Wayne Rooney's Derby County continued their decent form under the England Legend after walking through hosts Birmingham with ease on Tuesday night, picking up their 2nd win in the last 3 matches.
The game started brightly for the visitors, they had a great early chance when Louie Sibley saw his left footed shot well saved by Blues keeper Neil Etheridge from close range. Derby continued to press though and went 1-0 up after Etheridge had spilled the ball following a corner. It was a poor mistake as the keeper was under no pressure at all. Krystian Bielik was there to capitalise. 1-0 Derby.
Only 15 mins were on the clock and only 2 minutes later things were about to get worse for Birmingham. A reckless challenge from defender Harley Dean give the visitors a penalty and a great chance for 2-0. Graeme Shinnie dispatched the spot kick into the top corner. Excellent pen and The Rams were on fire.
Youngster Sibley then forced another save out of Blues stopper Etheridge, tipping behind for a corner as Derby were piling on the pressure and Brum were all over the place. And from the resulting corner , Colin Kazim Richards tapped in at the back post after the ball was flicked into his path.
Excellent work from polish international Kamil Jozwiak helped seal the deal for the visiting side, after some beautiful foot-work and a lovely left footed cross curled to back post, the ball was tapped in by Jason Knight for 4-0.
The Blues have suffered 4 defeats in 5 games now and things aren't looking good. Whilst Rooney and his side continue to improve as they look ahead to what should be a positive second half of the season. I'm sure the ex Man Utd striker may call on a favour or 2 from friends in high places in the coming transfer window.
BLUES 0 RAMS 4
Shinnie Pen 17
Preston hosted sliding Coventry at Deepdale as both sides continued their recent form. Hosts Preston picked up another decent result whilst Coventry lost yet another game in which they also failed to score a goal. The visitors did have a go, its not like they sat back and showed no intent, they just lacked that quality, and the luck which is sometimes needed. It has to be said they did not help themselves either.
18 minutes were on the clock when The Sky Blues lost the ball on edge of their own box, trying to over play. The ball then found its way to Daniel Johnson, with the Lilywhites player smashing home with his left foot after good work from forward Sean Maguire who had won the ball off the defence. 1-0 Preston.
Coventry nearly replied straight away , midfielder Hamer firing straight at Preston keeper Declan Rudd, who got down well to his left. Coventry continued to lose the ball and give away silly fouls in dangerous areas though, and thats how P.N.E scored their 2nd. Seam Maguire poking home after a goal mouth scramble following a free kick from right hand side. It was poor defending from Cov who couldn't get the ball out , kicking the ball off each other like children in the process. 2-0 and it looked like it was game over after 53 minutes.
The visitors then rallied and tried to respond through a succession of corners, but they couldn't really find a way to test Rudd in the Preston goal. The Sky Blues did have a decent chance to reply late in the game when Hamer was denied by a decent save, following his long range effort. The rebound fell to Sam McCullum but he couldn't finish his chance, firing his shot straight at the keeper.
Now Preston have sorted their home form out, you would expect them to have another play off push this season. Coventry should survive, but they need to address their lack of fire power.
PRESTON 2 COVENTRY 0
"But can he do it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke?" Is a phrase i am sure many are familiar with. But now, you can add foggy to the list after Nottingham Forest played under a thick, misty fog along with their hosts Stoke City on Tuesday night.
This was a game in which the visitors would go onto dominate by way of possession and chances, whilst the hosts rarely threatened and didn't seem like to side they have been in recent weeks. You couldn't see much, so you will have to just take my word for it.
It was Stoke though who threatened first, Forest keeper Brice Samba with a good, sharp save after a Sam Vokes flick at near post looked to be heading in. And from the corner that followed, Jordan Thompson whipped in a ball at the near post which caught out every one including Forest forward Lewis Grabban who missed the ball at the near post he was guarding, which meant a helpless (hopeless would be a better word for him) Samba could only defect it in to the goal. 1-0 to the home side.
Cyrus Christie nearly replied for Forest, his decent left footed curling effort only just flying past the far post.
And then as the mist descended on the Bet 365 stadium, it was Stoke defender James Chester who scored the next goal of the game, equalising for the visitors with an unfortunate OG , heading in under pressure after a cross came into his path via Anthony Knockaert. That tied the game at 1-1 and meant the game was wide open.
Forest were the side looking more likely to win the game, they had a few more efforts sail wide of the goal but then had a golden chance to win game. Attacking midfielder Cafu was played in on goal, all he had to do was slot it to the left of the keeper where a big gap had appeared, he was 1 on 1..... but he fluffed his lines after decent work from the keeper who had done his best to narrow the angle and force the miss out of the man looming down on goal.
Stoke will be happy for the draw in the end. Forest should be happy that performances seem to be getting slowly better.
STOKE 1 FOREST 1
Thompson 18 Chester OG 65
Rotherham went into their South Yorkshire derby with Barnsley with a seriously depleted squad, with their players also having only a handful of training sessions and having had their previous 2 games postponed.
Barnsley though are in a far better place right now, its now10 wins since their new manager took over and they continued their good form with a fast start at the New York stadium.
Only 8 minutes were on the clock when Cauley Woodrow latched onto a good pass from Tykes skipper Alex Mowatt, the striker beat the defender for pace before calmly slotting into bottom corner to put Barnsley 1-0 up.
Mowatt then scored one of his own shortly after, finishing with a wonderful left footed effort from edge of box curling ball into the net for 2. The former Leeds man only scores good goals.
Barnsley then took control of the game as Rotherham never really looked like scoring. The game seemed like it would then be drifting slowly towards a comfortable 2-0 win for the Tykes, but Rotherham sub Michael John Smith had other ideas, scoring with his head after a good corner had left the Barnsley keeper penned onto his goal line. It was 2-1 and game on with just over half an hour left.
Then with only a few minutes left, Rotherham forward Freddy Ladapo missed great chance to level the scores but could only drag his shot wide of the far post from a tight angle with left foot. It was a great chance and one that I'm sure would have kept him awake that night.
Barnsley are firing on all cylinders right now and look like making a play off push. They have some very good players and have crept under the radar for a few weeks now. Ignore them at your peril.
Rotherham will be in a relegation battle, games like this are ones they would have been targeting for 3 points so to lose out and get none at all will be a big blow going into the New Year.
ROTHERHAM 1 BARNSLEY 2
John Smith 57 Woodrow 8
As i predicted yesterday Huddersfield Town continued their excellent recent home form, making it 5 wins from their last 5 games at the John Smith's stadium. It wasn't comfortable by any stretch, visitors Blackburn Rovers more than played their part in what was an entertaining game with lots of efforts on goal from both sides.
The games first few opportunities fell to Liverpool loanee Harvey Elliott, but he was unable to convert a couple of half-chances for the visitors, whose flow was halted when midfielder Tom Trybull had to go off injured after just 10 minutes.
Adam Armstrong nearly put Blackburn ahead, pouncing from close range after Bradley Johnson's shot had been blocked, but Terriers goalkeeper Ryan Schofield was there to stick out his left arm and pull off a quality save. Ryan Nyambe set up Armstrong again not long after, but the striker hit his shot into the side netting.
At the other end, Thomas Kaminski denied Juninho Bacuna with a decent save at his near post.
It was the closest Huddersfield came to scoring in the first half, but they were the ones who took the lead 8 minutes into the second half when Nabby Sarr got up well to head Mbenza's corner into the goal.
Mbenza and Harry Toffolo both went close to making it 2-0, but Blackburn made a few substitutions which paid off when Armstrong broke clear and fired a shot that Ryan Schofield could only parry and watch Sam Gallagher finish the rebound. 1-1.
Then with the game looking set for a draw, which would have been fair, a winner came in the 90th minute as Pipa played a delicate chip into the box which found Sarr, who controlled wonderfully with his chest and buried his chance with the inside of his left foot, into the top corner. 2-1 and there was no way back from here.
Huddersfield are only getting better, it'll be interesting to see if they can remain as consistent as they have been.
Blackburn seem to be wobbling lately. Apart from Armstrong, Dack and Elliott they are bang average. But those 3 players are all match winners and will all win Blackburn points single handily this season, as 2 of them have done a few times already.
HUDDERSFIELD 2 BLACKBURN 1
Sarr 53 , 90 Gallagher 86
Wycombe finally got a reward for all their effort and hard work this season by picking up a massive 3 points at home to former Premier league side Cardiff. The home side have deserved more than they've got lately so will feel this win is long over due. I also called it in my pre match prediction, and they followed through.
The evening started badly for Cardiff when captain Sean Morrison was forced off injured after 20 minutes, replaced by Filip Benkovic, who was making his debut after joining on loan from Leicester.
Morrison is a highly influential player for the Bluebirds, dominant at CB and a threat in opposition penalty area, and Cardiff clearly missed his aerial ability after he left the field.
Wycombe's opening goal came from a drilled corner by Joe Jacobson which made its way to the back post where Tafazolli rose above substitute Benkovic and glanced his header into the back of the net.
That was only a sixth home goal of the season for Wycombe, and a notable assist for Jacobson who was playing against his boyhood club for the first time in his career. Given the 2 sides league standings in recent years, he probably thought this day would never come.
The home side did not create many chances against their opponents who were full of quality players, but they deserved their lead, playing with far more energy than their lifeless opponents. The game was open going into the last half an hour of play, but Just as Cardiff thought they might be able to force their way back into the match, their fate was sealed by the home side's second goal. Garath McCleary delivered a great cross from the left and David Wheeler connected with a powerful header which flew into the top corner.
There was no way back for Cardiff from that point. Harry Wilson missed a great chance just before the 2nd Wycombe goal, lashing his shot wide after the Wycombe keeper Ryan Allsop had spilled an effort into his path. Junior Hoilett headed in off the post three minutes into injury time, he done well to adjust his body and head the ball in the back of the net, but the game was done
Neil Harris found himself sent off after disagreeing with a number of the referee's decisions. Time is running out for the Cardiff boss and you have to feel its only a matter of time before him and his assistant Dave Livermore are seeking pastures new.
Wycombe will be buzzing after this result, they dug in and never gave up which is a trait they have formed under boss Gareth Ainsworth. They'll look forward to their next game at home to Middlesbrough.
WYCOMBE 2 CARDIFF 1
Tafazolli 33 Hoilett 93
Sheffield Wednesday pulled off a surprise win over in-form Middlesbrough on what I'm assuming was a freezing cold Tuesday night at Hillsborough, just a day after sacking former manager Tony Pulis. First team coach Neil Thompson took charge of the Owls who were coming into this one 2 games unbeaten after picking up 4 points recently.
The opening to the game was a cagey one but both sides had the odd chance. Josh Windass missed Wednesday's best opening, whilst Boro's Marvin Johnson saw one effort cleared off the line and another well saved by Kieran Westwood in the Owls goal.
After 30 minutes though the deadlock was broken as Callum Paterson gave the Owls a first half lead when he slotted past Boro's Marcus Bettinelli after a good ball though to him from Liam Palmer.
Liam Shaw made it 2-0 about 10 mins later after he got on the wrong side of Boro's central defenders and guided home a Barry Bannan cross from the left, after some excellent skill by the experienced Wednesday captain.
Former Sunderland man Duncan Watmore pulled a goal back after the break with a composed finish on the turn after good work from Sam Morsy, while Marvin Johnson came close again, this time hitting the post with a powerful effort as Boro tried desperately to snatch a point, missing a host of second half chances. Marc Bola and Marcus Browne also came close, both shooting wide when they should have hit the target. It wasnt to be for Warnock's men, and the game would go on to end 2-1,
Boro have been in good form and will soon bounce back. Neil Warnock wont allow them to dwell on 1 defeat.
Sheffield Wednesday's hunt for a new manager continues, they are now unbeaten in 3 with 7 points from a possible 9.
WEDNESDAY 2 BORO 1
Paterson 30 Watmore 49
It was a tale of 2 spot kicks at Carrow Road as Norwich failed to win for a second successive game, drawing at home to Queen's Park Rangers.
The first half was entertaining but failed to produce a goal. Kenny McLean, Emiliano Buendia and Mario Vrancic had decent chances for the hosts, although the best chance of the half came for visitors Q.P.R when Elias Chair broke clear for Rangers, but he was forced wide by a combination of Zimmermann and goalkeeper Michael McGovern and the opportunity was lost.
Norwich finally scored with their 20th attempt, as Teemu Pukki converted a penalty after Todd Cantwell went down easily under a challenge by Dominic Ball. It seemed a harsh one but the defender give Cantwell the chance to go down, it was a silly challenge. 1-0 Norwich.
But 9 minutes later Rangers salvaged a point they did not deserve when Bright Osayi-Samuel scored a penalty of his own following Christoph Zimmermann's challenge on him, following a good run into the penalty area. The winger can turn cause chaos for defenders with his pace and trickery, and he did so on this occasion.
Norwich will be disappointed not to win this having registered 23 shots. Canaries boss Daniel Farke will no doubt bemoan his sides wastefulness. On the flip side Mark Warburton will be over the moon to see his side escape with a point.
NORWICH 1 Q.P.R 1
Pukki 75 Osayi-Samuel 84
22-year-old midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall scored his first goal for Luton Town to help the Hatters to victory over fellow mid table side Bristol City.
It was also Dewsbury-Hall who produced a perfect corner which Glen Rea thumped past Dan Bentley on the volley to give the Hatters a deserved lead after just 17 minutes. Bristol City already looked set to continue their poor form.
But they soon perked up, Luton keeper Sluga saved well from Semenyo just moments after the goal, before Jack Hunt crossed for veteran forward Chris Martin, who could only watch in surprise as his powerful header cannoned off the crossbar and didn’t fly in the net from close range.
Luton then squandered a golden opportunity to double their advantage early into the second half. Harry Cornick squared the ball across to James Collins, who was in acres of space, but his shot was saved well by Bentley in the City goal.
That miss would be punished soon after as Nakhi Wells found space in behind the Town defence and his low cross was inadvertently turned in by Sonny Bradley for an own goal. The scores were level.
The game then opened up as both sides went looking for a winner which almost came through Luton's Harry Cornick. Norrington-Davies’ cross was deflected into his path and the midfielder struck the ball sweetly with the outside of his boot, but it went just wide of the goal
Leicester loanee Dewsbury-Hall then supplied the finish to put the Hatters back in front as momentum shifted once more. The youngster picked the ball up from 25 yards and fired a great strike into the bottom corner, reeling away in celebration for the first time at Kenilworth Road.
Luton are having a great season and results like this are now becoming the norm for the Bedfordshire side. Nathan Jones seems to have a magic touch for The Hatters. Bristol City are in bad form still, their win against Wycombe which was undeserved only papered over the cracks. Something is badly wrong at the moment for them.
LUTON 2 BRISTOL CITY 1
Rea 17 Bradley OG 68
Swansea City had to accept just the 1 point as they failed to break down fellow Championship promotion hopefuls and bi polar side, Reading. Steve Cooper's side played some neat and tidy football which matched up perfectly with their brand new playing surface recently installed at the Liberty Stadium, but could not conjure enough quality in the final third to claim victory.
Before the game we are now familiar with players controversially taking the knee in support of BLM. However before the game in Wales there were a smattering of boos and horns being sounded outside the stadium around the time the gesture was made. I'm sure there will be all kinds of over reaction now, but not on the level we saw with Millwall. No one gets demonised like the South London side.
Reading were on the back foot for most of the first period but did threaten at a couple of set-pieces, with Tom McIntrye's volley forcing a sharp save from keeper Freddie Woodman, before the Swansea keeper then gathered Sam Baldock's fizzing shot at goal.
Swansea were soon threatening again after the break, with substitute Joel Latibeaudiere and Bidwell headers drawing further saves from Cabral.
Ayew looked poised to find a winner 19 minutes from time when he rose high to meet Roberts' cross, but his goal bound header was superbly saved by Reading's Brazilian keeper.
It was Woodman who made the last stop of the night, pushing McIntrye's header over to deny the visitors a smash-and-grab win. The game would end 0-0.
SWANSEA 0 READING 0
Brentford have moved into an automatic promotion spot in the Championship after a late headed winner at home against fellow high-flyers Bournemouth, ending the cherries run of five clean sheets in the process. The win also takes Thomas Frank's Bees above Bournemouth in the table, moving from 4th to 2nd and to within 3 points of leaders Norwich after 22 games.
Solanke almost gave the Cherries the ideal start after being put through by Jefferson Lerma, but his shot past David Raya did not have the power to beat Pontus Jansson who managed to sensationally hook the ball clear off the line. Raya and Ethan Pinnock combined to deny the striker again soon after, but Solanke eventually put the visitors ahead with his 7th goal in 10 games, after Cherries goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was tested by Jensen and Sergi Canos in quick succession at the other end.
Begovic again did well to keep Mbeumo out, but from the resulting corner Dalsgaard nodded home the equaliser for Brentford following Jensen's inswinging delivery.
Chances were less clear cut after half time, but the tempo and quality remained high as neither side were content to settle for a draw
Just after the hour David Brooks forced Raya into a good save, with Josh Dasilva then threatening Bosnian Begovic at the other end soon after. But It was the genius of Mbeumo that ultimately proved the difference, the forward creating space for his cross for Fosu's winner with some slick footwork. The forward left with an easy tap in at the back post following a good ball by his fellow forward.
The defeat was only Bournemouth's second in 11 games, but they still have a game in hand on the three teams above them.
BRENTFORD 2 BOURNEMOUTH 1
Dalsgaard 37 Solanke 25