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Leicester Stay Clear As Redknapp's QPR Move Into The Automatic Places.

Monday 20th January 2014
The weekend Championship Review arrives courtesy of James Dean.

The opening fixture of the Championship weekend saw table toppers Leicester City travel to Elland Road to take on Leeds, who were determined to restore their pride after a string of demoralising results. It was Leeds who made all the early running, unsettling Leicester and creating several good chances. Ross McCormack saw a well timed header rebound off the woodwork after a Luke Varney cross. It was the Scot who then lobbed Kasper Schmeichel following the goalkeeper's poor clearance only for the ball to be cleared off the line. Jamie Vardy then struck the post at the other end before Leeds were gifted the best chance of the half. A weak back pass from Paul Konchesky allowed McCormack a free run towards the Leicester goal, but his effort was thwarted by the Foxes' Danish stopper. Leeds had certainly impressed but would come to rue their missed chances. A fiercely competitive second half culminated in the match winning moment with the introduction of 40-year old Kevin Phillips, helping Leicester press for a winner. Liam Moore picked up the ball on the right wing, sliding a pass in towards Phillips who brilliantly dummied the ball, fooling Tom Lees and allowing David Nugent to control and prod home. The 87th minute goal sealed a key three points for Leicester, sending them five clear at the top of the league, with a much improved Leeds left to pick up the pieces after another defeat.

Queens Park Rangers climbed into the automatic promotion places after narrowly beating Huddersfield in an entertaining encounter at Loftus Road. The in-form Charlie Austin opened the scoring for QPR, 10 minutes after the half time interval, breaking on to a knock down from Andy Johnson and firing into the top corner. Huddersfield were soon level in front of their excellent travelling support. Nakhi Wells scored his 2nd goal is as many games for his new club with a glanced header from 6 yards, levelling the scores. In the 79th minute, Rangers pushed themselves back in front with Austin on the score sheet again. A Niko Kranjcar corner was met with a bullet header securing a 3rd straight win for Harry Redknapp's men. Huddersfield remain comfortably in mid table.

It was a return to form for Derby in their play off battle against Brighton at the IPro Stadium. Brighton boast the best defensive record away from home in the Championship and proved difficult to break down, with a single goal eventually separating the sides. In a game of few clear cut chances, the winner came in the 76th minute with new signing Patrick Bamford scoring his first goal for Derby. After a neat passing move, the ball broke for the youngster 20 yards out and with the help of a slight deflection, his left foot shot found the bottom corner. The Seagulls went close late on through Ulloa but the defeat meant Brighton slipped out of the play off places.

Reading were the main benefactors of Brighton's loss, as they punished a lacklustre Bolton team, running out 7(Seven)-1 winners pushing the Royals into the play off places. Adam Le Fondre opened the scoring in the 12th minute, chasing down a through ball driving his finish high into the corner of the net. Le Fondre's 2nd came just before the half hour mark as the Bolton defence went missing, allowing the striker to run in one on one with Andy Lonergan before lifting the ball away from the on rushing keeper. The hat trick was complete 5 minutes later as Reading broke clear again through McCleary who unselfishly squared for Le Fondre to tap into an empty net. Pavel Pogrebnyak made it 4 before half time from the penalty spot after handball was awarded against Alex Baptiste. Kaspars Gorkss scored his 2nd goal in as many games after half time, prodding the ball home after Bolton failed to clear a corner. The 6th goal came through Hope Akpan who fired home his first for the club, on the turn from 12 yards out. The embarrassment was complete on 78 minutes as substitute Nick Blackman breached Bolton's defences and shot into the far corner. David Ngog's scrappy goal in the 88th minute offered little consolation for Bolton, who are now only 4 points above the relegation zone with questions surely been asked over the future of Dougie Freedman.

Burnley were held to a draw by the resurgent Sheffield Wednesday, in a game which they will feel they should have won. Both goals in the game came just before half time with Burnley netting first. Wednesday's Jose Semedo was dispossessed on the edge of his own area allowing the ball to be lifted through to Sam Vokes who slotted home, beating the outstretched arm of Chris Kirkland. Wednesday clawed their way back into the game soon after, with a free kick nodded down by Reda Johnson and swept home at the far post by Chris Maguire. The second half was dominated by Burnley, having 24 shots in the game, including hitting the post through Danny Ings. Wednesday felt they should have had a penalty in the 78th minute when Maguire was felled but referee Stuart Atwell booked the forward for simulation. A match saving performance from Kirkland denied Burnley all 3 points, foiling efforts from Ings superbly in the final minutes of the game. Burnley slipped into 3rd place whilst Wednesday made it 7 games unbeaten.

Nottingham Forest went 9 games unbeaten with a resounding 4-1 victory over Blackburn. They took the lead after 15 minutes as Henri Lansbury went down softly under a Grant Hanley challenge. The former Arsenal player stepped up to take the resulting penalty, beating keeper Eastwood with a powerful strike. On 34 minutes, Forest were again awarded a spot kick. Jamie Paterson burst into the penalty area only to be felled by Adam Henley, a definite foul unlike the debatable first. It was Lansbury again who stepped up and fired home. Ben Marshall brought Rovers back into the game moments later with a lovely curling strike from the edge of the area. Forest restored their 2 goal lead in the 72nd minute as Paterson continued his excellent scoring run, finding his way into the area after beating 3 defenders and drilling low into the far corner of the net. The scoring was rounded off in stoppage time as Andy Reid was allowed too much space on his left foot and slammed the ball into the top corner from 20 yards. Blackburn are in 8th place, 4 points off the play off places.

Ian Holloway notched his first win as Milwall manager in a home win against Ipswich. In the Lions' first win in 7 games, it was on-loan full back Ryan Fredericks who broke the deadlock on his debut. After a burst down the right hand side, Fredericks found the net from range with an attempted cross that dipped over Dean Gerken. Ipswich tried to salvage something from the game, creating a couple of chances in the second half, but the result meant back to back defeats in the league. Milwall are now in 20th, with Town slipping into 10th place.

Middlesbrough continued their good form under Aitor Karanka with a scrappy 1-0 victory over struggling Charlton at the Riverside. Emmanuel Ledesma scored the winner just 16 minutes into the game with a strike from 30 yards, which caught Charlton's Yohann Thuram-Ulien cold, bouncing away from the despairing dive of the keeper on debut. Charlton offered little in response, with the game slowly petering out until the sending off of Addicks' full back Rhoys Wiggins in the closing stages of the game. ‘Boro have now won 5 of their last 6 games, with Charlton slipping another place to 21st.

In the surprise result of the weekend, Doncaster notched a superb 3-0 victory over Wigan. This was Rovers' 1st win in 9 games. Chris Brown was on target after just 7 minutes, peeling away from the defenders and volleying in a floated cross from close range. Wigan only had 1 shot on target in the game and the deficit was doubled on 52 minutes. Doncaster midfielder Richie Wellens burst into the area, having a shot saved by Ali Al-Habsi, only for the rebound to fall to James Coppinger who prodded home just ahead of Wellens. The victory was complete on 69 minutes as Chris Brown converted a penalty won by James Husband. Wigan's 6 game unbeaten streak came to an end with Doncaster now only in the relegation zone on goal difference.

Bournemouth hosted Watford in a lively encounter at Dean Court. The Hornets took the lead in stoppage time of the first half as a free kick was met by a thumping header from Gabriele Angella. Lewis Grabban was brought down in the area just after the hour mark, under tackles by Fitz Hall and Joel Ekstrand. Before the penalty was taken, Angella was given a straight red card for his protestations with the officials. Grabban composed himself and converted the penalty levelling up the scores. Manuel Almunia then conceded another penalty, fouling Marc Pugh. Grabban again stepped up, but this time, his effort was saved by the Watford stopper who then superbly saved two further efforts from the rebound. The game finished 1-1 with both sides struggling for form in 15th and 16th respectively. Watford only have 1 win in their last 10 outings.

Danny Wilson secured his first win as Barnsley manager in a 2-0 home win over a Blackpool team in disarray. A Chris O'Grady penalty in first half stoppage time opened the scoring after a Matt Gilks foul on Barnsley's Dawson. O'Grady then headed home just after the break, after good work by Jim O'Brien down the left hand side and a well placed cross. This was Blackpool's 8th defeat in their last 9 games and at the time of writing Paul Ince was in talks with his Chairman, Karl Oyston, over his future. Barnsley remain bottom of the table, now only 4 points from safety.

Yeovil condemned Birmingham to back to back defeats after an excellent 2-0 win at St Andrews. The goals both came in the opening 20 minutes with Birmingham failing to hit back despite 24 attempts throughout the match. James Hayter scored after 12 minutes, pouncing on a Hayden Mullins mistake and cooly lobbing the ball home. Hayter then doubled his tally after 19 minutes, with a brilliant diving header from a drilled cross. Yeovil remain off the bottom on goal difference as the Blues stay 17th.

There are only 4 fixtures scheduled in the Championship next weekend with the 4th round of the FA Cup taking place. Derby travel to Blackburn, whilst the 2 in form teams, Leicester and Middlesbrough, face each other at the King Power Stadium. Ipswich take on Reading with Blackpool facing Doncaster in a key battle for both sides.
James Dean
A lover of football. Season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday and known as the "Andrea Pirlo of the North".

Total articles: 24

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