Tommy Mc previews four matches in the Championship with bets headed by Birmingham to beat Wolves in Saturday lunchtime game in addition to Fulham, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
Birmingham v Wolves
Birmingham suffered their first defeat in five games last Saturday when Hull beat them 2-0 at the KC Stadium. Hull scored two goals in the space of two minutes towards the end of the first half and this was enough to seal the win. Despite this defeat it has been a good month or so for Gary Rowett's men as they had won all of their previous four games before Saturday, scoring seven goals in the process and conceding just one. The Blues were in 2nd spot before this game and are now down to 6th, however they are still only one point behind 2nd placed Hull and five behind leaders Brighton and a victory for them in this lunchtime kick off on Saturday will see them regain second and put pressure on both Hull and Brighton before the three o clock kick offs. Birmingham are also a good side and can be very difficult to beat at St Andrews.
Wolves suffered their third defeat in a row on Saturday when Middlesbrough beat them 3-1 at Molineux. Wanderers had taken a 22 minute lead in this game and looked to be heading for all three points until Boro’s class shone through as they scored three goals in the last 19 minutes to complete their comeback. Kenny Jackett's men have been on a poor run lately having conceded nine goals in their last three games and it is hard to know if they are a good enough side to be challenging for promotion this season. Maybe it is just a blip however they are now closer to the relegation places than they are to the play-off ones and the pressure will be starting to build on Jackett and his players after just three defeats from their first ten games they have now taken no points from the last nine available to them and this has to be worrying times for the Molineux faithful.
Like all derby games the form book goes out the window; however in this case I just can't see Wolves being good enough and with the run Birmingham have been on coupled with home advantage I think they will come out on top in this early kick off and regain 2nd place.
1.5 points win Birmingham to beat Wolves at 17/10 with Coral, William Hill and Bet365
Reading v Brighton
Reading were on the wrong end of a 4-2 score line last Saturday when Fulham beat them at Craven Cottage. The Royals were cruising at 2-0 in this game until Fulham hit them with three goals in six minutes early into the second half and then Moussa Dembele scored his second in the 74th minute to make the three points certain. Steve Clark would have been very disappointed with the way his players switched off at 2-0 thinking they had the game won however this was a lesson for them showing that in the Championship you can never be sure until the final whistle blows. Despite this defeat the Royals have been climbing the table steadily in recent weeks with four wins from their last six games and are now just two points outside the play-off places. They have also only lost once at home so far, a narrow 1-0 defeat to Derby and I think they could be the team to inflict Brighton's first defeat of the season on Saturday.
Brighton remain unbeaten after they played out a 0-0 draw with Preston at the Amex Stadium last Saturday. By all accounts this was an entertaining game however Preston defended very well and the Seagull's were unable to break them down. Brighton's impressive start to the season continues as they have eight wins and five draws to show from their first 13 games with no side yet able to beat them. However every game now will get harder and harder as every opponent will raise their performances against them and this has shown in their last six games where they have recorded two narrow wins against Leeds and Bristol City by a single goal and four of their five draws have come in this period as well against Preston, Cardiff, Bolton and Wolves. With no disrespect to these sides I think Reading are a stronger outfit and I think Brighton will be in for a tough afternoon on Saturday.
This will be no easy game for Reading with the run Brighton are on however the Seagull's have been scrapping by in recent weeks and Reading are hard to beat at the Madejski, so I fancy them to win and close the gap to four points between these two sides.
1 point win Reading to beat Brighton at 5/4 with William Hill
Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest
Sheffield Wednesday came out top in their Yorkshire derby last Friday night when they beat Rotherham 2-1 at the New York Stadium. The Owls scored two goals in the first five minutes of the second half to effectively end this as a contest with Rotherham scoring a consolation five minutes into added time. The Owls have now gone seven games unbeaten, winning four of them and are up to 9th just four points off a play-off spot. Carlos Carvalhal has got his side motoring in recent weeks as they have tightened up at the back and are also finding the net at the other end as well. This was evident on Tuesday night at Hillsborough when they booked their place in the Capitol One Cup quarter finals with a comprehensive 3-0 win over an Arsenal side which included Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Cech and Giroud. Wednesday are also strong at home with Middlesbrough the only team to beat them there so far.
Nottingham Forest snatched a point at Portman Road last Saturday when they drew 1-1 with Ipswich. Jonathan Parr scored what looked like the winner for Ipswich in the 74th minute however Liam Trotter popped up five minutes into added time to rescue a point for Forest. Despite this point Dougie Freedman's men are still in trouble as they are just four points above the drop zone and have not won any of their last six games, losing three and drawing three. The biggest problems for Forest this season is the transfer embargo they are currently under, selling star midfielder Michail Antonio to West Ham and the long term injury to their top striker Britt Assombalonga which all combined are making things tough at the County Ground. I think Forest will do well to stay up this year especially if they get more injuries as their squad is not the biggest and pressure will also be building on Freedman as the weeks go on.
Sheffield Wednesday have been playing very well in recent weeks and their confidence has to be high after their defeat of joint top Premier League leaders Arsenal in mid-week, so I think they will be too strong for this struggling Forest side at Hillsborough on Saturday.
1 point win Sheffield Wednesday to beat Nottingham Forest at 6/5 with William Hill
Bristol City v Fulham
Fulham made it four games unbeaten on Saturday when they beat Reading 4-2 at Craven Cottage. Three goals in six second half minutes was enough to rattle Reading and another in the 74th minute made the comeback complete. Kit Symon's men have been making a bit of progress this last month or so which including a 4-0 hammering of local rivals QPR at Craven Cottage means they have only lost one of their last six games. Fulham have also now moved into the top half of the table and are seven points off the play-off places. Kit Symon's has a good squad at his disposal and I think the Cottagers are ready to build some momentum now after that impressive comeback against an inform Reading side last Saturday and I wouldn't be surprised now if they go on a bit of a run with four of their next six games coming up against Bristol City, Preston, MK Dons and Nottingham Forest.
Bristol City picked up a good point last Saturday when their game with Cardiff finished 0-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium. By all accounts the Robins were somewhat lucky to come away with a draw after Cardiff had spurned a whole host of chances. This draw still leaves Steve Cotterill’s men in a very perilous position as they are 5th from bottom and just one point above the drop zone. City have struggled so far on their return to the Championship as they have only won two of their opening 13 games with five draws and six defeats from the other 11 and it remains to be seen if they are good enough to stay in this division as I don't think they are. Home form is imperative to staying in any league and at Ashton Gate in their six home games so far they have already lost three and won just once which does not bode well for their survival hopes.
Like I said I fancy Fulham to go on a bit of a run and I think that will start at Ashton Gate on Saturday as City are poor at home and the Cottagers should be too strong for them, so the away win looks a good option.
1 point win Fulham to beat Bristol City at 3/1 with Coral and Bet365