CHAMPIONSHIP REVIEW: TOP FIVE GAMES THE LEAGUE HAD TO OFFER THIS WEEKEND
The Championship returned from the international break in a predictably unpredictable fashion, with a couple of early-season strugglers winning away at promotion hopefuls and two teams that made managerial changes over the break picking up positive results.
There were late goals, red cards and not a VAR decision insight, as the second tier took no time getting back into full swing.
Here is the best of the action:
Barnsley 2-2 Bristol City
A Cauley Woodrow penalty in the 102nd minute ended Bristol City’s 100% start to the season and earned Barnsley a point in their first game after the departure of manager Gerhard Struber.
A late collision between Barnsley’s Michael Sollbauer and Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda saw a penalty awarded to the home side. Sollbauer required ten minutes of treatment on the pitch, but a nervous wait for Woodrow was followed by an emphatic penalty that proved to be the last kick of the game.
Struber made the move to New York Red Bulls over the break, leaving the Tykes manager-less and win-less after the first four games of the new season.
Caretaker manager Adam Murray got off to a perfect start in this one though as Michal Helik headed in a corner at the back post, and his side went on to dominate the first 45.
Bristol City were slightly fortunate to have a perfect record going into this one and rookie manager Dean Holden must have been looking eagerly at his lottery numbers early in the second half, as two deflected strikes, from Jack Hunt and Tyreeq Bakinson, turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
However, Woodrow’s late goal saw Barnsley pick up a deserved draw and it was the perfect way for the striker to celebrate signing a speculation-ending new contract on transfer deadline day.
Despite the late goal, Barnsley remain in the relegation zone in the early league table and Holden’s Robins are still on top of the tree.
Swansea City 1-2 Huddersfield Town
Huddersfield collected a deserved win in South Wales after a dominant second-half performance at the Liberty Stadium.
Josh Koroma scored his first goal in 18 months to give the Terriers the win, as he cut in from the left and fired an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner midway through the second period.
Swansea did start brightly in this one though, with both Marc Guehi and Jamal Lowe testing Ben Hamer in the Huddersfield goal.
The Swans sold highly-rated centre-back Joe Rodon to Tottenham on deadline day and they looked to be missing him when they fell behind against the run of play. Steve Cooper’s side fell asleep at a corner, allowing Juninho Bacuna to drive into the penalty area and fire a shot that deflected off Harry Toffolo on its way in.
Swansea drew level before the break when Hamer took out Korey Smith in the area after the midfielder had shot well wide. It was a slightly controversial decision, but Andre Ayew seemed unfazed as he rolled the ball home from the spot following an unconventional run-up.
Huddersfield really took control of the game after half-time, mainly thanks to the impressive passing of Ajax loanee Carel Eiting in midfield.
Eiting set up Isaac Mbenza to hit the post moments before Koroma got the winner. It was his first goal since scoring for Leyton Orient against Eastleigh in the National League in April 2019.
A miserable day for Swansea was compounded by news that Morgan Gibbs-White, the Wolves loanee who has impressed so much already this campaign, is out for three months with a fractured ankle.
This was Carlos Corberan’s second win as Terriers boss and by far their most impressive result of the new season as they look to adapt to the playing style of the man who worked as a coach for Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds.
His side are now five points clear of the relegation zone, Swansea remain in fourth.
Wycombe Wanderers 1-2 Millwall
A second-half comeback from Millwall denied Wycombe a first-ever win in the second tier of English football, aided by a controversially disallowed Joe Jacobsen goal direct from a corner.
The game’s key talking point came in the second half with the score level at 1-1. Jacobsen whipped an in-swinging corner over Millwall goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski and into the top corner, but it was ruled out for what seemed to be the slightest of touches on the keeper from Wycombe forward Scott Kashket.
Kashket had given Wanderers the lead after barely ten minutes with his side’s first ever Championship goal. The achievement was more memorable than the goal as it came from Bialkowski getting the ball stuck under his feet, before his clearance deflected off Kashket and into an empty net.
Matt Smith was a handful all afternoon and when Wycombe defender Jack Grimmer grabbed more than a handful of the six-foot six striker in his own penalty area early in the second half, referee Andy Madley had no choice but to point to the spot. Jed Wallace stepped up and scored his third goal of the season.
Smith hit the crossbar with a thumping header soon after, before directing a Mahlon Romeo cross in the direction of Ryan Leonard, who fired an unstoppable half-volley past Ryan Allsop to give Millwall the lead.
It wasn’t only Smith that was troubling Allsop and co. though, defender Jake Cooper hit the bar with a free-kick from the halfway line as he looked to catch out the goalkeeper.
Wycombe’s best chance to grab a first point of the season fell to Adebayo Akinfenwa, off the bench to make his Championship debut, but the veteran striker fired wide from a presentable opening.
Wycombe are kept off the bottom of the Championship table only thanks to Sheffield Wednesday’s points deduction, Millwall are just outside the play-off spots.
Rotherham United 1-2 Norwich City
An injury-time Jordan Hugill penalty gave Norwich only their second win of the new season as they look to make an immediate return to the Premier League.
Rotherham had defended doggedly throughout, but their hard work was undone by a lunge from Florian Jozefzoon on Emi Buendia, leading to a stonewall spot-kick.
Rotherham manager Paul Warne is self-isolating after a family member tested positive for Covid-19, but his team started fine without him, as Freddie Ladapo capitalised on a mix-up in the Norwich defence to finish coolly past Tim Krul with three minutes on the clock.
Ladapo had the chance to make it two from the spot after Canaries’ striker Adam Idah bundled over Clark Robertson in his own area. Krul is known as something of a penalty-saving specialist though and he got down well to push the Rotherham striker’s tame effort clear.
It’s a surprise that Emi Buendia remained at Norwich after some impressive performances in the Premier League, and he showed his class in the second half to help turn the game around.
Some neat interplay in midfield from the diminutive Argentine set Max Aarons away on the right, and his cross was so inviting that Rotherham defender Michael Ihiekwe couldn’t help but turn it into his own net.
Things got worse for the Millers minutes later as Angus MacDonald went flying into a challenge with Oliver Skipp and was rightly sent off.
The ten-men of Rotherham looked to be hanging on to a valuable point before Hugill’s penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage time – the third game in a row that Rotherham have dropped points after 90 minutes.
Both teams remain mid-table.
Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Nottingham Forest
A last-minute Joe Lolley goal got the Chris Hughton era off to the perfect start as Forest picked up their first win of the season.
Lolley was dropped under previous manager Sabri Lamouchi, and whilst his late strike was heavily deflected and far from textbook, it vindicated Hughton’s decision to include more attacking players in his line-up than his predecessor often did.
The former Newcastle and Brighton manager made four changes from the Forest side that lost to Bristol City before the international break and they paid off as his side stifled a Blackburn team that has been free-scoring in recent weeks.
Rovers were highlighted as promotion dark horses by many following a deadline day that saw them bring in Barry Douglas from Leeds and Harvey Elliot from Liverpool, but neither were involved on Saturday.
This was a game of few chances that sprang to life when Sammy Ameobi struck the Blackburn woodwork with a rasping half-volley as injury time approached.
Minutes later, great work from Luke Freeman and Ryan Yates set up Lolley to cut inside and fire at goal with his trusty left-foot, a wicked deflection off the foot of Bradley Johnson wrong-footed goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski and gave Hughton a perfect start to life in the Forest hot seat.
Lolley’s strike moved Forest out of the bottom three and saw Rovers drop out of the play-offs.