Championship Roundup – Bristol City and West Brom still looking good for promotion

I wrote an article about the apparent fear of going up. The excitement of promotion but the almost instant realisation that weekly humiliation may follow. That fear seems to be attacking nearly everyone. Only Bristol City seem to be really marching on proudly towards the Premiership, whilst West Brom may have recovered from their ‘blip’.

Watford don’t have a game this weekend so we have a few days to physically and mentally prepare for the victory at leaders Bristol City next Tuesday.

Midweek Games Review

(Graham’s predictions)

Blackpool 1 v Barnsley 1 (2-0)
It was a night for double-barrelled name success at Bloomfield Road. Gary Taylor-Fletcher put Blackpool ahead, but Jamal Campbell-Ryce equalised for Barnsley.

Spare a thought for the parents of young Blackpool and Barnsley fans who want their goalscoring heroes names on the back of their shirts. Being charged per letter must be a nightmare!

Charlton 1 v Bristol City 1 (2-1)
Darren Ambrose put Charlton ahead but City’s Jamie McCombe with his third goal in four games earned them a point. A point gained by Bristol City and two points dropped by Charlton.

Charlton boss Alan Pardew seems to have accepted a play-off place. “We are one of the long-shots to go up automatically but we will keep plugging away. Looking at our lack of a run of results you have to say we are outsiders, but we are not giving up.”

Gary Johnson is trying to keep everyone’s feet on the ground at Ashton Gate. “If we play like we did in the first half we will drop out of contention. We were a bit posey, and looked like we had been reading our own publicity. But we had words at half-time and came out with a much different attitude.”

Crystal Palace 0 v Cardiff City 0 (2-0)
Neither team wanted a draw here. Both managers thought their side should have won. Both teams are looking like fading away to mid-table mediocrity.

Hull City 2 v Burnley 0 (1-1)
Frazier Campbell and Richard Garcia scored the goals that took Hull above Burnley in the table. It was a bit of a battle with both sides having two players sent off.

Hull boss Phil Brown was pleased, “I thought the first half was the best 45 minutes I have seen from a Hull team at home since I’ve been here. It could have been five. The quality was there and that’s what I’ve asked for all season. I thought that everybody to a man responded to the challenge of going above Burnley.”

Burnley boss Owen Coyle wasn’t pleased, “I felt that we were very poor in the first period. The first goal was soft and Hull kept coming – though the second was a wonder strike. There was a marked improvement in the second half, but Hull were terrific in the first part of the game. We were poor, and tonight was an opportunity that we’ve missed.”

Did neither of them notice that four players were sent off?

Ipswich Town 1 v Sheffield United 1(2-0)
Alan Lee scored for Ipswich to equalise James Beattie’s opener for Sheffield United. Ipswich dropped out of the play-off places and Sheffield United edged another point towards safety.

Leicester City 0 v Preston 1 (0-0)
A twenty-five yard Darren Carter strike in injury time gave Preston an invaluable three points to take them level on points with Leicester. Preston manager Alan Irvine was delighted with the win and Leicester’s Ian Holloway was refreshingly honest. “All it does is add more pressure to a situation where there was already a lot of pressure. Some local newspapers we saying that if we won this game we would be out of sight – what a load of rubbish. We still need between 50 and 52 points to be safe, we just have one fewer game to achieve it, that’s all.”

Plymouth Argyle 4 v Colchester United 1(3-1)
Plymouth bounced back from their defeat at West Brom on Saturday to inflict more misery on the Division’s bottom club. An own goal and strikes from Jermaine Easter, Steven Maclean and Gary Sawyer saw Argyle to victory with Kevin Lisbie replying for Colchester.

Sheffield Wednesday 0 v West Bromwich Albion 1 (0-2)
Championship player of the year Kevin Phillips nodded in with the last touch of the game to give West Brom the three points and keep up their promotion momentum.

West Brom took the upper hand after Wednesday’s Jermaine Johnson was sent off for…..well, nobody really knows.

West Brom boss Tony Mowbray accepted that it wasn’t great, but he was thrilled with the win. “It’s cruel for them. I feel for Brian Laws and the sending-off incident right in front of us when there was no obvious red-card offence. It wasn’t a night for pretty football. We had to use our brains, and I think Kevin did that.”

Watford 1 v Norwich City 1 (5-0)
Bloody hell! Shittu for us, Cureton for them. Bloody hell!

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 v Southampton 2 (1-0)
A point here was much more useful to Southampton than to Wolves. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake kept up the good work of the double-barrelled name club by scoring both the Wolves goals, but Gregory Vignal from the spot, and Jason Euell in the 94th minute, gave the Saints a draw.

Coventry City 0 v Queens Park Rangers 0 (2-1)
Only a couple of chances at each end in this one. It was a bit grim by all accounts. Chris Coleman will be pleased just to avoid defeat.

OK, my predictions probably weren’t quite as good as they could have been. I only got two results right. Shows what a strange league this is doesn’t it, not what a poor pundit I am!

In my defence, I was only one goal away from the getting the perfect score in four games, and a last minute goal from Preston cost me dear. Maybe not as much as it cost Ian Holloway, but it cost me none the less.

League Table

1 Bristol City 65
2 Watford 62
3 Stoke 62
4 West Brom 61
5 Charlton 56
6 Plymouth 55
7 Ipswich 53
8 Hull 53
9 Burnley 51
10 Wolverhampton 51
11 Crystal Palace 50
12 Blackpool 46
13 Norwich 46
14 Cardiff 45
15 QPR 45
16 Barnsley 43
17 Sheff Utd 41
18 Southampton 41
19 Leicester 40
20 Preston 40
21 Coventry 40
22 Sheff Wed 36
23 Scunthorpe 35
24 Colchester 32

Weekend Preview

Blackpool (12) v Southampton (18)
Blackpool were given a boost this week when assistant manager Tony Parkes and first-team coach Steve Thompson signed new deals which will keep them at Bloomfield Road until 2010. Occupying a comfortable md-table position things are looking really good for the seaside club.

Southampton were given a boost this week when….well, no they weren’t really. Rumours of financial crisis have been added to a playing run of nine games without a win. However, their injury time equaliser at Wolves in mid-week might just change their fortunes. Mmm…

Graham’s prediction: 2-1

Charlton (5) v Preston (20)
Big game for both clubs this one. Charlton will be looking to consololidate their play-off spot and Preston will be looking to open up a gap between them and the drop zone.

Charlton will have Leroy Lita available after taking him on a month’s loan from Reading. They may have him for longer because I doubt Steve Coppell will want him back after the way Lita has ‘bad mouthed’ him in the press.

Preston will be looking to their own loan signing, Craig Beattie from West Brom, to supply the goals.

Graham’s prediction: 2-0

Coventry City (21) v Norwich City (13)
Coventry need the points and although the one point they got at home to QPR in the week was handy, it wasn’t enough. Norwich got an incredibly lucky draw at Watford on Tuesday and are sitting in an unpressurised mid-table position.

Graham’s prediction: 0-1

Crystal Palace (11) v Colchester United (24)
Palace are just sliding out of the play-off reckoning and Colchester are just sliding out of the Championhip.

Palace will be buoyed by the news that veteran striker Dougie Freedman has said he wants to finish his career at Selhurst Park. There are those, not me, who would say that many players finish their careers at Selhurst Park 🙂

NB. Since writing this, Dougie Freedman has agreed to join Leeds on loan until the end of the season. Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers!

Graham’s prediction: 2-0

Hull City (8) v Scunthorpe United (23)
Another big game here. Hull are fighting for a play-off place and Scunthorpe are fighting for their lives.

Having had two players sent off in the week, Hull will be forced into making changes. Scunthorpe will have loan signing from Leeds, winger Curtis Weston, available.

Graham’s prediction: 1-0

Leicester City (19) v Bristol City (1)
A tale of two Cities as William Shakespeare once wrote about this game. Leicester struggling near the foot of the table and Bristol marching proudly towards the Premiership. Leicester can’t score so the best they can hope for is a 0-0. Bristol can score, and they will be confident of a win.

Bristol City will have half an eye on the unwinnable game they have at home to Watford on Tuesday, so I fancy they may slip up.

Graham’s prediction: 0-0

Plymouth Argyle (6) v Sheffield United (17)
Plymouth looking good for a play-off place against Sheffield United coming off a win. Haven’t been able to say that about the Blades too often this season.

Plymouth have the scent the Premier League and Paul Sturrock is a wiley old manager. They’ll have too much for United.

Graham’s prediction: 2-1

Sheffield Wednesday (22) v Queens Park Rangers (15)
The Owls are desperate for points and QPR are in mid-table safety with not a lot to play for. Normally you favour the team fighting for their lives, but QPR have beaten Stoke and drawn at Coventry in their last two games and I fancy them to get something here.

Graham’s prediction: 1-1

Stoke City (3) v Burnley (9)
Stoke need to get back to winning ways after two defeats have seen them fall from the top spot.They are still third and level on points with Watford due to Watford’s bloody inability to win a game, but if they don’t win here, Watford will pull away from them.

Burnley are a bit up and down. They’ll have two of their players suspended, but after holding the Hornets to a draw last week I’m sure they’ll do us a favour at the Brittania.

Graham’s prediction: 1-1

Graham writes at Views of a fan

Should Sunderland be higher up the table?
FA is so sweet on big boys