After a short breather due to the international break, the SkyBet Championship returned with a full weekend of fixtures, Reading’s 5-1 hammering of Ipswich and Fulham’s narrow 2-1 victory over Blackburn the only games not to feature on the Saturday. There were 37 goals scored over the weekend, with the first Championship hat-tricks of the season falling to Orlando Sa of Reading and Clayton Donaldson of Birmingham City, and at least 1 goal being scored in each of the 12 fixtures. I mull over the stats to see who impressed the statisticians at whoscored.com.
Gameweek 6 Results
Friday 11th September 2015
20:00 Reading 5-1 Ipswich / Orlando Sa (7,13,63), N.Blackman (49), O.Norwood (87) – F.Sears (11)
Saturday 12th September 2015
12:30 QPR 1-2 Nottingham Forest / C.Austin (65) – H.Lansbury (pen 75), N.Oliveira (82)
15:00 Birmingham 4-2 Bristol City / C.Donaldson (10,20,pen 41). J.Grounds (77) – J.Kodjia (32,66)
15:00 Bolton 2-1 Wolves / L.Feeney (17), Z.Clough (pen 45+1) – B.Afobe (pen 68)
15:00 Brighton 1-0 QPR / T.Hemed (5)
15:00 Burnley 3-1 Sheffield Wednesday / D.Jones (7), M.Taylor (78), A.Gray (90+1) – A.Nuhiu (20)
15:00 Cardiff City 2-0 Huddersfield / A.Pilkington (69), J.Mason (77)
15:00 Charlton 1-1 Rotherham / P.Bauer (65) – F.Rawson (38)
15:00 Leeds 1-1 Brentford / M.Antenucci (76) – M.Djuricin (29)
15:00 Middlesbrough 2-0 Milton Keynes Dons / S.Downing (70), D.Nugent (81)
15:00 Preston 1-2 Derby / D.Johnson (90+13) – C.Martin (23,36)
Sunday 13th September 2015
12:00 Fulham 2-1 Blackburn / R.McCormack (4), M.Dembele (30) – J.Rhodes (pen 68)
Game of the Week: Fulham 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
Venue: Craven Cottage
Referee: Tony Harrington
Man of the Match: Moussa Dembele
Although not the highest scoring game of the weekend this fixture was packed full of chances and was a real end-to-end encounter in which Fulham will be counting their blessings to have escaped with all three points. Playing at home Fulham came flying out of the blocks and when Moussa Dembele found Ross McCormack 8 yards from goal he had no problems in slotting in the opener with the game just 4 minutes old. Blackburn had a chance to equalise not long after when Nathan Delfouneso was set through on goal but Andy Lonergan got down well to deny the Blackburn frontman. The two sides exchanged efforts again with Ross McCormack’s effort missing low to the right whilst Marshall crafted some space at the other end before missing the left hand side of the net. Fulham doubled their lead in the 30th minute when Ryan Tunnicliffe’s back post header was well saved by Jason Steele, who also denied Tom Cairney with an athletic double save before Moussa Dembele stepped up to blast the ball home into the roof of the net. Blackburn had another chance to get into the game just before halftime when Corry Evans’ cross found the head of Ben Marshall, but another smart save from Lonergan sent the Cottagers in 2-0 up at the break. It was Blackburn who started the second half on top, and they went within the width of the post to scoring when Jordan Rhodes’ sliding effort hit the upright. Rhodes had another chance to get Blackburn back into the game when Bengali-Foda Koita’s 52nd minute cross found the head of the Scotsman, but Rhodes failed to gauge the power of his effort and the ball sailed harmlessly over. A dodgy clearance from Lonergan found Danny Guthrie in the 61st minute who found an unmarked Craig Conway on the left flank but cutting in from the right his effort was beaten away by Lonergan. Blackburn and Rhodes finally got their goal when James Husband brought down the striker inside the penalty box, Rhodes slotting the penalty into the bottom left corner to open his account for the season, 2-1 and game on. It was in the 84th minute when Blackburn were desperately unlucky to not have an equaliser when a Fulham clearance rebounded off of Grant Hanley and appeared to cross the line but the officials were unmoved, much to the frustration of Gary Bowyer. There was more despair for Blackburn when Koita’s 90th minute effort smashed the post with Fulham hacking clear but very much living on the edge. The game ended as it started with the teams exchanging counter attacks, firstly Dembele doing well to beat a defender before drawing a save from Steele, whilst Koita’s low drive across goal was just shy of finding Jordan Rhodes at the other end. A thrilling encounter at Craven Cottage which saw the home side run out as 2-1 winners with Blackburn left frustrated and empty handed having had 23 shots with just 1 goal to show for it.
Fulham substitutions: 62′ ON Ryan Fredericks – OFF Ben Pringle, 89′ ON Dan Burn – OFF James Husband.
Blackburn substitutions: 46′ ON Bengali-Foda Koita – OFF Nathan Delfouneso 83′ ON Hope Akpan – OFF Corry Evans, 90′ ON Tom Lawrence – OFF Craig Conway.
Goalscorers: Ross McCormack (4), Moussa Dembele (30) – Jordan Rhodes (pen 68)
Assists: Moussa Dembele (4)
Yellow Cards: Jamie O’Hara (76) – Jordan Rhodes (43), Adam Henley (70), Bengali-Foda Koita (70), Shane Duffy (77)
FULHAM: Andy Lonergan 8.3, Jazz Richards 7.2, Tim Ream 6.6, Richard Stearman 6.9, James Husband 6.7, Tom Cairney 7.2, Ryan Tunnicliffe 6.8, Jamie O’Hara 6.8, Ben Pringle 7, Ross McCormack 7.7, Moussa Dembele 9.1, Dan Burn 6.1, Ryan Fredericks 5.8
BLACKBURN: Jason Steele 7.4, Adam Henley 6.1, Grant Hanley 6.3, Shane Duffy 6.9, Tommy Spurr 6.2, Ben Marshall 6.6, Danny Guthrie 6.3, Corry Evans 6.4, Craig Conway 7.8, Nathan Delfouneso 6.3, Jordan Rhodes 7.4, Bengali-Foda Koita 6.9, Hope Akpan 6.1, Tom Lawrence 6.2
Team Performance of the Week: Reading (5-1 vs Ipswich)
Reading may not have enjoyed the majority of possession in this game but their efficiency going forward, especially on the counter, blew Ipswich out of the park as they triumphed as 5-1 winners. Orlando Sa was the pick of the bunch for Reading and when he scored 2 goals inside 13 minutes he took the game away from Ipswich depsite a Freddie Sears equaliser in the 11th minute. Blackman assisted Sa’s first goal and his powerful effort in the 49th minute put Reading into a 3-1 lead, increasing to 4-1 soon after when Blackman coasted past the left-back to tee up Orlando Sa for his hat-trick. Oliver Norwood hit a stunning strike from range in the 87th minute which nestled in the top left corner or Dean Gerken’s goal to put Reading 5-1 up and ensure they finished as comfortable winners. As previously mentioned it was Reading’s efficiency going forward which won them this game as they converted 50% of their shots whilst scoring 5 of their 6 shots on target. Reading’s counter attacking play was something to admire as they soaked up the Ipswich pressure with 28 interceptions and 69% tackle success to hit them on the break on a number of occasions, completing 43% of dribbles and 65% of passes in the final third, to take the game away from Ipswich. Steve Clarke’s side completed 62% of their passes but made it tricky for Ipswich to win the ball back only being dispossessed 9 times whilst winning 55% of aerial duels, suggesting that the Tractor Boys were out-duelled on the day. Orlando Sa and Nick Blackman will nab the headlines for this game but the midfield trio of Aaron Tshibola, Oliver Norwood and Stephen Quinn should be praised highly as they broke down Ipswich attacks and ignited their own consistently. Before the game Reading hadn’t scored at home since April and Steve Clarke will be over the moon that his team are finally cashing in on their 16 shots per game average as their relatively low 7 shots conceded per game gives them the potential to be a promotion challenging outfit.
Goalscorers: Orlando Sa (7,13,63), Nick Blackman (49), Oliver Norwood (87)
Assists: Nick Blackman (7,63), Matej Vydra (13), Lucas Piazon (87)
Reading substitutions: 77‘ ON Lucas Piazon – OFF Matej Vydra, 78‘ ON Ola John – OFF Nick Blackman, 82′ ON Hal Robson-Kanu – OFF Orlando Sa.
Reading Player Ratings vs Ipswich Town
Jonathan Bond – 6.5, Chris Gunter – 6.4, Paul McShane – 7.8, Anton Ferdinand – 7, Jordan Obita – 7.1, Aaron Tshibola – 8.5, Oliver Norwood – 8.5, Stephen Quinn – 7.4, Nick Blackman – 9, Orlando Sa – 9.7, Matej Vydra – 6.8, Lucas Piazon – 6.4, Ola John – 6.2, Hal Robson-Kanu – 6.1
Readings’s Top 3 Performers
Orlando Sa – 9.7: The Portuguese striker has been mentioned tirelessly in this article, but rightfully so as he scored the first Championship hat-trick of the season to guide Reading home with all 3 points. The area of this game which he impressed in was no doubt his efficiency in front of goal with 100% of his 3 shots not only finding the target but also finding the back of the net. A 9.7 rating perfectly represents how unplayable Orlanda Sa was in this match.
Nick Blackman – 9: Although Reading’s top scorer before the match Nick Blackman had a point to prove with new signings flooding in throughout the transfer window and prove his point is exactly what he did. Blackman’s tricky footwork and attacking willingness made him a constant nightmare for the Ipswich Town defence as he had an assist on the board just 7 minutes in. Blackman was substituted in the 78th minute for Ola John but his powerful strike into the roof of the net as well as his assist for Sa’s hat-trick meant he finished the night with 2 assists and 1 goal (60% involvement in team goals). If Blackman continues to perform like he has been you can’t see Steve Clarke dropping him any time soon as he sits 2nd in Reading’s average player ratings (7.21) behind Paul McShane (7.25) and Oliver Norwood (7.44).
Aaron Tshibola – 8.5: The 20 year old midfielder signed a new 4-year deal with the club last week and this news will be music to the fans’ ears after watching his performance vs Ipswich. Having progressed through the clubs academy ranks Tshibola showed no signs of lacking confidence but instead displayed a mature performance breaking up the Ipswich play with strength and power. The midfielder made 5 tackles, 6 interceptions and won 6 aerial duels in this game highlighting how difficult the Ipswich players were finding it when confronted by him. 0 unsuccessful touches and a 73% pass success also portrays how comfortable Tshibola was in possession of the ball as well as linking up with fellow midfielders when putting his side on the front foot. Tshibola has fierce competition for a centre-midfield spot at the club with USA international Danny Williams the man likely to start ahead of him in the future but this 8.5 rated performance will have given Steve Clarke a lot to consider.
Reading stats vs Ipswich Town
Top Individual Peformances of the Week
Goalkeeper – Lee Camp (Rotherham)
The Rotherham keeper was player of the match in their unlikely draw against Charlton on Saturday as he made 7 saves and 5 claims to reduce the home side to just the 1 goal. Charlton had 21 efforts on the day, this highlighting how pivotal Camp was in the 1-1 draw as he made several smart stops to keep his side in the game. Although Charlton found the net in the 65th minute there was little Camp could have done about Patrick Bauer’s point blank effort and was deservedly the games highest rated player with 8.6.
Defender – Jonathan Grounds (Birmingham)
Although not the player of the match vs Bristol City on Saturday, Grounds’ 76th minute goal meant he was the highest rated Championship defender over the weekend. Birmingham didn’t managed to keep a clean sheet but Grounds had a decent defensive performance winning 6 aerial duels and 5 interceptions. Following the Bristol City game Grounds became Birmingham’s second highest average rated player at 7.53 whilst also being their most efficient tackler with 3.4 tackles per game. The left-back’s 76th minute strike was his first league goal for the Midlands club and a match rating of 8.5 was probably reflective of his performance.
Midfielder – Nick Blackman (Reading)
The Reading wide man claimed midfielder of the weekend for a second consecutive week as his blistering performance, including 1 goal and 2 assists, earned him a match rating of 9. Blackman was a non-stop threat down the flanks creating 2 goals for Orlando Sa whilst also claiming one for himself when he got the better of the Ipswich right-back before burying the ball into the roof of the net. Blackman has been a pivotal player in Reading’s side this season playing a part in 6 of the 10 team goals, scoring 4 of them himself. Although missing out on man-of-the-match to Orlando Sa, Blackman’s rating of 9 takes him to an average rating of 7.2 for the season whilst he averages a league goal every 89 minutes.
Striker – Orlando Sa (Reading)
Man-of-the-match, player of the week, Orlando Sa was almost unplayable against Ipswich on Friday as he netted 3 goals in 3 shots at a conversion rate of 100% to take his tally for the season to 4. It wasn’t just his efficiency in front of goal which impressed statistically as the Portuguese forward also completed 100% of through ball attempts, 100% of long ball attempts and 70% of his passes on the night, making his link up play something to marvel at. Overall Orlando Sa’s 9.7 rated performance made him the best player in the Championship this weekend and will look to press on against Derby on Tuesday.
Striker – Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham)
The performance of Clayton Donaldson could not go unmentioned this week as he opened his 2015/16 league account with a first half hat-trick to ensure Birmingham would run out 4-2 winners against Bristol City. On the day 57% of Donaldson’s shots found the target whilst 43% found the back of the net as Bristol City seemed helpless to prevent his 41 minute hat-trick. His performance vs Bristol City means he has been involved in 64% of Birmingham’s goals this season whilst his 9.1 rating makes him the second highest average rating in the Championship (7.64) trailing to Curtis Davies (7.79).
How It Stands…
*standings were sourced from flashscores.co.uk