Championship Chat: Zola's Hornets buzzing

rss logoThursday 26th September 2013 11:07

James Marshment praises Ikechi Anya, Jesse Lingard and Millwall in this week's Championship Chat, and looks ahead to the East Midlands derby.

The Sky Bet Championship is often overlooked for the glamour and glitz of the Premier League, but there's much to be celebrated in the second tier as we find out in this weekly Thursday column.

The race for promotion, and the bid to stay in the second tier, is likely to be as competitive as ever, as we examine all the key talking points from the weekend, and also take a look at what's to come in the matches ahead.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the story comment box, below, or follow me on Twitter here.

To see all the weekend's goals, click here.

Goal of the weekend: Ikechi Anya, Watford v Barnsley

The plaudits keep on coming for the Scotland international and the Watford winger's latest efforts will have had a few more scouts tapping furiously into their iPads.

Picking up possession just outside his own half, Anya ran the length of the field with the ball, three times knocking it into the space in front of him, but still showing the pace to outstrip the retreating Tykes defence, before drilling a low shot past Luke Steele.

Worthy of mentions: Andy King, Leicester v Blackpool; Will Hughes, Derby v Reading; Chris Cohen, Nottingham Forest v Doncaster.

Team of the weekend: (4-4-2) Rob Green; Jazz Richards, Scott Dann, Marco Cassetti, Rhoys Wiggins; Andy King, Jesse Lingard, Sean Murray, Mustapha Carayol; Pavel Pogrebnyak, Federico Macheda.

Special praise goes to QPR keeper Rob Green, who takes his place in place in our goal for the third time in four weeks. Time and again at Huish Park he thwarted everything plucky Yeovil could throw at him, and but for the former England man's quality, Rangers could easily have left Somerset with nothing to show for their efforts - let alone three points! Don't rule him out of England's World Cup squad just yet!

Quote of the weekend: David Flitcroft

The Tykes boss was clearly still upset when facing the media following his side's 5-1 home capitulation to Watford.

"Some players were 30, 40 per cent off the standards they've set," he said. "They've let the group down; they've certainly let the fans down, definitely.

"I want to design a football team that wins games. It's something I'm obsessed with and, at the minute, we're not doing that.

"There's surgery needed and we're going to make that surgery and see where that takes us."

Player of the weekend: Jesse Lingard, Birmingham

The Manchester United loanee had yet to score in professional football and although Birmingham would have expected big things from him at St Andrew's, they surely would not have foreseen a four-goal salvo on his debut.

The England Under-21 cap tormented Sheffield Wednesday's defence all afternoon, with his movement and finishing too hot for the Owls to handle. Lee Clark has already spoken of his desire to keep Lingard beyond his month-long loan and on the evidence of his debut, it's easy to see why.

Gaffe of the weekend: Jonathan Woodgate, Middlesbrough

Boro went into Saturday's home clash with Bournemouth yet to taste victory in front of their home fans this season, so when they went 2-0 down after 12 minutes to two Brett Pitman penalties, it seemed their hard-done by supporters would have more good reason to chuck their season-tickets onto the turf again in disgust.

But when Grant Leadbitter fired home in the 75th-minute to complete a remarkable turnaround and put Boro 3-2 up, it finally seemed their long wait would be over.

But with just seven minutes left on the clock, Woodgate inadvertently turned the ball past his own goalkeeper to help the Cherries salvage a point from an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Game of the weekend: Blackpool 2 Leicester 2

The two sides have made excellent starts to the season and went into this Bloomfield Road encounter with nothing between them in the league table.

In a match that swung one way then the other, it was left to Tom Ince to net an injury-time penalty and leave the clubs both locked on 17 points.

In a match that had it all, including two penalties and a stunning Andy King volley, both managers will feel it was two points dropped in the battle to reach the play-offs.

Watch highlights of the game in the video above.

Result of the weekend: Charlton 0 Millwall 1

The Lions have had little to cheer this season, but finally it looks like the tide might have turned for Steve Lomas' troops after a fine week saw them collect two back-to-back wins.

Having beaten in-form Blackpool 3-1 in midweek, Millwall went into Saturday's televised derby match with Charlton knowing a win would help them to leapfrog their rivals and post three vital points in the bid to stay in the division.

The match itself wasn't pretty, but Scott McDonald's deflected strike will have been priceless to the Lions and deserves its place as a result of the weekend.

Disappointment of the weekend: Leeds United

United have enjoyed a great run of results against the Clarets in recent years, having won eight in 10 games going into Saturday's clash.

However, Sean Dyche has crafted a well-drilled and well organised side at Turf Moor this season, so their win from their short journey across the Pennines was no huge surprise to me.

What was a disappointment though was the ease in which Burnley were allowed to score their two goals against the Whites; hapless defending on both occasions gifting Burnley a two-goal lead that Leeds could not recover from.

Brian McDermott has quite rightly earned praise for the job he has done at Elland Road, but it is clear for all to see that the Whites are desperately short of a finisher up front, and still have much to improve on at the back.

Celebration of the weekend: Pavel Pogrebnyak & Nigel Adkins Reading

The powerful Russian striker hasn't exactly had an easy time of it at Reading and his disappointing form (together with his reported £65,000 a week wages) had seen the former Fulham man become something of a scapegoat at the Madejski Stadium.

The fact he is still at the club is a scenario that probably neither he or the club expected, but Royals boss Adkins has stated his desire to turn that into a positive for the club.

So when the striker tapped home just two minutes into the restart at Pride Park to set Reading up for a 3-1 win at Pride Park, he clearly looked like a man who'd forgotten how to celebrate a goal.

If his celebration confused the fans, then Adkins reaction would have puzzled them further - the mild mannered manager clearly saying a few unprintable verbals on the bench as if to justify his faith shown in the striker.

Hot topic of the weekend: Billy Sharp's loan move

The Southampton man confirmed on Thursday morning he'd be moving to Reading to link up once again with Nigel Adkins, but the chase for his signature has been something of a long-drawn out affair with up to half a dozen Championship sides all making enquiries for the player.

The fact he has chosen Reading will hardly come as a surprise but his loan move there could give the Royals the spark they need to mount a serious promotion bid this term.

What's to come...

Live on Sky: Huddersfield v Blackpool (Sky Sports 1HD, Friday 7.45pm kick-off); Nottingham Forest v Derby (Sky Sports 1HD, Saturday 12.15pm kick-off)

Match of the weekend: Nottingham Forest v Derby

The East Midlands derby rarely produces goal feasts, but it near-often enough produces drama, passion, rivarly and talking points by the bucketloads. Both sides go into this one with their promotion hopes still burning bright, so expect the live Sky cameras to add additional spice to the usual fireworks.

Betting tip of the weekend: Watford v Wigan - both teams to score and Watford to win (11/4)

Both sides look to have goals in them, but I do fancy Gianfranco Zola's freescoring Hornets to edge to an entertaining win.

A £10 bet with Sky Bet returns £37.50 at the time of writing.

By James Marshment, follow me on Twitter here.



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