Newcastle top of Championship table

Newcastle United lead the Championship title race at the end of August following last nights victory at home to Leicester 1-0. Newcastle remain unbeaten after five games and top the table with 13 points from West Bromwich Albion on 11 points.

Danny Guthrie was the Newcastle goal hero, scoring in the early part of the second half  to secure the points for his team. Leicester survived two  penalty appeals for hand ball, the first when a shot from Taylor clipped Gallaghers arm and then for a more blatant handball by Brown which went unpunished.

Newcastle started the game with a weak looking team, missing the likes of Coloccini who has joined up with the Argentinian squad, but also without Butt, Gutierrez, Ameobi and Carroll through injury.

Caretaker manager Chris Hughton was happy with the win but said after the game that Newcastle are still keen to bring ‘one or two players in’ before the transfer window closes. He added that he is totally confident that no other players will be leaving the club at this stage.

Championship round up

At last the action got under way in the Championship on Saturday, resulting in just four of the 24 clubs recording a win and an incredible 8 games ending in draws.

Coventry were eventual winners against Roy Keane’s Ipswich Town, with all three goals in the game coming within the first 30 minutes as the match promised a goal fest. Neither side could add to the 2-1 scoreline. Keane admitting after the game that he still has a lot to learn in football management and that one thing he will avoid is being too impatient.

Cardiff were the biggest scorers of the day with a comfortable 4-0 against Scunthorpe with Chopra scoring two,while Derby County led Peterborough from a fourth minute goal, only to see Borough get an equaliser from the penalty spot with six minutes to go. Nigel Clough ended the day celebrating as Derby snatched the winner in the 87th minute.

Leicester City were the only other winners in the league with a 2-1 against Swansea. The Swans had taken an early lead, but two Leicester goals in three minutes in the second half gave the English team the points.

Nottingham Forest were the first side to have a player sent off, when Chambers was shown red with only a couple of minutes left on the clock in their 0-0 with Reading. Chambers was shown his second yellow following an incident off the ball.

Premiership relegated teams Newcastle and West Brom cancelled each other out in a fiercely fought battle, Martis scrambling West Brom ahead but having his goal cancelled out from a strike by Duff.

Middlesbrough fought out a tough defensive battle against Sheffield United, neither team able to offer a goal in the Friday night bore draw.

In form Hull City up to third place

Hull City were the only top six team to win this weekend, after Stoke City and Watford drew with Blackpool and Plymouth, respectively; and Bristol City slipped up again – this time losing 2-1 at Cardiff.

Hull gatecrash the play-off party by moving up to third, above Watford, and two points above West Brom. Plymouth’s draw with out-of-sorts Watford keeps their play-off chances alive in sixth place.

Hull City are the in-form team as far as Coca Cola Championship football is concerned right now, after a 5-0 drubbing of Southampton last week and comfortably beating relegation contenders Leicester yesterday, with a convincing display.

Leicester held on until the last minute of the first half, before Dean Marney scored from Frazier Campbell’s cross. Substitute Caleb Folan made sure of the win as he raced through the Leicester defence to beatLeicester goalkeeper Paul Henderson; who had been The Foxes hero beforehand by saving a penalty from Marney.

In the post-match interviews, Leicester City manager Ian Holloway was certainly feeling the pressure when he stated:

“We have six games left and all I will say is we will have to do a damn sight better than that.”

While in contrast Hull City’s manager Phil Brown said it was always Hull’s intention to get to sixth place, now they need to stay in sixth position or above. Currently in third on goal difference above Watford, he said:

“It’s a big game for us against Watford next week. These players seem to be totally focused on the job in hand and it’s full credit to them.”

Since Christmas certain pundits have been suggesting Stoke and Bristol City were not going to stay the distance, and Watford and West Brom would rise to the top, come the end of the season. I’m pleased both Stoke and Bristol City have stayed in contention. But neither Stoke, Bristol City, Watford or West Brom have played their best football over the past few weeks.

Too many draws, grinding out results, whether a dip in form or big stage nerves. What is obvious to see is that Hull City have gradually sneaked into contention for automatic promotion, let alone a play-off place; and by beating Watford next week, they will be confirming their place in the top six.

Hull City are currently 7-1 to be Coca-Cola Championship champions with Blue Square. What’s the betting odds for Stoke and Hull for automatic promotion and Bristol City for a play-off victory?

West Brom keep promotion dream alive

West Brom managed to keep the pressure on Watford, Stoke and Bristol City in the Coca-Cola League Championship race for promotion with a 1-1 draw with Charlton at The Valley in south London, tonight.

Greg Halford scored the opening goal for Charlton when he headed in Darren Ambrose’s free-kick past former Charlton goalkeepr, Dean Kiely.

West Brom drew level minutes before half-time when leading scoring Kevin Phillips smashed home his 21st goal of the season from close range.  And they came close to taking all three points when Zoltan Gera struck the bar with a volley in the closing moments.

West Brom and Watford both have a game in hand over Bristol City and Stoke.  If both teams win the game in hand, the top of the Coca-Cola Champioship will be tighter than ever before, with Stoke, Bristol City and Watford all on 67 points and West Brom on 66 points. Championship promotion betting is starting to get really interesting!

Bring it on.

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