In the Championship ? No Christmas cheer at the top

Last updated : 27 December 2004 By Tony Scholes

Tommy Smith - got the winner for Derby at Wigan
Leaders Wigan we looking to get back to winning ways after their defeat at Ipswich last week and went in front through Jason Roberts against fast improving Derby County. The visitors came back strongly though in the second half and Grzegorz Rasiak brought the scores level before Tommy Smith hit the winner from a ball in from the right.

Questions will be asked at the Concrete Jungle, maybe the players just shouldn’t be eating so many pies at half time in an important game. But it was celebration time for the thousands of Derby fans there, it must have been a massive away following there were over 12,000 inside the place.

Ipswich fell to defeat at Millwall, a ground where they have never won. You expect goals when Ipswich play and it was more comic cuts defending that allowed Millwall to go in front. It was 2-0 before Shefki Kuqi pulled one back but the home side ended the contest when Scott Dobie added a third.

LBJ thought the result wasn’t a fair one and Ipswich were adamant that decision went against them, particularly a strong claim for a penalty in the first half. Surely they cannot be suggesting that visiting teams don’t get a fair deal at the Den.

Three years ago at this time of year John Barnes said that leaders Burnley would fade away after Christmas because they conceded too many goals to go up and often needed to score three to win because of the poor defence. He was proved right and the same could be said of Ipswich who continue to concede far too many goals.

Sunderland lost third place after losing at home to struggling Leeds. There’s no love lost when these two meet and Leeds came out on top in a hostile atmosphere at the Sunderland Stadium of Light.

A last minute free kick from Julio Arca in the last minute was nothing more than a consolation for the home side and Leeds won it 3-2 with a first ever goal for Aaron Lennon followed by a Brian Deane header and one from Julian Joachim.

Ibrahima Sonko - gave Reading an early lead
The game did give us the highest attendance in the division so far this season with 43,253 inside the stadium, this beat the previous best of 31,808 who saw Leeds draw with Nottingham Forest back in August.

Those results allowed Reading to move closer to the top and they made no mistake in the end with a 3-0 win over Watford at the Madejski. The result was somewhat flattering for a Reading side who led 1-0 with an early goal from Ibrahima Sonko but they could have easily dropped points. However, two late goals ensured a comfortable victory.

Also moving in were Sheffield United and West Ham. The Blades won 2-1 at Coventry having gone one behind to a Stern John goal whilst West Ham lost a two goal lead at home to Forest before winning 3-2.

David Johnson scored both Forest goals, the first was a simple tap in but the second was trademark Johnson, hitting a low shot across the goalkeeper into the far bottom corner from the left hand corner of the box.

In the end though it went West Ham’s way with two trademark Teddy Sheringham goals, both coming from crosses from the left.

Down at the bottom it was without doubt Rotherham’s day. The struggling South Yorkshire club have won only once all season and have been the subject of a number of failed takeovers.

This has been a good week for them though, a supporters led bid for the club was successful with the credit going to their Supporters Trust RUST (appropriate name given the state of Millmoor) and they ended the week with a 1-0 win at Leicester.

Goalkeeping errors are common occurrence at the Crisp Bowl and this was another with loan keeper Stuart Taylor failing to hold a routine cross and it was Millers’ defender Shaun Barker who got the last touch to hit it home.

Referee Lee Probert gave the game the go ahead at the Withdean
It all brought Rotherham a little closer. We have already reported Forest’s defeat and Gillingham faired no better at Brighton. The battle could have been lost even before kick off with Gillingham manager Stan Ternent unhappy with referee Lee Probert’s decision to allow the game to go ahead.

It did look somewhat dodgy from the television pictures but Gillingham led 1-0 for much of the game. However, two in the last twelve minutes gave Brighton the points, needless to say McGhee thought the pitch was fit.

Probert was the referee who had a nightmare when we lost at Plymouth and the West Country side were lumbered with another bad referee yesterday, none other than Darwen’s own Tony Leake who was not the best at the Turf for the recent win against Preston.

Leake was showing off his Christmas presents – he got new red and yellow cards – and sent off Plymouth’s Graham Coughlan and then QPR’s Georges Santos to add to his five yellow cards.

Both managers are considering appeals but QPR boss Ian Holloway knowing that it has to be sorted before the next game said, “I can’t see the FA being open tomorrow can you?”

The first red card looked harsh, for the second Santos clearly played the ball but Holloway was not happy with his side’s overall performance. He added, “We looked like a bunch of fancy-dan London whatsits.”

Cardiff are still hovering just about the drop zone but should have won yesterday against a Wolves side that are not in tune as yet with the preaching of Glenn Hoddle. The Welsh side led for well over an hour after Cameron Jerome gave them the lead but missed chances to wrap it up and paid the penalty when Kenny Miller grabbed an equaliser.

In the other game played Stoke and Preston drew 0-0 in the Windy City whilst there should be a special mention for Crewe. In poor weather conditions you are supposed to put some effort in to get the game on, having now seen the pictures it is clear that Crewe did precisely nothing.

Arsenal's Daniel Karbassiyoon - joined Ipswich on loan
There were a number of loan signings made by clubs in the days leading up to Christmas. Ipswich led the way, signing American forward Daniel Karbassiyoon on loan from Arsenal. The 20-year-old was set for a return to Virginia for Christmas but instead made his Ipswich debut as a substitute at Millwall.

Watford had two new players in their side at Reading. Tottenham’s Johnnie Jackson and goalkeeper Paul Jones from Wolves have both arrived on loan at Vicarage Road and were in the starting line up.

Midfielder Junichi Inamoto has moved from West Brom to Cardiff and was a Japanese sub yesterday at Ninian Park, coming on for Jobi McAnuff, whilst Shaun Derry was in the Forest side at West Ham after moving from Crystal Palace.

Finally Stoke manager Tony Pulis went back to his old club Portsmouth to bring in two loan players. Lewis Buxton was used as a substitute but the second signing Anthony Pulis wasn’t in the squad against Preston. Yes, the one with the familiar name is now working for his dad.

The holiday programme continues tomorrow for most clubs – it starts for us and Crewe – the fixtures for Tuesday and New Year’s Day are shown below.

The Boxing Day results

Sunday 26th December

Brighton 2 Gillingham 1

Plymouth 2 QPR 1

Cardiff 1 Wolves 1

Reading 3 Watford 0

Coventry 1 Sheffield Utd 2

Stoke 0 Preston 0

Crewe v Burnley - postponed

Sunderland 2 Leeds 3

Leicester 0 Rotherham 1

West Ham 3 Nott'm Forest 2

Millwall 3 Ipswich 1

Wigan 1 Derby 2

The Boxing Day stats

Biggest win

Reading 3-0 v Watford (home)

Total goals scored

32

Player scoring most goals
2

David Johnson (Nott'm Forest)
Teddy Sheringham (West Ham)

Highest Attendance

43,253 - Sunderland v Leeds

Lowest Attendance

6,420 - Brighton v Gillingham

Total Yellow Cards

30

Total Red Cards

2

Most cards in a game

7 - Plymouth v QPR (2R 5Y)

The leading scorers (league only)

17

Dean Ashton (Crewe)

14

Natham Ellington (Wigan)
Paul Furlong (QPR)

12

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

11

Shefki Kuqi (Ipswich)

10

Robbie Blake (Burnley)
Teddy Sheringham (West Ham)

9

David Healy (Leeds) - 5 with Preston
Kenny Miller (Wolves)
Grzegorz Rasiak (Derby)
Danny Webber (Watford)

8

Richard Cresswell (Preston)
Stephen Elliott (Sunderland)
Marlon Harewood (West Ham)
Heidar Helguson (Watford)
Paul Shaw (Sheffield Utd) - 2 with Rotherham

7

Ade Akinbiyi (Stoke)
Carl Cort (Wolves)
Andy Gray (Sheffield Utd)
Lee McCulloch (Wigan)
Tommy Smith (Derby)
Paul Wotton (Plymouth)

This week's fixtures

Tuesday 28th December 2004

Burnley v Wigan

Preston v Reading

Derby v Millwall

QPR v Crewe

Gillingham v Coventry

Rotherham v West Ham

Ipswich v Stoke

Sheffield Utd v Leicester

Leeds v Plymouth

Watford v Cardiff

Nott'm Forest v Sunderland

Wolves v Brighton

Saturday 1st January 2005

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