This is a new feature that we have decided to try here at From the Finney. The plan is to round-up all the weekend’s action from the Championship and look at how things may have affected North End, or not as the case may be.
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It was a strange mix of results this weekend with a number of results arguably going in our favour as we moved up to 3rd in the table. However, there is still a ways to go until we can consider ourselves in contention for the top 2 again.
We’ll start off with the Friday night game where Charlton played host to Hull City at The Valley. The game ended all square as Hull managed to steal a point late on through a Dillon Phillips own goal.
There was also another goal for Jarrod Bowen (shock) who is in great form of late, as we found out recently when he dismantled a makeshift North End back 4 that had Ryan Ledson at right and the left-back. Despite Bowen’s best efforts though, Charlton finally got a point on the board after losing 4 consecutive games and slipping to 17th in the table.
Then by Saturday tea time, there were a few surprise results which made the table very nice to look at from a North End perspective.
Starting off at St. Andrews where West Brom left it late to win the midlands derby and beat rivals Birmingham City with a 2-3 away win. A late double from substitute Charlie Austin sealed the 3 points and ensured West Brom would go back to the top of the table if Leeds dropped points against Cardiff.
Leeds duly started their Christmas wobble at Elland Road and it’s safe to say, we and probably others didn’t quite expect it to happen in the way that it did!
And if we have a look at the events that followed, Leeds would have felt very comfortable after being 3-0 up at home against a Cardiff team who have struggled on the road this season. But a goal from Lee Tomlin on the hour mark started an inspiring comeback where Leeds would throw away their lead to draw 3-3 despite Cardiff even having centre half Sean Morrison sent off, meaning he’s suspended for North Ends visit to South Wales next weekend.
A west London derby between Brentford and Fulham at Griffin Park. Fulham were coming into this game on the back of two straight defeats against play-off rivals in Bristol City and Preston and Scott Parker needed a win to ensure they didn’t lose the slight advantage they had over the chasing pack.
Ultimately though, it was a Bryan Mbeumo goal proved to be the difference as Brentford ran out 1-0 winners condemning Parker’s side to 3 consecutive defeats whilst Brentford are unbeaten at home in 4 games now and as a result of that form, have moved up to 4th, a point off us in 3rd. Fulham need to turn their form around and for their fans, sooner rather than later would be better. Before they know it, they could find themselves in a similar position to Charlton Athletic who have lost 6 and drawn 2 of their last 8 and have dropped to 17th in the table.
With this in mind, Fulham’s next opponents in Leeds United are probably the team you would least like to face. El Loco’s Leeds are unbeaten in 11 and have the best defensive record in the Football League so to say this is a tough game to play on the back of 2 straight defeats would be an understatement.
If we look towards two more sides both chasing play-off places, the game at the City ground between Nottingham Forest and Sheff Wednesday was sure to be a cracker and that’s how it turned out but I would imagine few people would have predicted it to go the way it did. Wednesday were 4-0 up by half time which resulted in many of the Forest fans leaving. A 37-minute hat trick from Jordan Rhodes and a late goal in the first half from Steven Fletcher sealed the victory for Garry Monk’s men.
This result helped North End out in terms of climbing above Forest who now have a worse goal difference than us and are 3 points behind us but they do still have a game in hand. Sheffield Wednesday have Bristol City at home next, and their visitors haven’t been in the best of form of late. Lee Johnson’s men have lost their last two games and seem to be feeling the pressure somewhat.
Blackburn Rovers were the team to condemn Bristol City to their second defeat in a row as an early goal from Bradley Johnson and a late one from Adam Armstrong, sent Rovers back to Lancashire with all 3 points. Tony Mowbray’s men are now unbeaten in 6 with 5 wins and 1 draw to their name. Mowbray deserves credit for their recent run after fans earlier in the season were clamouring for him to be potted.
He has been given time, which is a rarity in football these days and has turned it around to the point where Rovers sit 9th in the league and are just 3 points off us in 3rd.
Bristol City are currently 7th and are just 2 points off us in 3rd, but travelling away up to Sheffield Wednesday is by no means an easy game. The Owls are currently unbeaten in 5 and find themselves 5th in the table after their 4-0 demolition of fellow play-off contenders Nottingham Forest.
If we start looking at the teams down towards the nether regions of the table, we’ll start with what probably ended up being the game of the day at Oakwell between Barnsley and QPR. The Yorkshire outfit have struggled this season and find themselves at the foot of the league. Defensively they have been poor and have conceded the second-most goals in the division behind Luton, but QPR haven’t been much better.
Mark Warburton’s side have only kept two clean sheets all season and they both came in their two games prior to their humbling defeat in Yorkshire (typical that one of them was against us) and so on the face of it, this game promised goals. to say that it delivered would be an understatement as Barnsley finished up 5-3 winners. That’s now 3 wins for the season and they’re only 4 points away from safety and all of this is despite being the highest scoring side of the bottom 9 sides in the league.
A Connor Chaplin hat trick sent Barnsley well on their way to 3 points despite QPR giving the strugglers a few scares, the home side held out for their first 3 points since late November. Their last win before that came on the opening day of the season against hotly tipped Fulham.
As for QPR, they’ve been hugely inconsistent so far this season. Early on they were floating in and around the play-off places for quite a while but have now dropped to 13th. They are still only 6 points off 3rd though which just goes to show how tight the Championship is at the moment.
Swansea are a team who have had a little drop off recently but a 3-1 win over Boro leaves them just 2 points off the play-offs after recently going 6 games without a win. Swansea won the game comfortably as Jonathan Woodgate’s side were ultimately the cause of their own downfall after both Marcus Browne and Paddy McNair were shown red cards. The latter was, in my opinion, a disgusting elbow which should be looked at for a further suspension.
Boro look like they are placing a fair amount of trust in Jonathan Woodgate, but it can only be a matter of time before a change is made. They currently sit in 20th in the Championship, just 3 points above the relegation zone.
The East Midlands is up next as Philip Cocu’s Derby County faced an inspired Millwall side who under Gary Rowett are unbeaten in their last 6 coming into this one. After an impressive win at Ashton Gate against Bristol City in midweek, a win against Derby would really set up the Lions to mount a charge toward the play-offs and a win against Derby is exactly what they got.
A goal from Tom Bradshaw meant Millwall left Pride Park with all 3 points which saw them move to within 2 points of the top 6. Derby on the other hand, sit 16th which is below par for a side who have been in around the play-offs for the past few years now. Their last win actually came against us after the last international break and Phillip Cocu could be another manager on the hit list very soon if he isn’t careful.
Back to Lancashire next as Wigan faced a Huddersfield side who had just ended a run of 5 games without a win with a victory over Charlton in midweek. Wigan aren’t in a much better state than the Terriers to be honest. They currently sit second from bottom and without a win in 10 games dating back to the start of October.
The Latics opened the scoring with a Josh Windass goal on the stroke of half time before the Yorkshire side equalised with 20 minutes to go through Karlan Grant. Huddersfield face Nottingham Forest next and really could do with a win to create a bit of distance before they are dragged back into a relegation scrap after this one finished 1-1.
Now for what is being described by some pundits over at the BBC as the “dullest game of the season”, as Stoke faced a Reading side who had just drawn against the side at the bottom of the league in Barnsley. One thing they didn’t need in this one was to drop points against another side in the bottom 3.
However, that proved to be the case as the two sides played out a 0-0 draw. Neither side managed a single shot on target in the 90 minuntes. The last time that happened in the Championship was 7 years ago in a goalless draw between Brighton and Nottingham Forest. Not exactly a record you ever want to emulate.
Finally, we finish at Deepdale as Preston who were far from their best, beat a poor Luton Town side to gain all 3 points and move up to 3rd in the table. We started brightly and scored a 5th-minute rebound from a missed Paul Gallagher penalty but we struggled after that and conceded late in the first half due to yet another controversial penalty.
Ultimately though, we made it back-to-back wins thanks to Jayden Stockley who calmly slotted the ball home in the 84th minute. You can check out our player ratings from the game here and also our “5 things” piece here.
All in all, another entertaining weekend of Championship football. Teams are now hitting the Christmas period of games head-on and hopefully we will start to see some gaps forming between those in the top 6 and the chasing pack. Fingers crossed, we will still be in and around it all come to the end of this hectic period.
If you haven’t yet, give the latest episode of the From the Finney Podcast a listen. Just press play on the player below and voila, you’re off.