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Championship Boxing Day Review: Late gift for Barnsley, Christmas crackers at Cardiff

Updated: Dec 28, 2020


A late gift from the Huddersfield defence allowed Michal Helik to make it 4 wins from 5 games for Barnsley, with his 94th minute winner sparking wild celebrations to give The Tykes boxing day bragging rights in their Yorkshire Derby against Huddersfield at Oakwell.

In a game what was started quickly by both sides Barnsley nearly took the lead very early on through Cauley Woodrow. A cross come into the box from Callum Styles on the left hand side only for Jonathan Hogg to get his legs in a tangle, which allowed Woodrow a chance to stab home from 5 yards. Thankfully for Hogg and Huddersfield, Ryan Schofield in the terriers goal managed to make an instinctive save down to his right hand side to keep it at 0-0. Not long after that, Schofield was rewarded for his efforts as his side went 1-0 up through Rarmani Edmonds-Green. The 21 year old from Peckham in South East London (How has he not ended up at Millwall, Palace or Charlton?) headed home in the 14th minute after a well worked short corner from the left was crossed into his path by Carel Eiting to give Huddersfield the lead in the Yorkshire derby.

They had a great chance to go 2 ahead shortly after, but Frazier Campbell couldn't find the net for his 5th goal of the season, missing poorly after finding himself 1 on 1 with the keeper. Campbell would rue that miss as only a few minutes later and only 8 minutes after the visitors had gone 1-0 up, Barnsley made it 1-1. Similar to the first goal at the other end, the ball ended up in the goal after a well worked short corner was eventually headed in via the crossbar by Michal Helik for his first goal of the afternoon. There was a brief moment of doubt as the ball bounced out of the goal, but the referee pointed to the centre circle to confirm it had crossed the line and the scores were level.

Into the second half Clear cut chances were few and far between but Barnsley were looking the more likely to nick the win.

Having said that, just two minutes after half time Edmonds-Green almost scored again but was unable to connect with Juninho Bacuna’s cross at the back post. With the game tied at 1-1, Victor Adeboyejo, scorer of the winning goal at Oakwell in Barnsley`s last home game vs P.N.E, almost put the Tykes 2-1 up. Adeboyejo’s overhead kick was saved well by Ryan Schofield, seconds before that the Terriers keeper denied Conor Chaplin after some piss poor defending by the Huddersfield defence.

Time was running out for both sides and just when it appeared as though this tight affair would end as a draw, Schofield in the Huddersfield goal couldn't save his side again after yet more awful defending allowed Barnsley`s Michal Helik to head home the winner after a throw in was flicked onto him at the near post. The Huddersfield keeper has every right to be mega pissed off with his defence this afternoon, he made several saves to keep them in the game but the men infront of him looked like they`d been on the sesh for 2 days.


BARNSLEY 2 HUDDERSFIELD 1

Helik 21, 94 Edmonds-Green 14


 

An outstanding goal from Blackburn`s Joe Rothwell wasnt enough to see them pick up what would have been only their 2nd win in 6 games as they drew with Sheffield Wednesday at Ewood park today.

Rovers were doing what they do best in the early stages of the game, keeping the ball well and creating chances with Adam Armstrong testing Keiren Westwood in the Wednesday goal before young Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott sliced an effort wide in the opening 20 minutes of the game.

Then it was Wednesday`s turn to attack and with their first real effort on goal, a mix up at the back between the usually reliable Barry Douglas and the extremely over rated Daniel Ayala allowed the ball to fall to Adam Reach about 25 yards out. Reach took a touch, shifted the ball onto his favoured left foot before whipping a quality strike beyond Thomas Kaminski into the top corner just before half time. If Messi had scored it, Sky sports would have it on repeat for a week. Fair play Mr Reach, top effort.

Overall it was undeserved at the time, but who gives a shit? Certainly not Wednesday fans. We have all been there. I'm sure the roles will be reversed more than once this season. It was 1-0 at HT.

Wednesday also came close to adding the 2nd goal of the game, Adam Reach shot wide after Barry Douglas had his feet in a mess. Thankfully for Douglas he was only partly at fault for 1 goal this afternoon.

Substitute Ben Brereton then set up Adam Armstrong after an excellent passing move by Rovers, he turned the defender well and hit a good shot on the turn with his right foot, only to see it smack off the post and bounce out to be cleared. Then it was time for a wonderful solo effort.

After picking up the ball in midfield, Joe Rothwell went on a brilliant run, he went flying past Callum Paterson and then cut in between Joey Pelupessy and Tom Lees, before finishing past Wednesday keeper Westwood with the inside of his right foot for his second goal of the season. Another goal that was Messi-esque in fairness.

Blackburn nearly got the winner not long after, but Westwood did well to palm away a curling effort from Adam Armstrong with his left foot that looked destined for the bottom corner of the net.

Then it was Wednesday who nearly stole the show, it was only a brilliant block from the over rated Ayala that stopped Josh Windass' goal bound effort from most likely finding its way past Kaminski in the Blackburn goal.

The game would end 1-1, with Wednesday arguably seeing this as a point gained rather than 2 dropped. Its only 1 win in 10 games for them, and things are looking rather shit for both sides of Sheffield this season. January cant come quikly enough.

Rovers will be disappointed that they haven't won this game, their form of late is dodgy. Bradley Dack coming back should be the boost they need however to kick on over the next few games. He will surely feel like a new signing, having one of the best players at this level back at your disposal can only boost moral.


BLACKBURN 1 SHEFF WED 1

Rothwell 76 Reach 41


 

Bristol City scraped a late winner on Boxing day through a brilliant 88th minute Famara Diedhiou strike against Wycombe at Ashton Gate. For Wycombe, it was another case of them battling well but ultimately not having the quality that is needed a this level.

The opening stages of the game were even with both sides having decent chances to score. Bristol City striker Nahki Wells, managed to get in behind Wycombe’s defence, but his first touch was poor and took the ball out for a goal kick.

Garath McCleary was the first Wycombe player to try and find the net, but his shot went over the bar in what was a pretty poor effort. He should have at least tested Daniel Bentley in the City goal.

Bristol City went 1-0 up in the first half through Chris Martin, after Callum O'Dowda delivered a ball to the back post which the striker headed home. The Wycombe defence will be disappointed the cross was allowed to even come in, Jack Grimmer got twisted all over the place far too easily on the right hand side of defence.

After the opening goal, Bristol City started to show their class in comparison to their opponents and took full control of the game and would have scored an instant second but for Darius Charles' defensive awareness. The Wycombe defender was on the goal line to stop Antoine Semenyo’s strike from flying into the net for 2-0.

The same duo that created the first Bristol City goal nearly created a second, but Chris Martin smashed the ball over the bar from close range to let Wycombe off the hook. Only he will know how he failed to even hit the target, but he never and it was 1-0 to Bristol City at HT.

After the restart, Bristol City’s Wells was first player to test the opposing side, finding space on the left hand side, but the striker dragged his shot wide with his weaker foot.

Wycombe’s goal scorer from the previous game, Anis Mehmeti was then involved in Wycombe's equaliser. After running at the City defence, Mehmeti made himself some space, had a shot that deflected out to Garath McCleary who hit a strike that deflected slightly off Adrian Mariappa into the back of the net. 1-1 and it was game on. Could Wycombe add more misery to what's been a poor season so far for Bristol City, or were Wycombe going to suffer yet another fairly-unfair result that would leave them at the bottom of the league?

well...In the last twenty minutes, it was there for the taking. City were all over the place and looking scared, errors were happening all over the pitch and if anyone looked like scoring, it was The Chairboys.

But, like many of Wycombe`s games this season, it ended in heartache. Opi Edwards brought down a ball that he mis-controlled, but luckily for him and City it found Famara Diedhiou on the very edge of the penalty area who hit an unstoppable half volley into the top corner to give Bristol City the lead with 88mins on the clock. It was game over.

Wycombe are now 11 games without a win, their last 3 points coming away at Birmingham on the 4th November. They will battle on but lets be honest, they are pretty fucked and we can almost certainly say there's only 2 relegation spots realistically left for the taking. That may sound harsh, but i dont mean it to. The harsh reality of the Championship is that heart and effort can only get you so far. You need some quality along the way & sadly Wycombe look devoid of that.

Bristol City will be pleased with the win, but their fans will probably be pissed off with how close they came to getting only a single point at home to a side like Wycombe. I wouldn't even want to compare budgets or how much each club has spent on players, we all know you cant remotely compare the two clubs on that front. That said, no game is easy at this level & City fans will probably just be relieved to stop the rot that was 3 defeats in a row with 0 goals scored in that period. They have 2 tough games coming up away at Luton & Brentford so needed to pull a result out today.


BRISTOL CITY 2 WYCOMBE 1

Martin 23

Diedhiou 87 McCleary 68


 

Sergi Canós scored a stunning second half hat-trick as Brentford came from behind to take three points in the Welsh capital on Boxing Day. In what was a clash of the styles at the Cardiff City stadium, there were some wonderful strikes to be seen.

Arguably the best chance of the first half came inside the first 5 minutes. Brentford`s Ethan Pinnock stuck a ball in to the left channel and Canós sprinted away from Leandro Bacuna to then cross for Ivan Toney inside the penalty area, but Joe Ralls got back just in time as the Brentford striker prepared to slot home.

Canós put a shot wide after he was picked out from a corner unmarked, he then had a shot blocked after cutting in from the left as Brentford started to come on strong. Cardiff were defending well and looking to counter, but were struggling to get out and create anything substantial going forward. Typical of a side managed by Neil Harris in a big game, they were sitting back looking to frustrate their opponents, waiting for the inevitable gaps to appear.

Then, out of the blue for City in the 45th minute, a 60/65 yard gap appeared between Will Vaulks in his own half, and David Raya in the Brentford goal. Channeling his inner David Beckham/Xabi Alonso/Shaun Williams (Millwall Fans will know).... he struck an effort first time from distance over the helpless keeper into the goal. It was an unreal finish, one that I'm sure even Vaulks will admit he will never score again. 1-0 Cardiff at HT.

5 minutes after the restart the Bees were level though with a great goal of their own, The home side dealt with an initial cross, then the second as Jensen delivered again, but the ball fell to Sergi Canós on the edge of the box. His first shot was blocked but he then struck an effort from 22 yards that looped over Alex Smithies and in to the Cardiff City net. It was one of those the forward himself and Brentford will call a screamer, and it certainly looked great for a neutral. But Cardiff and Smithies will think he could have done a little bit better maybe. Id argue he wasn't in the best position. It was still a great strike from the Brentford man though. 1-1.

Not long after, goal scorer Vaulks was lucky to stay on the pitch. 10 years ago we wouldn't have thought it was anymore than a yellow at worst, in this day & age though you cannot tackle like he did and escape a red. Well, usually. Lucky for Cardiff and Vaulks, the ref was still showing that Christmas spirit and allowed the player to remain on the field despite a very reckless tackle on Brentford's Vitaly Janelt.

Brentford`s frustration would ease soon after though. Ethan Pinnock played pass to the left hand side and the dangerous Canós ran at Bacuna for the 8457485 time this afternoon, he beat his man and then wandered past Sean Morrison before shooting low in to the net from 15/20 yards. Canós was on fire and Brentford were 2-1 up and looking frightening. Two more chances shortly after for the bees came to nothing, but Brentford didn't have to wait much longer for a 3rd goal.

Bacuna was once again alone with Canós, who did a few step overs which confused Bacuna before curling a shot from the left hand side of the pitch, the ball slipping through the hands of Smithies into the back of the net. On first glance it looks a great goal. The more you look at it you have to question the keeper. Canós had a hat-trick and Smithies would be having nightmares later. 3-1.

Cardiff pulled one back with 15 minutes to go. A corner was played deep in to the penalty area, Morrison headed down and a Vaulks volley went into the net via a deflection from Toney. That was the only time Cardiff had been in Brentford’s penalty area in the second half, and with the game now at 3-2 and with Cardiff at home, you would be expecting the Alamo from then on.

But it never came, Brentford continued to press on, controlling the game and nearly scoring again themselves in the process. The game finished and it was a dominant performance from Brentford despite the close scoreline.

Its now 14 games unbeaten for Brentford who look solid again this season. They will be top 6 come the end of the season, if they strengthen even more in January you would have to think they will be in prime contention for a top 2 spot.

Cardiff now have 3 defeats in their last 4 after picking up really well in November. Neil Harris will not panic though as he and his Cardiff side have been here before. They have enough quality to go on another good run soon.


CARDIFF 2 BRENTFORD 3

Vaulks 45, 76 Canos 50, 65, 73


 

Forgive me, I am currently a 1 man band covering everything on this page. I do all research and reports myself but I refuse to write about any game that ends 0-0 simply because of time constraints. Instead i will copy a link to the home sides match report. This is why we need contributors, so get in touch if you want your report published!


COVENTRY 0 STOKE 0


 

Ten-man Derby County put in a tough, hard working, defensive performance against Preston North End but fell to a last gasp defeat at Pride Park on Saturday.

The Rams came close after just 5 minutes when Kamil Jozwiak was awarded a free-kick on the left hand side. Graeme Shinnie swung the delivery into the box straight to Martyn Waghorn who could only send his header over the crossbar for a goal kick.

After a fairly even next 10 minutes, it was P.N.E who came closest to opening the scoring after 15 minutes. Sean Maguire had a shot from just inside the penalty area but his shot was blocked brilliantly by Matt Clarke. The ball fell then to Paul Gallaher who found his shot deflected inches over the cross bar.

Not long after, it was disaster time for Derby. A phrase which has been used many times to describe their situation this season. Preston gained a man advantage with Derby going down to 10 men. Martyn Waghorn was shown a straight red for a late challenge on Alan Browne leaving the Rams with an uphill battle for the remaining 70 + minutes of the game, against a side with outstanding away form. It was well deserved and the player could have no complaints.

Derby held strong for the remainder of the first-half despite more pressure from Alex Neil’s side. David Marhsall being the star of the show making 2 crucial saves before half time both from Josh Earl, 1 being a free kick, the other a close range header.

Soon after the restart, Scotland hero Marshall was to the rescue again. Derby were hit on a counter-attack as Scott Sinclair broke down the left and the ball was switched to the right and played through to Tom Barkhuizen, only for him be met by an outstanding, instinctive save from the flying Scotsman.

Preston pushed on, Derby defended well and were showing some encouraging patterns of play, often keeping the ball very well despite their man shortage. The game appeared as though it was heading for a 0-0 draw and another small step in the right direction for Rooney and his Nans.... Sorry, I meant Rams. Poxy auto correct.

But as Football resembles life, it often has a cruel ending and today the Rams and Rooney experienced that. Preston`s Alan Browne whipped a stunning left footed curling effort into the far corner, past a helpless David Marshall with the last kick of the game for a winner after a neat lay off from Daniel Johnson.

It was harsh for the home side but that's what can happen when you have to defend your box for over an hour.

That is only Derby`s 1st defeat in 7 games though, so there are signs they are starting to have an upturn in performance under the England legends management. But they will probably feel with 11 men they would have taken something from the game.

For Preston its another away win and 2 wins in a row for them. They have also kept 2 consecutive clean sheets which is always a bonus!


Derby 0 Preston 1

Browne 96


 

QPR continued their poor form on Boxing day with a defeat at home to Swansea. By contrast, Visitors Swansea climbed into the Championship's automatic promotion places, after goals from Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe gave them a 2-0 victory at Loftus Road.

Swansea came closest to scoring first, as Jamal Lowe combined smartly with Yan Dhanda only to miss-hit his effort straight at QPR goalkeeper Seny Dieng. Dhanda then forced a good save from Dieng, but Rangers dictated for long spells of the half with Swansea struggling to keep hold of the ball and get a hold of the game.

There were numerous dangerous balls put into the Swans' box and it was Macauley Bonne who came closest to scoring, with his firm header expertly saved by Swansea keeper Freddie Woodman, with the former Newcastle stopper showing his class. QPR central midfielder Dominic Ball then saw a 25 yard shot deflect wide of the goal before he then sent header over the bar shortly after. QPR were on top, but just like other games this weekend elsewhere, the opening goal came at the other end, against the run of play when Rangers old boy Jake Bidwell headed towards goal after a good cross from Swansea wing back Connor Roberts. Bidwell's header was heading in, only to be diverted onto the post by defender Yoann Barbet, luckily it came back out and left Ayew with the simple task of heading into the open goal. It was a real sucker punch right on the stroke of HT. Things were to get worse though not long after.

Just 9 minutes into the second half, Swansea broke away with a perfect counter attack that would double their lead. Matt Grimes played a perfect pass with the Swans flying forward, Jamal Lowe received the ball and sprinted through the Hoops' defence before coolly slotting home past Dieng into the QPR net.

Lowe nearly added a 3rd not long after, but his effort narrowly went wide of the target as QPR looked all over the place. Bonne missed a decent chance for Rangers after he met a cross from Dickie.

Warburton made a string of substitutions to try and bring about a revival, but it was never going to happen. Swansea, the team with the best defensive record in the EFL, managed to see the game out for 3 valuable points in their quest for Promotion.

This was Swansea's 3rd win in 4 matches and it means they over take Bournemouth (who`s game with Millwall was postponed due to covid) to move up to 2nd in the table, 4 points behind carrot crunchers Norwich City.

QPR are now winless in 8. Warburton is still miserable and full of excuses. I have a feeling January will be busy in West London.


QPR 0 SWANSEA 2

Ayew 44

Lowe 54


 

Reading moved back into the Championship top 6 despite late pressure after 2 first half goals were enough to beat Luton Town at the Madejski Stadium.

Reading took a solid 2 goal lead into the break but Kazenga Lua Lua scored the Town’s first away goal in five matches late in the game, though it was too little too late at the Madejski Stadium.

The Hatters failed to turn up in the first half as Reading controlled the game with ease after taking the lead early on. Tom McIntyre scored his first professional goal in the 9th minute after an out swinging corner from the left resulted in him excellently volleying past James Shea in the Luton goal. It was a finish by the centre half that any forward would have been proud of.

Reading had a second 4 minutes before half time after Alfa Semedo played a good one-two with Sam Baldock and calmly slotted home to give Reading a well earned comfortable lead.

There was controversy that followed as Martin Cranie was brought down by goal scorer McIntyre and referee Matt Donohue awarded a free kick and a yellow card to the defender. But replays showed Cranie appeared to be brought down inside the penalty area so it should have been a penalty. No VAR yet in the Championship, if there had been, Luton may well have been back in the game.

Into the 2nd half and Luton came close with Luke Berry having a header saved by Rafael in the Reading goal, following Dewsbury-Hall’s corner.

Luton then asked more questions of Reading as they tried to claw back a goal. Norrington-Davies crossed for Hylton, but the striker couldn't connect cleanly and watched his header drift wide of the goal.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, It was again Luton and Dewsbury-Hall who were on the attack. The youngster played a free-kick into the box. James Collins was on the end of it but he couldnt keep his composure and fluffed his lines.

The Hatters finally found the back of the net in the 90th minute through substitute Lua Lua, who found the back of the net from 30 yards with a wonderful right footed strike into the bottom corner. The keeper may question himself, but It was a goal Lua Lua has scored many times in his career.

Reading stay in the top 6 and move into 5th. They will need to find some of that early season form if they are to stay there however.

For Luton, they drop down to 15th but should not be disheartened. They're punching above their weight at this level and will have more than enough to be here this time next year. Only 1 win in 6 games will worry their fans, but with Bristol City and QPR up next, they could easily get 4-6 points and turn it around.


READING 2 LUTON 1

Grilo 41 Lua Lua 91


 

Forgive me, I am currently a 1 man band covering everything on this page. I do all research and reports myself but I refuse to write about any game that ends 0-0 simply because of time constraints. Instead i will copy a link to the home sides match report. This is why we need contributors, so get in touch if you want your report published!



FOREST 0 BRUM 0


 

Watford made it 3 wins in 5 games with a hard fought win over visitors Norwich at Vicarage Road.

Their new manager Xisco, a former Valencia winger, who is the Hornets 14th new gaffer in the last eight years made three changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Huddersfield last time out, in what was Vladimir Ivic’s final game at the helm.

Watford legend Troy Deeney, who had been vocal on TalkSport during the week regarding his dropping from the side last week was back into the side as Watford looked to make it a positive start under their new boss.

It was Norwich & Max Aarons who had the game’s first effort, but Watford keeper Ben Foster was equal to it as Norwich took charge of the early battle for possession. Watford were forced into long balls, in search of Andre Gray or Sarr, who was taken out 20 yards from goal by Kenny McLean for a free-kick that Etienne Capoue, who will be on the move In January, could only send over the bar, via the wall.

Watford's Sarr found himself with loads of time in the 13th minute, he managed to find Andre Gray who had a golden chance to hit the target, but Norwich were relieved to see Gray fire wide with the goal at his mercy after Sarr`s cross had made its way to him via a deflection. Capoue was booked for Watford after fouling Emi Buendia. Foster was then equal to Kieran Dowell’s free-kick that followed, as another lengthy spell of Canaries passing and moving began.

Watford though are always a threat and proved to be so 6 minutes before half time. They took the lead through a 39th-minute counter attack. Norwich allowed Ken Sema’s cross from the left flank to find the very involved Sarr at the back post, who got infront of defender Jacob Sorensen, who had switched off, to put the Hornets 1-0 up. Snooze you lose im afraid. That was the case for Norwich and Sorensen.

Norwich were on the ropes and fortunate Gray’s finishing let him down again on the stroke of half time when a cross fell to him off Deeney, but again he could not hit the target from close range.

Watford began the second period on the front foot with Tom Cleverley seeing a shot deflected behind off Oliver Skipp. Sarr then also had a half chance but the winger could not add his 2nd of the game.

Sema set up Sarr again for Watford, but his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Canaries boss Daniel Farke then made a triple substitution, clearly frustrated with his side, with just over 20 minutes remaining.

It nearly had the desired effect too as Buendia fired a rare Norwich shot at Foster shortly after, before referee Brooks appeared to have had an absolute nightmare when he failed to give the canaries a penalty after Pukki looked to be fouled by Adam Masina as the forward went to pull the trigger from about 8 yards out. Further inspection showed it to be a wonderful, last ditch tackle. The ref was spot on. Makes a nice change!

Sadly for Norwich, there was no comeback to be witnessed as they slipped to their first defeat in 6 games.

Watford will be pleased their new manager has gotten off to a winning start. He will have to keep winning every week if he is to be in charge this time next year though, as Watford have the most unrealistic owners in English Football. I think they`re a disgrace to the game personally, but if they lead Watford back to the Premier League then you`d have to admit their fucked up formula sort of works i suppose?


WATFORD 1 NORWICH 0

Sarr 39

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