A rampant Norwich put Reading to the sword on Saturday with an emphatic 7-1 victory at Carrow Road. Reading are well safe in the playoffs, but a brace from Nelson Oliveira, Wes Hoolahan, Russell Martin, Cameron and another double from Alex Pritchard made it seventh heaven for the Canaries. Six of the goals came during the first half, which would have made Jaap Stam’s team talk interesting. Reading are now sitting in fourth place but on a negative goal difference, which is a peculiar rarity at this late stage of the campaign.
Things stay tense at the summit of the Championship, as Brighton and Hove Albion returned to the top of the table on Friday night with a hard fought 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers. Sebastien Pocognoli scored a picture postcard free-kick on the 64th minute to win the game. With Newcastle going down 2-1 at Hillsborough to Sheffield Wednesday a day later, it means Brighton stay top going into the next round of fixtures. Huddersfield are still just about on the toes of two front-runners, but with the Terriers losing 2-0 to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, time is running out for them, and the gap is beginning to look insurmountable.
Leeds consolidated their position in the top 6 with a comfortable win over Preston. The sun shone on Elland Road as goals from Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez, and Souleymane Doukara helped them on their way to a 3-0 victory against Simon Grayson’s men, which surely now puts a full stop on their faltering play-off charge.
At the other end of the division, 1994 Premier League champions, Blackburn Rovers, were dealt a devastating blow at Barnsley, as they lost 2-0 with goals from Marc Roberts and Marley Watkins within the opening 10 minutes of the game. They are still only four points away from safety, but another couple of defeats could see them cut adrift.
Tony Mowbray’s miserable afternoon was compounded after fellow strugglers Bristol City won 3-1 over an in form Wolves side. A Tammy Abraham double keep their Championship hopes alive for another season.
A goal in the 7th minute of injury time from Nick Powell kept Wigan’s hopes of staying in the division hanging on by a thread. They beat rock bottom Rotherham who have achieved a miserly 17 points all season, and have been confirmed as relegated for many weeks now.
Last night was the Championship player of the season awards, with the top gong going to Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert.
After signing in January 2016 from Standard Liege, the French winger has been a revelation this season, pipping Leeds’ Chris Wood and Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle to the prize. Knockaert won promotion to the Premier League with Leicester City in 2013/14, so his skills on the wing have now twice proved to be a valuable asset to sides hoping to reach the promised land.
Several Championship players also made the 2016/17 EFL Team of the Season:
David Stockdale (Brighton), Pontus Jansson (Leeds), Anthony Knockaert (Brighton), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Chris Wood (Leeds) and Dwight Gayle (Newcastle).