In the Championship ? Changes up at the top

Last updated : 30 December 2004 By Tony Scholes
Marcus Stewart - got Sunderland's late winner to take them second above Wigan
We could have had no better opponents to beat this week than Wigan and as they dropped another three points there were two former Burnley players making a major contribution to Sunderland moving above the Latics.

Forest dominated the game against Sunderland at the City Ground but went down 2-1 with Marcus Stewart scoring the winner in stoppage time after Andy Reid had levelled following Stephen Elliott’s opener.

The home side though missed probably the two easiest chances any side will get all season. Firstly David Johnson somehow shot wide from right in front of goal just a hand full of yards out with the score at 0-0 and at 1-1 Gareth Taylor managed to lift one over the bar from a similar distance.

Sunderland remain three points behind leaders Ipswich who were back to winning ways after the Boxing Day defeat at Millwall.

They beat Stoke 1-0 with a goal from Shefki Kuqi but it was much more convincing than that. Even Stoke boss Tony Pulis admitted that Ipswich had been much the better side.

A draw for Reading would have been enough for them to claim 3rd place ahead of Wigan but they went down to an unexpected 3-0 defeat at Deepdale where the name Agyemang appeared on the scoresheet for the first time. It was very much an off day for the Royals who had won their previous three games.

There was no off day for Sheffield United and they won 2-0 at home against Leicester taking their unbeaten run in the league to nine games. They haven’t been beaten since they were hammered 5-1 at Ipswich at the beginning of November.

They, along with Millwall, have the best records in the division for December and probably Millwall’s win at Derby was as good as anything on the day. Derby have been doing well but had no answer to Millwall, and Barry Hayles in particular who scored all the goals in a comprehensive win at Pride Park.

Teddy Sheringham - scored West Ham's first penalty at Millmoor
Down at the bottom Rotherham couldn’t follow up their Boxing Day win with another victory but they came oh so close to it. Their visitors were West Ham who caused uproar last time they visited Millmoor by refusing to use the dressing room because it wasn’t big enough.

It was the last match in charge for Sinister One Glenn Roeder who is still to get back into management some sixteen months on.

Pardew’s West Ham trailed 2-0 and looked set for defeat but referee Iain Williamson came to their rescue by awarding them not one but two penalties just a few minutes apart with under twenty minutes to go that were converted by Teddy Sheringham and Marlon Harewood.

West Ham boss Pardew praised the referee for being brave enough to award two definite penalties to the away team within five minutes of each other but Millers’ boss Ronnie Moore took a different view. He said there had been a handball before the first one and claimed the second one was outside the box, his view seemed to be backed up by the television pictures.

Down at Gillingham they have been getting excited over the news that Sir Alex Ferguson might be ready to help them out with some loans because of his friendship with new manager Stan Ternent.

And Ferguson has helped in just that way by loaning Luke Steele to Coventry. The young goalkeeper made two horrendous errors to allow Gillingham to go 1-0 and then 2-1 up before they went on to win it 3-1 and leave chairman Paul Scally dancing on the pitch.

There was more than a little Claret & Blue flavour to the result as well. Ternent’s last Burnley signing Dele Adebola equalised for Coventry and our former central defender Ian Cox scored his first ever Gillingham goal to take it to 2-1 and then got his second a minute later.

Stevie Crawford - consolation goal for Plymouth at Leeds and now set to return to Scotland
Leeds have played in front of not too many short of 80,000 over Christmas and picked up six points into the bargain. The second win was at Elland Road against Plymouth. David Healy looked to have clinched a 2-0 win with a stoppage time goal but Stevie Crawford immediately pulled one back for Scotland’s most southerly club.

It’s not quite going to be like that for much longer – two of their summer signings have failed to settle and are heading back north of the border. They are Sunderland born Lee Makel and Scottish international striker Crawford. The Plymouth manager Bobby Williamson has already made a move for another Scott, Blackpool’s Taylor and he looks set to replace Crawford.

Managers like to see consistency from their sides and that is certainly something Glenn Hoddle has instilled at Wolves. They have played four since he took over, gone 1-0 behind in all four and picked up four points from four 1-1 draws.

For the second time in three days it was Kenny Miller with the equaliser, this time in the home match against Brighton for whom Gary Hart scored an early goal.

Do you remember Watford at the top of the league? It’s not the case now and their 0-0 home draw with relegation threatened Cardiff was their eleventh game without a win. It has left them in eighteenth place and just six points above the drop zone.

When the two sides met at Ninian Park back in September they had to leave assistant manager Terry Burton behind after he elected to move to Cardiff and work for Sam Hammam again.

This time Cardiff have tried to take one of their players home with them, Neal Ardley another from Wimbledon and it has left manager Ray Lewington furious.

He has accused Cardiff of taking the mickey by making a silly bid for him (they offered a fee only if they stay up) but have unsettled the player forcing Lewington to leave him out of the side for both games over the Christmas period and Ardley suggesting he would favour the move.

Neal Ardley - wanted by Cardiff
So it’s not just us that suffer from these outrageous goings on with Lewington admitting, “We know this sort of thing goes on and we are not immune from it here.”

The last game would have been a certain home banker just a few weeks ago with Crewe being given little hope at QPR who were riding high up near the top of the table.

Crewe did win and it took them above the London side who have now lost their last five games whilst Crewe have now gone seven without defeat.

That’s Christmas over with, that’s 2004 over with and it is now onto the New Year and we show below the fixtures for both New Year’s Day and the Bank Holiday Monday.

We’ve also shown the average attendances at all the grounds as well for the season so far. The Clarets have moved up one in the table, sneaking above Cardiff.

Leeds, apart from leading the table for home attendances, have also provided ten other clubs with their highest gates so far. We cannot boast that at any ground but both Plymouth and West Ham have had their lowest crowds so far against us.

The Bank Holiday results

Tuesday 28th December 2004

Burnley 1 Wigan 0

Preston 3 Reading 0

Derby 0 Millwall 3

QPR 1 Crewe 2

Gillingham 3 Coventry 1

Rotherham 2 West Ham 2

Ipswich 1 Stoke 0

Sheffield Utd 2 Leicester 0

Leeds 2 Plymouth 1

Watford 0 Cardiff 0

Nott'm Forest 1 Sunderland 2

Wolves 1 Brighton 1

The Bank Holiday stats

Biggest win

Millwall 3-0 v Derby (away)
Preston 3-0 v Reading (home)

Total goals scored

29

Player scoring most goals

3 - Barry Hayles (Millwall)

Highest Attendance

34,496 - Leeds v Plymouth

Lowest Attendance

7,769 - Rotherham v West Ham

Total Yellow Cards

42

Total Red Cards

2

Most cards in a game

9 - Nott'm Forest v Sunderland (1R 8Y)

The leading scorers (league only)

17

Dean Ashton (Crewe)

14

Natham Ellington (Wigan)
Paul Furlong (QPR)

12

Darren Bent (Ipswich)
Dave Kitson (Reading)
Shefki Kuqi (Ipswich)
Jason Roberts (Wigan)

11

Teddy Sheringham (West Ham)

10

Robbie Blake (Burnley)
David Healy (Leeds) - 5 with Preston
Kenny Miller (Wolves)

9

Stephen Elliott (Sunderland)
Marlon Harewood (West Ham)
Grzegorz Rasiak (Derby)
Danny Webber (Watford)

8

Richard Cresswell (Preston)
Andy Gray (Sheffield Utd)
Heidar Helguson (Watford)
Paul Shaw (Sheffield Utd) - 2 with Rotherham

7

Ade Akinbiyi (Stoke)
Carl Cort (Wolves)
Barry Hayles (Millwall)
Lee McCulloch (Wigan)
Tommy Smith (Derby)
Marcus Stewart (Sunderland)
Paul Wotton (Plymouth)

Average Attendances (league only)

Avge

Club

High

Low

28,578

Leeds

34,496

24,585

27,668

West Ham

32,270

22,119

27,484

Sunderland

43,253

22,341

26,796

Wolves

28,516

24,748

24,797

Derby

30,793

22,096

24,451

Ipswich

29,955

21,246

23,905

Leicester

30,231

21,249

23,058

Nottingham Forest

27,457

20,109

19,468

Sheffield United

22,959

16,337

17,406

Stoke

23,029

13,234

16,597

Plymouth

20,555

13,308

16,300

Reading

22,230

11,404

15,763

QPR

18,363

13,804

14,934

Coventry

21,146

11,966

13,794

Watford

17,780

11,161

13,026

Burnley

16,956

10,919

13,004

Cardiff

17,006

10,606

12,504

Preston

18,531

10,339

11,570

Millwall

15,025

9,132

9,839

Wigan

12,420

7,547

8,125

Gillingham

10,739

6,089

6,895

Crewe

9,095

5,409

6,323

Brighton

6,804

5,996

6,248

Rotherham

8,860

4,498

This New Year fixtures

Saturday 1st January

Burnley v Leicester

Preston v Sunderland

Derby v Cardiff

QPR v Brighton

Gillingham v Reading

Rotherham v Coventry

Ipswich v West Ham

Sheffield Utd v Wigan

Leeds v Crewe

Watford v Millwall

Nott'm Forest v Stoke

Wolves v Plymouth

Monday 3rd January

Brighton v Watford

Plymouth v Ipswich

Cardiff v Nott'm Forest

Reading v Derby

Coventry v Leeds

Stoke v Burnley

Crewe v Preston

Sunderland v Gillingham

Leicester v QPR

West Ham v Sheffield Utd

Millwall v Rotherham

.

Tuesday 4th January

Wigan v Wolves

.