The View Outside The Premier League: Southend Fall At Cheltenham And Crawley Take Advantage
Cheltenham staged National Hunt racing this weekend but Southend were the big fallers in Gloucestershire as they went down comprehensively to the town's football team. Their defeat allowed Crawley to open up a bit of daylight at the top of League Two.
Cheltenhan are well in the promotion mix so the defeat wasn't a shock - but the manner of it was. Southend were dismantled 3-0 and generally looked over-powered by their opponents. Crawley Town saw off Burton Albion by the same score to take over at the summit.
Just like Stevenage last season, Crawley look well capable of following promotion from the Blue Square with immediate success in the Football League. The result was a warning to the rest of the division because Burton have been in good form of late.
Leeds United bagged a late, late point at Watford thanks to a penalty converted by Robert Snodgrass. The mercurial Scot has hit a rich vein of form and offers that something extra to turn a tight game. He has periods when he drifts out of games and spells of moderate form but his shuffling style and quick feet makes him a reminder of a long line of Scottish ball artists.
The point could be a valuable one by the end of the campaign and Watford certainly felt hard done by after Alex McCarthy saved a spot kick in the 88th minute which would have ended Leeds' hopes.
Birmingham City had to do things the hard way against Doncaster Rovers as Marc-Antoine Fortune put the Championship strugglers in front at St Andrews after 50 minutes. Two goals from Marlon King denied the South Yorkshire side and the Blues stay in touch with the play-off places.
The Europa League adventure will come to an end this week (probably) but Birmingham face an uncertain New Year. Chris Hughton has kept his squad in the hunt during the Europa League period but if he lost any more players in the January window, promotion will surely be off the agenda.
Owner Carson Yeung faces money laundering charges and the club has big debts. Most of the big hitters left after relegation so the squad is very thin. Even if the current group stays together, a few injuries could wreck Birmingham's season.
Huddersfield's 43-game undefeated streak ended last week and the Terriers have now lost two in a row. Bournemouth took the points back to the South Coast and Lee Clark has some problems. Despite maintaining their record run, the team weren't firing on all cylinders and registered a lot of drawn games. These two defeats taken with their poor cup form give a truer reflection of the team's abilities.
With Charlton still forging ahead and Sheffield Wednesday starting to pick up points on the road to go with their stunning home form, Clark has to make sure that Huddersfield's season doesn't turn into a damp squib.
And a word for Plymouth Argyle who picked up a point on their travels at Bradford City and moved off the bottom of the Football League. Earlier in the seasin it seemed the Argyle were destined to stay rooted there for the duration. Dagenham & Redbridge are the new 92nd club.