Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Championship Review – Matchday 31

Deke Hardman in Editorial, English Championship 11 Feb 2019

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Norwich City strengthened their lead at the top of the Championship after easing past fierce rivals Ipswich Town at Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon.

Onel Hernandez put the hosts in front inside two minutes, while top scorer Teemu Pukki put the result beyond doubt with two second half strikes – his nineteenth and twentieth league goals of the season.

It was another impressive performance by Daniel Farke’s side, who reclaimed top spot a week ago after triumphing over previous leaders Leeds United while the Tractor Boys, who saw manager Paul Lambert sent to the stands during the game, are now nine points from safety.

Drama

There was drama at the Riverside Stadium where Marcelo Bielsa’s men scored eleven minutes into injury time to salvage a point against fellow promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough.

Lewis Wing put Boro in front two minutes into the second half, though Kalvin Phillips late leveller gave his side a share of the spoils.

Sheffield United missed the chance to temporarily move into first place on Friday night, squandering a three-goal lead to only draw with Aston Villa in a dramatic night in the Midlands.

Billy Sharp was once again the hero for the Blades, bagging his second hattrick of the campaign to put the visitors in cruise control.

However, Tyrone Mings started the unlikely comeback on eighty-two minutes, with Tammy Abraham further reducing the deficit shortly after before Andre Green, who was making just his second league appearance of the season equalised four minutes in to added on time.

Thriller

Villa’s rivals Birmingham City were close to throwing away an even bigger lead on Saturday afternoon, with the Blues eventually winning 4-3 despite being four goals to the good against Queens Park Rangers.

Matt Smith scored just before, and just after the break before Jordan Cousins gave his side real hope with ten minutes to play.

Steve McClaren’s side were then handed a golden opportunity to rescue a point in stoppage time, though Nakhi Wells penalty was well saved by Lee Camp.

West Bromwich Albion stay fourth after edging past Stoke City, while Bristol City continued their good run by beating Blackburn Rovers by a goal to nil.

Derby County are outside of the top six on goal difference alone after they beat Hull City at Pride Park while there was also a home win for fellow East Midlanders Nottingham Forest, who ended Brentford’s recent unbeaten run to the tune of a 2-1 victory in which Lewis Grabban ended his two-month goal drought.

Swansea City kept alive their play-off hopes after beating Millwall, while Preston North End piled more misery on to Bolton Wanderers – their meeting ending 2-1 to Alex Neil’s side.

Even

Elsewhere, Rotherham United and Wigan Athletic shared the points at the New York Stadium, while Steve Bruce’s first home game as Sheffield Wednesday ended goalless – Reading picking up a vital point in their fight for survival.

The Royals have not played in the third tier for seventeen years, and can now be backed at a price of 4/5 to avoid relegation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deke Hardman


Freelance football writer with a love of the game that goes back to the mid nineties when both his beloved Nottingham Forest and England had genuine hope of acheiving some level of success. A regular contributor to both SoccerNews.com and FreeBetting.com, Deke also dabbles in music journalism with his heart and head still stuck in the latter years of the twentieth century.

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