The 2019/20 Championship season remains firmly in the balance as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Scottish Championship was officially abandoned this week following a vote among clubs, and fans now fear the same fate will befall its English counterpart. There is no end in sight to the coronavirus lockdown, so fans are left to reflect on the campaign so far. These are the best and worst moments of the 2019/20 Championship season:
Ayling Bangs in a Screamer
Leeds full-back Luke Ayling delivered a sublime flying volley to open the scoring in a big derby against Huddersfield on March 7. He ghosted into the box unmarked, soared through the air and caught Jack Harrison’s cross with one of the sweetest volleys you will ever see. It flew in off the underside of the bar and Leeds were 1-0 up in just three minutes. They went on to win the game 2-0 and leapfrog West Brom at the top of the table. The strike came as no surprise to Stuart Dallas, who revealed his teammate had pulled off the exact same trick in training the day before. Leeds remain favourites for promotion in the exciting football markets, but it remains to be seen if the season will be concluded.
Rooney Braves a Panenka
Former England captain Wayne Rooney made his Championship debut in January and led his team to a 2-1 victory. A player of his quality rarely appears in the second tier of English football, and fans have been treated to many glimpses of the talent that helped him become Man Utd’s record goalscorer. His finest moment came in a 1-1 draw with promotion chasing Fulham in February, when he tucked in his first ever Panenka penalty. It was Rooney’s 500th career game in English football and he marked the occasion with a truly audacious strike to earn his team a share of the spoils.
Pereira Delivers a Masterclass
Matheus Pereira has been a revelation since joining West Brom on loan from Sporting Lisbon for the 2019/20 campaign. He leads the league for assists, and he is up there with the likes of Ollie Watkins and Aleksandar Mitrovic in the running for Player of the Season. His talents were showcased perfectly in the Baggies’ 4-2 victory over Cardiff back in October. He ran the Bluebirds ragged, curled in a left-footed effort past Alex Smithies and looked dangerous throughout. Yet Cardiff staged a late rally and made it 3-2 when an 87th minute strike from Danny Ward. It teed up a nervous finish for West Brom fans, but then Pereira put the ball on a plate for Romaine Sawyers to wrap up victory. That moment summed up his season.
Hull Snatch Last Gasp Draw
Hull and Swansea delivered the game of the season when they met at the KCOM Stadium on Valentine’s Day. Leo da Silva Lopes’ early opener was quickly cancelled out by Wayne Routledge, and it was 1-1 at the break. The game then exploded into life in the second half, as Marcus Maddison put the hosts 2-1 up, only for Kyle Naughton to pull Swansea level. Mallick Wilks put Hull ahead for the third time in this remarkable see-saw clash, but Swansea hit back again through Jordon Garrick. The Swans then took the lead for the first time when on-loan Liverpool striker crashed in their fourth goal. They looked certain to leave with all three points, but a 95th minute strike from Tom Eaves saw Hull snatch a share of the spoils.
Raya Nutmegged from the Halfway Line
Brentford were 2-0 up and cruising when Hull defender Ryan Tafazolli hit an aimless long ball from the halfway line. It drifted towards Bees goalkeeper David Raya, but instead of easily bringing it under control, he let the ball slip through his legs and into the net. Yet it did not cost Brentford, as they went on to beat Hull 5-1, with Said Benrahma scoring a hat-trick. The teams met again three weeks later, and once again Brentford won 5-1, with Benrahma firing in another hat-trick.
A Howler of the Highest Order from Casilla
Leeds fans called on Marcelo Bielsa to drop goalkeeper Kiko Casilla after he inexplicably allowed the ball to loop over his head from a corner in a 1-0 defeat to Wigan in early February. Yet the manager stuck with Casilla, only for him to deliver an even greater howler in the following game, which saw Leeds visit Brentford. Liam Cooper played the ball to him, with no pressure whatsoever, but Casilla somehow failed to control it. The ball fell straight into the path of Benrahma, who gobbled up the chance to earn the Bees a 1-1 draw.
Miss of the Season from Hugill
Wigan forward Jordan Hugill produced the miss of the season when QPR took on Wigan at the start of the season. He was a yard out, the net was empty and the goalkeeper was totally helpless, but Hugill somehow blazed it over. It was painful to watch, but Hugill made amends by eventually scoring in a 3-1 win.