Championship Review – Phillips rolls back the years as promoted clubs continue to prosper

Kevin Phillips scored twice on his competitive home debut as Blackpool made it two wins in two following their return to the Championship.

The 38-year-old scored either side of half time as the Seasiders earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory against last season’s League One play-off winners Peterborough.

The loss for the visitors represents the first time that any of the three promoted sides have failed to pick up maximum points this season with both Brighton and Southampton continuing to adapt to the step up admirably with impressive away wins on Saturday.

It had already been a tough week for Portsmouth after falling to a shock defeat to Barnet in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and Gus Poyet’s men heaped on the misery by clinching a 1-0 win at Fratton Park.

£3.25m summer signing Craig Mackail-Smith opened his Seagulls account in first-half stoppage time with a close-range finish but the home side were left ruing their luck as Liam Lawrence struck the upright with a last minute penalty.

The home side were buoyed before kick-off by news of the return of fan favourite Benjani to the club on a free transfer and midfielder Hayden Mullins told the club’s official website he believes it is a great bit of business by manager Steve Cotterill: “It’s a brilliant signing that will give everyone a lift. Everyone knows what he did the first time he was here.

“The fans seemed to be very appreciative when they saw he’d signed and I’m sure he’ll be a massive player for us.”

Southampton were also on form on their travels as they survived the late dismissal of midfielder Richard Chaplow to edge a close game against Barnsley at Oakwell.

David Connolly’s 30th minute strike proved to be the difference as the Saints racked up their eighth consecutive league win and continue to re-enforce pre-season expectations that they could be in the hunt for promotion to the Premier League.

Elsewhere in the Championship Middlesbrough secured a 1-0 win in a fiery encounter against Leeds thanks to an impressive second half goal by Marvin Emnes.

However it is the three red cards that the game will be remembered for as referee Andrew Taylor sent off Max Gradel and Jonny Howson for the hosts and also Boro defender Tony McMahon.

Simon Grayson was incredibly critical of Taylor’s performance and told the Daily Mail that the referee had compromised the game as a spectacle: “This had the ingredients of being a great game. There wasn’t a dirty challenge and three players have been sent off and he’s a Premier League referee.

“I will be talking to the authorities, and obviously talking to them to find out things in more detail.”

Promotion favourites Leicester City suffered a serious knockback as they crashed to a 2-0 home defeat to Reading.

Second half strikes from Noel Hunt and Hal Robson-Kanu stunned their hosts who will be disappointed not to build on wins in both the league and the Carling Cup this week.

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