Double change at the break from Leeds: Bamford and Costa off, Alioski and Hernandez on.
So as it stands Leeds go three clear at the top and Fulham’s hopes of automatic promotion are slipping – they’re seven points off. But with the league’s top scorer somehow still on the pitch for Fulham – and looking up for it – that could all change before the afternoon is out.
And that’s half-time across the board.
Birmingham 0-2 Hull
Leeds 1-0 Fulham
Stoke 0-1 Boro
Wigan 0-0 Blackburn
“Those Leeds supporters at Elland Road look just the same as they did before the lockdown,” writes Justin Kavanagh. “Rigid with the terror of Bielsa’s team taking a 1-0 lead and knowing what’s probably going to happen next.” Boom-tish.
This time it’s Leeds who want a penalty, after Patrick Bamford is bundled to the ground while chasing a through-ball. He appeals in vain as the world’s smallest violin provides the soundtrack.
To continue a theme from earlier, another member of the Championship’s nearly-but-not-quite brigade, Tom Ince, has just come on for Stoke. An pre-halftime change from Michael O’Neill.
Fulham appeal for a penalty after the ball strikes Tyler Roberts’ hand in the box. The ref rightly waves away the claims. Then Anthony Knockaert and Alex Mitrovic hit good effort from range, the first flying just wide, the second stinging Meslier’s hands.
I have seen quite a bit of Harrison Reed since the restart. He certainly gives off the impression of being the very definition of a ‘tidy player’.
GOAL! Stoke 0-1 Middlesbrough (Fletcher, 29)
Warnock is having an impact! Former Manchester United striker hits the first goal – and it could be a crucial one – of the Warnock era.
NO PENALTY! Fulham have claim for a penalty as Arter lays it off to Decordova-Reid six yards out but the Fulham man takes a bad touch and then chucks himself to the floor. The referee is having none of it.
Mitrovic claims for handball after heading the ball against White’s back. Admittedly, the referee has missed him elbow the defender in the face already, so there is a chance he could have agreed with the striker again. Instead the Serb gets a corner and laughed at by Ayling.
A long ball over the top from Fulham makes its way to Mitrovic, who lets it bounce and then flashes a volley well wide from 20 yards out.
GOAL! Birmingham 0-2 Hull (Scott, 16)
Another one for Hull! Scott on his full debut finds a lot of space in the box, allowing him to calmly head a pinpoint cross into the corner.
Luckily, the man Jolly has a stat.
GOAL! Leeds 1-0 Fulham (Bamford, 9)
Costa does well down the right, gets into the box before puling it back for an onrushing Bamford who calmly slots it into the corner.
Mitrovic has a more positive impact by flicking it out to Knockaert but he drags his show well wide from the edge of the area.
Will we ever get over what Mitrovic has just done? It is possibly the stupidest thing I’ve seen all season. At least the striker has had a haircut.
HOW IS THAT NOT A RED?! Mitrovic casually wanders over to White and whacks him across the face with his elbow but the referee misses it.
GOAL! Birmingham 0-1 Hull (Magennis, 2)
A very good start for the struggling Tigers as Magennis puts them into the lead.
The 3pms have started!
The final whistle sounds at Oakwell and Pride Park. On another day that might look like a good point for Barnsley. On this particular day it looks like two dropped: Luton’s shock win leaves them bottom of the league. Derby, meanwhile, are three points off the play-offs.
Right – just time to make yourself a cuppa before the slew on 3pm kick-offs.
New Middlesbrough honcho Neil Warnock brings in Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher for his first game in charge, at Stoke. Boro have also announced this afternoon that non-scoring striker Rudy Gestede has left the club – his contract was up at the end of the month.
Some pre-match reading:
Team news from the big one at Elland Road:
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Hélder Costa, Roberts, Klich, Harrison, Bamford
Fulham: Rodák, Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan, Reed, Cairney, Knockaert, De Cordova-Reid, Arter, Mitrovic
And it’s full-time in the early games: Cardiff beat Preston to tighten their grip on sixth, and two massive wins in and around the bottom, for Charlton against and for Luton against Swansea.
Goal! Preston 1-3 Cardiff (Glatzel)
Cardiff makes the points safe. Robert Glatzel pounces on some hesitant defending, scurries towards goal and fires home via a defender’s shin.
Goal! Derby 2-1 Reading (Rinomhota)
Reading pull one back against the play-off hopefuls, Ben Hamer’s weak punch punished by Andy Rinomhota, who heads over the stranded keeper into an unguarded net.
Goal! Preston 1-2 Cardiff (Mendez-Laing)
And Cardiff retake the lead with another great goal – Nathaniel Mendez-Laing haring down the right, playing a one-two and slotting a tidy finish inside the near post. Superbly simple and simply superb.
Scenes at Swansea! It all kicks off after a truly magnificent succession of one, two, three, four, five vicious tackles! In the resulting melee Jordon Garrick puts in a left hook and is sent off. Marvellous stuff.
Goal! Preston 1-1 Cardiff (Johnson)
Thick and fast! Preston equalise almost immediately. It’s a bit of a scramble, with Joe Bennett initially doing well to block a shot from close range, but the ball breaks to Johnson who sweeps confidently home. All square.