The eighth round of Championship matches saw outstanding goals, unforgettable debuts and a timely return to form.
Will Hughes’ wonder-strike ruined by rejuvenated Royal
Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak showed the old ‘form is temporary...’ mantra in all its glory yesterday, as his first goals since January inspired the Royals to a 3-1 victory away to an unlucky Derby County.
The away team had goalkeeper Alex McCarthy to thank for some fine saves, as time and again he thwarted the Rams. And while Will Hughes curled in an absolute peach of a shot to halve the deficit on 80 minutes, it would prove to be in vain.
Pogrebnyak took advantage of some poor defending to prod Reading ahead, while his second, following good work down the wing from Garath McCleary, was perfectly executed. A late third from Nick Blackman following a breakaway gave Nigel Adkins’ side all three points, and left Derby wondering what might have been.
Lingard lights up St Andrews
I have seen some pretty impressive debuts in my time, but nothing compares to Jesse Lingard’s first appearance since his loan move to Birmingham City. The Manchester United midfielder single-handedly tore Sheffield Wednesday to shreds, scoring all four goals in a 4-1 win, and giving Blues fans renewed hope for the campaign to come.
He has initially signed for one month, but expect Lee Clark to do everything in his power to keep the 20-year-old for considerably longer than that.
Lingard’s third was an absolute peach, as he struck it with venom and accuracy into the far corner. But in truth all four efforts spoke of a young man with supreme confidence.
(Re)introducing Federico Macheda
While one United loanee was staking a claim for more chances at Old Trafford, another was rediscovering the goal-scoring form that once prompted him to be hailed as the next big thing. While Lingard certainly has a future at United, Federico Macheda does not. Now in the last year of his contract, the Italian has already made it clear he wishes to move on.
And if he is looking for another club in England they would have taken notice yesterday, as his brace inspired Doncaster to a 2-2 draw against a Nottingham Forest side that have faltered somewhat in recent weeks.
Macheda’s goals may have been relatively easy, but he was there to supply the finishing touch on both occassions. And his run and composure for the first goal, and positioning for the second, showcased a striker whose career may just be starting.
Leicester and Blackpool fight to the very end
This was a match between the season’s surprise package and the team who invariably fall short. And while Leicester can feel hard done by not to come away with all three points, Blackpool deserve the plaudits for fighting until the very last kick.
Having not dropped a point – or conceded a goal – at home all season, Blackpool looked to be carrying on in the same vein when they took a 19th-minute lead through Chris Basham. But a penalty from Paul Konchesky, and a truly outstanding volley from outside the area by Andy King, appeared to have given Nigel Pearson’s side the points.
That was until Kasper Schmeichel’s inexplicable decision to rush from his goal and clatter into Gary Mackenzie, leaving Tom Ince to be the saviour once more, calmly slotting home an injury-time penalty.
image: © markhillary