Football Features

Deja Vu for Derby: The biggest winners & losers from the Championship’s final day

By CJ Smith

Published: 14:46, 5 May 2019

Despite only having to unresolved issues, the final day of the Championship season had its usual share of goals and drama.

Already-promoted Norwich City and Sheffield United both started the day looking to seal a hard-earned Championship title and faced Aston Villa at home and Stoke City away, respectively.

Meanwhile, Derby County went into Sunday in the driving seat in the race for the final playoff spot, with Middlesbrough and Bristol City in hot pursuit.

Here are the big winners and losers from the final day of the Championship’s regular season.

Winner – Derby County

After Martyn Waghorn had initially given Derby the lead, hearts must have been in mouths at Pride Park when Stefan Johansen equalised for West Brom just after half-time.

However, after a few close shaves and unlucky misses, the Rams finally re-asserted their stranglehold over the game with a quickfire double from Mason Bennett and Harry Wilson’s penalty.

The first was a bit of a scramble, with Bennett firing home a rebound from close range, while the second was a well-finished Wilson penalty, although the decision to award it was quite controversial, with Tom Lawrence seemingly going down under minimal – if any – contact from Kyle Bartley. Not that Derby care now.

Loser – Middlesbrough and Bristol City

Derby’s gain is Middlesbrough and Bristol City’s loss. As the Rams battled past their nerves at Pride Park, Tony Pulis and Lee Johnson were powerless to stop their sides missing out on that final playoff spot.

In fairness, Boro did their bit, sticking away Rotherham in a 2-0 win which ultimately proved fruitless. Bristol, meanwhile, didn’t help themselves and even if Derby and Boro had lost, would have missed out on the playoffs thanks to their 1-1 draw away to Hull.

Few expected Bristol to be in this position in the first place, while Boro’s lack of goalscoring prowess has ultimately come back to haunt them.

Winner – Jayden Bogle

18-year-old Jayden Bogle’s breakthrough at right-back this season has been a revelation for Derby and once again, he stepped up on the final day.

With Derby needing a win to keep Middlesbrough and Bristol City at bay in the playoff race, up stepped the youngster in the first half with an absolutely beautiful delivery right onto the head of Waghorn, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead.

In the Sky Sports studio, the cross was compared to deliveries from the likes of David Beckham and Trent Alexander-Arnold, while it is Bogle’s eighth assist of a fine season. With a host of Premier League sides looking to bolster their right-back options next season, Bogle could be an outside bet for a move this summer.

Loser – Leeds United

Sure, Leeds were safely tucked away in a playoff spot ahead of Sunday’s final day but it could have been so much more for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. However, a run of two defeats and a draw had seen the Yorkshire side fall out of automatic promotion reckoning before they headed to already-relegated Ipswich Town.

With Leeds’ main focus being on restoring some form and confidence ahead of the playoffs – as well as securing third place – the last thing Bielsa would have wanted was another embarrassing, shock result.

But despite controlling possession and creating the majority of openings, the Whites just couldn’t keep Ipswich down and fell to a jarring 3-2 defeat. What effect this will have on Leeds’ playoff campaign remains to be seen but the signs are not good.

Winner – John Obi Mikel

Fast approaching 400 games in English football, with league titles and winners medals coming out of his ears, John Obi Mikel has had a long and successful career across his two spells on these shores.

However, something the Nigerian has never been known for is scoring goals. But, on Sunday, just when Middlesbrough needed to put Rotherham to the sword in search of a playoff spot, up stepped the 32-year-old with a thunderous strike to put Pulis’ side 2-0 up.

The goal was his first league goal in English football since September 2013 and just his second overall.

Loser – Bolton Wanderers

For fans, players and staff alike, it’s been a tough old season for anybody associated with Bolton Wanderers.

The Trotters have suffered relegation to the English third tier, face a terribly uncertain financial future and a player strike has even seen them recently forfeit their match against Brentford.

And on Sunday, there was to be no last hurrah or brave win in the face of ultimate adversary, as they suffered a 30th defeat of the season – more than any other side in the division – falling 1-0 away to Nottingham Forest.

Quite what next season, or even this summer, has in store for Wanderers is worryingly unclear. Sunday was another day to forget.

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Winner – Daniel Farke

They might not be the most defensively sound – something that will need addressing before they begin Premier League life – but my word, Daniel Farke’s Norwich are entertaining.

On Sunday, they pulled off another impressive result winning 2-1 away to in-form Aston Villa to seal another promotion to England’s top flight.

Teemu Pukki grabbed his 29th Championship goal of the season to seal his place as the division’s top scorer, while the Canaries have the well-deserved honour of achieving promotion as champions.

They’ve failed in the Premier League many times before but under Farke, something feels a little different.

Loser – Hal Robson-Kanu

When you’ve been brought on for the last 15 minutes or so to try and salvage a result for your side, one thing we absolutely don’t recommend is getting yourself sent off for violent conduct.

Hal Robson-Kanu didn’t get the message, though, as he stupidly kicked out at Derby’s Bradley Johnson in the 92nd minute, in full view of referee Tim Robinson.

A red card was predictably shown and the Wales international will now be ruled out of the playoffs thanks to his suspension.