Championship Week In Review
With most teams playing two games on Tuesday then Saturday, Rangers fans had time to take in the other results on a free weekend. Here`s what`s been happening this week.
Tuesday 12th February
Blackpool 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
A stalemate ensued at Bloomfield Road with the visitors having to be content with a point after dominating much of the game. Chances throughout the game for Andy Keogh, Kevin Kyle and Matthew Jarvis, but Wolves just could not break the deadlock. They closest right near the end of the game when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake`s effort rebounded off the post to hand Blackpool a point and much needed stability.
Colchester United 2-1 Preston North End
The U`s picked up a priceless victory at home to Preston in a relegation six pointer at Layer Road. Sean St. Ledger handed the U`s an advantage in the second period by hauling down Karl Duguid in the box and receiving his marching orders, Scott Vernon converted the spot kick. Preston nearly snatched a point from the game when Neil Mellor was on target, nudging the ball home from close range. But they didn`t account for a last gasp winner from Johnnie Jackson. The midfielder hot off the heels of an equaliser against Burnley lashed the ball home on the volley to hand Col U a massive advantage in the battle to stay up.
Coventry City 0-0 Cardiff City
Cardiff huffed and they puffed but just couldn`t blow managerless Coventry down. Following the sacking of Iain Dowie, Coventry managed to hold the Bluebirds in a stalemate at the Ricoh. Enckelman made a good stop from Michael Mifsud early on, but the best chance of the game undoubtedly fell to Paul Parry, an excellent save by Andy Marshall stopped a Gavin Rae effort, and with Parry ready to pounce, Isaac Osbourne made a goalsaving challenge to keep the game goaless, a priceless point for Coventry.
Crystal Palace 0-1 Ipswich Town
After a lengthy period of searching for an away win, Ipswich recorded to away victories in two, dispatching of fellow promotion hunting outfit Crystal Palace in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Richard Naylor`s hard drive, which was probably heading off target, hit Danny Haynes squarely in the face and flew past Julian Speroni, a sour tonic for Palace`s players who continued to knock on the door through Clinton Morrison, who twice spurned excellent opportunities to level the scores. Ipswich redressed the home defeat previously by Watford, and kick on with their playoff credentials.
Norwich City 1-1 Hull City
Norwich claimed a point to continue a good run of form at the expense of playoff chasers Hull City. The canaries took the lead when a pinpoint Darrell Russell cross was met by the experienced Dion Dublin, who powered his header home past Boaz Myhill. On loan forward Frazier Campbell made the scored level when he worked his way past Jason Shackell to drive the ball home past Marshall, an excellent drive from the striker. A rasping volley from the aforementioned Russell could have won it for Norwich but for an excellent save from Myhill.
Plymouth Argyle 3-0 Barnsley
A dangerous omen for Barnsley came in the 4th minute as Lewin Nyatanga was given his marching orders for a foul outside the area, and there on in the fans knew it was going to be a long trip home. Steve McLean dispatched the resulting free kick with aplomb and the game cantered towards a home win, until Plymouth kicked it up a notch with the introduction of Jamie Mackie, the striker scored two goals following his introduction, first finishing off some good wingwork from Peter Halmosi, for the quickest goal by a Plymouth debutante, only 11 seconds on the pitch. His second was an excellent solo effort a good run, dispatching the ball with a good low drive. But I`m sure Barnsley were happy to take that for even a glimpse of what was to come for them.
Scunthorpe United 0-1 Bristol City
Bristol City pulled off a predicted result in somewhat unpredictable circumstances. It was Scunthorpe who bossed the game with some excellent chances for Kevan Hurst and Jack Cork. But it was Bristol City who took the points in the 83rd minute, when a hopeful cross by full back Bradley Orr sailed straight into the net, as keeper Joe Murphy couldn`t ignore the attention of Tamas Vasko. It was harsh on the Iron, and the result perhaps did not reflect the performance. It certainly captured more excitement than the same fixture in League One last season. City moved into second and Scunny dropped points perilously in the battle to save themselves from the drop.
Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Charlton Athletic
Stalemate at Hillsborough, but that doesn`t tell the home story, with the home side dominating chances and possession, with Nicky Weaver inspired to keep the Owls at bay. The ex-Manchester City stopper did well to deny a Richard Wood header, and an even better save from Enoch Showunmi, a on handed reflex stop left the Owls ruing missed chances. The chances continued to come in the second period, the most notable was Lee Bullen`s volleyed effort which was saved at point blank range by Weaver once more. Charlton had little to offer the game in a drab affair.
Stoke City 3-2 Southampton
The Potters were looking comfortable for their win just before half time, as they found themselves 3-0 up. Darren Powell opened the goalscoring at the wrong end following a goalmouth scramble, and things went from bad to worse. Liam Lawrence was at the centre of the Stoke attack and his corner helped to double the advantage with recent signing Ryan Shawcross heading home, another corner from Lawrence was met in similar circumstances by Mamady Sidibe and the Saints could offer little in return. The Saints made a good go of it in the second period, with Stern John at the forefront of the Saints attack. A magnificent 20 yard volley shortly after the break got them back into it, and Andrew Davies incisive pass found Stern John once more who slotted past Steve Simonsen, to give the Saints hope, but Stoke clung on for the win.
Watford 1-0 Leicester City
The game was evenly poised at 0-0 when 5 minutes from half time, midfielder John Joe O`Toole was sent off for tugging back Steven Clemence outside the area, the card was later appealed and rescinded. That didn`t get the Hornets down though as just before half time, they scored the only goal of the game. Darius Henderson found himself the lucky recipient with the ball at his feet from a matter of yards out, he put the ball home, and Watford never looked back. Leicester offered little in terms of attacking play, and the extra man didn`t seem to be in evidence as Watford cantered to victory.
West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Sheffield United
No goals at the Hawthornes in what turned out to be Bryan Robson`s final game in charge for the Blades, ironically against his old club. Tony Mowbray bemoaned his side`s inability to turn chances into goals as the Baggies dominated proceedings from start to finish, with Sheffield United only able to offer half chances in return. Felipe Teixeira and Chris Brunt were at the forefront of Albion`s attacking line, creating numerous chances, with the former going close on a couple of occasions. Kevin Phillips has a good chance late on, and James Morrison volleyed wide. Two points dropped for Albion, but not enough to save Robson`s job.
Friday 15th February
Stoke City 3-2 Scunthorpe United
Martin Paterson gave the Iron and unlikely lead against his old club, he rolled the ball home after a great ball into the box. Ian Morris` corner then helped double the lead for Scunny, as from the left side his corner met the head of on loan defender Jack Hobbs, who powered his header home unmarked to really compound the advantage. The Potters weren`t going to lie down though, a trademark long throw from Rory Delap was met on the far post by Liam Lawrence who stroked the ball home with ease to give the Potters hope. A throw from Lawrence down the right flank, was met by Ricardo Fuller on the by-line, the striker cut the ball back from a narrow angle to substitute Richard Cresswell who stroked the ball home despite the protest of the Scunthorpe players who claimed the ball was out. Stoke weren`t content with a point however and went on to take all three points in a whirlwind second period, when Ricardo Fuller`s mazy run down the left beating 3 defenders culminated in the ball being squared back to the unmarked Liam Lawrence, who had his brace, and left the Iron holding their heads, a sensational comeback.
Saturday 16th February
Charlton Athletic 2-2 Watford
As the promotion race hots up, here was a game full of zip and drive, and Charlton Athletic had first blood. Zheng Zhi flicked the ball into the box and Andy Gray flicked it on for Darren Ambrose to slot the ball home comfortably at the far post. Halford`s enticing cross this time gave Charlton a chance to double their advantage, and it was Danny Shittu who put the ball through his own net, after good build up play down the right. Watford pulled a goal back through half time substitute John Joe O`Toole, great wingwork from Tommy Smith, played in O`Toole who was left unmarked and seemingly offside to slot home. Watford equalised within 2 minutes, Matthew Sadler`s corner from the right was perfect for Danny Shittu, who made amends for his first half mistake by nodding home. The proverbial game of two halves, with Charlton taking the first and Watford dominating the second.
Hull City 1-1 Colchester United
Johnnie Jackson is on prolific form at the moment with his 3rd goal in recent games, he powered the ball home from the edge of the area right footed after some poor defensive mistakes in the Hull rearguard. The Tigers weren`t finished though and they drew level when a good free-kick from the right by Jay-Jay Okocha was met with a stooping header by Frazier Campbell, the Manchester United loanee finished his effort into the top right hand corner, giving Dean Gerken no chance.
Ipswich Town 2-1 Blackpool
The tractor boys made it 2 wins in a row, following a home defeat last week. And Ipswich were looking good money for a win as they dominated the first period, with Alan Lee smashing the cross bar with a right footed effort, and Claus Jorgensen clearing off the line from David Norris` flicked header. The tangerines lost two centre backs in the first half through injury, ex-Ranger Ian Evatt and Michael Jackson. After half time Blackpool looked more assertive after the break but were punished on the counter attack as Alan Lee found space in the box after a good ball by John Walters, and laid it back to Velice Sumulikoski, who thrashed the ball home. Walters then doubled the lead as he barged his way past Keith Southern, to place an exquisite shot past Rachubka. Rachubka then saved well from Alan Quinn after a one on one. Blackpool bagged a consolation when Alan Quinn`s tackle, went straight through to Paul Dickov, who slotted home with ease.
Leicester 4-0 Norwich City
A rout at the Walkers Stadium as DJ Campbell controlled well to play in livewire striker Iain Hume and the Canadian finished well to open the scoring for the Foxes. Into the second half, and Hume was involved again, his expansive cross field pass from the right, found striker Steve Howard on the left hand side of the area. The big striker wasted no time in lashing the ball past Marshall, low and to the keepers left. Darrell Russell was then given his marching orders, as his ill advised two footed lunge on Richard Stearman, leaves the midfielder with a 3 match ban, and Stearman being stretchered off. The Foxes took full advantage of the numbers, DJ Campbell slotted a ball home coolly when played in by Matthew Oakley, it was the striker`s 4th Championship goal of the season. Steven Clemence finished the rout by slotting home inside the area after a good pullback from the left, an excellent result.
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