Championship Weekend Review
With QPR earning a valuable point at home to promotion chasing Reading, Vital QPR takes a look at the other matches in the Championship over the weekend.
23 goals, 30 yellow cards and two reds in the Championship this weekend as Wolverhampton Wanderers extended their lead at the summit of the Football League.
Bristol City 2 - 0 Barnsley
The Robins took full advantage of Barnsley`s defensive shortcomings as they fended off the Tykes in style at Ashton Gate. It took a goal from substitute Gavin Williams on for Ivan Sproule to hand Bristol City the advantage, he latched on to an expert through ball from Cole Skuse to lift the ball over Heinz Muller.
Barnsley were unfortunate not to equalise when Bobby Hassell`s effort from the edge of the area cannoned off the bar and bounced short of the goaline with Adriano Basso credited with keeping the ball out.
Bristol City saw out the fixture after Michael McIndoe sized up his options on the right flank after receiving a deflected effort. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers man curled the ball home left footed giving Muller no chance.
Burnley 2 - 1 Charlton Athletic
Two of the Championship sides at the wrong end of the form table had to wait until four minutes into injury time to settle this clash at Turf Moor. Nicky Bailey gave the Championship`s basement side a lead against the run of play shortly before half time. Chris Dickson left Caldwell in his wake with a burst of pace to square back for Bailey to score his sixth of the campaign.
Burnley were back in the fixture with just under quarter of an hour remaining as Blake`s centre was put back into the middle by Martin Paterson for Steven Thompson for his seventh goal of the season, sixth in Burnley colours.
Charlton`s suspect time-wasting tactics were a talking point throughout the fixture, but they were ultimately punished in the six minutes of time added on by referee Mr Beeby. In the fourth minute Thompson sent Turf Moor into delirium with substitute Kevin McDonald pulling the ball back for the former Cardiff City man to hand the Clarets the points.
Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Blackpool
Blackpool were looking to bounce back from a 3-0 mauling at the hands of QPR midweek while Crystal Palace had lost their way in search of a playoff place as they continued to slump down the Championship table.
The hosts were given a welcome boost when Paul Rachubka lost his head after three minutes, steaming out of his area to bring down Shefki Kuqi after a misplaced pass from Ian Evatt. Andre Marriner had no hesitation in dishing out the red card, as the Tangerines faced an uphill battle.
John Oster clipped the bar with his resulting free kick, while Kuqi was denied by substitute goalkeeper Matt Gilkes who bravely saved at the feet of the Finnish forward. Sensationally however the visitors had the lead shortly before half time when Roy O`Donovan was brought down by Oster, and DJ Campbell slotted home a penalty for the third of his loan spell.
Despite having 62% of possession Palace could only muster six shots on target, something which contributed heavily to their downfall at Selhurst Park.
Cardiff City 2 - 0 Nottingham Forest
Cardiff continue their meteoric rise into towards the automatic places with a convincing win over a resurgent Nottingham Forest who prior to this fixture hadn`t lost on the road for three and a half months. Paul Parry handed the Bluebirds the lead after latching onto a deflected effort from Ross McCormack to fire a stinging drive from the left-hand side of the area, into the bottom right hand corner.
Forest elected to change formation after the break with Joe Garner joining Nathan Tyson upfront, and the latter spurned a good opportunity to beat Peter Enckelman when he couldn`t get a good connection after being played in over the top.
The hosts punished the Tricky Trees with Jay Bothroyd scoring a fantastic solo effort, cutting in from the right flank, twisting and turning to beat three men before rolling the ball into the bottom left hand corner which clipped in off the post. Cardiff continue to shine while Billy Davies suffers his first taste of defeat as Forest boss.
Derby County 2 - 1 Coventry City
Nigel Clough picked up his first win as Derby boss and it was fully justified with a sustained early period of pressure from the Rams seeing Keiren Westwood called into action on numerous occasions. The Rams had their deserved lead when a Gary Teale corner was poorly defended by the Sky Blues and Hulse nodded the ball home with relative ease on the far post.
They doubled their advantage when Elliott Ward fluffed his lines after an excellent run by Teale, and Kris Commons was on hand to slam the ball into the top left hand corner. Then in a sensational spell Derby hit the post twice in the space of ten seconds, with Teale and Commons unfortunate not to grab a third.
Coventry hit back early in the second half after Roy Carroll had pulled off a reaction save from Michael Doyle from close range, only for Morrison to square it back for Doyle who place home comfortably. Derby were reeling after a sustained period of Coventry pressure and the Sky Blues were turned down a penalty when Martin Albrechtsen was alleged to have handled the ball.
Down the other end Stephen Wright brought down Gary Teale in the area with a flailing leg but the Mike Jones didn`t see fit to hand the Rams a spot kick.
Doncaster Rovers 1 - 1 Norwich City
Doncaster have played with renewed vigour in recent weeks picking up a draw against Aston Villa and beating Sheffield United, and they proved their Championship credentials against fellow strugglers Norwich City when Jonathan Grounds was forced to clear off the line from Birmingham target Matthew Mills.
Rovers did have the lead in the 23rd minute when Paul Heffernan latched onto a cross from Brian Stock to send a looping header beyond a forlorn David Marshall, who had done his best to keep out the hosts during the move.
However Brian Gunn`s Norwich City pulled level just after the hour mark when Jonathan Grounds on loan from Middlesbrough headed home Lee Croft`s cross from the left. Grounds who is in his second loan spell with the Canaries hauled the visitors level and ultimately made it three undefeated for the Canaries.
Ipswich Town 0 - 0 Plymouth Argyle
Plymouth Argyle can come away from Ipswich fully relieved that the hosts first half barrage never yielded a goal. Jon Stead was denied in emphatic fashion by Roman Larrieu with Simon Walton clearing Pablo Counago`s effort off the line from the rebound.
More chances for Stead and Counago never came to fruition as the former hit the post while the latter was denied a penalty shout when Krisztian Timar bundled him over in the box. After the break however the tide turned to an extent with Paul Sturrock rallying his men in the dressing room.
Rory Fallon, who recently penned a new deal with the Pilgrims, saw his shot cannon back off the cross bar, but it was former QPR midfielder Simon Walton that will be red faced after scarcely forcing a save Richard Wright from a guilt edge rebound.
Preston North End 0 - 0 Sheffield United
Sheffield United assistant boss Sam Ellis was told to 'go away` by the assistant referee responsible for disallowing Stephen Quinn`s effort from distance. In truth the fixture could have gone either way with a flurry of chances at both ends.
The best of those fell to the hosts as Preston, most notably to man mountain forward Jon Parkin as he backheeled wide from Stephen Elliott`s cross. Preston certainly not lacking in creativity despite the loss of influential midfielder Ross Wallace.
Andy Lonergan was called into action to save a stinging drive from Brian Howard, before controversy ensued at Deepdale. The shot from Stephen Quinn fizzed past Danny Webber and into the bottom left hand corner, but the assistant denied the Blades the goal and incurred the ire of the players.
QPR 0 - 0 Reading
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Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 1 Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday will come away from this encounter bitterly disappointed as they surrended a vital lead in the final moments of the fixture. In the first period Birmingham ran the show with West Ham United loanee Lee Bowyer striking the post with a header from a Scott Sinclair cross. Hameur Bouazza then flashed an effort wide.
Lee Grant had to be at his best making a tremendous reaction save from Martin Taylor`s flicked header. But after the break it was the hosts who had the lead when defender Lewis Buxton`s persistence paid off as he was denied by Maik Taylor from a close range shot before climbing highest to nod home the rebound.
The Blues were throwing everything into their attacks with Liam Ridgwell firing a testing cross across the area which narrowly evaded Marcus Bent, but it was the ever reliable Kevin Phillips who saved the day for Alex McLeish`s Blues.
Chelsea`s Scott Sinclair put in a teasing cross in the final moments of the game with Phillips among others on hand at the far post to nod home with ease despite the best efforts of Lee Grant. Birmingham get out of jail at Hillsborough.
Southampton 2 - 2 Swansea City
The team with the worst home record in the league met the form side of the Championship, and surely it didn`t take a rocket scientist to work out which was this was going to go. However ten man Southampton rallied to earn themselves a point courtesy of the class of Marek Saganowski.
The Polish forward handed Southampton the lead when he waltzed around several desperate challenges in the heart of the area before sliding home, radiating confidence in stark contrast to his surroundings. Swansea were back in the game in a heartbeat, as prior to this move they hadn`t threatened Kelvin Davies` goal.
Jordi Gomez slammed the ball home from outside the area to hand Swansea the equaliser and a foothold on proceedings at St Mary`s. Former Everton man Lee Molyneux had seen enough and his strong tackle on Gomez earned him a senseless second yellow card, and Martinez`s Swansea sensed and opening.
They had their lead when substitute Gorka Pintado capitalised on a Kelvin Davies horror show as he parried the ball straight into the Spaniard`s path - who subsequently rolled the ball home with ease. Neither Saints nor Saganowski were done as the forward exhumed class to send a delightful chip over Dorus De Vries and troubled Southampton clung on at home.
Wolverhampton Wanders 3 - 1 Watford
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake`s 50th league goal sent Watford tumbling into the relegation zone and brought the feel-good factor back to Molineux as Wolves extended their lead at the top.
Blake opened the scoring on 23 minutes when he bundled the ball home a Kyel Reid corner from a Richard Stearman flick on. After the break Andy Keogh had an age to pick out his corner from Michael Kightly`s cross and comfortably rolled home past Scott Loach.
Watford halved the arrears with just under ten minutes remaining with Adrian Mariappa netting the first goal of his career from close range. Substitute Sam Vokes dispelled any nerves in the Wolves set-up when he headed home in the dying stages.
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QPR 0-0 Reading - Match Report.
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Sousa Happy With Royals Point.