matthew Bates cross for the hosts. It was the visitors who would finish strongest and ten minutes later Luciano Becchio smashed home a thunderous volley from Bradley Johnson's pass and give all three points to the visitors, and heap more worries on Strachan’s shoulders.