MX23RW : Saturday, January 19 21:31:52

Sports Mole's Championship Team of the Week

Sports Mole highlights those who stood out during matchday 44 in the Championship as the season's climax edges ever closer.

Just two games separate us from the end of the Championship season following matchday 44's action over the weekend.

All but two of the second tier's sides were in action as Reading missed out on a first FA Cup final in the club's history by going down in extra time to holders Arsenal.

We are no nearer to knowing which two clubs will go up automatically or who will occupy the playoff places in less than two weeks when the season draws to a close.

Watford are back on top following their narrow win over Birmingham. The Hornets looked like they would have to settle for second place, but Bournemouth conceded a last-gasp penalty at home to Sheffield Wednesday to drop a point behind Slavisa Jokanovic's side.

Middlesbrough are lurking level on points with Bournemouth in third following their huge win over Norwich City, who are two points further back in fourth.

The four sides vying for the final two playoff places all drew on Saturday, with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Ipswich Town sharing the spoils in Saturday's lunchtime game, while Derby County and Brentford were held by Huddersfield Town and Bolton Wanderers respectively.

In the battle against relegation, Wigan Athletic still have the slightest chance of escaping the drop because of their 2-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion - their first home win since August last year.

Millwall are more likely to get themselves out of the bottom three following a 0-0 draw at Cardiff City. The Lions are four points behind 21st-placed Rotherham United, but there is a possible three-point deduction hanging over the Millers' heads which could blow open the relegation scrap.

Here, Sports Mole chooses its best XI from the weekend's action, as well as highlighting the biggest numpty and best goal.

Stephen Henderson (Charlton Athletic)
Charlton rallied from behind to beat troubled Leeds United 2-1 at The Valley. Henderson could do nothing about Steve Morison's opener, but he made a fantastic save from Billy Sharp's penalty.

Lewis Buxton (Sheffield Wednesday)
Wednesday put a huge dent in Bournemouth's hopes of winning the league. They took the lead at the Goldsands Stadium thanks to a fantastic cross by Buxton that set up Kieran Lee's header.
Daniel Ayala (Middlesbrough)
Boro made it three wins in a row and gave their hopes of finishing in the top two a huge boost with victory at Carrow Road. They took the lead in the early stages through a fortunate own goal and then did well to keep the Canaries out, with Ayala the standout defender at the back.
Christophe Berra (Ipswich Town)
Like Ayala, Berra put in a display full of resilience as Ipswich kept Wolves at bay in the race for a playoff place. The Scottish international made countless key clearances and blocks.
Mark Beevers (Millwall)
The Lions were unable to make it back-to-back wins, but they were closest to a winner at the Cardiff City Stadium when Beevers's thunderous strike unluckily cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.

Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth)
The Cherries might have been denied top spot at the death, but take nothing away from Ritchie, who crossed for the equaliser before smashing home a stunning second from 25 yards.
Tom Ince (Derby County)
Two superb finishes from Ince as Derby played out a barmy 4-4 draw with Huddersfield Town. The on-loan Hull City man's goals bookended the crazy affair at the John Smith's Stadium.
Tim Chow (Wigan Athletic)
Wigan finally ended their 18-game winless streak at home by edging out Brighton. Chow made his full debut and opened the scoring at the DW Stadium.
Michail Antonio (Nottingham Forest)
Forest's star player for much of the season, Antonio delivered a fine display in the 3-3 draw with Nottingham Forest. The winger scored twice and set up the other at Ewood Park.

Rudy Gestede (Blackburn Rovers)
If Antonio was good, Gestede was better as he scored all three of the hosts' goals in Lancashire. All three were headers from the Benin international.
Matt Smith (Fulham)
Smith has returned from his loan at Bristol City and is enjoying a run in the Fulham team. On Saturday he scored the only goal of the game as Fulham got the better of already-relegated Blackpool.

Numpty of the Week

David Button: Brentford missed out on the chance to move within a point of the playoffs by twice throwing away a lead against Bolton Wanderers. The Trotters' second equaliser was extremely avoidable as Brentford overplayed at the back, with goalkeeper Button gifting the ball to Mark Davies to finish. There were several other poor misses this weekend and we're not letting those players get away without a mention. Jonny Howson, Caolan Lavery and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, we're looking at you.

Goal of the Week

Craig Cathcart (Watford) vs. Birmingham City: Watford's three-pronged frontline of Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra often grab the headlines, but this weekend it was centre-back Cathcart that delivered a stupendous volleyed winner.

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Chris Maguire of Sheffield Wednesday celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road on October 4, 2014
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Result: Late penalty denies Bournemouth
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Portsmouth28176547272057
2Luton TownLuton28168454252956
3Sunderland271411248262253
4Charlton AthleticCharlton29165847311653
5Barnsley27157547232452
6Peterborough UnitedPeterborough2813874738947
7Doncaster RoversDoncaster28137851371446
8Blackpool2710982725239
9Coventry CityCoventry29116123134-339
10Southend UnitedSouthend28122143834438
11Wycombe WanderersWycombe28108103840-238
12Fleetwood Town2899103833536
13Burton Albion28106123838036
14Accrington StanleyAccrington2798102736-935
15Walsall2898113243-1135
16Scunthorpe UnitedScunthorpe2997133754-1734
17Shrewsbury TownShrewsbury28710112935-631
18Gillingham2894153948-931
19Rochdale2987143559-2431
20Oxford UnitedOxford Utd2879123544-930
21Plymouth ArgylePlymouth2886143650-1430
22Bristol Rovers2877142530-528
23Bradford CityBradford2883173147-1627
24AFC Wimbledon2865172242-2023

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