Friday night’s clash between Leeds and Middlesbrough produced an extremely dull scoreless draw. Tony Pulis set up his Middlesbrough side in an ultra-defensive system with the away side relying on set pieces to create goalscoring chances. Leeds who were missing their influential Spanish playmaker Pablo Hernandez controlled the majority of possession but were unable to break down the well marshalled Middlesbrough defence. Both sides remain unbeaten heading into the first international break of the season.
Steve Bruce and his expensively assembled Aston Villa side received a rude awakening as they were hammered 4-1 by Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. The Aston Villa manager who was returning to one of his former clubs was severely critical of players and told the BBC after the game that – “the players must look at themselves”. Goals from Jack O’Connell, Mark Duffy and Oliver Norwood put the blades in a commanding position at halftime. A Billy Sharp goal in the 49th minute ensured the three points for Chris Wilder’s team, who now sit third in the table.
Ten men, Swansea scored twice in the final 15 minutes to claim an impressive away win at Millwall. The Welsh side had their debutant striker Courtney Baker-Richardson given a straight red card in the 5th minute for a lunge on James Meredith. A Murray Wallace header in the 62nd gave the home side the lead. However, strikes from Kyle Naughton and Oliver McBurnie stole the points for the Swans. Under pressure, Stoke manager Gary Rowett described his team as “dopey” to BBC, as they lost 2-1 at the Hawthorns. A brace from on-loan striker Dwight Gayle gave the Baggies a much-needed home win. Pre-season favourites Stoke currently languish in 17th place, with only five points.
Nottingham Forest were given a harsh reality check following their midweek win over Newcastle, as they lost 2-1 at Brentford. A 25-yard wonder strike from midfielder Matty Cash was not enough for Aitor Karanka’s Forest side to claim a share of the spoils. An Ollie Watkins winning goal five minutes from time means that the Bees are now only three points behind league leaders, Leeds. A late strike from Dutch winger Florian Jozefzoon gave Derby a second away victory over Hull in the last four days. Following on from their 4-0 Carabao Cup win on Tuesday, Frank Lampard’s side produced a gutsy display to pile more misery on Hull boss Nigel Adkins. The Rams who are now just two points off the automatic promotion places are now beginning to show real signs of adapting to the style of play demanded by the former Chelsea and England midfielder.
Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay guided the South Yorkshire side to their third consecutive league win to ease the tension at Hillsborough. The Owls, who are under a transfer embargo were too good for a poor Reading team at the Madejski Stadium. Reading boss, Paul Clement gave a scathing review of his team’s performance after the game to the BBC- “The reason we are where we are is we’re not good enough. We’ve got to start doing the basics better. Currently marooned at the bottom of the table, Reading have only amassed two points so far this season while Wednesday’s recent winning run, sees them move into the top ten.
Preston and Bolton played out an eventful 2-2 draw at Deepdale. Goals from Irish internationals Callum Robinson and Alan Browne gave the Preston a two-nil lead after only 16 minutes. Preston striker Graham Burke’s poor miss in the 33rd minute proved crucial as Bolton levelled the match before halftime. Sambi Ameobi’s 38th-minute goal halved the deficit before a strike two minutes later from Pawel Olawaski earned the away side a point. Steve McClaren and Gary Monk saw their respective teams play out a flaccid 0-0 draw at St. Andrews. QPR’s giant striker Matt Smith hit the post in the last minute as the Blue held out for a precious point. Elsewhere, Rotherham suffered their third away defeat of the season at Wigan. A 73rd-minute goal from former Everton striker James Vaughan was enough to catapult the home side up in the top half of the table.
Bristol City ended Blackburn Rovers unbeaten start to the league with an emphatic 4-1 win at Aston Gate on Sunday. Blackburn took an early lead when central defender Charlie Mulgrew scored directly from a corner. Blackburn surrendered the lead when Josh Brownhill scored an exquisite free kick in the 38th minute. Marley Watkins gave the home side the lead ten minutes into the second half, and Famara Diedhiou who was available again following his six-game suspension scored the third goal for City. A late Marlon Pack header secured Bristol’s third successive victory which sees them leap into the play-offs places.
Ipswich’s long wait for a victory over their bitter local rivals Norwich will continue following a scrappy 1-1 draw at Portman Road. The draw means that Norwich are now unbeaten in their last eleven East Anglican derbies, a run which stretches back to 2009. Gwion Edwards opened the scoring for the home side in the 57th minute when his deflected shot looped over the Canaries keeper Tim Krul. Moritz Leitner equalised with twenty minutes left as his long-range shot found the corner of the Ipswich net. On loan, Irish international Jon Walters came closest to scoring a winning goal for the tractor boys, but his weak finish meant the game finished all square. Ipswich head into the international break still looking for their maiden league win while Norwich sits one point above the relegation zone.
Written by Rob Giles.