As the EFL Championship plays catch-up following the first international break of the season, its League One and Two counterparts took a step back during this midweek round of fixtures, as the focus was firmly set on England’s second tier.
With the games now split relatively evenly over two days to maximise Sky Sports’ new coverage rights, we at Steele Sport take an in-depth look into the action as it unfolded on both Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Marcelo Bielsa’s eye-catching Leeds gained revenge on Preston for their second round Carabao Cup defeat by inflicting a fifth loss of the season on North End whilst preserving their own unbeaten league record.
The Deepdale outfit dumped Leeds out of the cup three weeks ago – despite playing over an hour on that night with ten men – but it was Bielsa’s side who took control on Tuesday, which proved to be a memorable night for youngster Tyler Roberts.
The teenager, who signed in January from then-Premier League club West Bromwich Albion, was left frustrated last season having injured himself upon making the move to Elland Road.
But he’s certainly making up for lost time now, making his Leeds league debut on Saturday, and then making his mark with two goals to seal the points against lowly Preston on Tuesday.
It was captain Liam Cooper who headed the Whites into a deserved first half lead, but it was Roberts’ night as his two second half goals – including a delicate chip over goalkeeper Declan Rudd – crowned another impressive win.
Leeds’ nearest challengers heading into the night were Brentford, but Dean Smith’s high-flying Bees were stung by Ipswich summer signing Kayden Jackson, who equalised in the second half to cancel out Neal Maupay’s eighth goal of the campaign.
The 1-1 draw at Portman Road meant the Yorkshire league leaders extended the gap at the top to three points on the night, whilst Ipswich remained winless and rooted to the bottom; just below Preston.
At the Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion moved into the playoffs for the first time this season with a convincing display at home to Bristol City, who they leapfrog.
As per usual, it was the trio of Jay Rodriguez, Dwight Gayle and Harvey Barnes doing the damage, with the former scoring a brace in a 4-2 win, but the visiting Robins remain in the top six despite the loss.
Goals from loan pair Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie saw Aston Villa also move into a playoff position, albeit for 24 hours, with a routine 2-0 win at home to a Rotherham side who remain without a point on their travels.
Elsewhere on Tuesday night, Joe Allen scored the only goal against former club Swansea to haul Stoke away from the bottom three, Wigan continued their impressive start with a 2-1 win over Hull, and Derby drew a blank at home to Blackburn as Chelsea loan star Mason Mount, watched by England manager Gareth Southgate, went closest with a curling free-kick that struck the crossbar.
Middlesbrough capitalised on Brentford’s slip-up with a comfortable home victory against Bolton, which saw the Riverside outfit get back to winning ways after defeat at the weekend to Norwich.
George Saville and then Britt Assombalonga deep into second-half stoppage time scored the goals to condemn the Trotters to a third defeat in four games, after what had been a promising start to the season.
Boro had dropped to fourth after West Brom’s win the previous night, but jumped back into the top two with a victory that keeps them just a point behind Leeds, whilst Bolton now sit 15th.
One of the team’s moving above Phil Parkinson’s men are Norwich, who battled to a 2-1 win at Reading that made it back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018-19.
Teemu Pukki had fired the Canaries into an early lead before they were pegged back in the 72nd minute by Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, but the Royals were only level for a matter of seconds, as Mario Vrancic restored the visitors’ lead moments after the restart.
Reading’s loss means the bottom three is as you were heading into the gameweek – Paul Clement’s troops sitting just above Preston and Ipswich.
Millwall are the latest team to hover just above the drop zone as they went down 2-0 at Queens Park Rangers, with the Hoops’ mini revival under Steve McClaren extending to three wins from four.
Moving above last season’s surprise package Millwall are Birmingham who remain winless after a goalless stalemate at Bramall Lane, whilst Sheffield United reclaim their top six berth from Villa with the point.
And rounding off the midweek Championship action are Nottingham Forest, who laid old demons to rest at home to United’s cross-city rivals, Sheffield Wednesday.
Heading into the latest meeting between these two former giants of the English game, Forest were on a seven game losing streak against the Owls.
Times are changing on Trentside however, and that was evident through the Reds’ goals, as summer signings Lewis Grabban and Joao Carvalho scored their first goals for the club.
First, £6million man Grabban glanced a header in from a Ben Osborn free-kick, and the latter was involved again for the second as he neatly backheeled to Carvalho in the box before Forest’s Portuguese record signing curled in a beauty.
Substitute Stephen Fletcher pulled one back via a deflected effort late on, but Aitor Karanka’s men held out for only their second win of the season which ends their personal hoodoo against Wednesday, as well as the Hillsborough side’s four game unbeaten run.