Tommy Mc previews 4 matches in the Skybet Championship this weekend and he goes for Leeds to beat Rotherham, Notts Forest to beat Brentford, Birmingham to beat Charlton and Preston to draw with Blackburn.
Leeds v Rotherham
Leeds made it two wins in a row before the international break with an impressive 3-0 win over Huddersfield at the John Smith's Stadium. Leeds scored two goals in two minutes at the end of the first half before Alex Mowatt got the third in the 54th minute to seal the win. Steve Evans became Leeds's 6th manger in a year and a half when he was appointed in October and judging by the last two performances he looks to be starting to make his mark on the team with back to back wins and two consecutive clean sheets. United have now pulled themselves six points clear of the relegation places and another few wins would see them entering the play-off mix. Evans also looks to have a good young midfielder on his hands in the shape of Alex Mowatt who has scored in the last two games with two impressive performances and combined with Chris Wood and Mirco Antenucci, Evans has the fire power and talent to take Leeds into the promotion picture.
Rotherham suffered their 4th consecutive defeat before the break when Ipswich beat them 5-2 at the New York Stadium. Ipswich were 3-0 up at half time and then 4-0 up three minutes into the second half before the Millers got two back, however any chance of a comeback was over when Daryl Murphy completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute. I'm sure Neil Redfearn new that turning around Rotherham's fortunes was not going to be easy however I wonder did he think it was going to be this hard as he has only managed to accumulate one point in his six games in charge so far. The Millers are routed to the bottom of the Championship and are five points from safety with 11 defeats already from their 16 games played and it really looks like they don't have the quality especially at the back where they have conceded 14 goals in these six games also. I really don't know what Redfearn can do as there will little funds available in January to strengthen the squad.
Steve Evans left Rotherham before taking over at Leeds and I think he will heap even more misery on his former side on Saturday in this Yorkshire derby, as his Leeds side are on the up and the Millers seem to be stuck in reverse. Leeds should be good value for the home win.
1.5 points win Leeds to beat Rotherham at 20/23 with Coral and Boylesports
Birmingham v Charlton
Birmingham got their first win in four before the break when they eased passed Fulham at Craven Cottage with a 5-2 victory. The Blues were 3-0 up by half-time and the sending off of James Husband at the start of the second half meant there was no way back for the Cottagers as Birmingham never looked in danger. Birmingham had been going through a mini slump and I thought they might have been vulnerable in this game however this demolition of Fulham, especially in the first half looks to have them back on track. Another positive for the Blues was Clayton Donaldson scoring his first goal in seven games after a dry run, as he will be crucial to Birmingham's hopes of promotion this year. Birmingham have reclaimed 6th place and have opened up a three point cushion over nearest rivals Cardiff and I think they will be determined to win this game with difficult fixtures coming up against Brighton and Middlesbrough in the next few weeks.
Charlton picked up only their third win of the season before the break with a surprise 3-1 win over high flying Sheffield Wednesday at the Valley. Fernando Forestieri scored a consolation for Wednesday in the 73rd minute however the game was well over as a contest by that stage. Interim manager Karel Fraeye finally gave the Charlton fans something to shout about with this victory after they had gone 13 games without a win, losing ten and drawing the other three. The Addicks are still in the bottom three however this win has pulled them to within a point of 4th bottom MK Dons. I'm not even sure if the Charlton fans would have seen this win coming with the form Wednesday are in and the woeful run they have been on and I think all it has done is paper over the cracks and prove the unpredictability of this division. There is still a major job to be done at Charlton to prevent relegation as they have the joint second worst defence and find it hard to score at times.
I know Charlton would have been given a lift with the win over the Owls however I think they will struggle again at St Andrews on Saturday as Birmingham came back with a bang against Fulham and I think they will have just too much quality for the Addicks.
1 point win Birmingham to beat Charlton at 4/5 with Coral, Betfred and William Hill
Brentford v Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest gave themselves a boost before the break with a 1-0 win over midlands rivals Derby at the County Ground. Nelson Oliviera opened the scoring after just five minutes and this turned out to be the winner as Derby with all their fire power could not break down the Forest defences. This was Forest's first win in nine games as Dougie Freedman's side have had a difficult start to the season and I know most sides will lift themselves for a derby game however Forest did look a lot better and have a bit of quality there to build on this win and go on a bit of a run to pull themselves away from trouble and if they win on Saturday they have two home games in a row against struggling Reading and Fulham which are very winnable. I think Forest might have turned a corner after their derby win and should be confident going into this Brentford game as they are more than capable of winning it.
Brentford picked up a point away to Blackburn before the break when their game finished 1-1 at Ewood Park. The Bees had taken a 1-0 lead after 24 minutes however Tom Lawrence equalised for Rovers before half-time as both teams had to settle for a point. Lee Carsley has been put in caretaker charge of Brentford until the end of the season and in his eight games in charge so far he has won four, lost three and drawn one. His record is not too bad however those four wins came in a row and they have only managed one point from their last two games as the honeymoon period might be coming to an end after the initial boost a new manager normally gives. Brentford can be also hard to predict as a lot of the players that previous manager Marinus Dijkhuizen brought to the club in the summer weren't performing for him and it remains to be seen if they keep performing for Carsley.
This will more than likely be a close game with both sides evenly enough matched however I do think that Forest will sneak it by the odd goal as I fancy them to go on a run now and I think that is going to start on Saturday.
1 point win Nottingham Forest to beat Brentford at 23/10 with Bet365
Preston v Blackburn-Draw
Preston picked up another good point on the road before the break when they drew 0-0 with QPR at Loftus Road. North End put up a stubborn display as the Rs tried their best to break the deadlock in the first half and eventually ran out of steam in the second. Simon Grayson has seen a big improvement in his side this last two months and they are now six games unbeaten and have kept six consecutive clean sheets as they have pulled themselves four points clear of the relegation places. The only real negative and concern for Grayson is the fact that they failed to hit the net in four of these games and that is an area he will be determined to address, however I think it will be more of the same from Preston tomorrow, hard to break down and very organised as they entertain Rovers at Deepdale.
Blackburn played out a 1-1 draw with Brentford before the international break at Ewood Park. Both of these goals came in the first half in what was by all accounts a very entertaining game. This result was the final straw for the Rovers board after just one win in their last six games; they sacked Gary Bowyer during the international break and wasted no time in replacing him with ex-Norwich and Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert. Lambert has been out of the game since he was sacked by Villa last February and he will be hoping to have the same kind of success with Rovers in the Championship as he did with Norwich when he guided them to the Premier League in the 2010/11 season. Rovers have been disappointing so far this season with only three wins however they have drawn eight and have a decent squad so Lambert has plenty to work with and will be confident he can get them climbing the table.
Both of these sides are beside each other in the league and have identical records W3D8L5 and I don't think they will be separated on Saturday as Lambert would take a point in his first game in charge and Preston are becoming somewhat of a draw specialist, so this looks like it has draw written all over it.
1 point win Preston v Blackburn-Draw at 9/4 with Bet365 and BetVictor