Round 18 of the Sky Bet Championship fixtures offered plenty to digest.

Heartbreak, upsets, bouncebackability, are some of the prominent themes running through the installment as we pick our Winners and Losers.

Ipswich Town

The mechanical fault that was last Saturday’s defeat at West Brom was quickly fixed and the Tractor Boys were back on the road on Wednesday night, in good nick and chugging along nicely.

Ipswich Town responded to the setback against the Baggies by beating Millwall 3-1 at Portman Road to consolidate second place while closing the gap to Leicester City to one point.

Yep, Kieran McKenna’s men have bouncebackability, that priceless quality that stands clubs in good stead in the promotion race.

Ipswich continue to confound the doubters who have been waiting for them to capitulate and drop down to what critics believe is the Championship new-boys’ rightful station in the table.

After all, the standard script says beginner’s luck runs out eventually. Yet, there is something to be admired about Ipswich’s defiant spirit and their refusal to conform to type. They have demonstrated this unerring habit of making detractors choke on their predictions.

McKenna’s men will ride the crest of a wave until that wave collapses. So far they have proved they have the wherewithal to jump from one crest to the next.

Leeds United

After being elbowed out of third place by West Brom on Tuesday night without kicking a ball, Leeds United needed to respond when Swansea City visited Elland Road. And they did, but not before causing their fans considerable consternation.

The hosts got off to the worst possible start by conceding inside the opening minute. To their credit, the Whites hit back three minutes later to restore parity.

Trust the football gods to create a sense of occasion and drama. The scorer was none other than Joel Piroe, a summer arrival from Swansea City, reminding all and sundry that the Swans’ loss is Leeds United’s gain.

Further goals from Georginio Rutter and Dan James sealed the points as Daniel Farke’s men continue their purposeful march up the table.


Just like Leeds United, Southampton found themselves pushed down the table, leapfrogged by West Brom after Tuesday night’s fixtures.

Like Leeds United, the Saints responded by edging Bristol City 1-0 at St Mary’s. The margin of victory was secondary to the result, with three points catapulting Southampton back into fourth place.

West Brom

For 24 hours, taking advantage of Leeds United and Southampton’s inactivity, West Brom moved into third place after beating Cardiff 1-0.

The Baggies couldn’t do any more than win their match. They may have dropped down to fifth after both Leeds United and Southampton won their respective fixtures 24 hours later, but West Brom have firmly inserted themselves into the play-off equation.

Queens Park Rangers

They are still in the relegation zone, but Queens Park Rangers’ 4-2 win over Stoke City will do their confidence the world of good. It lifted the Hoops one place up the table and within six points of safety.

It’s important that teams in the relegation zone stay within touching distance of the safety spots if they want to give themselves a fighting chance.

Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town’s 2-1 win at Sunderland was important for a couple of reasons, not least because it put a six point buffer between the Terriers and the final relegation spot.

There had been signs of slight  improvement in Huddersfield’s form in recent week as evidenced by two draws in three matches leading to the trip to the Stadium of Light. The win over the Black Cats will give the Terriers confidence that they can turn their season around and steer clear of the relegation zone.

Hull City

Hull City, consistent all season without being spectacular, thrashed hapless Rotherham 4-0 to move into the play-off positions.

Is that as good as it gets for the Tigers? Time will tell.


Leicester City

The top-versus-bottom clash was supposed to see the Championship table-toppers add an easy three points to their tally while pushing Sheffield Wednesday deeper into the relegation quagmire.

That prediction held true until the Owls grabbed a dramatic injury-time equalizer to cancel out the Foxes’ first-half opener.

The costly draw leaves Leicester now feeling Ipswich’s warm breath on their necks as the Tractor Boys continue to pursue the Foxes.

Enzo Maresca’s men have dropped eight points in their last five games. That run of form falls into the category of a mini wobble. The clear and present evidence of fallibility will give the chasing pack some encouragement that Leicester City can be caught.

Preston North End

The 4-0 chastening defeat at Middlesbrough made it two back-to-back defeats for Preston and their third in five games.

The mini slump is why Preston, one of the surprise packages of the early season, are now out of the play-off positions.

Birmingham City

Birmingham City found themselves at the receiving end of a 3-2 defeat at Blackburn Rovers as the 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday four days earlier to give Wayne Rooney his first win as the Blues head coach proved to be a false dawn.

It’s back to the drawing board for Rooney, who has overseen a meagre return of four points from a possible 21 since taking over the managerial reins at St Andrew’s last month.

The pressure is definitely mounting on the former Manchester United star and scrutiny on his tenure is set to intensify.


Given the two side’s contrasting fortunes this term, Huddersfield Town’s defeat of Sunderland was an upset.

If Sunderland have play-off ambitions then these are the kind of fixtures they should be winning – no disrespect to Huddersfield, who have been out of sorts all season.


Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday were staring down the barrel of a soul-destroying fourth defeat on the bounce until they grabbed a dramatic injury-time equalizer against league leaders Leicester City.

They will take heart from the gallant effort against the Foxes, although the point earned did little to alter their desperate situation in the league. The Owls remain rooted at the foot of the table, 12 points adrift of safety.

It will take a gargantuan effort to pull off a Houdini-esque escape from the relegation trapdoor.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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