Sidwell goal spoils weekend as Bolton go down
The weekend fixtures in the Championship came to an end last night with Brighton’s 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest taking them within two points of us, but as the fourth official prepared to lift the board for extra minutes I was convinced we’d seen one of our promotion rivals drop points.
But just seconds into the first of those extra minutes, Steve Sidwell converted after good work from Anthony Knockaert to take the points after they’d looked more likely losers once Forest had equalised. It was a goal that was certainly not greeted with anything but dismay in Burnley and I would assume also in Middlesbrough.
The goal was Sidwell’s first for Brighton in 14 years according to the commentator; the exact date of his last Brighton goals was 28th December 2002 when he scored twice in the last two minutes to earn a point against us in a 2-2 draw at the Withdean. Five weeks later he scored his next goals, having signed for Reading, getting another brace against us in their 5-2 win at the Turf.
The result meant that the top three had all won by one goal. A first minute goal from Scott Arfield gave us three points on Saturday lunchtime with Middlesbrough following on in the afternoon with Albert Adomah getting their goal as they beat Preston by the same score.
It’s all very tight now but by the time we play against Birmingham on Saturday we could be down in third place. We have 80 points, Middlesbrough are on 79 with Brighton a further point behind on 78. Middlesbrough still have a game in hand which they will play tonight when they face Reading at home. A win will take them to the top.
Brighton go first this weekend; they play Fulham at home on Friday with Middlesbrough kicking off at lunchtime against already relegated Bolton on Saturday lunchtime. There is nothing we can do about it but the fact is, it all still remains in our own hands.
It would take some effort for anyone else to threaten automatic promotion now. Hull needed a stoppage time goal to earn a point at Huddersfield and they are now eight points behind Brighton although they, like Middlesbrough, have a game in hand. They are above fifth place Derby on goal difference with Sheffield Wednesday occupying the last play-off place despite their big defeat at Bristol City.
The way things look now, that seems set to be the top six with Cardiff, now seventh, some five points behind.
I mentioned Bolton as being already relegated and that’s the case took a 4-1 hammering at Derby. For some time it has been a matter of when they were relegated rather than if but they’ve even dropped so far behind the next club they are now surely going to finish bottom.
Clubs go up and down, that’s the nature of the game in competitive league football, but there will be a few smiles around Burnley at Bolton’s demise given what happened in January 2010 when, according to some, they were ten years ahead of us. They will be leaving the Championship just four years after coming out of the Premier League. Mind you, another Lancashire club could be going one better; Blackpool are in the relegation places in their league and could make the journey from Premier League to League Two in five years.
It’s been chaotic at the Macron this season. They’ve never recovered from that relegation from the Premier League and all the news has been of the debts leading to the eventual takeover. Once that was sorted they sacked manager Neil Lennon, who had been working with his hands tied behind his back, but they haven’t bothered to replace him yet.
Apparently they’ve been inundated with applications for the job with new chairman Ken Anderson saying: “We have had over 50 applications, which shows just in how much high regard our club is held.” I laughed at that too. Phil Brown remains the odds on favourite, and he certainly didn’t disguise his interest on television last Saturday.
Just over a month ago I suggested that neither Bolton nor Charlton had a chance of staying up. Charlton were actually below Bolton then on goal difference but they’ve hit a run of form and now sit ten points ahead of them.
They are all but down I’d suggest, as are the MK franchise who have one point more. That’s down to the recent form of some of the other clubs who were under threat. When Bolton and Charlton were on the same number of points, the other team in the bottom three was Rotherham. Astonishingly, they’ve won six and drawn two of their last eight games.
Fulham have just won their last three, including one important game against MK, and Bristol City have three wins and a draw in their last five games, the only defeat coming at Hull.
If you go to Goalscorers – Discipline – Attendances you will find the leading Championship goalscorers, each club’s red and yellow card count, the highest and lowest attendances along with the average attendance club by club. It can also be found within 2015/16 Stats which is on the top menu.
THIS WEEK’S FIXTURES
Tuesday 12th April
Birmingham v Leeds
Middlesbrough v Reading
Friday 15th April
Brighton v Fulham
Hull v Wolves
Saturday 16th April
Bolton v Middlesbrough (12:30 p.m. kick off)
Birmingham v Burnley
Blackburn v Huddersfield
Brentford v Bristol City
Cardiff v QPR
Charlton v Derby
Leeds v Reading
Preston v MK
Rotherham v Nottingham Forest
Sheffield Wednesday v Ipswich