Championship wrap: Hull City move clear of Leicester in promotion race
Championship wrap: Hull move three points clear of third-place Leicester thanks to a win at Derby County. James Pozzi reports
Hull tighten the gap with crucial home win
Hull City were 2-1 winners against Derby County at the KC Stadium on Tuesday, opening up a three-point lead over third-place Leicester City. Second half goals from Mohamed Gedo and Ahmed Elmohamady sealed victory for the Tigers as the Championship starts to enter the business end of the season. The visitors thought they had snatched an impressive away point when Jamie Ward equalised on 84 minutes, but Elmohamady’s header three minutes later denied them the point and increases the pressure on Leicester to deliver against Charlton Athletic next week. It’s been an excellent season for Hull, who under their Egyptian owner Assem Allam, have seen a heavy outlay on the squad, with the return on this investment delivered under the guidance of Steve Bruce, a manager looking to add a fifth promotion to his resume.
Leeds loss a further illustration of a hugely disappointing season
Leeds United, who could only manage a disappointing 2-2 draw at struggling Wolves last weekend, continued their dismal away form with a 1-0 loss at playoff contenders Middlesbrough, who ended a poor run of their own by picking up their first points and victory of 2013. Local lad Curtis Main scored with nine minutes remaining, increasing the pressure on Leeds manager Neil Warnock, who has received a barrage of criticism from the fans in the past few weeks. Having concluded the takeover saga involving the sale of the club to GFH Capital last December, there is fresh speculation of yet another takeover, this time involving former Hull and Derby chairman Adam Pearson, who stated his desire to own the club. With yet another defeat on the road now leaving the club eight points adrift of the playoffs – the same amount of points they are clear of relegation – it’s been a drab affair from start to finish for a club whose fans really expect and deserve better. One can only assume there to be no happy outcome for Neil Warnock and Leeds United. Expect changes this summer.
Huddersfield make shrewd move for Robins
Coventry City manager Mark Robins, who took over from Andy Thorn only last September, has been given permission to speak to Huddersfield Town, who parted company with Simon Grayson last month. Despite his relatively short time at the Ricoh Arena, Robins has transformed the Sky Blues from strugglers to a side with a genuine shot at the play-offs. He’s also seen the club get to the area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, and while it’s a much derided competition, it saw the club get a 30,000 gate against Crewe Alexandra last week, essentially bringing back a feel-good factor for a club that has had a torrid decade. Despite the potential of Coventry as a club, they remain financially crippled, and in a business where loyalty towards managers from chairmen is hard to come by, Robins is simply responding in kind. As sad as it is, managers are only as loyal as their next pay packet, and moving up a division to Huddersfield – a club backed considerably by owner and fan Dean Hoyle – would be a great opportunity for Robins.
Appleton whipping Blackburn into shape
Since appointing Michael Appleton from Blackpool last month, Blackburn Rovers have seen their fortunes turn around after Henning Berg’s ill-advised return to the club ended in failure. Appleton, in his third role of the season after just two months at Bloomfield Road after joining from financially stricken Portsmouth, picked up a credible 1-1 draw away at Gus Poyet’s Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday night, having come off the back of successive wins. For a rookie still finding his way as a manager, Appleton has made his sides hard to beat, picking up more draws than wins and losses while at Blackpool. With his talented squad spearheaded by £8m man Jordan Rhodes, Rovers now find themselves in eight spot, six points off the play-offs. While a shot at the play-offs isn’t totally unfeasible this term, it’s perhaps too late to seriously be entertaining promotion ideas in what has been an at times farcical season for Rovers. But there is little doubt they possess one of the most Premier League-ready squads in the league, so there capabilities of the club to bounce back are not in doubt. Definitely a club to watch with interest in the closing three months of the campaign.
Write Peterborough off at your peril
After keeping hold of key man George Boyd in the transfer window due to the most comical of circumstances involving Nottingham Forest and eye tests which led to manager Alex McLeish walking from the City Ground, Peterborough continued their unbeaten league run of 2013 with an excellent 2-1 home win against high-flying Leicester City at the weekend. Goals in the last fifteen minutes from Manchester United loanee Davide Petrucci and veteran Grant McCann sprung the shock of the weekend as the Posh came from a goal down to seal an unlikely three points. After taking the lead through winger Ben Marshall on 52 minutes but leaving London Road with nothing, boss Nigel Pearson commented on the game being a missed opportunity for his side. Still with a game in hand over second place Hull City, all is not lost for Leicester, a club who like their rivals the Tigers, have benefited greatly from significant investment. The discipline and calm exuded by Pearson towards his team could be their greatest asset in the upcoming season run-in.