Rob Edwards continues to rebuild his reputation with Luton, Aaron Ramsey is flying for Middlesbrough and Krystian Bielik deserves recognition for his courage at Birmingham City. All this and more from the latest round of the Championship...
TEAM OF THE ROUND
Luton Town have now picked up more points away from home than any other team in the Championship this season, with their tenth win on the road at Sheffield United this weekend a significant one for more reasons than one. The Hatters cashed in Carlton Morris' second half goal to extend their good run and in the process open up an automatic promotion race that has looked at times like it'll be complete long before the season actually concludes.
Luton boss Rob Edwards' job is obviously to look after his team, but I'm sure Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick would've been highly pleased with the scoreline too.
The Bramall Lane win means Luton are seven points off the Blades in second place and, whilst Middlesbrough might ultimately be the main beneficiaries of a Sheffield United stumble, Luton are lurking in the background should both clubs trip over one another on their way to the finish line. The work Edwards has done in continuing what Nathan Jones started has been excellent, the play-offs look highly plausible once again and there is a scenario where with a fair wind Luton are involved in the race for the top two.
There's the big derby against Watford and fellow top six side Millwall to go through in the short term, with a potentially mouth watering last three containing match ups with Blackburn and Middlesbrough. However this plays out, Luton will definitely be continuing to have a say in promotion matters both automatic and play-off related.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND
Krystian Bielik (Birmingham City)
When I was younger I used to love a horror movie, I think I even remember seeing one of the Saw franchise the day it came out. Maybe with age comes a bit more of a tender view of human fragility and I'm a little more squeamish these days, which is why I'm going to try not to think too much about what happened to poor Krystian Bielik this weekend.
By now I'm sure most readers of this column will have seen the grizzly pictures of the Birmingham City midfielder having two of his teeth knocked out by an errant high foot by Rotherham's Hakeem Odoffin.
This story in part has a happy ending as Birmingham did go on to win the game in question 2-0. Reda Khadra had already given Blues the lead before Bielik's painful exit and Kevin Long added a second just a few minutes after. You can't help but feel badly for Bielik a superb hybrid of defender and midfielder who has already experienced terrible injury problems in his time at Derby County and, with all due respect to his current employer, who might be playing at a higher level right now were it not for his time on the sidelines.
Bielik has shown resilience in abundance in his time in the Championship, after a trip to see the dentist I'm sure he'll be back showing a little bit more.
TALKING POINT OF THE ROUND
Survival Race Fizzling Out?
It was an absolutely miserable weekend for the Championship's bottom three, who all lost and couldn't muster a single goal between them. Bottom side Wigan were the latest to be humbled by Burnley going under 3-0, Huddersfield's extremely short new manager bounce looks a long time ago as they lost 1-0 at West Brom, while Blackpool lost 2-0 in the early kick off at Bristol City. I hate to say it but this leaves us with the very strong possibility that not a lot will change at the bottom in the remainder of the season.
The current state of play leaves the bottom three all still tied up on 32 points, six adrift of safety. The teams below the line have had no response to Cardiff's recent improvement under Sabri Lamouchi or Rotherham's seven point splurge at the end of February. Our helpful survival guide of one point per game is illuminating once again, with the teams outside the bottom three tracking comfortably above that marker and those in the bottom three comfortably below.
When it comes to teams towards the top it's safe ground to be talking about winning streaks and gaps being closed, unfortunately down at the bottom, two wins and six points can be a lot slower to get. To find two wins for Huddersfield I need to go back to December 29th, Wigan November 12th and Blackpool October 29th. You can see why I'm more hopeful than confident about an impending points scoring spree from any of the bottom three.
LOANEE OF THE ROUND
Aaron Ramsey (Middlesbrough on loan from Aston Villa)
We might have a bit of a first on our hands here as Aaron Ramsey becomes loanee of the round for the second time this season. I wouldn't be so bold as to imagine there exists a statistical run down of the history of this column, but I do remember us discussing Ramsey back at the end of October when he scored twice in a 3-1 win for Norwich over Stoke.
Ramsey's Norwich loan spell was cut short due to injury, he has since been redeployed out by Aston Villa and is now one of many players in fine form at the moment at Middlesbrough.
Ramsey was on target twice last week in the thumping 5-0 win for Boro over Reading and was at it again at Swansea this past weekend. Boro went into the second half a goal down and it was Ramsey who got them back into the game not long after half time from his position on the left hand side of the Teessiders' attack.
As the counter attack unfolded Ramsey did get a bit of a lucky bounce but then clinically swept the ball into the far corner to set Middlesbrough's comeback in motion. The Villa youngster's form, like so many others at Middlesbrough, seems to be peaking at the right time and the honour of being our first two club 'loanee of the round' might not be the only one he receives this season.
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