“Championship Tenner” is a weekly column that tells you the top 10 things to look forward to in England’s 2nd division. In this edition, Southampton and West Ham face home matches, Reading aim to continue their super run and Portsmouth attempt to salvage their season. —- 1. Lunchtime Battle of the Blues The weekend’s action kicks off at Saturday lunchtime with a Midlands derby as Coventry City host Birmingham City. The two sides are at opposite sides of the league, with Birmingham sitting sixth in the table and the Sky Blues third from bottom. Having won 5 out of their last 8 games at The Ricoh Arena, strugglers Coventry will be hoping that their impressive home form continues as they look to escape the relegation zone. For promotion chasing Birmingham, this is their third Midlands derby in a row having lost to Nottingham Forest and drawn with Derby County. Boss Chris Hughton will be keen to see his side return to […]

Steve Cotterill’s honeymoon period at Nottingham Forest didn’t last very long. Inheriting an imbalanced squad left to him by Steve McClaren and, to some extent, Billy Davies, he managed to chalk up four wins in his first six games before going seven games without a goal. Results and performances have improved in recent weeks as he dragged the club out of the relegation zone, taking the pressure off himself as calls for his sacking recede — for the time being at least. Here’s a look at why Forest have improved in recent weeks: Loan players The return of Marlon Harewood on a short-term contract, after a spell in China, hasn’t exactly proved to be the homecoming he, or anybody, wanted. And fans scoffed as Cotterill added three defenders on loan during the transfer window as Wes Morgan left for Leicester City. But, in addition to Adlene Guedioura, the squad has looked far more balanced with Danny Higginbotham, George Elokobi and […]

In this weekend’s NPower Championship action, an outstanding goalkeeping display kept the leaders on top, Reading made it six wins from six and Leicester continued their charge towards the play-offs. Here, TheHardTackle picks a Team of The Week for Round 34 of the Championship. ————— . GK – Kelvin Davis (Southampton) The Saints stopper was in tremendous form as Southampton beat Leeds United to consolidate their place at the top of the table. After Rickie Lambert had given Nigel Adkins’ men an early lead, Davis single-handedly kept Leeds at bay. First he got down low to deny Luciano Becchio, then produced one of the saves of the season to deny the same player when a goal looked certain. Two further fantastic saves from Danny Webber efforts confirmed the points and a man of the match performance for Davis. RB – Nyron Nosworthy (Watford) Watford defender Nyron Nosworthy had a mixed afternoon at home to Burnley. Already one down, the defender […]

Another week in the NPower Championship sees two rounds of fixtures, Leeds entertain the leaders, Cardiff’s Wembley heroes return to league action and maybe an appearance by Robbie Fowler. Here, TheHardTackle highlights theses and more in the things you should be looking out for in the next seven days of Championship action. ———– 1. Two rounds of fixtures As the month of March starts, so too does the season run-in. With 13 games to play in two months, more for some teams, the games are going to come thick and fast. With this in mind, the next seven days sees two important rounds of fixtures. Whilst things will not be decided for at least another 6 weeks, the form which teams show now will go a long way to determining where they finish in this season’s NPower Championship. 2. Another Friday night, another Promotion battle After Reading beat Burnley 1-0 on a Friday night two weeks ago, the Football league […]

In a shortened Saturday fixture list due to Championship sides’ involvement in the FA Cup fifth round, Southampton returned to the top, Reading moved up to third and Forest finally hit form. Here, TheHardTackle picks a Team of the Week for Round 32 of the NPower Championship. ————— . GK – Adam Federici (Reading) Once again, Reading keeper Adam Federici was at his best as The Royals triumphed 1-0 over Burnley. The Australian stopper superbly marshalled his defence to a fourth successive clean sheet. Federici was mostly tested from range as Burnley struggled to make clear cut chances, but when Clarets’ striker Charlie Austin did break clear in the box, Federici brilliantly snuffed out the danger to save with his right foot. RB – Kieran Trippier (Burnley) Despite ending up on the losing side at Reading, Burnley right-back Kieran Tripper produced a fine performance. The full-back, who made his move from Manchester City permanent during the January transfer window, came […]

With NPower Championship sides still involved in the FA Cup and things hotting up in the league, there promises to be plenty of excitement over the next week. Here, TheHardTackle takes a look at 10 things you should be looking out for:- ———– 1. Portsmouth set for administration Once again, Portsmouth football club are in the midst of financial problems. After being issued with a winding-up petition by the HM Revenue and Customs on 3rd January, Pompey’s bank accounts have been frozen until they are due at the Royal Courts of Justice on February 20th. With no access to the bank accounts, the club is financially crippled and have recently been unable to pay players and staff their wages. On Monday, Portsmouth Chief Executive David Lampitt confirmed that the South Coast club have “made an application for an administration order”, a decision which would allow access to the bank accounts again. (Portsmouth became the second British club that day to seek […]