Championship Round-Up: PFA TOTY; Redknapp’s first game in charge; Fulham to be feared?

No feel good factor for Redknapp.

There was to be no new manager bump for Birmingham City, as Harry Redknapp saw his new team lose 1-0 against city rivals Aston Villa at Villa Park.

It’s a fixture that has regularly been played in the Premier League over the last decade and a half, and it’s perhaps fitting that Gabby Agbonlahor was the scorer. Now in his twelfth season for the club, he’s played in his fair share of Second City derbies, and his goal on Sunday was his 5th overall against the blue side of town.

Agbonlahor is now 30, and it was a goal that rolled back the years as he turned sharply in the Birmingham penalty area before firing past Tomasz Kuszczak.

Steve Bruce has used him mainly as an impact sub this season, and it’s been over a year since he’s found the net, making this one especially sweet.

It’s been a topsy turvy season for Villa, in their first season outside of the top flight for 28 years leaving them comfortably in mid-table, but for Birmingham the defeat firmly keeps them in the mire. Redknapp was parachuted in with three games to go, and their remaining two fixtures are against Huddersfield at home followed by Bristol City away.

Race for the play-offs

With two games to go, only Brighton and Newcastle are mathematically assured of a spot in the play-offs. Third placed Reading lost at 3-2 at Nottingham Forest which all but ended their automatic promotion hopes.

The Fulham charge continued as they sent fellow play-off hopefuls, Huddersfield Town, a message as they dismantled them 4-1 at Huddersfield. Fulham have been free-scoring of late, and will probably be the side that nobody wants to come up against in the semi-final.

Their midfielder Tom Cairney said to GetWestLondon:

“We’re the highest scorers in the league and I think people will fear us.

“We play expansive football and sometimes get caught out but that is what has got us in this position and I don’t think that will change.

“Everyone says every season that there is always one that makes a late charge and goes into the playoffs and hopefully that is us.”

Championship Team of the Year

The PFA Championship Team of the Year was announced last week. Unsurprisingly, the team featured four players from Brighton and Hove Albion. It is telling that three of their exceptional backline were included. Goalkeeper David Stockdale, right-back Bruno Salter and centre-back Lewis Dunk all got the nod.

Their defensive unit has been an integral part of Brighton’s success this season, and manager Chris Hughton will no doubt be depending on them when they face off against potent Premier League attackers next season.

The full team

Goalkeeper – David Stockdale (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Defender – Bruno Saltor (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Defender – Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Defender – Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United)

Defender – Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Midfielder – Tom Cairney (Fulham)

Midfielder – Anthony Knockaert (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Midfielder – Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)

Midfielder – Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United)

Forward – Dwight Gayle (Newcastle United)

Forward – Chris Wood (Leeds United)

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