Friday, November 16, 2018

Championship Review: Wolves delight as rivals stumble in unison

SoccerNews in English Championship 1 Jan 2018

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Wolves will have looked on with glee as their three nearest rivals at the top of the Championship, Derby County, Bristol City and Cardiff City all slipped up on Monday.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s runaway leaders will have the chance to go 12 points clear when they host Brentford on Tuesday, after 2018 began in the perfect fashion for them.

Burton Albion remain in the bottom three, despite an incredible 3-0 win at managerless Sheffield Wednesday.

The battle at the bottom is becoming ever-more fraught after Monday saw more teams dragged in, while Tony Pulis picked up his first win as Middlesbrough boss.

CHASING PACK STUMBLE

Wolves’ consistency has been in stark contrast to those nearest to them over the festive period, and promotion appears almost certain at Molineux.

Cardiff City had run them closest in the first half of the season, but Neil Warnock’s men have now lost four in a row, after going down 2-1 at Queens Park Rangers – Matt Smith and debutant Paul Smyth striking after Joe Ralls had put the Bluebirds ahead from the penalty spot.

Derby are two points clear of Cardiff in second after drawing 1-1 with Sheffield United in a game which saw the Championship’s leading scorers Matej Vydra and Leon Clarke find the net.

Bristol City could have leapfrogged the Rams, but ended up falling a place after their goal difference took a hammering at Aston Villa, who ran out 5-0 winners. Robert Snodgrass scored twice, with Scott Hogan, Birkir Bjarnason and Conor Hourihane also on target.

PULIS OFF THE MARK

Boro ended Preston North End’s nine-match unbeaten run with a 3-2 win which was bookended by a pair of Daniel Ayala goals.

Callum Robinson and Jordan Hugill turned it around after the defender’s opener, but Jonny Howson’s 20-yard curler swung things back in Boro’s favour, helping them go above their opponents into eighth.

Leeds United sit sixth after drawing 0-0 at home to Nottingham Forest, on the lookout for a new manager after Mark Warburton’s sacking.

BATTLE AT THE BOTTOM HEATS UP

Hull City were a Premier League team this time a year ago, but they are now firmly embroiled in a battle to avoid League One after losing 1-0 at Bolton Wanderers, who moved above the Tigers thanks to Gary Madine’s wonderful first-half free-kick.

Burton moved level on points with Nigel Adkins’ men after leaving Hillsborough with a big win. 

Nigel Clough’s men have not lost to the Owls in the second tier, but goals from Tom Flanagan, Lloyd Dyer and Tom Naylor helped them to surely their finest result in that sequence, while Lucas Akins also saw an early penalty saved by Wednesday keeper Joe Wildsmith.

Sunderland, like Hull, have resumed residence in the lower reaches of the table after relegation and the Black Cats lost 1-0 at home to Barnsley, who moved out of the bottom three.

Millwall are still looking over their shoulders, six points above the drop zone, after losing 2-1 at Norwich City.

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