Championship

Championship Top Five, Round Nine: Watkins hits hat-trick while Cairney is class

Plus a virtuoso display from a young 18-year-old making waves

 
1:27pm on Sunday 29th September 2019
By
Paul Macdonald

The Championship is looking typically competitive again this season and two of the bigger sides, Fulham and West Brom, recorded superb victories, though they were somewhat different in their approaches.

Watkins has been scouted by most of the Premier League in the past 12 months but with Neal Maupay always likely to leave in the summer, they refused to sell their other prized asset and that's looking like a good call. Watkins hat-trick of headers at Barnsley, all expertly taken, showed a side of the player not yet seen - he is used to coming in from the left but playing through the middle he looks just as proficient. He's now top scorer in the Championship, too, with seven goals.

West Brom's gritty 2-0 win away at in-form QPR was a statement that they will be in the hunt for promotion, and the presence of Kyle Bartley in defence was a key driver to their success. His defensive numbers were eye-catching - he won 5/5 duels, 2/2 tackles, 3/3 aerial challenges as well as nine clearances and three interceptions. He even managed to sneak in an assist (sort of) for defensive colleague Nathan Ferguson. What a display.

At Championship level Cairney is as good as it gets and he was once again Fulham's key performer in their confident win over Wigan. In his AMC berth Cairney rarely gave the ball away, completing 70/76 passes as well as creating clear chances for Anthony Knockaert and Alexander Mitrovic that really should have been converted. But he stepped up himself to bend a superlative clincher into the top corner and give the London side a crucial win after a below-par run of results.

Alongside Kyle Bartley Ferguson was another heroic performer in their victory over QPR. He collected the ball from Bartley, drove 60 yards and smashed his first ever senior goal into the corner of the net. And his defensive numbers were superb, too, making 14 recoveries - the most of any player in the round of fixtures - as well as winning 9/13 duels, 3/3 tackles and two interceptions. The 18-year-old could have a bright future ahead of him.

Bryan wasn't far behind Cairney in guiding Fulham to a good home win against Wigan. His first goal for the club ended a nervous wait to make the breakthrough, lashing home superbly from the edge of the area, and overall his play was good, winning 2/2 tackles, 4/6 aerials and ensuring that the visitors didn't land a shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Dominic Iorfa (7.9) and Fletcher (7.8) each had a field day alongside Reach in Wednesday's easy win over Boro, while Blackburn's Lewis Travis (8) was unfortunate to be on the losing side against Luton, scoring a stunning strike as well as recording excellent numbers.

ROUND TO FORGET

The less said about Jack Butland's (4.8) alarming form for Stoke the better, as he conceded another three in defeat to Nottingham Forest, while Adam Clayton (4.8) had a real afternoon to forget as his Boro side were set on the road to defeat courtesy of his early own goal.

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