Championship wrap: Wolves score crucial home win in relegation battle
Championship wrap: James Pozzi reflects on another dramatic weekend in England's second tier as Wolves beat Bristol City
Wolves score crucial home win to stay in mix at the bottom
Struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers came from a goal behind to pick up a vital three points against relegation rivals Bristol City at Molineux. Wolves secured their first win at home since Dean Saunders took over in December, and now find themselves on 42 points, level with Peterborough, who won at Blackpool. Frontmen Kevin Doyle and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake – the men tasked with scoring the goals to keep their side up – restored their side’s advantage after a calamitous error from keeper Karl Ikeme saw David Davis’s back pass go through his legs to put Sean O’Driscoll’s men a goal up. Having disappointed so spectacularly this season considering the strength of their personnel, the fans will be hoping the revival starts here. Wolves have an imploding Middlesbrough to play at Molineux when the league resumes after the international break.
Play-offs all but done for Leeds after derby defeat
Matters took one step closer to being settled this weekend for two Yorkshire clubs with differing aspirations. Huddersfield Town accomplished a vital 2-1 away win over West Yorkshire neighbours Leeds United. Second-half goals from Neil Danns and a superb strike from James Vaughan sealed the points, after the hosts had levelled through substitute Aidan White. The Tykes are now 16th and five points clear of relegation, taking Mark Robins’s men a step closer to ensuring survival. Leeds on the other hand saw their already dwindling playoff hopes dashed with the future of manager Neil Warnock now looking increasingly uncertain following post-match speculation he is aiding the board in the search for a successor.
Birmingham’s late charge testament to work of Clark
Even for the most optimistic of Birmingham fans, this season has been a challenging one. Faced with the looming threat of financial implosion and having to manoeuvre transfer windows with the reality of losing their best players, the Blues have had to really dig deep. But such hardships are what makes their recent climb up the table all the more remarkable, and Lee Clark’s side now find themselves sitting in a healthy 11th position, seven points clear of relegation after a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside. Much-maligned striker Nicola Zigic got the winner nine minutes from time, and it is increasingly looking as if Birmingham will be remaining a Championship side next season, much to the relief of their supporters. Despite coming under fire regularly throughout the season and considering his relative inexperience, credit is due to Clark, who has held his nerve and steered his side to consecutive wins.
Davies return continues to work wonders for Forest
Nottingham Forest romped home to their sixth consecutive win since the return of former boss Billy Davies to the City Ground, getting an impressive 2-1 win away to play-off rivals Hull City. Ex-Forest loanee George Boyd put the home side a goal up – much to his obvious delight – on the stroke of half-time, as Steve Bruce’s men looked to cement their automatic promotion spot. However Forest came back with second-half goals from Darius Henderson and Lewis McGugan to take home all three points from the KC Stadium. While Tigers boss Bruce will see the home defeat as a missed opportunity considering Watford, Crystal Palace and Leicester all slipped up this weekend, he’d be hard pressed to argue with the resilience Forest now possess under Davies. The Scotsman said he had unfinished business at the club from his last spell and wants to get them to the Premier League. Considering the up and down season they’ve had which has seen three manager changes, it would appear anything can happen and a shot at the Premier League looks very much on track.
Cardiff win settles fears as promotion looks imminent
Cardiff City, league leaders since September, had begun to stutter as of late. The Bluebirds hadn’t won in four coming into their clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, a club fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table. With talk of an annual choking starting gain momentum, manager Malky Mackay will be delighted with his side’s clinical approach on the road as they ran out convincing 2-0 winners over The Owls. Midfielder Don Cowie scored on the stroke of half-time after a dull first-half display, and his side settled the matter when Matthew Connolly headed home on 65 minutes. Cardiff now have a comfortable nine-point cushion over third-placed Watford and this win will certainly settle their nerves and silence detractors questioning their mental strength to get the job done. Cardiff are very much a step closer to renewing their rivalry with Swansea City in the top-flight.