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!

Bristol City stay top after draw with Watford

Bristol City were held to a 0-0 draw last night by Watford; and have their brillilant young goalkeeper Adriano Basso to thank for saving a point, and in the process, remaining at the top of the league.

After Michael McIndoe tripped Watford’s Tommy Smith from behind in the penalty box, Basso made a terrific save from Darius Henderson’s second half penalty kick.

Both sides had chances to win the game, with Bristol City having more of the play. And though both teams stay in first and third place in the Coca-Cola Championship, Stoke City helped their automatic promotion chances by beating Norwich with a Mamady Sidibe second-half header that puts them just one point behind the leaders.

“It was very important that if we weren’t going to win the game we didn’t lose it” said Gary Johnson, the Bristol City manager in a post-match interview.

The big game tonight is between West Brom, who now have three games in hand over the other title contenders, and Crystal Palace.

Coca-Cola Championship round up

Bristol City and Stoke only managed to stretch their lead at the top of the Coca-Cola League Championship at the weekend by a single point.

Bristol City couldn’t score as they drew 0-0 away at Ian Holloway’s struggling Leicester.  While Stoke City came from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Burnley.

Watford (62 points) didn’t have a fixture and now have a game in-hand over Stoke (63 points) and Bristol City (66 points).

Things are looking good for West Brom.  Five points ahead of Charlton, in fourth place and only five points behind leaders Bristol City, with two games in hand.

Weather permitting, there are 10 games scheduled for tomorrow night, including the mouth-watering Bristol City v Watford.

Stoke are away to Norwich; and Charlton will need to beat Burnley at Turf Moor, if they are to keep any dream of automatic promotion alive.

Cardiff and West Brom, who both won through to the FA Cup semi-finals at the the weekend, play on Wednesday night.  Cardiff are at home to sixth place Hull, while West Brom entertain ninth place Crystal Palace.

Coca-Cola Championship Round Up

Bristol City extend their lead at the top of the Coca-Cola Football League Championship table with a 2-1 win over Hull City.

Bristol City are now two points clear of Stoke City, with a game in hand.

Stoke lost 3-0 at QPR, and were already 2-0 down when referee Andy D’Urso sent off Andy Griffin in the 44th minute. Stoke claim D’Urso has admitted the red card was a mistake.

Watford, West Brom and Charlton were the pre-season favourites to be battling it out for automatic promotion. As it stands, they are jostling for play-off places.

Watford lost further ground on the leaders as they could only manage a 2-2 draw at Burnley, while West Brom beat Plymouth with a convincing 3-0 win over Plymouth. And Charlton scored late goals in both halves to win at Sheffield United 2-0.

Before Christmas most pundits were talking down Bristol City as serious contenders for the Championship title, though all agreed they play very attractive ball-to-feet football. But now Christmas has gone and we are in the home straight, and Bristol City are still looking strong.

Can anyone remember the championship odds at the beginning of the season for Bristol City to win the Championship title?

Stoke miss chance to extend lead

Stoke City missed a valuable chance to extend their lead at the top of the Coca-Cola Football League Championship tonight by losing to second from bottom Preston 2-0.

Stoke were looking for three points to put the pressure on second place Bristol City. But like Watford and West Brom before them, it appears no team wants to run away with the lead.

Chaplow scored twice for Preston North End in the first half, while no less than four Stoke City players picked up yellow cards in what turned out to be a frustrating evening for Tony Pulis and the Stoke fans.

Other scores in the Coca-Cola Championship tonight:

Barnsley 0 QPR 0

Burnley 2 Coventry 0