Newcastle bounce straight back to Premier League

Newcastle bounce back to premier league
Newcastle bounce back to premier league

Newcastle United sealed the Championship title at first time of asking with a comfortable win over Plymouth Argyle last night, sending the Magpies back into the Premier League from where they were relegated around this time last year.

Any fears at the start of the season that Newcastle were on a slippery slope that could see them slip down the league in the same fashion as Leeds United and Southampton, were squashed during the first months in the Championship.

Things may have been different if Newcastle had stuck with Alan Shearer in charge of the team, but the no nonsense approach of Chris Hughton worked wonders this season, he has managed to keep the players feet firmly on the ground, deflated any egos and made the team work for every point they have won.

As always the Championship has been no pushover this season, there are no easy games in this division and the game is as much about work rate as anything and that is where Newcastle have excelled.

Every player has given everything for the cause and ending the season as Champions is justice, given the effort put in. On a personal level it is fantastic to see Chris Hughton given a chance and proving his worth, he has done everything that has been asked of him this season and it will be interesting to see if he can continue to do the same in the Premiership.

Sadly last night’s result also sealed the fate of Plymouth, who are relegated to League One along with Peterborough.

Championship round up

200px-football_league_championshipBarnsley sprung the surprise of the last night’s Championship games by beating West Bromwich Albion 3-1 and denying Roberto di Matteo’s team the chance to go back to the top of the table.

It is the second defeat on the trot in the Championship and third in a week including the Carling Cup loss at Arsenal for the Baggies and has put a temporary dent in their attempt at marching straight back to the Premiership.

Barnsley, who are at the other end of the Championship table, were much the better team and deserved the win with a performance that belies their position in the league.

Michael Chopra scored four in Cardiff’s mauling of Derby County as the Welsh team found their early season form and thrashed Nigel Clough’s side 6-1.

Promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough and Preston were both beaten, the latter by lowly strugglers Reading who won away 1-2 and lifted themselves up the table but will need to build on this result to avoid a relegation battle later in the season.

Gareth Southgate was booed by the home crowd following the 0-1 defeat by Leicester who are now just one point behind Middlesbrough after an indifferent start to the campaign.

Roy Keane’s Ipswich were robbed yet again as Sheffield United scored an equalising goal in injury time to make the score 3-3. Ipswich had led 3-1 and will be disappointed at letting the game slip away, although one point is better than none.

Ipswich Town’s Simon Clegg was quick to dispel any rumours that Keane’s time at the club was coming to an end by issuing a statement to say there is no pressure on the Irishman.

Coventry staged a late comeback to take all the points from their visit to Watford, trailing 2-1 the Sky Blues scored twice in the last ten minutes or so to seal the win 2-3.

Bristol City beat Blackpool 2-0 who are now both on 16 points just outside the play off places which is becoming very congested with five teams on the same points.

Crystal Palace were held to a 0-0 against visitors Sheffield Wednesday, the same result as at Doncaster who entertained Swansea. The bottom of the table clash between Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough and Plymouth was won by the south west team 1-2, their first win of the season.

Newcastle have the chance to stretch their lead to five points at the top of the league when they take on QPR tonight, while Nottingham Forest will host Scunthorpe in the other game.

Chopra repays Cardiff City with hat trick at Plymouth

Cardiff City’s record signing Michael Chopra continued to pay back the club last night with a hat trick against Plymouth Argyle, taking his goal tally to six in three league games.

Chopra struck within four minutes of kick off following good play from Jay Bothroyd and struck twice more in the last ten minutes of the game. A through ball from Peter Whittingham provided the second goal with Chopra lobbing the Plymouth goalkeeper,  a penalty conversion made three in the dying minutes.

Alan Gow scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot after Tony Capaldi handled in the box. The Cardiff defender was dismissed for picking up two yellow cards in the game and will now face suspension.

Cardiff City are now unbeaten after three games and lead the Championship on goal difference, with Middlesbrough, Coventry, West Bromwich Albion and Bristol City in a similar position to the Welsh club, all on seven points.

Plymouth Argyle sign Bradley Wright-Phillips

Plymouth have signed the striker Bradley Wright-Phillips on a free transfer after the players contract with Southampton expired. The former Manchester City player has agreed a two year deal with the club.

The 24 year old says the move is a ‘big step’ for him following a disappointing end to his time with Southampton, where he was in the news for his off field antics¬† more than for his footballing skills.

“I would have loved to have lit it up a bit more at Southampton but, at the end, my time at the club just faded out. I wasn’t playing much and it was time to leave.” said Wright-Phillips, adding “I’ve come to Plymouth to get back on track, get some more games and play up front.”

Wright-Phillips is the first major signing to arrive at Home Park since the club were taken over by a Japanese consortium at the start of the month. He appeared for Southampton 111 times and scored 22 goals in his three years with the Saints.

Promotion to the Premiership

The battle for automatic promotion to the Premiership is still wide open after another weekend of missed chances and surprise results. Promotion betting is set to be harder to judge than ever before.

West Brom lost 4-1 to Leicester and with it missed a chance to leap frog Watford into third place, after Watford and Stoke drew 0-0. Even so, Stoke go to the top of the table after Bristol City surprisingly lost 2-1 in a south west derby match with Plymouth.

There is now only 10 points between the top seven teams, after wins for Plymouth and Hull. Hull thrashed Southampton 5-0, who are now surprisingly staring down the barrel of a relegation gun!

Stoke and Bristol City are now joint top with 67 points, though Bristol City have a much inferior goal difference to all the other teams battling for promtion.

In fact, Bristol City, in second place, and Leicester City in 20th position have the same goal difference of two.

It’s amazing to consider that if Watford and West Brom were to lose three games while teams below them were to win three, they could drop out of the play-off places altogether and miss out on any chance of promotion to the Premiership; when only weeks ago it was considered to be Watford and West Brom for automatic promotion and the rest fighting it out for the play-offs.

Sorry to keep going over the same points, but I really am enjoying the topsy turvy unpredictable world of this season’s Coca-Cola Championship race for Premiership promotion.

I only hope which ever three teams eventually gain promotion to the Premiership they are going to fair better than Watford last season, and Derby County this season!