Assault On Kirkland Was Predictable

Unfortunately the major talking point last weekend was the attack on Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland at Hillsborough on Friday night. By contemporary standards, the wheels of justice were particularly quick in this case, but having already seen a Leeds away game in person this season I’d suggest that there is an element within their support that seems to be hell bent on invading the pitch after they score at away games and that the incident last weekend was almost inevitable. Whether or not the jailing has any affect on any other ‘supporters’ from any remains to be seen: to use a terrible old cliche, each club has their ‘hooligan element’ but there’s also a discussion to be had about the varying standards of stewardship around the Championship as well as the general behaviour of a section of Leeds’ following.

Looking at the action featuring people who should be on the pitch, Leicester took over at the top on goal difference after Cardiff lost at Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Any of the top seven could finish on top of the table when the final whistle goes tonight – not an unprecedented situation in the Championship, but it’s nights like these that often indicate which teams have a genuine chance of promotion.

However, if you’re thinking of putting your hand in your pocket and backing either Leicester or Cardiff for promotion, I’d advise you to wait for a couple of weeks. The Welsh club have conceded as many away goals as Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester’s five game winning streak came to an end at Birmingham on Saturday – the hosts took the lead with a goal from Peter Lovenkrands just before half time and Ben Marshall equalised with only four minutes left.

The situation at the bottom of the table is just as tight, but it’s slightly more fluid than it was before Friday night. Having earned a point against Leeds, Wednesday fans could be forgiven for thinking the worst when two goals from Steven Davies gave Bristol City the lead at the Reebok, but Bolton fought back to earn all three points. If the Robins lose at home to Burnley this evening and Sheffield Wednesday beat Blackburn at Ewood Park tomorrow night, City will drop into the bottom three for the first time since the end of March.

Game of the night is between two clubs just above the drop zone: Birmingham City play Millwall at the New Den. A win for either side could propel them up the table in time for Saturday’s games and there’s an extra incentive for the Lions tonight. Last January they lost 0-6 to tonight’s visitors and both Shane Lowry and Alan Dunne were sent off: it was the first time Millwall had lost to the Blues at home in the league since 1986 and tonight’s game looks as if it’ll be much closer.

Having spent most of the afternoon trying to get this post finished, it came as no surprise that Dougie Freedman was appointed Bolton manager just before I was finally happy with it. Freedman had been in charge of Crystal Palace since the start of last season, but there’d been a lot of grumbling from Palace fans over the past few months about the perceived lack of direction under Freedman. I think the best thing to say is that he’s left the Eagles in a better position than when he joined, but it’ll be interesting to see how the new manager copes with the expectations at the Reebok.

UPDATE: Sky Sports are reporting that Dougie Freedman has not yet been confirmed as the new manager of Bolton, there are also reports that Paul Jewell may not be in charge of Ipswich for much longer after the Tractor Boys sank to the bottom of the table after losing at home to Derby on Tuesday. Next scheduled post is on Thursday.

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Author: Mike Roberts

A football fan since the 1970s, I take my inspiration from the standard of writing that made Shoot! magazine streets ahead of anything else back in the day. I'm also a complete and utter stathead, which I blame on being exposed to American sports at the end of my teens.

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