Reading took another huge leap forward in their pursuit of an automatic promotion place this weekend when they faced Championship rivals West Ham United at Upton Park and a brilliant second half performance saw them come away with all three points.
The win saw Brian McDermott’s side open up a four point gap between themselves and the Irons, who now look to be struggling for form going into the final six games of the season. The Royals’ recent win ratio will also have Southampton worrying about their Championship title chances as with 11 wins in the last 13 games, Reading sit just two points behind the Saints with the two sides still to play each other at St.Mary’s.
At Upton Park, the day had started pretty well for the West Ham faithful, as Carlton Cole opened the scoring for the hosts within the first ten minutes as he converted Kevin Nolan’s knockdown. The Hammers held on to this lead until just before half-time, the turning point in the match, when Kaspars Gorkss headed home an inswinging corner from Ian Harte to equalise for the Royals and just a minute later Reading were in front as Noel Hunt steered the ball home to send the West Ham players back into the dressing room in shock.
After the break it didn’t get any better for Sam Allardyce’s side, as Ian Harte converted a penalty just before the hour mark. On the 77th minute however, it looked like West Ham were fighting back and gave themselves a lifeline as Ricardo Vaz Te headed home to make it 3-2, but it wasn’t to be West Ham’s day as with six minutes left to go Mikele Leigertwood finished neatly to seal all three points and 2nd spot in the table.
On this form, Reading have a strong chance of finishing the season on top of the Championship table. The game at St Mary’s on Friday April 13th could well be unlucky for one of the sides, and could well decide the title.
West Ham meanwhile continue to struggle through the latter stages of the season, and could well have to be content with extending their season with a play-off position finish.
Southampton slipped up away at Blackpool, as the Seasiders dominated proceedings at Bloomfield Road. The Saints had the first opportunity of the game though, but Billy Sharp couldn’t beat Matt Gilks from the penalty spot. Stephen Dobbie opened the scoring for Ian Holloway’s side with a penalty in the 22nd minute, and doubled the lead nine minutes later finishing Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s flick on. Ian Evatt completed the scoring for Blackpool on 52 minutes from a corner completing a miserable afternoon for Southampton. Blackpool however sit in fifth place in the table and looking good going into the final games.
Coventry City’s recent run of form has been good and has finally paid dividends as another big win on Saturday has seen the Sky Blues climb out of the relegation places for the first time since October. The win was also Coventry’s first away win in the league all season and a timely one at that with only six games remaining. A Liam Cooper own goal opened the scoring in the 13th minute and the points were sealed for the away side with four minutes left on the clock when Cody McDonald finished.
Portsmouth’s season continued to go from bad to worse as they were convincingly beaten at home by Burnley 5-1. Kieran Tripper opened the scoring after 16 minutes but Pompey were back in the game just three minutes later with an equaliser from David Norris. The home fans may have held out some hope at half time going in at 1-1, but in the second half Burnley tore the home side apart with a goal just after the break through Danny Ings, and a hat-trick in the final 16 minutes from Charlie Austin.
At Elland Road, Chris Iwelumo scored at the beginning and the end of the match to give Watford a big win in Yorkshire. Leeds also had defender Paul Connolly sent off for a second bookable offence in injury time to add more pain to the defeat. The win for Sean Dyche’s side now takes them level on points with Leeds, six points off a play off position.
A hat trick from Radoslaw Majewski moved Nottingham Forest six points clear of the relegation zone and finally with some breathing space at the lower end of the Championship table. All three goals came in the second half of the game, the first being the pick of the goals as Majewski smashed a volley past Julian Speroni. The 3-0 defeat for Crystal Palace sees them stay in mid table, where they look like remaining for the rest of the season.
Peterborough secured a vital home win over Leicester at London Road. Paul Taylor scored his eleventh goal of the season with an excellent strike past keeper Kasper Schmeichel, sending Darren Ferguson’s side ten points clear of the relegation zone, and surely securing their stay in the Championship for another season.
An early second half goal from Daryl Murphy was enough to give Ipswich Town a win at Portman Road against Barnsley. The goal came just three minutes after half time as Murphy finished Michael Chopra’s pass to send his side up to 14th in the table, nine points clear of their rivals on the day.
The three other Championship fixtures this weekend ended in draws as Bristol City & Derby, and Brighton & Middlesbrough played out 1-1 scorelines, whilst Cardiff and Millwall played out a 0-0 draw at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Tags: Blackpool, Brian McDermott, Coventry, Reading, Southampton, The Championship, West Ham