Helping hand from Rovers past and present
It’s not too often we can thank our close neighbours down the M65 but on Saturday they, and one of their recent players, gave us a helping hand up at the top of the table.
We’d dropped a place to fourth on Friday night when Brighton beat Brentford 3-0 at the Amex Stadium. It’s the first time Brighton have won a game by more than one goal this season and it was enough to take them back above us. Not as though Brentford took much beating; they were far, far worse than they were against us three weeks earlier when we won 3-1 at Griffin Park.
Our win on the Saturday afternoon took us to within one point of Hull and, because of Blackburn getting a draw at Middlesbrough, we also went within one point of the Teesside club. It’s one of those tricky games when you are never so sure who you want to win, but I have to say I did have a smile on my face when Jordi Gomez gave them the lead.
I’d expected Jordan Rhodes to score but it was Burnley nemesis David Nugent who grabbed the equaliser. I suppose in some ways it was the perfect result with neither of them winning.
We’d kicked off the weekend two points clear of Derby but had we lost and they won they too would have gone above us. Thankfully, neither happened with Derby only able to get a point at Fulham. After losing at Burnley, Derby signed Marcus Olsson from Blackburn (this is where the former player comes in). He got off to a great start with a goal after 17 minutes, into his own goal. Craig Bryson, who was close to coming to Burnley a year and a half ago, equalised for Derby right on half time but the 1-1 draw stretched their run without a win to seven games.
With Ipswich failing at QPR, Sheffield Wednesday’s win at Birmingham moved them into the play-off positions but it is notable that we now hold a seven point advantage over Ipswich who are in seventh place.
Down at the bottom it’s now Charlton holding everyone else up. It’s the first time they’ve hit the bottom all season; they’ve replaced Bolton who have been there since mid-November. Both of them had big relegation battles but whilst Bolton scored a stoppage time winner to beat Rotherham, Charlton were beaten at home by Bristol City through a Lee Tomlin penalty.
Bolton’s goalscorer was Kaiyne Woolery. He looked all set to sign for us from Tamworth in the summer of 2014, but Bolton stepped in late to clinch a deal. The had not been on long; the 21-year-old replaced Wellington Silva after 81 minutes.
Tomlin’s penalty came in just his second game for Bristol City after moving from Bournemouth on loan, but the big news from them was the appointment of Lee Johnson as manager. Just a day after Sean Dyche showed continued loyalty to Burnley, so Johnson walked out of a club for the second time in less than a year. He left Oldham for Barnsley in late February last year and has now left Barnsley to take over from Steve Cotterill at the club where he played under the management of his dad Gary.
Back to the table and Bolton are now ahead of Charlton on goal difference. with Rotherham now returning to the bottom three. It’s going to be tight down there for the remainder of the season and the likes of Huddersfield and Blackburn could yet get sucked into it.
Do you we need to keep an eye on Nottingham Forest? When they were beaten at Brentford in November they were hovering too close to the bottom for comfort, but a 13 game unbeaten run has seen them reach the top half of the league. A Nelson Oliveira goal gave them a 1-0 win at Leeds on Saturday where, astonishingly, Steve Evans is still manager.
Dyche received a superb reception from the Burnley fans on Saturday ahead of kick off, this after signing a new contract. The Hull win was his 147th league game in charge of Burnley, bringing a 59th win. He’s now just a handful of games away from being our longest serving manager since Stan Ternent.
Evans has been in charge of Leeds for only 19 league games, and he’s won six of them. It’s not long, but at Leeds that’s verging on landing yourself a long service medal. If he stays much longer then maybe Johnson will by then be looking for another move.
Interestingly, Evans was sacked at Rotherham earlier in the season and his place there was taken by Neil Redfearn who was in charge at Leeds last season. Redfearn came out on top of the job swappers when the two teams met at Elland Road in November, but poor results and that return to the bottom three has this afternoon cost him his job at the New York Stadium. As recently as the end of last week he was permitted to appoint Nicky Eaden as assistant manager on a two and a half year deal but the axe has now fallen on the manager with the club saying they will look to appoint a new manager as soon as possible.
We’ll have some Championship stats back soon, but for now, the current leading goalscorers and the next fixtures can be seen below.
Andre Gray (Burnley) – 2 for Brentford
Abel Hernandez (Hull)
Ross McCormack (Fulham)
Alan Judge (Brentford)
Nick Blackman (Derby) – all 11 for Reading
Fernando Forestieri (Sheffield Wednesday)
Nahki Wells (Huddersfield)
Jordan Rhodes (Middlesbrough) – all 10 for Blackburn
Benik Afobe (Wolves) – now in Premier League with Bournemouth
Charlie Austin (QPR) – now in Premier League with Southampton
Moussa Dembele (Fulham)
Gary Hooper (Sheffield Wednesday)
Jonathan Kodjia (Bristol City)
Chris Martin (Derby)
Tue 9 Feb
MK v Middlesbrough
Sat 13 Feb
Blackburn v Hull
Brighton v Bolton
Bristol City v Ipswich
Charlton v Cardiff
Derby v MK
Nottingham Forest v Huddersfield
QPR v Fulham (12:30 kick off)
Reading v Burnley
Rotherham v Birmingham
Sheffield Wednesday v Brentford
Wolves v Preston
Mon 15th Feb
Leeds v Middlesbrough