Another exciting weekend of NPower Championship football saw new leaders at the top, Reading continue their march and wins for sides at the bottom. Here, TheHardTackle picks a Team of The Week for Round 33 of the Championship.
GK – Robert Green (West Ham United)
West Ham United goalkeeper Robert Green was inspired form as West Ham drew at home to Crystal Palace. Green, who was recalled to the England set-up this week by caretaker boss Stuart Pearce, produced a hat-trick of outstanding saves to deny Palace from taking a first-half lead. First, Green kept out a long-range shot from Chris Martin and then a similar save from Mile Jedinak’s effort. Green then saved his best for last as he demonstrated fantastic reflexes to turn Wilfried Zaha’s deflected shot over the bar.
RB – Jordan Clarke (Coventry City)
Coventry City’s fine home form continued as they picked up their fifth win in seven games at the Ricoh Arena as they beat Barnsley 1-0. As well as forming part of a Sky Blue defence which kept Burnley’s strikeforce quiet, right-back Jordan Clarke also proved instrumental in attack. The defender provided the stoppage time cross from which striker Clive Platt headed home the winner, to edge Andy Thorn’s men closer to safety.
CB – Jason Pearce (Portsmouth)
Crisis-club Portsmouth picked up a point from a goalless draw at home to Leeds United, with centre-half Jason Pearce in fine form. In Pompey’s first home game since going into administration, over 17,000 fans turned up to show their support for the financial-stricken club. Leeds though, under new boss Neil Warnock for the first time, felt no sympathy, with 3 points needed for their promotion push. But, they were unable to get past some resolute defending, with Pearce
CB – Anthony Gardner (Crystal Palace)
Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Anthony Gardner was a rock in the Crystal Palace defence as they earned a 0-0 draw at pre-weekend leaders West Ham United. Gardner, who scored at both ends in Palace’s Carling Cup semi-final defeat to Cardiff City, was at his best to help snuff out the danger of the likes of Nicky Maynard, Carlton Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te. The result means West Ham fall to second, whilst Palace remain in mid-table.
LB – Ian Harte (Reading)
Left-back Ian Harte scored one and helped set-up another as Reading extended their winning run to five games with a fantastic 2-0 win at Middlesbrough. On 17 minutes, the former Leeds United defender crossed for Alex Pearce to set-up Noel Hunt to put the Royals 1-0 up. With 10 minutes remaining, Harte sealed the points when he curled in a trademark 25-yard free-kick to move Brian McDermott’s side up to third, only four points off second placed West Ham United.
RM – Abdul Razak (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Abdul Razak was the star of the show for Brighton as the Seagulls picked up their sixth win in nine league games with a 3-0 success over Ipswich Town. The 19-year old midfielder, who is on-loan from Manchester City, was singled out by boss Gus Poyet as someone who has “steel and is totally different to what we’ve got”.
CM – Josh Wright (Millwall)
Millwall midfielder Josh Wright scored a brilliant 30-yard volley as the Lions picked a surprise 3-1 victory away at Burnley. The visitors already lead through Andy Keogh’s 15th minute goal, when a Burnley clearance fell invitingly for Wright to hit a thunderous volley past the despairing dive of Burnley keeper Lee Grant. Harry Kane put the cemented a much-needed win for Kenny Jackett’s men, before Jay Rodriguez got a consolation for the Clarets in stoppage time.
LM – Thomas Ince (Blackpool)
Thomas Ince scored twice as Blackpool won 3-1 at Bristol City. Son of former Manchester United star Paul, Ince curled in a deflected free-kick on 55 minutes to draw the Seasiders level after Jon Stead had given the home side a first-half lead. Former Liverpool youngster Ince then put Ian Holloway’s men ahead on 84 minutes when he tapped home after good work from Brett Ormerod. Veteran Kevin Phillips rounded off the scoring with three minutes remaining to keep Blackpool in fourth spot.
ST – Ashley Barnes (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Ashley Barnes scored twice as Brighton beat Ipswich Town 3-0 at The Amex Stadium. After Craig Mackail-Smith had put the Seagulls 1-0 up, Barnes scored a wonderful second when he cut in and unleashed a curling 25-yard effort past Arran Lee-Barrett in the Town goal. The striker notched his 11th goal of the season when he converted Gonzalo Jara Reyes’ 88th minute cross. The win moves Brighton level on points with 6th placed Cardiff City.
ST – Dexter Blackstock (Nottingham Forest)
Nottingham Forest picked up an impressive 2-1 victory at Birmingham City, thanks to a brace from striker Dexter Blackstock. Forest have found goalscoring hard to come by this season, but with Blackstock’s double strike helped Steve Cotterrill’s men to a second successive win, to move into 20th, above Bristol City on goal difference. The striker gave the visitors the lead just before the half hour when he converted Gareth McCleary’s centre. Chris Burke levelled matters ten minutes after the break, but Blackstock popped up on 63 minutes to win the points for Forest when he brilliantly flicked the ball over his head and shot into the top corner.
ST – Rickie Lambert (Southampton)
Southampton returned to the summit thanks to a hat-trick from star striker Rickie Lambert. Lambert put the Saints one-up at Watford in the 13th minute when he headed past Tomask Kuszczak, who is on-loan at Vicarage Road from Manchester United. Lambert doubled his and his side’s account 8 minutes later when he shot in from the edge of the box. He completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute when he converted a penalty, to put Saints back top of the table.
Round 33 results:
Birmingham City 1-2 Nottingham Forest
Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 Ipswich Town
Bristol City 1-3 Blackpool
Burnley 0-3 Millwall
Coventry City 1-0 Barnsley
Derby County 0-1 Leicester City
Doncaster Rovers 1-1 Peterborough United
Middlesbrough 0-2 Reading
Portsmouth 0-0 Leeds United
Watford 0-3 Southampton
West Ham United 0-0 Crystal Palace