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Championship review: Davis offers Watford promise; Rotherham reprieve; Swansea find crucial win

Swansea City released the pressure valve, Watford hope floodgates will open with Aston Villa striker Keinan Davis and Rotherham revel in waterlogged pitch. All this and more from the latest round of the Championship...


Swansea City

The fact that the whole purpose of football is to win makes the cliche 'they really need a win' somewhat preposterous, everybody needs to win after all. A win may guarantee a simple three points, but the impact and importance of that win can be vastly different depending on the circumstances of the victorious club.

Take Swansea for example, they went into their game on Saturday on a run of five defeats in their last six and with only one win in the league since the middle of January. Readers of this column will no doubt remember the fallout from Swansea's torturous January transfer window and it's probably no surprise that things have gone a bit south since. Add into the mix that Swansea were up against fierce rivals Bristol City and, after three everybody, 'they really need a win'.

Swansea got their win and well deserved it was too. Goals from Liam Cullen and Olivier Ntcham accompanied a dominant performance where the Swans clicked for the first time a while. When they do click, Russ Martin's Swansea dominate both the game and the ball, and look a formidable side. When they don't click, the can be frustratingly flaky and easy to poke holes in. This oh so significant win releases the pressure valve at a very opportune moment for Swansea, they'll work through the international break with a fresh confidence as they set themselves for another high stakes derby match with Cardiff when we come back in April.


Ben Sheaf (Coventry City)

It's easy to get into a repetitive narrative when talking about Coventry. Did Viktor Gyokeres score? Did Gus Hamer do anything noteworthy? How long has Mark Robins been in charge now? This past weekend's victory over Blackpool even presented a lovely open goal with both Gyokeres and Hamer hitting assists.

I'm going to try my best to ignore all the normal hits when it comes to Coventry and talk about Ben Sheaf this week. Like his fearless leader Gyokeres, Sheaf came into Coventry on loan before eventually being signed up full time. What's impressive about Coventry's recruitment is that neither player really tore it up on loan, but they'd both been clearly earmarked as long term projects. So much so that Sheaf was making his 100th appearance for Coventry at Blackpool at the weekend and the 25 year old is now a very steady Championship presence alongside Hamer in central midfield.

Sheaf made a mockery of his infrequent goalscoring reputation with a beautiful opener, latching onto Gyokeres' neat cut back and smashing the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box for his first of the season. It was the all round game of the former Arsenal youngster that stood out most, as he glued together an excellent win for Coventry from his role at the heart of their midfield. He may not be the headline act at Coventry, but Sheaf's quiet competence is a pretty microcosm of the efficient work done by his club in recent times.


Rotherham Reprieve

One of my favourite internet meme's is 'Old Man Yells At Cloud'. It's from a 2002 episode of the Simpson's where Homer's father Abe is pictured on the front page of the newspaper under that memorable headline. The figurative usage of this meme has been to mock those getting angry about something ridiculous, although at Rotherham this past weekend it also took on a very literal meaning.

At half time in the Rotherham v Cardiff City game the heavens opened and quickly turned the New York pitch into a bog. In a highly performative but not very scientific exercise, both managers took turns to bounce and roll a ball on the waterlogged pitch, with the outcome the postponement of the game. As with most football discussion it quickly turned partisan, Cardiff fans were enraged that the sprinklers came on and a groundsman scooped some water back onto the pitch, while Rotherham fans were quick to bask in a potential second chance at a game they were losing 1-0 in.

Set aside the vast yelling at clouds, frustration at the postponement is understandable. I don't think Mother Nature had a particular agenda to intervene in this particular football match and we now get a Rotherham reprieve and a big juicy survival head to head kicked down the road into the tense final weeks of the season.


Keinan Davis (Watford on loan from Aston Villa)

At about this point last season, Nottingham Forest were at full speed in their thrilling charge to promotion. Steve Cooper had built an intimidating side based around excellent loan players, fearsome physicality and excellent defensive strength. Opponents were confronted with the brilliant duo of Brennan Johnson and Died Spence down the right and slick creators like James Garner and Phillip Zinckernagel through the centre. At the top of the pitch was the rampaging powerhouse Kienan Davis, who seemed to go through opposition defences at times like a bowling ball through pins.

Forest went up and, rather than retaining the players that got them there, built themselves an entirely new squad with their new found Premier League wealth. Kienan Davis was therefore available for a loan to the Championship once again, he landed at Watford in the summer window and I told Hornets fans they'd landed a top signing. Maybe it's down to Watford being typically chaotic, but Davis hasn't quite hit the heights he did last season and my forecast hasn't been wholly accurate.

Davis was on the scoresheet for Watford against Wigan at the weekend, latching onto a Joao Pedro ball turning inside and steering the ball home left footed. The total of six this season for Watford does top the five he got for Forest last season, but Davis was only at the City Ground half a season and his impact on the team was far greater than his goal tally. Perhaps this first goal under Chris Wilder's stewardship will open the floodgates for a player who oozes potential but hasn't quite perhaps reached it this season.

Follow Benjamin Bloom on Twitter @BenjaminBloom

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