The great race for the Premiership – Bristol City and West Brom make a move

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Teddy SheringhamBefore I start, I’d just like to write a few words about Teddy Sheringham who has announced his retirement from playing at the end of this season. He will be 42 when he finishes and still oozes class. It is a shame that his last season as a player may well end in relegation.

Teddy has been a first team player for 24 years and has made well over 700 senior appearances. He has scored nearly three hundred goals including in the FA Cup final and Champions League final in Manchester United’s treble winning season in 1999. He has 51 England caps with 11 goals to his name.

Never blessed with great pace, Sheringham has been one of the most skillful English players of recent times. His ability to pick out a telling pass has been bettered by very few. His age and injuries have finally caught up with him, but I am sure he will be successful as a coach or manager in the future.

So, back to the Championship, how did the weekend’s fixtures go?


(Graham’s predictions)

Bristol City 2 v 1 Hull City (2-1)
Goals from Dele Adebola and Jamie McCombe were enough to see off a determined challenge from Hull City. Liam Fontaine had put through his own goal to give Hull an equaliser.

Bristol City manager Gary Johnson had famously promised to ‘show my arse in Burton’s window’ if Fontaine ever scored for them. I have been unable to discover what he is going to expose for an own goal.

Burnley 2 v 2 Watford (0-5)
My 5-0 pediction, with hindsight, may have been a little optimistic. Watford took the lead twice through Darius Henderson and Jordan Stewart, the second time in the 85th minute, but were unable to hold on either time as substitute Robbie Blake netted twice for Burnley.

Although 2-2 was probably a fair result, Watford were lucky that Burnley started with Ade Akinbiyi up front!

16 goal Kevin PhillipsWest Brom 3 v 0 Plymouth (1-1)
West Brom came back to form with a flourish, easily beating in-form Plymouth. Zoltan Gera, Ishmael Miller and Roman Bednar scored the goals that sent a strong message to the other promotion hopefuls.

Tony Mowbray said after the game, “We’ve dropped away from the top two but there is a determination to make sure everyone knows that we’re still fighting for promotion.”

It’s OK Tony, we all know!

Sheff Utd 0 v Charlton 2 (0-2)
Chris Iwelumo and Sam Sodje kept Charlton’s promotion push on course and made Sheffield United continue to look over their shoulders with some concern.

Sheffield United’s misery was complete when Stephen Quinn received his marching orders in the last minute.

Can any Scots out their let me know why Chris Iwelumo is not in the Scottish national team?

Southampton 1 v Ipswich 1 (0-3)
Southampton picked up a point with Stern John scoring his 15th of the season. David Norris equalised five minutes later with his first goal for Ipswich.

Southampton missed a few chances, and in view of Ipswich’s poor away record they’ll probably pleased with a point that takes them back into the play off places.

Colchester 0 v Wolves 1 (1-1)
Wolves managed to keep in touch with the play off contenders and push Colchester deeper into trouble. A first half goal from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was enough to win a dour encounter.

Mick McCarthy said afterwards, “”Every team in the Championship is difficult and there are no easy games in this division. The games are ebbing away now and it’s an important three points for us.”

He may have said more but nobody stayed awake long enough to hear.

Preston 0 v Crystal Palace 1 (1-2)
Clinton Morrison scored the goal that revived Palace’s play off chances and brought a halt to Preston’s recent good run.

Palace manager Neil Warnock was thrilled with the performance, “It’s probably one of the best team performances of the season. Everyone was very good in their own right.”

Scunthorpe 2 v Coventry 1 (0-2)
Second from bottom Scunthorpe did their survival chances a great deal of good with this confidence boosting win against Chris Coleman’s Coventry, who are being dragged down into a relegation dog-fight.

Coleman was an angry man after the game saying, “The first half was okay but the second was unacceptable. I have told the players that. If we are going to stay out of trouble, we are going to have to do better than this.”

Martin Paterson and Jack Cork, on loan from Chelsea, scored the goals for Scunny, with Kevin Thornton replying from the spot for Coventry.

Barnsley 0 v Sheff Wed 0 (1-1)
A typical local derby played in windy conditions. There were hard tackles and a lot of endeavour, but very little quality.

Sheffield Wednesday’s Burton O’Brien nearly won the game in injury time when his wonderful strike struck the post.

It wouldn’t be a local derby without someone getting sent off. Barnsley’s Rob Kosluk obliged.

Cardiff 0 v Leicester 1 (1-0)
This disappointing game was only ever going to be decided by an own goal. Cardiff’s Darren Purse took the glory by netting past his own keeper in the 27th minute.

Even more disappointing than the game was the fact that Ian Holloway made sense in his interview after the game. “I have not seen such a competent performance from my side since I have been at the club. I asked my players before the game to be brave, stand up and be counted and I doubt whether you will find a better away performance than that.”

Norwich 1 v Blackpool 2 (2-1)
Steve McPhee netted twice in the first half for the improving Blackpool and Norwich could only reply with a Jamie Cureton penalty after the break.

Despite this win taking Blackpool up to 12th place and nearer the play offs than the drop zone, mnager Simon Grayson refused to look at the positives, “We are still looking over our shoulders.
All we can do is to try and kick on from here. After beating Charlton in our last match and winning here, we now want to keep things going.”

QPR celebrateQPR 3 v Stoke 0 (2-1)
Stoke lost their second game in a week and failed to return to the top of the table. QPRs Mikele Leigertwood scored twice and Akos Buzsaky added a third. Stoke had Andy Griffen sent off in a ridiculous decision by Andy Durso. (I’m sure I’ve heard that phrase before).

So in my first set of predictions I got five right with two being absolutely the right score. Not bad, but I know I must do better!

League Table

1 Bristol City 64
2 Stoke 62
3 Watford 61
4 West Brom 58
5 Charlton 55
6 Ipswich 52
7 Plymouth 52
8 Burnley 51
9 Hull 50
10 Wolverhampton 50
11 Crystal Palace 49
12 Blackpool 45
13 Norwich 45
14 Cardiff 44
15 QPR 44
16 Barnsley 42
17 Leicester 40
18 Sheff Utd 40
19 Southampton 40
20 Coventry 39
21 Preston 37
22 Sheff Wed 36
23 Scunthorpe 35
24 Colchester 32

Midweek Preview

Blackpool (12) v Barnsley (16)
Blackpool will be buoyed by their win at home to Charlton followed by their win at Norwich on Saturday. Despite this, Simon Grayson is still fearful of relegation.

Barnsley are still on a bit of a high after their heroics at Anfield but haven’t won a game since. The players will definitely have at least half an eye on next weekend’s FA Cup quarter final against Chelsea.

Graham’s prediction: 2-0

Charlton (5) v Bristol City (1)
Big game this one. If City manage to win at the Valley then they will establish themselves as number one contenders for automatic promotion. If Charlton win it will be wide open again.

On the basis that everyone who has gone top of the table has then started to lose games, I expect Charlton to win this one.

Graham’s prediction: 2-1

Crystal Palace (11) v Cardiff City (14)
Palace got back to winning ways on Saturday and Cardiff lost again. With an FA Cup quarter final trip to Middlesbrough at the weekend, Cardiff will have their mind on other things.

Graham’s prediction: 2-0

Hull City (9) v Burnley (8)
Two teams who still have a chance of making the play-offs. Hull were unlucky at Bristol City on Saturday, and Burnley got an incredibly lucky draw against Watford 🙂

I fancy that both teams will cancel each other out and a draw won’t be what either team wants.

Graham’s prediction: 1-1

Ipswich Town (6) v Sheffield United (18)
Ipswich are very good at home. They’ve only lost one, against Watford I think it was. Sheffield United are slipping slowly but surely towards the drop zone. Nothing’s going to change in this game.

Graham’s prediction: 2-0

Leicester City (17) v Preston (21)
Two teams fighting for their lives. Leicester won on Saturday and Preston lost after two fine performances. It’ll be a battle at the Walker Stadium that’s for sure. Don’t expect any quality, but there will be a lot of heart.

Graham’s prediction: 0-0

Plymouth Argyle (7) v Colchester United (24)
Plymouth’s promotion push came unstuck at the Hawthorns on Saturday, but what better way to bounce back than to be playing the bottom club at home.

I think Colchester might be on the way out, and I can’t see them getting anything here.

Graham’s prediction: 3-1

Sheffield Wednesday (22) v West Bromwich Albion (4)
West Brom are back. They are undoubtedly the team with the most individual quality in the league. If they are firing on all cylinders then they will the Championship. Sheffield Wednesday aren’t very good really. I’m sorry, but they’re not.

Graham’s prediction: 0-2

Watford (3) v Norwich City (13)
Three draws in a row for the Hornets isn’t good enough. We need to bounce back with three points in this one.

Norwich’s season is fading away with nothing to play for. They’ll get a beating here.

Graham’s prediction: 5-0

Wolverhampton Wanderers (10) v Southampton (19)
A remarkable thing happened on Saturday, Wolves won and Southampton got a point. The home team need to win to stay in the promotion picture and Southampton need something to avoid being pulled further into danger.

Nigel Pearson is yet to get a win for the Saints and I fear for them that I might be saying the same in Friday’s article.

Graham’s prediction:1-0

Coventry City (20) v Queens Park Rangers (15)
Coventry in big trouble and money-bags QPR looking to a bright future. Coventry on a low after defeat at Scunny who were bottom and QPR on a high after victory against Stoke who were top. It can only go one way. Home win.

Graham’s prediction: 2-1

One thing to let any of you who may be interested know, Salisbury City reserves were held to a 0-0 draw by Basingstoke Town on Saturday. The winning run ended at 28 games, so I won’t be troubling Mr Guinness.

Back on Friday with a review of the midweek games and a look at the weekend fixtures.

Graham writes at Views of a fan.

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