The inability of any team to dominate an evenly matched Championship race this season was vividly illustrated yesterday as Watford regained the summit thanks to a win at a hitherto impregnable fortress, while previous leaders West Bromwich Albion let themselves down in inhospitable terrain.
Last Saturday Ipswich Town won their first away match of the season; yesterday they lost at home for the first time, victims of the Hornets' 10th away win. Tommy Smith headed Watford into a 33rd-minute lead and just before the hour Nathan Ellington made it 2-0. Jon Walters pulled a goal back, but Watford held on to win 2-1.
"In terms of winning, a 10 out of 10 effort," Hornets, manager, Adrian Boothroyd, said. "In terms of style, it was probably five." Nor did he sound too keen to be top again. "It gives other teams someone else to shoot at and in the past we haven't coped especially well with that. Hopefully it will be different this time."
At least he isn't feeling as bad as Tony Mowbray, manager of fallen leaders West Brom. Danny Nardiello and Jon Macken scored in Barnsley's 2-1 win at Oakwell. "Unacceptable," Mowbray said of Albion, "a poor 90 minutes, there were a lot of below par performances."
Dele Adebola and Bradley Orr scored as third-placed Bristol City beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1, the three points taking them level with West Brom. Wednesday slip into in the bottom three. In the big Midlands battle fourth-placed Stoke City, won 4-2 at Wolves with goals by Rory Delap, Liam Lawrence, Leon Cort and Ricardo Fuller.
Paul Dickov scored twice as Blackpool led 2-0 at Hull City, but substitute Caleb Folan and Dean Windass hit back for the Tigers to earn a 2-2 draw. The Seasiders had Kaspar Gorkss sent off. And Norwich City stretched their unbeaten run to 12 matches when Ched Evans, the 19-year-old striker on loan from Manchester City, scored both goals in a 2-1 win at Cardiff City. Ian Holloway's former team, Plymouth Argyle, were too good for his current, physical Leicester City side, Peter Halmosi scoring as Argyle won away 1-0.
Elsewhere, Preston North End's Sean St Ledger scored the only goal of the game against Coventry City, the 1-0 win lifting his side out of the bottom three. Andy Cole scored after 23 minutes of his home debut at Burnley but Johnnie Jackson struck to salvage a point for bottom club Colchester United in a 1-1 draw. More calls for Sheffield United manager Bryan Robson's dismissal at Bramall Lane after strugglers Scunthorpe United, reduced to 10 men by Grant McCann's 10th minute sending off, blunted the Blades in a 0-0 draw.
Southampton, apparently content to leave caretaker managers in charge until the end of the season, might need to revise their decision after Patrick Agyemang scored twice in Queens Park Rangers' 3-2 win at St Mary's.
At Kenilworth Road Luton met Bournemouth, the two sides labouring under 10-point deductions brought on by cash problems that led them into administration. Bournemouth's Jo Kuffour scored twice in a 4-1 win.Reuse content