Date:Monday May 5 2008
Joy and despair was portioned out in equal measures on the final day of the Championship season with matters being settled at the top and bottom of the table.
The day began with no less than 13 teams of the 24 in the Championship with something to play for, albeit fleetingly for some teams. West Bromwich Albion, Stoke and Hull were all looking to secure promotion, with the Baggies all but there barring a mathematical miracle, but the title was still on offer.
Sheffield United, Ipswich and Wolves were looking to break into the play-off pack of Hull City, Bristol City, Crystal Palace and Watford, the latter two in vastly contrasting form.
Matters had to also be settled at the bottom of the Championship, with one relegation place up for grabs, Coventry and Blackpool still needed a point with Southampton a point behind Leicester, who themselves were a point behind Sheffield Wednesday as the Saints sat precariously in the bottom three.
Ben Burgess got the goalscoring for the day underway in under 90 seconds as Blackpool took the lead against Watford at Bloomfield Road, which would take the Tangerines safe and away from any potential relegation bother. Two minutes later Luke Varney struck for Charlton as Coventry got off to a bad start at the Valley.
In the games that mattered there was a twist in the playoff race as Ben Watson slotted a penalty home for Crystal Palace as they could begin to taste that play-off place. Moments later Darren Huckerby netted a curling strike for Norwich against Sheffield Wednesday who began to look over their shoulder.
Moments later Victor Moses had doubled Crystal Palace`s advantage against Burnley with a strike from the edge of the area, that was before things began to get even more worrying for Coventry with Andy Gray making it 2-0 to Charlton Athletic on 19 minutes. Barely a minute later though, Coventry hit back, Michael Mifsud was the man on target as Coventry were safe for the moment but looking worried.
The at the same moment there was a twist at the bottom of the table Deon Burton netted an equaliser from the spot for Sheffield Wednesday before Stephen Quinn gave joy to the other side of Sheffield, nodding Sheffield United into the lead against doomed Southampton, with no news of goals in the Stoke-Leicester encounter.
Tom Soares then sent Crystal Palace soaring into a playoff place after putting away an emphatic third, as Burnley looked done and dusted with nothing to play for. Southampton however needed goals and Marek Saganowski`s brave header got them back into the game approaching half time.
With that action in mind half-time whistles blew around the country in the Championship, here were all the scores:
Blackpool 1 (Burgess 2) Watford 0
Bristol City 2 (Trundle 8, McIndoe 16) Preston North End 0
Cardiff City 1 (Parry 44) Barnsley 0
Charlton Athletic 2 (Varney 4, Gray 19) Coventry City 1 (Mifsud 20)
Crystal Palace 3 (Watson 8pen, Moses 10, Soares 37) Burnley 0
Ipswich Town 0 Hull City 0
QPR 0 WBA 0
Scunthorpe United 1 (Forte 15) Colchester United 1 (McLeod 11)
Sheffield Wednesday 1 (Burton 23pen) Norwich City 1 (Huckerby 9)
Southampton 1 (Saganowski 42) Sheffield United 1 (Quinn 23)
Stoke City 0 Leicester City 0
Wolves 0 Plymouth Argyle 0
These current trend of results had Southampton in the bottom three and being relegated along with Scunthorpe and Colchester. The promotion and play-off places were as you were at the beginning of play with West Brom in pole position, and with Hull and Stoke yet to score.
The scoring took only three minutes to begin in the second period with Charlton young full back Grant Basey putting the Addicks 3-1 up against Coventry who were very much now relying on other results to bail them out.
The in the 53rd minute matches sprung into light with a foray of goals. West Brom took an all important lead against ten-man QPR at Loftus Road courtesy of Do-Heon Kim. Ex Rangers loanee Ben Sahar gave Sheffield Wednesday a vital lead at Hillsborough. Then a crucial moment in the fight against relegation, and Southampton had the lead thanks to Stern John`s excellent strike.
Moments later Crystal Palace were rubbing it in against Burnley, another ex Rangers loan player, Scott Sinclair on target for the solid play-off side. But with that final place hanging in the balance, ten man Watford threw their hat in the ring, with Tommy Smith firing home from the edge of the area, with their place currently safe unless there was a Wolves double which would put them in there on goal difference.
Crystal Palace`s day was complete when Clinton Morrison netted their fifth in the 65th minute, as the Eagles were rampant. There was another twist at St. Mary`s in the very same minute as John Stead bagged a goal for Sheffield United which kept their fleeting play-off hopes alive but put Southampton back in the bottom three, and gave Leicester fans hope once more as their game remained goalless at the Britannia Stadium.
Barely four minutes later the game of the day turned on its head once more as Stern John put Southampton back infront for the second time in the game, hauling them out of the bottom three once more, and Leicester dropped into the bottom three, but providing they could snatch a goal from somewhere it would be Coventry facing the drop.
The red sides of the Britannia Stadium were rocking at the news that the deadlock had been broken at Portman Road, Alan Lee`s guided header found its way into the corner to all but cement Stoke`s place in the Premier League, as Ipswich had the lead against Hull.
Sheffield Wednesday could now relax with Deon Burton scoring a goal that would ultimately ensure their safety in the division, a 3-1 scoreline was not to be reversed by Norwich. Barely a moment later West Brom had the title at Loftus Road, Chris Brunt`s free-kick sewed the game, promotion and the title for West Brom.
Charlton completed a rout against hapless Coventry with full back Chris Powell signing off in style for the Addicks. Sheffield Wednesday equalled this achievement Leon Clarke notching in the 87th minute for the Owls to make it 4-1. At that very moment the deadlock was broken at Molineux, Seyi Olofinjana scoring for Wolves, who only required one more goal to leapfrog Watford but it wasn`t forthcoming, as the Championship season was settled on the final day.
Leicester`s creditible 0-0 draw away at Stoke City was not enough to save them as they went down with Scunthorpe and Colchester. Southampton`s revival ensured they were the ones that pulled out of the fight, with Blackpool and Sheffield Wednesday doing what they had to in order to stay safe. Coventry can breathe a sigh of relief that their 4-1 thrashing didn`t mean anything, due to Leicester`s defeat.
At the top of the table, West Brom took the title over Stoke who were the two to gain automatic promotion, with Hull unable to muster any points at Ipswich. The playoff picture did not change throughout the day with Watford`s place being made safe because Wolves could not bag that all important second goal at Molineux.
Blackpool 1 (Burgess 2) Watford 1 (Smith 62)
Bristol City 3 (Trundle 8, McIndoe 16, Noble 51) Preston 0
Cardiff City 3 (Parry 44, McNaughton 49, Ledley 63) Barnsley 0
Charlton 4 (Varney 4, Gray 19, Basey 48, Powell 86) Coventry 1 (Mifsud 20)
Crystal Palace 5 (Watson 8pen, Moses 10, Soares 37, Sinclair 61, Morrison 65) Burnley 0
Ipswich Town 1 (Lee 70) Hull City 0
QPR 0 WBA 2 (Kim 53, Brunt 77)
Scunthorpe 3 (Forte 15, Hayes 67, 82) Colchester 3 (McLeod 11, 48, Vernon 47)
Sheff Wed 4 (Burton 23pen, 76, Sahar 53, Clarke 87) Norwich City 1 (Huckerby 9)
Southampton 3 (Saganowski 42, John 53, 69) Sheff Utd 2 (Quinn 23, Stead 65)
Stoke City 0 Leicester City 0
Wolves 1 (Olofinjana 87) Plymouth Argyle 0
To view the final league tableclick here.
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Date:Monday May 5 2008
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