The Football League Championship steams ahead this weekend with a full round of fixtures scheduled to take place.
The tie of the round will see Hull City welcome Sheffield Wednesday to the KC Stadium. Elsewhere, Burnley travel to Bolton and Fulham welcome promotion-chasing Middlesbrough to Craven Cottage. As always there’s a ton of value to found in England’s second tier; so without further ado, let’s get to it!
Friday 26 February
Hull City 8/10 | Draw 23/10 | Sheffield Wednesday 36/10
Hull City consolidated their place atop the Championship standings with a well-deserved 1-0 over Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town on Tuesday evening. Mohamed Diame scored the Tigers’ winner after latching on to a delicious through-ball from Andrew Robertson before coolly lifting the ball over Ipswich ‘keeper, Bartosz Bialkowski. Steve Bruce’s men have now won 19 games in the league – more than anyone else in the division and look well on course to win promotion back to the Premier League.
Their opponents, Sheffield Wednesday, were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by an out of sorts QPR side on Tuesday. The Owls will see this result as two points dropped in game which they dominated throughout. Wednesday had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring from the penalty spot just after half-time following Nedum Onuha’s foul on Gary Hooper, however, Atdhe Nuhiu saw his spot kick saved by Alex Smithie. The visitors took the lead soon after when Daniel Tozser drilled in a first-time shot after Wednesday made a hash of clearing their lines. The Owls equalised six minutes later as Nuhiu made up for his earlier penalty miss with a commanding header following a Daniel Pudil cross. Hull City have been magnificent of late – the smart money’s on them to claim all three points at 8/10.
Saturday 27 February
Wolves 22/10 | Draw 22/10 | Derby County 5/4
Wolves’ dire run of form continued in mid-week after they slumped to an unceremonious 3-0 defeat away at Brentford. Two goals from Chelsea loanee, John Swift either side of a Sergi Canos strike condemned the Black Country side to their third straight win. Wolves are now winless in seven league matches as they continue to hurtle down the table at a rate of knots.
Derby hadn’t yet played their mid-week fixture against Blackburn Rovers at the time of publishing. However, they did halt an eight game winless streak with a 3-1 victory away at plucky Brentford last weekend. That win just about kept Darren Wassall’s side in the promotion places. Unlike Wolves, Derby have a talented squad that are more than capable of securing promotion to the big time. Wolves’ lack of depth, coupled with their horrid run of form, makes this verdict quite a simple one; Back Derby at 5/4, back them now!
Cardiff City 11/10 | Draw 22/10 | Preston North End 24/10
Cardiff City’s promotion charge was halted following a 3-1 defeat away at Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening. Former Man United full-back Fabio smashed home a 30-yeard screamer to put the Welsh side ahead on 20 minutes. That’s where their joy ended, however, as Boro roared back into the game following Matthew Connolly’s own goal. Second-half strikes from Gaston Ramirez and David Nugent ensured victory for the Teessiders as they kept their automatic play-off hopes alive.
Preston survived a bit of scare as they narrowly defeated Charlton 2-1 at Deepdale to keep their hopes of a play-off place alive. They’re now one of the form sides in the league having won four on the trot. Joel Garner and Callum Robinson struck for the Lilywhites either side of Berg Gudmundsson’s 38th-minute strike. The result saw Preston leap-frog Ipswich into ninth place. This match looks way too close to call with both teams in great form and only separated by one place on the standings. With both clubs in good scoring touch of late, both teams to score at 19/20 looks a decent shout.
Huddersfield Town 11/10 | Draw 22/10 | Ipswich Town 24/10
Huddersfield failed to make it three wins from three after their away draw at MK Dons on Tuesday. The Terriers fell behind thanks to a 28th-minute Alex Revell strike. Their task was made all the more difficult after Philip Billing was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Jake Forster-Caskey just four minutes after being introduced as a substitute. Nahki Wells was on hand to equalise four minutes from time, he latched on to a flick on following Tommy Smith’s long ball to lob over Dons’ keeper, earning his side a share of the spoils.
Ipswich suffered their third-straight defeat as they went down 1-0 to table-topping Hull City on Tuesday. Mohamed Diame ensured that the Tigers earned all three points with a delightful chip over Bartosz Bialkowski. The Tractor Boys have now only won once in their last six, drawing one and losing four as pressure mounts on Mick McCarthy. I can’t separate these teams – the draw looks good value at 22/10.
Nottingham Forest 12/10 | Draw 22/10 | Bristol City 9/4
Nottingham Forest slipped to their second straight defeat as they went down 1-0 to Burnley at Turf Moor on Tuesday. A 68th-minute winner from Sam Vokes ensured that the Clarets remained in the automatic play-off places as Forest’s promotion challenge faded away. In truth, they never really got going against a Burnley side that looked slightly under-cooked themselves.
Bristol City were brought crashing back down to earth following a 4-0 home demolition at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday. The Robins never really threatened a Brighton side that looked well-drilled in defence, as such, the hosts only real opportunities came from long range. Jamie Murphy and Sam Baldock gave the visitors the lead in the first half before Tomer Hemed struck in the 56th-minute. Bristol’s night went from bad to worse as Mark Little put through his own net following at Jame Wilson header. Again, this looks a difficult one to call. However, Forest do look the stronger of the two sides, back them at 12/10.
QPR 13/10 | Draw 22/10 | Birmingham City 21/10
Jimmy Floyd Hasserbaink would have been happy enough following his side’s 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Tuesday evening. The draw pushed the Londoners above Wolves and Reading on the league standings, however, they don’t really have much to play for. They won’t be relegated now and don’t have a realistic chance of challenging for play-off positions.
Birmingham edged closer to the play-off spots with a rather forgettable 1-0 victory over relegation-bound Bolton Wanderers in midweek. Clayton Donaldson scored the only goal of the game in 29th-minute following a neat cross from Diego Fabbrini. The win keeps the Blues in touch with Derby County who currently occupy sixth place on the table. Take Birmingham on the Double Chance at 11/20.
Bolton Wanderers 28/10 | Draw 23/10 | Burnley 19/20
While the end may be in sight for Bolton’s off-field issues, their on-field problems continued as they slumped to a woefully uninspiring 1-0 defeat away at Birmingham City this week. The result left them languishing second-from-bottom on the Championship table on just 25 points. They will need a massive turnaround now if they are to avoid relegation, although that looks highly unlikely. The club’s top scorer, Gary Madine, has been frozen out by Neil Lennon following an alleged row in the lead-up to their last game.
They will come up against one of the league’s form sides when they welcome Burnley to the Macron Stadium on Saturday evening. The Clarets are now undefeated in their last 10 league encounters and look like one of the favourites to secure promotion come the end of the season. Burnley – the league’s best attacking side – will be licking their lips at the prospect of taking on one of the division’s worst defences. The away win is tipped at exceedingly generous odds of 19/20.
Charlton Athletic 33/10 | Draw 23/10 | Reading 17/20
Charlton might as well start preparing for life in League One next season following their 2-1 defeat away at Preston North End on Tuesday. The beleaguered Addicks have the worst defensive record in the division while scoring the second-fewest goals. These statistics point to a team that simply aren’t good enough to compete at this level – a sad state of affairs for the former Premier League mainstays.
They will come up against a Reading side who will be brimming with confidence following their 3-1 hammering of Premier League West Brom in the FA Cup and subsequent 1-0 win over struggling Rotherham in midweek. The Royals looked a bit leggy following their cup triumph, however, Hal Robson-Kanu took advantage of some sloppy defending, dispossessing Paul Green to score the only goal of the game. Charlton have been awful this season. Back Reading to win this game easily enough at 17/20.
Blackburn Rovers 13/20 | Draw 26/10 | MK Dons 42/10
Blackburn Rovers are enduring a torrid season that’s seen them slip down the table to 19th place and real danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap. They were hammered 5-1 in their FA Cup fifth round tie against West Ham and were due to play Derby County at the iPro Stadium on Wednesday evening at the time of publishing. Paul Lambert has struggled to get the best out of his side’s forward line this season. Curiously enough, Rovers have one of the best defensive records in the league, however, their lack of goals has cost them dearly in their attempt to reclaim a place in the Premier League this season.
They will go head to head with an MK Dons outfit who earned a draw at home against Huddersfield Town last time out. A win for the men from Milton Keynes will see them leapfrog Blackburn, moving them further clear of the bottom three. This is a vital game for both sides who will be looking to move clear of the relegation zone. Blackburn have struggled to seven home draws this season – a result that looks likely this weekend – back it at 26/10.
Fulham 23/10 | Draw 22/10 | Middlesbrough 12/10
A magnificent 35-yard strike from Lewis Cook denied Fulham an important win over Leeds at Eland Road on Tuesday evening. Tom Cairney gave Fulham the lead in front of a frustrated Leeds faithful – ensuring his name appeared on scorers’ sheet for the fourth game running in what was a wonderfully entertaining encounter. The result moved the Cottagers 10 points clear of 22nd-placed Rotherham United.
Boro were at their imperious best as they came from behind to defeat Cardiff 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium this week. Goals from Gaston Ramirez and David Nugent as well as an own goal from Matt Connolly ensured that the Teeside club claimed all three points, remaining in touch with second-placed Burnley following three consecutive draws. Both teams possess a wealth of attacking talent within their ranks – take the Both Teams to Score: Yes market at 17/20 here.
Rotherham 31/20 | Draw 23/10 | Brentford 31/20
Rotherham’s 1-0 mid-week defeat at the hands of Reading condemned them to their 21st loss of the season – more than anyone in the top six divisions in English football. They currently sit six points off safety and need to start winning if they’re going to avoid the drop come the end of the season.
They have a perfect opportunity to do just that when they take on a Brentford outfit who have struggled in recent weeks. They ended their three-match losing streak on Tuesday as they smashed Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0. They’ll be desperate for the win that will keep their faint hopes of promotion alive. The away win is tipped here at 31/20.
Monday 29 February
Brighton 17/20 | Draw 24/10 | Leeds United 33/10
Brighton were at their marauding best on Tuesday evening as they scored four unanswered goals against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. The win put the Seagulls within striking distance of Burnley who currently occupy the second automatic promotion place. They’ve been on a solid enough run of form and could finally end their wait for promotion to the Premier League.
They will go up against a Leeds side who have once again flattered to deceive as they battled to a 1-1 draw with lowly Fulham. The Yorkshire club have drawn 14 of their 32 games this season and find themselves languishing at the wrong end of the table. The club has been markedly stagnant over the last few seasons and is showing little sign of improvement under controversial Italian owner, Massimo Cellino. Brighton offer great value at 17/20 – get on!