Championship wrap: High-flying Leicester City thrash Watford
Championship wrap: Leicester City beat Watford in a repeat of last season's play-off semi-final. Ben Barker reports
Watford fall victim to Leicester
In a repeat of last season’s incredible play-off game, Leicester travelled to Watford with both sides in great vein of form. The Foxes had leapt ahead of QPR into second place last week, while Watford sat pretty just a point outside the playoffs. Vicarage Road was rife with expectation, but the cheers echoed from the away fans when Chris Wood gave Leicester an unexpected lead after ten minutes. An innocuous backpass to Manuel Almunia was charged down by Wood, and the attempted clearance ricocheted off the New Zealand striker’s face and into the net. Both sides attacked with intent from the first whistle, and Leicester nearly doubled their lead twice but for the linesman’s raised offside flag. An action-packed first-half came to a close with Almunia’s opposite number Kasper Schmeichel making an extraordinary double save from Lewis McGugan. Leicester’s persistence paid off early into the second half when the industrious Jeffrey Schlupp powered his way into the box and laid the ball off for Anthony Knockaert to slam into the net. The match was as good as over with Leicester controlling possession before Lloyd Dyer’s left-foot strike with five minutes remaining made the points and a 14th win out of 19 secure for the Foxes.
Year to remember for Dyche
Burnley boss Sean Dyche celebrated a year in charge of the Clarets on Wednesday, and it’s been quite a year. Burnley have welcomed a change in fortunes since the former Watford boss took over. After previous incumbent Eddie Howe returned to Bournemouth, Dyche was appointed to quiet murmurs in Lancashire. Having lost his job at Watford following the takeover of the Pozzo family, Dyche’s task at Burnley was one of morale boosting. Still suffering from their Premier League relegation in 2010, the new regime let previous stalwarts go and went for a youthful approach in recruitment. Pre-Dyche, the Clarets had conceded 29 goals in 13 league games in 2012/13, making their defence the leakiest in the Championship. Over the course of the rest of the season, Burnley conceded just 31 in 33 games. Dyche should also be credited with getting the best out of red hot striker Danny Ings, who has proved to be a more than ample replacement for the departed Charlie Austin, who contributed to 42 per cent of the Clarets’ goals in 2012/13.
Wednesday grab first win in style
Sheffield Wednesday fans could only have dreamt of seeing their side score five goals in a game before the weekend, and had nightmares over the unwanted statistic that the Owls were the only side left in the Football League yet to win this season. Fortunately for those fans, their side boosted both their goal difference and points tally with a surprise 5-2 win over Reading on Saturday. The result was fully deserved on the day, and Wednesday boss Dave Jones paid credit to his players’ hard work behind the scenes and on the training pitch. It was thanks to the stunning performances from two loanees and a former Royals player that Wednesday lifted themselves off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone. Matty Fryatt opened the scoring on 18 minutes after a smart pull back from Michail Antonio drew goalkeeper Alex McCarthy away from goal. Antonio would inflict further damage on the club who sold him last season when he doubled Wednesday’s lead when he flicked the ball over Stephen Kelly and curled a beautiful effort into the net from 20 yards. Pavel Pogrebnyak pulled one back for the Royals after latching onto Chris Gunter’s left foot cross and heading in via the edge of the post, but the deficit increased once again seven minutes later as captain Sean Morrison could only turn his goalkeeper’s parry into his own net. Two more excellent goals from loanees Fryatt and Connor Wickham – who only joined the club on Friday – gave Wednesday their first five goal tally of the season and three valuable points. Adam Le Fondre scored his sixth goal of the season from the penalty spot late on, but the result is a sharp wake up call for the Royals, who entertain QPR next week in a repeat of the match which relegated both sides last year.