championship round-up: matchday 6 – 2020/21
Matchday 6 in the Championship was the first round of midweek fixtures, with seven games taking place on Tuesday and five games on Wednesday.
Top v Bottom
Both of the top two played on Tuesday night, but only one of the two are still unbeaten in the league so far. That team is Reading, who just about edged past pointless Wycombe.
This was thanks to Lucas João’s superb second-half strike, which was Reading’s only shot on target all game. He took down Liam Moore’s long ball, out-muscled Anthony Stewart and shot low under Ryan Allsop to ensure the three points stayed in Berkshire.
The closest Wycombe came to equalising was courtesy of Fred Onyedinma, who saw a well struck effort palmed away by Rafael Cabral. Wycombe are still to win a game this season and face Norwich City at the weekend.
Reading, however, moved three points clear of Bristol City who lost at home to Middlesbrough at Ashton Gate by a single goal.
The goal was the only shot on target and it came with 73 minutes on the clock. Taylor Moore tried to take the ball past George Saville but the ex-Millwall man tackled well and then calmly slotted the ball past Daniel Bentley to push Boro up to 11th place.
Neil Warnock’s men have not lost since the opening day. They have leap-frogged Luton, who have dropped down six places after they suffered a disappointing 2-0 away defeat to Millwall.
In a first half the hosts dominated, they took the lead in added time. Connor Mahoney’s deep corner was met by Matt Smith, but the final touch came from Luton’s Martin Cranie.
Jed Wallace had a great chance to double the lead early on in the second half, but his toe-poked effort did not trouble Simon Sluga in The Hatters goal.
The points were made safe 11 minutes from time. Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu was dispossessed by Ryan Leonard, who then slid Connor Mahoney in on the left wing.
His effort went in off the post to ensure Millwall rose into the play-off places. The Lions are now level on points with Swansea City, who drew 1-1 away at Coventry City.
The hosts took the lead 19 minutes in, courtesy of Jordan Shipley’s beautiful strike from the edge of the box, after Matt Godden had cut the ball back to him. Swansea equalised before the end of the first half, as a quick counterattack was finished by André Ayew.
Hot on Swansea’s and Millwall’s heals are newly relegated Norwich City, who beat Birmingham City at Carrow Road. The Canaries thought they had taken the lead during the second half, but Todd Cantwell had his effort chalked off for offside.
Despite their dominance, the game was still goalless with four minutes left. But then, Adam Clayton was sent off for the visitors for a second bookable offence after he chopped down Cantwell.
It only took Norwich one minute to make the most of their man advantage. The ball was worked to Mario Vrančić, who shot low into the bottom corner past Neil Etheridge in the Birmingham goal.
The visitors slow start to the season continued – they are 18th and winless since the opening day. One place above Birmingham is Rotherham, who drew away at Nottingham Forest, in Chris Houghton’s first home game.
The visitors took the lead six minutes into the second half from the penalty spot. Cyrus Christie was judged to have tripped Billy Jones and penalty was dispatched emphatically by ex-Newcastle midfielder Daniel Barlaser, who sent Brice Samba the wrong way.
Ryan Yates nearly equalised but he hit the crossbar, but Houghton remained unbeaten in his two games as Forest manager, as Sammy Ameobi equalised after a neat flick by Joe Lolley and a pullback by Sammy Ameobi.
Forest are 20th, two places above their East Midlands rivals Derby County.
The Rams lost back-to-back games for the second time this season and dropped into the bottom three, after losing to an improving and impressive Huddersfield Town.
A neat Town move was finished by Curaçao international Juninho Bacuna. Huddersfield are 9th and face Preston on Saturday; Derby travel to Forest on what could be a pivotal game for both sides just seven games into the season.
On Wednesday night, Bournemouth made the 238-mile round trip to the capital of Wales, to face Neil Harris’ Cardiff City. The visitors took the lead ten minutes before the interval, as Dominic Solanke scored his second goal of the season.
But this was cancelled out by ex-Bournemouth loanee Harry Wilson, who equalised on his Cardiff debut after signing for The Bluebirds on a temporary basis.
The point meant Cardiff rose to 13th,but Bournemouth dropped one place to 4th. They were replaced by Watford in 3rd place, who won at home against the league’s top scorers, Blackburn Rovers.
Hornets wit the Points
Two goals in four minutes put Watford in a commanding position just 17 minutes in. Firstly, Brazilian João Pedro converted a cross from the right wing to score in back-to-back games.
Then skipper Tom Cleverly headed into an open net after Thomas Kaminski was only able to parry Ismaïla Sarr’s volley into the ex-Manchester United’s midfielder’s path.
Blackburn scored their 12th league goal of the season ten minutes later to give themselves a lifeline as Ben Brereton produced an impressive piece of control and then volleyed into the net from 25 yards.
Watford goalkeeper Ben Forster will be fuming he was unable to keep out the strike after he got a hand to it. But the two-goal cushion was reinstated for Watford four minutes into the second half.
Ken Sema whipped in a dangerous cross into the near post and under pressure from Sarr, Darragh Lenihan diverted the ball into the roof of his own net.
Blackburn had a chance to pull a goal back with just over 20 minutes to go as Lewis Holtby took a tumble after minimal contact from Craig Cathcart, but referee Andy Woolmer awarded a spot kick.
But Forster more than redeemed himself for the goal, as he kept out the penalty from Adam Armstrong. He also made several other good sides on the night as Blackburn fell to 14th.
North End on fire down south
Preston North End, sit one place below their Lancashire rivals after they won away at QPR. Two penalties done the job for The Lillywhites – the first one was dispatched by Daniel Johnson on his first league start of the season after Lee Wallace fouled Scott Sinclair.
Wallace was also guilty of giving away the second penalty, fouling summer signing Emil Riis Jakobsen; this time Sinclair took the spot kick duties and sent Seny Dieng the wrong way.
QPR hit the post in added time courtesy of Albert Adomah but The R’s fall to 16th. Their West London rivals, Brentford, continue to rise up the table, despite the departure of Saïd Benrahma on Deadline Day.
Owls stung by the Bees
Record signing Ivan Toney gave them the lead away at Sheffield Wednesday. He tapped home after Henrik Dalsgaard powerful strike was only pushed back into danger by Wednesday keeper Cameron Dawson.
Wednesday then equalised with 25 minutes on the clock. Two ex-Cardiff City players combined, as Kadeem Harris crossed for Callum Patterson to score his first goal for the club, out-strengthening Pontus Jansson and heading into the corner from about eight yards out.
The winner came just five minutes later for Brentford. Toney, who could end up costing The Bees £10 million, headed in Vitaly Janelt’s corner at the near post. Toney had chances to score a hat-trick, but Brentford saw the game out comfortably to rise to seventh place.
Wednesday remain bottom and still four points off Wycombe in 23rd and seven points off Barnsley, who rose to 21st on Wednesday evening, after an entertaining 2-2 draw with Stoke City.
Lower table matches
Despite being manager less and winless, Barnsley led with 18 minutes gone. Cauley Woodrow ran down the right and cut the ball back for Elliot Simões. The Angolan international scored his first goal of the season and only Barnsley’s fourth in the league.
The Tykes thought they would see the lead through until half-time, but Tyrese Campbell had other ideas – he got on the end of Harry Souttar’s defence-splitting pass and slotted past Jack Walton.
In added time, Barnsley restored their lead. Alex Mowatt clipped in a delightful cross and it was met by the outstretched boot of Dominik Frieser, who scored his first goal in English football.
Barnsley’s lead lasted just three minutes into the second half, thanks in part to a goalkeeper error. Jack Walton was under no pressure but dropped Nathan Thompson’s cross and the ball landed perfectly at the feet of Tommy Smith, who kept his effort low to level the encounter for the second time.
Stoke were reduced to ten men with half an hour left. An off the ball incident left Frieser on the floor and the linesman told the referee what he saw. Nathan Collins was sent off for allegedly raising his arm, but the decision was later rescinded.
John Obi Mikel was arguably lucky not to receive any action after he pushed the referee’s arm, but he was let off the hook by Michael Salisbury. The point means Stoke rise to 10th, and they are unbeaten in four.