In the Championship ? New Year but no change

Last updated : 04 January 2006 By Tony Scholes
Steve Sidwell - two goals for Reading in their win over Cardiff
I’m no betting man but I cannot believe that a side with 69 points and with 18 games still to play can even come close to missing out. They look all set to break one record held by Sunderland and will surely fail to break another held by the Wearside club.

Sunderland’s 90 points in 1997/98 is the highest ever recorded for a side failing to win promotion whilst their 105 points total a year later is a league record. I suspect that Reading could well break that big total but there is no way they are going to reach 90 points and fail to go up, the Madejski will be staging Premiership football next season.

The year started even better than the old one ended and they hit Cardiff for five as manager Steve Coppell again played down their season and suggested the Welsh side were always in the game. Two each from Dave Kitson and Steve Sidwell ensured the big victory.

Leeds fancy their chances of grabbing the second spot from Yorkshire neighbours Sheffield United and their chances were boosted with a 3-0 win at Plymouth, the win giving them maximum points over the four games.

Richard Cresswell and Robbie Blake were chosen to play up front and both scored, whilst Rob Hulse came on as a sub and got the third from the spot. David Healy didn’t even get off the bench throughout the ninety minutes and 15 goals a season striker Ian Moore didn’t even get on the bench.

It put the Blades under some pressure and when they played last night they found themselves a goal down early in the game. But the club who goes through strikers more often than Neil Warnock has a tantrum came storming back to win the game 3-1 to restore the eleven point gap they hold over Leeds.

Every time I think Aidy Boothroyd’s upwardly looking Watford are heading downwards they come up with a result and they did just that again with a victory at Luton in what apparently is a derby game. Now I’m sorry but I just cannot get excited about Luton v Watford and cannot believe for one minute that it could ever fall into the category of a passionate derby.

Andy Johnson - scored a late goal after missing a penalty in Palace's victory against Leicester
Watford won it though with two first half goals from Darius Henderson and Malky Mackay although Luton did pull one back from former Wrexham player Carlos Edwards. The game didn’t even attract the biggest crowd of the season to Kenilworth Road.

Crystal Palace and Preston complete the top six and both had good results. Palace’s win over struggling Leicester meant they, like Leeds had picked up the full twelve points in the week and they even had the luxury of seeing Andy Johnson miss a penalty. He did score, right at the end to put the game out of reach.

What about Leicester though, I wonder just how long Craig Levein can have left. He’s had a major impact at the Crisp Bowl since taking over, they have got a lot worse than they were when he first arrived. I suppose that’s what you get for trying to create a Scottish team in our league. Leicester could be fighting for their lives by the end of the season, Levein won’t, he’ll be well gone by then.

Preston won easily at Norwich but at a cost and in some ways it was of their own making. Norwich revealed in the match programme that Dickson Etuhu was now their player after he had signed permanently from North End. That wasn’t the case, he was still on loan, and Preston incredibly allowed him to play.

Now that’s a recipe for a good performance and perhaps a match winning goal, but Etuhu instead committed a bad foul that saw Adam Nowland suffer a serious injury with a broken leg.

A furious Bill Davies hit out afterwards, describing the challenge as naughty and unnecessary. He also hit out at referee Nigel Miller (yes, Nigel Miller) for taking no action against the player. But he knew he could have prevented it by making sure Etuhu didn’t play. The deal’s gone through now, there was never going to be a way back to Deepdale for him, and Preston have pocketed around £450,000 for him.

Down at the bottom there is no sign of Sheffield Wednesday who followed up their over the Clarets with another three points at Hillsborough over bottom club Crewe. Paul Sturrock didn’t bother with Hogmanay this year and after seeing them win at the Turf he was busy making two new signings ahead of the Crewe game. He paid around £110,000 for Rotherham’s Deon Burton and signed Marcus Tudgay on loan from Derby, and Tudgay repaid him with a goal on his debut.

Seth Johnson - another goal for Derby but they were beaten at Millwall
It’s been a dreadful year for Crewe and the new one hasn’t started any better. Dario G said last May that it was inevitable that his side would be relegated at some stage, he just hoped it wouldn’t be then. The reprieve looks as though it is only going to be for a year, and with the transfer market not as it was this could spell the end of football at this level for Crewe.

There was further bad news for Dario G with Millwall also winning. It’s two wins running for Tuttle’s team and for the second time they came from a goal behind to win 2-1. This time Derby scored on the hour through Seth Johnson who has just apparently discovered how to score goals, this was his third in two games, but two in five minutes from the Marvins, Elliott and Williams was enough to take them three points clear of the bottom club.

Brighton are back in the bottom three and fell to defeat at Southampton where George Burley finally got his first win as Saints boss. It was a win that would not have happened the same way had Redknapp still been around.

Dexter Blackstock scored both goals and he would still have been on loan at Derby, the second and winning goal was set up for him by Nathan Dyer who in all probability would have still been wearing Burnley’s number 18 shirt.

Goalscoring sensation Sammy Bangoura has had a good Christmas. He arrived at Turf Moor on Boxing Day ready to smash a Stoke record but he’s not scored a single goal in four games and they twice had to come from behind to get a point at home against Ipswich, and that was their only point from the four games.

Finally Wolves brought the biggest ever crowd to the Ricoh Arena but did precious little else. They fell behind early in the game and a Joleon Lescott own goal ten minutes before half time was enough to give Coventry the points.

There’s a break now for the FA Cup and the next league games will be played the in just over a week’s time. By that time there could be new players at clubs all over the place with the transfer window now open.
The next league fixtures are shown below and we have also included the average attendances at grounds in the league.

The New Year Bank Holiday Results

Monday 2nd January

Coventry 2 Wolves 0

QPR 1 Burnley 1

Crystal Palace 2 Leicester 0

Reading 5 Cardiff 1

Luton 1 Watford 2

Sheffield Wed 3 Crewe 0

Millwall 2 Derby 1

Southampton 2 Brighton 1

Norwich 0 Preston 3

Stoke 2 Ipswich 2

Plymouth 0 Leeds 3

.

Tuesday 3rd January

Hull 1 Sheffield Utd 3

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The New Year Bank Holiday Stats

Biggest win

Reading 5-1 v Cardiff (home)

Total goals scored

38

Player scoring most goals
2

Dexter Blackstock (Southampton)
Dave Kitson (Reading)
Steve Sidwell (Reading)

Highest Attendance

26,851 - Coventry v Wolves

Lowest Attendance

9,523 - Millwall v Derby

Total Yellow Cards

21

Total Red Cards

1

Most cards in a game

Luton v Watford (3Y 1R)
Coventry v Wolves (4Y)
Watford v Crystal Palace (5Y)

The leading scorers (league only)

12

Ade Akinbiyi (Burnley)
Cameron Jerome (Cardiff)
Marlon King (Watford)

11

Kevin Doyle (Reading)
Dave Kitson (Reading)

10

Dean Ashton (Norwich)

9

Carl Cort (Wolves)
Rob Hulse (Leeds)
Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace)
Steven Kabba (Sheffield Utd)
Neil Shipperley (Sheffield Utd)
Ashley Young (Watford)

8

Sammy Bangoura (Stoke)
David Healy (Leeds)
Steve Howard (Luton)
Gary McSheffrey (Coventry)
Clinton Morrison (Crystal Palace)

7

Dele Adebola (Coventry)
Paul Gallagher (Stoke)
Darius Henderson (Watford)
Inigo Idiakez (Derby)
Jason Koumas (Cardiff)
Garreth O'Connor (Burnley)
Danny Webber (Sheffield Utd)

6

Dexter Blackstock (Southampton) - 3 with Derby
Robbie Blake (Leeds)
Ahmet Brkovic (Luton)
Mark de Vries (Leicester)
Warren Feeney (Luton)
Joey Gudjonsson (Leicester)
Phil Jagielka (Sheffield Utd)
Leroy Lita (Reading)
Dave Nugent (Preston)
Steve Sidwell (Reading)

Disciplinary Record (all games)

Club

Y

R

Club

Y

R

Brighton

51

2

Millwall

61

11

Burnley

44

3

Norwich

48

2

Cardiff

48

2

Plymouth

43

0

Coventry

57

4

Preston

45

2

Crewe

27

1

QPR

58

6

Crystal Palace

59

2

Reading

30

0

Derby

46

4

Sheffield Utd

48

1

Hull

27

3

Sheffield Wed

34

1

Ipswich

37

4

Southampton

49

4

Leeds

48

2

Stoke

51

6

Leicester

58

4

Watford

44

3

Luton

36

3

Wolves

36

1

Average Attendances (league only)

Avge

Club

High

Low

25,118

Norwich City

27,470

23,838

24,323

Southampton

30,173

19,086

24,169

Ipswich

29,184

22,551

23,989

Wolves

27,980

21,747

23,948

Sheffield Wednesday

29,986

20,244

23,343

Derby

26,807

21,434

22,642

Sheffield United

30,558

17,739

21,774

Leicester

24,873

18,856

21,667

Leeds

26,387

18,353

20,649

Coventry

26,851

16,156

19,592

Hull City

22,201

17,698

19,225

Crystal Palace

22,400

17,291

18,441

Reading

22,068

14,027

15,290

Stoke

20,408

11,125

15,065

Watford

16,988

12,152

14,244

Preston

18,867

12,453

13,596

Plymouth

17,726

10,460

13,450

QPR

15,976

10,901

12,601

Burnley

17,912

10,431

11,707

Cardiff

16,403

8,724

9.100

Millwall

12,920

7,674

9,091

Luton Town

10,248

7,475

6,993

Crewe

8,942

5,687

6,713

Brighton

7,341

6,132

The Next Fixtures

Friday 13th January

Wolves v Luton

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Saturday 14th January

Brighton v Leeds

Plymouth v Norwich

Cardiff v Burnley

Preston v Millwall

Derby v Crewe

QPR v Southampton

Hull v Crystal Palace

Reading v Coventry

Ipswich v Sheffield Utd

Sheffield We v Leicester

Monday 16th January

Watford v Stoke

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