Saturday, 4 May 2013

Championship chaos! Last-day drama with 40 goals in 12 matches, THREE keepers in agony for ONE team, another dribbling the ball around his box for the final TWO MINUTES (and the rest...)

The Championship reminded us of its status as one of the world's most captivating leagues in a rollercoaster final day that saw 40 goals in 12 games and the promotion, play-off and relegation pictures shifting on a minute-by-minute basis.

Hull City returned to the Premier League after three years away, but despite drawing 2-2 at home to title winners Cardiff City, they were left to endure a nerve-shredding 15-minute wait to see if they would make it.
The match at Vicarage Road between Watford - the other challengers for automatic promotion - and Leeds United was delayed by nearly 20 minutes after goalkeeper Jonathan Bond suffered a nasty injury that saw him taken straight to hospital in a neck brace following a collision with Dominic Poleon.

It meant that after Cardiff equalised late on at Hull through Nicky Maynard's penalty, a Watford winner would have sent them up instead.
Party time: Hull fans fans run on to the pitch to celebrate their team's promotion to the Premier League after the draw with Cardiff
I can't look, lads: Hull boss Steve Bruce faces away from the pitch as Nick Proschwitz misses his late penalty that could have confirmed their promotion
That's better: Bruce was able to celebrate with his players at the KC Stadium

Their match finished, the Hull team were left biting their nails and even praying in the tunnel at the KC Stadium, hoping that Watford didn't score and send them into the lottery of the play-offs.

How it all ended: The ups, the downs, the play-offs... and the full table after the crazy final day



PLAY-OFFS - Watford, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Leicester

Thursday, May 9: Leicester v Watford (7.45pm)
Sun, May 12: Watford v Leicester (12.30pm)

Friday, May 10: Crystal Place v Brighton (7.45pm)
Monday, May 13: Brighton v Crystal Palace (7.45pm)

Final: Monday, May 27 (3pm, Wembley Stadium)

RELEGATED - Peterborough, Wolves, Bristol City
Loving it: Hull fans packed on to the pitch at full-time to celebrate their promotion to the Premier League
Outside, thousands of fans had stormed the pitch, poised to celebrate. In the end, they wouldn't be disappointed as Leeds broke away and scored through a Ross McCormack lob that replacement goalkeeper Jack Bonham fumbled into his net.

It meant that Hull's second-half goals, through Nick Proschwitz and Paul McShane, were enough to give them a £100m place in the Premier League next season.

And it also ensured that David Marshall's penalty save from Proschwitz in the depths of stoppage time didn't cost Hull their promotion.

Earlier still, it had looked as though Frazier Campbell might come back to haunt Hull, after he gave Cardiff the lead on 49 minutes.
Agony: The final Hull score is flashed up on the big screen at Watford's delayed match with Leeds
Nightmare: Watford's second-choice keeper Jonathan Bond (above) was badly injured - he had replaced Manuel Almunia (below right) before kick-off, but had to be subbed himself by Jack Bonham (below left), who went on to have a shocker on the debut for his club



At Watford, Gianfranco Zola suffered a pre-match blow when first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was injured in the warm-up, meaning 19-year-old Bond was unexpectedly thrust into the most important game of their season.

He bravely came out to try and stop Poleon mid-way through the first-half but came off worst and was taken away on a stretcher for x-rays on what looked like a serious facial injury.

To make matters worse, Poleon then gave Leeds the lead in the 42nd minute, before Almen Abdi levelled for Watford with a superb curling strike during a remarkable 16 minutes of first-half stoppage time.
But things started to unravel when Troy Deeney was sent off on the hour for a foul on Michael Brown and, in the end, they would slump to defeat despite a barrage of late pressure.

Watford will play Leicester City in the play-offs this week after the Foxes pinched the last spot with a dramatic 3-2 win at East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest.

Anthony Knockaert was the hero as he tapped in from Chris Wood's cross in stoppage time to send over 2,000 travelling fans into raptures.
It was Leicester's first win at the City Ground since 1972 and was sufficient after Bolton were held 2-2 at home by Blackpool.
Pulling up trees: Anthony Knockaert celebrates his last-gasp winner for Leicester at rivals Forest
Delight: Leicester's players celebrate snatching a late play-off berth at the final whistle

Simon Cox had given Forest, who themselves could have made the play-offs at the start of the afternoon, an early lead, but goals from Matty James and Andy King turned the tables in Leicester's favour by half-time.

Elliott Ward equalised at the start of the second-half and the game developed into an end-to-end classic with all the feisty challenges expected of a local derby.

In the end, the Knockaert blow to Forest's hopes piled more pressure on manager Billy Davies, who had broken with convention to hold a press conference on the morning of the match in lieu of an appearance afterwards.

At the Reebok Stadium, Bolton fought back from two goals down against Lancashire rivals Blackpool and, for long swathes of the afternoon, were set to extend their season.

Dougie Freedman's side started abysmally and were two down within 35 minutes thanks to Matt Phillips and Ludovic Sylvestre.
But they rallied in the five minutes before the break and goals in quick succession from Chris Eagles and Craig Davies looked to have carried them into the last play-off spot.
Heartache: Bolton boss Dougie Freedman walks away after their failed bid to hold on to their play-off spot
However, Leicester's dramatic late goal meant the afternoon would end in disappointment for the Trotters.
Brighton and Crystal Palace will contest the other play-off semi-final, with their respective results having an impact on a breathless relegation battle.

Brighton had a comfortable afternoon as a double from Kazenga LuaLua condemned listless Wolves into the third tier of English football for the first time since 1989 and back-to-back relegations.

Palace's afternoon was far more dramatic, with the spectre of them missing out on the play-offs altogether just a goal or two away until captain Mile Jedinak scored to make it 3-2 against Peterborough late on.

Peterborough, who had boosted their chances with a narrow win over Sheffield Wednesday last week, looked to be heading to safety as they led 2-1 with just minutes to go. 
Relief: Huddersfield and Barnsley fans salute each other after they both secured their safety

We'll take that! Barnsley's Stephen Dawson (second right) celebrates with the fans after avoiding relegation                             
Goals from Lee Tomlin and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had sandwiched a Glenn Murray penalty, his 30th goal of the season, and with Huddersfield denying Barnsley the win they needed, the Posh thought they were safe.
However, Palace rallied with goals from veteran Kevin Phillips and Jedinak's dramatic winner sent Peterborough out of the Championship in heart-breaking fashion.

At the John Smith's Stadium, both Huddersfield and Barnsley endured a nervous afternoon before both securing their safety.

The match ended in extraordinary scenes as Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele, a former Peterborough player, dribbled the ball around unchallenged in his penalty area for a whole two minutes to send his old employers down.

At the end, both sets of supporters chanted 'Yorkshire' and spilled on to the pitch to celebrate survival together.

What a day: Luke Steele soaks in their glory of staying in the division
Relief: Huddersfield and Barnsley fans salute each other after they both secured their safety
With the situation changing every five minutes or so, they were permitted their explosion of relief.

Chris O'Grady put Barnsley into an early lead, only for Jermaine Beckford to level for the Terriers after the break. But Jason Scotland plunged them back into the relegation zone when he bundled in from close range with 16 minutes to play.

But when James Vaughan struck to make it 2-2 in the final 10 minutes, Barnsley were heading down with Peterborough leading. But Palace's fightback lifted the tension and meant Steele could close the game out to the satisfaction of everyone present.

Over 40,000 were at Hillsborough to see Sheffield Wednesday secure a second season in the Championship thanks to a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough, while Millwall stayed up despite losing 1-0 at Derby.
It was a compelling Championship narrative that offered twists and turns literally every couple of minutes, a reminder to those who may doubt it that world football's greatest drama often lies here on our doorstep.
All over: Posh fans absorb their plummet into League One on the final day
Headache: Stephen Hunt of Wolves stands dejected at full-time at Brighton
Double blow: Wolves fans air their feelings after a second successive relegation

Hurt: Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson looks dejected after the defeat to Palace


  1. Nice collections brov... So Wolves prayers were not

  2. DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA!! Ara nbe ti mo fe da

  3. Awwwww.. i luv dis game, Most passionate sports in the world. God blessed those people that invented that round leather

  4. Welcome back home Cardiff and Hull City