In the Championship ? Top three pulling clear

Last updated : 17 January 2005 By Tony Scholes
Darren Bent - two goals for Ipswich
Leaders Ipswich were amongst the goals again (at both ends) as they fought back to beat struggling Coventry 3-2 at Portman Road. Darren Bent (2) and Shefki Kuqi again shared the Ipswich goals.

The Sky Blues have lost four of their last five and the poor form has already cost Peter Reid his job. However, they were unfortunate to lose this one and LBJ was far from happy with the performance from the Tractor Boys although they missed a couple of chances that should have made the win more comfortable.

There were no problems for Wigan at Rotherham and they won through against the league’s bottom club and they attracted the biggest crowd of the season to Millmoor. This had much to do with the fact that the home club were charging £5 admission more than the pulling power of the opposition.

Sunderland remain on the heels of the top two and they had the more difficult match at Derby. They also went into it without both central defenders Gary Breen and Stephen Caldwell but came away with all three points from a 2-0 win with Stephen Elliott and Dean Whitehead both scoring early in the second half.

Reading were held to a draw at the Turf and Sheffield United went down to a surprise 2-1 home defeat against Brighton. A Kerry Mayo own goal had brought the Blades back into it but Leon Knight got the winner in stoppage time before making a complete fool of himself in celebrating it.

He rushed to salute the Brighton fans, lost his footing and went flying. He could quite easily have got himself injured but was able to sheepishly get up with his team mates and referee having a good laugh at him.

A new manager at Forest but another defeat, this time they went down 2-1 at home to Millwall. You look at the Forest squad and wonder why but the fact is that Andy Reid is not playing well, their forwards are not scoring goals and the supposed big star at the back Michael Dawson is giving goals away too frequently.

Gareth Taylor - played in the centre of defence for Forest
It was David Johnson and Marlon King who got the nod up front with former Mill wall player Neil Harris on the bench and Gareth Taylor moved into the centre of defence.

Apparently they played a lot better than of late but found themselves two goals down before Kris Commons pulled one back with a header. He nearly got another before Harris, on as a late substitute almost rescued a point when he came close to getting his first goal for his new club.

They are now seven points from fourth from bottom Cardiff and their cause was not helped with news that Gillingham had beaten Plymouth 1-0 at Priestfield.

Gills’ winner came from Andrew Crofts but the result should have come as no real surprise. Gillingham have not been beaten at home since mid-November and the only points they have dropped were in a 0-0 draw against Reading.
Plymouth on the other hand, early leaders of this league, are now very much facing a relegation battle. They have won just twice in the last eleven games and have not picked up a win on their travels since the shock win at Wigan at the beginning of November.

Cardiff hover just above the bottom three and they picked up a point at Leeds in a game that will be remembered for the problems outside the ground after the game. The Cardiff fans had been given no option, they could only go if they travelled on an organised coach.

There had been no trouble but they had to be detained inside Elland Road for fifty minutes after the game because of Leeds fans waiting outside. It made no difference though and the home fans tried to ambush the coaches as they finally left. Police were injured in the incidents.

It is so sad for football when genuine fans are treated in the way Cardiff’s were with the ridiculous transport situation – and some very severe action needs to be taken after the awful incidents in Leeds on Saturday.

Two for Kenny Miller as Wolves win 4-2
There were goals galore at Molineux with Glenn Hoddle getting his first win as Wolves boss despite Bobby Zamora scoring twice for West Ham. Zamora ironically was signed by Hoddle for Spurs in the summer of 2003 but his goals counted for nothing with Kenny Miller also hitting two along with goals from Paul Ince and Carl Cort giving the home side a 4-2 win.

Burnley boss Steve Cotterill would have liked to have signed Heidar Helguson earlier in the season and it is no surprise. He hit two more on Saturday as Watford beat Crewe to win their second successive home match to move up to fifteenth in the table.

For Crewe it is a second successive defeat after a fantastic eight match unbeaten run. It looks as though they are feeling the effect of having sold Dean Ashton.

North End had to come back from behind and Paul McKenna earned them a point with a second half goal. It was very much a new look Preston following their recent excursions into the transfer market.

They had not long ago signed Patrick Agyemang, Chris Sedgwick and Filipe Oliveira and apart from those three there were three other new faces in the squad. Matt Hill played the full ninety minutes after signing from Bristol City, Dave Nugent came on during the second half for the ineffective Agyemang having signed from Bury and Rob Kosluk, on loan from Sheffield United, was an unused sub and is still waiting for his league debut.

I think it is fair to say they have been the busiest club in the transfer market this week although QPR made two loan signings bringing in goalkeeper Simon Royce from Luton and Middlesbrough defender Andrew Davies. Both made their debuts in the 1-0 win over Stoke on Friday when Lee Cook scored the winner with a cracking strike in front of the Sky cameras.

Holiday matches over, some cup replays this week and then a full fixture list next weekend which is shown below along with this weekend’s stats.

The Weekend Results

Friday 14th January

QPR 1 Stoke 0

.

Saturday 15th January

Burnley 0 Reading 0

Preston 1 Leicester 1

Gillingham 1 Plymouth 0

Rotherham 0 Wigan 2

Ipswich 3 Coventry 2

Sheffield Utd 1 Brighton 2

Leeds 1 Cardiff 1

Watford 3 Crewe 1

Nott'm Forest 1 Millwall 2

Wolves 4 West Ham 2

Sunday 16th January

Derby 0 Sunderland 2

.

The Weekend Stats

Biggest win

Wolves 4-2 v West Ham (home)
Watford 3-1 v Crewe (home)
Sunderland 2-0 v Derby (away)
Wigan 2-0 v Rotherham (away)

Total goals scored

31

Player scoring most goals
2

Darren Bent (Ipswich)
Heidar Helguson (Watford)
Kenny Miller (Wigan)
Bobby Zamora (West Ham)

Highest Attendance

29,548 - Leeds v Cardiff

Lowest Attendance

8,451 - Gillingham v Plymouth

Total Yellow Cards

31

Total Red Cards

1

Most cards in a game

Nott'm Forest v Millwall (7Y)

The leading scorers (league only)

18

Dean Ashton (Crewe) - now with Norwich

17

Nathan Ellington (Wigan)

14

Darren Bent (Ipswich)
Paul Furlong (QPR)

13

Shefki Kuqi (Ipswich)
Jason Roberts (Wigan)

12

Heidar Helguson (Watford)
Dave Kitson (Reading)
Kenny Miller (Wolves)

11

Richard Cresswell (Preston)
Stephen Elliott (Sunderland)
David Healy (Leeds) - 5 with Preston
Teddy Sheringham (West Ham)

10

Robbie Blake (Burnley) - now Birmingham
Marlon Harewood (West Ham)

9

Grzegorz Rasiak (Derby)
Peter Thorne (Cardiff)
Danny Webber (Watford)

8

Carl Cort (Wolves)
Andy Gray (Sheffield Utd)
Barry Hayles (Millwall)
Lee McCulloch (Wigan)
Paul Shaw (Sheffield Utd) - 2 with Rotherham
Tommy Smith (Derby)

7

Ade Akinbiyi (Stoke)
Mark Rivers (Crewe)
Marcus Stewart (Sunderland)
Paul Wotton (Plymouth)

The Week's Fixtures

Saturday 22nd January

Brighton v Nott'm Forest

Plymouth v Preston

Cardiff v Burnley

Reading v Ipswich

Coventry v QPR

Stoke v Leeds

Crewe v Rotherham

Sunderland v Sheffield Utd

Leicester v Gillingham

Wigan v Watford

Millwall v Wolves

.

Sunday 23rd January

West Ham v Derby

.