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Match Previews

npower Championship weekend preview

30 November 2012


This weekend's npower Championship programme is packed full of local derbies and interesting encounters and one of them sees Huddersfield Town host West Yorkshire rivals Leeds United in Saturday's early kick-off.

The Terriers come into the clash without a win in three games but they remain just four points outside of the Play-Off places, sitting in 11th.

Simon Grayson will be looking for a response following his side's 3-0 defeat in midweek at high-flying Middlesbrough, and he would like nothing more than to get back to winning ways in what will be his first match against his former employers, 10 months after being dismissed from the Elland Road hot seat.

"There couldn't be a better game coming up after the last match, when we were well below par," Grayson told the Huddersfield Examiner.

"It's a big game and while Leeds like to play it down, believe me - the result means a lot to both clubs and both sets of supporters, and it's one we badly want to win.

"My previous ties with Leeds is no secret, but I will certainly have my professional head on, because there are three points to be had."

Huddersfield have not suffered a defeat against Leeds in their last five meetings - winning three and drawing the last two - but Neil Warnock's men come into the game with a recent up-turn in league form to lean on.

United struggled at the beginning of November, failing to register a win in the first four games of the month - conceding 10 goals in the process - but, in the last week, they have ended Crystal Palace's 14-game unbeaten run and defeated fourth-placed Leicester City 1-0.

An open, exciting game is expected but midfielder David Norris believes, with the help of the crowd, Leeds can come out on top.

He told "The confidence will be high after two good wins against two good teams.

"The crowd have lifted and that does make a difference to you, and we're looking forward to the weekend.

"You always enjoy a local derby game. They always mean a bit more to the fans, they're usually good atmospheres to play in, and they can be a bit tasty."


On Sunday, Burnley welcome Blackburn Rovers to Turf Moor in what looks set to be an exciting Lancashire derby.

The sides will renew their rivalry for the first time in just over two years, and it's likely to be a tight encounter with only two points separating them in the npower Championship table.

Blackburn were the winners in the last meeting between the two, a Premier League fixture in March 2010, and that was the Rovers' eighth game unbeaten against their near-neighbours.

In fact, the last time the Clarets were the winners in the Lancashire derby was way back in April 1979, 33 years ago, so Sean Dyche and his team will be eager to give their fans something to cheer about on Sunday.

One of Dyche's star men is striker Charlie Austin. The 23-year-old netted his 18th league goal of the season in Burnley's 1-1 midweek draw with Barnsley and he's full of confidence going into the match with Blackburn, a team the Clarets haven't even scored against at Turf Moor since Boxing Day, 1978.

The former Swindon Town man told "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a massive game.

"It was nice to get back in the groove [against Barnsley]. I have been putting in performances but a goal hadn't come in three games so it was nice to get back on the record.

"But I am a team player. I will help the lads and I am chuffed to bits whoever scores.

"It's there for somebody [the elusive goal against Blackburn at Turf Moor] - but whoever scores it won't matter. It can be an own-goal, as long as we put in a performance and get a result."

On the other side of the fence, Blackburn defender Adam Henley is also looking forward to appearing in the local derby at Turf Moor.

The 18-year-old got a taste of the historic rivalry as he played in both FA Youth Cup semi-final matches between the two sides last season, two fixtures that pulled in over 10,000 supporters to each.

"It was a real experience when we played last year," Henley commented on

"For all of us to play in a derby like that, we all got a sense of what it was like to play in one.

"For an under-18s game it was quite something, a lot of the other lads had never played in anything like that before. I was lucky to have played in stadiums before, but it was a real experience and I just can't wait to play in the game on Sunday.

"It is something I'm looking forward to, I'm relishing the chance to play in an atmosphere like that and hopefully it will drive the team on."


There's another game between two rivals in the npower Championship this weekend as Crystal Palace go head-to-head with Brighton and Hove Albion at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles are still flying high in second despite a loss and a draw in their last two matches, and they will want to keep their promotion push going against the Seagulls, who are also mixing it at the top end of the division.

Gus Poyet's men currently sit seventh and come into the clash unbeaten in seven, their most recent result being a 2-0 midweek victory over Bristol City.

Millwall are the npower Championship's in-form side and they take on South London rivals Charlton Athletic at the Den, a short distance from Palace's big game against Brighton.

The Lions haven't lost in 12 and have won their last four matches, form that has seen them roar into the Play-Off places.

The Addicks are on an impressive run of their own, though, having tasted victory in four of their last five matches to sit 13th.

The other derby this weekend in the npower Championship sees Derby County travel to East Midlands rivals Leicester City for a televised fixture, hoping to stop their recent rot against the Foxes.

The Rams have lost the last four meetings between the two sides without scoring a goal, and they haven't won at Leicester since they moved to the King Power Stadium in the summer of 2002.

The other match in front of the Sky Sports cameras this weekend is Middlesbrough's Friday night showdown with Birmingham City. Tony Mowbray's side could take over at the top, although they would need three points and four goals to do so.

Elsewhere, Bolton Wanderers and Watford are both undefeated in six and they host Ipswich Town and Barnsley respectively.

Ipswich moved out of the relegation zone in midweek, beating Nottingham Forest 3-1, and they were replaced in the bottom three by Bristol City. Next up for the Robins is a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have plummeted to 18th following a winless run of nine.

Peterborough United and Sheffield Wednesday occupy the two other relegation places, with the latter losing their last five.

Posh take on 16th-placed Blackpool this time around, while the Owls face current leaders Cardiff City on Sunday in what will be Wednesday boss Dave Jones' first visit to the Cardiff City Stadium since his sacking by the club in May 2011.

The Bluebirds could be knocked off top spot by either Crystal Palace or Middlesbrough prior to their game, but they will regain their place at the summit as long as they beat Jones' strugglers.

The remaining match in the npower Championship this weekend sees two Play-Off chasing sides meet at the the City Ground as ninth-placed Nottingham Forest lock horns with Hull City, who sit sixth. A win for Forest would lift them above the Tigers in the standings.

Click here for all the weekend's action

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