Championship: Brentford juggernaut continues as derbies bring late drama

Brentford’s Josh Dasilva showing the only way to stop team-mate Said Benrahma when he is in top form…

The reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers after the coronavirus lockdown saw 4 July dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ in some quarters.

Though the Championship season will continue to be played out without fans, we were treated to some good, some bad and some downright dour games from the comfort of our homes.

While seven of the 16 sides in action failed to trouble the scoreboard, there were thankfully some derbies with late drama, the battle of the last remaining perfect restart records and a couple of absolute thrashings to tell you about.

Benrahma keeps Bees buzzing

While leaders Leeds got back on track with victory at Blackburn, third-placed Brentford will just not go away.

On Saturday, the visitors to Griffin Park were Wigan – on one hand a club facing calls for an investigation into a recent takeover after going into administration this week, but also the only other side to win all three of their games since the resumption of the league.

No problem for Thomas Frank’s men. Much-admired forward Said Benrahma popped up with a hat-trick to swat aside the Latics, ending their nine-game unbeaten run and remarkable seven-match streak of clean sheets with minimal fuss.

“He’s been good and he now needs to keep it up – I would prefer three goals per match, that would make it a little bit easier,” said a very demanding Frank.

For Brentford, it is four wins from four since the Championship’s resumption – with an aggregate score of 9-0 – narrowing the gap to second-placed West Brom to two points before the Baggies host Hull on Sunday.

Mighty Meite shatters Hatters

It was the Yakou Meite show at Kenilworth Road as the Ivorian scored four goals to help Reading thrash bottom side Luton 5-0 for their first win since returning to action.

But Meite did not win every battle on Saturday, if his manager Mark Bowen is to be believed.

“He came to see me yesterday in my office, putting a case across for him to play more as a number nine and a central striker,” Bowen said.

“But I said to him I feel he can find more space in the wide areas and create more chances.

“He looked across at me in the changing room afterwards with a wry smile and a grin, so maybe I won that particular argument this time?”

For Luton, it was a first defeat since Nathan Jones’ return to the club and the Welshman has placed huge importance on their next fixtures.

“We’ve got to take points from two massive games coming up because if we don’t, our fate could be sealed,” he said.

Tyrese Campbell’s brace helped Stoke complete a league double over Barnsley for the first time since the 1957-58 campaign.

In fact the bottom two face being cut adrift as Barnsley were defeated 4-0 by relegation rivals Stoke.

The Tykes had kept three clean sheets in a row, while Michael O’Neill’s Potters had drawn blanks in their previous two, so to say this particular result was not on the cards would be an understatement.

Barnsley go to Luton on Tuesday, but whose backlash will be bigger?

Late derby drama brings a sacking

After several weeks of matches behind closed doors we knew that derby games would be a far cry from the norm.

However, both Derby’s grudge match against Nottingham Forest and Cardiff’s trip to Bristol City threatened to be incredibly subdued affairs until some late twists.

The Severnside derby seemed destined for a stalemate until Danny Ward’s 85th-minute goal strengthened Cardiff’s grip on sixth and left the Robins languishing nine points from the final play-off spot.

“All I can do is to continue working as hard as I can and making what I believe are decisions in the best interests of the club,” said City boss Lee Johnson after the game.

He was sacked by the Robins less than 90 minutes later.

Johnson cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines in what proved to be his final game in charge of Bristol City

In the East Midlands, Forest were dawdling towards a first league double over the Rams since 2010-11 – with Sabri Lamouchi set to become the first manager since Brian Clough to win three derbies in a row – before Chris Martin’s unexpected 97th-minute bundled equaliser.

It was Derby’s first goal in five league games against their rivals, after 53 shots in that period without success, and it all came despite Martyn Waghorn being sent off just minutes earlier.

Lamouchi’s assistant Bruno Baltazar was left to speak to the press after the game, saying: “It’s unacceptable that we lost these two points at this stage of the game. We need to work on this really quickly.”

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