Stoppage time changes everything
All of the top four clubs saw dramatic ends to their games over the weekend with result changing incidents in all of the games coming in stoppage time.
Middlesbrough and Hull looked certain to be playing out a 0-0 draw at the Riverside on Friday night as the board went up for two extra minutes to be played. It looked the right scoreline overall but if anyone had looked like stealing the points it was very much Hull.
But former Burnley loan player David Nugent headed home a very unlikely winner for the home side after what had been a turbulent week. Having lost at Rotherham, they looked likely to lose head coach Aitor Karanka. A defeat at Charlton followed before the sticky tape came out to try and put things together again. It certainly didn’t look as though it had inspired them, but they got the points to move into second place if only for a few hours.
They might have still been second but for the stoppage time goings on in Milton Keynes. They’d gone 2-0 down to Brighton before pulling a goal back and then going down to ten men when the league’s top yellow card man Kyle McFadzean, who had already collected another, saw a straight red.
With that news coming through, I accepted that it was going to be Brighton’s day but then they conceded a stoppage time penalty. With us winning at the time it looked as though we were going to go seven points clear at top.
It didn’t quite work out like that. Carl Baker put the penalty wide and a few minutes later we were pegged back by Wolves. Suddenly the table looked different. It was Brighton back in second place, four points behind us. Significantly, Middlesbrough are only one point further behind and have a game in hand. It does look as though our games against those two are going to be crucial.
For Hull, it is looking very likely that they will now have to settle for a play-off place with two of the top three to go straight up.
Derby and Sheffield Wednesday both won to strengthen their positions in the top six whilst just below none of the club remaining in the top half were able to win, most of them drawing but Ipswich suffering a 1-0 home defeat against Rotherham.
That nicely takes us down to the bottom of the league. Rotherham are still in relegation trouble but have now incredibly moved up to 20th in the table having won four and drawn one of their last five games.
They are only two points clear of the franchise who are now in real danger of a quick return to League One and Fulham are the club between those two. Brentford, who are dropping like a stone, and Bristol City are now four points clear of Rotherham.
Those two sides on 43 points really are having contrasting fortunes. Brentford have lost their last four, and have only three points, from a win against Wolves, in their last seven games. Bristol City, meanwhile, have won six of their last nine games.
Their latest success was as easy as it gets. Back in January, Hull beat Charlton 6-0 at the KC Stadium. It’s the biggest win in the Championship and Bristol City equalled that with a 6-0 win against Bolton.
Talk about clubs getting what they deserve. Was Neil Lennon a good or a bad manager? It makes little difference; he’s worked with both hands tied behind his back and in come the new owners and sack him. Worse still, Peter Reid has turned up as an advisor.
They’re all but gone now. It’s just a matter of time before the club ten years ahead of us confirm a League One place for next season, and I don’t expect Charlton to be that far behind them.
We’ve got a break now for the internationals, so that means no fixtures over the Easter weekend.
All the red and yellow card counts per club can be found with the leading goalscorers, the highest and lowest attendances and each club’s average attendance at Goalscorers – Discipline – Attendances which is within the 2015/16 Stats on the top menu.
The next fixtures
Friday 1st April
QPR v Middlesbrough
Saturday 2nd April
Blackburn v Preston (12:30 p.m. kick off)
Brighton v Burnley (12:30 p.m. kick off)
Bolton v Reading
Cardiff v Derby
Charlton v Birmingham
Fulham v MK
Huddersfield v Sheffield Wednesday
Hull v Bristol City
Nottingham Forest v Brentford
Rotherham v Leeds
Wolves v Ipswich