EFL Championship Round-Up: Matchday 8 – 2020/21

Matchday 8 was the second midweek round of fixtures in the EFL Championship. It was another successful round for Reading, who went seven points clear at the top of the league on Tuesday evening.

Makes for Good Reading

They travelled to the league’s top scorers Blackburn Rovers and found themselves in the lead after just nine seconds. A long ball from kick off came off the heals off Rovers defender Barry Douglas completely wrong-footing Ainsley Pears in goal.

Lucas João capitalised on the loose ball and squared it for Yakou Méïté, who scored his third goal in two games. Rovers did equalise with three minutes on the clock and it was Adam Armstrong again, who finished Harvey Elliott’s cross on the half-volley.

Rovers would have hoped this goal swung the momentum of the game; instead, they were 3-1 down in 18 minutes. Firstly, Michael Olise collected the ball just inside the Rovers half and ran into the box unchallenged before dispatching the ball past Pears.

Minutes later, summer signing Josh Laurent curled in his first goal from the club from the edge of the area – the ball kissed the post on the way in. The next goal didn’t come until the 66th minute, but it was another one for Armstrong and Rovers.

Joe Rankin-Costello’s cross was flicked in with a quality diving header and Armstrong had his ninth goal of the season. However, the game was put beyond doubt eight minutes from time.

Summer signing Afla Semedo slipped in João and he curled a shot expertly past Pears, who conceded four on debut. Blackburn slipped to 12th but Veljko Paunović’s dream start as Reading manager continued.

Swans Smash Potters

Due to other teams playing on Wednesday, Swansea were able to temporarily jump to second place with a comfortable 2-0 win over Stoke City. Yan Dhanda hit the post early on for the hosts, but the Welsh side opened the scoring on the half hour mark, courtesy of Jay Fulton’s exquisite chip over a helpless Adam Davies.

Davies had to go off injured at half time and was replaced by Angus Gunn, who conceded nine goals in his last game, almost a year ago. Gunn slipped before handling a back pass, resulting in an indirect free kick, which André Ayew saw blocked on the line by one of Stoke’s 11 players.

However, it was clear Gunn was low on confidence as Swansea secured the three points with three minutes left to play. Gunn came to punch but was beaten to ball by Kasey Palmer and the Bristol City loanee scored his first Swansea goal and got a punch for his troubles too from the keeper.

Stoke fall to 10th. Swansea up to second and they leapfrogged Watford, who are now down to fifth place after they drew away at Wycombe.

Hornets held by strugglers

The hosts created the better chances but found themselves behind on 52 minutes – Kiko Femenía cross was inch perfect for Ismaïla Sarr and the Senegalese winger scored his first goal of the season.

However, the hosts finally got their first point of the season at the eight time of asking, as Joe Jacobson’s corner was met with a bullet header by Anthony Stewart.

Ben Foster was in inspired form and on another day, Wycombe would have won this game. They thought they had in injury time as Joe Jacobson’s corner went straight in, but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Foster by Alex Samuel.

Wycombe are still 23rd but they are now joined in the relegation zone by Coventry City, who are now six games without a win. They lost 2-0 away at Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough.

Sky Blues heading for Rock Bottom

After a non-eventful 80 minutes on Teeside, the hosts finally hit the front as Sam Morsy’s through ball was finished expertly by Britt Assombalonga. The points were secured in the 95th minute for Boro as 20-year-old defender Djed Spence found himself in on goal.

He dinked the ball over Marko Maroši before slotting the ball into the back of the net. Boro are now eight and have not lost since the opening day. Coventry have replaced Barnsley in the relegation zone as the Yorkshire club won 3-0 against QPR in Valérien Ismaël’s first game in charge.

It was also their first league win of the season. They were given an advantage 26 minutes in as Rob Dickie was sent off for pulling back Cauley Woodrow in the penalty area.

Woodrow, who passed a late fitness test, scored from the spot, sending Seny Dieng the wrong way. The lead was doubled eight minutes before half time as he finished off some excellent Barnsley build up play.

The three points were put beyond all doubt mid-way through the second half as Yoann Barnet scored a calamitous own goal, prodding past the helpless Dieng. QPR are now winless in six and have fallen to 19th.

Bees and Canaries tie

The final game on Tuesday took place at The Brentford Community Stadium as Norwich City made the trip from East Anglia to West London. It looked like they would return home pointless after Brentford hit the front on 27 minutes and there was no surprise who the scorer was.

Ivan Toney notched his eight goal in sixth games, finishing Bryan Mbuemo’s cross at the back post. Brentford had chances to double their lead and wrap the game up but, for the fourth game in a row, Norwich left it late to secure a point.

Emi Buendía, who had been Norwich’s brightest spark all game, fed Kenny McLean and his shot took a deflection off Mads Bech Sorensen to completely wrong-foot David Raya and ensure the spoils were shared. Norwich are seventh, Brentford 11th and winless in two.

Cherries with sweet victory

On Wednesday night, Bournemouth cut Reading’s lead at the top of the table to six points as they took down fellow highflyers Bristol City by a single goal to nil. It came nine minutes from time, courtesy of substitute Arnaut Danjuma.

He produced a burst of acceleration to get into the penalty area and dinked the ball over City goalkeeper Daniel Bentley. The Cherries rise to second but Bristol City slump to sixth and are now winless in four.

They have now been overtaken by Millwall, who are now fourth after a superb away win at Preston North End. With the entire first team coaching squad in self-isolation due to more positive Covid-19 tests, The Lions were led by Under 23 manager Kevin Nugent, player-coach Shaun Williams and captain Alex Pearce.

Despite their unorthodox coaching set up, Millwall led after 54 minutes. A slick counterattack was led by Mason Bennett who slipped in Jed Wallace, who’s cross was tapped in by Kenneth Zohore on his full debut.

Preston offered little going forward but their only shot on target forced Bartosz Białkowski into a good save, as he made himself big to deny Tom Barkhuizen.

With six minutes remaining, the game was put beyond doubt. Barkhuizen was judged to have clipped Murray Wallace as the Scottish defender prepared to shoot.

The responsibility fell to the other Wallace, Jed, and he sent Declan Rudd the wrong way. Preston are still yet to score or get a point at home this season and are 13th.

Birmingham tame Terriers

Birmingham City recorded their first win since the opening day on Wednesday, beating Huddersfield 2-1. Birmingham had the lead just before the half hour mark as Jérémie Bela’s free kick was headed into the corner by Gary Gardner for Birmingham’s fourth goal this season.

Josh Koroma hit the bar early on in the second half but it looked like they would head back to Yorkshire with a point as Belgian winger Issac Mbenza scored a free-kick for his second Huddersfield goal – his first came against Manchester United in May 2019.

Instead, Birmingham secured all three points courtesy of Lukas Jutkiewicz’s volley on the 90th minute mark, after Jonathan Leko’s attempt hit the bar. It was also Birmingham’s first goal from open play this season and they leapfrogged their opponents into 15th place, courtesy of goal difference.

Huddersfield are 16th and their Yorkshire rivals, Rotherham, are now one place below them. They beat another Yorkshire team, bottom of the league Sheffield Wednesday.

Millers stun Owls

With just two minutes on the clock, the game was temporarily halted due to a drone flying over The New York Stadium. Wednesday would have wished the game never restarted as Rotherham hit the front three minutes afterwards, thanks to Jamie Lindsay’s header.

The game was killed off before half-time thanks to two goals and a red card in just six minutes. Wednesday defender Tom Lees was sent off with 39 minutes on the clock and the hosts had a penalty.

He pulled back Michael Miller after the Rotherham man had rounded goalkeeper Cameron Dawson. The resulting spot kick was dispatched by Daniel Barlaser and five minutes later, Lindsay scored his second from a rebound.

It meant Rotherham won for the first time since the opening day. Wednesday are now nine points off 21st place Derby County, who drew at home to Cardiff on Wednesday.

Derby 1-1 Cardiff

Derby took the lead in the first half as Martyn Waghorn scored his second spectacular free kick in two games. However, Neil Harris’ men secured a point to take back to Wales, thanks to Kieffer Moore’s composed finish as he latched on Sheyi Ojo through ball. Cardiff are 14th but four points off the play-offs.

Derby are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. Nonetheless, they are only one point off East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest, who drew 1-1 away at Luton Town, to maintain Chris Houghton’s unbeaten start.

They had to come from behind though, as Glenn Rea found the bottom corner. Forest then went down to ten men on the stroke of half time as Nicholas Ioannou was dismissed for a lunge on Martin Cranie, but they took a point back up the M1 as Rea cancelled out his earlier strike.

Under pressure from Ryan Yates, Cyrus Christie’s cross hit Rea on the back of the head and beat keeper Simon Sluga. Luton still go up a place to ninth but are only one point outside the play-offs.

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