Fulham

Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Championship Focus: 3 teams separated by 1 point; Fulham go 6th

Leave a comment

Brighton are promoted already, and Newcastle United should still be joining them, but beyond those two, the Championship is a disorganized, jumbled mess.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

Norwich City 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Let’s call it the promotion celebration hangover, shall we? After five straight wins secured their place in the Premier League next season, Brighton never really turned up against Norwich on Friday. Scoring one own goal is never an enjoyable experience. Scoring a brace of own goals is an absolute nightmare, which Brighton goalkeeper David Stockdale lived during a disastrous 21-minute period, and will never forget.

Nottingham Forest 3-2 Reading

Having climbed all the way up to third in recent weeks, Reading lost away to relegation threatened Forest on Saturday, and saw their lead in the race for the first playoff spot to be cut from four points to one. Britt Assombalonga put Forest 2-0 up two minutes into the second half, and Mustapha Carayol made it 3-0 before Reading came to life. Yann Kermorgant bagged a second-half brace and brought the visitors back to 3-2 with 15 minutes left to play, but that’s as close as they’d get.

[ MORE: Chelsea beat Tottenham to reach FA Cup final ]

Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 Derby County

Officially the Championship’s most in-form side (five wins and one draw in their last six games), Wednesday have raced past a whole host of sides and moved into fourth place with a comeback victory over Derby. Darren Bent put the visitors ahead three minutes into the second half, but Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper responded to pull the Owls level and ahead over the the next 16 minutes.

Huddersfield Town 1-4 Fulham

Heading in the opposite direction, Huddersfield have just four wins from their last 11 league games (five losses), and have slipped from third to fifth, where they sit just two points ahead of sixth-place Fulham after a 4-1 home thrashing at the hands of the Cottagers. Scott Malone canceled out Chris Lowe’s early opener, Tom Cairney scored the eventual winner from the penalty spot in the 20th minute, and Stefan Johansen made it 3-1 and 4-1 in the final nine first-half minutes.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(18th) Burton 2-1 (7th) Leeds United

Monday’s Championship schedule

Newcastle United vs. Preston North End — 2:45 p.m. ET

Brighton & Hove Albion clinches Premier League promotion

Gareth Fuller/PA via AP
2 Comments

Brighton & Hove Albion is Premier League bound.

Chris Hughton has led two clubs into England’s top flight after his Gulls beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 on Monday, and Huddersfield Town drew 1-1 at Derby County.

Solly March and Glenn Murray scored for Brighton, which ends a 34-year wait to return to England’s top flight.

[ MORE: Should Man Utd prioritize Europa? ]

Meanwhile, Newcastle United wasted another chance to set its Premier League status in stone when it fell 3-1 at Ipswich Town. Once holding a healthy lead, the Magpies are now winless in three.

Leeds has dropped out of a playoff spot after a loss at Wolverhampton and wins from Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham.

If the playoffs started today, Reading would play Fulham in one semifinal with Huddersfield and Wednesday in the other.

Full scoreboard
Fulham 3-1 Aston Villa
Barnsley 1-1 Brentford
Birmingham City 0-2 Burton Albion
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Bristol City
Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Wigan Athletic
Cardiff City 1-0 Nottingham Forest
Ipswich Town 3-1 Newcastle United
Leeds United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Preston North End 1-3 Norwich City
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Reading 2-1 Rotherham United
Derby County 1-1 Huddersfield Town

Championship Focus: Gulls win again, on verge of Premier League

Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brighton and Hove Albion has all but clinched its Premier League status, thanks to another knockout performance from Anthony Knockaert.

Newcastle United isn’t far behind despite more dropped points, while the race for the playoff places remains four teams going for three places behind Huddersfield Town.

[ MORE: Handicapping the PL Player of the Year ]

Here’s what happened as the Championship staged the majority of its matches a day early.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Knockaert scored twice to move the Gulls to within a breath of the Premier League. With a four-point advantage on Newcastle and a 12-point edge on third-place Huddersfield, which has a match in hand, it’s almost academic.

Newcastle United 1-1 Leeds United

Jamaal Lascelles scored to give Newcastle United a lead in a match it dominated… right up until Killer Kiwi striker Chris Wood buried his 25th goal of the season in stoppage time to move Leeds three points clear of seventh.

Norwich City 1-3 Fulham

That seventh place spot is occupied by the Cottagers of Fulham, who boast the third-best goal differential in the division but sit two points back of Sheffield Wednesday for sixth. Fulham was up 1-0 when it went down to 10 men, but still managed to outscore the Canaries the rest of the way.

If the season ended today, the playoffs would see Huddersfield versus Wednesday and Reading against Leeds in the first round of the playoffs.

Elsewhere
Wigan Athletic 3-2 Barnsley — Friday
Brentford 4-0 Derby County
Bristol City 2-1 QPR
Huddersfield Town 3-2 Preston North End
Rotherham United 1-1 Birmingham City
Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Cardiff City
Burton Albion 1-2 Ipswich Town
Nottingham Forest 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
Aston Villa vs. Reading — 10 a.m. ET Saturday

Premier League clubs battle for 16-year-old Sessegnon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ryan Sessegnon is just 16 years old, but he’s already highly coveted.

The Fulham left-back became the first player born after the turn of the millennium to score in any of the top four English leagues, and he immediately turned the heads of some of the Premier League’s top teams.

Sessegnon scored a double against Championship leaders Newcastle last weekend, and his value to Fulham was made painfully obvious when manager Slavisa Jokanovic denied the youngster a chance at a hat-trick as he prohibited Sessegnon from taking a late penalty, one that Tim Ream missed. Jokanovic likely wished for Sessegnon to stay out of the headlines, but the damage had already been done.

Premier League teams have been swirling around the youngster for months, with rumors of interest from teams like Tottenham and Liverpool earlier in the season. Sessegnon isn’t a regular for the Whites, instead splitting time at left-back with Scott Malone, but a recent spell of good form has seen his stock rise considerably. His pace and ability to pick out a pass has teams salivating, despite his stick-like frame.

With Fulham on the cusp of a playoff spot, it’s possible that Sessegnon could see Premier League action next year without a move, but should the Whites miss out on promotion, there will be a summer of tension as the Championship club looks to keep hold of its young talent.

Liverpool seems the most sensible destination of the teams mentioned, as Jurgen Klopp has been searching for a long-term solution while James Milner continues to deputize on the defensive line. Still, the question remains whether Sessegnon is ready for a step up to higher competition. Two summers ago Fulham saw Patrick Roberts – another undersized youngster – leave for Manchester City, and while he remains a future option, he still has yet to make a serious impression on loan at Celtic. City has time for Roberts to develop, but Liverpool’s left-back situation calls for slightly more urgency.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino got an up-close look at Sessegnon during the 3-0 Spurs win over Fulham in FA Cup play a few weeks ago. Other teams mentioned as tracking the 16-year-old include Everton and Newcastle, with the latter looking set for the Premier League next season. Sessegnon would compete with 25-year-old Paul Dummett at Newcastle, while the Toffees could be looking for a long-term replacement to Everton mainstay Leighton Baines.

It would seem that, as it is with highly coveted playmaker Tom Cairney, Fulham’s best hope to keep hold of Sessegnon seems to be promotion, but if that doesn’t happen, the sharks will smell an opportunity to poach yet another talented youth product off Motspur Park.

Championship Focus: Awful week sees Newcastle’s lead disappear

Photo credit: Fulham FC / Twitter: @FulhamFC
Leave a comment

A week ago, Newcastle United sat atop England’s second division with a five-point lead and just 11 games still to play. Following a 0-0 draw away to Reading on Tuesday, and Brighton & Hove Albion’s 2-0 win away to last-place Rotherham United the same day, the Magpies’ advantage was three points.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

In short, Rafa Benitez‘s men looked poised to run away with the Championship title, let alone one of the two automatic promotion places.

Newcastle United 1-3 Fulham

Now, following a 3-1 thrashing at the hands of seventh-place Fulham on Saturday, only goal differential has Newcastle top of the league. Huddersfield Town, on the back of two wins this week, are now just six points back in the race for automatic promotion.

Tom Cairney put the visitors ahead on the quarter-hour mark, and then a star was born. 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon bagged a brace in eight second-half minutes (51st and 58th) to complete the Cottagers’ scoring, his third and fourth league goals of the season. Sessegnon was denied the chance to complete his hat trick, though, when Tim Ream took, and missed, a 91st-minute penalty kick.

[ MORE: Arsenal beat Lincoln to reach FA Cup semis | Man City also through ]

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Derby County

Brighton applied the pressure Friday night, well before Newcastle took the field a day later, brushing aside 10th-place Derby at Falmer Stadium. Anthony Knockaert opened the scoring in the fifth minute, and Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray completed the rout either side of the halftime break.

Following back-to-back losses last week, Brighton are back in the title race thanks to back-to-back wins this week. As ever, everything in the Championship is up and down like a yoyo.

Elsewhere in the Championship

(14th) Brentford 0-1 (3rd) Huddersfield Town
(4th) Leeds United 0-0 (15th) Queens Park Rangers
(8th) Preston North End 3-0 (5th) Reading
(12th) Aston Villa 2-0 (6th) Sheffield Wednesday