In the Championship ? New pitch holds back leaders

Last updated : 16 January 2007 By Tony Scholes
David Jones - late winner for Derby
The new pitch should have been laid within four days but the poor weather on Tuesday, and we drove through the torrential rain in the Birmingham area on the way to Reading, meant they couldn't get the pitch ready in time and the new turf will now have to be dug up and another new pitch sought.

Birmingham's inactivity saw their lead at the top reduced to goal difference whilst any sort of victory would have dumped Leeds on the bottom of the table, they are currently above Southend only on goals scored.

Derby are the side to have caught Birmingham, but only just with their winning goal against Sheffield Wednesday, scored by new signing Dave Jones, coming in the fourth and last minute of stoppage time from a free kick taken out wide on the right. Billy Davies was doing his ‘job done' prancing on the touchline, the one he did at Leeds last season, and it clearly upset Wednesday boss Brian Laws who aimed more than the odd word at Davies at the end.

At the other end of the table, Southend took all three points from Cardiff at Ninian Park with a 1-0 win and probably Lee Bradbury's goal from just outside the box was the goal of the day in the Championship. It's taken them level with Leeds, the two of them have the same goal difference which leaves the Yorkshire club still with the worst defensive record in the league but just above the bottom.

Cardiff are in a wretched run, they haven't won since they very fortunately beat us in mid-November, although they are still only one point from Colchester who are holding down the last play off place.

We can finally report on a Colchester home game that didn't end in a home win, and it could have been much worse for the Essex side who had a massive helping hand from referee Danny McDermid in their 1-1 draw against Leicester.

The Foxes scored first, had two goals disallowed (one of them correctly so) and looked to be on their way to victory, but Colchester benefited from a very dubious looking penalty decision that was converted by leading scorer Chris Iwelumo to at least keep their unbeaten home run going. I think we need to get some tips from Colchester, that's the sixth penalty they've converted in the league this season.

Chris Iwelumo - another penalty for Colchester
McDermid came under fire for his performance, it was his first in the Championship, and Leicester manager Rob Kelly was very upset with his performance. He said: “We knew that it would be difficult coming here because of their fantastic home record, but I felt we deserved to win.

“The penalty decision has changed the momentum of the game, and everyone in the ground knew that something like that was coming. There was no contact and nobody from Colchester appealed for it. It was this referee's first Championship game and it was just too much for him. To add to that there were seven bookings in a game when there wasn't a single bad tackle.”

Another referee under fire was our old friend Nigel Miller who got a decision wrong the other way by missing the most blatant of penalties in the game between Hull and QPR at the KC Stadium.

QPR looked to be heading for victory. They were leading by a Dexter Blackstock goal but it all changed in the last five minutes as the home side came from behind to win. They introduced Stuart Elliott as a substitute with ten minutes to go, he'd been left out of the starting line up after suffering with his asthma. He grabbed an equaliser with five minutes left and scored the winner in stoppage time to lift Hull four points clear of the relegation places.

In between those goals, QPR should have had a penalty when Paul Furlong was hauled to the floor but referee Miller incredibly waved play on. As the ball run loose Lee Cook was brought down and again Miller refused the penalty. It was all too much for Cook who was sent off for having a word with the official.

I remember this particular referee getting a whole load of decisions wrong against us at Loftus Road a couple of seasons ago, so what goes around comes around QPR, I don't remember you complaining then.

Hull have pulled further clear with Barnsley losing again. They were beaten 1-0 at home to Preston, the goal coming from Liam Chilvers early in the second half. Of more interest at Oakwell was the Preston substitution with seventeen minutes to go when Brett Ormerod was replaced by Michael Ricketts.

Kevin Phillips - his late goals gave West Brom all three points against Luton
Our former loan player has signed for the rest of the season with Preston boss Paul Simpson claiming that it could be the biggest bargain of the transfer window. I could have almost believed that but apparently he's lost three stone since we last saw him looking totally disinterested in a claret and blue shirt.

Luton are a club in free fall and having seen two of their recent performances on television it is plain to see why. No, they haven't been hammered, just the opposite, they've gone to Birmingham and now West Brom and been the better side. They led 2-1 at Birmingham but had to settle for a point when the home side scored in stoppage time.

If that was bad then it was worse at the Hawthorns, again they led 2-1 but this time they conceded an equaliser with two minutes to go through Kevin Phillips and the same player scored again in stoppage time to win it for the Baggies. That should have been six points for Luton from those two difficult away games, they ended them with just the one point.

It's not the best time to be a Luton fan, they have won just two of their last fifteen league games and have sold their best two players in this transfer window, Rowan Vine signing for Birmingham and Carlos Edwards joining RK Sunderland.

Edwards made an immediate impact on Wearside and was involved in the only goal of the game as they beat Ipswich. He played the ball to another new signing Anthony Stokes whose cross was met by David Connolly who scored from close range.

I'm told RK Sunderland didn't play very well again, but they are making a habit of this, not playing well and picking up points and its seen them climb to ninth in the table, just a point outside the play offs and the promise of more new players to come.

Earlier this season Coventry boss Micky Adams said if the fans wanted him out they only needed to keep shouting it and he'd go. Well they are shouting it loud and clear but he's not budging and says now that he won't walk away.

On Saturday they were 4-0 down at home against Crystal Palace with less than forty minutes gone. Thankfully for them it didn't get any worse, they pulled one back just before half time and added a second in the second half. Adams joked that at least they'd won the second half.

Akos Buzsaky - two free kicks, two goals for Plymouth at Norwich
How much longer the Coventry board will persevere with Adams is anyone's guess, but they've picked up one point from five games since they beat us with that ridiculous penalty at the Ricoh.

Unacceptable was the word Norwich boss Peter Grant used to describe his team's first half performance against Plymouth, and he said the second half was even worse. They actually led at half time from a superbly taken free kick from Youssef Safri in stoppage time, but after Plymouth equalised they benefited from well taken free kicks with Akos Buzsaky scoring twice with efforts from outside the box.

Last time they lost to Plymouth there were harsh words from Delia Smith who gave manager Nigel Worthington a two match ultimatum. This time there has been silence from her, come on Delia, let's be havin' you.

Finally, Stoke went into their home game against Wolves with just the one loan player. Gone are the likes of Griffin, Hendrie and Berger. Liam Lawrence remains having made his move a permanent one, and Salif Diao is still with them from Liverpool.

It was Wolves who went in front through Neill Collins, another player who has made a loan move from RK Sunderland a permanent move, whilst Clint Hill grabbed a late equaliser for Stoke. It seems Mick McCarthy's position at Wolves is under review, I suppose they think giving him 28 games to recover Glenn Hoddle's mess is enough.

Some of our clubs have cup replays this week but the weekend brings another full fixture list, with all but one game on the Saturday and Plymouth taking on Coventry next Monday night.

The Weekend Results

Friday 12th January

West Brom 3 Luton 2

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Saturday 13th January

Barnsley 0 Preston 1

Hull 2 QPR 1

Birmingham v Leeds - Postponed

Norwich 1 Plymouth 3

Cardiff 0 Southend 1

Southampton 0 Burnley 0

Colchester 1 Leicester 1

Stoke 1 Wolves 1

Coventry 2 Crystal Palace 4

RK Sunderland 1 Ipswich 0

Derby 1 Sheffield Wed 0

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The Weekend Stats

Biggest win

Crystal Palace 4-2 v Coventry (away)
Plymouth 3-1 v Norwich (home)

Total goals scored

26

Player scoring most goals
2

Akos Buzsaky (Plymouth)
Stuart Elliott (Hull)
Kevin Phillips (West Brom)

Highest Attendance

28,936 - Derby v Sheffield Wed

Lowest Attendance

5,915 - Colchester v Leicester

Total Yellow Cards

35

Total Red Cards

1

Most cards in a game

Hull v QPR (7Y 1R)

The leading scorers (league only)

17

Robert Earnshaw (Norwich)

16

Grzegorz Rasiak (Southampton)

14

Chris Iwelumo (Colchester)

13

Jamie Cureton (Colchester)
Gary McSheffrey (Birmingham)

12

Michael Chopra (Cardiff)
Diomansy Kamara (West Brom)
Rowan Vine (Luton)

10

Andy Gray (Burnley)
Steve Howard (Derby)
Alan Lee (Ipswich)
Kevin Phillips (West Brom)

9

Barry Hayles (Plymouth)
David Nugent (Preston)

8

Nicklas Bendtner (Birmingham)
Chris Brunt (Sheffield Wed)
Iain Hume (Leicester)

7

Dexter Blackstock (QPR)
Freddy Eastwood (Southend)
David Healy (Leeds)
Kenwyne Jones (Southampton)
Jason Koumas (West Brom)
Marcus Tudgay (Sheffield Wed)

Hat Tricks (league only)

26th Aug

3 - Jamie Cureton - COLCHESTER v Derby

12th Sep

3 - Gifton Noel-Williams - BURNLEY v Barnsley

14th Oct

3 - Kevin Phillips - Ipswich v WEST BROM

29th Oct

3 - Alan Lee - IPSWICH v Luton

28th Nov

4 - Chris Iwelumo - COLCHESTER v Hull

9th Dec

3 - Gary McSheffrey - BIRMINGHAM v Preston

Disciplinary Record (all games)

Club

Y

R

Club

Y

R

Barnsley

45

4

Luton

39

4

Birmingham

54

5

Norwich

48

3

Burnley

48

6

Plymouth

57

3

Cardiff

40

5

Preston

47

3

Colchester

29

1

QPR

53

1

Coventry

53

1

Sheffield Wed

54

4

Crystal Palace

35

0

Southampton

39

1

Derby

60

2

Southend

44

3

Hull

57

3

Stoke

46

2

Ipswich

74

3

RK Sunderland

41

4

Leeds

62

3

West Brom

72

3

Leicester

55

3

Wolves

43

2

The Week's Fixtures

Saturday 20th January

Burnley v Norwich

Preston v Stoke

Crystal Palace v Hull

QPR v Southampton

Ipswich v Colchester

Sheffield Wed v RK Sunderland

Leeds v West Brom

Southend v Derby

Leicester v Birmingham

Wolves v Cardiff

Luton v Barnsley

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Monday 22nd January

Plymouth v Coventry

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