Championship Round-up: Gameweek 23


Well it appears the first piece of championship round-up went down a success, so we’ll now be bringing you this as weekly content here at From the Finney.

Please let us know if there is anything you believe could improve this type of content as we look to bring you analysis on the whole of the league across the weekend’s results.

We’ll start off the round-up on Friday night in the north-east as Middlesbrough faced a Stoke side 2 points off safety and their last away win coming way back in early November. The game finished 2-1 to Boro with the home side coming from behind to take all 3 points which now leaves them unbeaten in their last 5 games on home soil.

A 25-yard power strike from Lewis Wing sealed the points for Jonathan Woodgate’s men, who were poor in the first half, but a Sam Clucas opener sparked Boro into life and the change in shape in the second half helped them see off the struggling Potters who felt they were denied a “clear cut penalty” in a game that they “should have won” according to the Stoke Sentinel.

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From Friday night and then into Saturday, which moves us onto Saturday dinner time in South Wales as Preston travelled to Cardiff in hope of changing their away form around. This is arguably the only thing holding us back from challenging for automatic promotion.

The game finished 0-0 in which for me, was 2 points dropped for North End given the chances we created during the game. Sean Maguire had a number of good opportunities as well as some decent chances for Alan Browne, Paul Gallagher and Billy Bodin all went begging as North End had to settle for a point.

The main highlight of the game was the superb performance from Ben Pearson which caught many an eye as the midfielder didn’t really put a foot wrong for 90 minutes and wasn’t too far away from winning it late on for Preston.

With 51 successful passes from an attempted 60, 5 interceptions and 3 chances created, that maybe his best performance in a Lilywhite shirt this season as he deservedly won the man of the match award.

You can read our player ratings piece and our ‘5 Things We Learned‘ piece for more from us on the game.

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Now for the 3 o’clock kick-offs, beginning at Craven Cottage as an out of form Fulham hosted Leeds who were looking to bounce back from throwing away a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff last time out.

But Bielsa didn’t get the reaction he would have wanted as Leeds fell to a 2-1 defeat after a very controversial penalty was converted by the league’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic who netted his 17th of the season.

Leeds did get back into the game through a Patrick Bamford tap in which was cancelled out by Josh Onomah 15 minutes later as the ball fell kindly to the former Tottenham man from a corner. The result means Fulham move into 4th after our stalemate in South Wales whilst Leeds stay 8 points clear of 3rd and face Preston on Boxing Day.

Onto probably the most feisty game of the weekend as Nottingham Forest travelled to the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield in what was an intense game, with staff and players all getting into a bit of a fracas with one another in the tunnel at half time.

Poor defending on two occasions by Forest from Huddersfield corners meant the midlands side would leave Yorkshire with nothing to show for their efforts. Failing to pick up 6”3 Steve Mounié on two occasions at corners was always going to scream danger for Sabri Lamouchi’s side.

There was a number of occasions where tempers flared including a nasty challenge from Forest’s Tiago Silva who pushed a Huddersfield player straight through one of the advertising boards, injuring a ball boy in the process. But with 6 yellow cards and 15 fouls, both teams somehow managed to escape without any red cards.

This win for Danny Cowley’s men sends them up to 19th and 6 points above the relegation zone which is a good return for the Cowley brothers since they arrived in Yorkshire.

Hull claimed their 3rd win in a row at home as they ran out convincing 3-0 winners over Birmingham City who are now without a win in their last 3. The goals for the Tigers came from Tom Eaves, Kamil Grosicki and Keane Lewis-Potter and secured the 3 points for the Tigers sending them 11th in the table.

This is also the first week in what feels like a long time that there was no goal for Jarrod Bowen who has been on fire this season with the 15 goals and 5 assists in 23 appearances. However, he did still manage an assist for Hull’s second goal and the result leaves Birmingham 15th in the table leading into Christmas Day.

Now to Kenilworth Road as a struggling Luton Town faced Swansea who were looking to get back to their early season form and break back into the play-offs.

The game seemed destined for a 0-0 draw after Swansea were denied a penalty when George Byers was adjudged to have dived by the referee even though replays show there was contact. However, in my opinion, it would have been harsh on Luton defender Matty Pearson.

But Swansea scored late on with Andre Ayew calmly chesting in from a yard out in the 82nd minute meaning the Swans are now 7th whereas Luton are still in and around the relegation zone and needing to pick up some points over the festive period.

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Barnsley faced a trip to the Den to face a Millwall side who’ve been very impressive of late under Gary Rowett. They were undefeated in 6 coming into this one while Barnsley would have been looking to build on their 5-3 win over QPR last time out and build on that they did. Patrick Schmidt scored a 93rd-minute header to win the game and to send the Barnsley faithful into raptures. Gerhard Struber and his men made the long trip back to Yorkshire with 3 points and presumably full of festive cheer.

The last time Charlton and QPR met was back in April 2016, with QPR ending up 2-1 winners on the day. This appeared likely to be the case this time around as Rangers led twice, through an early goal from Geoff Cameron and a late strike from Marc Pugh which looked more than likely to decide the outcome of the game.

But a corner in the 94th minute served up a bit of derby delight for Charlton with a right footed shot from defender Mahamadou-Naby Sarr finding the bottom corner and snatching a point for the Addicks.

Next, we move down to Berkshire where after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Reading, Derby manager Philip Cocu could be under serious pressure after another poor performance.

A fast start got Reading on the front foot straight away as Yakou Meite was brought down in the third minute in the area by left-back Scott Malone, who was adjudged to have made no attempt for the ball and received an early red card. The penalty was converted by Charlie Adam who netted for the first time in just under 2 years.

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Lucas João doubled the home side’s lead in the 58th minute before Meite sealed the win by converting from the penalty spot again. The win means Reading end a run a run of 3 games without a win but for Derby, no win in 6 games does not make for good reading as they now sit 17th and just 7 points above the drop zone.

West Brom would have been top of the table at Christmas regardless of how they got on due to Leeds failing to win for the second game in a row, but the Baggies would have liked to create a bit of breathing space between themselves and Bielsa’s men.

But in front of them stood the challenge of Brentford who had beaten promotion chasers Fulham last time out and were sitting 5th in the table. But the game ended a stalemate as a Henrik Dalsgaard opener was cancelled out just a few minutes later by Darnell Furlong just before the half time whistle.

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The draw keeps Brentford in the play-offs on goal difference which is considerably better than Swansea’s, whilst West Brom move 3 points clear of Leeds and extend their unbeaten run to 13 games.

Now for the game on Sunday lunchtime as Sheffield Wednesday faced a Bristol City side looking to get back to winning ways after 2 consecutive defeats at home. The game looked destined to be a 0-0, up until the 85th minute when Kosovan international Atdhe Nuhiu won a controversial penalty. Barry Bannan stepped up and took the spot-kick and converted it to send Sheff Wednesday up to 3rd in the league and 8 points off 2nd placed Leeds.

The penalty, having watched it back, does seem to be very soft as there is minimal contact on the giant forward. ExMany Bristol City fans showed their frustration across social media, some saying they felt “robbed” by the refereeing decision, which in my opinion was a wrong call.

Finally, the Monday night game at Ewood park in the Lancashire derby between Blackburn and Wigan. The game ended goalless and sees Wigan staying second bottom and a point off safety whilst Blackburn failed to close the gap on the play offs.

Another huge blow for Rovers was the injury to Bradley Dack which saw him screaming in agony as the Sky Sports camera picked up what looked to be a nasty injury and could spell the end of his season which would be a huge blow for Tony Mowbray and his men. Rivalry aside, we would like to wish Bradley all the best in his recovery and hope it’s nothing too serious.

That brings us to the end of our round-up of another week of Championship football. It’s set to be an up and down second half to the season for those looking to avoid relegation and those challenging for the top 6.

Like a podcast? Why not give part 1 of our episode with current Salford City manager, Graham Alexander a listen? Hit play below to hear Grezza talk about his first stint at North End and much more.

Finally, from every one of us here at From the Finney, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!